The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Dexter - Some Spoiler Free Thoughts



Like "Weeds," I was a late comer to "Dexter." It had been on my list for a while, but I just, somehow, managed to miss it. Eventually, several people I respect raved about it, so I decided to check it out. I watched the first four seasons over the course of a month, and then got up to the penultimate episode of season five the night before the finale aired, and I loved it.

The first season fired on all cylinders. I loved the cast, loved the characters, and loved the plot. The revelations were stunning without ever feeling forced and contrived. We were introduced to this abnormal protagonist and his city. A Miami that makes Gotham City look like Candy Land in comparison. As the season slowly unfolded, we learned just who Dexter Morgan was, and the elements and tragedies that made him what he is.

The second season is, arguably better, arguably not as good. It depends on when you ask me. Personally, I loved it, and I flip flop often on which of the two opening seasons I think is stronger. This is a season about Dexter seeking a soul mate, and understanding. The first season ends with the one person who would understand him dead, but along comes someone new. Someone who can make him feel like a person. This, as can be expected, also ends badly. But that's a theme of the series, Dexter looking for someone to open up to.

Season three is about Dexter making his first real friend. Yes, he has his sister; he has his co-workers; and he has his fiance and future stepchildren; but he's never had an actual friend. In this season, he finds a friend and someone to mentor just as he was once mentored by his adoptive father. But power corrupts, and this all goes badly. At the same time, Dexter learns that life is worth living when he finds out he's going to be a father. I enjoyed this season, but not as much as the first two.

Season four is my personal favorite season, it was just perfect. In the fourth season, Dexter meets another serial killer who is a town hero, a family man, a pastor, and seemingly well adjusted. Under an alias, Dexter gets close to him, but doesn't kill him in order to learn how to balance his life as a killer and his life as a family man. He pays for this. Dearly.

Season five, well, I almost feel like I am being unfairly harsh. Nothing following up the fourth season could live up to that. I liked it, don't get me wrong, but it was easily the weakest of the series. But even weak "Dexter" is stronger than almost anything else on television. I can't really discuss this season without spoiling the previous one. But Dexter pays for his biggest mistake of the previous season, and learns to deal with the great tragedy of his life.

I think what is the most brilliant thing about "Dexter" is that it makes us, the viewer, wrestle with our own morality. We root for Dexter. We want him to win. Most of his victims are terrible, evil people. Murders and killers. The worst society has to offer. Creatures the world would be better off without. We take a perverse glee every time Dexter cuts one of them up, and we feel that justice has been done. Then, afterwards, we calm down and ask ourselves if this is actually justice. Should we be rooting for this guy? We all have our own inner savage, our own dark passenger, to one extent or another. Is this a good thing? Probably not.

What is morality? What is justice? What is revenge? What is evil? "Dexter" asks all these questions and lets us answer for ourselves. And that's good television.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Update

And now, until season eight is announced, "Weeds" is over. Not that my reviews got any comments anyway. These days, it seems I need to say something nasty about the new "ThunderCats" cartoon to get any comments. So, on that note... ThunderCats is a big pile of shark jizz blasted into Osama bin Laden's rotting, fish bait corpse. ;)

"Young Justice" reviews will continue, I'm having fun with those. I am also going to review season six of "Dexter." Expect a post about how I feel about the first five seasons any day now.

I've been re-reading the Clone Saga, that infamous era of the Spider-Man comics. I have the first two graphic novels, and I am considering reviewing those also. I haven't decided yet.

I have also started watching "Arrested Development" for the first time. Maybe I'll review that, maybe I won't. I have yet to decide.

In any case, I have a big mouth, I'm an opinionated bastard, and I'll always have something to say.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Do Her/Don't Do Her



And season seven of "Weeds" comes to an end. While the episode as a whole may not have been the bang that previous season finales were, the episode itself ends on a bang. I will go more into detail on reviewing episodes by themselves and the entire season as a whole shortly.

For Silas, the white hot anger passes early on in the episode and then he realizes that he did wrong. That he shouldn't have used Stevie as a weapon. So, Andy takes him to a funeral for a friend and the two exchange words and realize what is truly important. Silas and Nancy, shortly after, reconcile.

