14th Dec2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/14/18

by Will

I don’t know what WordPress is doing with this update, so Lord only knows how this is gonna look when I’m done writing it. Let’s hope it’s legible!

HarassmentWatch(TM)

Michael Weatherly – Ya know, before he was starring on Bull, or even NCIS, I remember Michael Weatherly as “The guy from Dark Angel“. In fact, he was even briefly engaged to star Jessica Alba. Never really knew why that fell apart. Maybe because he was hitting on other women?

According to Eliza Dushku, she was poised to become a series regular on Bull, but she said she dealt with repeated lewd comments from Weatherly on the set of the show. When she confronted him, she soon learned her character was being written out of the show. CBS ended up settling with Dushku, to the tune of $9.5 million – the amount she would’ve made for four and a half seasons as a series regular.

Weatherly issued a halfassed apology, and capped it off, saying “It’s my recollection that I didn’t tell anyone how they should do their job regarding the hiring or firing of anybody.” Oh, did I mention that all of this happened on a CBS show? Ya know, the network where errbody seems to be getting fired for harassment allegations?

Les Moonves Update – In a recent interview, actress Cybill Shepherd alleged that her sitcom, Cybill, was cancelled by Moonves after she rebuffed his advances after a dinner. While the show was never a ratings dynamo, it was cancelled pretty abruptly, so there could be something to this. Plus, it was a CBS show, and this is Moonves we’re talking about, so it’s probably true.

Trailer Park


Godzilla: King of the Monsters

What the Hell is this? What am I looking at? This is the second trailer, and I still don’t get what’s going on. I feel like this is the kind of movie where you’re really just going to see shit get fucked up, but they insist on shoving in plot and emotional beats. Just show me genetic abominations destroying landmarks! Roland Emmerich should’ve gotten this job!

Kim Possible

Ugh, you deserved SO much better than this, Kim Possible. First of all, this movie is about 15 years too late. And it’s on TV. And it looks just terrible.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 2

Ya know, none of these trailers are ever good enough to make me say “Let me subscribe to CBS All Access”, but I will say that I’m constantly fascinated by their uniforms. This goes back to the early days of TNG, when I was really taken by those original jumpsuits designed by William Ware Theiss. Whomever is designing the costumes for Discovery deserves an Emmy. Still not paying to watch this show, though. 

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • In a move that nobody asked for, Will Ferrell is reprising his Anchorman character for The Ron Burgundy Podcast, which will launch early next year exclusively on the iHeartMusic app.
  • It’s a sad day for day drinkers across America, as Kathie Lee Gifford announced she’ll be leaving The Today Show in April, after 11 years co-anchoring the 4th hour with Hoda Kotb. 
  • Katy Perry debuted her new song “Immortal Flame” from her partnership with the mobile game Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. She’s no Faye Wong, but I’ll take it.
  • In an age when television shows just don’t know when to die, it should come as no surprise that the Modern Family cast is about to sign on for an 11th season.
  • Some networks have no problem killing a show, however, as Comedy Central has cancelled Detroiters after 2 seasons.
  • Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson has finally inked a deal to return for a sequel, which is pretty much a surprise to no one.
  • Country radio personality Bobby Bones apparently broke Dancing with the Stars. Following his controversial win in the recent 27th season, the show has decided to sit out a Spring cycle and won’t return until Fall 2019. It’s unclear if it’s being retooled or if there are other reasons behind the change.
  • There are reports that Ellen Degeneres wants to walk away from her daytime talk show to pursue other interests. While her contract has goes through 2020, her wife, Portia de Rossi, is urging her to do other things, while her brother insists that her show is the sort of positivity that people need right now.
  • The Star Wars series The Mandalorian has announced that Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, and Giancarlo Esposito have joined the cast. For some reason folks are excited by this news, but throw in the fact that Gina Carano was already announced, and it just sounds like a 1999 direct to DVD movie…
  • The ending of this season’s Arrowverse crossover teased the title of next season’s crossover: “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. Kinda interesting, considering none of the shows have officially been renewed yet. Anyway, if you know anything about the 80s comic series on which it’ll be based, it’s time to start worrying about Barry and Kara.
  • Speaking of DC TV series, there was a lot of casting news for the shows on the DC Universe streaming platform. First up, Joel McHale has been cast as a reinvented Starman on the upcoming Stargirl, while Lou Ferrigno Jr has been cast as Hourman. Meanwhile, Ian Ziering has been cast as fallen Hollywood actor Daniel Cassidy (who goes on to become the Blue Devil) in the Swamp Thing series.

I had no desire to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, despite being a HUGE fan of Miles Morales. I wasn’t crazy about the animation style, I didn’t like that they weren’t incorporating Miles into the MCU, and I also felt like they were robbing him of his spotlight by making it a Spider-Verse film with all these other versions of Spider-Man thrown into the mix. Still, my friend, Mike, and I have a tradition where we see all these things on opening night, so last night was no exception. I’ve never been more happy to be wrong, though, as it’s an amazing (pun intended) film.

For those not “in the know”, Miles Morales was introduced in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, taking up the Spider-Man mantel when that universe’s Peter Parker died fighting the Green Goblin. An Afro-Latino teen (created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli), Miles pretty much had to learn the ropes on his own, though he did have some help from S.H.I.E.L.D. from time to time, as Nick Fury blamed himself for Parker’s death. Instead of a dead Uncle Ben, Miles’s origin didn’t really come from a place of tragedy – that is until his mother ended up getting killed during on of his fights. During Marvel’s Secret Wars event, the Ultimate Universe ended, and Miles was shunted over to the “regular” Marvel Universe. Oh, and as a bonus for something he did during that event, his mom was still alive on the new Earth. There, he took on the role of the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, while a successful Peter Parker was globetrotting, doing his best Tony Stark impression. That’s pretty much where I left him the last time I read a Spider-Man comic.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse does a really good job of introducing Miles to the general public, as well as explaining the whole multiverse concept. Though I didn’t read the Spider-Verse crossover in the comics (I’m about 5 years behind on my Amazing Spider-Man run), I did recognize shades of other stories, such as Spider-Men, when Marvel Universe Peter Parker found himself in the Ultimate Universe, and met Miles for the first time. There’s also a more recent crossover where Miles and Spider-Gwen team up, as well. Though I really only had a passing familiarity with Peni Parker, Spider-Man Noir, and Spider-Ham, I felt their addition to the story worked.

I will say that the film made me realize more issues that I had with Spider-Man: Homecoming. I’m sorry guys, but I really didn’t like that movie. As I said on Twitter though, we’re not allowed to say that because it brought Spider-Man into the MCU. It’s like when your drug dealer uncle pays your tuition, and you’re not allowed to call him out about where the money came from. I’d much rather have an adult Spider-Man in the MCU. Hell, I’d love a Jake Johnson Spider-Man in the MCU. He did a great job as the voice of Parker in this film, and I’ve come to realize that he could probably have pulled it off live action. There are certain things that don’t line up as it stands. For example, while I realize the Netflix shows are merely “adjacent” to the MCU, those characters still exist. In the comics, Jessica Jones was a classmate of Peter Parker, and even nursed something of a crush on him, but he was too busy being nerdy to notice her. I’d much rather have their ages line up in the MCU and we get a teenage Miles than to go through High School Peter all over again.

Like with all adaptations, they made some changes, but nothing that really affected things in a bad way. In fact, they may have made things better (Miles’s dad being a cop, for instance). I like how they played with all of the toys, like Alchemax and Spider-Man 3. I don’t want to give away the plot or any story beats, so we’ll keep this spoiler free. I will say, however, that I’m curious to know how they could use that character, with the rights situation and all. You’ll know what I mean when you see it.

Anyway, I was wrong about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. What I thought should’ve been a throwaway special on Disney XD or something actually turned out to be an engaging, masterpiece of a comic book movie. For that reason, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse had the West Week Ever.


16th Nov2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 11/16/18

by Will

So, it’s been THREE WEEKS since I actually covered “pop culture” on here. And ya know? Ain’t a whole lot happened in that amount of time. I mean, I’ve been fighting to get my White House press credentials restored, but other than that things have been pretty lame. Sure, you may think there was news, but there really wasn’t. Let’s see what I can pick out this week, shall we?

So, I did something I haven’t done in a while: I watched a movie. At home! Lindsay went out to the store, and Evie was mesmerized by Ryan’s Toy Reviews on her tablet, but the TV was left on Megamind. From the beginning. Lucky me! Now, I know I’ve seen parts of it before on a plane, but I fell asleep on it, so that doesn’t count. Why did this movie bomb? I seem to remember it bombing. *checks Wikipedia* Yup, one of the lowest-grossing DreamWorks CG movies to date. That’s a shame, ’cause I really enjoyed it.

If you’ve never seen it, it’s Will Ferrell at his “hamiest”, voicing the supervillain Megamind. He and the hero Metro Man both crashed on Earth as babies, but they ended up with very different lives, despite growing up around each other. Jealous of the attention that Metro Man got from peers, Megamind eventually turned to villainy, and this cat and mouse game develops over the years. That is until Megamind goes too far in one of their battles, seemingly killing Metro Man. Now, without a foe, Megamind begins to realize that villainy really isn’t that fun – especially when he falls in love with reporter Roxanne Ritchi. Now he has to lead a double life as both Megamind and “Bernard” (the guy he’s disguised as when he dates Roxanne), while a new villain rises in Metro City. Will the villain become the hero? That’s all I’ll give ya, ’cause I really think you should see it yourself.

It was one of those rare times when I couldn’t identify the voice actors, and I don’t know if they took me out of it, or if it actually helped to pull me in. I mean, I was surprised to discover that Tina Fey was Roxanne, but even more surprised to find that Brad Pitt was Metro Man. Jonah Hill’s character? Totally thought it was Nick Swardson. So, cute movie, great cast. I’d recommend it. I am tired of seeing those Happy Meal toys at thrift stores, though…

Nothing convinced me of the fact that I’m simply not a Star Wars fanatic more than the news than came out over the past week. First up, there’s going to be a Rogue One prequel series on the Disney+ streaming service, starring Diego Luna reprising his role as Cassian Andor. Yeah, that’d be great if I didn’t already know how he dies. I don’t like prequels for characters who we’ve seen die because there are absolutely no stakes. It might as well be Star Wars: Cassian’s Root Canal. That’s how interesting that sounds to me. It’s always odd to me that fans love Rogue One and hate The Last Jedi when I had the opposite feeling on both of those movies. I don’t need gritty suicide missions in my Star Wars. I felt like every character in that movie was a cliche. That’s why nobody knows their names. Sure, there are fans who’ll get butthurt when you say that, and respond “It’s Chirrut Imwe!”, but I’m content just calling him “Blind Guy”, thankyouverymuch. Anyway, they were created simply to die, and die they did.

Plus, what is there to really do with Cassian? They’re gonna make him a lovable rogue who hates authority. Congrats, Disney: you’re effectively giving us Mexican Bootleg Han Solo! Anyway, I’m curious to know if there’s a version of Rogue One out there that I’d actually like. I mean, between reshoots and edits, what we got was an entirely different movie than the one they initially set out to make. Maybe that’ll come through on the series? I’m not sure, but I’m not the target audience.

Next up, they announced some casting for The Mandalorian, and again, I was unable to go from 6 to 12 from that news. Game of Thrones actor Pedro Pascal is reportedly going to be the lead in the series, but I’ve never watched Game of Thrones so that means nothing to me. Meanwhile, someone somewhere is going “Why they fillin’ up mah Star Wars wit’ Mexicans?!” Yeah, he’s from Chile, but the person saying that doesn’t know the difference between the two… Also, they announced that former MMA star Gina Carano had been cast. That’s the moment I lost all interest. Are we still trying to make her a star? Look, I’m sure she’d make a fine stuntwoman, but acting ain’t her strong suit. Has everyone forgotten how all her dialogue from Haywire had to be overdubbed?! Is she going to be a droid? Anyway, y’all have fun with The Force, but none of this is for me.

Trailer Park


Toy Story 4

Yeah, I don’t need this. Look, I know y’all love Toy Story, and I know it put Pixar on the map, but I’ve never really taken to this franchise. Yeah, go ahead and be shocked, but that’s how I feel when one of y’all tries to say that the first 10 minutes of Up do nothing for you. BASIC! Anyway, I know the last movie kinda served as a springboard for new adventures, but it doesn’t mean they have to show them all to us. It was enough to know that the toys got a new home and a new lease on life. I don’t need to watch Bonnie grow up, and then pass them on to some other kid like Andy did. They had a GOOD stopping point. Why ruin that? Oh yeah. Money.

Fighting With My Family

Huh. I never had any interest in this film until watching that. Sure, I love Nick Frost and Vince Vaughn, but I’ve never really cared much about Paige. I mean, when “the leak” happened, I ended up seeing way more of her than I ever imagined, but I’ve never cared about her wrestling. I know WWE is giving the women’s division more of a push these days, but I’m kinda cold on the company right now, plus Paige isn’t really in-ring talent at the moment. So, this won’t bring me back to wrestling, but I’d definitely like to see this movie.


Spies in Disguise

What the fuck is this?! Does Will Smith need money? Do we need to start a GoFundMe, or is he already on Patreon? This movie looks like it was spawned from those “Why can’t James Bond be Black?” thinkpieces, and then Hollywood got involved and was like, “OK, he can, IF he can also be a bird”. There’s this longstanding stigma in Hollywood that every Black comedian has to, at some point, don a chicken suit in some Stepin Fetchit attempt to make them less threatening to some White audiences. This is Will Smith’s chicken suit. Plus, I don’t care if Blue Sky made the Ice Age franchise – I’m commoner trash, so I want my animation from Disney or Dreamworks. Otherwise, GTFO!


Detective Pikachu

So, this is basically family friendly Ted, right? I mean, I can dig it. I’ve got a lot of questions about the world in which it’s set, but there’s already a built-in audience for this, considering Pokemon GO almost settled the Israel land disputes. Seriously, I was amazed when the entire world was playing it, and I’m still amazed that there are millions of folks still playing it undercover. I see you walking in that park! I know you don’t give a shit about fitness!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Apparently the title for the third installment of the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence cop franchise will be Bad Boys for Lif3. Huh. Why not just go the extra mile and replace “for” with “4”? Oh, and the “s” with a “z”? Bad Boyz 4 Lif3. There’s your edgy title!
  • Speaking of Will Smith, son Jaden may have come out as gay this week, as he told a festival crowd that Odd Future’s Tyler the Creator was his boyfriend. I’m not really surprised, as I always considered him gender fluid anyway. Plus, he’s weird Hollywood royalty, so you could tell me he’s in a serious relationship with a Mitsubishi Eclipse, and I’d be like “Huh. Nice choice.”
  • Netflix has cancelled The Good Cop after one season. Let me tell you, I had NO IDEA this thing was a cop drama starring Tony Danza and Josh Groban. I saw an ad for it, and I thought it was about a Black cop who doesn’t give a shit because he’s so close to retirement. Apparently that IS one of the characters, but he’s not the star. I actually wanted to watch that show.
  • Tom Cruise is done with the Jack Reacher franchise, as he is reportedly too short for the role. It’s not like it matters, though, because they’re refocusing it for television instead of movies, and Tom Cruise ain’t doing TV any time soon.
  • Fans won’t be saying “Happy Christmas” to The Doctor this year, as there will be no Doctor Who Christmas special for the first time in 13 years. Instead, however, there will be a New Years special, but fans already seem ready to start a war about this.
  • Since CBS All Access is really just CBS: We Have Star Trek So Please Give Us Money, there are reports that there’s ANOTHER Trek show being developed – this time, focused on Michelle Yeoh’s Star Trek: Discovery character, Philippa Georgiou. I still haven’t watched season 1 of Discovery, but every news story spoiled what happened to her character, so I’ll let you look up the details yourself.
  • 2019 is shaping up to be a banner year for STDs, as MTV’s Spring Break will make its triumphant return, along with a reboot of Temptation Island on USA Network.
  • Tim Tebow will be hosting a new competition show called Are You There, Jesus? Kidding. It’s actually called Million Dollar Mile, where it’s basically American Gladiators against professional athletes. Yeah, I think my show sounds better.
  • Malibu! Malibu! Malibu is on fire! We don’t need no water, let that motherfucker…Oh shit, there goes the Westworld set!
  • Alec Baldwin punched a guy over a parking space, but that’s basically a regular Tuesday for him.
  • Hey, remember how y’all hated Venom? Well, it still debuted at $111 million in China, as Sony’s biggest Chinese launch of all time. Oh, and it’s made $674 million globally. Yeah, we’re getting that sequel, and I ain’t mad.
  • Vanessa Bayer, formerly of Saturday Night Live, is developing Big Deal for Showtime, in which “a woman overcomes childhood leukemia to achieve her lifelong dream of being an on-air host on the Home Shopping Network. Huh. This just sounds like an SNL sketch. And not a good one. Apparently, Bayer did overcome childhood leukemia, and it’s nice to see she’s creating her own roles, as Hollywood is otherwise just gonna pigeonhole her as “perky best friend” in the rom-com genre.

