31st Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/31/15

by Will

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Welcome to the final West Week Ever of 2015! I figured you’ll all be hungover tomorrow, so I’d probably better post this today. As I’m sure you’re aware, NOTHING happens between Christmas and New Years, so it’s a wonder I even found enough material for a whole post. Or did I? You be the judge!

I Smile Back

On the movie front, I watched I Smile Back, which stars Sarah Silverman. Despite its star, this movie is NOT a comedy. In fact, it’s probably the most dramatic role Silverman has ever played. Based on the novel of the same name, Silverman plays a married upper middle class woman whose life is spiraling out of control. On the surface, her life is perfect: she’s got a loving husband, two great kids, a big house, etc. Below all that, however, she’s dealing with daddy issues and a substance abuse problem. Oh, and she bangs a lot of dudes who aren’t her husband. She does a stint in rehab, and you think things will start to get better for her. Well, you’d be wrong. It’s a really dark film, and I’m not sure if I recommend it, per se. I will say that if you’ve ever wanted to see Silverman topless, then this is the film for you. I’m still trying to process its ending, and part of me wants to read the book just to see if there’s more clarity to what’s going on there. This isn’t the kind of movie I’d just jump at watching. Honestly, I was all in when I saw that Silverman was in it, but I had no idea it’d be as dark as it was.

TFA

I also saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the second time. I went with my friends James and Jenn, and I was really interested in what they would think of the movie. They tend to dislike things that the public just eats up because they’re really cerebral. “Popcorn movies” are a waste of time to them, as they prefer entertainment that makes them *think*. So, I knew going in that they’d probably dislike the movie, but I was really curious to know what about it they would dislike most. James zeroed in on one of the things I mentioned last week: if there were a Bechdel Test for race, this movie would fail. Finn exists solely to move Rey’s story along. Sure, he has his moments, but he never really gets to be the hero of the film. Someone online put it best, saying that there’s no moment in the film when a character thinks “We’re in trouble! Better call Finn!”

Also, due to the fact that I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan, I didn’t really notice until it was brought to my attention: the movie is just a remix of the original trilogy. Hell, it might as well just have P. Diddy yelling “Bad Boy” every few minutes in the film. We’ve seen this movie before, and some have called it the “most expensive fan fiction to ever be put onscreen”. It relies too heavily on nostalgia, but a lot of you reading this who disagree with me are too close to the franchise to even realize that. You have fond memories of Star Wars as being a milestone in your upbringing, so something to come along and tug on those heartstrings isn’t really a “fail” in your book. I feel like the movie is almost exploitative in its nostalgia, and doesn’t even hide the fact about what it’s doing. I always thought it was funny that The Four Tops re-released “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” as “It’s The Same Old Song”, and nobody realized it, even though they had the balls to tell you what they were doing simply in the title. That’s how I feel about The Force Awakens. It works because it’s something familiar that the public has already devoured and enjoyed. Sure, it may have new players, but are they really that new? I’m not trying to piss in anyone’s Corn Flakes, and if you liked the movie, that’s great. As a pseudo- “man on the street”, with no real ties to the original franchise, I thought it was entertaining, but nowhere near the amazing cinematic marvel that folks would lead you to believe it is, though. It’s a fun movie, but is it a good movie? I don’t consider myself enough of a cinephile to say, but I’m leaning towards “no”.

F is for Family

On the Netflix front, I’ve started watching F Is For Family. Created by comedian Bill Burr, it’s kind of like a mature King of the Hill. It focuses on patriarch Frank Murphy as he supports his family as an airport baggage handler in 1973. At its core, it’s just an animated sitcom focusing on a middle class family in a different era. I wish I could say it was based on Burr’s real life, but I haven’t seen anything supporting that theory. Anyway, I’m about 2 episodes in, and it’s pretty funny. The first season is only 6 episodes, so it’s a quick binge. Maybe when I’m done, I’ll finally circle back to Jessica Jones. Or I’ll just finally watch that second season of Bojack Horseman.

teen titans

In the world of television, I just discovered Teen Titans Go! Where has this show been all my life? Is this thing really for kids, ’cause I don’t believe it. I never watched the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon, as I felt it was for kids with ADHD. I mean, there was just simply too much erratic shit going on, plus I was, like, 20 when it debuted. Still, I think it’s a novel idea to focus on the team when they’re not saving the world, ’cause what they get into is hilarious. There’s one episode where they have to save the Justice League from Darkseid (voiced by Weird Al), while another had them hanging out with a thinly veiled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Plus, I love when Beat Boy calls Raven “Mama”, as it makes me picture him as a little, green A.C. Slater. Anyway, the show seems too good to be for kids, as I doubt they even get most of the jokes. I know a lot of folks have been hesitant to check it out, as they’re still pissed at Cartoon Network for cancelling other DC Comics show Young Justice (come on, was that show really that good?). I’ve got to say, though, that Teen Titans Go! has bumped Clarence out of my #1 cartoon slot for the moment.

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Just like I became the hub of all things Girl Meets World leading up to its premiere, I guess the same thing is happening regarding Fuller House. It was revealed this week that Carly Rae Jepsen has re-recorded the original theme song for the Netflix series. This is where I’d say something snarky, like “I guess that ‘Call Me Maybe’ money ran out”, but all I can really think is “Good for her!” I feel like this show will have a lot of lookie-loos, so it’ll definitely be good exposure for her. Meanwhile, I had no clue she came from Canadian Idol! And in true Idol fashion, she didn’t even win (placed 3rd), yet has gone further than the winner that year.

TGIF

Normally, this would go in the Links I Loved portion of the post, but I’m on vacation, and haven’t read much in the past week. That said, Entertainment Weekly had a great oral history of ABC’s TGIF lineup. It was the kind of thing Grantland used to be great at doing, and I would totally read an entire book on the subject. Things I learned from reading it: Full House creator Jeff Franklin? Kind of a dick. Steve Urkel actor Jaleel White? Kind of a dick. Franklin is bad ’cause he refuses to admit that the creation of TGIF helped Full House – a show that never really made a ratings dent until it landed on Friday night. White has said dickish things in the past, but he just comes across kinda jerky in the write-up. And I totally forgot that the creative force behind Boy Meets World also gave us Dinosaurs. Anyway, it’s a great read if you have fond memories of Urkel crash landing into the Foster-Lamberts’ backyard.

Cosby

Ya know who’s NOT having the West Week Ever? Bill Cosby. Man, I still can’t believe there are Cosby “truthers” out there. We’re talking about over 50 women here! There are as many stars on the flag as women Bill Cosby zippity-zoppotied in the bippity bop! Some people like to think there’s some sort of conspiracy out there to take down a “great Black man”, but I always heard he was the head of the Secret Black Leaders of America. I mean, by that rank alone, the only person with the power to take him out would be Oprah, and she’s too busy with Weight Watchers right now. Sure, Beyoncé could be gearing up for a major heel turn, but I don’t see that happening, either. So no, there’s no conspiracy. A dude used his power and influence to take advantage of women, and it’s coming back to bite him in the ass. Kinda like Star Wars, I have no real reverence for The Cosby Show, so it’s not like this has “tainted his legacy” or anything in my mind. Sure, The Cosby Show changed how Black people were viewed in primetime, but that still doesn’t excuse the fact that its star was using that platform to help him in his “extracurricular” affairs. And to stand up for Cosby, what would I get out of that? First of all, I’d look like a fool. Second, Bill Cosby HATES my generation. Hell, I don’t even do most of the stuff he pins on us (we wear our pants too low, etc), but he still hates my cohort. So why the Hell should I go to bat for his lecherous old ass? If anything, I’m just kinda glad Brandon Tartikoff didn’t live to see this. Then again, he was there at the beginning, so maybe he knew…

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In happier news, I made my 50th podcast appearance last week on the 2015 year end recap episode of The Recurrent Events Podcast. I joined up with my pals Jason and Chad to talk about the year that was in popular culture. If you like that sort of recap thing, be sure to check out West YEAR Ever next week. In the meantime, listen to our gabfest here.

Hoverboard-for-sale

Like I said, nothing happens between Christmas and New Years, so there wasn’t a lot of “news”. If you ask me, the West Week Ever goes to all the nameless Chinese manufacturers of the hoverboard. Sure, they’re breaking wrists and burning down houses, but they were the hottest gadgets of the holiday season. Whether yours is a “Swagway”, “HoverTrax”, or an “AirBoard”, you weren’t an official Vine star unless you had one of these things this year. They’re currently banned from most sidewalks, malls, airports, and everywhere else, but that didn’t take them off the top of every teen’s Christmas list. So, for winning the season despite the odds stacked against it, the hoverboard had the West Week Ever.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to Like us on Facebook!

23rd Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/23/15

by Will

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Happy birthday to me! No, seriously – it’s my birthday. I’m officially older than Jesus, and I’m not quite sure how to feel about that. Yay? Anyway, you’ll all be with your families/favorite prostitutes on Friday, and tomorrow’s the eve of those festivities, so I figured I’d probably better post this today if I wanted anyone to actually read this thing.

brent morin

Since it’s been a short span of time since my last post, I haven’t really watched much of note lately. I did, however, catch comedian Brent Morin’s Netflix special I’m Brent Morin. If you’re not familiar with him, he’s one of the leads on NBC’s Undateable (probably my favorite sitcom at the moment), but he was a standup for years before getting that gig. It was a serviceable special, but nothing to write home about. I really like Morin, but I’m not sure he was ready for his own one-hour special. There used to be a progression to these things. You’d get a Comedy Central Presents half hour, and if that went well, you might get another. And then you start talking about a one-hour special. Sure, Morin cut his teeth as a production assistant for Conan O’Brien, but I don’t feel like he earned a special yet at this point in his career. Anyway, I fell asleep on it twice. That’s not to say the quality of the material was bad, but I just feel like he’s better suited to the sitcom world.

Speaking of Netflix, we got a teaser for Fuller House. It’s meant to tug on the nostalgia heartstrings, but I’d have preferred them just use “Everywhere You Look” instead of Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me”. The song choice gives it a somber sort of tint, and not something I want to look forward to watching. It’s got quite the “very special episode” vibe. Anyway, all 13 episodes of the series will debut on February 26th. Hopefully it’ll be a lot easier for me to binge than Jessica Jones has been (I’m still only halfway through episode 3 of that one).

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I can tell you who had the West Week NEVER, and that’s Steve Harvey. If you haven’t seen the news clips/online memes, here’s what happened: Harvey hosted the Miss Universe Pageant on Sunday night, and mistakenly announced the first runner-up, Miss Colombia, as the winner. He, then, had to come back out and apologize, while also citing the true winner, Miss Philippines. Now there are conspiracy theories. Was it intentional or a true mistake? Ya know, I wouldn’t care if it was orchestrated because it got people talking about the pageant. Beauty pageants are as useless as The Voice in creating household names, and nobody would’ve been talking about Miss Universe Monday morning had it not been for Harvey’s gaffe. People claim that Harvey should’ve known better, as he’s a host for a living, but he was out of his element on this kind of world stage. I mean, this is the guy who continues to say “theyselves” in his Family Feud intro on a nightly basis, so he’s not the most polished speaker. People are wondering “Will he bounce back from this?”, and the answer is YES. It’s not like it was Miss America. We Americans don’t really give 2 shits about things that affect the rest of the world, least of which being other countries’ beauty contestants. Had he done that for Miss America, then it might be a different story. We still like to pretend that contest matters, for whatever reason. It’s not like Harvey was booking any gigs in Colombia anyway, so this’ll all blow over before you know it.

