This week we continue with the usual shows as well as look back at an episode of Young Justice and some thoughts about the new FX Thursday night comedy block
- fall premiere dates. Arrow, based on the Green Arrow comic will premier on October 8th ( Wednesday) at 8 pm. I never was a Smallville fan and CW in general isn’t exactly targeting me but Arrow looks just up my alley.
- Damon Lindelof will ruin...I mean adapt another bit of preexisting material. Lindelof has been hired on to write a TV show adaptation of the book The Leftovers with author Tom Perrotta. Leftovers follows a band of survivors in a post-Rapture like world. I wonder if a smoke monster will show up.
- VIZ Media will be launching a 24 hour anime themed network called Neon Alley, on a yet to be announced console. They are going the Netflix route, it will be a subscription service charging $6.99 a month. VIZ does seem like they have the catalog to supply this network since they are one of the largest distributor of anime and manga in NA. You can get updates at NeonAlley.com
- Want a list of TV shows that will be at Comic-Con while you scour the internet for news of said panels? Well here it is.
- HDNet relaunches as AXS TV on Monday (July 2). It was announced in January that HDNet would be rebranding as AXS TV (pronounced access) as part of a joint venture with AEG, Ryan Seacrest Media and Creative Artists Agency. HDNet made a niche for itself by providing a television platform for some really good regional MMA promotions as well as Japanese promotions like DREAM (RIP) and Sengoku(RIP). The soon to be AXS TV claims they will continue broadcasting MMA along with other live events as part of the rebranding.
Dallas S1 Ep04 "The Last Hurrah"
For the first time Dallas seems to be building to something, instead of just constantly show the Ewings connive and get little to nothing out of it. So instead of getting the blow off from this weeks nefarious plot from J.R. and Son we get to wait another week. With a 10 episode season next week is the end of the first half of the season it’s time for something to happen.
“Time for something to happen” is an odd statement since it’s hard to get a sense of time in this show. Southfork is fully packed up and ready to be handled over to the (not) Del Sol Conservancy in what appears to be a mere 12 hours from J.R. jr finding out that Rebecca, Christophers now wife, sent Elena that email.
“The Last Hurrah” does have a couple of moments I enjoyed, mainly the father-son moments about the Ewing fathers. Jon Ross III isn’t buying the fact that her ex is suddenly teaching her son the oil business like he always said. Which it doesn't, all Jon Ross III is doing is his daddies dirty work. For how “hard” and “charming” Ross III thinks he is all he wants is his father's approval. His cousin Christopher has the inverse going on, not wanting to disappoint his father. Christopher is battling over whether or not he is still in love with Elena and now he is married to Rebecca. He has to make a choice, this is overly hammered home with Christopher and Bobby saving a baby calf during birth.
The drama surrounding Christopher is understandable and well worn territory. It isn’t even needlessly overdone melodrama. Yet I am not drawn in or intrigued by it. Jesse Metcalfe might look good as a farmhand, as a man being torn in two internally he doesn't look good at all. Staring at the ground trying to look sad and confused isn’t the same as emoting those emotions on screen. Than when he makes his decision to chose Rebecca his “breakup” scene with Elena is totally flat from a writing standpoint, which makes the acting worse.
Jon Ross III job for the day is to get photos of Mitch Lobell's son doing drugs in order to blackmail Lobell back into control. Ross III enlists the help of Rebecca threatening to expose her perceived involvement in breaking him an Elena up. Julie Gonzalo isn’t a good actress, which isn’t a good thing for someone playing a con-women. Her half hearted attempts at getting Lobell’s son in a compromising position was actually a nice scene, she just wasn’t good in it. Having failed his Dad, he enlists the help of (fake) Marta Del Sol, who comes through with flying colors. We get a nice bit of backstory on her, turns out she is a literal crazy bitch. If they are ever going to do “Who Shot J.R.” 2.0 she will be at the top of the suspect list.
Watching this episode it struck me why the original cast is so much more interesting than their spawn. They have nothing but contempt for one another, lying between their teeth in order to play “happy family”. You can tell they are bitter at one another for whatever reasons. Their kids aren’t bitter like that yet, we are seeing them build up to it. Their kids have a distinct lack of charisma together compared to their parents, despite Josh Henderson as John Ross Ewing III many attempts to be charismatic.