So, I took last week off because it was a holiday weekend, but I gave a rare social media-only West Week Ever to my friend Mary Ann Borer. We “met” through a Facebook group a couple of years ago, and she’s become quite the friend of the site. So, imagine my surprise when she became the reigning Jeopardy! champion. She even went viral for her Sailor Moon salute. The Teen Tournament is currently going on, but I can’t wait for it to end so she can get back to kicking ass. So, for the record, last week, she had the West Week Ever.

I don’t even know where to start with this one. I’m not going to eulogize him ’cause enough sites have done that. I don’t even know if I can do a “What Stan Meant To Me” angle. I’ve spent the past few years pretty much waiting for what happened on Monday. I had made my peace with it once the stories of the suspected elder abuse surfaced earlier this year. To me, Stan “The Man” Lee was already gone, and his handlers were pretty much Weekend at Bernie’s-ing him to get at his fortune. When Wizard magazine went under, the first thought I had was how they wouldn’t be around to have a special commemorative edition when he passed. But I still wasn’t ready on Monday. We lost Stan.

As much as I love pop culture, I’ve never been much of a “starfucker”. I’ve come in contact with a handful of celebrities in my life, but there were only 3 that I ever simply HAD to meet: Adam West, Stan Lee, and Jason David Frank, the greatest Power Ranger of all time. For two of those, I knew the clock was ticking as they were getting older, but they were surrounded by vultures, so the cost of that opportunity kept going up. I paid $300 for a VIP package to meet him at Baltimore Comic Con back in 2011. That’s a lot of money, but not once did I ever question it. This was STAN LEE. I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much money with that little thought put into it. To me, it was a given. I was meeting The Man. After all, “He’s not going to be with us long” was always in the back of my head. And now he’s not.

I always hate the whole “He’s in a better place now” phrase, but I honestly feel that way for Stan. His last few years just seemed miserable, and it was sad to watch him go through it all. Ever since he lost his wife, Joanie, he hadn’t been himself. And now he’s with her again. I don’t care what you believe. There could be an afterlife, or maybe they’re just together in the ground, turning into dust. I feel like whatever it is is probably better than drifting in and out of coherence, while my slacker daughter keeps visiting to ask for money.

Stan meant a lot to a lot of people. That goes without saying. Like any man, he had his faults. And as great as his creative highs were, he also had creative lows. He was a man who would put his name on literally anything. He was the epitome of “Fuck you, pay me”, but he always did it with such enthusiasm, and a smile on his face. The cash grabiest cash grab seemed like a decent idea when he went out to cheerlead for it. The Backstreet Project? Even at the height of the Backstreet Boys’ fame, this was a long shot. Chakra: The Invincible? Over 1.2 BILLION people in India, and none of them gave a shit about that thing. But that’s just a testament to the Stan Lee name. His past paid for his future. Co-creating X-Men, Spider-Man, and the rest opened every door for him for the rest of his life. And I don’t think Stan ever came across a door that he didn’t enter.

His huckster enthusiasm is what we know most about him, though, and it was infectious. He really made you feel like he believed in everything he put his name on. Even as you were at home, shaking your head in disbelief, he was telling you, “No, seriously, this cartoon about Pamela Anderson as a stripper/superhero is gonna knock your socks off!” Instead of the guy who had already made his nut, he approached everything like it might finally be his big break. I’m not sure if there was some guilt over who created what back in the day, or if he just needed to keep the creative juices flowing. Either way, you believed HE believed in Stripperella, even if you and everyone you knew had no intention of ever watching it.

It’s amazing to see someone that enthusiastic about anything in this day and age – to believe in the things to which you’ve aligned yourself THAT MUCH. He could say, “Well, donkeys sleep upside down, True Believer!” and you’d be like, “Well, fuck. I never knew that!” HE MADE YOU BELIEVE. That’s why his creations are so effective, and have touched so many people. You KNEW a Peter Parker. You KNEW a Bruce Banner. And even if it was something you’d never encountered, he made you believe and understand it, too. Name someone else who can do that. I’ll wait.

I don’t think it has fully hit me. I had to get offline when the news hit because it’s the Internet, and the pro-Kirby/pro-Ditko, pro-any collaborator crowd was sharpening their pitchforks and practicing their grave dancing moves. I didn’t feel like dealing with any of that. Now the dust has settled, and everyone has posted their own eulogies and retrospectives, so I appreciate you taking the time to read mine. I think it goes without saying that Stan Lee had the rare distinction of having the West Life Ever. Excelsior!

26th Oct2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 10/26/18

by Will

Sometimes I need to take a week off just so I can come back fired up – and I am FIRED UP this week!

Whatever happened to the days when we just let people say stupid shit and we just shook our heads and kept it moving? Yes, I’m talking about Megyn Kelly. The NBC talk show host came under fire this week, as she was discussing Halloween costumes with a panel of guests, which included Melissa Rivers and Jenna Bush Hager. Kelly was appalled by the restrictions that some universities were putting on certain Halloween costumes, such as prohibiting people from dressing as things like cowboys.

The conversation soon switched to the topic of blackface, as Kelly mentioned that you get in trouble as a White person for dressing up in blackface, but that it was seen as OK when she was younger, as long as you were dressed as a character. The panel somewhat disagreed, and Rivers pointed out that the concepts of politeness and decency seem to be missing in today’s society, and that if you think you might be offending someone, then you probably are. Kelly seemed to sort of take this in stride, the segment ended, and she moved on to talk about some other morning show fluff, like “How to clean your sock drawer potpourri” or whatever. That’s what you’ll see in this clip:

See? Not really a huge thing. I mean, sure, Kelly was wrong, but this is the same chick who argued that Santa Claus was White (Psst! He’s not real!). But you wouldn’t think the situation played out like that based on every report of it on the internet. It was Racist Megyn Kelly Strikes Again! And Tone-Deaf Kelly Doesn’t Understand Racism of Blackface! Um, did you watch the same clip I did?

Let’s point out a few things. First of all, her audience was ’bout it ’bout it when it came to this topic. And it was a diverse audience. I’m not saying what she said was OK, but I’m saying that she was clearly among “her people”. Next, I think it bears pointing out that the topic didn’t really linger. In what’s an 11 minute clip, the whole blackface part took up about 2.5 minutes. It’s not like she dwelled on it, or even tried to argue her side too much. She evoked the image of Real Housewives of New York cast member LuAnn de Lesseps dressed in blackface as Diana Ross, and said, “I thought ‘Maybe she just wanted to be Diana Ross for a day’.” If you ask me, what Kelly said was ignorant, but not racist.

We live in a society that shuns ignorance. No one wants to be the one to ask the “stupid question”, or admit when they don’t know something. At times this coincides with some dicey topics, like race. You’re not really going to get an understanding, however, unless you confront these things in conversation. We have to talk about things! Yet that’s not how we live. We all pretend to know everything, since all knowledge can be found in the palm of our hand. And when someone deigns to ask a question, the impatient simply retort “Google is your friend.” Great. Good talk.

Sure, racism is a by-product of ignorance, but ignorance can sometimes be innocent. Now, we can paint all sorts of things we want onto Megyn Kelly because, again, she’s the chick who swore up and down that Santa Claus HAD to be White. I get it. But I’m not seeing the Evil White Media Racist here that everyone seems to want me to see. I’ve had a lot of opinions where I was probably on the wrong side of history, and this is just another one of them.

Now Kelly’s future with NBC is in jeopardy. She had to apologize for her statements later that day, and then her words were publicly denounced by NBC News chairman Andrew Lack. Then it was reported that the cast of House of Cards pulled out of a planned appearance on her show, due to her remarks. Later on, however, House of Cards cast member Greg Kinnear (remember him?!) said that the cast was told that Kelly had jury duty, which is why the appearance was cancelled. Whatever happened, reruns have been airing instead of live episodes since the event. There are reports that Kelly had met with NBC brass recently and expressed the desire to get back to “real news” coverage, as she hasn’t taken to the lighter side of morning talk. Now, however, it appears the network wants her out, and she’s reportedly demanding a payout of the rest of her contract.

OK, meanwhile, Fox News just announced that their streaming service, Fox Nation, will launch November 27th. So, you mean to tell me that former Fox News darling Megyn Kelly’s highly publicized NBC deal is falling apart just as Fox announces their entry into the streaming market? A streaming service that’s going to need a big name to help launch it? And I’m supposed to think these are just coincidences? This is all orchestrated. Ya know how I know? Because I look at that clip, and I don’t see any fireable offense taking place there. No, this is a mountain being made out of a molehill, and social media and the court of public opinion are being used to throw fuel on the fire. Someone at NBC clearly wanted her gone (word on the street is that it’s Al Roker), while she needs somewhere to land when they snatch the rug out from under her. Mark my words: she’s going back to Fox, and she’s going to double down on her “conservative Megyn Kelly” persona. After all, the folks who were behind her sexual harassment claims at Fox are either gone and/or dead. The time is ripe for a homecoming, and she’s got a lot of fuel against the Liberal Media for how she was treated during this “ordeal”. Great job, Liberals: you just helped one of your greatest foes level up.

So, you got Megyn Kelly fired. Meanwhile, trans folks are potentially about to be erased, and bombs are being sent to prominent Democrats. But I’m glad to see y’all focused on the real issues…

You thought I was done? Oh, I’m just getting started!

So, during my blogging break, Netflix cancelled Iron Fist, and all the folks who were like “How the fuck they gonna have a White dude as Iron Fist? They better cancel that show before it airs!” suddenly turned into “Oh Noez! How dare Netflix cancel Iron Fist?!” people. It was actually quite the thing to witness. I wish I’d kept the receipts from a year ago. Anyway, Netflix totally doubled down, and cancelled Luke Cage just a few days later. And then the armchair quarterbacks came out: “Oh, they’re totally gonna make Heroes for Hire instead.” Or “Disney’s just gonna put them on their streaming service.” I don’t know about the former, but you’re wrong about the latter, and here’s why:

While we don’t know streamer ratings, we know that pretty much everyone hated the first season of Iron Fist, while they felt Cage seasons were too long. Add in the fact that the Netflix shows are tangential, at best, to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Disney is putting actual MCU actors on the streaming network, so I don’t see them wasting their time and resources on the Great Value properties.

Next, let’s look at the politics at play. The Netflix shows are produced by Marvel Television, while the Marvel Cinematic Universe films are produced by Marvel Studios. Those two divisions HATE each other. Lots of bad blood, which is why Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the only show that takes place “firmly” in the universe of the films, as it was established before all the shit went down. Everything established later has been in this nebulous “Maybe it’s in the MCU/maybe it’s not” gray area. When the streaming service was announced, they specifically pointed out that the Marvel shows on the service would A) be entrenched in the MCU, and B ) produced by Marvel Studios (and not Marvel Television). So, long story short, the Netflix shows didn’t get invited to the party because of their origin with Marvel Television. Also add in the mature nature of the Netflix shows, while it’s been pretty widely reported that Disney Play won’t venture past PG-13 content.

So, Iron Fist and Luke Cage may live to fight another day, but it ain’t gonna be on Disney’s streaming service. One theory I’ve heard is that they might end up on Hulu, should Netflix ever give up the rights, as Disney will be the majority shareholder of Hulu after the Fox deal closes. As with most things, however, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Yesterday it was announced that Rick & Morty head writer Mike McMahan has been hired to develop the animated Star Trek: Lower Decks series for CBS All Access. And I think this is a horrible idea. I know that the Trek TV franchise has been pretty dormant in recent years, but CBS All Access is wasting no time diluting the fuck out of it now. Seriously, there is an announcement of a new Trek series almost weekly, to the point that I’ve lost track. Right now, there’s Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Short Treks, Star Trek: There Are Four Lights (which is my working title for the Picard-centered show), and now there’s Star Trek: Lower Decks – all for CBS All Access. There are about to be a LOT of discussions about what IS and ISN’T “Star Trek“. Animated series from a Rick & Morty writer? Yeah, that ain’t Trek.

I know I’m biased, but as a lifelong Trekker, I’ve always felt there was some pomp and ceremony to the Star Trek franchise. In a lot of ways, you could say that it’s a franchise that tends to take itself too seriously. That’s why I hesitate to embrace something, officially licensed, that pokes fun at that. Sure, over the years there have been fanzines and things like Star Wreck that parodied Trek, but this show, which is supposed to focus on the unnamed crewmen who help run things on an unimpressive Starfleet vessel, sounds like something in the vein of those parodies, and I think it takes away from the franchise rather than adds to it. It feels a lot like Star Trek selling out. Maybe they’re trying to make it accessible to new audiences – ones who may have been put off by the “rigidity” of prior series, but I’d argue that rigidity is part of what makes Star Trek what it is.

My pal Peter pointed out that it’s worth comparing how CBS is treating Trek to how Disney is treating Star Wars. At a glance, Lower Decks feels like something you’d get from the Star Wars franchise. It seems like it’s in the same spirit as the Tag & Bink comic series that Dark Horse put out many moons ago. That was a comedic take on the Star Wars movies, as seen through the eyes of two Jedi in training, who kind of “Forrest Gump” their way through the important events of the original trilogy. A lot of folks liked that series, but keep in mind that it was a comic. It wasn’t seen by the vast majority of Star Wars fans. So, it was treated like the niche thing it was. Lower Decks, however, is being given the same platform as the current, “core” Trek series, Discovery. If they wanted to make some web shorts or something, fine, but a full series (with a 2-season order, at that), just seems to legitimize something that shouldn’t really exist.

Back to the Trek/Wars comparison, I feel like, despite the backlash to The Last Jedi, that Disney is doing it right when it comes to the Star Wars franchise, primarily because they “spread the wealth”. There are the movies, but there’s also the animated series on cable, there’s the upcoming series for Disney Play, and other outlets. Meanwhile, CBS is blowing their entire wad on All Access. They know folks aren’t shelling out a monthly fee for that Tim Meadows cop show, or that spinoff of The Good Wife. No, the ones who are subscribing are doing it, begrudgingly, for Star Trek, BUT there are a LOT of Trek fans (myself included) who can’t even be swayed by that. Instead of being forced to pay for another streaming service, I’m content to just refuse to acknowledge that Discovery even really exists. And even if I acknowledge its existence, I refuse to believe it’s actually contributing anything worthwhile to the mythos. I realize I could be completely wrong about that, but it’s the fault of CBS for hiding it behind a paywall. The insistence on continuing to do this with this ONE particular franchise isn’t going to soften my resolve, but rather just make me resent CBS even more. So, bring on your hateful, sardonic Star Trek cartoon, but I most likely won’t be watching it.

Had I written a post last week, the West Week Ever probably would’ve gone to The Conners, for pulling off an unnecessary, but adequate feat. You see, the show doesn’t really need to exist. Sure, there are the stories of John Goodman saying that they “owed it to the fans”, and sure people were worried about the cast and crew who were out of jobs after the abrupt cancellation of the reboot. To that, I have 2 thoughts: 1) they owe the fans nothing. It could’ve stood as a Done In One “special” season, like the kind of thing you’d get in the UK, and everyone could’ve kept it moving and 2) It’s not like this all happened during season 10 of a long-running series. Yes, it was technically season 11, BUT 20 years had passed in between. The cast already had lives they’d established. Sara Gilbert still has The Talk to go back to, and Michael Fishman could probably get his job back at the Winn Dixie. It’s not like folks had totally uprooted their lives during the ONE season of this reboot, and it’s Hollywood, so the crew would have no trouble getting work on the next project they throw at Joel McHale.

No, The Conners was an experiment that we have to live with even if we weren’t sure we wanted it. I was one of the early champions of the whole “Why not just ‘pull a Hogan Family‘, and keep going with the rest of the cast?” Yeah, I said it, but I didn’t mean it. I really just wanted to see if Hollywood still had the balls to pull off a move like that. That was one of my “Wanting to watch the world burn” moments. Anyway, much to my surprise, they did have the balls to do it. I feel like I’ve also gone on record saying that I didn’t really get why Roseanne was fired. Sure, what she said was fucked up, but it was only the most recent fucked up thing in a string of Roseanne’s fuckedupness. She really hasn’t been stable for the past 15 years or so. Someone had to know she was capable of this, but they still gave her a chance. Back in my day, you’d say something fucked up and racist, you’d do a mea culpa, and then you’d do a photo op with Al Sharpton after donating to the NAACP. So when did the rules change? ABC got her out of there with the quickness, and I’ll bet James Gunn was even somewhere like “Man, I hope they never do that to me!” [Editor’s Note: That is exactly what ABC/Disney would end up doing to him]

The thing that really strikes me about The Conners is the notion of “family”. One of the strengths of the original Roseanne was the family unit, and it’s what a lot of folks were anticipating upon its return. Once the reboot was announced, the cast was making the talk show rounds, about how they were a family and how great it felt to be back together. So, when Roseanne fucked up, where was her family? They turned on her. I know it’s naive (and not always true), but I like to think family sticks together. That’s not what happened here. When the shit hit the fan, they denied her like Peter denied Jesus, and they were all like, “Hey, I’ve got bills”.