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Anyway, like every other person in America, I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens last weekend. At the end of the day, I enjoyed it. I’m not the most hardcore Star Wars fan, so I probably didn’t have as many nits to pick. Like, I don’t feel qualified to rank it with the other movies in the franchise (especially since I’ve yet to watch Episodes II & III). Still, I had thoughts as I sat through the movie, so I felt it was my duty to share them with you:

  • Was that guy supposed to be important that Poe was meeting with?
  • The Star Wars franchise sure loves that Keira Knightley bone structure.
  • I love how General Hux gives no fucks about Kylo Ren. He’s in his freshly tailored getup, and he’s forced to work with this kid who’s cosplaying as his crazy, evil grandpa.
  • Captain Phasma? More like Captain Ass-ma. She joins the Boba Fett Club of all style and no substance.
  • As a Black guy, I kinda hated the bait and switch done by Star Wars marketing. If you managed to avoid the trailers and TV spots, this wasn’t an issue. However, all interviews and everything else pointed to this being Finn’s story. Instead, it’s Rey’s, and Finn isn’t even conscious at the end of the movie. I was hoping for a role model for my future son. I guess I’ll just have to settle for one for my current daughter.
  • So just anybody can wield a lightsaber? I thought you had to have The Force to do that. Everyone else uses blasters
  • You mean to tell me that in their +30 year partnership, Han has NEVER fired Chewie’s bowcaster? Whenever I learn a friend has a gun, the first thing I do is ask to touch it!
  • Where the fuck was Constable Zuvio?!
  • I really could’ve done without the Original Trilogy cast members showing up. Chewie’s role could’ve been accomplished by a newly introduced brute/Wookiee character, while the death was needlessly telegraphed. And Leia was borderline USELESS
  • My goal in life is to be the Greg Grunberg to someone’s J.J. Abrams…
  • How much did Mark Hamill get paid for this movie? SAG rates tend to be based on dialogue, so…
  • The range of emotions on Mark Hamill’s face is quite fascinating. He goes from Puzzled to Possibly Horny to Mildly Constipated to Contentment all in about 10 seconds before the credits roll.

Like I said, I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan, so if you want some more intelligent posts about The Force Awakens, head on over to The Robot’s Pajamas, as they’ve been cranking them out all week. Still, the movie is breaking almost every box office record known to man, so that’s enough to get it the West Week Ever for the second week in a row!

In the meantime, I thank you for reading, and I hope you all have a Merry Christmas! If you don’t celebrate, enjoy your Chinese food or simply your Friday.

17th Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/17/15

by Will

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Your weekly dose of pop culture is coming at ya a day early this week, since I know a lot of you are getting offline this evening so you don’t run into any Star Wars spoilers. Tomorrow’s probably gonna be a ghost town on here, so I thought I’d get the post in early this week. But I promise there are NO Star Wars spoilers below!

DopeThis week, I checked out the film Dope. I’d heard good things about the movie, but I don’t get to the theater too much, so I was gonna wait until it came out on Redbox or something. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it, it’s kinda like a Black version of the 1999 film Go. Now, don’t ask me how to explain how I got to that comparison, but I think it’s apt. It’s about high school senior Malcolm and his best friends as they get wrapped up in a messy situation with some drugs. It’s about so much more than that, though. On the heels of the “blerd” movement, it deals a lot with identity and what it means to not be “Black enough”. Malcolm and his friends are in a punk band called Awreeoh (pronounced Oreo), and they idolize 90s hip hop culture. They don’t really fit in with the rest of the kids their age, so they’ve kinda bonded over being outsiders. It’s really fast paced, and doesn’t follow standard chronology. I really enjoyed it, and I think you should check it out if you get the chance.

Attack_The_Block_2

Since everyone knows that Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out this week, I figured I should get acquainted with the work of star John Boyega. For years, I’d been hearing about how great Attack the Block was, so it was finally time for me to check it out. The biggest problem was that I couldn’t really find it streaming anywhere, so I had to resort to…alternative means. Anyway, Boyega stars as the leader of a teenage gang that has set up shop in the projects of South London. One celebratory night, the neighborhood becomes the site of an alien invasion. Once Boyega’s character kills one of the aliens, he and his friends become targets for the rest of the aliens that have landed. While it’s comedic sci fi, it’s got some horror aspects to it. Part of it feels like a Black Goonies (nobody steal that idea!), but there’s also another story being told about the socioeconomic state of a lot of London youth. When the gang teams up with the White woman they had mugged earlier in the movie, they’re shocked to learn that she lives in their building. There’s quite a notion of “Why do YOU live HERE?” Boyega’s slow to boil, but once he gets going, he’s a commanding presence and a good leader. The version I was watching had subtitles turned on, and boy was I glad because it was hard keeping up with the slang AND the accents. Still, it’s a really good movie that I highly recommend.

star trek beyond

The Star Trek Beyond teaser trailer was released this week and, while NuTrek has given us some decent action movies, it has never really understood that that is NOT what Star Trek is about. I understand that it’s just a teaser, but you have to remember that this is *marketing* and, at the moment, they’re marketing it as a high adrenaline Fast and the Furious in Space action movie. That’s not what Star Trek is. Even if that movie turns out to be a completely different animal, the way they’re portraying it is not something a typical Star Trek fan would gravitate towards. That’s been my biggest issue with NuTrek – it acts like it’s ashamed of its own built-in fanbase. Instead of realizing the nice, pretty girl in front of it, it longs for the mega hot cheerleader who has to be tricked into dating it. If you want some Star Trek goodness that won’t disappoint, check out the Deep Space Nine drill down over on this week’s episode of the Nerd Lunch Podcast.

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Speaking of space movies, the trailer was released for Independence Day: Resurgence, and it looks good. In fact, I’m probably more intrigued by it than I was for Star Trek Beyond. Everyone’s back except Will Smith and Mae Whitman. At least Whitman’s character still exists (they recast her, with some folks assuming the studio was looking for a more “conventionally pretty” actress. Not my words!), while Smith’s Colonel Hiller was killed off on a website. Seriously, if you go to http://www.warof1996.com, which is the official viral site for the movie, there’s an entry on the interactive timeline that reveals Hiller was killed in 2007 while test piloting one of the new alien hybrid ships. Seeing how there probably wasn’t a body, I guess Smith could still come back in a third movie. “Look, he was actually teleported to the mothership before the explosion!” But I don’t know if that would work in the world already established by the rest of the franchise.

hasbro

In other movie news, toymaker Hasbro has announced a deal with Paramount to create a shared cinematic universe with their some of their biggest properties from the 80s, including G.I. Joe, ROM, M.A.S.K., Visionairies, and Micronauts. I really don’t know how this is going to work. On the one hand, I could see Joe and M.A.S.K. working together, and I could see ROM and Micronauts working together. But all under the same umbrella, in the same universe? I dunno, man. Everybody’s in love with the idea of the “shared cinematic universe”, but very few understand just how hard it is to pull off. Marvel’s never should’ve worked, and it should be seen as the exception rather than the norm. Sure, this will probably mean more toys for beloved properties, and I’m sure the folks over at IDW Publishing (the comics license holder for most Hasbro properties) are experiencing raging boners over this news, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

kurt russell

There’s a rumor that James Gunn is looking at Kurt Russell to play Star-Lord’s father in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Right now, though, it’s just a rumor, so nothing to see here…

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Across the aisle, we got new character posters for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. They’re decent, but they’re not exactly “taking me from 6 to 12”, if you know what I mean…

Meanwhile, the trailer for something called Knight Rider Heroes surfaced this week, and nobody knows what it is. Based on the URL of http://www.KnightRiderHeroesMovie.com, it appears to be a movie, but it looks more like it’s on the fan film side of things. To its credit, they got Hasselhoff involved, but that dude will pretty much do anything. It’s equal parts cool AND depressing to see Michael Knight 30 years removed from the original series. He’s still wearing that belt and that jacket? He just looks like an out of fashion old man. At least when he showed up in Knight Rider (2008), his look had been modernized somewhat. This dude, however, just looks like a man out of time. Like he’s just been wearing the same thing, and driving the same car since 1986. And if this movie revolves around assembling a team of Knight Riders, it’s already been done. It was called Team Knight Rider, and it desperately needs a DVD release!

ghostbusters reboot

Finally for movies, the first official image was released for Ghostbusters. I know folks hate the idea of this film, but I’m really looking forward to it. It’s got a cast filled with folks that I love, and the original GB isn’t this sacred cow to me that it is for a lot of folks. If you ask me, this movie can’t get here fast enough. Definitely one of my most anticipated of 2016.

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In the world of comics, Marvel officially announced Civil War II. Piggybacking off the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie, nothing’s really known about this miniseries at the moment. The creative team has been revealed as Brian Michael Bendis writing, with David Marquez on the art. While I’m enjoying their current run on Invincible Iron Man, I’m not sure I’ve forgiven Bendis yet. He’s usually capable with these events, but I just hate to see them going back to the Civil War well, especially so soon after their “soft reboot”. I mean, the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe is still being solidified, and we’re already about to enter another “Whose Side Are You On?” situation? The timing just doesn’t seem right, other than the fact that Marvel’s got a movie with that name coming out at the same time, that loosely appears to deal with a Superhuman Registration Act. This has “cash grab” written all over it, but maybe it’ll sound more interesting once more details are revealed.

mike-and-molly

In the world of TV, CBS has reportedly canceled Mike & Molly following the upcoming 6th season. It’s a bit sad, as I actually enjoy that show, as schizophrenic as it can be. Seriously, the show is only 6 years old, but has changed direction about 3 times. The first 2 seasons are about a couple that meets in Overeaters Anonymous and fall in love while trying to lose weight. The third season is about their quest to have a baby, and the weight loss journey goes out the window. In the fourth season, Molly quits her job and decides to become a writer, and the show kinda pushes Billy Gardell’s Mike into the background as Melissa McCarthy’s star was on the rise. To be honest, I’m surprised she’s still on a network show, seeing as how her movie career is doing well. She’s said to be heartbroken over the end of the show, however, as no one can really explain why CBS decided to pull the plug. It seems that everyone except Gardell had six-year deals, and CBS isn’t really open to discussions about another season (mainly because they don’t own the show), so Warner Bros (the producing studio) doesn’t want to renew deals with cast members. Now, CBS could just be waiting til the last minute to renew, but it could possibly hurt its relationship with Chuck Lorre, who’s been the force behind CBS’s most popular sitcoms. Anyway, the show made it to syndication, which is “the dream”, but it would’ve been nice if was getting a proper sendoff.


In the world of music, my favorite Spice Girl, Melanie C (“Sporty Spice”), stopped by BBC Radio to perform a stripped down version of one of the best songs off the SpiceWorld album: “Too Much”. Click above to check it out.

thriller

Meanwhile in America, Michael Jackson’s Thriller became the first album to sell 30 million copies in the US, making it 30x Platinum. To put that in perspective, that’s like if everyone in the state of Texas owned a copy. EVERYONE. Even the babies. And a couple of copies for some of the superfans. That is INSANE!

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Who are we kidding here? I’m not gonna insult your intelligence by pretending that Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn’t having the West Week Ever. The thing isn’t even officially in theaters yet (at least for the general public), but it stands to be one of the biggest releases EVER. I promised no spoilers, and I stand by that. Plus, I won’t even be seeing the movie until Saturday morning, so I couldn’t spoil it if I wanted to. Still, nothing came close to Star Wars this week, as the franchise was popping up everywhere from car commercials to bags of oranges. The early reviews are in, and it’s 95% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. For the folks who ignore the existence of the prequels, this movie was 30 years in the making and has a lot to prove. I’m not worried, though, as I think it’ll be great. So, for probably breaking every release record known to man, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had the West Week Ever.

11th Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/11/15

by Will

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Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends out there! A pal of mine from the ol’ a cappella days at Cornell put this together with his wife, and I thought I’d share it. I really hope it goes viral.

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On the movie front, you’re gonna hate me for this one. I mean, it was late, and I was bored, and…well I have no excuse. Yes, I watched Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Let me just say that I like Kevin James. Even though his movie career only exists because Chris Farley died, I still enjoyed him on The King of Queens. And, to be honest, I didn’t hate the first Paul Blart: Mall Cop. I mean, a hapless mall security guard foils a heist in a local mall. What’s not to like? Well, some movies don’t need sequels, and this is one of them. For 2/3 of the film, it feels like there are 2 different movies going on: one features Paul Blart as a mall security guard whose life just keeps getting worse and the other about Arrow‘s Damien Darhk trying to steal a bunch of priceless art from a casino. Yes, Neal McDonough is in the movie, and I swear he’s playing the same character he currently plays on Arrow. I’d hate to think someone watched this movie and thought to him/herself “This guy would be a perfect villain for Oliver Queen!” The movie actually moves pretty quickly, so it’s basically over before you know it. Both plots eventually overlap, but the resolution is kinda rushed. Plus, it kinda bothers me that Mall Cop is in the title, when there’s NO MALL! They couldn’t call it Paul Blart: Saves Art or Paul Blart: Casino Cop or something like that? Anyway, I watched this movie so that you don’t have to.

