10th Jun2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 6/10/16

by Will

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youre dead

The only movie I watched this week was the world premiere of You’re F#@k’n Dead. Written and directed by my good friend, Jay Spence, it’s an homage to grindhouse cinema, with a hint of the supernatural. It follows brash Lexi, and her naive sister, Beth, as they end up in a strange town that isn’t quite what it seems. When they find out the true nature of the town, they find themselves in a fight for their lives. The film premiered Sunday night as the closing headliner at the DC International Fantastic Film Showcase at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. Though I was a fan of Death Proof, I’d generally say this wouldn’t normally be my type of movie. That said, I really enjoyed it. It was great to see the fruition of my friend’s 4 years of hard work, and I’m really impressed by the finished product. It will be on DVD/Blu-Ray soon, but here’s the red band trailer, and if you want to know more, check out youredeadthemovie.com.

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In TV news, the former “Can You Hear Me Now?” Verizon Guy now works for Sprint. Huh. I guess some people might see this as a “heel turn”, but I couldn’t care less. I’ve got this weird thing where commercials don’t work on me. Like, if I see a commercial for something, it doesn’t make me want that item. Hell, commercials barely even register with me unless someone points one out to me. So, it’s odd to me that Sprint thinks getting this relic of a pitchman on their side is going to translate into people defecting from Verizon. I mean, if I remember correctly, people hated that guy ’cause he was annoying. If anything, I feel like this would drive more customers to Verizon from Sprint. But what do I know?

Noto Supes

There was also a lot of news in the world of DC Entertainment television. First off, it was announced that Superman would be appearing in season 2 of Supergirl, and casting is underway. A lot of folks are lobbying for Smallville‘s Tom Welling to get the part, but I really don’t want that to happen. I know Smallville had its fans, and it lasted 10 years, but I don’t think its quality is on par with the current Berlantiverse shows, so I’d rather forget it than have some unofficial link to it. Plus, I feel like Welling left the role before he could fall victim to the Superman Curse. He probably avoided it because he never put on the suit. Anyway, Superman will be joined by other DC characters, such as Snapper Carr and Detective Maggie Sawyer. Meanwhile, it’s rumored that Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant might be bumped to recurring character status.

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Meanwhile, it was reported that Legends of Tomorrow would be adding Vixen to the cast next season, but there’s a catch – it won’t be the same character that has been portrayed by Megalyn Echikunwoke on both Arrow and the Vixen animated series. Mari McCabe is a Detroit hero who derives her powers from an animal totem. So, it appears this new character will be a Vixen, but not the Vixen, as Echikunwoke will still be voicing her version of the character in the animated series (her film commitments are keeping her from joining Legends of Tomorrow). I’m not usually one to bark up this tree, but I hope the new Vixen is also a person of color. I mean, we have so few heroes, it’d kinda suck to lose one. Plus, with the departure of Hawkgirl, the team could use the diversity in the form of a woman of color. The character was popular, with some folks saying she deserves her own show, but I say “hold onto your horses” on that one. Let’s let the character grow and develop before putting that weight on her shoulders.

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We also got our first look at character designs for Justice League Action, the new DC animated series coming to Cartoon Network. Based on a presentation at the Kre8tif Conference in Malaysia, the show will include characters like Firestorm, Mr. Terrific, Lobo, Blue Beetle, Big Barda, and Harley Quinn (back in her jester costume). Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are coming back, so I guess reports of their retirement had been premature. I don’t love the character designs, but it’s clear this show is geared towards the younger set. The show will consist of 11-minute episodes, like most current Cartoon Network shows, and no premiere date has been announced yet.

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In video game and toy news, the sets for LEGO Dimensions Year 2 were revealed, and they are amazing. LEGO Mr. T!!! Not only will there be an A-Team set, but there will also be sets for The LEGO Batman Movie, Sonic The Hedgehog, Knight Rider (!), The Goonies, Mission Impossible and more. I will most definitely be getting the A-Team and Knight Rider sets.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows underperformed over the weekend, only taking in $35 million, despite positive word of mouth
  • John Boyega has been cast as the lead in Pacific Rim 2, which will be directed by Steven S. DeKnight (Daredevil on Netflix)
  • The Injustice 2 video game was announced for a 2017 release. I love the first one, even though I’m not that good at it.

    • Comedy Central announced that Rob Lowe would be the guest at their next roast. Look for a lot of jokes about his sex tape with that underage girl. Oh, you didn’t know about that?
    • It was reported that Mel Gibson is working on a sequel to The Passion of the Christ. The timing is perfect, as Jim Caviezel is gonna need work soon.
    • My pal, Chris Piers, got DRUNK X-Amining the comic tropes of Chris Claremont’s X-Men run. If you’re an X-Men fan, this is a MUST WATCH!

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I’d have to say that Awesome Con stole the week. Kicking off last Friday, the show set up at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown DC, and ran through Sunday. I decided to check it out with my good pal Classick Materia of CSPN Media. We had a great time walking up and down aisles, meeting our favorite comic creators, and chowing down on convention center burrito bowls. Most of the experience was covered on the latest episode of the Classick Team-Up Podcast, so be sure to check that out. Still, there were a few things that didn’t make it into the podcast.

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Classick and I got split up at one point, and I found myself at the Aftershock Comics table in front of writer Paul Jenkins. If you’re not familiar with him, he wrote Wolverine: Origin back in 2001 that finally revealed the character’s history. He also co-created Marvel character The Sentry. Anyway, as I walked up to his table, he was scanning the side of a juice box with his phone. He noticed me, and immediately went into infomercial mode, telling me about this great new app that’s been helping him lose weight. Turns out it was My Fitness Pal, which I’ve already been using for the past 6 months. I told him this, but he glossed right over it, as he demonstrated how easy it was to simply scan the barcode and have the app input all of the nutritional information. He told me that he’d cut out sugar and bread, and that the weight was just falling off. He said that it’s not just about what you eat, but also when you eat it. He was like a born again Christian with this thing! We never even talked about his comics. He signed my copy of Replica that I had coincidentally purchased from a dollar box earlier in the day, and sent me on my way. Great guy, but such an odd experience.

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Next up, I met Tom King, who’s currently writing The Sheriff of Babylon, as well as starting on the Batman title. As I went up to his table, I told him that I was a big fan, and he said that he recognized me. I didn’t think we had met, but then remembered I had met him at NYCC last year. Still, there’s no way he remembered me, and I’m sure he says this to all the boys. Anyway, the con had been selling an exclusive cover of Batman: Rebirth #1, but it was the same cover as the normal book, only it had “Awesome Con” on it – for TWENTY dollars. Fuck that noise! I went back to the Big Planet Comics booth, and picked up a copy of the regular edition for $3. I promptly went back over to King, and had him sign it. I also told him that I enjoy The Sheriff of Babylon although I have no clue what the Hell is going on. Like, the characters are interesting and compelling, but I’m totally lost on the plot. I mean, I couldn’t even really explain it to you, except for the fact that it’s set in post-Saddam Iraq. He laughed and said that he had just been thinking about possibly including a recap in an upcoming issue, just to make sure everyone was on the same page with the story. I told him I was looking forward to his Batman run, and went on my way. Really nice guy!

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While walking around, Classick and I started talking about Doctor Who, trying to figure out what the appeal is about that franchise. He said that it was the scarves. I said it was the dildos. Sure, they may call it a “sonic screwdriver”, but I wasn’t born yesterday! That’s a fancy space dildo. So, as we laughed about this, an idea hatched in my head. I’d like to introduce you to my new Tumblr, Scarves and Dildos: The Magical World of Doctor Who.

Anyway, for more tales of our time at the con, check out the podcast. In any case, I think the show set the tone for the week, and that’s why Awesome Con had the West Week Ever.

27th May2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 5/27/16

by Will

 

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apocalypse

So, the main movie that I watched this week was X-Men: Apocalypse. Where to even begin with this film? When I reviewed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I tried to be diplomatic. I never said that was a *bad* movie, but I simply said that it didn’t work for me. I can’t do that here, though. This was a bad movie. At the end of the day, it suffers from a failure to launch. It never feels like it builds to anything worthwhile. It has a decent 1st act, but an almost non-existent 2nd act, finished off with a rushed 3rd act.

I’ve already mentioned that I’m tired of the Erik-Charles-Raven Show, and this is just more of that. The other characters are never fleshed out, and just serve as window dressing for that trio. They are their comic counterparts in name only. Psylocke? Useless. Storm? Really doesn’t improve much on the Halle Berry incarnation, but that’s not the actress’s fault. She did the best she could with what she had. I’ve never seen Game of Thrones (outside of a supercut of all the sex scenes from the first 4 seasons), but I don’t know what it was about Sophie Turner that made Fox think she was the one to play Jean Grey. Sure, Famke Janssen was no Oscar winner, but she at least had a personality. Oscar Isaac is wasted as Apocalypse, as that character could’ve been played by almost anyone. He brought nothing to that role. Apocalypse’s motives aren’t all that clear to anyone unfamiliar with the character. Someone on Twitter mentioned that Hive on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actually did Apocalypse BETTER than the actual Apocalypse did in this film, and I can’t disagree. Hive had a purpose, he had his own kind of “horsemen”, and he capably swayed the Inhumans to his cause. Apocalypse just goes around giving folks makeovers and amping up their power levels, but there’s no real indication as to WHY. Quicksilver’s great, and I’d watch a whole spin-off about him, even though that sounds like a terrible idea on paper.

Plus, where’s the “world that fears and hates them”? Since the events of Days of Future Past, where Mystique saved the President, the public seems to actually appreciate mutants. That’s not how that’s supposed to work. They should be terrified at the display of power they witnessed in DC. I mean, Nightcrawler walks through a mall, with no image inducer, and no one bats an eye!

It’s surprising to me that this was directed by Bryan Singer, because it felt like it was made by a first-time director with no familiarity with the characters. This is Singer’s 4th time at bat with this franchise, and he fails colossally. It’s funny because the film even makes a joke about how the 3rd movie is always the worst. There was a lot riding on this film, as it’s basically the 3rd movie in a second trilogy. Unless you’re a hardcore X-Men fan, you can skip this. In fact, you probably should just skip this.