I mean, it’s cutthroat Hollywood, but something doesn’t sit right with me. Roseanne tried to make it right, by signing over her rights and financial ties to the show, so that the cast and crew could carry on steering the ship that she built. And yeah, (spoiler alert), they killed off her character with a drug overdose, which is just so…unglamourous. I mean, there was a precedent for it, as it was established last season that she had an opiod addiction, but it was also established that she was worried about dying on the table during her knee surgery. Would it have killed them to go with the latter instead of the former? It reminds me of the overkill the South Park guys did to Chef went Isaac Hayes got all sanctified and quit the show.

Anyway, The Conners picks up a few weeks after Roseanne’s death, and the family is trying to adjust with her not around. They assumed her heart gave out, but midway through the episode, the coroner’s office calls, saying she had actually died of a drub overdose. Well, this is news to Dan, as well as Darlene and Becky. When they find out Roseanne had gotten drugs that had been prescribed to some other woman, Dan goes all “small town vengeance” on her, by putting a sign on his truck naming the woman, and blaming her for killing his wife. Eventually, the woman shows up to the house to apologize for Roseanne’s death, but also to ask Dan to remove the sign as it’s ruining her life. So, I guess the show is going to tackle the opiod crisis that’s plaguing Middle America right now, but it just feels so…unnecessary. If it were a story about recovery and redemption, that’s a story that I’d be interested in seeing how it plays out. But it’s not that story, as Roseanne is already dead, and she ain’t coming back. So what now? I truly don’t know the answer to that. I wonder if anyone associated with the show does, either, or if they’re just cashing their checks and keeping their heads down.

I had the pleasure of joining my buddy, Corey Chapman, on his podcast The Chap Report this week. It was a really fun time, as we discussed Halloween and modern scary movies, as well as the current state of the WWE. Plus a bunch of other stuff. It was fun to record, and just as fun to listen back to, so check it out and put it in your ear holes!

Trailer Park

F is for Family

This show is one of those hidden Netflix gems that nobody talks about, like LoveSick (AKA Scrotal Recall). I really enjoyed season 1, but totally missed season 2. I’ll probably catch up so I can watch this when it debuts on November 30th, ’cause I really liked it.


Broad City

We got this trailer for the 5th, and final, season of Broad City, and I guess it looks OK? As they say in the South, this show “got out from good”. When it debuted, I LOVED it. Crushed hard on both Abbi and Ilana. Then I feel like they jumped the shark somewhere around the Hillary cameo. And I bailed halfway through last season ’cause it just felt like it’d lost its spark. If I could find it somewhere, I’d watch the eps I missed, but I think I’m ready for this show to end.


Nobody’s Fool

I love a good red band trailer. Apparently Tiffany Haddish made the “Kevin Hart” deal with the Devil, in which she is required to appear in one movie a month. Good for her, I guess. I won’t see it in a theater, but I’d watch it if it were convenient to do so.


Bird Box

Folks are saying they’re getting A Quiet Place vibes from this trailer, which is another film I need to watch. I tend not to like stuff like this, but I’m intrigued, and I like Sandra Bullock. Plus, I already have Netflix, so it’s a plus that I won’t have to leave home to see it.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • As anyone with a brain could’ve predicted, Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson are dunzo!
  • Marvel fired Star Wars comic writer Chuck Wendig after he was told that his social media activity was too political and profanity-laden.
  • There was some casting on that Pennyworth series for Epix (Ya know, Batman’s butler before he was Batman’s butler?). Anyway, you don’t know who any of the folks are, nobody has Epix, and the show’s a terrible idea, so I’m just gonna jump to the next item.

  • Speaking of ill-advised DC TV moves, we got our first look at Shane West as Bane on Gotham. Oh man, did they run out of money? It’s like a poor kid’s homemade Darth Vader costume or something.
  • DC Comics revealed The Other History of the DC Universe, written by John Ridley, which will focus key events in the DC Universe through the eyes of its Black heroes. It’s part of DC’s Black Label imprint, but it’s mostly prose, with a $7.99 per issue price tag. Yeah, PASS!
  • Avengers 4 spoilers are starting to trickle out, including a pic of Ms. Gwenyth Paltrow. I’ll just leave it at that.
  • Disney had met with the writers of the Deadpool films about a potential reboot of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. It’s unclear if Johnny Depp would be involved this time.
  • Alan Tudyk will voice The Joker on the upcoming Harley Quinn animated series on the DC Universe streaming service.
  • Steve Carell has been cast in Apple’s untitled morning show drama, also starring Reese Witherspoon. Do Apple shows ever come out? I always hear about them in development, and then something stupid happens, like “Whoops! We shot all 13 episodes but forgot to put film in the camera!” Seriously, name ONE Apple series that is complete and ready to go.
  • Speaking of Apple, they’re reportedly going to launch their own streaming service ’cause, y’know, everybody’s doing it. I guess it’ll be the home of all these shows that live in Canada that they keep talking about.
  • There are rumblings that Fuller House will end after its 4th season, though Netflix commented that no decision has been made at this time (translation: Time to look for work, Jodie Sweetin!).
  • Netflix has definitely made up its mind about Orange Is the New Black, as this will be its last season.
  • An NYPD Blue reboot is in the works, which would focus on the son of Andy Sipowicz (played by Dennis Franz in the original series). In this series, Sipowicz Jr will be investigating the murder of his father. Naw! They done killed Sipowicz?! They couldn’t let him retire to fish or some shit?
  • It’s the end of an era, as Caroll Spinney, the Sesame Street puppeteer behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch for the past 50 years (!), would be stepping away from the roles. My oldest calls it Elmo Street anyway, so I guess he picked the right time to go…
  • Your HBO sex scenes are about to get lame, as the network has hired Intimacy Coordinators to be on set whenever a sex scene is to occur between actors. Due to the #MeToo movement, they want to ensure that consent is there, and that the actors are comfortable. Meanwhile, Shannon Tweed is somewhere, going “What a crock!”
  • So, MTV is reviving The Real World, but on Facebook Watch? What is that? Is that free? Seems odd they’d farm out one of their most iconic franchises. Anyway, I’m closer to 40 than 20, so this ain’t for me. Plus – and I’ve said it before – the show won’t return to its hard-hitting glory until they start casting ugly people again.
  • Speaking of Facebook, they will soon add the ability for you to add songs to your profile. Hey, 2006 MySpace called and boy do they have some shit to say!
  • CMT is reviving the ABC series Wife Swap, which will premiere in February. I will always think of this Chappelle sketch whenever that show, or its clone Trading Spouses, comes up.
  • The Wonder Woman sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, has been moved to June 5th, 2020, so as not to crowd out the Todd Phillips Joker movie coming out next fall. There are also rumors that the film will serve as a Flashpoint-like reboot to the DC movie universe.

  • British police are on the case to catch a David Schwimmer lookalike who stole some beer from a liquor store.

So this is a tough one. I can’t say this person had a “good” week, but he certainly had an important week. I haven’t been the biggest wrestling fan in recent years, but you couldn’t get near the WWE without knowing about Roman Reigns. The biggest reason is that the company seemed to be giving him a push that the fans didn’t really support. Over time, I was pretty much conditioned to dislike him, just like “everyone else” supposedly did. I knew he was part of The Shield, and pseudo-related to The Rock (since all Samoans seem to be born from 3 women), and he wasn’t bald (which meant he wasn’t a heel). Other than that, though, I had never really seen him wrestle, so I was peer-pressured into disliking him. That all changed on Monday night, though.

On Monday Night RAW, Roman broke character and introduced himself as “Joe” (his real name is Joe Anoa’i), and told the world that his Leukemia had returned. He was apparently diagnosed 11 years ago, and had beaten it. Unfortunately, it’s back, leading him to relinquish his WWE Universal Championship title. It was an emotional moment, especially when you watched the reaction of the WWE starts backstage. Even if the fans didn’t love him, it was clear he was loved by his colleagues, and they were genuinely concerned for him.

Since I’m dumb, I immediately texted my friend “Does this mean we’re not allowed to hate him anymore?” The thing is, though, that I never had a real reason to hate him. And instead of merely tolerating him, I now find myself concerned for his well-being. It’s a crazy string of emotions, and it all happened so fast. He made a point to say that this wasn’t a retirement speech, and he has every intention of coming back. I certainly hope that’s true, and I look forward to seeing how the fans will regard him on that day. Is this the thing that he “needed”? Did he have to show he was human to get over with them? Wrestling is such a strange thing sometimes. Anyway, prayers up for Roman Reigns, who had the West Week Ever.

12th Oct2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 10/12/18

by Will

HarassmentWatch (TM)

It’s everyone’s favorite segment, where you find out who couldn’t keep their dick in their pants this week!

James Franco – In her upcoming book, actress Busy Philipps writes that Franco physically assaulted her on the set of their TV series Freaks and Geeks. She later said that he apologized for the incident, but most of the news outlets seem to have missed that tidbit. Anyway, this is familiar territory for Franco, as around 5 women have already accused him of sexual assault. While his encounter with Philipps wasn’t sexual in nature, it still goes to show how Franco views women. On a side note, who out there is gonna read a memoir by Busy Philipps? I mean, I like her and all, but I’ve never once thought “I’d love to know more about her life”. They really will just give anyone a book deal these days…

Harvey Weinstein – A victory for Harvey? One of the six counts of sexual assault has been dropped by a NY judge. Lucia Evans alleged that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him during a meeting in his office, but this accounted was disputed by a friend of Evans. The D.A.’s office says is still plans to proceed with the remaining 5 charges, however, which Weinstein has denied.

So, it was announced this week that James Gunn will possibly write and direct Suicide Squad 2, and there was much rejoicing amongst the geek set. I dunno, y’all. I’m still not on the #RehireJamesGunn train. Yeah, I know it was for stuff he did years ago, and I know he’s apologized for it. Plus, I realize it was part of a biased smear campaign from the Right. Still, I’ve never been onboard with the whole “Well, he worked for Troma and he had to say that stuff to fit in.” Plus, I would’ve felt better about the whole thing had he put all his cards on the table in the beginning. Instead, there were the tweets. And folks rallied and yelled “He apologized!” Then, a few weeks later, there were the pics of him as the pedophile priest at the Troma party. Eventually, I was like, “How much shit are they gonna find on you, dude?” I don’t feel like his life should be ruined, but I understood Disney’s business decision. Still, I don’t know if it’s such a major coup for Warner Bros to be getting him. It’s basically damaged goods giving a 2nd chance to more damaged goods. Had he been fired from Warner Bros and picked up by Disney, THAT would’ve been something to cheer. This is a second chance, but it’s a demotion. Even the best Suicide Squad movie is still, at the end of the day, just a Suicide Squad movie. You wanna impress me? Let him take on Superman.

There’s some shady shit going on, where the world of politics is finding itself intersecting with the world of professional wrestling. You see, Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi is believed to have been murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, due to pieces he had written in opposition to the Saudi royal family. It’s believed that a Saudi death squad arrived, confronted him in the consulate, murdered him, and then dismembered him in order to smuggle out his body.

Meanwhile, WWE has a lucrative, long-term deal with Saudi General Sports Authority (SGSA), and plans to hold the Crown Jewel event in Riyadh on November 2nd. Many fans already hated the Saudi deal because it messes up current storylines for the American programs, plus there are other issues. there was The Greatest Royal Rumble event held in Saudi Arabia in April, and none of the female performers were allowed to wrestle because of the Saudi views on women (though reports indicate the women were paid well to sit out the event). Now, fans believe WWE should pull out of the event since it appears the Saudi government could be behind the murder of a journalist working for an American publication.

Here’s where things get interesting: Donald Trump has vowed to investigate the disappearance of Khashoggi – ya know, the same Donald Trump who calls the press the “enemy of the people”. Meanwhile, he, as well as his son-in-law Jared Kushner, have a close relationship to the Saudi Royal family. You think he’s really gonna lift a finger here? My friend Tarek and I used to have this joke, where if there was something we didn’t want to do, we’d pretend we tried and failed and that was that. We’d just say “I tried my hardest”, as that was code for “I didn’t really give a shit, but isn’t this a cool code we have?” That’s exactly what’s going to happen here. Trump’s gonna “try his hardest”.

Plus, let’s not forget Trump’s Administrator of the Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon – who also happens to be the former WWE President and CEO. Yeah, there’s no way that deal’s going anywhere, and there’s also not going to be a thorough investigation. At least, not by the American government. I guess it’ll be up to Khashoggi’s journalistic colleagues to discover the truth of what happened to him.

Trailer Park

Aladdin Teaser

It’s OK, I guess. Of course Will Smith gets top billing. Well, here it appears he got the ONLY billing. What else were they gonna put there, though? “Also starring the girl from that Power Rangers movie you didn’t see?” I dunno, but I feel like Disney has stalled creatively. Nobody was clamoring for live action versions of their animated hits. This feels like the pre-The Little Mermaid era, when they were just re-releasing all the old shit that made them famous.  I also don’t like the look of Disney’s modern live action films. It’s hard to explain, but they all look like they were directed by Baz Luhrmann. I didn’t even post the Dumbo trailer because it looked like Moulin Rouge with an Elephant. Is Pixar the only Disney division with any creativity anymore?


Glass

Didn’t we just get a new trailer for this? Was that just another teaser? When the Hell did Hollywood move to this three-trailer system? Just give me the damn movie already. Anyway, I liked Unbreakable. I liked Split. I thought I liked the idea of them in a shared universe. This isn’t what I had in mind. I mean, I’ll see it. I’m just not really enthralled by what they’re showing me so far.


Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 (CBS All Acces)

Yeah, looks interesting. Still not subscribing to another service, though. I’ll just buy it when it comes out on physical media. I mean, I own all the other Trek series, so no need of stopping now. And what is it about Anson Mount as Captain Pike that I just can’t accept? Maybe it’s the editing on these trailers, but he doesn’t seem very commanding. Like, he seems like a caring Captain, but he also never seems like he’s taking any of this seriously – almost like he’s trying not to burst out into laughter. Maybe he lost his mind during all that silence on Inhumans. Anyway, the show moves to Thursdays this season, and Rebecca Romijn will star as Number One, Captain Pike’s first officer.


Deadly Class (Syfy)

Based on an Image comic I’ve never read. Is the comic even done? Image shit never finishes these days. Anyway, it pretty much just looks like Battle Royale with White kids. Though, I guess you could say Battle Royale was just Lord of the Flies with Japanese kids. Nothing I see here really interests me, so I’m gonna count one of y’all to watch it and tell me what you thought.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Earlier in the week, we got this pic of Ruby Rose as Batwoman in the upcoming Arrowverse “Elseworlds” crossover. I have no complaints. Except why is there a Batwoman signal? Does her world have NO Batman? Are there multiple signals? Who’s providing all these spotlights? How much is the GCPD’s electric bill? OK, I’ve got lots of questions…
  • While the DC shows on The CW keep reaching for the stars, Gotham, in its final season, is totally in “Fuck It” Mode. They announced that Shane West would, in fact, be playing Bane. Ya know, the guy who breaks Batman’s back? The guy with the mask? PLEASE tell me he’s gonna break little 14 year old Bruce’s back!
  • I already mentioned a few weeks ago that Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn were leaving Project Runway, but now we know their replacements: model Karlie Kloss and season 4 winner Christian Soriano.
  • In an announcement that surprises no one, Ryan Coogler has officially signed on to write and direct Black Panther 2.
  • Selena Gomez has entered a treatment center for anxiety and depression. Must  be nice. The rest of us have to make do with Lexapro and Wellbutrin…
  • After a software bug exposed hundreds of thousands of users’ data, Google announced that the Google+ social network would shut down by August 2019. I hear there are about 20 people upset about this.
  • He may have mastered the concepts of law & order, and the emergency services of Chicago, but Dick Wolf can’t seem to nail down FBI, as the show has just experienced its 3rd showrunner change – the second in 3 months.
  • Because humans spend too much time asking if we could instead of if we should, a hologram of Amy Winehouse is going on a world tour next year. As someone who actually saw Amy in concert, please don’t buy tickets for this.
  • A pilot based on DC’s comic Secret Six has been ordered by CBS, which means it’ll probably just end up dumped on The CW since a DC show wouldn’t fit anywhere on CBS’s schedule. If you didn’t read it, it was basically Suicide Squad when the company wasn’t using that property. So, this will just be Great Value Suicide Squad.
  • A Mr. Mom reboot is being developed for the Vudu service, of all places. It will follow the baby from the Michael Keaton movie, who’s all grown up and is about to return to the workforce as her husband stays home with the baby. Um, why tie it to the movie? Is there some rich mythology with this family? I think folks could pretty easily pick up on the concept without making it a sequel, and there’s no way in Hell they’re gonna land Michael Keaton, so why do this?
  • ScarJo reportedly landed a $15 million payday to sign on for a solo Black Widow film, and a bunch of folks are like “It’s about time!” If you ask me, it was time FIVE YEARS AGO. I don’t even care about her anymore at this point. Plus, Red Sparrow basically beat them to it.
  • Finally bowing to the pressure, Taylor Swift decided to shake off her detractors and get political. Tay Tay upset a portion of her fanbase when she endorsed 2 TN Democratic candidates, resulting in a surge of young folks registering to vote before the deadline.
  • Street artist Banksy punked all the bourgeoisie when a piece of his art, “Girl with Balloon”, sold at auction for $1.4 million, only for it to be fed into a built-in shredder at the time of sale.
  • The cognitive dissonance was wild on the Right, as Fox News couldn’t understand how noted gun reform activist Jamie Lee Curtis could use a gun as her character in the upcoming Halloween. Ya know, they’ve kinda got a point. If she meant business, she’d just bite Michael Myers’s dick off.
  • There was a colorism debate in the Black community when it was announced that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would be developing a film where he would play folk hero John Henry. “He’s not dark enough!” Well, first of all, John Henry isn’t real. Secondly, this is a movie being made for Netflix, where there’s already a decidedly “straight to video” vibe to their “originals”. The Rock will bring an audience that Calvin from House of Payne would not.