Everyone is now gathering around the final Southfork BBQ. The Ewings plan to go out in stereotypical big Texas fashion. With everyone in one place things are primed to blow up.
C - Good for this show to finally build to something Bad that I’m still indifferent about it
FX Comedy lineup Anger Management, Wilfred, Louie , Brand X with Russell Brand
Comedy is a hard thing to write about. Criticism and recapping involve a fair amount of explaining. Explaining humor is hard given the large variety of comedy capable on film. Also what one finds funny compared to another appears to be more subjective than any other genre. So I will recommend that you watch Louie, it’s good, no seriously just watch it! Wilfred is a bit odd but if that’s your thing go for it. I don’t like Russell Brand anymore and am skipping his new show. I did watch Anger Management. It’s a lot like Sheens previous show, Two and a Half Men only without the redeeming characters like Alan and Jake. It is all Charlie Sheen all the time and that isn’t something I want. I enjoyed Two and a Half Men when I watched it with my Grandma. Sheens and his well known debauchery added to his character at times but the show could throw to the continued misfortunate adventures of Alan to freshen things up. Anger Management doesn't have that luxury with Sheen doing it all.
FX has done a good job choosing the right type of programming to build its reputation on, Anger Management isn’t as good as those previous works, but they claim their top rated programming is Two and a Half Men reruns so why not get into the Charlie Sheen business.
Tron: Uprising S1 Ep05 “Identity”
I was ready to give another ho-hum review of Tron: Uprising. To a large degree the ‘Identity” continues to show hints of subtext and good writing on top of solid entertaining action sequences. Than the climax happened and they managed to get a real response out of me for the first time.
Beck does something stupid (again) and ends up getting his identity disc stolen. That is kind of a big deal since a program's identity disc is all their memories and if they lose it, they will lose all sense of self. It isn’t all bad Beck and Tron just need to get the disc back before Beck becomes lost. This leads the pair to the shady alleys of Argon City.
The search for the disc is ok, the interesting part is the relationship between Beck and Tron. Tron refuses to call Beck a friend, which if you think about it he really isn’t. Their relationship is more teacher-pupil or General to soldier than friends, both examples have designated lines where things stop being personal. Those lines get murkier when “friendship” gets thrown in. This gives things a nice undercurrent of tension as Beck slowly begins to lose himself.
They did a good job showing the glitches occur. The picture begins to ghost on itself and the already electronic voices become even more auto tuned. They are brief but powerful moments.
Searches generally lead to chases and “Identity” has plenty of them. A particular sequence that sees Beck crash off a freeway and burst through a building, run and jump through it, and burst through the other side, all in one over the back shot. A great example of why I dig this show visually now if only the writing would follow suit.
The subplot involving Becks friend, Zed working for Tesslers taskforce had some promise. Forcing Beck to battle his own friend, while fighting the revolution, and keep his life together is some easy drama. Zed is also likable guy, he is the Ron Weasley of the group, the best friend of the hero always in his shadow. All he really wants is to get with fellow co-worker Mara. These are some fun things that could've been played with if they gave this Zed working with Tessler plot more time. Only they don’t let it last long enough for it to go anywhere, they gave it an episode before he does the right thing. So in the end Zed is still a nice guy, he just didn’t have to suffer to reaffirm he is that.
The thing that pushed this episode was the sacrifice of Lux. Lux pops in and saves our pair of heroes from the nondescript gangs. She is a femme fatale and Beck is instantly smitten. He chose to focus more on the femme part and not the fatale. She is grey like her suit so it comes to as no surprise when she turns on them. The show keeps reminding us that Beck and Tron are fighting a “revolution”. They make it sound like there are more like them, only we have yet to see any of these other revolutionaries. “Identity” doesn't show us any of those but we do see the power of Tron. Him being alive is actually a big deal and causes Lux to sacrifice herself for the greater good, in another beautiful scene. It was all a bit of a shock as she goes down Boromir style.The show earned that moment.
C+ - Still looking for that balance. If you find the chase I liked on YT or in gif form check it out.
Young Justice S1 Ep21 “Image”
Of all the episodes that Young Justice was going to re-air “Image” was at the top of my list. This was part of a spat of episodes that largely focused on a single character. The previous episode “Coldhearted” looked at Kid Flash, “Image” takes a look at the character of M'gann M'orzz aka Miss Martian. The team is sent into Qurac to figure out how exactly Queen Bee, ruler of the neighboring Bialya, is manipulating Qurac’s President into letting Bialya annex Quarc. On the way there the team saves the Logan Animal Sanctuary, run by Marie Logan and her son Garfield.