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And because I love Kevin James, but hate myself, I then watched Here Comes the Boom. Oddly enough, it was on another network at the same time as Paul Blart 2 (yeah, I DVRed it…). For a minute, I thought maybe James had died and that the cable networks were paying tribute to him. I had to Google it just to make sure. Anyway, if you’ve never seen it, it’s your standard “We gotta save the youth center!” movie. Kevin James is a former Teacher of the Year who’s now suffering from burn out. Meanwhile, the music teacher finds out his wife is pregnant just before it’s announced that all special programs – including the music department – will be cut due to budgetary constraints. Feeling bad for his colleague, James decides to raise the money to keep the music department going. And the way he decides to do this? Mixed martial arts. He finds out that he can make a tidy sum just by losing fights, so he gets good enough to qualify, but not really to win. You’ll never watch this movie, so I’ll spoil it for you: he saves the music department. There are a whole bunch of unnecessary twists, like a last minute embezzling subplot, but he saves the day and rekindles his love of teaching in the process.  It has all the staples of a Kevin James movie, including a small part for his brother, Gary Valentine. Surprisingly, he got in decent shape for this movie. I mean, he’s still Kevin James, but you could tell he at least did some training for the role. As formulaic as it was, I didn’t hate this movie, but there’s no need for you to watch it.

unfinished business

Unfinished Business is not a very good movie. The trailer portrayed it as this European drug and sex romp, while the actual thing tried to have more purpose. It didn’t know if it wanted to be EuroTrip or Glengarry Glen Ross. Vince Vaughn plays himself, as he does in all of his movies. Only this time he’s a struggling salesman who strikes out on his own after a disagreement with his boss. So then it becomes a race between him and the former boss to lock up a prized account on a business trip to Germany. Meanwhile, he’s accompanied by an older sales exec and a dimwitted sales applicant played by Dave Franco. Many of the jokes are supposed to come from Franco, but most of his material falls flat. Meanwhile, the movie tries to add heart by focusing on the fact that Vaughn is only trying to get this deal so that he can put his bullied son into private school where he’ll be protected. I love Vaughn, but this wasn’t his best work.

the league

A lot went on in the world of television this week. First up, FXX’s The League aired its series finale, and it was TERRIBLE. To be honest, as much as I love the idea of the show, it should’ve ended about 3 seasons ago. It just hasn’t been funny, and watching it has felt like a chore. If you’ve never seen it, The League centers around a group of friends in Chicago, and the goings on in their fantasy football league. I don’t give a rat’s ass about sports, but the football kinda took a backseat. Sure, there were a lot of player cameos where I was left wondering “Who’s that guy?”, but none of that really hindered my enjoyment of the show. The creators used to work on Curb Your Enthusiasm, so it has that loosely improvised thing going for it. The finale, however, didn’t feel like a true finale. This is odd, considering they’ve known this was the final season since before they started filming. It’s not like FX canceled them midway through the episode order. They had time to wrap things up neatly, but instead they gave us an off-the-wall episode that really didn’t accomplish much. It even squandered a Larry David cameo. So, I don’t hate it as much as I hated the Seinfeld or How I Met Your Mother (which I watched again a few weeks ago, and may be coming around on) finales, but it’s up there. What a sad end to what was once a great show.

superstore

On NBC, they showed a sneak preview of the comedy Superstore last week, and I caught the first 3 episodes On Demand. At first, I thought the concept sounded dreadful, even though the commercials made me laugh. I mean, who wants to watch a show set in a Walmart? That’s essentially what it is, as it follows the employees working in a branch of the Cloud 9 superstore. Reviews, however, have been kind and it’s being called one of the greatest workplace comedies. When I saw it was starring America Ferrera (Ugly Betty), that didn’t really do much for me. Then, I noticed it was also starring friend of a friend Ben Feldman (A to Z), and then I was all about it (he’s a good dude, and he really needs a win). Plus, after talking trash about it on Twitter, I started talking to one of the writers, who also wrote for Happy Endings. SOLD! Anyway, after watching, I can confirm that it’s really funny. I don’t know if it’ll last (the cast is FULL of folks from recently canceled shows, like Super Fun Night, so maybe they’re cursed), but I’ll watch it when it becomes a regular part of the schedule. That’s what scares me, though – it’ll be airing Mondays against Gotham, Supergirl, and whatever ABC’s running at the time. That’s some stiff competition, but it doesn’t take much to succeed on NBC right now, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Telenovela-Review-Eva-Longo

It’s not all great news, however, as NBC also showed a sneak preview of Telenovela (originally called Hot & Bothered). Starring Eva Longoria as a Spanish soap opera star who doesn’t know Spanish, the show is DREADFUL. I’m sure its existence does wonders for the number of minorities on prime time television, but it would’ve been nice if they’d been given something quality to work with. Starting in January, Telenovela will air after Superstore on Monday night, but don’t be surprised if we’re getting back-to-back chunks of Superstore a few weeks in.

wayward pines

Fox announced that Wayward Pines had been renewed for a second season. This is both good and bad news. It’s good because the first season was excellent. It’s bad, though, because the show worked so much better as a One and Done series. Sure, there’s material there for more story, but sometimes it’s best to leave something to the imagination. If you didn’t watch the first season, it starred Matt Dillon as a special agent who finds himself trapped in the mysterious town of Wayward Pines. And that is merely the tip of the iceberg. There is SO much going on in the show, but I loved every twist and turn. I fear a second season might be like Empire – a Fox show with a great first season, and a second season that feels like an incredible chore.

A few hours ago, the trailer was released for X-Men: Apocalypse. I have no real gripes with it, but I’m not especially excited for it, either. I feel like, at this point, you pretty much know what you’re gonna get with a Bryan Singer X-Men movie. There’s a specific tone to it, and that’s that. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but there aren’t really any surprises. I do hate that Mystique is on the team. That’s a big problem with Jennifer Lawrence’s star power: it’s like she refuses to take roles that may portray her in a bad light. I get it – she’s a big star now, and she needs a showcase. I just kinda preferred the “less is more” Mystique that we got from Rebecca Romijn instead of Lawrence’s “front and center” portrayal. This isn’t a Must See In Theaters movie for me right now, but I said the same thing about Days of Future Past, and ended up seeing it opening night. So, we’ll just have to wait and see.

star wars force awakens figures

We’re less than a week away from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but it’s not without controversy. Apparently, some toys have hit shelves that weren’t supposed to be out yet. I won’t say what they are, so as not to spoil anything for anyone. Still, folks who’ve bought the figures have been showing them off online, only to be surprised that they’re hit with takedown orders from Hasbro. The toy company is threatening to sue these people for showing off unreleased product, but they really shouldn’t be going after the fans. Instead, they should be going after the stores that are ignoring the street dates. Anyway, some sites are calling for a boycott of Hasbro products for doing this, but that’s a pretty unrealistic request when Hasbro is about to make a kajillion dollars.

 

jeopardy 5

It was quite an interesting week for me in the world of social media. You see, on Monday night, there was an attractive Jeopardy contestant named Liz Fritz. The thing I noticed about her, however, was that she was RACKTACULAR (I coined that term for someone back in college). So, I tweeted about it. Little did I know she’d actually search the #Jeopardy hashtag. I mean, isn’t she supposed to be smart? Smart people are busy, and they know better than to do that. So, anyway, here’s what transpired:

Jeopardy Tweet

Jeopardy Tweet 2

Jeopardy Tweet 3

Jeopardy Tweet 4

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I checked her timeline, and I was far from the worst offender, so I didn’t feel too bad.

Jeopardy Tweet Strangers

 

She apparently got 4 different marriage proposals, and a ton of dudes trying to chat her up. Oh, and she got about 300 new Twitter followers from the whole thing. She was cool about it, and gave as well as she got. I’m not proud of this. Sometimes I start tweeting, and just kinda lose my filter…

Meanwhile, it seems a bunch of huckleberries found my Storage Wars tweet from a few weeks back:

Storage Wars 2

For some reason, one of the Storage Wars stars, Rene, replied to me right after I tweeted it, but waited a week to retweet it. And then the replies started coming in:

Storage Wars 3

That last tweet, from “Strnbiker”, was even favorited by Casey Nezhoda herself. My favorite part, however, was “WhoreCuddler” calling Mary a “spinner” and then having the audacity to tag her in his tweet. I’m sure she loved that!

Stargate Atlantis Season 6

A friend of mine started a comic publisher, and one of his first books is going to be Stargate: Atlantis Season 6. The company, American Mythology, decided to go the Kickstarter route, which I wasn’t really sure about. Well, boy do I have pie on my face, as they hit their goal with days to spare! If you’re a Stargate fan, and want to get in on the action, you’ve still got 4 days to go. Check it out here.

Power Pinups

If you’ve still got some money left after supporting that Kickstarter, it appears some of the former Pink and Yellow Power Rangers got together to create a pinup calendar. I wish I could say proceeds were going to charity or something, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Anyway, I’d post the video, but it autoplays, and I can’t post any pics because they watermarked the shit out of them. So, if you’re interested, just go here.

Links I Loved

The Day My Daughter Realized She Isn’t White – The Washington Post

Marvel Comics’ Secret Weapon Is A Woman Named Sana Amanat – Vox

The Origin Story of SNL’s Edgy Rival, MADtv – scpr.org

BREAKING: Friend Who Just Got Motorcycle Already Dead – The Onion

Opinion: I Don’t Want An Asian-American Iron Fist – Comic Book Resources

Why I Left Mormonism Behind for Judaism—and Couldn’t Be Happier – Fusion

An Oral History of The League – ESPN

2tmnt52

While I considered just giving the West Week Ever to the big boobed smart girl, something came along later in the week that I really enjoyed. You see, the trailer was released for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. And it had something for everyone: Arrow‘s Stephen Amell kicking ass as Casey Jones, Tyler Perry not dressed as an old woman, some Megan Fox fan service, and the best part of all – after nearly 30 years, we’re finally getting live action versions of Shredder’s cronies Rocksteady and Bebop.

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If you remember, I didn’t hate the last TMNT movie. Most people were up in arms because it was a Michael Bay production, and Megan Fox was seen as terrible casting for April and blah blah blah. I used to LOVE the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and, while I didn’t warm up to the 2003 interpretation of the property, I still loved most versions of it I’ve seen. So I was looking forward to the movie. Like I said back in January, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. I thought there was a lot of workable material there, and it looks like they’re taking advantage of that in this sequel. Chris over at The Robot’s Pajamas had a great breakdown of the trailer, but I’ve got to say that I’m actually excited about this one. So, for finally giving us Rocksteady and Bebop (seriously, that’s all it took to get me to buy in), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows trailer had the West Week Ever.

27th Nov2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 11/27/15

by Will

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Happy Black Friday! Here’s my meager haul so far. Yes, I know I’ve said that I hate Gotham, but I’ll give anything a shot for $10. About half these things are on Netflix, but I tend to be in situations where I can’t stream, so I figured physical media would help me out with that. How did you all do?

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So, I’m a bad geek, as I haven’t finished Jessica Jones yet. It debuted a week ago on Netflix, and most people have binged it already, but I’m just not really in a binging mood right now. At the moment, I’m about 2.5 episodes into the series, and I like what I see so far. I doubted Ritter’s casting, but so far she’s convincing as the character. And the sex! Every time Luke and Jessica bang, I think, “Take THAT, racism!” Anyway, people seem to like it, so I guess Marvel and Netflix have another hit on their hands. I’ll have a better review when I finish the season.