Speaking of reconciliations, Nancy and Jill finally have it out. All the years of anger and jealousy erupt and the two exchange words that should have been said long ago. But they do have one thing in common, they both love Stevie. And Jill has always been jealous of Nancy and found living one day of her life to be thrilling. So, again, thanks to wise words from Andy, the two sisters decide to try something different. I'll get to this in a bit.

Shane and the detective have their conversation, and none of Shane's lies and manipulation seem to work anymore. The detective's former stepson hates him, and finally... to protect Nancy, Shane decides to give the detective the one thing he wants. A surrogate son. Himself. Shane secretly joins the NYPD.

The episode ends, two months later, with Nancy buying a grow house for Silas to do whatever he wants with, on a compound that the entire family will live on together in Connecticut. Jill, along with her two creepy twin daughters and Stevie have moved out from California to participate in the family business. All seems happy until a sniper nearby aims his gun at Nancy's head and the episode fades to black and we hear a bang.

I thought it was a pretty good episode. Not as good as the second, fifth, and sixth season finales, but I enjoyed it. It said a lot about being in a family, making compromises, and how we can say and do the harshest things in white hot anger, and how we go about fixing things once that white hot anger has passed. It was a very universal episode.

I thought Dmitri was written out in a fairly weak manner. He was there all season, we barely learned anything about the guy, and he is arrested off screen and sent to prison for five to ten years for stealing a crate full of lobster tails. Okay. It makes me ask what the point of the character was in the first place.

But the thing everyone is talking about is that last shot. And I mean the shot. Who was the shooter? I'm leaning toward someone working for the Mexican mafia. The Reyes Cartel may have mostly been shut down, but that would never have happened without Nancy. Esteban may have died in prison, but we never heard what happened to Guillermo. I believe that he is in prison and while he was definitely not the sniper, it's possible the sniper was someone acting on his orders. He hated Nancy. She sent him to prison twice, and he did vow to kill her.

The other suspect, the popular one, is Tim Scottson. The son of Peter Scottson, the crooked DEA agent that Nancy briefly married and, for all intents and purposes got killed. This was back in season two, and we haven't seen Tim since season three. But Tim hated Nancy and was very aggressive and even violent. So, while it's less likely in my mind, I do believe it's possible.

As for season seven, while I liked most of the episodes individually, as a whole the season was the most disjointed. I'm not saying it was bad. The good outweighed the bad, in my opinion, but it could have been better. Subplots came and went, and it was very episodic. And then there were things that were outright pointless.

Take Dmitri and his sister. We never learned a thing about them. Dmitri didn't do much this season, except do business with Nancy and do Nancy. We never learned what his deal was. Why he had all those grenades and explosives. I thought he was connected to the Russian mob. But we never learned a thing. And then there was his sister, Nancy's ex-cellmate. How did she get out of prison? She mentioned making a deal. What was the deal?

The other flaw was I don't think they took advantage of New York City as their setting. In the first three seasons, Agrestic felt like a character as much as a setting. So did Renmar and Tiajuana in seasons four and five. And America itself felt like a character in the sixth season road trip. But New York City? I felt they could have set this anywhere. The only time it felt like NYC was when Doug was working on Wall Street. Granted, I know they didn't film this in New York, but still.

I give season seven a B. Will there be a season eight? Well, the show has yet to be renewed, but I suspect it will be. But, if this is it... good-bye Nancy, may you rest in piece.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Qualitative Spatial Reasoning



Say what you will about "Weeds" but every single season always builds up to a fantastic close. In the penultimate episode of the season, we are left on the edge of our seats, biting our nails waiting to see what happens next.

In the previous episode, Nancy and Silas had their big split. This conflict has been brewing for some time. Throughout season six and through out the entire seventh season. This time the final straw came when Nancy (correctly) had a rival drug gang taken down by the cops. Silas, who has been thinking with his dick for since he met Emma (Michelle Trachtenberg) has now struck out on his own as Nancy's direct competitor.

Things go bad when Nancy's fuck buddy, Dmitri, without telling her has his friends violently rob Heylia and Dean as they are driving in to deliver a new shipment of MILF to Silas... and things spiral out of control from there.

- Nancy wants to return the MILF and end this.
- Silas wants to hit Nancy back and hit her hard.
- Emma wants to hand Nancy over to the cops and seems to be doing so.