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Whew! So, what did I like this week? Well, I caught the Comedy Central stand-up special Dan Soder: Not Special. Formerly of MTV2’s Guy Code, I’m a big fan of Soder, as he’s the co-host of my favorite radio show, The Bonfire, on Comedy Central Radio. He had a great bit about how he used to think he was possessed by the Devil. It wasn’t a gut buster, but it was more of what I’ve come to expect from him. I enjoy listening to him and Big Jay Oakerson every Monday and Wednesday evening, and this was like a nice bonus episode of that. If you’re looking for a laugh, definitely check it out.

cap and bucky

To say it’s been quite a week for Captain America would be quite the understatement. When the week started, #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend started trending on social media, as fans began to “ship” Captain America and Bucky. If you’re not familiar with shipping, it’s when fans desire that certain characters enter into a relationship. From how they were portrayed in Captain America: Civil War, some folks think there’s something between Steve and James that’s a bit more intense than mere friendship. Of course, everyone took a side in the matter. Even I was like, “No, that would change the character too much because he’s been depicted in relationships with women.” I’m all for representation when it makes sense, but this seemed like it was changing a character just for the sake of change. Why make Cap gay when there are actual gay Marvel characters who “get no shine”, as the young kids say? Then I read this. My pal Pete wrote a powerful piece on representation, and what a gay Cap would mean to him. And something happened that rarely happens: my mind was changed by something I read on the Internet. At the end of the day, I hate change. That’s something that I have to deal with, but I guess I can’t stand in the way of progress. I can understand what it would mean to LGBT folks to have a symbol like Cap on their side. And it doesn’t change anything he stands for. In fact, he would now stand for MORE. If he is gay, though, he can do a LOT better than Bucky! Anyway, I was dealing with my newfound enlightenment and then Wednesday morning happened.

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The news cycle was supposed to belong to DC (we’ll get to that later), but Marvel just couldn’t let someone else have the spotlight. For the past couple of years in the comics, Steve Rogers has been depowered and advanced to his rightful age. Well, recently, he regained his Super Soldier Serum and returned to his normal self, reclaiming the mantle of Captain America, while still allowing Sam Wilson to ALSO be Captain America (yeah, that’s not gonna be confusing!). The first issue of his new series, Steve Rogers: Captain America was released Wednesday morning, with a major twist on the final page: Steve says “Hail, Hydra”, revealing that he is, and apparently always has been, an agent for his supposed greatest enemy. AND PEOPLE LOST THEIR SHIT!

It got to the point where the former Captain America writer, Ed Brubaker, was getting hassled, while the current writer, Nick Spencer, started receiving death threats. The Internet was basically divided into two camps: A) “Apparently you’ve never read a comic before, ’cause nothing’s ever permanent in comics” and B) “How dare Marvel invoke Nazis, considering they were actual bad people, and Captain America was the creation of two Jewish creators?” And both sides have their merits.

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This storyline won’t matter in 2020, but maybe some new, cool supporting character will come out of it, like how we got the Winter Soldier a few years back during another storyline that could be considered a “gimmick”. I’ve always said that the current marketplace of licensing and lunchboxes kinda prevents major changes from happening to major characters, but some good can still come out of these stories.

At the same time, Nazis have been kinda neutered so much in pop culture that it’s easy to forget that these folks did some pretty fucked up shit. We live in a Call of Duty world, where you can log on and kill Nazis to your heart’s content, but that doesn’t change actual history. Just because the concept is toothless today doesn’t mean that it didn’t once carry some major weight. So, I can kinda see some folks getting offended by that. However, Cap’s been fighting Nazis for 75 years. Wasn’t it equally offensive that this comic book character was depicted fighting a real life foe that was out there eradicating people? I mean, if you’re really offended by the Nazi thing, then it seems like Cap just isn’t the right property for you. Nor is Call of Duty. Nor is The Producers. I get it. Nazis off limits.

Personally, I believe that we should wait and see where the story is going. I mean, it’s kinda hard to write it off from the first issue. If it wasn’t your cup of tea, that’s fine, too. Everything can’t appeal to everyone. I know people look to him as a symbol, and can’t understand why he would side with his enemies, but there’s clearly something bigger at play. And it doesn’t behoove anyone to waste outrage at this point in the game.

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Speaking of outrage, folks were up in arms in the toy community about a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figure release. Created by NECA, there are 8 figures, split across 2 sets, designed after the classic TMNT video game. Based on the licensing rights, however, NECA is only allowed to sell these sets at SDCC; these will not be available in stores or at any other convention. Since not everyone can make it to the convention, fans are lamenting the fact that their only chance to get the figures will be by paying a markup on eBay. Or, as they’ve been saying, “The Scalp-Ors Win”. Maybe I feel this way because I’m not the biggest TMNT fan these days, but I kinda like that they’re exclusive to the con. Sure, it sucks for completists, but these things supposedly exist to make attending the con feel that much more special. It sorta takes away from the whole exclusivity when the items are sold on company sites a few weeks after the show. If I paid over $1,000 for an experience ($245 just for show admission), you better damn well believe I want to get something special out of it. And the way I see it, whatever fans end up paying on eBay is gonna seem like a steal compared to what it would actually cost to go to SDCC and get the figures themselves. All is not lost! Right now, NECA’s saying that these figures will be released in no other form, but it seems odd that they’d go to the trouble of new tooling for something that won’t hit mass market. Just doesn’t seem practical. Maybe they’re just saying this to hype up the exclusivity of the convention sets. I guess time will tell. Whatever. I feel like the fans who REALLY want the sets will find a way – even if they have to sell a kidney to do so.

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These days, I’m only an occasional wrestling fan in that I don’t watch any of the shows or PPVs, but I still keep track of who’s in and who’s out. Everyone’s injured and the fans hate Roman Reigns. That about sums it up, right? Anyway, this week the WWE announced that their TV show SmackDown would be moving to Tuesdays, and switching to a live format (for the past 16 years, the majority of the episodes were pre-taped). The reason for this is because WWE is going back to a “brand extension” model. Used in the past, but abandoned in 2011, the brand extension involves a wrestler draft, determining which wrestlers will end up on Raw and which ones will end up on SmackDown. Seeing as how Raw has been the flagship since about 1997, that’s where you really want to be. SmackDown, though originally created to be “The Rock’s Show”, has settled into an existence as the mousy little sister in the company. If you ask me, however, SmackDown has outlived its usefulness.

When SmackDown debuted, what made it special was that it was 2 hours of wrestling programming on broadcast television. Originally airing on UPN, it provided a free alternative to the pay cable Raw. Since the end of the syndicated WWF Superstars and WWF Challenge, there was a void of broadcast wrestling that needed to be filled. And SmackDown filled this void  for 11 years, even past the merger of UPN and The WB, eventually landing on Fox’s short-lived MyNetworkTV. At its peak, it was the #1 program in Spanish-speaking households. Sure, the major stuff happened on Raw, but you still got recaps and some action on SmackDown. Then, after failing to really fit into MyNetworkTV’s plans, the show ended up on Syfy. This meant that both of WWE’s major shows were now on cable, with nothing being provided to those broadcast TV fans (with the exception of the severely short-lived WWE Saturday Morning Slam on The CW). Like the MyNetworkTV move, the move to Syfy made little sense, and the show was eventually moved to USA Network – the same network that serves as the home of Raw. So, what makes SmackDown special now? It also doesn’t help that WWE now has a streaming network for its programming. The popular NXT program, featuring up and coming developmental talent, is solely on the WWE Network, yet SmackDown is presenting a not-as-good-as-Raw product on USA. Why not swap them? Everyone knows SmackDown is the lesser-than, so give its USA timeslot to NXT, differentiating the offerings on USA. That still doesn’t solve the problem of a lack of WWE programming on broadcast TV.

I know a lot of folks have cable, but everyone doesn’t have cable – especially in the world of cord-cutting. What I propose is that WWE bring back WWE A.M. Raw, which was a Raw recap show that used to air late Saturday night/Sunday morning. It was an abridged version of that week’s Raw, focusing on the highlights. I say WWE should package that and sell it to CW affiliates to air on Saturday mornings/early afternoon – similar to when WWF Superstars used to air. It’s just editing existing footage, so there aren’t too many production costs involved, and I feel like there sorely needs to be wrestling on “UHF” channels like back in the old days. Sure, television is changing, but it wouldn’t hurt for WWE to have all their bases covered: cable, broadcast, and streaming.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • In a conference call, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer announced that they may make up to seven Power Rangers films. Oy vey!
  • In other Power Rangers news, the new logo debuted for the upcoming Power Rangers Ninja Steel. I don’t know why these “reveals” are a big deal, seeing as how they’ve been using the same Power Rangers font since Zeo. The only thing that changes is the subtitle, and this one looks like bad Photoshop
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  • HBO insiders are implying that there probably won’t be a third season of True Detective. I missed the second season, but the first gave us a naked Alexandra Daddario, and for that I will always be grateful.
  • A new Star Trek Beyond trailer came out. It didn’t suck.
  • Michael Keaton has reportedly signed on to be the villain in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Most reports are saying he’s playing the Vulture, though I saw one mentioning Norman Osborn. I’d prefer Osborn.
  • Marvel announced that Creed‘s Tessa Thompson will be portraying Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, and the Internet DIDN’T lose its collective mind! Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, and Cate Blanchett have also joined the cast
  • Amazon’s Man in the High Castle‘s production has been halted, as showrunner Frank Spotnitz suddenly left the project. It is NOT a good week for Nazis!
  • FX announced that The Americans will end after two more seasons. I really need to catch up on the show.
  • It’s rumored that Rob Lowe may be replacing Michael Strahan on Live! With Kelly and…I wanted NPH, but I don’t hate this idea.
  • Digital comics platform Comixology introduced Comixology Unlimited, which offers a limited “all you can read” service for non-Marvel and DC comics, at $5.99 a month. It’s unclear, however, how creators will be compensated. Right now, it seems like they’re just getting “exposure”.

No podcast appearances this week, but I did want to share some shows with you. First up, the No Topic Required Podcast is back up and running. They sort of took a break after episode #100, but it seems like Zack and Adam are back in the saddle. As the title suggests, there’s no specific topic for the podcast, but they cover everything from video games to movies to comic/toy controversies. I’ve been on a few times with them, and always have a great time. If you’re looking for a new show, check them out!