Ya know who had the West Week Ever? It wasn’t even a person this week. Nope, it’s a thing. Ya see, nothing had a week quite like Kanye West’s Make America Great Again Hat. It was on a plane! It got to go to the White House! It even got to hug a rich White man! Sure, it probably smells like Cheez Whiz at this point, but there’s no stopping it.

I mean, we even learned that it holds magical powers. According to Kanye, it can make you feel like Superman, and enhance your masculinity. Forget gas station sex pills and prescription antidepressants! This hat does it ALL! So, if I could tip my hat to another hat, I would, but nothing had a whirlwind week like Kanye’s MAGA hat, and that’s why it had the West Week Ever.

28th Sep2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 9/28/18

by Will

HarassmentWatch (TM)

Brett Kavanaugh – PASS. Next!

Drake – So, 14 year old Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown recently said that Drake texts her and gives her advice about boys. Now, this is already after he was coming off a week where he was reportedly seen out on a date with a teenager. Ol’ Aubrey better watch himself, because even the King of Pop himself couldn’t shake the pedophile allegations. It’s probably an innocent thing, but he might wanna tell her to stop bringing shit like that up in interviews.

Nelly – There are reports that Nelly settled with a woman who alleges he forced her to perform oral and vaginal sex on his tour bus, When he was done, he reportedly threw her off the bus and threw a $100 bill at her. Now, reports are saying they reached a settlement, which would normally imply guilt. The thing here, though, is that “settlement” doesn’t seem to be the correct word. Apparently, the victim refused to cooperate with prosecutors, and both sides dropped their suits against one another (Nelly had countersued). They agreed to cover their own legal costs, but Nelly’s lawyer reports no money changed hands, which the victim’s attorney is disputing. At the end of the day, I guess she didn’t wanna go and take a ride wit’ him.

Bill Cosby Update – Surprising EVERYONE, Bill Cosby received a sentence of 3-10 years in prison for puttin’ the pill in the bubbly when the girls wanna drink. There are reports that someone threw a hot dog at him in lockup on his first day, plus he almost fell down some stairs. On the one hand, it’s like “He was an evil man and this is what he has coming to him”. But on the other, it’s like “Who wins from an 83 year old man being put in jail?” I think he deserves to be there, but I’m not gonna laugh at his misfortune while in there. Hopefully, he’s not only a cautionary tale, but also the first of many more to follow.

Trailer Park

We’ve got a lot of trailery goodness this week, so let’s dive right in.

Creed II

Honestly, the first trailer did more for me. The whole rap in the background, the final tease of Drago Jr. That was great. I felt there was too much here, and not even the juicy bits. Just a bunch of Adonis being a deadbeat dad because he’s obsessed with his father’s legacy. Hands down, the best scene here is the staredown between Drago and Rocky. Man, the Russians clearly have the better Human Growth Hormone, ’cause Rocky looks like shit compared to Ivan. I’ll see it. Not sure if I’ll see it in the theater, but I’ll see it.

Bumblebee

So much 80s goodness in here. I was never a huge Transformers fan, so whatever Michael Bay did to them didn’t scar me as much as it did a lot of y’all. That said, I’ve always been a big fan of Bumblebee. Long story short, Bumblebee was the last birthday present I got from my dad before he passed away. So, even though a lot of y’all hate that he’s become the Urkel of the TF franchise, I will always stan for the ‘Bee. I will definitely be seeing this one.

Dark Phoenix

Ooh, we’re going all “Dark Knight“, and removing the name of the title characters’ franchise from the name of the movie. Whatever. A friend of mine texted me and asked “Did you see the Dark Phoenix trailer?” I replied, “No, but I saw a piece of shit with some X-Men characters in it.” This trailer is on Lexapro. There are no highs or lows. It just coasts right through the middle, offering nothing exciting. It’s a shame that everyone is all “Bring on the MCU X-Men!”, because it seems like that rubbed off on the filmmakers. Well, if nothing else, at least we know we’ll have a cool Quicksilver sequence to look forward to. If this is the 90s, I’m hoping it’s set to something by either C&C Music Factory of La Bouche.

ABC’s TGIF

Comedy has changed a lot and, while there’s a lot of nostalgia for the TGIF brand, I’m not sure Fresh Off the Boat and Speechless are gonna be the torchbearers for the 21st century incarnation of the comedy block. Anyway, here’s a cute video of some former TGIF stars imparting their wisdom to the newbies.


Star Trek: Short Treks – “Runaway”

Considering that there seems to be new Star Trek news every day, one of the projects that got lost in the news cycle was the Short Treks series, which are four anthology episodes that…well, I don’t know a whole lot more than that. Here’s the trailer for the first one, though, set in the Discovery era, starring Ensign Sylvia Tilly. Again, I’d check all this shit out if it didn’t require me to subscribe to CBS All Access. So, I’ll catch it once it ends up on YouTube or something.

Daredevil Season 3 (Netflix)

Well, that was certainly Kingpin and Matt Murdock. That’s all I’ve got. I’m seriously behind on those shows.

So, here’s an interesting, “shoe is on the other foot” moment. The curator for the hip hop collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History, Timothy Anne Burnside, is a White woman (full disclosure: she’s a friend of a friend). I’ve known about this since before the museum even opened. Still, I guess the news was on CP Time, ’cause the Black community didn’t seem to notice until over the weekend, and it was a SHITSTORM. All over social media, they couldn’t understand how a White woman was the curator of something so dear to our culture. Why wasn’t the job offered to a Black person? There was a lot of back and forth, and the Smithsonian even issued a statement about the whole thing. This debate comes up a lot, like “Should minority characters only be written by a person who’s from the same minority group?” From what I’ve heard, Timothy knows her shit, and I don’t think the Smithsonian would choose just anybody to handle this project (fuller disclosure: my mother worked for the National Museum of Natural History for 28 years). Still, the museum is in an uncomfortable situation, where they have to decide whether they’re going to side with Timothy, or with the critics. For the culture. If they do try to replace her, this has got “discrimination suit” written ALL over it.

This week saw the debut of the ABC sitcom Single Parents, starring Taran Killam. It wasn’t as bad as I expected, but it wasn’t great. Basically, Killam is a divorced dad who dotes on his daughter, and this group of single parents in his daughter’s class try to show him that there’s a world out there that he’s missing. The odd thing to me is that their friendship wasn’t organic. The group was just like “Ooh, new single parent!” and decided to make him their project. I had someone tell me on Twitter that I don’t understand single parenting, and that you “find your tribe quickly”. I don’t know about all that, but I know that trust takes time, and this crammed it all into 22 minutes. I get that they’re basically an elementary school Dear John, but the whole support group angle doesn’t really work unless the audience believes the trust is there. Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll be back for this one.

Last night was the premiere of the Murphy Brown revival, and woo boy! First of all, it features a cameo that’s so obvious that I can’t believe they even tried to tease it like it was a surprise (HINT: There’s a joke about emails). One thing another reviewer said, that I have to agree with, is that it seems horribly dated. I mean, the premiere features the pussy hats from the Women’s March (they don’t call them “pussy hats”, even though you could totally get away with that on broadcast today, while you couldn’t when the original series aired). If this had premiered a year ago, it might have seemed on the cutting edge of comedy, but this just seems slow and lazy. It’s kinda like how other animated shows reference how South Park already beat them to making the joke they’re trying to make. Why? Because South Park is a well oiled machine, cranking out shit based on last night’s headlines. This show, however, was Liberal Smuggery at its worst.

“What’s Liberal Smuggery,” you ask? It’s what I call the state of liberal comedy, where they think they’re so much smarter than the conservatives – they’re so biting and witty, yet they’ve got NOTHING to show for it. Even when they’re in power, they’re somehow the weaklings. Late night talk show hosts are the leaders in Liberal Smuggery. Jon Stewart made his name on it. But at the end of the day, what does that get you?  The “moral high ground”? I feel like this premiere went for a lot of low-hanging fruit that even those talk show hosts would’ve avoided.

In the UK, they might do a one-off special to catch up with a beloved show’s characters. They recently did one for Are You Being Served? I would’ve liked this more had it been that format: a one-off special to see how Murphy Brown feels about the Trump Administration. After last night’s episode, I’m pretty sure I’ve got my answer, and I’m good. I’m not so sure this needed to be a full season.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Dr. Dre’s series Vital Signs was cancelled by Apple before it even aired, due to graphic sex and violence. I know what bootleg I’m looking for at the next pop culture convention!
  • Inside The Actor’s Studio is returning to Ovation TV, but it will be without James Lipton. After 25 years, he’s stepping down, and the show will be led by “a rotating array of guest hosts”.

  • Writing has begun on the Picard-centric Star Trek series, and we got this pic of the writers room from Patrick Stewart’s Instagram. I’m struck by the fact that there are 2 women – one of whom is Black. I see you, sista! Oh yeah, Michael Chabon is there, too.
  • Formerly of The View, Rosie O’Donnell is set to guest host on The Talk today, in a possible bid to replace the departed Julie Chen.
  • The CW Arrowverse crossover this season will be called Elseworlds, which comic fans will remember as the DC imprint that was home to out of continuity stories.

  • Speaking of DC shows, we got this poster for Titans, which will be streaming on the DC Universe service next month. Yeah, not only does this poster do nothing for me, but where are Hawk & Dove? Aren’t they supposed to be on the show, too? Was Minka Kelly too expensive for the whole season?
  • Terry Crews has been tapped to host the America’s Got Talent spinoff, America’s Got Talent: the Champions, which seems like it might be their all-star edition. Who hosts the regular show since Nick Cannon quit? *Googles* Tyra Banks? STILL?!
  • So, um, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has joined the writing team for the Veronica Mars revival. Yup, that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Huh.
  • For some reason, Disney is remaking High Fidelity, only Zoe Kravitz will be in the John Cusack role. I don’t get it. Will she be a womanizing lesbian? Will she work still work in a record store? Let’s pump the brakes on these reboots, huh?
  • Dunkin Donuts is reportedly planning to drop the “Donuts” from their name, as they refocus their brand as a “beverage-led company, not limited to just donuts”. Yeah, how ’bout y’all ask IHOB how well that shit went for them.
  • Apparently, there was backlash about how The Princess & The Frog‘s Princess Tiana appears in the upcoming Ralph Wrecks The Internet, as her skin has been lightened, and her hair processed. Disney is correcting the appearance to match what fans are used to. Of course, old White men are mad, and Black folks are like “We were just gonna buy that movie bootleg at the barbershop anyway, so it really don’t matter what color she is based on the shaky cam quality it’s gonna be.”
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead & Jurnee Smollett-Bell have been cast, respectively, as Huntress and Black Canary in DC’s unnecessary Birds of Prey film that will probably never see the light of day. I mean, my man Ray Fisher is still waiting for his call to report to the set of that Cyborg movie, so…

It was a bad week. Especially the past 2 days. But out of all the bullshit there rose a phoenix. That phoenix also goes by the name of Stefanie Germanotta, but you can call her “Lady Gaga”. She’s making her debut as a lead in Bradley Cooper’s remake of A Star Is Born. Yesterday, the single “Shallow” was released, and I’ve probably listened to it 400 times by now. If there’s any problem with the song, it’s the fact that it’s too short. While everyone was screaming at the Kavanaugh hearing yesterday, I was keeping my cool by looping this. I’d suggest you try it. That’s why Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” had the West Week Ever.

17th Aug2018

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

by Will

So, last night I saw The Meg, which isn’t typically my kind of movie, but I really do love Jason Statham. When it was first announced, I couldn’t imagine why Statham was doing this underwater suspense film. After seeing it, though, I realize there’s no other working actor who could’ve done this role. It’s like filmmakers are sitting on a certain type of script, and they take it to Statham’s adult tree house (you know he totally has one of those), and they present it to him. He looks them square in the eye, and says, “Oi! You payin’ me money fo’ this? See you in the mornin’.”

Remember near the end of Britney Spears’s heyday, when you didn’t really call her a “singer”, but rather an “entertainer”? We all knew the singing wasn’t putting butts in seats, but she was known for putting on a good show. That’s kinda the same case with Jason Statham. He’s not an “actor”, but more of an “entertainer”. He has no real range or depth, and he’s constantly overacting in an attempt to gain either. But damn if it isn’t entertaining.

I’m gonna end up spoiling a lot of this movie because you’re probably never gonna see it until it comes on TV.
Anyway, it starts out with Statham and his two colleagues performing a daring deep sea rescue aboard a submarine. To save the bulk of the survivors, he’s forced to blow the hatch and leave his colleagues behind. We’re told these were his “best friends”, though he never really seems to give that much of a shit about them. Fast forward 5 years later, where he’s a drunk, riddled with guilt, living in Thailand trying to drown the memory of what happened to his friends. He’s sought out by Chinese Scientist and that Indian looking dude from Fear The Walking Dead. You see, Chinese Scientist’s experimental sub is stranded on the ocean floor, and Statham is the only man who’s performed a rescue that deep. All the familiar tropes are there: he tells them he’s not diving again, and offers them a beer before getting ready to kick them out – that is until he learns that the pilot of the stranded sub is dun dun DUNNNN…his ex-wife. Next thing you see is Statham getting off the helicopter, and suiting up for the rescue mission. Aw, shit! We’ve got Die Hard Underwater! He’s gonna go save the only woman he ever loved, right? Right? WRONG! Yeah, he saves her, but she spends a good chunk of the movie in a coma, while he and Chinese Scientist’s Daughter begin to fall for each other.

In the middle of all this, there are attacks by a big fucking shark. Seriously, that’s what the movie should’ve been called: Big Fucking Shark. Or The BFS, since you can’t put “Fucking” on a movie poster. I mean, they call it The Meg, and I figure that’s only because Megalodon sounds like something from The Asylum that would air on Syfy. You don’t really learn much about the Megalodon, though. Unlike Jurassic Park, where they’ve got dinosaur facts coming out the ass, this movie is content to just say that a Megalodon is a big fucking shark that we thought was extinct, but clearly isn’t. Anyway, Statham has pretty much gone on record to say that the film in theaters isn’t the film he made. He expected more gore, and I’ll admit the deaths and attacks are pretty tame.

I’m curious to know what was cut, because you can almost tell when and where things are missing. For example, future Batwoman Ruby Rose plays Jax, who designed Chinese Scientist’s ocean base. When the doctor decides to sacrifice himself so that Jax can escape the Meg, he says “You’re going to be OK, Jax. You’re a good person.” That’s a pretty heavy line with no support for it. You’d think maybe there was some backstory about Jax doubting herself, or dwelling on some bad decision she had made in her life, and here was the Voice of Reason, telling her it would be OK, before sacrificing himself to give her a second chance at life. You’d think. But none of that is in the film.

Also, before sacrificing himself, Masi Oka’s character stuffs a note for his wife into the pocket of his colleague before shoving him out the hatch. Said colleague never makes sure the note gets to Oka’s wife, but instead shoves it into the chest of Chinese Scientist once he’s back on the station. What did the note say? Did it ever make its way to Oka’s wife?!