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In addition to watching The Marine for the umpteenth time, I rented a few movies from Redbox. First up was Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham. I know I seem to be in the minority in my circle, but I feel like Melissa McCarthy can do no wrong. She and Paul Feig are a winning team and, if it’s rated R, you’re especially in for a treat, as she can cuss with the best of them. If you haven’t seen it, Susan Cooper is a schlubby CIA analyst who finds herself in the field as an agent to avenge the death of her partner. Feig brought back some of his familiar folks, like Rose Byrne from Bridesmaids, and the result was hilarious. It was also really refreshing to see Statham in a comedic role, and I’d like to see more of that from him. It being Redbox, I was only able to rent the theatrical version, but I’d love to see the unrated version, as some of the jokes in the red band trailer didn’t seem to make it into the film.

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Next up, I watched Vacation, and man did that feel like a chore! I should probably admit that I’ve never seen the original. Sure, I saw European Vacation a couple of times, and I saw Christmas Vacation about 20 years ago, but I’ve never seen the original Chevy Chase goes to Walley World film. I like Ed Helms. I’ve liked him since he was Andy Bernard, as we were both obnoxious Cornell a cappella alums. So, I want to see him do well. I’m not sure he was right for this role, though. I remember Rusty Griswold, and I’d hate to think he grew up to be square Ed Helms. I guess the lesson is that we all grow up to be our fathers, but I didn’t think Rusty would’ve grown up to be so…boring. Anyway, the entire cast, from Helms to Christina Applegate, is wasted on a thin script. Basically, to bring his family closer together, Rusty Griswold decides to take his family on a vacation to the Walley World theme park, just like his father had done years before. Meanwhile, his marriage is shaky, as his wife is unfulfilled, and his one son is a nightmare of a bully, while the other is uber sensitive. The jokes really fell flat, and the only time the movie has any real life to it is when the Griswolds deliver a Bundy-style beatdown to another family. Unless you’re just a die-hard Vacation completist (which means you probably also liked the made-for-TV Christmas Vacation 2), you can go ahead and skip this film.

get hard

Then, I watched Get Hard, starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. On paper, this movie is perfect to me. Two of my favorite comedic actors in the same film. Sure, Kevin Hart pretty much always plays himself (“volatile little guy”), but you never really know what to expect from Ferrell. In execution, however, this movie left me wanting. In fact, for most of the film, it feels like Ferrell is woefully miscast – odd, considering it’s from his production company, Gary Sanchez films. Kevin Hart’s just fine, but Ferrell doesn’t really get comfortable until Act 3, when he can really get crazy. If you’re not familiar with it, Ferrell plays a successful money manager who finds himself framed for fraud. With 30 days before he’s sent to prison, he hires Kevin Hart to teach him how to survive in jail. He figures Hart’s been to jail since 1 in 3 Black men will be incarcerated at some point in their life so, naturally, Hart is that 1. Surprisingly, however, Hart hasn’t been to jail, so he has to fake it so that he can get Ferrell to pay him the $30,000 that he needs to move his family into a better neighborhood. The entire basis of the movie is kinda racist, and there’s something of a lesson to be taught about assumptions and cultural appropriation, but this isn’t the kind of movie you screen for your college sociology class. It pretty much begs you not to ask questions. At the end of the day, it was funny, but it could have been funnier. For this one, I think you can wait for it to come on TBS.

miss-congeniality-ps

Finally, I watched Miss Congeniality on TV. Yeah, this movie’s 15 years old, but there are a LOT of movies I haven’t seen yet. Sandy Bullock (yeah, we’re cool enough that I can call her Sandy) is just so cute, but I wonder if she’s tired of playing the slightly socially inept cop. I mean, her character in Miss Congeniality might as well be her character from The Heat, as there aren’t many differences between the two. Maybe that’s her sweet spot.  Haven’t seen it? It’s about a hot mess of a federal agent who finds herself undercover in the world of beauty pageants. Michael Caine works his magic and turns her into the belle of the ball. Anyway, that was a cute little movie. I enjoyed it enough that I DVRed the sequel.

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This week, it was announced that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be rated PG-13. Well, duh! Ya know why? Because EVERYTHING is rated PG-13 these days. It’s not like it was gonna be rated R, ’cause they want the kids to see it, plus it’s not like the Jedi are cussing up a storm and having gratuitous sex. That’s my issue with trailers that say “This Film Has Not Yet Been Rated”. That’s basically the studio saying, “We’re still debating how many ‘shits’ we can get in the film and have the MPAA leave us alone.” It’s ALWAYS gonna be PG-13. In this day and age, it’s pretty much impossible to have a live action PG movie. That rating is reserved for Pixar and Universal animated films (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is the only recent live action example I can think of). Everything else is PG-13. Apparently, it and Revenge of the Sith are the only ones in the franchise to not have a PG rating, but the industry has changed a lot since the prequels.

Men-in-Black

In other movie news, it’s reported that the next Men In Black movie will prominently feature a Woman In Black. That’s not really a big deal, as they’ve shown women in the organization, but since the movies are set to shift away from the J and K partnership, maybe she’ll be front and center. Also, it seems like they’re still committed to having it in a shared universe with the 21 Jump Street franchise (first revealed in the Sony email hack). Exactly how that’s gonna work remains to be seen. It’s also not clear if Will Smith is coming back. He seems to hate sequels lately (see Independence Day: Resurgence), so I wouldn’t be surprised if he bailed. Hell, I wouldn’t even be surprised if he somehow convinced the studio to hire Jayden or Willow instead.

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In music news, *NSYNC said “Bye bye bye” to their album sales record, as Adele broke it by selling 3 million copies of 25 during its first week. I really never thought that record had any chance of being broken in today’s music sales climate, but there we go. Meanwhile, Justin Bieber broke a record by The Beatles with most number of singles on the Hot 100 at once. The Beatles had 14, and Bieber has 17, but he kinda cheated. Usually, you release a single at a time, so as not to cannibalize your progress. Bieber, however, released videos for 17 of the 18 songs on Purpose simultaneously, so it was pretty easy for him to break that record. This is the new music industry, so I pretty much expect someone like One Direction to come along and do this with their next album, thereby breaking Bieber’s record. And so on and so on.

courtesy of hopeless-romance45.deviantart.com

courtesy of hopeless-romance45.deviantart.com

I don’t talk much about wrestling these days, mainly because I can’t stomach 3 hours of RAW every week. Still, my favorite wrestler of all time is The Undertaker. Sure, he kinda seems like a dated gimmick now, but that’s the point. He hearkens back to a bygone era when wrestlers had gimmicks and things that made them special. Nowawdays, they don’t even come with creative names. For example, if I were in the WWE, my name would probably be Bruce Williamson. Back in the day, that would’ve been the name of a “jobber” (the nobody who fights the superstar to make him look better). Now, however, Bruce Williamson could be the new heavyweight champion of the world. Now, some people might see that as “progress”, but I see it as the sport losing its mystique. So, as cheesy as he may seem, I ride or die for The Deadman.

undertakereturn

Well, this week we celebrated 25 years of The Undertaker, as he made his in-ring debut during Survivor Series in 1990. This is a big deal, as you will NEVER SEE THIS AGAIN. Sure, there are people who’ve been wrestling for longer, but they bounced from promotion to promotion. The Undertaker has never jumped ship to WCW (though he did a stint there prior to WWE) or TNA. Sure, he takes a LOT of breaks, but he always comes home to WWE. He’s apparently a major positive force in the locker room, and he’s been rewarded for it. A 21 year streak at Wrestlemania is what he’s most known for. Now, yes, it’s scripted entertainment, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t let The Streak happen for just anybody. No, Taker earned that, as he always performs…even when he probably shouldn’t. His days are numbered, and there may not be an Undertaker pretty soon. I certainly don’t think we’ll be celebrating 30 years of The Undertaker, but stranger things have happened. I have a feeling Vince McMahon will step in and tell him “it’s time”, just like he did when he decided it was time to end The Streak. When that time comes, I just may have to be there for his final match.

Storage Wars

In the world of social media, I had the above exchange with Rene from Storage Wars. It was less an exchange and more of “he clearly had a filter on for Storage Wars mentions and decided to respond”. I didn’t really have anything to say back to him, though. I guess nice guys do win every now and then. But I’m scared of that Mavrick dude. Half his body is pure tattoo.

dk 3

In the world of comics, the first issue of The Dark Knight III: The Master Race came out this week. I tried to read it, and didn’t get past the first page. Part of the problem is that I’ve completely forgotten everything that occurred in that previous installment, The Dark Knight Strikes Again. I mean, c’mon, it was 12 years ago! I just remember it being really bad. If you’ve never read the original The Dark Knight, it’s about an older, grizzled Batman coming out of retirement to fight mutant gangs and a governmentally brainwashed Superman. It sounds kind of “out there”, but it’s a classic, and is rumored to be the basis of Ben Affleck’s portrayal in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Anyway, in a surprisingly dick move, before the issue even came out, original writer Frank Miller announced that there will be a Dark Knight IV. From what I’ve gathered, it seems like Miller’s “cowriter” on DK III, Brian Azzarello, is actually steering the ship, and I don’t think ol’ Frank wants him to have the final say on The Dark Knight Saga. So, Miller has decided that he’ll just keep going as long as DC will let him. And since DK stories is like printing money, it’s not like DC’s gonna stop him anytime soon. Unless DK III is a colossal bomb. Which it could be…

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This is pretty much the most useless week in the calendar year, as nothing really gets accomplished before Thanksgiving. As such, no real news came out this week either. We were all set to just accept this and ready ourselves for turkey. Then, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. showed up on Jimmy Kimmel Live with a surprise: they had the teaser trailer for Captain America: Civil War. After the show, the full trailer was uploaded to YouTube. Haven’t seen it? Here ya go:

Did you see Black Panther?! I’ve NEVER cared about that character, but they actually made him look cool. I may actually be looking forward to his solo movie now (seriously, most of Phase 3 is kinda “meh” to me right now). I’m probably more excited about this movie than Star Wars (yeah, I know, I know…), so May 6th can’t get here fast enough.

That said, I’m kinda disappointed that this was Cap 3 instead of Avengers 3. Considering the cast list, everyone jokes that it’s basically Avengers 2.5, but I feel that making it a Cap movie indicates that Cap is the hero, and I don’t feel the Civil War situation (at least as presented in the comic storyline) is that cut and dry. To be honest, I was Team Stark when that whole thing went down. Heroes DO need to be regulated, and it’s a natural reaction from a frightened populace. In the comics, they kinda portrayed Stark as the asshole, while Cap was the “hero”, even though Stark was the one upholding THE LAW. Now, there’s the whole argument of “Do you acknowledge laws that are wrong?”, which is pretty much what Cap’s stance was. The whole thing was marketed under the banner of “Whose Side Are You On?” Because this movie is about Cap sticking up for his friend, Bucky, I think it kinda adds a slant to the argument. It feels like they’ve already made up our minds about whose side we should be on, especially when you see things like the dual beatdown The Winter Solider and Cap give Iron Man in the trailer. I really hope things are presented a big more evenly in the film but, like I said, I’m not really expecting it. Anyway, for getting me excited for a movie I really didn’t have on my radar, the Captain America: Civil War trailer had the West Week Ever.

 

06th Nov2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 11/6/15

by Will

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dreamgirls

When it comes to movies, the only thing I watched this week was Dreamgirls. Sure, it came out in 2006, but I’d never gotten around to seeing it. To be honest, I had absolutely zero interest in watching it when Lindsay put it on, but I quickly got into it. If you’re not familiar, it’s an adaptation of the Broadway fictitious account of the rise and fall of a Supremes-esque girl group called The Dreams. And it was really, really good. I tend not to like Beyonce’s acting, but I thought she did well in her role as Not Diana Ross. And Jennifer Hudson is incredible. If you’re like me, and know your Broadway songs, then I’m sure you’ve heard “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” – THE song that the story is known for. And Eddie Murphy redeems himself from his “Party All The Time” days with some great singing in the film. In all, I highly recommend it.

BTE

In the world of television, Neil Patrick Harris’s Best Time Ever concluded its first season this week. I’ve been covering the show since it started and, while it’s not great, I’d like to see it get a second season. It’s a concept that I think could work with some tweaking. The variety show format needs to be about an hour, but he’s only got about 3o minutes of strong material. If it were up to me, I’d get rid of the Karaoke contest, as well as the opening segment where he awkwardly interacts with a member of the audience. I’d also get rid of Nicole Scherzinger, who doesn’t really bring much to the show. I’d expand the End of the Show Show, and maybe move it earlier in the show to keep the audience engaged. It’s the most awe-inducing part of the show, but it’s a shame that it comes at the end, once the show’s already lost a portion of its audience. In any case, NBC hasn’t decided whether or not there will be another season, but it’s not like they really have anything amazing in development to take its place.