Also, one of my favorite discoveries is the Positively Nerdy Podcast. I can be kinda ornery on here, but I really do want the best from things. Ryan looks at all that’s good in geek culture, and he records so many different shows that he’s a podcasting machine! If you like comic reviews, he’s got them. If you like movies, he’s got the review show Ryan and Leah: At The Movies. If you want a quick listen, he’s got Nerdy Nuggets. He’s a great guy, and I really like everything he puts out. If you’re looking for the non-cynical side of fandom, I highly recommend that you check out Positively Nerdy.

Links I Loved

Ranking the Megazords – The Robot’s Pajamas

The Case Against Dan DiDio – The Savage Critics

How I Used Lies About a Cartoon to Prove History Is Meaningless on the Internet – Geek

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Despite the Captain America hubbub, I really believe the comic news cycle belonged to DC Comics and DC Universe: Rebirth #1. I’ve been covering the lead-up on this site, but we finally got to see what it’s all about. Released midnight Wednesday, the comic sets the DC Universe on a new path, to recapture something that it had lost: hope. As many DC fans will tell you, the New 52 reboot drove away a lot of long-time readers, and it created a universe that was bleak and somewhat hopeless. Basically, it was a Zack Snyder movie in print. So, this was an attempt to win back those old fans.

Where to begin? Well, (and in case you didn’t know, this part’s gonna contain mad spoilers, but nothing you haven’t already seen spoiled by the mainstream media), the story focuses on original Kid Flash, Wally West, as he’s unhinged in time. We haven’t seen this character since the 2011 Flashpoint event that spawned the New 52, so it was the welcome return of a fan favorite hero. Wally visits several characters, like Batman and the original Johnny Thunder, in an attempt to warn them that some outside force has been influencing the timeline, resulting in a loss of memories and a 10-year span of time. He’s unable to reach any of them, and is continually sucked back into the Speed Force – the energy pool from which all DC speedsters draw their powers. Finally, he reaches out to his former mentor, Barry Allen/The Flash, who eventually remembers Wally and helps to rescue him from the Speed Force. Over the course of the story, we find out more tidbits and revelations. Apparently, there have been THREE different Jokers, which seems odd ’cause wouldn’t Harley realize she’s obsessing over three different dudes? Wonder Woman has a twin brother. Jackson Hyde/Kaladur’ahm/Aqualad made his post-Flashpoint debut. And, to the joy of many, Ted Kord made his post-Flashpoint debut as a mentor to Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes. And to cap it off, we got a doozy of an ending: Dr, Manhattan, of the classic 80s comic Watchmen, was revealed to be the force that had altered the DC Universe’s timeline. Huh.

That ending is important because it’s the first time that the Watchmen characters have been incorporated into the mainstream DC Universe. The story is largely seen as a contributing factor in comics becoming dark and gritty, so it sort of makes sense that in order to find what’s lost, you return to where you last saw it. The happy-go-lucky, “heroic” DC existed prior to Watchmen, prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths. So, this sort of brings everything full circle. But what does it really mean? Are they blaming Alan Moore for the state that DC eventually found itself in? What’s to be gained by reclaiming that story and incorporating it into the mainstream? Alan Moore has notoriously dismissed any association with the story after he was screwed out of ownership. I feel like he wouldn’t necessarily agree with how they’re being used now, as that wasn’t his original intent. Still, they’re technically DC’s toys, so they can do with them as they please.

I went to a midnight release for the book, and couldn’t wait to get home and crack it open. When I was done, all I could say was “huh”. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love. I was really just confused. Why was The Comedian’s button in the Batcave? Like, it’s a great visual, but how would it even get there? And sure, it was great seeing Ted Kord, considering the last time we saw him was pre-Flashpoint, with a bullet in his head. It seems like DC did everything right to cater to those lost fans. They brought back dead/forgotten heroes, they tied the story back to a seminal classic, and it set the stage for things to come. From a lot of the folks I’ve been following online, they love this book. And, to me, that’s a problem.

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The people who are really loving Rebirth #1 are in their 30s and 40s, and they’re saying “This reminds me of the DC I used to read.” That’s great for you, but bad for the industry. I’ve been reading comics for over 20 years, so I know the main tentpoles. The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, Crisis on Infinite Earths. I know what those did for the industry, and I know they’re basically revered, But I didn’t see anything about this comic that would necessarily appeal to a NEW reader.

Folks in their 30s and 40s have other priorities. They can’t be depended on to keep this hobby afloat. You need to reach out for NEW blood. Now, it can be argued that DC was trying that when they introduced the New 52 reboot, starting (most) books back at square one. At that point, Batman and Green Lantern were the only books that required prior knowledge in order to fully understand them. But for all their desire to start fresh, DC is consumed by this desire for “legacy”. Chief Creative Officer, and writer of Rebirth, Geoff Johns has said in interviews that this is what Rebirth is all about: regaining a sense of legacy. DC has a rich history, and I can understand the desire to capitalize on that, but they’re so busy reminding us of where they came from, that they don’t spend enough energy figuring out where they’re going.

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Rebirth #1 is nothing but another self-referential circle jerk by DC, tied to a 30 year old story – WHICH, by the way, generated a movie that was polarizing at best. Had the Watchmen film been a huge critical and financial success, then maybe I’d understand this. After all, it was just released 7 years ago, so it would be somewhat fresh in folks’ minds. Instead, this book holds no real meaning to new comic fans. I’m of the argument that Watchmen is very much a “you had to be there” sort of read. I’m sure it was groundbreaking when originally released, and it changed the industry in such a way that a lot of folks only know a comic industry painted by the influence of the book. They have no clue that things don’t HAVE to be dark and gritty. Rebirth seems like an opportunity to introduce that concept to new fans, but instead it’s like DC crawling back to old fans like, “Are you still mad at me?”  If anything, it feels like this move was really just to sell more copies of Watchmen, as now the new fans are gonna go seek out that story in order to try to figure out what they just read, or why that ending should be seen as significant. That’s great for DC’s backlist, but it doesn’t necessarily mean anything for its future.

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But I don’t want to sound like it’s all bad. I am eager to see where things go, and I would also like to see hope restored to the DC Universe. I can’t say I’ve really enjoyed the direction of the New 52, so if we can get back to a pre-Flashpoint tone, I’m all for it. When it comes to DC, though, I’m a ride or die bitch, so I’ll be with them if it succeeds, and I’ll be with them if it fails. I just wonder how many new fans are gonna be right there with me. In any case, it’s rare that DC Comics can dominate the news cycle, and also get folks excited about their product. So, with that in mind, DC Universe: Rebirth #1 had the West Week Ever.

 

13th May2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 5/13/16

by Will

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On the movie front, I traveled back to 1988 and finally watched They Live. Yeah, I know it’s something of a cult classic, but I’d never gotten around to seeing the thing in its entirety. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper stars as a drifter who stumbles upon a pair of magic sunglasses that reveal the world has been overrun by aliens. They hide subliminal messages in marketing and advertising, convincing humans to “Obey” and “Consume”. In humanity’s quest to acquire more money and status, we ignore the conquest going on around us. Piper and his reluctant partner, in the form of Keith David, decide to stick it to the aliens and take back the night. Why am I even summarizing this film, when everyone reading this is probably more than familiar with it?  Anyway, I really liked it, but I feel like it was too short. Maybe it’s because we currently live in a 2.5 hour action movie society, and I’m spoiled. It’s probably great that the movie was made when it was, as it would’ve been completely different if made today. We would’ve gotten some drawn out origin of the aliens, and then we would be forced to believe that this manual laborer had the computer skills to hack them and take them down. For this film, all it took was a gun and a satellite dish. And what was up with Meg Foster’s eyes?! Was she blind? I’ve never seen eyes like that in nature before. Anyway, it’s a good 80s romp, but it’s just as poignant today as it was when it was released. Maybe even more so. Anyway, I’m sure there’s some unnecessary 21st century update sitting on some producer’s desk as we speak.

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Next up, I watched Ted 2 and I really don’t get why it bombed so hard in theaters. I thought the film was just as hilarious as the first one, though not necessarily as good. In this film, teddy bear Ted and human Tami-Lynn decide to have a baby in order to repair their struggling marriage (’cause THAT works…), but their attempt at adoption fails when the courts decide that Ted is property and not a person. He loses his job, the marriage is annulled, and his credit cards are cancelled, so Ted and his Thunder Buddy, John, set out to prove that Ted is, in fact, human. The movie’s basically like a live action Family Guy, and even reuses a few gags from the show. Maybe America just needs a break from Seth MacFarlane. I mean, first A Million Ways To Die In The West bombed, and then this. MacFarlane just isn’t having a lot of luck at the box office, and the first Ted‘s success is starting to look like a fluke. The film’s got some fun in-jokes and cameos from folks like Michael Dorn, Patrick Warburton, and Nana Visitor. Which reminds me: is Michael Dorn OK? Like, has he been sick? ‘Cause he’s lost a LOT of weight, and not in a good way. Anyway, I think this is the first film to promote New York Comic-Con as a big deal. Sure, there are films that showcase SDCC, but this movie put NYCC on the national stage. Anyway, I feel kinda bad for the MacFarlane empire at the moment. This movie underperformed, and then we got the terrible Bordertown and an unmemorable season of Family Guy (which, conspicuously enough, hasn’t been renewed for next season yet). If you’re a MacFarlane fan, you’ve got to see this film. If not, then you should probably just keep moving.

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I also finally caught Creed. What a great film! Seriously, it was uplifting and inspiring in all the right ways. Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son seeks out Rocky Balboa to train him to become a fighter outside of his father’s shadow. Michael B. Jordan is just so cool, and great in the role. Director and writer Ryan Coogler did a great job capturing the underlying Rocky themes of redemption and perseverance. It was a great “passing the torch” film, and while I’d welcome a Creed sequel, I’m also fine with it being the coda to the Rocky franchise. I’ve got nothing snarky to say. Just see this movie!