It’s a good film for minorities, though. The Black guy lives, the lesbian hacker lives, and every other person not on the ocean base is Chinese. You never quite believe that Statham is really into Chinese Scientist’s Daughter, and I wanted him to quip something like, “Oi! I’m inna mood fo’ Chinese!”, and then wink at her. Or maybe show a scene with them relaxing in the afterglow in bed, and he looks at his watch and says, “Oi! It’s true what they say: it’s been thir’y minutes and I’m ready fo’ round two!” Ya know, really crudely play into the cultural differences. She’s a demure Asian woman of science, and he’s the rough around the edges Rescue Bloke. But instead of taking any real chances with their characters, they keep everything steady between the navigational beacons.

I liked this movie. I won’t say it’s “good”, but it’s certainly entertaining. It could’ve done more with what it had, though. Rainn Wilson does a good job as the obnoxious billionaire who funded the whole project, but I didn’t think he got a full character arc either. A lot of this movie was clearly left on the floor of the editing room. It’s downright predictable, but I guess that’s what folks like about these things? Again, it’s not my usual genre, but I certainly didn’t hate it.

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Chris Hardwick Update – Hardwick returned to his hosting duties on The Talking Dead this week, with a tearful thank you to his supporters. So, I guess that’s the end of that, huh?

James Gunn Update – Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy – you’ve gotta put all your cards on the table! This week, pictures surfaced of James Gunn dressed as a Naughty Priest at an alleged pedophile-themed party. I mean, how many chances are we gonna give this guy? Yeah, I know folks will argue that tasteless “fancy dress parties” (just call them “costume parties”, you damn Brits!) occur, and “He worked for Troma” blah blah blah. I still don’t know where the line will be drawn, and he’s an interesting case study in figuring that out. I honestly haven’t made up my mind where I stand on his whole thing. All I know is it’d be nice if Gunn just got everything out in the open. First the tweets. Then the Naughty Priest costume. Next it’ll be a shoebox of Polaroids and y’all are still gonna be like “REHIRE HIM NOW!” I feel like he’s somewhere now, like, “Well, at least they didn’t find the body.” Anyway, Disney is reportedly sticking their guns, and refusing to rehire him, despite the fan backlash.

It was a big week for the Star Trek franchise, in both good and bad ways. Things started off with reports that the fourth movie in the rebooted JJ Abrams Kelvin Universe was falling apart. Actors Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth had walked away from the negotiation table, as they claimed Paramount wasn’t trying to honor deals that were already in place. Essentially, Paramount wanted them to take pay cuts, arguing that Trek films weren’t comparable to the Marvel and DC films the actors went on to star in. Deals with the other cast members were expected to close once the Chrises were in place, but now the movie is in danger of not happening. Paramount is notorious for keeping a tight budget on Trek films, and the last installment, Star Trek Beyond, apparently lost them money. Plus, they’d have to address the whole Chekov thing, seeing as how actor Anton Yelchin died in a freak accident after production wrapped on the last film.

Meanwhile, in another part of the galaxy, Gregory Peck’s grandson, Ethan Peck, has been cast as Young Spock in Star Trek: Discovery. Why they needed to do this, I have no clue. Why not just get Zachary Quinto? He’s around. So, now there’s gonna be three different Spock actors. Whatever. I still haven’t boarded the Disco train, but I’ll get around to it one of these days.

The Trailer Park

Runaways Season 2

Still haven’t seen season 1, but the looks of these kids don’t make me want to check it out. It looks so…Degrassi. Plus, they really added the dinosaur?! Kinda surprised by that. Must be Hell on the CGI budget. Anyway, I was a big fan of the comic for the first few years, but I can’t imagine watching this show, knowing the twist coming. Plus, I thought they would’ve revealed that in season 1, so the fact that it’s season 2 and they’re still, basically, in the first 12 issues means this thing is gonna run FOREVER. Pass. Anyway, it premieres December 21st, which is also the release date for, like, every movie in the world, so I’m not sure it’s gonna be a Day 1 streaming hit.

Kim Possible TV Movie

I was a huge fan of the cartoon, even though I was 21 and way too old to be watching it. Still, this idea feels about 15 years too late. I remember when they used to talk about this thing getting a theatrical release, with the possibility of voice actress Christy Carlson Romano in the lead role. Now, here we are in 2018, and it’s been demoted to the status of a Disney Channel Original Movie. Just seems so…lame. I’d like to think I’ll watch it, but I’ll probably miss it until I accidentally stumble upon it one day in 2021, when my kids’ll be into that shit.

Iron Fist Season 2 

I’ll confess that I haven’t seen a Marvel Netflix show since Jessica Jones, but when did the production values change? This looks like Arrow Season 1. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. I mean, season 1 was one of Arrow‘s better seasons, but this totally looks like a drama on The CW – something that would air during the summer after The 100 or The Originals. It looks like they may have fixed some of the issues folks had with season 1 of this show, but I’m still not sold. Anyway, I’ve got a few years before I even get to see it, as I’ve got about 6 more Netflix seasons to get through before this.

So, last week there was a news story about South Carolina woman Elizabeth Cutshaw who was pulled over by the cops for a DUI. She tried to get out of her arrest by calling herself a “clean, thoroughbred, White girl”. Well, knowing a great opportunity when I see one, I quickly snatched up ThoroughbredWhiteGirls.com. Now I’ve just gotta figure out what to do with it. A picture gallery of White horses? A porn site of thick White women? Sell it to some White supremacists at a profit? The possibilities are endless!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • It was a bad week for low-performing basic cable shows, as Shooter was cancelled on USA, while The Royals was cancelled on E!
  • ABC has officially ordered a pilot for a spinoff of The Middle, where Sue Heck embarks on an exciting life in the big city of Chicago.
  • After one not-especially-notable season, Saturday Night Live featured player Luke Null won’t be returning to the show this fall.

  • We got a look at Barry’s new suit on The Flash. Maybe one day I’ll get past season 1 of that show…
  • CBS classic Designing Women is being prepped for a reboot at Sony. I’m sure they’re gonna make at least one of them a Trump supporter this time. Fun fact: In the original series, Dixie Carter played staunch Democrat Julia Sugarbaker. Carter, however, was a card-carrying Republican. So, she struck a deal with producers that whenever her character had to give a blistering, Liberal-minded speech, she’d get to sing a song in a future episode.
  • The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, passed away yesterday, and Fox News put up a tribute picture of Patti LaBelle instead.  I still don’t “get” Patti LaBelle. Same with Anita Baker. To me, Anita is the female Gerald Levert, in that she always sold just enough albums to justify recording another.

Earlier this week, I was explaining the role of the reality show villain to my 80 year old mother. Nah, she probably didn’t care, but it gave us something to fill the silence. In any case, I was explaining how it wasn’t really even a concept until Real World: San Francisco, back in 1994. That’s back when MTV would still cast ugly people for that show. Stupid Vegas season came along and ruined everything, but I digress. Anyway, David “Puck” Rainey was the obnoxious housemate, who took things to extremes. He ate out of the peanut butter jar with his fingers. He wiped boogers on the walls. He became so hard to handle that the other housemates took a vote, and evicted him from the house – a first for the show, as well as setting a precedent for all reality shows to come. After that point, the template was pretty much that A) there had to be a villian and B) somebody had to be voted out. Look at every reality show since then, and that’s pretty much the blueprint. Well, Puck may have started it, but Omarosa Manigault Newman perfected it.

After 3 seasons across the various iterations of The Apprentice, as well as her own reality show and Celebrity Big Brother, Omarosa made a name for her self as the Head Bitch of Reality TV. We thought that’s where she would remain and flounder until her former “boss”, and producing partner, Donald Trump won a certain election. Now she’d be able to use her reality TV skills in an even backstabbier, vicious circle: American politics. Hired as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison, it was never really clear what she actually did. In fact, a reporter shadowed her for a day, and still couldn’t figure it out. It didn’t matter, though, as the stint didn’t last long. She was hired in January and ousted in December. Grand opening, grand closing! She laid low for a bit, but then came roaring back to the headlines this week with the release of her book Unhinged, where she alleges that Trump is a racist who frequently used “The N-Word” (you all know I have no problem typing that word out here, but I feel like you’d be more inclined to share the post if I soften it up. So, yeah – share my shit). Oh, and she also has tapes. She was taping conversations, son! I swear, how is the Trump Administration just so bad at everything? She used the book and the tapes to get herself onto every talk show and interview panel that would have her this week.

Here’s my thing with Omarosa, though: Omarosa did THREE seasons of The Apprentice AND produced a dating reality show with Trump. They both knew who the other one was, and none of that prevented either from working with the other until shit hit the fan. Ya know what? He probably did say it. Probably with her right beside him, laughing about it. Harriet Tubman, however, she is not. She is going on the talk circuit claiming that she wanted to make sure Black folks were represented at the table, but she also said that Black people aren’t a monolith, so you can’t expect to agree with everyone.

Building your career on the backs of reality shows is akin to being a social media star, like a YouTuber. You constantly have to do something, anything, to stay relevant. The Adult Swim show Mostly 4 Millennials is really good about parodying this fact. Omarosa is accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and a certain amount of attention, so she’s got to do whatever she has to in order to achieve that. I mean, this is a woman who was prepared to marry (and may have possibly murdered) Michael Clarke Duncan. I loved the dude, but ain’t nobody lining up to marry Green Mile! This is simply a pivot. She was a Trumper, but now Omarosa ’18 is a “crusader” – in her mind, at least. The problem with this particular play, however is that it’s a Hail Mary pass. I don’t think she fully understands the repercussions of what she’s trying to unleash. And at the end of the day, even if Trump said those things, his base would just be emboldened even more, and say “Well, they were acting niggery!” Like I said before, it’s amazing how bad they all are at this. But God Bless her, she’s trying.

I really don’t know where this takes Omarosa when the dust settles. I don’t know what’s left. Omarosa in space? Omarosa Goes To Africa? I mean, she’s virtually unhireable in any decent capacity, and she’s also not very loyal if you’ve got to worry about her taping your conversations. She doesn’t seem to realize how this makes her look, even if she thinks she was just covering her ass. It’s kinda like when Comey came out with his book, and looked like more of a fool with each subsequent interview. Eventually, we were all like, “Sit down, asshole!” So, I really hope she knows what she’s doing, but if history has taught me anything about this administration, she doesn’t. Yet, she’ll still be fine. And that’s why Omarosa Manigault Newman had the West Week Ever.

10th Aug2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 8/10/18

by Will

HarassmentWatch(TM)

Casey Affleck – Believed by many to be one of the original causes of the #MeToo movement, Affleck finally addressed the allegations of his misconduct on the set of the Joaquin Phoenix mockumentary I’m Not Here. Some are applauding the fact that he’s finally accepting the blame, while others aren’t sure if it’s enough. The allegations resulted in a lawsuit filed by two female cast members, which was settled out of court. From his interview with the Associated Press,

“That I was ever involved in a conflict that resulted in a lawsuit is something that I really regret,” he said.

“I had never had any complaints like that made about me before in my life and it was really embarrassing, and I didn’t know how to handle it, and I didn’t agree with everything, the way I was being described and the things that were said about me,” Affleck said.

“But I wanted to try to make it right, and so we made it right in the way that was asked at the time.”

To me, that sounds like “I gave them money because that’s what they wanted, and I wanted it to go away. However, looking back on it, I’m not quite sure that was the best course, especially since it did not make everything go away.” But that’s just my take on it… Anyway, that’s pretty much all you have to do in Hollywood these days, so he’ll be making the talk show rounds after this and everyone will act like everything’s cool.

Lindsay Lohan – Don’t worry, she didn’t harass anyone…yet. What she did, however, was say that the women who came out with #MeToo allegations looked weak. She went on to say that when things of that nature occur, they should be dealt with in the moment, and that they become “real” when you file a police report. Anything other than that is just the work of attention-seekers who are placing folks on trial by social media. Shots fired!

Dave Bautista has been real quiet the past few days, and I’ll tell you why that’s important. You see, when the week started, he stated that he wouldn’t return to film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 unless Disney promised to use the script that ousted director James Gunn had written. Fans everywhere applauded his resolve, admiring the fact that he was standing behind his friend and colleague. I, however, think it’s stupid to mess with a guaranteed paycheck – especially when you ain’t got the juice! We’re not talking about The Rock or Will Smith here. Shit, we’re not even talking about Chris Pratt. In any of those cases, this would be a different conversation. However, there are THOUSANDS of wrestlers out there with a razor and can of green body paint in hand, just waiting to be tagged in to take his place. I like the guy, and I like the character he plays, but he just doesn’t have the Hollywood clout to be making demands just yet. And Marvel Studios has shown that actors are replaceable (just ask Terrence Howard or Ed Norton). Anyway, reports began trickling out around Wednesday that Disney was, in fact, scrapping Gunn’s script. So, where’s the announcement, Dave? I guess it would give you a good opportunity to step back into the ring for a while.

Meanwhile, there are also rumblings that Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige is on the inside, championing Gunn’s vision for the film. Some outlets are saying he’s trying to keep the script, while others are saying that he’s actually trying to get Gunn rehired in some capacity. It’s been pointed out that the film is supposed to establish the next phase of Marvel films, so it would be sort of shortsighted to scrap it. Also, the way that CBS handled the Les Moonves situation has also changed folks’s minds. You see, Disney acted swiftly to axe Gunn, without investigation, deliberation, yadda yadda yadda. CBS was like, “Eh, we’ll investigate Moonves, but he can still work.” So, it’s kinda like, “Well, if CBS could do that, why couldn’t we?” I’ve seen folks say they won’t see Vol 3 if Disney goes in a different direction, but I don’t believe that.  Folks said the same when Edgar Wright left Ant-Man, and folks still went out of morbid curiosity. And enjoyed it! So, either way, there’ll be a Guardians 3, and folks will go to see it. Whether that film will have Gunn’s fingerprints on it remains to be seen.

In other movie news, there are reports that producers are leaning towards choosing Idris Elba as the next James Bond. And here’s why that’s a bad idea. Look, I love Idris, and I really don’t have that much love for the Bond franchise (my favorite installment is Moonraker, for God’s sake), so this isn’t necessarily in my wheelhouse. Here’s the thing, though: isn’t Bond a SPY? Like, he’s more than just a suave guy who beds dames and shoots people. This is espionage. The places Bond would need to go would sometimes make it somewhat difficult for him to blend in. I know these films require some suspension of disbelief (Hugo Drax somehow had the money to build SIX Moonraker space shuttles AND a secret space station?!), but unless every Idris Bond movie is gonna be a remake of Live and Let Die, and he’s gonna just be chasing Yaphet Kotto the whole time, I don’t see how it’s gonna work. The world is a-changing, but that dog don’t hunt. I think Idris is more than capable of being a great, suave Bond. I just don’t know what backdrop you set him against. I also feel like this is a testament that the world is running out of British actors. I mean, every one’s either been Bond, The Doctor, or on EastEnders. I mean, next they’ll be lobbying for Simon Pegg to take over the role.

In TV news, it’s been announced that The First Purge‘s Joivan Wade will be portraying Cyborg on the Doom Patrol series for the DC Universe streaming service. You know Cyborg – the Teen Titans member who got an undeserved promotion to the Justice League during The New 52? The same guy who was portrayed by Ray Fisher in the Justice League film? So, WHY is he now going to be on Doom Patrol? Reports say that he’s not actually on the team, but rather the one who gathers the team. Still, for a company that was so worried about brand confusion that they removed Deathstroke from the Arrowverse prior to the Suicide Squad movie, I find this to be a perplexing move. Anyway, I have no faith in anything on that service, so they can pretty much do whatever the Hell they want. I’m just here to report the news in my own snarky little way.