Superstore

Speaking of NBC, while I was watching Undateable Live last week, I saw a commercial for an upcoming sitcom called Superstore. The commercial made me chuckle, but the idea of a comedy set in a Not Walmart just didn’t sound solid to me. So, of course I took to Twitter about it, and I got a reply from one of the writers, Sierra Ornelas. It turns out that a lot of the people behind Superstore actually used to work on Happy Endings. I loved the Hell out of that show, so now I’m excited. She did the impossible: changed someone’s mind via social media. Anyway, NBC announced that Superstore would have a sneak preview airing on November 30th, following The Voice. The show, starring Ugly Betty‘s America Ferrera, will then officially premiere on January 4th – going against Gotham, Supergirl, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Things already seem questionable for the show, as the episode order has already been cut from 13 episodes to 11, and it’ll be going up against some steep competition.

muppets

In other TV news, The Muppets showrunner, Bob Kushell, has left the show, as it gears up for a midseason reboot. While the premiere was considered a “success”, The Muppets is currently the lowest-rated comedy on ABC and, with the exception of Blood & Oil, is the lowest rated freshman show on the network. I tried watching the first episode, and it put me to sleep. Plus, I’ve just never really been a Muppets fan, so it was never for me. I’ve read everything from “It’s terrible!” to “It’s good, and if you say otherwise, you don’t deserve it!” All I know is that Fresh Off the Boat has risen to become the highest-rated ABC comedy on Tuesday nights. Maybe after they take the show in a new direction, I might give The Muppets another shot.

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Meanwhile in television, Matt Ryan reprised his role as John Constantine on this week’s episode of Arrow. Now, I never gave Constantine a chance when it was airing on NBC last season because I KNEW it’d get cancelled. That said, I really loved what I saw of Ryan this week, and it kinda makes me wish I had watched his series. Here’s hoping that they find a way to shoehorn him into the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow series.

courtesy of comicbook.com

courtesy of comicbook.com

In other superhero news, Buffy‘s Emma Caulfield has been cast as Cameron Chase on Supergirl. Now, I know I said that I wasn’t watching Supergirl, but they’re really trying to bring me in. I’ve loved the Chase character since her first appearance in Detective Comics. She’s an agent for the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO), and knows all of the DCU’s secrets. If they end up making her, like, a member of “Team Supergirl”, I’m gonna have to give in and watch this show. If you haven’t heard of Chase, her whole short-lived series has been collected in trade paperback form.

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There’s a story going around that Disney wants to retire all the Slave Leia merchandise. While some folks are upset about it, I’m kinda fine with it. I’m so tired of that costume. Pop culture has just become oversaturated by it, and it’s just gotten kinda played out. I don’t, however, see the need to officially retire the stuff. Just kinda lay back on the production of it. Less is more, and all that.

In what was probably the strangest news of the week, former boybander Nick Lachey was poised to become a drug kingpin. You see, he’s part owner of a 29-acre marijuana farm in Ohio, and the legalization of marijuana was on Ohio’s ballot. Had the vote passed, Lachey and his partners would’ve made over $1 BILLION, ANNUALLY! They had struck a deal where their farm would be the sole provider of marijuana for the state. Sadly for him, Ohioans struck it down at the polls. So, for now, Justin Timberlake will have to remain the richest boyband alum (unless you count The Beatles, which you SHOULD!).

Tevin Campbell, Pauly Shore, Jenna von Oy – not only are those folks extremely associated with the 90s, but they also happen to be in my favorite Disney film, A Goofy Movie. Designed to be a sequel to the television show Goof Troop, the movie has achieved a cult following over the years. Part of its charm are the songs in the film, performed by fictional R&B star Powerline (Campbell). Well, in a cappella circles, the name “Peter Hollens” carries a lot of weight, so imagine my surprise when I found out he’d arranged a medley of the biggest songs from the movie. Check it out:

 

Links I Loved

NYCC 2015: Best of TMNT (Part 1 of 2) – The Sewer Den

The 5 Worst Bond Girl Names – The Robot’s Pajamas

Please, No One Come Trick-Or-Treating To My House This Year, For I Will Be Masturbating To Pornography – ClickHole

Four Words We Only Knew Because of Sitcom Opening Themes – UnderScoopFire

The True Story Behind ‘Zola,’ The Epic Twitter Story Too Crazy To Be Real – The Washington Post

SummerSwap2015 – Stop 7 – AEIOU…and Sometimes Why

The Actor Who Played Jar Jar Binks Is Not Sorry – Vice

Your Show Is Dead (or the Age of Denial in Broadcast TV) – The Hollywood Reporter

Will’s Other Posts Of The Week

Mail Call Monday – SummerSwap 2015

Will’s Really Late NYCC 2015 Swag Grab Recap

trek

The biggest news this week had to be the fact that Star Trek is coming back. Sure, we’ve had a couple movies recently, but Trek in its truest form is on television. CBS announced that a new Star Trek series would premiere on CBS in January 2017, and then move to their streaming service, CBS All Access. Alex Kurtzman, co-writer of the past 2 Trek movies will executive produce, so it seems like this show will live in the NuTrek timeline.

Here are my issues with this announcement. First off,  you’re gonna have to pay $6 a month to watch this show. No dice, CBS! As folks online have joked, this will probably be the most torrented show in history. Apparently CBS All Access already streams all the past Star Trek series, but I’d never even heard of the service before this announcement. Next, I’m something of a starship snob, in that I find it hard to really care about any ship not named “Enterprise”. I made an exception with DS9, but it took some time. I couldn’t do it with Voyager. Since there’s already an Enterprise in the movies, I doubt they’d allow that ship to be used. So, we’re probably gonna end up with some janky, Excelsior class ship that I don’t care about, filled with people I don’t care about. Yeah, I’m not being very open-minded here.

capt worf

You see, they clearly left the established universe in existence for a reason. They may not be doing anything with it, but the movies don’t affect anything that happens there, and vice versa. If the movies are gonna focus on NuTrek, then let this new show depict what’s going on in the “prime” universe. We never did get to see any real aftermath from the Dominion War. Let’s see that. Hell, I’d probably even rather have that Captain Worf show Michael Dorn’s been trying to make over a series set in NuTrek’s timeline.

At the end of the day, however, new Star Trek can’t be a bad thing. I mean, the show could suck, but we don’t know at this stage of the game. So, I’m going to try to adopt a positive outlook for the sake of my inner Trekker. Seriously, 1994 Will would be bouncing off the walls about this news, but 2015 Will is going to be a bit more reserved. Still, for announcing the first television show in ten years, Star Trek had the West Week Ever.

 

23rd Oct2015

West Week Ever – 10/23/15

by Will

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When Mr. Robot debuted, many critics had the same question: “Why is this show on USA?” It’s not just that the show was good, but it also didn’t tonally fit with USA’s other offerings. Well, that’s how I feel about Satisfaction. I’ve written about the show in the past, but in case you forgot, here’s the gist: When Neil Truman discovers that his wife has been paying a male escort for sex, he becomes a male escort himself to get a better understanding as to why she sought one out. The show debuted last year, along with drama Rush, and it was the lone survivor of the pair. The second season premiered last Friday, and in an interesting move, USA released the entire season online and on demand Saturday morning. So, I spent most of my free time this week burning through the new season.

At its core, Satisfaction is more of a Fox show, with more sexual content than you can get away with on that network. If anything, it probably belongs on FX, as it’s the spiritual cousin of Nip/Tuck. It’s a sudsy primetime soap, with morally ambiguous characters and gratuitous butt shots. Over the course of the season, Neil and wife Grace discover that their infidelities may have actually made their marriage stronger. The season deals with them trying to find their way back to each other. They know they can’t really go back to their old lives, so they try to figure out where they’re going. There’s so much going on this season, though, that I don’t even want to get into all of it. If you’re curious, just watch the show. In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I HIGHLY recommend this show. The season is a bit bittersweet, however, as I really don’t know if there’ll be a third season. When NBC released all of Aquarius online, it actually worked in that show’s favor, but part of me feels like this is a burn-off for Satisfaction. The season finale is a fitting way to end, should it turn out to be the end of the series, but it definitely sets up an interesting landscape for season 3. Luckily, the story editor for the show is the husband of a college friend. So, if it gets cancelled, I’m just going to try to find out what they would have done had it been renewed.

amy apollo

On TV, I also checked out Amy Schumer: Live At The Apollo. I’m a Schumer fan, so I expected big things. I was kinda disappointed, though. Clocking in at an hour, it felt like warm-up material. I don’t feel like she really found her groove until just before the special ended. Apparently there’s an extended version airing on October 30th, so maybe that one will be better? I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

frozen

Another thing I watched this week was the movie Frozen. No, not the Disney film. This 2010 thriller stars X-Men‘s Iceman, Shawn Ashmore, and centers around 3 people who find themselves stuck on a chair lift at a ski resort. It’s not the kind of movie that I’d ever watch on my own, plus I’d never even heard of it before, but it was recommended by my good buddy Mike. When 3 college kids sneak their way onto a ski run, they get more than they bargained for when the resort closes while they’re still on the lift. Then, they have to deal with the height, the cold, wolves, and more as they struggle to survive. On paper, you really wouldn’t see how they get a whole movie out of that, but it works. And as Mike and I discussed, it’s the PERFECT length at about 90 minutes. Apparently when the film screened at the Sundance Film Festival, it caused multiple faintings from all the tension. I don’t know about all that, but it’s definitely a movie that keeps you engaged the entire time. The whole thing is on YouTube, so check it out if you’re curious.

Surviving

Also, I checked out a new webseries called Surviving, from actress/writer/producer Reagan Gomez-Preston. Remember that show on The WB called The Parent ‘Hood? Starred Robert Townsend? She played the daughter on that. Oh, and she was the voice of Roberta on The Cleveland Show. Anyway, she now creates webseries that are partially crowdfunded, and I just happened to stumble upon the second episode. I enjoyed it enough that I went back and watched the first. Basically, it’s an “urban” version of The Walking Dead – which is actually needed, seeing as how that show treats its Black characters not named “Michonne”. It’s too soon to really tell what’s happening, but I like what I see. Generally, I hate fan film/webseries stuff, but this looks really professional, and I’m really eager to see where it goes. New episodes come out weekly, and Reagan’s currently seeking funding for season 2.

Supergirl

I’ve made a decision, and I think it might be an unpopular one: I don’t think I’m going to watch Supergirl. As its Monday premiere gets closer, I realize that I really just don’t care. As comic fans, we’re expected to clamor for all of this stuff, even when it’s not necessarily our cup of tea. Gotham didn’t do it for me, and I bailed. I don’t think I even wanna hop on the Kara train. I love what Greg Berlanti does for DC properties on television, but there’s already so much TV to watch. I think the main clincher for me, though, was that contrary to early reports, this show will not be connected to the Berlantiverse (Arrow/The Flash/Legends of Tomorrow/Vixen) established on CBS’s sister network, The CW. I just don’t have the patience or the capacity for another mythology and another universe. I know I’m not even giving it a chance, but I just don’t think I can get on that horse. I hope Supergirl‘s successful, and I hope it acquires legions of fans. I’m just tired, man. I can’t keep doing this, and I’ve got to know my limits.