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Sadly, I also saw Zoolander 2. I LOVED the first Zoolander, but this movie joins Anchorman 2 in the disappointing “Too Little, Too Late” bin. Seriously, 15 years for a sequel?! The movie is pretty dreadful, and doesn’t really gain any sort of spark until Will Ferrell’s Mugatu reappears halfway into the film. The film kicks off with a break-neck montage to show us what Zoolander’s been up to since 2001. The Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff suffered a structural catastrophe, collapsing into the ocean, killing Zoolander’s wife, Matilda. Derek, then a widower and single parent, has his son taken away from him by Child Protective Services, and he decides to live life as a “hermit crab”. Derek’s brought out of retirement when his son is kidnapped by Mugatu in order to sacrifice him for some mystical fashion ritual. It’s a really crazy plot, but that’s kinda par for the course when it comes to Zoolander films. It’s got a lot of fun cameos, and it features SNL‘s Kyle Mooney in a role where I don’t totally hate him. Like Anchorman 2, it was nice to see the gang back together, but the magic just isn’t there anymore. It had a very lackluster start, but it just barely sticks the landing. You can skip this one.

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On TV, I caught the Comedy Central stand-up special Nikki Glaser: Perfect. She talks a lot about sex. A LOT. It’s not that that’s a bad thing. She does it in a funny, self-deprecating kind of way. The problem, though, is the same problem I had with Tosh’s last special: I didn’t watch it when it premiered, so I’d already heard all the jokes on Comedy Central Radio by the time I got around to watching it. Not Glaser’s fault, by any means.

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In television news, NBC has officially picked up the DC/Warner Bros series Powerless, which stars Vanessa Hudgens as an insurance agent who handles claims after superhero battles. It’s a workplace comedy set in the DC Universe, and is set to showcase some lower-rung DC heroes. NBC had success with The Office, so they’re going back to the well, but this sounds like a terrible show. Also, I feel it’s way too similar to Damage Control, which is the company in the Marvel Universe that handles repairs after superhero battles. Not coincidentally, a Damage Control show has been rumored to be in development at ABC, but DC and NBC beat them to the punch. Anyway, the show also features Danny Pudi and Alan Tudyk. To me, Tudyk is something of a modern-day Ted McGinley, so I’m not sure that bodes well for this series.

RIP Shows

There was a LOT of TV news last night, as the culling began in preparation for the network upfronts next week. On the ABC front, Marvel’s Agent Carter has been cancelled, as well as 8-season stalwart Castle. Meanwhile, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spin-off Marvel’s Most Wanted will not be going ahead at the network. The Muppets has also been canceled after a lackluster first season that required a midseason retooling. Musical Galavant has also been canceled after 2 seasons. In a somewhat surprising move, ABC also canceled the cult favorite Nashville, as well as freshman drama The Family. Over at Fox, Second Chance has been canceled, meaning it won’t be getting, well, a second chance. As a dagger through my heart, Fox also canceled comedies The Grinder and Grandfathered. I kinda bailed on the former (even though I really enjoyed it), but I really felt the latter had grown into something special, with a lot of heart. Oh well, I guess it means Stamos will be more of a presence in season 2 of Fuller House now. Seth MacFarlane’s Bordertown also got the axe. Meanwhile, it’s official, as Supergirl will be moving to The CW in the fall. The Archie series Riverdale has been ordered to series, while Containment has been canceled. Also, NBC has ordered Chicago Justice to series, therefore basically handing their network to Dick Wolf.

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If you watched last night’s Legends of Tomorrow, then you’ll understand why Wentworth Miller won’t be a series regular next season. Instead, he’s entered into an interesting deal with Warner Bros TV that essentially makes him a regular in the “Berlantiverse”, not tied to one particular show. His talents will primarily be spread across Flash and Legends next year, but he could even appear on Arrow or Supergirl. I guess WB realized they had something special on their hands with that character and, while I’m sad to see he won’t be part of the Waverider crew next year, I am glad to see it’s not the end of the road for Leonard Snart.


On the music front, Justin Timberlake released his first song since 2013 last Friday. Called “Can’t Stop The Feeling”, it’s from the soundtrack to the upcoming DreamWorks animated film Trolls. It’s already being called “the song of the summer”, but it’s only May so let’s not get carried away. Still, any chance to see Ron Funches and Anna Kendrick dance (for different reasons, of course!), is a good thing. It’s a fun little ditty, so check it out.

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In the world of video games, Disney Infinity has been discontinued, and Disney is exiting the game publishing industry. Reportedly, they’re taking a $147 million loss, which is surprising considering the platform featured Star Wars and Marvel characters in addition to Disney ones. I mean, if you can’t make money with Marvel and Star Wars right now, you’re doing business wrong. Anyway, I never trusted any of those “figurine switcheroo” games because they just seem like cash grabs. Skylanders seemed kinda groundbreaking, but then we ended up with Infinity, LEGO Dimensions, and amiibo – not to mention Hasbro’s own failed Playmation platform. Are they in the game industry or the collectible figure industry? Because it doesn’t seem like you can successfully be in both for long.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • It was reported that Alden Ehrenreich has been cast as Han Solo in the Star Wars character’s solo film. Never heard of him, but good for him!
  • Ben Affleck was named an executive producer on the Justice League film, amid rumors that Zack Snyder and Warner Bros are currently fighting over the project.
  • Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne split up after 33 years together, after Sharon allegedly caught Ozzy having an affair with a celebrity hairstylist
  • Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham admitted that her mic was never on during Spice Girls performances
  • The Superman prequel Krypton has been ordered to pilot at SyFy. Seriously, though – who gives a shit about Krypton?
  • After 30 years with the company, Steve Lombardi, also know as the Brooklyn Brawler, was released by WWE.
  • Gentlemen, start your engines! Topanga’s back on the market! Danielle Fishel has divorced her husband after 2 years of marriage
  • Chris Evans is reportedly dating Jenny Slate. I’m not sure which one I’m more jealous of!
  • CSI: Cyber was cancelled by CBS, ending the CSI franchise for the foreseeable future

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I had the pleasure of joining @TimDogg98, @ClassickMateria, @Agent_70, @Roddykat, and @blackastronaut1 for a special treasury edition of The Comic Book Chronicles, as we discussed Captain America: Civil War. It was a fun chat, so be sure to check it out.

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It’s currently the #1 movie in the WORLD. It opened in the US to $179 million last weekend. It introduced the man on the street to Black Panther. It’s loved by almost everyone. And I’ve gotten 2 podcast appearances out of the whole thing. I won’t get into story beats, as not everyone’s seen it, plus I’ve already discussed it ad nauseam on the aforementioned podcasts. So, I think it’s fair to say that, for the second week in a row, Captain America: Civil War had the West Week Ever.

22nd Sep2015

Retro Con 2015 In Pictures

by Will

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Last weekend, I made my 3rd trip to Retro Con in Oaks, PA. If you’re not familiar with Retro Con, it’s a fairly new pop culture convention devoted to the toys and cartoons of the 80s and 90s. The show has become something of an annual tradition amongst some of my Twitter friends, as it serves as a chance to meet up in real life. I made the trip up with my Thrift Justice partner Mike (@trooperlite), as well as my pal @classickmateria from The Cold Slither Podcast Network. We also brought along my good friend from college, James (@snoopyjenkins). James had never experienced anything like this, so I really didn’t know what to expect from him. He was in town for his job, and since he didn’t have anything to do before his flight home, I decided he should come along for the ride. I think he was a little apprehensive at first, but he quickly warmed up to the whole thing.

Yeah, I think it's safe to say James had fun!

Yeah, I think it’s safe to say James had fun!

Once we got to the show, we jumped right into exploring the convention floor. In the past, I felt that the prices that dealers were asking were a little too “gougey”. A lot of us have come to know this phenomenon as The Toy Hunter Effect, as that show made everyone think their piece of crap was some sort of a rare gem. Well, that show’s over, and it seems like the Effect went along with it. The vintage items were all reasonably priced, and the new items weren’t that much more than retail. For example, I’ve been trying to track down the recently released Marvel Legends Hulkbuster wave. These figures have just started showing up at retail in the past few weeks, retailing for $20 each. I needed 2 particular figures in order to complete my Hulkbuster, and I ended up paying $25 each for them. I figure saving the time and gas was worth paying the extra $5.

While on the con floor, I ran into @shezcrafti, @smurfwreck, @meistershake, @bmorin54, and the incomparable @lamarrevenger. Then, out of nowhere, I met @Jordamus_Prime, who was at the show celebrating his birthday. While I had met the others before, this was my first time meeting him, so it was nice to finally put a face to a screenname. On the way out, I also got to say hi to @JohnDoctorKent. Sadly, I missed out on finally meeting @TheSewerDen and @SockOfFleagulls, but I hope to meet up with them at a future show.

The Cosplay

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Now, usually I would post a ton of cosplay pics, but I just wasn’t feeling it for this show. It’s not that there weren’t costumes, because there were quite a few. In fact, there was a cosplay contest hosted by the Real Life Peter Griffin who went viral a few months back. My issue, though, was that the level of creativity wasn’t that high, in my opinion. Sure, the folks looked like they were having fun, but having been to SDCC, NYCC, and countless other shows, I just didn’t feel like the craftsmanship was as sharp as I’ve seen at other shows. So, yes, I’ve become a convention snob. There were a handful of costumes, however, that impressed me.

You never see Putties! I'm glad these Rangers were there to save me.

You never see Putties! I’m glad these Rangers were there to save me.

 

This Serpentor was AMAZING. He even had the fan in the bottom of his chariot.

This Serpentor was AMAZING. He even had the fan in the bottom of his chariot.

 

Crossplay Lion-O. Her kids were also Thundercats, but they didn't feel like being in my picture :-(

Crossplay Lion-O. Her kids were also Thundercats, but they didn’t feel like being in my picture 🙁

 

Penelope Pitstop

Penelope Pitstop

 

Miles Mayhem from M.A.S.K. The host didn't know who he was supposed to be, so she just kinda skipped announcing his name to the crowd. The hosts kinda sucked at identifying costumes...