When toy images for Young Justice: Invasion started popping up it was obvious that the team would be going through some cosmetic transformations between S1 and S2. Other than Aqualad looking like he has played to much Halo the most obvious changes came from Miss Martian. Gone was her long red hair, replaced by short bob cut. Hairstyle alone isn’t a major red flag.
“Happy New Year” marked the start of Young Justice S2 titled Invasion. It started out just about where "Auld Acquaintance" left off, but then we shifted to Gotham sewers and characters were different. Suddenly 5 years had passed and the team has changed, new members: Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, Bumblebee were added. Other had been replaced Robin (Dick Grayson) became Nightwing and the mantle of Robin was now worn by Tim Drake (Robin #3). Others had changed in subtler ways. Miss Martian and Superboy were no longer a couple. Superboy now seemed better in control of his anger. Miss Martian though was now a by the book, cold tactician in the field and not the green constantly perky person from season 1.
In season 2 episode 2 “Earthlings” we saw a startling example of what Miss Martian was capable of. We had been told she was more powerful than her Uncle, The Martian Manhunter, but other than her powers causing a mess in “Failsafe” they never seemed all that powerful. Until we see her force choke/mind crush a Krolotean, leaving him in what appears to be a catatonic state. It was one of the darkest things the show had done since “Failsafe”. Than she did it again in “Alienated” and again in “Beneath”. She was starting to create quiet the body count.
This obvious misuse of her powers was not lost on Superboy. Who ended the relationship because of this. Only after she tried to go in his head and make him forget that he was even angry with her. This brings Miss Martian to tears and she claims she is sorry but is it for what she did or is she sorry for getting caught?
All of these changes in her personality make a lot of sense when you look back at “Image”. Like her names implies Miss Martian is from Mars. While on Mars she watched plenty of Earth TV sent by Uncle J'onzz, in particular the show Hello Megan who was played by Marie Logan. When she comes to Earth and joins the team she adopts the name Megan and becomes that character. Appearance and catch phrase, I had a running count of how many times she uttered “Helloo Megan” in a given episode, it made her character annoying. She initially suggests the name of Connor to Superboy, which at the time seemed like a funny Wisemen way to just give him a name. In “Image” we and the team learn that in the show exists and the character of Megan also had a boyfriend named Connor who bares a certain resemblance to Superboy. Looking back it gives everything a very sinister tone.
Later on in the action portion of the episode Miss Martian has another run in with Psimon, who threatans to expose her true White Martian form. Something the Light would use as leverage against her later on. This is the only the other time than “Failsafe” that we see Miss Martian as incredibly powerful, she mind curshes Psimon and puts him in a coma. This was the first time we saw her do this, the gravity of what she did was lost on me at the time and it wasn’t nearly as brutal as the ones to come.
Who is M'gann M'orzz really? Was she inspired by the character of Megan Wheeler or is that just a cover for something darker.
B Go Watch Young Justice.
Newsroom S1 Ep02 "News Night 2.0"
News Night is getting revamped and with it their story structure. It can all be summed up in a abbreviation. that makes no sense. I was afraid that Sorkin would use real events and then just use his characters to comment on them, which does a little bit. This week's news story surrounds around the Arizona immigration bill SB 1070. Other than Maggie yelling about how “illegals” deserve a better adjective the show largely uses the bill as context for the changes going on in the show.
Change is hard, this is made worse by the inexperienced crew MacKenzie is running with. News Night was going to have Arizona Governor Jan Brewer until a quasi boyfriend from Maggies past made an offscreen appearance and sends her to CNN leaving the team scrambling for a band-aid. The band-aid is them running a panel of deeply unqualified panelists which include a Miss USA 2nd runner up, a militia member, and a professor from the University of Phoenix. It bombed. It wasn’t unwatchable awkward, it still had that nice trainwreck quality that gets you looking at crashes on the freeway.
Newbies aren’t the only ones in conflict as Will with his mediawhore personality tries to reconcile doing the news while being hip in the viewership. If MacKenzie and to a lesser degree Charlie are Wills angels than the numbers guy is clearly the devil on the other shoulder. Telling Will to run with a quote from Sarah Palin and NOT take a shot at her to get in the good graces of conservatives. Will goes behind MacKenzies back and gets the segment in under her nose leading to an even more awkward show.