And now I’ll look like a hypocrite because I’m excited for the November 20th debut of Jessica Jones on Netflix. The trailer above was just released this morning, and it looks really good. It looks like they’re focusing on the final arc of the Alias series, called “Purple”, where we learn about Jessica’s past as a hero, and her downfall at the hands of The Purple Man. Here’s what sets Jessica Jones apart from Supergirl: I have loved the Jessica Jones character since the first issue of Alias back in 2001. I’ve got no real love for Supergirl, but I’ve bought every comic that Jessica has appeared in. She was my Miles Morales before there was a Miles Morales. In fact, a part of me feels some kinda way about all the Johnny Come Latelies who are just discovering her now. Hell, if there was this much attention on her 10 years ago, her series might still be running, instead of her just appearing as a background character in Avengers stories. Plus, I kinda miss Alias Jessica. She was rough around the edges and not very entrenched in the “cape world”. While she’s had a full character arc, and has matured, I still miss the alcoholic, loner, “Mature Readers” Jess that we met when she was introduced. Oh well, the trailer looks great, and Krysten Ritter seems to have captured the tone of the character, so I’m there for this.

cruel intentions

In other TV news, there’s a Cruel Intentions television series in the works. Again. A lot of folks don’t realize this, but there was already a Cruel Intentions television show in development back in 1999. Originally called Manchester Prep, it was meant to serve as a prequel to the movie. Fox, however, cancelled it before it even aired, so the 3 completed episodes were released to video as Cruel Intentions 2. Now, NBC seems to think this is an idea worth revisiting. Does anyone even remember Cruel Intentions? It has basically one claim to pop culture fame: the kiss between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair. Anyway, this television series would be a sequel, as it would focus on the son of Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon’s characters.

mythbusters

At the other end of the television spectrum, it was announced that Mythbusters is ending after 14 years. I know the “I Fucking Love Science” bunch have always liked that show, but I’ve probably seen, maybe, 2 episodes of it. I don’t know, but I like to think there’s a little magic to the world. I don’t want my myths busted. To me, what they do is akin to spoiling a magic trick. Sure, I watched the superhero episode, and the one where they tested whether or not you could actually “Knight Rider” a moving car into a moving semi; I’m not a monster! But I just never really dug what they were doing. I dunno. Call me crazy. Anyway, the writing’s been on the wall for some time, especially when they cut the hot chick, the Asian dude, and that other guy due to financial reasons last year. I think it’s still a respected brand, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Mythbusters specials still popped up in the future.

yahoo screen

Speaking of losing money on shows, it was reported that Yahoo! lost $42 million on their failed Yahoo! Screen experiment. Basically created to showcase the newly-acquired Community, the service also featured other original programs like Sin City Saints and Other Space. I LOVED Other Space, so it saddens me that we’re probably not getting a second season. It was clearly cheap to produce, and it was created by Paul Feig – who everyone loves for Bridesmaids and Spy. Anyway, it seems like Yahoo! is exiting the original show-length content world for the time being, as they just couldn’t figure out how to make any money off of the venture.

cowell

In reality television, it’s been announced that Simon Cowell will be joining America’s Got Talent next season. I’ve missed Simon on American television. Sure, he tried and failed to bring The X-Factor over here, but I’ve always loved his honesty. Plus, unlike a lot of these judges on these shows, he’s actually a starmaker. He knows his shit. The Voice may be the most popular competition show on television, but I will never stop pointing out that it has yet to produce a single STAR. Simon by himself has created and nurtured stars, so I’d be interested to see what he brings to the show.

The trailer was released for Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series Master of None, and it looks like a mumblecore movie. I’ve often said that I’m not a fan of Aziz 2.0, as his whole thing now is “I’m a relationship guru for the digital age!”, but I’ll check this out. At its worst, it just looks like his version of Louie or Maron, and there are worse templates to steal.

dacre

In movie news, Dacre Montgomery has been cast as the Red Ranger for the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie. I know nothing about this kid, and that’s probably how they want it. Unknowns bring no baggage to the role. Still, I’m not sure I’m down with his look. From a Power Rangers standpoint, he looks more like a Billy than a Jason. Anyway, I’m really starting to wonder if they’re gonna mimic the whole ethnicity joke from the original series: is the Black Ranger going to be a Black actor? How about the Yellow Ranger? Surely Saban has learned from that experience, right? RIGHT?

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UPDATE: About 30 minutes after I wrote that, the official Power Rangers account announced that Ludi Lin will be playing the Black Ranger. So, Asian guy got that slot. Guess Saban DID learn from the past. That means we either get a Black guy Blue Ranger, or a Black girl Yellow Ranger.

Links I Loved

JJ Abrams Wants to Kill Your Dad – UnderScoopFire!

Reused Sci-Fi Costumes – The Robot’s Pajamas

Is Playboy Stigmatizing Nudity By No Longer Celebrating It In Its Pages? – UPROXX

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The official poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released, quickly followed by the final trailer. And the Internet WENT CRAZY! People were tweeting about the boners they were getting from watching the trailer, while the nefarious #BoycottStarWarsVII hashtag started trending as a couple of trolls tried to say that the movie promoted anti-White genocide. Whatever. I hope John Boyega and Daisy Ridley have a bunch of little Force-sensitive mulatto babies to really piss those folks off! Anyway, the trailer was released during, of all places, Monday Night Football, and Fandango subsequently crashed as tickets sales opened up for the movie. What did I think? Well, I like Boyega’s blue laser sword, and it was cool to see Han Skywalker again (I wonder how many heads exploded after reading that sentence). All kidding aside, it looks really cool, and I look forward to seeing it. Probably not opening day, ’cause I didn’t try to get tickets, nor do I wanna deal with those “opening day” people. Star Wars was all anyone could talk about this week. That is, until…

timetravel

Wednesday was Back to the Future Day, as we finally saw the date referenced in Back to the Future II. The subject of many an Internet hoax, the wrong date has been surfacing online every few months for years, but the TRUE date was October 21st, 2015. To commemorate the occasion, Pepsi released a limited quantity of Pepsi Perfect in the same bottle as seen in the movie, Nike released self-lacing shoes, and USA Today reprinted the same front page and logo as seen in the film. The city of Reston, Virginia became Hilldale for the day. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd reprised on their roles on Jimmy Kimmel Live. In all, it was a day of celebration for everyone, and it will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. That’s right – from Wednesday on, the Back to the Future franchise now entirely takes place in the past. Breathe in that mortality, and smell the oncoming death. We’re all getting old, folks. Everything we love is getting old with us. But that’s not a bad thing, as they don’t make movies and TV like they used to – even though they keep remaking those things, trying to recapture the magic. In any case, for teaching us the “Power of Love”, and for being a historic day that will never occur again, Back to the Future Day had the West Week Ever.

16th Oct2015

West Week Ever – 10/16/15

by Will

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Nah, I don’t feel like talking about New York Comic Con right now. I’m still gathering my thoughts, so look for a standalone post about that next week. So, let’s get on with the pop culture news!

Playboy

Playboy‘s getting rid of all the titties! Yes, I understand that the Internet exists, chock full of free pornography, but Playboy is an institution. It was THE place to go to see the next Baywatch babes or the forgotten starlets trying to shake their youthful image. Remember how much you wanted to see Tiffany’s breasts? Playboy made that happen. And Debbie Gibson, though that wasn’t as exciting. Regardless, Playboy was a “sophisticated man’s” gateway to nudity. That’s right – women in Playboy aren’t naked, they’re nude. There’s a certain level of class there. They’re not spread eagle or anything like that. Well, starting in the March 2016 issue, they will be doing away with that nudity. Instead, they said that the pictures would be more PG-13, and it’s unclear as to whether or not there will still be a centerfold. So, Playboy‘s basically becoming Maxim with better articles. They make more money by licensing the brand than from the magazine, as the magazine’s circulation is only about 800,000 right now. Print’s dead, and they’d probably make just as much money putting out old issues of Ranger Rick. This just seems like such a last gasp from a desperate company. The Playboy brand is too iconic to try to go family friendly at this point. Just because there are no nipples, it’s still not gonna be included on your kid’s Scholastic order form. I don’t think this move will make the magazine more appealing to anyone not already buying it, and I think it’ll hurt the existing customer base. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Thor Ragnarok

It’s been confirmed that Hulk will play a role in Thor: Ragnarok. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. I mean, I didn’t really like Thor: The Dark World, but I don’t know if adding Hulk to the recipe is going to really add anything. I keep seeing all of these articles about “Where does Hulk go in the quinjet after Age of Ultron?”, and I’m just wondering “Does it matter?” I mean, he’ll eventually land somewhere, and he’ll definitely be back, so I guess I don’t feel like there’s some big story to be told about where he went when he left the team, but maybe that’ll end up leading into Ragnarok.

jessica jones promo

Meanwhile at NYCC, Marvel showed the first episode of Jessica Jones, as well as a sneak peak at Daredevil season 2. Well, not a few days later, the rumor surfaced that Marvel was working on a Moon Knight series to join the other Netflix shows. This followed on the heels of another rumor that Marvel may be scrapping the Iron Fist series altogether. This latter rumor doesn’t come as much of a surprise, as the series has been delayed, reportedly, because Marvel isn’t quite sure how to handle the property. The big question was about how mystical it should be. Considering they’re already in pre-production on Luke Cage, and there doesn’t seem to be a plan to (logically) introduce Danny Rand/Iron Fist in that series, I wouldn’t be surprised if this rumor turned out to be true.

Coogler

In other Marvel rumors, they’re reportedly seeking Ryan Coogler to direct Black Panther. Fruitvale Station‘s been on my DVR for over a year, so I’m not really familiar with his work, but folks who’ve seen it seem to be excited by this news. He’s also the director of the upcoming Creed, which looks great. So, maybe this would be a great pick after all. I’ve got no real love for the character, so my excitement won’t really mount until I see a trailer.

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Finally in Marvel rumors, there was a brief period yesterday when sites across the Internet were reporting that Marvel had gotten the Fantastic Four rights back from Fox. This was mainly triggered by the news that Marvel and Fox were teaming up for 2 X-Men shows on the various Fox networks. It was speculated that Fox relinquished the film rights to FF in return for the TV rights to X-Men. By midday, this was proven false, but the fact remains that there will be two X-Men shows in development. First up, Legion is being developed for FX by Fargo executive producer Noah Hawley. It focuses on Professor Xavier’s son, David Haller, whose schizophrenia might be something more than doctors previously thought. I’ve got to say that I hate Legion. Let me say it again: I fucking HATE Legion. He’s a terrible character whose only real claim to fame is that he triggered the “Age of Apocalypse” storyline. Other than that, he’s just annoying and worthless. NO interest in this show whatsoever. Next up, Hellfire is in development for Fox, focusing on X-Men foes The Hellfire Club. It’ll focus on a special agent who stumbles upon an exclusive club of millionaires bent on world conquest. Again, do not want. I feel like these shows are focusing on some of the least interesting aspects of a franchise that is still sort of fleshing itself out onscreen. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. works because of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The X-Men Universe, however, was blown to smithereens in Days of Future Past, so it’s almost like these shows are being built on uncertain ground. Oh, and they’re gonna need to change that title from Hellfire (which is admittedly a working title), as that’s gonna alienate some folks not familiar with the property.

die hard year one

In non-Marvel news, they’re working on Die Hard 6, which will reportedly be a sequel AND a prequel. The movie will be book-ended by footage of Bruce Willis basically playing himself (that’s every Bruce Willis role these days), but the middle of the movie will feature a younger actor as a beat cop John McClane in 1979 NYC. I’m not really sure how to take this. I love Die Hard, and actually love most of the sequels. This one is going to be directed by Len Wiseman, who directed Live Free or Die Hard – the second movie of the franchise that I ever saw (the first was Die Hard With A Vengeance. Yeah, I saw them out of order). The studio clearly wants more Die Hard in a world where Bruce Willis couldn’t care less. I mean, A Good Day To Die Hard was clearly meant as a torch passing movie, but the film-going audience just ain’t letting Jai Courtney happen. It was pretty disappointing, as Willis spent most of the movie saying, “I’m on vacation.” There’s only so much shit you can put John McClane through, as he’s not Jack Bauer. That’s the trick to the franchise: John McClane is a regular cop who’s out of his depth when Die Hard happens. He’s not trained for this stuff. He improvises and rises to the challenge. And he subsequently rose to the challenge 4 more times. It’s over now. He’s old and his time is over. How about a Die Hard that doesn’t even feature a McClane? Why does this stuff only have to happen to one family? It’s time to move on.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-The CW announced that this, the 22nd, will be the final cycle for America’s Next Top Model.