The Catfish Bromance is over, as cohost Max Joseph announced that he’s leaving the show. Sure, the show put him on the map, but it’ll survive without him. After all, he missed a chunk of episodes around season 3 while he was filming his movie, and Nev just replaced him with guest hosts. Hell, I watched an episode the other day, and the cohost was Nev’s wife. So, the show will be fine without him. My question is where do they keep finding these people? I mean, the first 2 seasons, I could kinda believe it. By season 3, though, “catfishing” was a known concept, and folks were more vigilant. Somehow, though, they’ve eked out 7 seasons and 115 episodes of this concept. I know “There’s a sucker born every minute”, but damn! Anyway, Joseph got tired of trying to juggle the show with his passion for filmmaking, so he’s going with his passion. His directorial debut was 2015’s We Are Your Friends, starring Zac Efron. That film scored a 40% on Rotten Tomatoes, and was the fourth worst opening film on +2,000 screens of all time. So, Max might not want to lose Nev’s number…

In another interesting TV tidbit, Will Forte joined Vulture Comedy’s Podcast, Good One, where he detailed what would have happened with The Last Man on Earth, had it been renewed. If you saw the fourth season finale, then you know that the gang was surrounded by a bunch of armed folks in masks. Well, these people would’ve been survivors who’s been in a bunker since the virus hit. Over time, the gang would win them over, and eventually be released out of the quarantine the survivors had put them in – which would end up being the death of the survivors, since everyone in the gang is a carrier of the virus. So, we’d be left with the core group again, and maybe one member of the survivors. In a surprising confession, though, Forte admitted that he had no idea how the show would end, which confirmed my feelings that they were just making it up as they went along. It was a cute show, but it really needed an endgame. Long live Phillip Tandy Miller!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week 

  • In an interesting twist, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is recasting the role of Greg for its final season, with Skylar Astin of Pitch Perfect fame. The show plans to lean into the recast, to show how people’s perceptions of others change over time.
  • Kelly Clarkson is filming a pilot for a syndicated daytime talk show, which may fill the hole left in schedules when Harry ends this Fall. I don’t hate this idea, as I could see her filling the role of a Ricki Lake for the ’20s.
  • Speaking of syndicated talk shows, former NBC anchor Tamron Hall is developing a talk show with ABC Studios to potentially debut in 2019.
  • Last week, there were reports that a reboot was in the works for The Facts of Life, and the news was so shocking that it killed Mrs. Garrett. Well, it may have been unrelated, but Charlotte Rae is dead.
  • The Showtime drama Homeland will end after the upcoming 8th season.
  • There will reportedly be an 18-month time jump when The Walking Dead returns next season.
  • While it was believed that the show was winding down, CBS reported this week that there are talks to renew The Big Bang Theory for a 13th season. “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
  • It was reported that the villain for the Birds of Prey film will most likely be Batman villain Black Mask.
  • Speaking of DC Films Nobody Wants, Warner Bros is reportedly developing a Supergirl film.
  • Jean-Ralphio is about to go upside Eggman’s head, as it was announced that Ben Schwartz would be voicing Sonic The Hedgehog in the upcoming film.
  • David Schwimmer will be recurring next season on Will & Grace as Grace’s love interest. David LOVES those NBC checks!
  • Denise Richards will be joining the cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills next season. I hope one of those catty bitches asks her about her weird tits. I remember everyone loved that scene from Wild Things, but those things looked off!
  • Even though Kenya Barris has jumped ship from ABC Studios, his shows are staying put, and Grown-ish will return to Freeform in January.
  • Sex sells, but bitter divorce sells even better! This is why HGTV has renewed Flip or Flop for a 15-episode 8th season.
  • To prove that everyone is out of ideas and really just cashing their checks at this point, a TV show is in development based on the 2006 Plain White T’s hit “Hey There Delilah”. If you don’t remember it, it was a shitty song. If you ever get bored, Google it, because the story behind it is kinda crazy. I mean, Delilah is a real person, and had a boyfriend at the time this random ass dude wrote a song about her.

  • Shaun Weiss, who played Goldberg in The Mighty Ducks, has apparently fallen on hard times, as he was arrested over the weekend for public intoxication under the influence of drugs. Here’s hoping the “knuckle puck” doesn’t mean something entirely different behind bars…
  • Orange Is The New Black actress Ruby Rose has been cast as the Arrowverse’s Batwoman. She will first appear in this season’s crossover, with a potential solo series to follow.
  • Apparently Sony refers to their Spider-Man Universe films as the “Sony Universe of Marvel Characters”, or SUMC. Not that “DCEU” or “MCU” are that great, but SUMC doesn’t really roll off the tongue. Sounds like a shitty college. Southern Utah Mechanical College. “Yeah, my brother in law learned HVAC at SUMC.”
  • Speaking of the SUMC, the Silver Sable/Black Cat team-up movie, Silver & Black, has been scrapped and will now be TWO movies, each focused on one of the pair. ‘Cause why have ONE pile of shit when you can have TWO? Director Gina Prince-Bythewood is expected to depart, but will still get a producer credit on both films.

  • We got this promo pic from the live action Dora the Explorer film. This just looks…wrong. She’s too old!
  • There’s an interesting story that Marvel Chairman Ike Perlmutter has been secretly advising the Department of Veteran Affairs for the Trump Administration. Keep in mind that Perlmutter has NO military service under his belt. Yeah, it’s crazy, but it could also mean we’re one step closer to getting a real life Super Soldier Serum!
  • THEY KILLED LUIGI!
  • Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders will be reprising their roles as Nick Fury and Maria Hill in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
  • The West Hollywood City Council unanimously voted to remove Donald Trump’s star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but they played themselves because the decision to do such a thing is actually up to the City of Los Angeles, as well as the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. And the Chamber of Commerce has refused to remove the stars of disgraced celebrities, like Bill Cosby, because they consider the Walk a history landmark, and have never removed a star. Anyway, in a show of solidarity for Trump, a group calling themselves “The Faction” placed 50 vinyl stars bearing Trump’s name along the Walk Thursday morning.
  • Several changes to the Oscars were announced, including sticking to a 3-hour runtime by awarding “lesser” categories during commercial breaks, and the creation of the Outstanding Achievement In Popular Film award, which is pretty much basically “The award for the movies you’ve actually seen.”

I never thought I’d see this day, but here it is: over the weekend, Patrick Stewart announced that he would be returning to the role of Jean-Luc Picard in a Star Trek series for CBS All Access.

I was dumbfounded. I swore I’d never get CBS All Access because I hate the idea of paying for Star Trek outside of a theater, but this just might do it.

There was an interesting comment thread on a Facebook post I made about this, where I said that come Monday, we would all find out that Stewart is senile and we were all being punked. It got into a discussion about how Discovery just doesn’t feel right to some fans, and someone else chimed in that TRUE Trek fans like Discovery and know that it’s a great product. I wasn’t really expecting the gatekeeping there, but I was listening. He went on to say that he didn’t mind paying for All Access because to him, it’s akin to paying for HBO for Game of Thrones. He didn’t mind paying for premium shows like that. And I start thinking about that for a bit. Do I want a big budget, “premium” Star Trek?

Sure, there are folks who will tell you they do, but I always felt there was something about the UHF syndicated/UPN budgets that made those iterations of Trek special. I’ve never been a fan of The Original Series, but I was raised on The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine (both syndicated), and I cautiously avoided Voyager and Enterprise (which, based on UPN’s pockets, might as well have had syndicated budgets). I feel like they made do with what they had, and it’s not like the weaknesses showed. Sure, the production values for the first 3 seasons of TNG are basically as lame as those from TOS, but they found their groove, and started really understanding how to use their resources. So, does more money mean a better Star Trek? I’m not sure that’s true, and I still feel like CBS is fleecing fans by putting this on All Access. I know concepts like “fairness” seem a bit childish when talking about business matters, but it doesn’t seem fair.

Anyway, I guess they’re giving me what I wanted. I’ve been wanting them to stop with the reboots and prequels, and finally tell us what happened to the Federation after the Dominion War. Sadly, too much time has now passed since those events that we won’t get to witness the Reconstruction phase I was looking forward to seeing. I also thought we were done with Picard. I mean, I love the character, and he’s certainly MY captain over Kirk, but I was kinda fine with where Nemesis left him. Sure, it wasn’t a fitting ending, but there’s a whole galaxy out there, and I was looking forward to learning more about it. The fact that they’re bringing back Stewart is fan service to the umpteenth degree, but it also makes me scared that this show is just going to be a revolving door of cameos from TNG folks. I fear it’ll be Fuller House In Space, as this week wacky Will Riker shows up to lend a hand. Sure, it’d be nice to catch up with a lot of those characters (especially B4), but I don’t need it to be crammed into the story. It should be organic.

I’m glad they’re not referring to him as Captain right now, as that could mean a multitude of things. Did he finally get promoted to Admiral? I mean, Janeway got her crew lost, got most of them killed, banded together with the enemy, and still got a promotion the minute she got back. Picard’s more than earned one, though we know he didn’t want a commission that would take him off the bridge of a starship. Still, 20 years have passed. Maybe he’s in a different place. Or maybe he’s not even in Starfleet anymore. They’ve shown that you can pretty much come and go as you please when it comes to Starfleet, so maybe some old threat, like DaiMon Bok, brings him out of retirement. So, maybe he’s back on his family’s vineyard, and we get a recreation of that Farpoint scene, as he’s being taken to see the new Enterprise-G (the F would’ve probably been decommissioned by then). Or maybe he’s dealing with the Space Alzheimers from “All Good Things”. There are a lot of possibilities, and I’m always excited about new Star Trek. I just don’t wanna have to pay for it.

In any case, this was the kind of announcement that would normally break the Internet, had it not come out on a Saturday afternoon. So, for that, Patrick Stewart had the West Week Ever.

03rd Aug2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 8/3/18

by Will

These things just get later and later, huh? Well, blame my job! In any case, let’s jump right on into today’s topics, shall we?

HarassmentWatch(TM)

Les Moonves – The current chairman, president, and CEO of CBS Corporation is under investigation after 6 women have come forward with sexual harassment allegations that go back decades. The situation is even dicier since his wife is Julie Chen, who also works for the network as host of Big Brother, as well as a co-host of The Talk. Chen issued a statement defending her husband, but his alma mater, Bucknell University, has removed all mention of him from their website, and USC has suspended his name from their media center. He continues to work while the investigation proceeds.

Kimberly Guilfoyle – I find it interesting that this story isn’t getting more attention than it is. Guilfoyle, who is also the current girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr, quietly left her job at Fox News last week amidst a misconduct investigation. Reportedly, she would show coworkers pictures of male genitalia, and tell stories about who the men were in the pictures. Also, she was allegedly abusive to makeup and wardrobe people, and also used them for personal events. This was the result of a yearlong investigation, and since Fox tends to prefer having folks resign or retire rather than fire them, they allowed it to appear that she left on her own terms.

Guilfoyle was a protege of Roger Ailes, even going as far as attacking Gretchen Carlson when she accused Ailes of sexual harassment. Since Ailes’s death, however, things have started to change for Guilfoyle. Once the rumored frontrunner to replace White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Guilfoyle found herself being passed over for the same opportunities given to her fellow co-hosts of The Five. She allegedly lobbied directly to Rupert Murdoch himself to save her job, but it was of no use. Now she’s expected to join the Trumps on the campaign trail.

Nick Carter Update – Melissa Schuman, formerly of the pop group Dream, previously accused the Backstreet Boy of raping her when she was 18. The matter has now been referred to the Los Angeles District Attorney for possible charges filed.

Chris Hardwick Update – Following AMC’s lead, NBC has announced that Hardwick will return to host the 3rd season of game show The Wall. On top of that, he will also serve as a guest judge on next week’s episode of America’s Got Talent. I think #MeToo might be over, y’all…

James Gunn Update – After Gunn’s abrupt firing last week, due to old incendiary tweets being brought to light, the Guardians of the Galaxy cast and crew have stood behind him, and released the following statement:

 

I used to watch a bunch of standup specials, since that’s about 40% of what Netflix’s catalog is comprised of. I haven’t seen too many lately, but the wife and I did watch Iliza Shlesinger’s Elder Millennial this week. I’ve liked Iliza since she was the smartass, tank-top wearing host of the dating show Excused, but I’ve never really loved entire specials by her. She’s funny, she’s got good timing, but I always feel like she should’ve graduated to being a comedic actress by now instead of staying on the stage. I reviewed her special War Paint back in the day, and a lot of the criticisms I had then I still have today. The overall set isn’t that strong, and what’s with the weird animal noises? I think she’s a cool chick, but only, maybe, three jokes actually made me laugh out loud. I think this is one you can skip.

So Nickelodeon surprised us all by uploading the premiere episode of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to YouTube. I watched it, and, it’s a TV show. That’s about all I can say. I mean, a lot of folks my age went into this show prepared to hate it, ’cause old dudes just can’t let shit go. That said, I think I went into it with a pretty open mind. The things that I thought would bother me weren’t so bad. Raph as the leader is different, but it helps that he’s not that good at it, so maybe this could be considered a prequel to the TMNT stuff we’re used to. Don is still the tech guy, so that gives me a nice sense of comfort. I haven’t really gotten used to Leo as the jokester yet, and I don’t know what to make of “artsy” Mikey. Lazy, couch potato Splinter is also different. The animation isn’t that crisp, and something about it made me think of a webseries. I mean, it’d be a decent webseries, but still “not quite ready for TV”. I almost expected it to stick to the modern cartoon runtime of 11-15 minutes, as I really don’t like looking at these designs for a 22-minute span of time. It’s not that they’re “ugly”, but they’re so “choppy”.

To give you an idea of what the episode is about, we’re introduced to the Turtles as they get their weapons destroyed by some mysterious henchmen who are after some kinda mystical dog creature. Their pal, April, ends up being abducted by the henchmen and taken to another realm. The Turtles find a way to follow her, gain new mystical weapons, and fight John Cena. Something like that. Again, it was OK, but I highly doubt it’ll be “destination television” for me.

I know folks don’t want to say it, so I’ll be the one who does: I hate April. She’s Black now, which is whatever. Representation matters. I don’t hate her because of that. I hate her because she’s just all over the place. Sometimes she’s trying to have some weird NYC accent, and others she’s not. She’s not a grounding force for them, but rather as reckless as (and possibly moreso than) the Turtles. She’s impetuous, and just kind of annoying. I’ve heard a few reviews from folks who I know were dancing around that issue, since they probably don’t wanna be labeled “racist” for not liking her. Let’s just say it: she sucks.

At the end of the day, kids will love it, and that’s what matters. I hope it sells a shit ton of toys, and I’ll check back in when it’s rebooted again in 6 years.

Normally this would’ve gone in the Things You Might Have Missed area, but this just deserved its own blurb. The Fox drama 9-1-1 had cast Buffy vet Charisma Carpenter in a guest role for an episode this season, but the episode has been scrapped by censors. Ya see, she’d play a woman whose Viagra-popping lover dies while he’s…inside her. At the time of his heart attack, there’s some vaginal clamping going on, so he’s stuck inside her, dead, hence why she’d need 911. Apparently it’s a real occurrence called penis captivus. Anyway, Fox’s Standards & Practices decided that the storyline was too “R-rated” to make it to air, so they plan to bring Carpenter back in another role later.

It’s the 25th anniversary of Power Rangers, so that means anniversary team-up episode! And it ain’t an anniversary throwback if original Green/White Ranger Tommy Oliver isn’t involved. This week, actor Jason David Frank revealed that he, along with Catherine Sutherland (Zeo Pink) and Jason Faunt (Time Force Red), would be participating in the episode. Nickelodeon announced that the special episode of Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel will air during prime time, at 8 PM, on August 28th – exactly 25 years since the airing of the premiere episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, “Day of the Dumpster”.

The Trailer Park

Forever

We got the first trailer for this Fred Armisen & Maya Rudolph show, which is coming to Amazon Prime next month. Um, I don’t know what to make of this one. It looks like something that would be on Adult Swim, and not in a good way. I never watch anything on Prime, though, so I’ll never see it.

Maniac

After sitting on the shelf for two years, we get a trailer for Netflix’s Maniac, starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone as two people caught in a bad pharmaceutical experiment. Why does Skinny Jonah Hill look so miserable? Let the man eat! Let the man be fat!

Iron Fist

Speaking of Netflix, we also got a teaser for Iron Fist season 2, which premieres next month. I am SO behind on those MCU Netflix shows, so one of y’all will have to tell me if it’s any good or not.