MacKenzie is also on the hunt to fill her informative news show with more information. This hunt leads her to Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn). She wants to give her 5 minutes a day to tell America what is going on in the economy and look good while doing it. Don’t worry she isn’t going after her for her looks, Sabbith is a qualified pundit...who happens to be Olivia Munn. This is the first bit of un-doe eyed idealisim from her character, recognizing that viewers will more readily take in information if it comes from someone like Munn. The whole scene was ok with a nice undercurrent of bitchyness but didn’t seem that important other than introducing us to the character of Sabbith and letting it be known that people don’t like Will and think he cheated on MacKenzie. Munn did a good job the inital unease while appropriate seems a unneeded. She isn’t going to be a main player but popping in for a scene or two doesn't seem to bad.
These changes also included ones to their email. Which leads to MacKenzie sending an embarrassing email about how Will and her broke up. Turns out she ripped out his heart and turned him into the ass he now is. Which she is shocked to find out people consider him an ass , not gruff but lovable and that people think he cheated on her and not the other way around. Much to Wills dismay who throws a fit in the middle of the office.
The show really came together in the final 15 minutes of “We Just Decided To”. The opposite is true for “News Night 2.0”. MacKenzie once again gives a impassioned speech about pulling Will up and making him into the leader she thinks he is. With only two episodes aired this may not be a pattern, if it becomes one is the problem. The newbies are all drinking their sorrows away at a cheap karoke bar with the Jim-Maggie-Don plotting continues. Sorkin seems dead set in making Will McAvoy a “nice guy” even if the rest of the characters don’t know it we do.. Having him charitably offer to pay for an illegal immigrants taxi bill. Why can’t he be a bruised animal, a scareed puppy but at the same time a ass who likes to be watched?
Sorkin seems to have replaced his walk and talk styling to put everyone in a room and have them argue. Predominantly this means arguing in front of Neal’s (Dev Patel) desk. How dose he blog about the news and not all the juicy workplace gossip?
C+ Still extremely watchable and entertaining but it didn’t give me that same rush as before...probably went to far into fanboy land last week.
Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes S2 Ep10 "Prisoner of War"
Do you remember when Captain America was replaced by a Skrull? Neither do I but we get to see the swap happen. The Skrull have been slowly infiltrating Earth society and that includes taking out heroes and villains. These humans have to be put someplace and it is there we see Captain America sporting Jack Shephard levels of beard stubble. Two months in and he has yet to break despite the Skrulls best attempts.
The characterization of Captain America was spot on here. He is supposed to be the best of us he was the right choice to put in the prison. It wouldn’t work if it were anyone else. Seeing him lead this rag tag group was enjoyable even if it was slightly truncated due to time.
This was a bit of a filler episode, but a necessary the stories of the prisoners needed to be referenced at some point.
C+ A good show continues to be good shocking I know.
Ultimate Spider-Man S1 Ep12 "Me Time"
Spider-man on his own. No SHIELD, no stupid SHIELD Squad. Just Spidey on his own. And Doc Oct finally leaving the lab! All the things I’ve been waiting for. To bad 2nd grade level logic is what set up Spider-man and his “Me Time”.
It’s the weekend and Spider-man doesn't want anything to do with Nick Fury, SHIELD, Supervillains and his friends. Just him by himself. Of course they cut to him sliding in, playing a guitar in an all too short reference to Risky Business. Only he is being watched by Nick Fury. O the trust they lack it. This of course makes Spider-man angry and he complains to Fury about it. Who uses sound logic to deflect any of Spider-man's complaints pointing out that it is for his Aunt May, someone he should want to protect. In the end Spider-man is angry and logic doesn't work because the story needs him to be alone. They set Spider-man up as clearly a step above Nova and the team but not quite Ironman level, he should understand the need for these things. His most well known quote is about RESPONSIBILITY!! So when they have him be angry for no reason it was rather infuriating.
Doctor Octopus does show up. Forced into the field by Osborn due to threats of being cut out. Octopus is always a fun character to see fight Spider-man and to a large degree Ultimate Spider-man makes it an enjoyable fight. It is all the stuff not involved in the fight that is terrible.
D+ If I can’t invest or enjoy the characters why the hell would watch just for the fight scenes. DBZ managed to do this.