Miles Mayhem from M.A.S.K. The host didn’t know who he was supposed to be, so she just kinda skipped announcing his name to the crowd. The hosts kinda sucked at identifying costumes…

 

The Toys

As always, you can count on finding some amazing vintage toys at this show. As I said before, the prices used to be somewhat outrageous, but it seems like things are calming down on that front. I didn’t really buy anything vintage, but for those who were there for that, I’m sure they weren’t disappointed. Let’s take a look at some of the stuff up for sale, shall we?

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My meager Retro Con haul

At the end of the day, it was an enjoyable time. I still don’t feel like there’s enough demand for the show to be a 2-day event, as that seems like the kind of thing you grow into. I’ve only done one day every year, so I’m not sure if they have a ton of folks who partake in the whole weekend. I did hear that dealers weren’t having the best day, as stuff wasn’t moving. This was somewhat disappointing, as the prices weren’t that high. Maybe it’s the kind of event where people like to look but not buy. I know I like to see a bunch of this stuff, but I have no real desire to own it (or I already own it, but it’s in storage). I hope the show did well, though, as I look forward to having it serve as the site of my yearly Twitter meetup. With that in mind, I’ll definitely be going back next year. For another take on the show, be sure to check out Shawn’s post over at Branded in the 80s!

07th Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/7/15

by Will

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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!).

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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!

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*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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

17th Jul2015

West Week Ever – 7/17/15

by Will

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It’s been so long since I’ve done one of these that I’m gonna have to kick the dust off everything. Basically, brace yourself for a whole lot of “This Is What Will’s Been Watching”.

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A few years ago, I read Shopgirl, by Steve Martin (Yep, that Steve Martin). I remember it because we had lost power due to an intense heat wave, and I really had nothing else to do. Plus, as a novella, it was short. I remembered enjoying it, but feeling that it was a bit of a sad story. So, last week, when I saw that the movie was on (also starring Steve Martin), I thought, “Well, I remember liking this. Let’s watch!” I have to say that I don’t remember reading most of what was in that movie. I’m not sure if there was that much of a departure, or if my memory is just that bad. I watched that thing like I had never even encountered the story before, as everything felt new to me.

If you’ve never heard of Shopgirl before, it’s about a girl who works in a department store (Claire Danes), who begins an affair with one of her customers (Martin). He’s not looking for love, but she is. Meanwhile, Jason Schwartzman is there, being Jason Schwartzman – trying to get Danes to notice him. It’s a typical love triangle, and ends like you’d expect. Would I recommend it? Um, sure? I dunno. I seem to say this a lot, but there are worse ways to kill 90 minutes. If you’ve ever wanted to see Claire Danes’s ass, this is the film for you. Other than that, I’m not sure I like Steve Martin in a dramatic role. I know everyone’s doing it, from Robin Williams (RIP) to Bill Murray, and he’s certainly capable at it. I just prefer the Steve Martin who “was born a poor Black child.”

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The next movie I watched was the unnecessary sequel, Horrible Bosses 2. I enjoyed the first movie, as it has a likable cast. Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day? Hilarious! Throw in Jamie Foxx as “Motherfucker” Jones, the ex-con who’s gonna help the guys do in their overbearing bosses? Priceless! I can understand the desire to get the band back together, but there was no real reason for a sequel. The plot is really flimsy, and the antagonist isn’t even technically their “boss”, so the title is a misnomer. This time around, the guys have invented a product to revolutionize the way people take showers, when their investor decides to screw them over by forcing them into foreclosure and taking the product for himself. So, to get back at him, they decide to kidnap his son and ransom him to get back the money they need to pay off their loan. Only the son WANTS to be kidnapped, to stick it to his dad. And then I just stopped paying attention. It got way too convoluted for a comedy. This ain’t Oceans 11! Do not watch!

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On the TV front, there are a couple of new shows I’ve been checking out. First up is HUMANS, on AMC. In the near future, people can buy “Synths” – synthetic humans designed to make their owners’ lives easier. The duties performed by the Synths range from cooking and cleaning to more…sensual matters. The show really sort of focuses on how people react to having the Synths in their lives. Meanwhile, there seems to be a group of Synths who have gained autonomy, and they’re being hunted down because of what they might mean for the future of Synths and humanity. It’s a really interesting show, and if you’ve watched any British shows in recent years (it’s a joint venture between England’s Channel 4 and AMC), you’ll recognize some of the actors – like Katherine Parkinson, from The IT Crowd. It’s an 8-episode season, and AMC has only shown the first 3 episodes so far, so it’s not too late to jump in.

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Meanwhile on USA, I’m watching Mr. Robot. It’s a show about a hacker who gets recruited by a hacker collective known as f society, who plan to take down an evil corporation. To be perfectly honest, the whole take down plot is completely lost on me, but I enjoy the show because I like the characters. I haven’t watched a show with such a morally-ambiguous cast since Nip/Tuck. Now, I didn’t end up finishing that show, as boredom eventually kicked in (some cable network should really be showing reruns of that show. Get on that, somebody!). I hope the same thing doesn’t happen here, as I could feel boredom creeping in during this week’s episode. I’ll still watch for now, though, as the lead looks like SNL‘s Pete Davidson, so it’s fun to imagine that the show is just a really long, elaborate sketch.

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Over on Bravo, I fell in love with the scripted comedy Odd Mom Out. Starring Jill Kargman (and based on her 2007 novel Momzillas), the show focuses on a fictionalized version of Kargman as she has to navigate the excess and affluence of New York’s Upper East Side. When I first watched the show, I thought that everyone sucked at life. Then, I realized you had to get into the mindset of the show. The primary Bravo audience is tuning in for Real Housewives shows, so how would they receive the show? Now that I’ve seen the 6 episodes that have aired so far this season, I love the show. Kargman has this cool vibe to her where I’d really love to be best friends with her. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she always favorites my tweets when I write about the show. Abby Elliott costars as Jill’s sister-in-law, while The Office‘s David Wallace (Andy Buckley) plays Jill’s husband. It’s not for everyone – especially not the geek crowd that tends to read this post every week – but I think a few of you out there may really enjoy it.

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Finally, over on Fox, I discovered Wayward Pines. I originally meant to watch this show back when I wrote my Fox Upfronts post last year. Then, it debuted and I just kinda forgot about it. Well, I started watching it Monday night and ended up watching the first 5 episodes in one night. I thought it would just be a Twin Peaks ripoff, but it’s so much more, and it’s SOO GOOOD! Matt Dillon wakes up after a car accident and finds himself in a small Idaho town, called Wayward Pines. The townsfolk seem to be filled with fear, hidden behind forced smiles, and everyone’s under surveillance. Dillon tries to leave the town, but finds that he can’t because it’s walled off from the rest of the world. And that’s when shit REALLY gets weird. In Episode 5, you learn the truth about the town, and it will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. The show is executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, so you really shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a twist. Still, Shymalan’s career has taken a beating in recent years, which is probably why they’re trying to downplay his involvement here. It’s a shame, because this could be seen as his comeback vehicle. The series finale is next Thursday, and I’m filled with questions. Also, I’m kinda surprised that Fox is sticking to this being a one-time limited series, since it seems to be a summer hit. I just can’t imagine they wouldn’t try to somehow develop a second season out of it. Anyway, you’ve got a week to catch up On Demand, so you can watch the finale along with me.

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Yesterday on social media, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) made the same Ivan Ooze joke about the depiction of Apocalypse in the next X-Men movie (I didn’t even know that many people had seen Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie!). It does, however, lead back to an apprehension I’ve had since the X-Men movie franchise began. While it’s nowhere near as grounded as something like the Netflix Daredevil series, the X-Men movies have been grounded enough in their own version of reality that it was going to be hard to shift into some of the more “exotic” villains like Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister. Based on the world that Bryan Singer created, there would never be an option to go against something like Mojo or The Brood. Luckily for them, they’ve wasted all their movies telling yet another iteration of the Xavier vs. Magneto sparring match. I just think there’s a wealth of characters that could be mined for an X-Men film, but they painted themselves into a corner. Now, they finally decide to go for one of the more outlandish X-Men villains, and this is how it’s received. Apocalypse just doesn’t fit in the world that they’ve crafted. Let’s hope he looks better when they slather him with effects.

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Speaking of comic book movies, the trailers for 3 anticipated films debuted last weekend at San Diego Comic-Con. These included the latest one for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as Suicide Squad, and Deadpool. Of course, bootleg versions of the latter two leaked online, as these things are wont to do, and Warner Bros were none too happy about it. They decided to officially release the Suicide Squad trailer, but only because their hand had been forced by “piracy”. And they made sure to address this while releasing the clip. Fans contrasted this with Marvel’s reaction to leaked Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, where the company simply tweeted a jocular “Dammit, HYDRA!” Basically, the tone of the Warner Bros message was basically “We had no intention of showing this to you, but thanks to a few bad apples, we decided to show you the trailer as it was originally intended, and not in the low quality version that’s making the rounds.” They seemed to think they were getting in front of the issue, but seemed like such a bunch of crotchety old fogies while doing so.

Anyway, my thoughts on the trailers:

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – I’m no more excited about this movie than I was before. That’s to say, I’m really not excited about it. At all. I don’t really like the Snyderverse, as I didn’t hate Man of Steel, but I didn’t love it, either. I’m also not sure about Affleck’s Batman. I saw Man of Steel On Demand, and that just might be the case here. The only reason I’d see it in theaters is because Batman’s in it, but I’m not sure this is my Batman.

Suicide Squad – Again, not very excited. I’ve seen people losing their shit, talking about how awesome it looks. I’m happy for them, but I don’t share that sentiment. I can’t get out of my head how someone said that the promotional image of the team made them look like those Homies figures you get out of vending machines. That was SPOT ON! I’m not a big Will Smith fan, I don’t really like this version of Harley, and I don’t even know what to think of Leto’s Joker. Again, the only thing that might get me to see this in theaters is the fact that Batman’s in it.