-ABC’s Fresh of the Boat and Quantico were given full-season episode orders

-ABC is reportedly working on a television adaptation of My Best Friend’s Wedding, as well as another reboot of Fantasy Island – which will feature a female lead and NO ISLAND (?!).

-Meanwhile, Fox has cut the episode order for Minority Report from 13 to 10. So, it’s basically cancelled. It’s not an official cancellation, though, so we’re still awaiting the first cancellation of the 2015-2016 TV season

-Paramount is reportedly reworking the planned sequel to Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters into a television series. It’s unsure if stars Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner will be a part of the show, but let’s be realistic – they won’t be.

-Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures have announced a shared cinematic universe starring King Kong and Godzilla across three movies.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip will open opposite Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Links I Loved

John Amos on Mary Tyler Moore, Racism on Set, and Playing the First Black Family Man – Vulture

The Worst Halloween Costumes of 2015 – The Robot’s Pajamas

“I Was Killed When I Was 27”: The Curious Afterlife of Terence Trent D’Arby – NewStatesman

Why I Can Never Order from Chipotle Again – Quiet Revolution

NerdLunch2015-websitePodcast

When not blogging about popular culture, I like to run my mouth on various podcasts. Luckily for me, there are a few out there who like to converse with me about anything from comics to television theme songs. One of my favorite shows is the Nerd Lunch Podcast, where I’ve been a member of their “Fourth Chair Army” five times. I always have a great time on their show and this week they celebrated a milestone: they released their 200th episode. It’s hard delivering a podcast week in and week out. Hell, I can barely write this post some weeks, so I can only imagine what goes into putting out a podcast. They’ve done it 200+ times (there are a few lost episodes. I was even on one of them!). The thing I love about our little community is that we all genuinely care about what the other is up to. I love to hear my name randomly mentioned on a Nerd Lunch episode, and I know that cohost CT loves it when Nerd Lunch is mentioned in West Week Ever. Well, this week I’m going a step further. Not only am I mentioning Nerd Lunch, but in honor of their achievement, I’m declaring that the Nerd Lunch Podcast had the West Week Ever. If you’ve never listened to their show, there’s no time like the present. Covering 200 episodes, they’ve discussed everything from fantasy casting to junk food to drill-downs on popular movie franchises (Mad Max, Star Wars, etc). There’s something for everyone, so give them a listen, and tell ’em Will sent ya! Congrats on 200 episodes, and here’s to 200 more!

04th Sep2015

West Week Ever – 9/4/15

by Will

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Snowpiercer-2

So, this week I finally got around to watching Snowpiercer. I’d heard nothing but great things about it, but it had taken me forever to finally sit down and watch it. I had a ton of work to do, so I figured I’d just have it on in the background, but it ended up getting my undivided attention. If you’ve never heard of the movie, here’s the deal: in the near future, scientists decide to combat Global Warming by releasing a chemical called CW-7 into the atmosphere. Well, the substance worked too well, and resulted in another ice age – and the extinction of humanity. So, the last bastion of humanity survives on “The Rattling Ark”, a train that traverses the globe annually. The train, however, is set up on a class system, with the rich up front, and the poor common folk in the tail section. The rich dine on steak, while the poor initially had to resort to cannibalism until they were given protein supplement bars. Well, the tail section decides to fight their way to the engine, in order to take control of the train. The resistance is led by Chris Evans, and the movie follows his group as they move forward, from car to car. I tend not to like End of The World/mass death movies, but this one was really good. And that ending! Anyway, I highly recommend this movie.

Spice World

A few weeks back, when I was on The Nerd Lunch Podcast, we discussed things that get a “bad rap”. One thing that was mentioned was the movie Spice World. I have always hated this movie. As I explained in the episode, it was the first movie I’d ever ordered as Pay-Per-View, and I was begging for it to be over. It just completely lost my attention. I mean, the biggest American star in the thing was George Wendt! Now, oddly enough, I was a big Spice Girls fans, so I should’ve been the target audience. Plus, I LOVE crappy movies starring pop groups (see: 2gether and S Club: Seeing Double). Since it was on a few nights ago, I decided to give it another chance. And the verdict? Still hate it. It’s got NO plot. I mean, there’s something about a British tabloid guy who wants to break up the group, and then they have this pregnant friend that they kept neglecting ’cause they’re too busy for her normal ass. And then Mark McKinney (remember him?) and George Wendt are American filmmakers who might be filming the movie that we’re watching, meanwhile Alan Cumming is a documentarian who’s also filming a movie about the group. And then the group breaks up for some reason. This is the part that got me, because it flashes back to when they were a younger, struggling group – like they all grew up together or something. It totally neglects to acknowledge that the group was formed like every other British pop group: they answered a casting call. Anyway, they come back together just as their normal ass friend is about to give birth, and then they all reunite for their concert at Albert Hall just in time to sing “Spice Up Your Life”. I did not like this movie. Love the girls (especially Sporty), and love the music, but did not love this film.

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I also caught the standup special, Jay Pharoah: Can I Be Me? If you watch SNL, then you know Jay Pharoah as “the Black guy who’s not Kenan”. He also does a pretty good Obama. Anyway, I guess he got this hour special off the back of his impressions, because his standup jokes need work. He can do a mean Denzel and Bernie Mac, but his jokes were kinda lame. Even the audience wasn’t really feeling it, but he always got a pop when he’d break out the impressions. If he gets another special, he either needs to hone his material, or just focus on impressions the way Rich Little does.

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Last week, I mentioned the McWhopper proposed by Burger King. Since McDonalds declined the invitation, a few other burger chains have approached BK about participating. So, now BK is proposing the Peace Day Burger, which would contain signature ingredients from Denny’s, Krystal, and some places called Giraffas and Wayback Burger. McDonald’s is still invited to participate if they change their mind, but now BK is courting other suitors. They plan to go ahead with the pop-up shop that was already under construction in Atlanta, so I really hope this goes through.

marvel studios

This week, it was announced that the film division of Marvel Studios will now report directly to Disney, in a move that was supported by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. Apparently, there had been some creative pushback from Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, and Feige had threatened to leave the company. This also means the end of the Marvel Creative Committee – the group comprised of Marvel Entertainment President Alan Fine, Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, Publisher Dan Buckley, and writer Brian Michael Bendis – which has guided the Marvel Cinematic Universe since its inception. Folks are now wondering what this means for the future of the Marvel movies. Will the audience even notice a difference, or is this a major creative shakeup that will be felt at all throughout future movies. This especially makes things messy for the television division, which will reportedly stay under the direction of Marvel Enterprises. There had been rumors that Marvel Studios and Marvel Enterprises weren’t playing nice together, and this could affect the possibility of any of the TV characters making it into the films. Right now, only time will tell.

Superman 43 reveal

Speaking of the comic world, I finally got around to reading Superman #43, which is the issue where *SPOILER ALERT* Lois Lane reveals Superman’s identity to the world. It shouldn’t be too much of a spoiler, as every Superman book recently has revolved around the fact that the world knows his identity, and we were waiting for that golden moment where the reveal would be shown. Having read the issue, I can now say that this was a TERRIBLE idea. I’m not even talking about the repercussions of such an action. I’m saying that, from a story perspective, the threat level wasn’t high enough to warrant what Lois did. There was no alien invasion, there were no life or death stakes. No, Superman was being tortured by a tech collective called HORDR (think Evil Google), and they were blackmailing him. They want to test his new Super Flare (this stupid new thing where he basically explodes) power out on their energy siphoning creatures, and they torture him to see how much he can take. If he refuses, they reveal his identity to the world. Lois felt that by doing it herself, she would take away their leverage, allowing Superman to break free. OK, that’s really stupid. It was just torture. Superman has dealt with far worse. They didn’t even have Kryptonite or anything. It seems like she was just dying to tell the world (which was a dick move, considering she had just spent the earlier part of the issue promising to keep his secret). I really hope DC has some grand plan as to why his ID needs to be public, because this story so far sure hasn’t justified that decision.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-The Summer of Breakups continues, as Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger announced they were separating after 2 years of marriage. I’m sure folks are gonna use this opportunity to make a bunch of Nickelback jokes, but I actually like some of their songs…

-NBC’s reboot of the sitcom Coach will not be going ahead at the network. It sounded like a terrible idea, but I was still morbidly curious.

Diggle Suit

-It appears that Diggle will finally be getting a costume on Arrow. As the internet has already pointed out, he just looks like Magneto.

-The MTV Video Music Awards were last Sunday, where host Miley Cyrus exposed her left breast, and Kanye West announced he’s running for President in 2020. For the record, Kanye was the bigger boob that night.

Marvel’s Luke Cage made 2 casting announcements this week, as Mahershala Ali will play Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, while Simone Missick will play Misty Knight.

force friday

So, last night I had dinner with my Thrift Justice partner, Mike (for those new to the site, Thrift Justice is the series where I write about all the cool stuff Mike and I find while thrifting). We had been a bit estranged lately because Mike’s lost his passion for the yard sale thing. This was a bum season, and it has kinda taken its toll. Anyway, we had dinner to catch up, and when the meal was done, we decided to check out Force Friday – the worldwide release of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys. This was going to prove a problem, however, as it was 9:30 PM, and the toys wouldn’t be released until 12:01 AM. So, how would we kill time?

At first, we were going to see a movie, but nothing good was playing. It had pretty much come down to Owen Wilson’s No Escape (which I’ll probably DVR when it hits HBO) or Transporter: Refueled. While waiting for the showtimes, I checked the Force Friday website to see what kinda swag was being offered. It turned out that only 207 Target stores in the country were opening at midnight, and the closest one to us was almost 2 hrs away in Hagerstown. Meanwhile, all Toys “R” Us stores would be giving away a free poster and commemorative LEGO brick to the people came to shop. Hagerstown started looking like the best option, since TRU is right across the shopping center parking lot from Target.

We got to TRU around 11, and sat in the car for a bit. Did we really wanna wait in line with this…riffraff? Eventually, we decided that we did. Standing in line, we reminisced about our days working at TRU, and chatted with the guy in line ahead of us. At 12:01, they opened the doors, but they treated it like a club. This burly guy in a TRU shirt acted as the bouncer, as he only let in a certain amount of people at a time. Instead of setting the merchandise up in the Feature Shop (the showcase at the front of the store), the toys were all located in the first boys aisle, on both sides of the aisle. So, you could understand why they were only letting in a few at a time, as only so many people could fit in an aisle. Their first mistake was this setup. Their second mistake was that they had a 3-per item limit on everything. So, for example, you could get 3 Star Wars Black 6″ Finn figures, and then move on and get 3 of something else, and so on. So, as you can imagine, the 6″ Star Wars Black line was the first to go. I stood outside, like a hungry orphan, looking through the window as other dudes were buying my toys. By the time I got to the aisle, all the Star Wars Black – the stuff I was specifically looking for – was gone. Meanwhile, this mom with a PHAT ASS was barking orders at her son, as she filled a cart with 3 of everything. Now, remember how I told you everything and everyone was crammed into one aisle, and she had the gall to navigate a cart into that madness! When I left the aisle, she was arguing with the employees because they didn’t have all of the items she had set out to by. I quickly grabbed a 4″ Finn and Captain Phasma just so that I could say I bought something on Force Friday. I went to the register, checked out, and got my poster and LEGO brick.

Next, we decided to hit up Target. As you can imagine, due to the proximity, all of the folks who were ahead of us in line at TRU had already beat us to Target. So, they were also out of Star Wars Black. They were having a drawing for 3 giant Wookiees, so Mike and I waited around, hoping to win the raffle. We did not win. And exactly the kind of guys you’re picturing in your head are the ones who won. Just a bunch of friggin’ neckbeards. Out of some kind of impulse, I bought another Finn (this one to keep in package. I know, I know…) and Kylo Renn’s three-pronged lightsaber. We didn’t even discuss hitting up the nearby Walmart, and we began the journey back to Rockville where I’d left my car. In all, I was pretty disappointed with Force Friday. Sure, I had walked away with a free tote bag (Thanks, Target!) and that disappointing LEGO piece (it wasn’t even a brick. It was more like a panel), but I still hadn’t found what I was looking for (cue U2). I went to sleep thinking that Force Friday, while interesting to observe, had been a bust as a participant.