Venom

This just looks so uninspired. People are quick to say “You just want everything to be like the MCU”, but that’s not true. There’s room for diverse projects in the marketplace, but this looks like a 1996 movie with 2018 special effects.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Even though NBC cancelled time traveling show Timeless a second time, it was announced that there will be a wrap-up, TV movie finale next season.
  • Stranger Things season 3 has reportedly been pushed back to Summer 2019, as the season will contain more special effects that previous seasons.
  • It seems like all the SNL folks are getting streaming shows, as Aidy Bryant’s Shrill has just been picked up by Hulu. Based on Lindy West’s memoir Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman, the logline is “a fat young woman who wants to change her life – but not her body”. Apparently the shooting schedule won’t require her to leave SNL.
  • Having already tried the series without Jack Bauer, now Fox is in the preliminary stages of developing a 24 prequel, focused on a young Jack Bauer. I hope they call it 12, and that’s how young he truly is in the show. He’d be taking down terrorists with a Super Soaker and Nerf guns.
  • Supergirl to the bridge! It’s reported that Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Mr. Data himself, Brent Spiner, will join Supergirl next season as the Vice President.
  • In another case of the MCU beating the DCEU, Anthony Mackie (Falcon) will be taking over the lead in Netflix’s Altered Carbon from Joel Kinnaman (Suicide Squad‘s Rick Flagg) next season.
  • As previously rumored, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris is leaving his production deal with ABC Studios. This has reportedly been brewing ever since the network scrapped his episode about the NFL kneeling protests, but it’s also been rumored that Netflix has offered him a NINE-FIGURE deal. He’ll step down as showrunner of Black-ish, but remain an executive producer on all his ABC/Freeform shows.
  • An ALF reboot is reportedly in development at Warner Bros. One potential idea is that the show would follow ALF as he emerges from Area 51, where he’s been held captive since the finale of the 80s series. He would, then, have to deal with how much the world has changed.
  • The cast list for Star Wars: Episode IX was released, and everybody you expect to be on it is on it.
  • Fresh off the cancellation of The Mick, Kaitlin Olson has just been cast as Leah Remini’s lesbian wife in an untitled pilot for Fox, brought to you buy the guys behind It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
  • MoviePass shat the bed when it ran out of money to actually pay for tickets. The service quickly regrouped, and now costs more money, with access to fewer popular movies. Um…

My good buddy ShowNuffDaKing has launched the M.A.G. Nerd Podcast for any of y’all interested in music, anime, and/or video games. Of course you should listen to every episode, but he and his cohost, Ghost, really hit their stride on episode 3. Check in weekly because you’re bound to learn something new. I certainly always do! It’s available on Stitcher, SoundCloud, and everywhere else you get that podcast goodness for your ears.

Speaking of podcasts, as a member of the Nerd Lunch Fourth Chair Army, I was drafted into this week’s Fourth Army Invasion to discuss season 1 of The Dukes of Hazzard. As I mention in the episode, I was a big fan of the Cars Jumping Over Shit genre of TV (Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, etc), and I grew up watching this show in syndication. Let’s just say that I had an entirely different impression of it upon this rewatch. I had a wonderful time discussing it with Spidey004, BizarroJimmyOlsen, and Michael May. If you’ve ever seen the show or the movie, you’re going to want to check out this Dukescussion because it’s quite the deep dive.

 

I’m not a sports guy. I think you can pretty much get that from this site. So, I don’t really weigh into things like “Who’s the greatest player of all time?” debates. That said, I know the major players in most sports, so I’m certainly familiar with LeBron James. People are constantly asking “LeBron or Jordan?” and to me the answer was always easy: LeBron, ’cause he never seemed like a colossal asshole like Jordan. This week, however, something else pushed LeBron just ahead of MJ.

This week, LeBron opened the I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, OH, in an attempt to the city’s at-risk K-12 population. Based on something of a charter school model (some of the aspects actually inspired by the charter network I work for), the school will feature longer school days, a non-traditional school year, and a STEM-influenced curriculum. The school, however, is neither charter nor private, as LeBron was insistent that it work within the Akron school system instead apart from it. The school opened this week with 240 students, spread over third and fourth grades, adding second and fifth grades next year, and expand to 8th grade by 2022. The school will also provide GED services for parents, a food bank, and other resources to help the community. Also, because LeBron used to ride his bike to leave the dangers of his neighborhood and go exploring, every student at the school will receive a bicycle on the first day of school.

I don’t know about stats on the court, but I do know education. Having worked on the data side in the charter sector for nearly the past decade, I can completely respect what he’s doing. I know some folks take issue with these “maverick” approaches to education, but in a lot of cases the “old ways” just don’t work anymore. School systems are low on money, teachers are overworked. Sometimes you just need to inject change. And yes, some of these schools end up sucking just like the neighborhood public school would’ve sucked, but at least the folks tried. In any case, for opening the ambitious I Promise School, as the 29th elementary school in the Akron school district, LeBron James had the West Week Ever.

20th Jul2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 7/20/18

by Will

I’m slowly catching up on the year’s big movies. I still haven’t gotten to Deadpool 2, but I finally caught Ant-Man and the Wasp last night. Unlike most MCU films, I don’t really have a lot to say about it. All in all, I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t great. I’ve always said that Ant-Man felt like a really good Fox Marvel film, but just a par Marvel Studios film. It’s a masterpiece compared to the X-Men/Fantastic Four films, but it really almost doesn’t even earn its place alongside movies like The Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy. You’re almost left wondering “How are these movies in the same universe?”, but I guess that’s a testament to how tonally different the corners of the Marvel Universe are. Anyway, I enjoyed the palette cleanser that was Ant-Man and the Wasp, as I’m almost “Marveled Out” after Infinity War.

The film explores the almost throwaway line from Infinity War about how Scott Lang took a house arrest deal after the events of Captain America: Civil War. So, two years have passed, and Scott’s “3 days from retirement”, basically, when it comes to his sentence. As anyone who’s seen any movie ever knows, no upcoming deadline that close ever goes smoothly. The Pyms drag him back into their world, as they need his knowledge of the subatomic quantum world to help them rescue Janet Van Dyne, who they believe is still alive after 30 years in there. Some stuff happens, Laurence Fishburne shows up wearing a swede jacket. Hannah John-Kamen shows off her Biracial Resting Bitch Face that served her so well as F’nale in Ready Player One, and everyone lives happily ever after. Or do they?

Watching this movie gave me the same sort of feelings I had watching Pitch Perfect 3 last week. In both cases, I kept waiting for the movie to “take off”, so to speak. Despite a scene with Giant-Man, I feel the movie doesn’t really aspire to new heights and, like its predecessor, came off like a mundane, slice of life MCU film. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does leave me longing for more interactions between Lang and, say, Tony Stark or Thor, just to remind me that these folks do occupy the same space. Paul Rudd is at his Paul Ruddest, so he’s not the problem here. Evangeline Lilly has become his badass asskicker, but where did that come from? She was busting out Black Widow moves, yet without the history of Red Room training.

No, I felt the biggest disappointment was Michael Peña’s Luis, who was undoubtedly the breakout star of the first movie. They found the right balance for using him in that first film, but they weren’t able to recapture that magic here. Maybe it’s because we expected the same shtick from him instead of accepting the character’s growth. I also hope the Blu Ray includes some deleted scenes of T.I. and the Russian dude, as I feel they were sorely wasted in their roles as partners in the X-Con Security business.

In all, it was an enjoyable way to spend 2 hrs, but I wasn’t blown away by it. Paul Rudd is just so likable, that I know I’ll watch it whenever I come across it on FX, but until some of its plot points are explored more in-depth in Avengers 4 (because you KNOW they will be), I don’t think this movie did much to move the MCU forward. After something like Infinity War, however, maybe it’s just what we need right now.

I’m gonna say this once, and then move on because there’s no need to dwell on it. That said, I’m pretty much done with professional wrestling for the foreseeable future. You see, over the weekend, WWE reinstated Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea to the WWE Hall of Fame, after his removal in 2015 when recordings of his racist remarks surfaced during the Gawker sex tape kerfuffle. I’ve heard folks defend him the past 3 years, using everything from “Everyone deserves a second chance” to “Well, it was a private conversation that we weren’t meant to hear.” Whatever.

I will say THIS: WWE never should’ve reinstated him BECAUSE they never should’ve removed him in the first place. I say that because it was always clearly an empty gesture – one we ALL knew would never stick permanently. So, it became more of an exercise in “waiting for the other shoe to drop” than actually serving as a cautionary tale to anyone else who might do the same thing. The heat was on the company, and they felt they had to jump and do something, but even they knew they bit off more than they could chew. You can’t just scrub the most famous professional wrestler of the past 40 years from existence, even if he did admit “I am racist”, which he did. You also can’t walk back that statement, which he’s been trying to do for the past 3 years.

If he had tried to go with “I was drunk, and I don’t really talk like that”, I wouldn’t have believed him, but it would’ve at least been an excuse that made sense. Hell, even Roseanne’s Ambien excuse was an attempt. No, here’s Hogan’s whole quote from the recordings:

“I don’t know if Brooke was fucking the black guy’s son. I mean, I don’t have double standards. I mean, I am a racist, to a point, fucking niggers. But then when it comes to nice people and shit, and whatever.”

“I mean, I’d rather if she was going to fuck some nigger, I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall nigger worth a hundred million dollars! Like a basketball player!”

“I guess we’re all a little racist. Fucking nigger.”

Reportedly, when he spoke to the talent backstage after being reinstated, he reminded them to be careful of what they say because you never know when you’re being recorded. This is not a man who’s sorry for what he did. He’s already said he’s racist. No, this is a man who’s sorry he GOT CAUGHT. And I don’t have time for that.

WWE has a history of trying to polish turds, whether it’s this situation, or it’s their embrace of Ronda Rousey, who’s something of a transphobic Sandy Hook truther. Maybe you can separate the art from the artist, but I can’t – especially when the art is throwing someone through a particleboard table. In my mind, they’re not contributing enough to society, or to “art”, to turn a blind eye on their other shit. People love to go to stuff like “Well, Martin Luther King cheated on his wife.” OK. So did Ric Flair. Only one of them marched for my right to vote, however.

In a lot of ways, I feel sorry for Hogan. I feel sorry that, given the Gawker trial, he should be wealthy. Not just rich, but wealthy. However, he’ll never see a penny of that, as it was juts a symbolic victory. I felt bad for him when his dumbass son turned his friend into a vegetable. I felt bad for him when his wife left him as the money dried up. Like most children of the 80s, I saw him as more myth than man.  So, here we’ve got a 64 year old man with no other prospects than to tie on his bandana one last time, and hope his rickety knees can manage as he climbs between the ropes into that ring. But, maybe that’s what life comes down to when you’re a self-admitted racist. So, in closing, FUCK HULK HOGAN.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • That beacon of family values herself, Bristol Palin, will be replacing promiscuous-teen-turned-porn-star Farrah Abraham on the next season of MTV’s Teen Mom.
  • Alice Eve will be portraying Typhoid Mary in the second season of Marvel’s Iron Fist, debuting September 7th on Netflix. If you’re not familiar with her, she’s the blonde with the gratuitous underwear scene from Star Trek Into Darkness. Or the gratuitous underwear scene in She’s Out of My League.
  • We got a trailer for the upcoming Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, and I think it just gave me a seizure. Seriously, this is like a next level ADHD that medical science hasn’t even named yet.
  • Everything old is new again, Nickelodeon announced the return of Rugrats, as both a 26-episode TV series and a CGI theatrical film. I can just imagine as future archaeologists dig up the artifacts of this era, trying to determine if that scorched animation cel is from the first Nickelodeon Era (which will be known as B.K., for Before Kel) or the second Nickelodeon Era (A.S., for After Schneider).

  • Speaking of new old shit, we got a better look at the She-Ra reboot series from Netflix, and the man-children took issue with her character redesign. Sure, she looks kinda mannish in some pics, but maybe that’s a plot point, I dunno. Maybe She-Ra was born Peter-Ra, and is now living her best life? Who am I to judge?

  • We also got this teaser poster for Aquaman, which does absolutely nothing for me. I’m still kinda hung up on Momoa in the role. We get mad about white-washed characters, but how come it’s not the other way? I want my blond-haired, blue-eyed, Aryan Aquaman, dammit! Plus, I just don’t feel Momoa is a *STAR*. Sorry, not sorry. Sure, the ladies love him, but he doesn’t have the juice to put butts in seats.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars has been “saved”, as the series will return on Disney’s streaming service, five years after it left the air on Cartoon Network.

San Diego Comic-Con kicked off this week, and so far it appears that DC Comics is leading the charge. First off, it was announced that the Berlanti Arrowverse would be adding a Batwoman series to The CW, after her introduction in this fall’s DC show crossover. They’re currently looking for a lesbian actress to play the role, which is interesting to me. Maybe it’s all the recent talk about representation and all, but does it have to be a lesbian actress? What if she’s just lesbian for the show? I dunno. I’m sure there’s a lesbian out there who can do it, but it just seems like they might be missing out on some good choices just because of someone’s sexual orientation. On the flipside, if the producers of How I Met Your Mother had specifically sought out a “heterosexual lothario”, then Neil Patrick Harris never would’ve become Barney Stinson – a role in which he was perfect.

Then we got…this. I’m just gonna come out and say I think Titans looks like shit. Some folks are excited about it, and that’s great, but it’s simply not for me. “Fuck Batman”? Does anyone over there even understand their audience? I may come off as a Marvel fanboy, especially if you’ve seen my Twitter avatar, but I grew up on DC, and it’s what I call “home” when it comes to my fandom. If I’m hard on them it’s because I care, and I just feel like they continue to screw the pooch when it comes to a lot of their live action stuff. I’ve got friends who love the grim and gritty “real worldness” of the DC stuff, as they think the MCU is juvenile. That’s all well and good, but let’s call a spade a spade here. We’re not debating the merits of Batman vs. Superman here. No, we’re talking about a show that apparently wasn’t even good enough for TNT. I mean, fucking Batwoman is getting a show on basic TV, but the Titans aren’t? Just how bad is this show? Based on this trailer, pretty damn bad.

On the movie side of things, it’s official that Joaquin Phoenix will star in Joker, and it’s rumored that Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz might costar. I find this whole project unnecessary, but I find it even more odd that it’ll be directed by Todd Phillips, of The Hangover/Old School fame. Is he REALLY the right pick for this? I don’t see him and Phoenix meshing very well. Anyway, the film is slated to be released October 4th, 2019.

Meanwhile, the Birds of Prey movie will reportedly have, basically, every female Gotham character involved – from Cassandra Cain to Harley Quinn. My problem with this movie is that it’ll have the same issue that the Birds of Prey TV show had if they dance around the Batman issue. If you don’t remember, there was a Birds of Prey series on The WB that launched around the same time as Smallville. I will die on that hill that BoP was no worse than Smallville, but one was given a chance to grow and the other wasn’t. My biggest problem with the show, however (and it would also be my biggest issue with The Dark Knight Rises), is that the series was predicated on the idea that Batman was so distraught over the murder of his true love that he quit being Batman and just left Gotham to fend for itself. In Birds of Prey, it was the death of Catwoman that did it, while in TDKR it was the death of Rachel Dawes. In both cases, I never felt like that’s how Batman would handle that situation, as he’d probably become more driven and insane, than just quitting the game entirely. So, in essence, the Birds of Prey series was a Batman show without Batman. He was integral to the whole thing. He was woven into the tapestry of the setting, but he was never seen (except in flashbacks). And he’s too big of a character to exploit but not fully use. So, the Birds of Prey movie will, at the least, need a Suicide Squad-level Batman cameo just to keep it credibly on the tracks.

Speaking of Batman and Catwoman, the outcome of Batman #50’s wedding has polarized so many fans that writer Tom King apparently had to hire a bodyguard for San Diego Comic-Con. Plus, DC Comics has made the issue returnable since retailers and fans didn’t feel they got what they were promised. Y’all really need to get your shit together if you’re threatening a man over something like this.

Finally, for a man who’s reportedly on the outs with the entertainment side of DC Comics, Geoff Johns will certainly be collecting checks from the comic side for the foreseeable future. So far, he’s announced a new SHAZAM! series – likely to capitalize on the upcoming movie starring Zachary Levi, as well as Three Jokers. The interesting thing to me is that Three Jokers is slated to be released as part of DC’s Black Label imprint, where I thought most of those stories weren’t in continuity. That was announced as DC’s Not Elseworlds, But Totally Elseworlds line, with stuff like Frank Miller’s take on Superman, or the collected edition of Batman: White Knight. It’s strange that they’d put Three Jokers over here, when the concept of there having been three Jokers came from the storylines of the core DC Universe. Johns isn’t done with live action just yet, however, as he also announced a Stargirl series for the DC Universe streaming service, starring a character he created based on his sister who died in the TWA Flight 800 explosion.

I may not agree with all of their decisions, but DC is making moves this week, while Marvel is noticeably silent, so that’s why DC Entertainment had the West Week Ever.

29th Jun2018

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 6/29/18 (TRU Edition)

by Will

I’m gonna take some liberties with the format this week, as it’s sort of a special occasion. I’ll cover this week’s news next week, and I hope you’ll forgive the departure.

As you probably already know, today is the final day of business for Toys “R” in the United States. Some stores closed earlier this week, but all will be closed by tonight. I’m still processing what this means to me. Sure, as a child of the ’80s, and a pop culture junkie, TRU has meant a lot to me over the years. I’ve touched on it here and there, but I don’t think I’ve ever told you my Toys “R” Us origin story. So, there’s no time like the present!

I’ve been talking with a lot of “cohorts” lately, and they’ve said things like “It didn’t mean that much to me.” Or “The toys were too expensive.” They also say they don’t have any real nostalgic connection to the brand. I can’t diminish someone else’s experience, but that simply wasn’t the case for me. I will admit that Toys “R” Us has suffered from something of an identity crisis over the past decade or so, but I think we all remember the golden age of cartoon Geoffrey the Giraffe, and his extended family (Gigi, etc).