Deadpool – looks fun, but Ryan Reynolds is box office poison right now. He’s got a string of flops behind him, from Green Lantern to R.I.P.D. to Self/Less. I’ve been a fan since Two Guys, A Girl, and A Pizza Place, but times are not great for him lately. Reynolds aside, I think the biggest problem is the R-rating. I’ve said it before, but I don’t see anything about Deadpool that deserves an R-rated movie. His comic isn’t a MAX title, so it’s not Mature Readers. That means there’s no sex and no cursing. While it could be pretty violent, it’s a cartoon violence, and nothing on par with, say, Punisher. I think they’re really cutting out a big chunk of their potential audience by making it rated R, as parents like to take their kids to superhero movies. The only 2 R-rated comic movies that have been successful are Blade and Kick-Ass. I still say that Blade did well because it drew in the vampire fans moreso than the comic people (Comic fans don’t really love Blade, as he’s never had a series to last more than 13 issues). I got nothing for Kick-Ass. Also, people will debate me on this, but I don’t think Deadpool’s a household name. Sure, comic fans know who he is, but if you showed him to the man on the street, he’d ask “How come Spider-Man has swords now?” I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this all turns out. Don’t get me wrong – I WANT it to be a hit, but I’m just skeptical right now.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– 50 Cent filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Where’d all that Vitamin Water money go?

– Brandy sang on the New York subway, and was shocked when nobody gave a shit

– I watched the ending to Batman: Arkham Knight on YouTube (way to not release it on the 360, Rocksteady!) THAT’s how you tell a Final Batman Story!

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My pals, Zac and Adam, co-host the No Topic Required podcast, and this week’s episode was very special, as it was the FINAL episode. Luckily, I was invited to take part, and it was a pretty fun time. I’m always sad to see one of my favorite podcasts go (looking at you, Cold Slither Podcast), but I’m sure that Zac will be back with something new once he recharges his batteries. In any case, you should go give the episode a listen!

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You know what didn’t have the West Week Ever? San Diego Comic-Con. Usually an informational mecca for the pop culture set, nothing really came out of there this year, outside the trailers I already mentioned. Marvel and Image had already revealed their big plans, so it was really DC’s con to lose. And lose they did. They announced the Milestone characters would be returning as Earth-M in the Multiverse (meh), Adam Kubert and Klaus Janson would be the artists for Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight III: The Master Race (meh), and Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns would be teaming up for a standalone Batman film (I’m listening…).

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Since I skipped 2 weeks, and left you all without a true WWE in that post, I didn’t want to come back and say that nobody had the West Week Ever. So, you know what had it? Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee.

Have I read it? Nope. Have I heard good things about it? Nope. In fact, it’s probably just a cash grab, resulting from Lee’s manipulating caregivers. Still, its release this week is pretty important to the literary world, as it’s the sequel that no one thought they’d ever see. It’s the Ghostbusters 3, Who Discovered Roger Rabbit?, and Goonies II of literature. And that’s gotta count for something, right? I mean, Lee retreated from the fame generated from the release of To Kill A Mockingbird, and vowed to never release another book. Yet, here it is. It almost doesn’t even matter if it’s good or not. The most important thing is that it exists. And as of this past Tuesday, you can own it and read it for yourself. I definitely plan to read it, so I’ll share my thoughts once I do, but for now, Go Set A Watchman had the West Week Ever.

20th Mar2015

West Week Ever – 3/20/15

by Will

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First off, thanks to everyone who read my Batgirl post, as I had my best traffic in over a year. Who knew that something I wrote in the middle of the night would garner that much discussion? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click the link!

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This week, I caught the series premiere of Transformers: Robots In Disguise and I don’t really know what I saw. Taking place years after Transformers: Prime, it features Bumblebee (voiced by Will Freidle) as the leader of a ragtag group of Autobots trying to recapture some Decepticons who had crash landed on Earth. I love Will Freidle and I love Bumblebee, but I I’m not sure I love Will Friedle as Bumblebee. Also, it was kinda jarring that the sequel to the CGI Prime is a standard 2-D animated show that looks more like the sequel to Transformers Animated. I’m not the biggest Transformers fan, so I kinda don’t have a horse in that race, but I still thought I’d check it out. It didn’t hold my attention, so I can only imagine how kids are gonna feel about it.

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On the cable front, I checked out Tammy. Yes, I know that some people hate Melissa McCarthy and, yes, I know that they trailer did a horrible job explaining what the movie was about. Still once it hit DVD, I knew I was gonna watch it. I’d meant to get it from Redbox, but it premiered on HBO last weekend. So, what is it about? Well, after a really bad day – where she finds out that her husband’s cheating on her and she’s fired from her job – Tammy (McCarthy) sets out on a road trip with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon). Was it funny? I thought so. It’s produced by Will Ferrell’s Gary Sanchez Productions, so you’ve kinda got an idea of the type of humor that it contains.

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Speaking of movies, some drama’s been going down concerning upcoming Aquaman, Jason Momoa. Apparently, he signed a fan’s poster with the words “Fuck Marvel”. While some folks are saying this was unprofessional, others are happy that he’s igniting a true cinematic rivalry between Marvel and DC. DC fans say that the Avengers stars run their mouths about how their movies are superior, so why is this any different? I think it’s more a case of the fact that Marvel’s proven its worth. Momoa’s untested and hasn’t even acted in anything yet in the DCU, yet he’s already knee deep in a “rivalry”. If Henry Cavill had said it, I’d take it, since he’s already gotten his feet wet with Man of Steel. As it stands, however, Momoa really doesn’t have anything to back himself up. Someone on Facebook tried to say that Momoa passed on being Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, so clearly he must have more faith in DC by taking the Aquaman role. I beg to differ. I think he realized he’d made a mistake when GOTG went on to be HUGE and he jumped on the next train that came along. Anyway, let’s see who’s laughing when Dawn of Justice finally comes out.

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On the comics front, I got my hands on an advance copy of Archie vs. Predator #1. Sadly, I probably know more about Archie than I do the Predator franchise (I’ve never seen any of the movies). So, I’m sure some Easter eggs were lost on me. Still, the story should still be rather accessible, right? Wrong. It just doesn’t flow well. The characters’ personalities are off, as they seem to exist at extremes. Reggie’s REALLY a dick. Betty’s REALLY a dumb blonde. If Jughead had more than 2 lines, I’m sure he’d be REALLY hungry. It felt like a book made by someone with little familiarity with Archie for someone with little familiarity with Archie. On top of that, the level of gore that we get at the end of the issue doesn’t fit tonally with the rest of the issue. It reads like a “My First Archie Story” for kids, and then ends with eviscerated corpses hanging from trees. There are 3 more issues in the miniseries, but this one didn’t leave me with the desire to read more. I was expecting them to pull it off, like Archie Meets The Punisher, but this wasn’t on that level. If you love Archie or Predator, you’re gonna hate this.

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In the video game world, it’s rumored that game developer Hideo Kojima has left Konami. Now, I’m the furthest thing from a “gamer”, but I do know that he’s behind the highly successful Metal Gear franchise. That game series holds a special place in my heart, as I almost beat Metal Gear Solid II: Sons of Liberty, and that game’s theme is what I want played at my funeral. Seriously, just listen to it:

Anyway, if Kojima has left Konami, this will be a huge blow. Apparently, there’s been a falling out between Kojima Productions and Konami, and Konami has lashed out by removing Kojima Productions branding from Twitter and the Metal Gear website. For now, if he hasn’t left already, it’s believed that Kojima Productions will leave following Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes, as well as what happens to the Metal Gear series.

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It’s been confirmed that Toys “R” Us won’t be renewing their lease for the well-known flagship store located in the heart of New York’s Times Square. TRU has been in the space since 2000, and they occupy 110,000 square feet. This is a sad development that shows the current state of the toy market. In fact, the brokers are convinced that they won’t be able to find a single tenant for the entire space, so it’ll end up being divided. It’s rumored that TRU might actually lease retail space at the nearby Marriott Marquis, but I’m not sure if they’re going to take the giant dinosaur and the Ferris wheel with them to the new location. The move should take place next February.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-In the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic, one of the turtles was killed this week. Hint: It’s not the one who leads, the party dude, or the one who’s cool but rude.

-The series finale of Glee airs tonight. I’ve seen, like, no fanfare for this thing, so I wonder who even knows about it.

-a well known comic blogger was accused of cyberbullying a former comic editor, driving her to the point of PTSD. I’m not naming names ’cause at least one of them seems like to type to Google her name. Yeah, the blogger was a dick, and the editor never really seemed screwed on too tightly. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

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-One of my tweets was used in an Essence.com recap of the Empire season finale.

-I joined the guys at Nerd Lunch to discuss TV series finales. The episode will go up Tuesday, and I’ll post a link in next week’s post.

-I’ve been obsessed with the ’60s group Jay and the Americans lately. Here’s their hit “Cara Mia”:

– The California Raisins are coming back in a live action/CG film

-President Obama might be buying the Magnum P.I. house

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Ruth Negga has been cast as Tulip in AMC’s Preacher adaptation.

Links I Loved
Batgirl Variant Cover Glorifies Sexual Violence | #CancelTheCover – Reappropriate

MTV Spring Break Used To Rule – Deadspin

The 100 Sexiest Women on Television | 2015 Edition – UnderScoopFire

Ranking Marvel’s Superhero TV Movies – The Robot’s Pajamas

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Community is the little show that could. After 5 seasons on NBC, it seemed like all was lost. Then, Yahoo stepped in and picked the show up to be featured under the Yahoo Screen banner. Well, the first episodes hit the Internet this week, and it was good to see the gang again. It was also kind of jarring to realize how much they’ve lost over the years. Troy’s gone, Pierce is dead, and now Shirley’s gone to her own spinoff (it makes sense when you watch the episode).

Certain things didn’t work. For example, Abed didn’t seem like himself. It’s like he’s trying to be a new person, and he no longer seems interested in imagining that they’re all characters in a sitcom. Also, things didn’t really work on a technical level, either. You see, Yahoo Screen can be viewed via a browser, but it can also be used through an Android or iOS app. The Android app is pretty janky, as it was constantly buffering – sometimes for periods up to 5 minutes. I thought it might’ve been my connection doing it, but I’ve read that others had the same issues. So, with that going on, it took about an hour to watch a 27 minute episode.

Certain things did work, though. The writing is still there, and it definitely feels like Dan Harmon work and not the episodes from the “gas leak season” (the one during which Harmon was fired). I also enjoyed the addition of Paget Brewster, as I’ve loved her ever since Joey and Chandler were fighting over her on Friends. Her character, Frankie Dart, seems like she’s there to keep the show grounded, but it’ll be fun to watch her get sucked into the madness that surrounds Greendale.