This morning, however, I remembered that it’s still Friday. Sure, everything kicked off at midnight, but not every store had been open, so maybe the stores that were just opening this morning would have a better selection. So, I hit 2 Targets on the way to work. At the first store, the selection was almost better than what I had observed at the Hagerstown Target last night. I found some Star Wars Black, and walked away with a 6″ Kylo Renn and Rey. At the next Target, I found what I’d been wanting the whole time: Star Wars Black 6″ Finn. I know nothing of his character, and I know nothing of the actor, but I needed him for much the same reason a lot of Black folks voted for Obama: he was a Black dude. Outside of Lando, we don’t have a ton of representation in the Star Wars Universe, and Lando’s kind of a bastard. I mean, he sells them out, and suffers no real repercussions. Sure, he’s on the side of the good guys at the end, but his character is still kinda devious. I like Finn’s character design, and he’s probably the reason I’m most excited for The Force Awakens. So, with my grail piece in hand, I walked out of the store with a smile on my face. Force Friday had been redeemed!

Looking back on it all, I would’ve made out a lot better if I had just skipped the midnight stuff, and just checked the stores this morning. The selection was much better, and you didn’t have to deal with the smelly masses. Still, it was nice to be part of the excitement of the midnight release. I’m not primarily a Star Wars “fan”, per se, but I can appreciate that folks are excited about a new installment of this thing that they love. Force Friday represents our first official glance at the world to come, so it’s pretty important – even if its goal was just to sell a shit ton of toys. So, in my mind, Force Friday is having the West Week Ever.

07th Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/7/15

by Will

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community-season-6-cast

This week, Joel McHale confirmed what most of us already knew – that Community is over. He explained that Yahoo wanted another season for their Yahoo Screen portal, but they simply couldn’t afford the cast since their asking quotes  have gone up since the show began. Because of that stupid #sixseasonsandamovie thing, they’re still saying they’d like to do a movie. Honestly, I don’t even know what that would entail. How do you translate a sitcom into a theatrical feature? Has that been done before? I mean, it works the other way around. Movies get TV adaptations all the time, but not vice versa. I can’t think of a Community storyline that would even be worth a theatrical release. Keep in mind, I have the same reservations about an Arrested Development movie. Just let these things die, so they can be fondly remembered. Show creator Dan Harmon has said that he’d be interested in writing the script once he’s gotten to a place where he misses the characters. So, we’re at the whim of his sense of nostalgia.

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In other TV news, there were a lot of casting reveals for the DC shows on The CW. First up, Casper Crump has been cast as season one big bad Vandal Savage for Legends of Tomorrow. Also, Falk Henstchel has been cast as Hawkman in the series. Meanwhile, The Flash has cast Wally West, who will be played by Keiynan Lonsdale. I haven’t heard of any of these weird-named dudes. Lonsdale’s Australian, so he’s probably done a stint on Neighbours or something – that’s like a rite of passage down there. Anyway, a lot of people not familiar with DC’s New 52 reboot didn’t realize that the new Wally West is Black, so of course the usual complaints spread across social media: “Why make him Black when he’s always been White?” As my pal Tim would call it, #rabblerabble.

WallyWest

Even I’ll say that New 52 Wally seems like diversity solely for the sake of diversity. Then again, I guess his race never really had an impact on who he was, so he could be anything. The problem, however, is that Wally had quite the legacy. He’s one of the few heroes who replaced his mentor and it STUCK. Most of my generation grew up with a Wally West Flash and NOT a Barry Allen Flash. Barry was boring and DEAD by the time we started reading comics. So, to just randomly introduce him in the New 52 universe like, “Hey, here’s Wally – only he’s not the dude you remember, and he’s Black now” kinda seems disingenuous. My problem with introducing him on the show, however, is that it just seems too soon. They couldn’t wait for season 3? I mean, we’ve just gotten used to Barry, and we like him, so why dilute that with Kid Flash or whatever Wally’s going to become on the show? My biggest issue with the Greg Berlanti DC shows is that I fear he spreads himself too thin. Arrow was great until The Flash came along, and then it started to suffer creatively. This season, he’s adding Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow to the docket. One can only imagine what that’s going to do to The Flash, and I shudder to wonder how much lower Arrow can go.

photovisi-download(1)You know who almost had the West Week Ever? Hollywood divorce lawyers! This week alone saw the announcement of splits between Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani, Reba McEntire and Narvel Blackstock, and Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. Plus, the week kicked off with the annual, yet erroneous, announcement that Will and Jada were calling it quits. In the words of Carrie Underwood, “There must be something in the water.” The Gavin/Gwen split wasn’t a total surprise, as I recall hearing that things had been rocky ever since the paternity test revealed that he was the father of model Daisy Lowe. The Reba divorce is pretty sad, as they had been married for 26 years! That’s my biggest fear: to get old and divorced. Young divorce is fine, but divorce after you’re all used up? No siree, Bob! And I’m pretty sure that the Kermit and Piggy thing is just publicity for that The Office-inspired Muppets show coming to ABC this Fall. They break up all the time, so who really cares? I mean, they were broken up in Jason Segel’s The Muppets back in 2011. Did everyone just forget that? Anyway, I can’t even think of a celebrity couple I’m rooting for at this point. You’re just courting disappointment with that game.

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This week saw the Television Critics Association’s Summer press tour, where TV critics were introduced to the stars of the upcoming new network shows. Yesterday was Fox’s day, where three things happened. First off, it appears that critics were shown a clip from the X-Files reboot, and the consensus was not good. I’ve heard that it almost played like parody, and it wasn’t clear if that was the intention of the scene. Second, they announced that Prison Break was returning for a 10-episode event, similar to last year’s 24: Live Another Day miniseries. Apparently, the original stars are on board (interesting, since they’re both attached to Legends of Tomorrow, so I guess they’ll film this while they’re on break?), and some of the deaths from the original series seem like they’re being retconned in order to make this work. I watched the first episode of Prison Break, but I just couldn’t get on board for that series. I didn’t feel like it would last long enough for a resolution. I was wrong, but I still don’t feel like I missed out on anything. Finally, Fox also updated the status of bringing back 24. They said that Kiefer Sutherland isn’t interested in returning right now, so a new 24 would probably feature new characters. It’s just not 24 without Jack Bauer! If I wanted to watch an entirely new ensemble, I’d just tune into ABC’s Quantico (Sundays this Fall!).

xmen

Oh yeah, Fox also did something else: they confirmed plans for an television spinoff of the X-Men films. They said that they’re close to a deal, but they’re waiting to see if Marvel will approve it. Since Fox only owns the X-Men rights, don’t look for any crossovers with Daredevil or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The big question, though is what does Marvel get out of the deal? Right now, Fox has already lined up writers and showrunners, so this will happen sooner rather than later. I’m OK with this idea if they’re really allowed to run with it. Maybe focus on some mutants who don’t get any movie screentime. I mean, I’m pretty sick of the Xavier/Magneto dynamic. WE GET IT ALREADY! There are other characters. Hell, some of the X-Men’s best adventures occurred when Xavier wasn’t even around. I don’t see why they have to be in all the movies. I’m scared however, this will be some watered down thing, so as not to step on the toes of the film division. Remember what happened the last time we got a watered down X-Men television show? It was called Mutant X

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The box art was revealed for this Winter’s LEGO Avengers. I have SO many comic-based LEGO games to get through, but I’m a sucker, so I’ll probably get this one, too. It helps that they’re releasing it on “older” systems like Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, as not all of us have graduated to the next generation. I really wish Rocksteady had done this with Batman: Arkham Knight. I mean, it kinda sucks that there’s a trilogy of games that can’t all be played on the same friggin’ system!

FF

*Sigh* So, I guess I’ve gotta talk about Fantastic Four, huh? The movie officially comes out today, but the review embargo was lifted on Wednesday and it wasn’t pretty. I’ve heard everything from that fact that it had a strong 2/3 but tanked the 3rd act to the whole thing was just a disaster. You know comic folk can be a passionate bunch, so I’m not really sure who to believe. I’ll see it, but I’m easy to please when it comes to comic book movies. To date, out of all the ones I’ve seen (no, I still haven’t seen Catwoman), I only hated Elektra and The Dark Knight Rises. I was actually fine with the two Fantastic Four films that we already got. It probably helps that I’ve never really liked the comic version of the team, so I didn’t have high expectations. Anyway, they say that this version borrows heavily from the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic, which should be a good thing, since I love the Ultimate Marvel Universe. Sadly, I found that book to be so boring that I still have about 20 issues I haven’t read, and the book’s been cancelled since 2009. Then, things took a real bad turn last night when the movie’s director, Josh Trank, tweeted this:

Trank

So, Trank’s basically blaming the studio. Not a great move from the guy who was pushed out of his Star Wars directing gig due to his erratic behavior. So far, the only hit he has under his belt is Chronicle, and I’m not sure how long he’s going to be able to coast on that. Is there any coming back from this? Is the movie so bad that it’ll sink his career?

No links this week, as I’m behind on my blogs, so let’s get to the meat and potatoes: Who had the West Week Ever?

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On Tuesday night, Conan O’Brien probably saw his biggest ratings since his move to cable. No, it wasn’t because of a guest, but rather the fact that the Deadpool trailer was slated to premiere during the episode. In fact, the episode’s rating was TV-MA because they would be showing the red band, not safe for work version of the trailer. Welp, once the trailer debuted, it seemed there was a huge divide between those who loved it and those who just weren’t feeling it. I fell into the latter camp.

deadpool

First, let me explain that I consider myself a Deadpool fan. I haven’t been there since his debut in X-Force, but I’ve been reading his book for the past 8 years or so. I’ve also gone back and read the older stuff, so I think I have a pretty good handle on the character. He’s not a top-tier character, so you might not be familiar with him. Deadpool is Wade Wilson, a mercenary who underwent an experimental procedure to cure his terminal cancer. As a result, he emerged with a healing factor, and it might’ve done something to his brain – making him think he’s a character in a comic book, and resulting in his breaking the 4th wall to interact with the reader. He’s like a cartoon character, and though violent, it tends to be a cartoony violence. Think Roadrunner cartoons. If you saw him, you’d probably ask “Why does Spider-Man have all those swords and machine guns?” That’s basically his look. He’s not someone to be taken seriously, especially in recent years where he’s been trying to be accepted by the hero community.

ultimate deadpool

So, imagine my surprise when they created a movie not about cartoony wacky Deadpool, but sadistically violent Deadpool. This is a far departure from the way he’s been presented in recent years. The violence and language are so amped up that it’s going to be rated R. So, all that said, I really don’t know who this movie is for. My main issue is the R-rating. While his video game was rated Mature, I think they’re cutting out a big swath of the potential audience by making it 17 and up. Parents like to take their kids to comic book movies. Not this one. Add in the fact that he’s not a hero. He’s a mercenary. He kills for money. He’s not saving the world, or fighting aliens. He kills mobsters for other mobsters. I don’t know if you’ve read the recent Deadpool book by Gerry Duggan, but Deadpool really doesn’t kill all that much anymore. He’s kinda gained a conscience, and even has a daughter. If you’re a fan of that Deadpool – ya know, the one currently making money for Marvel – this movie ain’t for you. My pal Carlin brought up the fact that Deadpool’s recently been featured in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, which his son loved. Unfortunately, this is not a movie that he’ll be able to share with his son.

blade

I’m not saying that a PG-13 rating would make the movie a success, but an R will certainly keep it from being one. There are only 2 R-rated comic book movies that have been successful: Blade and Kick-Ass. Blade’s success has more to do with folks’ love of vampires (and then-love of Wesley Snipes) than the character of Blade. And Kick-Ass was just a fluke, as seen by the failure of its sequel. Even Spawn, a movie about a soldier for THE DEVIL, managed to get a PG-13 rating when it probably should’ve been an R to be “faithful” to the source material. Marvel really needs to rethink how they want to allow Deadpool to be used. He can’t be their Mickey Mouse AND their Terminator. I think this movie is a thematic misfire, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, everyone was talking about the trailer Wednesday morning, and it sparked some of the best online discussions I’ve had. So, for all of that, the Deadpool trailer had the West Week Ever.

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