For me, TRU was a magical place that I always hoped to sneak off to while my mom and grandmother were visiting the garden center down the plaza from it. I also didn’t get many toys from TRU back in the day, because toys used to be everywhere: People’s Drug, Kmart, Sears, Woolworth’s. But getting a toy from those places was merely pedestrian. To get a toy from TRU was like visiting Mecca. It’s like the song said, “From bikes and trains to video games” – it was the biggest toy store there was!

You know how when you’re a kid, folks are always asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My blanket answer was “I want to own a McDonald’s and a Toys ‘R’ Us.” Yes, young Will didn’t know about franchising and commercial real estate leases. He thought you could own one of those just like some rando can own the corner store. Other kids wanted to be astronauts or cops, and I just wanted to work with Geoffrey. Can’t say I didn’t aim high!

As I got older, I learned that folks actually look down on McDonald’s as a place of employment if you’re not a teenager (which is pretty messed up, if you ask me!). Still, that kinda marred the brand in my mind, so I gave up on that dream. That became a dream deferred. I didn’t give up on Toys “R” Us, though. I decided I was going to work for Toys “R” Us corporate. After all, everyone respects a businessman, and I’d still be working with toys!

Unlike most teenagers, I didn’t have an afterschool job. No, I didn’t get my first job until the week after my high school graduation. Where? Toys “R” Us. I had actually applied during the previous Christmas season, when I handed my application to the store director, Erin. Of course they never called (‘cause they never do. The onus of the job hunt is on the hunter), but I tried again the following summer.

Now, if you’re new here, you don’t know much about me. My dad died when I was 3, and I was raised by the Black Golden Girls. To say I was a “Mama’s Boy” would be something of an understatement, but it gets the image across. So, while most teenagers would confidently saunter into a place and ask if they’re hiring, I had my mom with me, and I think she did most of the talking. So, they didn’t call me. However, when I went back the next summer, Erin recognized me because I was the one who had brought his mother with him to apply. She either thought it was cute or sad. I never did find out. Anyway, she hired me and put me to work the next day.

Yay, I was finally working with toys! My dream job! Oh, the smiles I would put on kids’ faces! The funny thing about TRU is that, once you work there, you realize just how big (and kinda unnecessary) that store truly is. I began to realize that I’d spent my childhood worshiping aisles 6D and 7D (action figures), not even acknowledging that there was a whole lot more store than that. More, for which I did not give a shit. They kept putting me in bikes or in diapers, but I’d find a way to sneak back to action figures.

Plus, because I was seasonal (I was leaving for college at the end of the summer), they never saw any need to train me on the register. I worked at that place for 3 seasons before they trained me on register. By the time I was in Year 8, they were like “Here’s Paco. It’s his first day, and we want you to train him on the register.” That was so weird to me. We don’t know that dude, so why are we so quick to let him near the money? Anyway, since I held no “floor value” for them, they had me unload trucks, organize the stockroom, and bring up any big ticket pickup requests, like bikes, swings, etc.

Here’s why TRU means a lot to me: as someone who grew up pretty sheltered, that job gave me a crash course on LIFE. The cute girls, the old ladies – those were the ones they put on the floor. The guys in the back, however, were a rougher bunch. Some of them were ex-cons, while some of them were clearly headed for incarceration. It’s funny looking back on it because I had two very distinct Toys “R” Us employment experiences: the Wheaton era, which was basically Training Day, and the Columbia era, which was Saved By The Bell: The New Class.

These guys were telling me stuff about the women they were seeing, as well as what they were doing to those women. They’d also tell me about their wives. Yup, same dudes. Seventeen year old Will would naively point out “But you’re married!” One thing I will never forget is when Ramone laughed at me, saying “Man, you don’t marry for love. You marry for security.” That was deep, especially at 17.

That place was filled with a cast of characters, and that television show, despite being set in a toy store, would have to air on Netflix or premium cable. There was chainsmoking mumbler, Garrett, who built the bikes. I was working there when JFK Jr. and his wife died, and Garrett was the one who offered up his theory that sky head was to blame. You’ve heard of road head? Well, same thing, but in a privately chartered helicopter. In the sky. Garrett loved his conspiracies.

There was David, the other bike assembly guy, who’d just gotten back from overseas, and was clearly going through some kind of PTSD. He either looked like a fatter Tony Hale or a skinnier Bubba Ray Dudley. The jury’s still out on that. His arms were covered in sleeves, so management made him wear a light blue Oxford to cover his arms so he wouldn’t offend the guests. I remember he was really blinky, and I was always expecting a Falling Down episode from him. He totally took advantage of me because I was young and dumb and had more money than I needed. He had brought some Pocket Monsters stuff back with him from Japan (remember, Pokémon had just hit the US, so this was the original, pure shit), and I remember him selling it to me for some price that really didn’t make a lot of sense. But I hate conflict, and don’t know how to back out of a deal, so “Here’s your money, David.” The sad post-script is that most of that stuff ended up going to my then-girlfriend’s little brother. Yup, I did it all for the nookie. Or was trying to, at least.

Barbara was the first Black lesbian I’d ever encountered, and she scared the shit out of me (not the first lesbian, though – I’d seen the Ellen Degeneres-starring Mr. Wrong almost a decade prior, and well, I just knew…). She was mean, and if she threatened to cut you, I truly believe a cutting was in your future. She had a nice side racket going, where the old White G.I. Joe and Hot Wheels collectors would pay her to put the new cases aside for them, so they could get the good stuff before it hit the floor. I’m sure they were terrified of her, too, but those Treasure Hunts weren’t gonna scalp themselves. Anyway, I clapped back at her one day about something trivial (I was young and stupid) , and stayed on her bad side after that.

Ron was one of the managers, and he made me question every naïve thing I’d ever thought about leadership. Later, in college, I’d learn the difference between management and leadership, but at the time I thought they were the same. He had come from Foot Locker, and I spent a lot of time wondering “What’s he doing here? Shoes have nothing to do with toys.” See, I hadn’t yet hit that realization that retail is just a job. As the youngest person working in the store, I never stopped to think that I was the only one who WANTED to be there due to a love of toys. It was hilarious, though, watching him pursue a phat ass through the store. It’s like he had a sixth sense for it, and then he’d get on the walkie, telling the other guys to meet him in whatever aisle she happened to be in. That shit was pure harassment, but I’d never seen anything like it before. And, to be honest, none of the women ever seemed that offended. If anything, they were just happy to receive some kind of customer service which, as you know, has been lacking in a lot of places in recent years.

Finally, as the ringmaster of this motley crew, Erin was a short woman who wore a tight French braid. In some other life, she was a detective or a parole officer, but here she made sure that Mr. Potato Head was “edged off” (the practice of pulling the boxes to the very edge of the shelf, to give the illusion that the shelves are more full that they actually are. Plus, it brings the item closer to the customer’s reach). You knew it was a rough day when she would pitch in with the clean-up, and release her hair from that braid. She was tough, but fair. She had a maternal, Captain Janeway quality to her, and we were all her Sevens of Nine. They’d eventually transfer her to the Frederick store. I saw her a few years later, and she barely had any recollection of me, my mom, any of it. Through squints, she seemed to sort of register who I was, but I’m sure so many folks had passed through her “finishing school” by that point that they all start to blend together. Still, thanks for not letting Barbara cut me, “Mom”.

In all, I worked for the Wheaton store over the course of 7 years, during summers and Christmas when I’d come home from college, as well as some stints afterward. In early 2006, the company announced plans to close 75 stores across the country, which we thought was unheard of at the time. Still, I didn’t think much about it until I came in one day soon after Christmas to see Store Closing signs hung everywhere. These days you’d probably at least get an email or something, but not then. Were we so primitive in 2006? So, I found out the same way our customers did – seeing the signage in the store.

I’ve already shared some stories about those final days in Wheaton, but that store just kept on teaching me things. In this case, I learned how fun retail could be if you simply didn’t give a shit anymore. Sure, it’s probably not best for the customer, but I had a lot of fun during that liquidation period. Still, it was a part-time job for me, so it didn’t hit me like it probably affected others there. By that point, all the folks I mentioned had already moved on. As I saw it, my education was complete, and I was fine with the store closing. Plus, there was still a TRU across town, so it’s not like we wouldn’t have a local store.

The Wheaton store closed, and I thought that was it for my Toys “R” Us time. In college, I majored in Human Development, with a concentration on early childhood. The whole “I want to work with toys” wasn’t just a pipe dream to me. I took courses on play interaction, and interned at a daycare to study how kids play with each other. The problem, though, is that there was no real career path for that at the time. Sure, now there are schools with toy curriculums, like F.I.T., but that wasn’t a thing in 2001. Once I graduated, nobody knew what to do with me. I sent a bunch of blind letters to Hasbro, TRU, Mattel, and more. See, it turns out toy companies care more about design than intent. It’s more likely they’ll make a cool-looking toy educational instead of making an educational toy cool-looking. If it teaches something, great, but the aesthetic came first. So, the folks who did gave me the time of day wanted to see my portfolio – a portfolio that I did not have. I remember I got a really nice letter from some VP at TRU corporate that was basically “We don’t know what to do with you, but don’t give up on your dreams.” Sorry, lady, but I gave up.

After a stint in commercial real estate, I got a chance to work for Diamond Comic Distributors. It wasn’t quite toys, but it was as close to the toy industry as I felt I was going to get. The sad thing, though, is that you have to sacrifice for your dreams. So, I took a huge pay cut and then found myself with a life I couldn’t afford anymore. My commute was 100 miles a day round trip (that’s not an exaggeration), and I could barely pay my rent. So, I was going to need a second job, and I realized the Columbia Toys “R” Us was halfway between work and home. It also helped that a few of the managers from the tail end of the Wheaton days had transferred to that store. I had an “in”.

Remember when Saved By The Bell: The College Years got cancelled, and Screech kinda crawled back to Bayside in Saved By The Bell: The New Class? That was pretty much my experience here. I had started my TRU career as the youngest person in the store, and now I was something of an elder statesman. Everyone I worked with now was somewhere between 19 and 22, and I thought it was going to be my turn to teach them life lessons. It would by my Training Day. Yeah…that didn’t happen. The Columbia staff had different interests and were in different places in their lives than the Wheaton staff. The Wheaton folks were just working there until a better retail job came along, while the Columbia kids were working their way through community college and didn’t see retail as the end for themselves. With my prior experience, I expected to walk into some kind of Degrassi environment, but it was a lot more madcap than that.

I’ll admit that I probably wasn’t the best person to manage at this point. I mean, I was a good worker – a hard worker – but I did what I wanted. I just kinda took action figures for myself, and made it clear “Don’t you even think about putting me somewhere else.” And I provided good customer service to folks in those aisles, but I did not give a shit about anything outside of Boy’s World. The location of the store made sense on weekdays, as it was on the way home, but it made no sense for me to drive 30 miles on a Saturday morning, to work 5 hours – I was just wasting gas at that point. So, I kinda did what I wanted to “justify” the inconvenience. Yeah, I know it’s a job, and it was my choice to make that commute, but they let me get away with “creating my own experience”, so I guess I “won”?

While my early time with the company was about life’s hard lessons, the latter time was really just about decompression. I looked forward to my Saturday shifts as “Wow, I really tricked this company into paying me to hang out with my friends.” We had a lot of fun, and I still think about a lot of those folks.

Patrick was an interesting kid. He was Chinese, but somehow had a redneck, Tea Party uncle whom he idolized, so he was basically a Chinese redneck. He never understood the contradictions in that, but he never let that stop him. Still he was a lot of fun, as we’d talk about cartoons and Power Rangers. We would team up in the boy’s department, and called ourselves Team Bumblebee.

Crystal was the sweetest girl you’d ever meet, which is why it was perfect that they put her at customer service. Customers loved her, while she had an apple bottom that some folks would’ve paid to take a bite out of. She was our Kelly Kapowski, hands down.

If Crystal was our Kelly, then Amber was definitely our Jessie Spano. She and Crystal looked like they could’ve been sisters, but Amber was the spitfire of the two. She had little Lisa Loeb glasses, and took her supervisor role seriously – almost too seriously at times. That’s why it was even more interesting when she lightened up, and found herself in a love triangle with managers Paul and Jesse.

Bryan was the most responsible 19 year old I’ve ever met in my entire life. He had actually come from the Wheaton store, and was one of the reasons I was looking forward to working at Columbia. He had a mad-on for law enforcement, though. His dream was to go to the police academy, and he’d go on ride alongs during his free time. In the grand scheme of the Columbia store, Bryan was “The Adult”.

Marvin was basically Lord of the R-Zone, which was the electronics department of the store. I never really got a read on him, despite working in his orbit for years. Was he shy? Did he just not like me? I dunno, but I still run into him at comic conventions, as he has segued into the life of a cosplayer in recent years.

The best of the bunch, however, had to be Mike, whom we affectionately called “Special Forces”. Ya see, when he started, he was seasonal and those guys didn’t wear TRU uniforms because A) I don’t think TRU wanted to “waste” them on seasonals, and B) they didn’t want them to be instantly recognizable as employees to customers, as customer interaction would affect their ability to move in the background of everything. So, he wore a black shirt and black jeans, which made him look like some sort of special forces agent, so… Mike’s still around to this day, as many of you know of him from my Thrift Justice posts. He’s one of my best friends, and definitely one of the better things to come from that last TRU stint.

As much as I wanted to think I was the oldest, non-manager there, that wasn’t true. No, that “honor” belonged to “Stanley” (Yeah, that’s not his real name. You don’t need to know that). I’m gonna level with you here: there’s a good chance Stanley was some kind of molester. He was in his 70s, creepy, and wore a Dora the Explorer cap that he found in a shopping cart one day. I know for a fact that he offered $50 to a young employee to have sex with him. I also know she strongly considered it. He knew where all the hooker pickup spots were, and he had some stories. Just as earlier in my career, TRU was still teaching me things. I learned how you can like people who are possibly horrible. Like, I didn’t have *proof* that he had done anything illegal, but I also didn’t have proof that he had not done those things. Still, something about him still came off as “kindly”. I still think about him, and wonder if he’s still with us.

I made it 10 years with TRU, and not much longer. They even gave me a catalog of shit to choose from for my anniversary gift. I never did get that cordless screwdriver… Anyway, I had my performance review, and found out I wasn’t good enough to receive my $0.25 raise. I took a long hard look around, and wondered why I was fighting for a quarter. I’d been raised with the “Every little bit helps” mentality, but here was a company that didn’t think I was worth an additional quarter. Yes, I know that adds up when it’s a quarter for everyone, but TEN YEARS! Call it “Millennial Entitlement” if you want, but that was it for me. I was tired of the commute. I no longer had the job that made this one convenient in the evenings, and I had pretty much just met Lindsay, so I had other stuff I’d rather be doing. So, I basically quit that day of the review. I’d worked out my schedule, and I didn’t owe them any time. I’d show them!

In the years since, I’ve sort of regretted how it ended. I definitely missed the excitement of the holiday season, and even wondered if I was rehireable. I once applied to the closer Rockville store, but never heard back. Ya know, ‘cause the onus of the job hunt… So, my TRU career ended not with a bang, but with a whimper. That’s not how I would like to have gone out, but that’s how life is sometimes. My time at Toys “R” Us was filled with those life-affirming moments, so this just seemed like a natural, if not completely satisfying, end.

As a customer, I’ll definitely miss Toys “R” Us. Sure, Target and Walmart have a foothold in the industry, but their 7 toy aisles don’t hold a candle to the selection at TRU. I used to stop and think about how almost unnecessary a store like TRU was. I mean, think about it: it’s a big box store devoted solely to toys. Only in a capitalistic society could that idea fly and, as we have learned, that same capitalistic society would be what killed it.

Still, folks don’t realize that the concept of “childhood” is fairly young. Before, say, the end of the Industrial Revolution, kids were just seen as tiny adults. Sure, take them to that public execution, nobody cares! So, it’s always amazing to me that, not only did the concept of childhood develop, but that successful businesses arose to capitalize on that. Folks say that toy sales are down, with the internet and other time wasters available, so I often wonder what that means for the evolution of childhood. I guess time will tell.

Anyway, we’re not here to forecast the future of the toy industry. No, we’re here to say goodbye to an old teacher, an old friend. I got to take my oldest to say “goodbye” a few months back, but it saddens me that my youngest will know nothing of Toys “R” Us. She’ll know nothing of the place that helped to shape her father’s worldview. She’ll know nothing of Geoffrey the Giraffe. I only hope that she one day experiences something that affects her the same way that my Toys “R” Us experience affected me. That’s why Toys “R” Us had the West Life Ever.