The show’s joke was always #sixseasonsandamovie, and they just might pull it off. It nothing else, they might get another season on Yahoo Screen. Either way, I was glad to see it back, so Community had the West Week Ever.

07th Nov2014

West Week Ever – 11/7/14

by Will

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Portlandia season 4 finally made it to Netflix, so I’ve been bingewatching it this week. It’s everything I’ve come to expect from the show, meaning it’s great. I’ve still got 2 more episodes to go, so I hope the season ends as epic as season 2’s “Brunch Village” production.

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Tuesday saw the premiere of Marvel: 75 Years, From Pulp to Pop! on ABC. While the special was meant to celebrate 75 years of Marvel, they really glossed over some particular parts of Marvel’s history. While the 90s were a dark period for the company, X-Men was still the bestselling comic in the industry, and that was pretty much ignored. They also ignored the influence of the Raimi Spider-Man franchise, basically since they weren’t released by Marvel Studios. Similar to Marvel: Assembling A Universe, this was another self-congratulatory infomercial for Marvel and its movies. I give them credit for not talking about the movies until the last 15 minutes, but it still felt like “Look how awesome we are!” The special also included some footage from the upcoming Agent Carter. While it was nice seeing Howard Stark again, I care almost nothing about this show. It’s hard enough caring about modern-day SHIELD, let alone the 1940s equivalent.

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Tuesday also saw the release of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare on all major video game consoles. I’ve never considered myself a “gamer”, but I’m still addicted to Call of Duty: Black Ops II. So, I actually considered buying the game this week. Then I thought about it, and realized that I still only play one level (“Hijacked”) on BOII, so I still have a lot more game to cover before taking on something new. Plus, I really didn’t feel like dropping $60 on a video game.

The following aired on Adult Swim the other morning at 4AM, and it’s PERFECT. It contains so many 80s tropes, and then it gets WEIRD. I love everything about this:

Things You May Have Missed This Week

Toy Story 4 is coming. I still haven’t seen the third one, but I’m sure someone’s excited about this.

-It was announced that Star Wars Episode VII Will be called The Force Awakens. A lot of folks hate it. I don’t. In fact, it has me intrigued. Has The Force been asleep? Does it wear pajamas? So many questions!

-It was announced that Craig Ferguson’s final Late Late Show guest will be Jay Leno, on December 19th.

-Elections were Tuesday and everyone seems disappointed – even those whose parties won.

-Benedict Crumbsnatcher, or whatever his name is, got engaged this week.

-Amanda Bynes is still crazy.

Downton Abbey was renewed for a 6th season.

-Fox canceled ratings-starved reality experiment Utopia.

-Wayne Brady admitted that he suffers from depression.

-Starbucks updated their dress code policy, banning engagement rings with stones. I thought everyone who worked at Starbucks was single anyway…

New Girl got a new opening sequence, so you won’t be seeing this gem anymore:

Links I Loved

Next Round of Prototype Fetts Hitting Walgreens – Awesome Toy Blog

Rad Review: TMNT Comic Book Raphael – Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang

The Painful What-If That Haunts ‘Ghostbuster’ Ernie Hudson – Entertainment Weekly

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Selling 1.3 million copies, Taylor Swift’s 1989 posted the best one-week sales since 2002. She’s also the first artist to go platinum this year. Album sales may be in the crapper, but there’s no stopping Ms. Swift. In the ultimate Screw You move, she removed her catalog from Spotify which, no doubt, helped her album sales. She released the following statement:

“If I had streamed the new album, it’s impossible to try to speculate what would have happened. But all I can say is that music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment. And I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music. And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.”

Spotify pleaded with Taylor to come back, but they also created a “What To Play While Taylor’s Away” playlist. This is the future of music, folks. Anyway, for recordbreaking sales, and for bucking the system, Taylor Swift had the West Week Ever.

25th Sep2014

West Week Ever – 9/26/14

by Will

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warrior dash

The week started out with me in CT, taking part in the Warrior Dash. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically a mud run obstacle course, but not as hardcore as the Spartan Race. I’d never done anything like it, but my college friends James, Jenn, and Debra wanted to do it, so I decided to make the trip up there. Seeing as how I can’t swim, I was planning to skip all of the obstacles that had to do with water. Little did I realize that the very first obstacle would be in the water. We had to walk through neck-high water to a raft, climb up on it, walk across, and walk to the shore through the water again. I sucked it up and did it, even though I could’ve drowned. When everything was said and done, I didn’t end up skipping any of the obstacles, and I’m pretty proud of myself. I did mess up my knees on the rope ladders, but they’ll heal. If you ever have a chance to do a mud run, it’s definitely something different. I’m still not sure if I’ll do it again, even though my friends are already excited for next year.

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While in Connecticut, I developed an addiction to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. I am far from a “gamer”, and I especially suck at first-person shooters. Something about this game, however, clicked for me. When we first started playing, I couldn’t even figure out how to turn my head, but by Sunday afternoon, I was killing terrorists with the best of them. Outside of the Warrior Dash, most of our time was spent playing that game. In fact, I played so much that I’d see it when I closed my eyes to sleep. I’m finally able to sleep without seeing terrorists around every corner, but I’m seriously considering buying that game.

kenan

On to pop culture news! It was announced early in the week that Kenan Thompson would be leaving Saturday Night Live at the end of the season. Then, there was some backpedaling, as sources started reporting that the initial announcement may have been premature. So, no one really knows what’s going on right now. It would certainly be a blow to the show, even though some folks might say that it’s been a long time coming. One writer, when speaking to Slate, basically said that Kenan can save any weak sketch, and SNL definitely needs a guy like that these days.

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The leads for season 2 of HBO’s True Detective were announced this week, and it seems like Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell will be our new cop duo. I enjoyed the first season, but I fall into the camp who felt it was overrated. Part of this could be due to the fact that I binge-watched it in a day. I felt like it tried to build this weird mythology within the case that didn’t have a lot of payoff. Maybe it’s because every drama in post-Lost television feels it needs something mystical to hook the viewer, but I feel like the show would’ve been just as strong if they’d handled a straightforward murder case instead of the Yellow King stuff. A lot of folks are upset about this casting news, as they were hoping for possible female leads, but I like Vaughn, and I now have HBO, so I’ll give it a shot.

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As a Batman fan, I’m sure some people wonder what I thought about Gotham. Well, to be honest, I only saw the last 15 minutes. I wasn’t sure I was gonna watch it because I really have no desire to see another Batman origin story. I have big problems with the purpose of the show. Unlike Smallville, which is where Clark Kent spent his formative years, Gotham holds very little meaning for Bruce Wayne’s development. I mean, it’s the site of his parents’ deaths, but his training takes place around the globe. If it were a show about THAT, then I’d probably watch. There are a lot of “lost” tales from that era, as we got most of our knowledge of his training from Batman Begins. Other than that, we don’t know much, and I’d be down for a show about that. Maybe a show about Bruce training with Henri Ducard. This show, however, starts with Bruce as a KID, and intends to follow him as such. There’s no story there. In the meantime, I don’t really care about seeing where Edward Nygma and Oswald Cobblepot came from. It’s enough that they exist, but this show seems to want to wrap a nice little bow on all of their origin stories. Plus, it’s only a matter of time before they start teasing The Joker, because they won’t be able to help themselves. I also don’t like the casting, except Donal Logue – who was born to play Bullock. They’re reairing the pilot tonight on Fox, so I’ll watch the whole thing to give it a fair shake, but I don’t think this show is for me.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. came back and introduced Absorbing Man. It was nice they finally went with an existing, established comic villain, and it was a decent enough episode, but I still don’t really like anyone but Coulson and Triplett. And now there are two black guys, so it’s only a matter of time before one of them dies. On the ratings side of things, the premiere wasn’t much higher than last season’s finale. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if it lasts until Avengers 2, it will have done its job. This was never a show with the staying power to last 7 seasons. If it turned out to be a massive hit, then that would’ve been great, but the real purpose of the show was the whet our appetites for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in between movies. On its own, it’s a dud, but when linked to that universe, like with The Winter Soldier, it has a lot of potential. The problem with 22 episodes of television is that it has to tread water until these beats present themselves. It’s nice to see that Marvel’s willing to take chances and, luckily, they’re only “miss” has been on TV and not cinematic. I’m saying Agent Carter is a one and done show, while Agents will probably wrap up after season 3.

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The show I was most anticipating was ABC’s Black-ish, which premiered after Modern Family Wednesday night. I’ve loved Anthony Anderson since he was Teddy on Hang Time, and I knew his career would eventually amount to something. It’s a comedic take on the struggle to maintain one’s cultural identity while also fitting in with the world. There’s a lot of “Black people do this, and white people do this” humor, but it wasn’t as hackneyed as your typical Comic View comedian. I think the show has a lot of heart, and it launched to big numbers, so I think it’s a keeper. Unless something crazy happens over the next few weeks, it’ll definitely get a full season pickup. I think ABC’s got a hit on their hands. I am, however, curious to know how white audiences felt about the show. On Twitter, black viewers were pretty vocal in their support, but I wondered if some of the race stuff was too “on the nose” for some white viewers. Anybody wanna share their thoughts in the comments?

FOREVER - Pilot Gallery (ABC/Bob D'Amico) IOAN GRUFFUDD, JUDD HIRSCH

Ya know, I considered giving this honor to Derek Jeter, but then I remembered that this is MY site and that I don’t care about sports. In I know Jeter’s a future Hall of Famer, and I’ve heard he “plays the game the right way”, but I know him more for the notches on his bedpost. Mariah Carey, Minka Kelly, Jessica Biel? The man is only surpassed by Justin Timberlake when it comes to the women who have streamed through his bedroom. No, I decided to take about my favorite show so far of the fall season: Forever.

When I did my ABC upfronts post, I said that this show might have a hard time if it just poses questions without answering them. It’s the only show so far this season to have aired two episodes (it premiered on Monday, and moved to its regular timeslot on Tuesday), so I’ve got more to go on for it than with the other new shows. Forever stars Ioan Gruffudd, whom Americans may remember as Reed Richards in the Fantastic Four movies. I love that guy, and I think he’s my Colin Firth. There’s just something dashing about him, so maybe I’m biased. Anyway, Gruffudd plays Henry Morgan, a medical examiner for the New York Police Department. He knows a LOT about death, mainly, because he can’t die. Sure, he dies, but he always comes back to life – naked and in a body of water. He’s been enduring this cycle for over 300 years, so he’s been keeping journals on his deaths and their different pain levels. Because he’s died so much, he’s great at determining the cause of death of victims who come through the morgue. He uses his knowledge and talents to help the homicide division to solve crimes. Meanwhile, since every post-Lost era drama has to have a mystery to it, there appears to be another who shares his same affliction, and has been watching Morgan from afar. He sends him vague messages, signed by “Your Fan”, and the show is clearly leading up to a big meeting between the two. Here’s hoping it lasts that long. The ratings for both episodes weren’t stellar, but they were steady. If it can prove itself as a reliable performer, Forever just may get to finish out its season. I really hope more viewers give it a chance, as it’s really good and I’m curious to see where it’s going. Anyway, for being my favorite television debut of the week, Forever had the West Week Ever.

12th Sep2014

West Week Ever – 9/12/14

by Will

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Last week, I mentioned that I’d wait til this week to cover all the Netflixin’ I’ve been doing lately. Well, first up is Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac. I wanted to see this film when it was first announced, but there was no way I was going to watch it in a theater. It’s a four-hour story, broken up into 2 two-hour volumes. It took me a little over 3 weeks to get through it all, as I needed some time to digest volume one before I tackled the second one. Where to begin with this? Well, it starts out with Stellan Skarsgard (the old scientist guy from the Thor movies) finding a beaten up Charlotte Gainsbourg in an alley, and he takes her home to nurse her wounds. As she recuperates, “Joe” regales him with tales of her life as a nymphomaniac. The tales range from awkward to hilarious (especially the Uma Thurman chapter). Despite the sex, it’s not a sexy movie. In fact, her life as a nymphomaniac wasn’t very fulfilling, as she pursued sex to fill a void inside herself. There’s still some hardcore sex, though. Whether you want to or not, you even get a glimpse of Shia LeBeouf’s “La beef”. If you’re a 13 year old boy, and you’re reading this, most of the sex is in volume 1. There, I saved you 2 hours of your life so you can go play Destiny or whatever.

Volume 1 focuses on Joe’s youth, and has most of the sex, but the real character development starts in Volume 2, as you learn more about Joe and Skarsgard’s Seligman. In fact, there’s a reveal pretty early on in Volume 2 that telegraphs how the movie is gonna end, even though you really don’t want it to happen. Anyway, there’s more to the movie than sex, and it’s a really engaging story. I especially enjoyed the interplay between Gainsbourg and Skarsgard. She educates him about sex, while he educates her about philosophy and history. Even though they met the night before, you really see their friendship develop. Apparently, there’s a 5-hour cut of the film, which debuted at the Venice Film Fest. I enjoyed the saga enough that I’d actually be interested in seeing what the extra hour holds, but I hear it contains a scene of Joe performing her own abortion. Jay-sus! If you like artsy fartsy erotic stuff, I highly recommend Nymphomaniac.

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One thing I didn’t expect to like, but grew to love, was Bojack Horseman. As a Netflix original series, Bojack Horseman is an animated series that focuses on the titular Bojack, a washed up former star of a TGIF-esque sitcom in the 90s. As the series begins, he’s teamed up with a ghostwriter to help him write his memoir. In the 90s, Bojack was the star of Horsin’ Around, a sitcom where he took in 3 orphans and hilarity ensued. He hasn’t done much in the 18 years since the show went off the air, and he’s something of a Hollywood joke. The problem, however, is that he doesn’t seem to realize just how much of a joke he is until his ghostwriter starts working on the book. Will Arnett is perfect as the voice of Bojack, and the voice cast also includes Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, and Aaron Paul. After so much time on Breaking Bad, it’s refreshing to have Paul in a comedic role, and he’s great as stoner with the heart of gold Todd.

At first, it was hard to get into the world of the show, as humans coexist with talking animals, but I got over that quickly. One thing I loved about the show is the continuity, as you really feel like the 12 episodes are one big story, instead of typical episodic television. For example, Bojack’s former costar sets fire to his ottoman in the middle of the season, and the ottoman remains burned for the rest of the series. The events build off of each other, leading to a satisfying ending that I didn’t see coming. I felt that Bojack was gonna lose all his money and be forced to get a job. I’m so glad I was wrong about that. It’s already been greenlit for a second season, and those new episodes can’t come quickly enough for me!

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Zack Snyder revealed the Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice Batmobile the other day. Man, am I sick of tankish Batmobiles! I’m ready for something sleek again. I know this is supposedly influenced by The Dark Knight Returns, so I can understand the need for a Bat Tank, but it’s not necessarily what I want. I’m not even gonna get started on the guns…

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They’re making 23 Jump Street! This isn’t much of a surprise, as I’m pretty sure everyone involved likes money. That said, I’m scared they can’t eke out a 3rd movie. After all, the second one is basically the same as the first, but a lot of the humor came from them acknowledging that. I can’t deal with another Rush Hour 3, though. I don’t know how they can do the whole “This is the same movie as the first” a second time. I’ll watch it, and I eagerly await it, but I’m scared.

Che

It was announced last night that Cecily Strong is out as co-anchor of Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. Last season, when Seth Meyers left to helm Late Night, he was replaced with Colin Jost. While it’s true that Jost and Strong lacked chemistry, I hardly believe that she was the problem. Everyone I know hated Jost’s delivery, though most felt that he would eventually ease into the role. I know that Lorne probably wants to shake things up for season 40, but this hardly seems like the way to go. In any case, Cecily will remain as a cast member, while her Weekend Update seat will be occupied by comedian Michael Che. Apparently, Che comes from The Daily Show, so he’s got a resume, but time will tell on whether or not he’s the right fit for the Weekend Update desk.

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There was a Married…With Children reunion this week, as the cast reunited to celebrate Katey Sagal getting her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They look good, and I’m glad to see Sagal getting some recognition. In related news, E! is reporting that MWC may get the Girl Meets World treatment, as Sony wants to do a spinoff focusing on Bud Bundy and his family. It’s just in the pitch phase now, so nothing may come from it.

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Speaking of questionable moves in the television industry, there’s word that TNT is close to picking up a live action Titans series. I really don’t know what they hope to do that 10 seasons of Smallville didn’t already accomplish. I mean, by the end of that show, hadn’t we basically seen everyone they could possible give us in a DC TV series? According to the Hollywood Reporter, the show will focus on Nightwing as he sheds the Robin identity and strikes out on his own to lead his own team. So, we’re basically getting another Batman Without Batman show. I mean, most of the budget will be spent on Beast Boy’s transformations anyway. Anyway, it’s just pilot talk, and nothing will probably ever come from it. Plus, TNT seems like a horrible home for this project. They know drama, not capes.

Nev

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw punches. Everyone and their mom had an opinion on the Ray Rice situation this week, and the media made sure that we got all the celebrity reactions. Well, one such reaction came from everyone’s favorite Internet detective, Catfish‘s Nev Schulman. He tweeted a selfie in an elevator, with the caption, “Real men show strength through patience and honor. This elevator is abuse free.” Ugh. He sounds like the kinda douche nozzle who calls himself a feminist just to help him hit on women. Why do I say that? Well, in his recently released book, In Real Life: Love, Lies & Identity in the Digital Age, he recounts the time he was kicked out of Sarah Lawrence College for punching a girl in the face. He paints it as a situation where he lashed out at someone who didn’t want him taking her picture, whom he didn’t realize was a woman until after he hit her. Other accounts claim he just whaled on this chick. You can even read the victim’s account of the whole matter. Whatever happened, Schulman was arrested but the case was dismissed. Still, he was kicked out of Sarah Lawrence, so I guess he feels like he “did his time”. Either way, he probably should’ve kept his mouth shut this week, as his book has been available for months, yet nobody said anything about this event until he decided to put a spotlight on himself. So, either his fans were willing to give him a pass, or nobody read his book until this week.

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Apple introduced the Apple Watch this week, which is basically the Galaxy Gear with the battery life of one day. So, have fun with that, Apple Disciples!

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I’d bet that Walgreens has never had as much foot traffic as its stores have gotten over the past week. Why? Well, Walgreens has entered the exclusive toy arena by carrying the Spider-Man Marvel Legends Infinite Agent Venom figure, as well as the Star Wars Black Series 6″ Boba Fett (Prototype Armor) figure. I live in CVS country, so there are only a handful of Walgreens stores, but I’ve been making the rounds for the past 2 weeks trying to find these figures. Luckily, I found Agent Venom last week, and stumbled upon Fett last Sunday on my way back from Baltimore Comic-Con. I haven’t opened either, as I plan to sell mine, so I can’t really offer a review of the figures. I just wonder how many Walgreens employees thought I was stealing, considering I walked in, looked around, and walked out several times a week. That HAD to look suspicious!

Links I Loved
10 of the Worst Ideas for Board Games Ever – The Robot’s Pajamas

13 New Fall Shows That Will Be Cancelled by Christmas -UnderScoopFire!

In Case You Missed It This Week
Baltimore Comic-Con 2014 In Pictures

tmz

Oh, to go from Ugly Duckling to Belle of the Ball! That’s what it must have felt like to work at TMZ this week. Typically, people hate TMZ and its paparazzi tabloid journalism. That changed this week, however, as TMZ’s reporting led to the release of Ray Rice from the Baltimore Ravens due to domestic violence. The incident happened months ago, but it wasn’t until TMZ released the security footage that shit got real. The NFL suspended Rice indefinitely, the Ravens released him, and now NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will probably be fighting for his job now that the truth has come to light. Some people are applauding the NFL for its swift action, but that’s wrong as the NFL could’ve acted sooner, and it wasn’t until the footage went wide that they finally felt pressured to do something. So, TMZ comes out looking like the hero in all of this, and even if you hate to admit it, they were exactly what this situation needed in order for justice to be done. Anyway, I hope the TMZ crew is happy with all of this good press, as folks will probably just go back to hating them next week. For now, however, TMZ had the West Week Ever.