A lot happened in this episode, but it is near impossible to critique the plot points without knowing where everything is headed. I am usually pretty good at predicting the directions movies and TV shows will take, but "Weeds" always manages to surprise me with it's finales. I really have no idea what to say, or what to call.

However this episode was masterful and bringing the classic humor "Weeds" was always known for and for being suspenseful. The season finale airs tomorrow night, and I will shortly after post a review of the episode and the overall season.

So stay tuned, same stone time, same stoned channel.

TGS - A Regretful Retrospect


Note: This entry is about "The Gargoyles Saga" fanfiction project. Not "The Goliath Chronicles" and not the original series.

First of all, let me preface this by saying, I have a huge amount of respect for most people who worked on "The Gargoyles Saga"... well, not for Sobotka or Revor. It's very hard to write by committee, and for the most part, with a few exceptions here and there, it was cohesive well hashed out.

But I was recently reflecting on the first two seasons of TGS, and felt there were still a lot of flaws. No one's fault really.

It was very ambitious, and I'm surprised TGS has lasted as long as it has. I know some are still trying to keep it going, and more power to them. But they've been saying this for over five years now, and I'll admit, even if they ever do materialize, I won't be taking a look at it.

But anyway, looking back, there are things I think should have been done differently, or not at all. Let's see.

I'm only going to handle the first two seasons here. Season three was a train wreck with some of us pulling the season in one direction, and Sobotka pulling it in another. Some of us wanted to give TGS a pair of testicles like the original cartoon had, and Sobotka was saying things like "You can't have Thailog do that, it's mean!" I wanted to delve into the conflict between Angela and Demona, while Sobotka wanted the gargoyles to fight robot ninjas. You can see the behind the scenes tug of war as you read those stories. But, since more people are familiar with the first two seasons, the first two seasons are what I shall cover.

The Disbanding of the Quarrymen: I just thought it was too easy. The Ku Klux Klan has been around for over a hundred years, and we know Greg planned to keep the Quarrymen around well into 2198. And then we replaced them with these terrorists... I think they were called Phoenix Rising, which only lasted two episodes before we realized they were dull. But, the Quarrymen played an important part in the gargoyle/human dynamic. Once they were taken down, all that was left was PIT really. It was between PIT and people who didn't care either way. Too easy, too simple.

And, I have to point the finger at one individual here. This writer had a massive ego, and it shines through when their pet characters, the Harrison brothers are the main players in the downfall of the Quarrymen. John Castaway is reduced to being a supporting character in the story, and Jason Canmore has a half a page cameo, if at that.

Okay, George and Richard Harrison are brothers who join the Quarrymen, one realises gargoyles aren't bad, and goes up against his brother who is a hardcore gargoyle hater and Quarryman... sound familiar? This should have been Castaway and Jason's story. Seriously.

By God I hated the way the Quarrymen were used, playing second fiddle to some geek and his half fairy brother. Then they get wiped out and replaced with a bland, generic rip off. And when they were used, they were every bit the same as "The Goliath Chronicles" Thugs R Us... and Castaway was a raving lunatic. Just like in TGC. TGS made no attempt to get away from that, even though getting away from TGC was one of the original mission statements of the series.

And hey, the Quarrymen were all about protecting humanity from the demons and the monsters, from their twisted point of view anyway. They should have taken part in fighting the Unseelie Court as well... not teamed up with the gargoyles though. That would never have happened.

At the end of that short story arc, the police disbanded the Quarrymen and wouldn't allow them to reform... because the authorities have every right in the world to disband organizations they don't like, regardless of Constitutional rights. That's exactly the same reason why Barack Obama had the Tea Party disbanded and outlawed... remember when that happened?

Counselor Demona Troi: Ah, the controversial one. I'm sorry, but I do not believe for even a second that Demona would stop plotting against humanity just because Angela yelled and waved a finger in her face. I just don't. Demona is too fanatical in her hatred of humans, blaming them for her misery, she's too far gone at this point. She loves Angela yes, but Demona has always been her own worst enemy. It's a fundamental part of her character. She's more likely to use Angela's very existence to justify further plots against humanity. Protecting her daughter from them. Hell, the existence of the Quarrymen proves her point in a lot of ways... oh wait, they were removed after only a month or so... how nice, that makes everything much more convenient. Oh, and she suddenly became a chocoholic too... gee, I wonder where that idea came from.

I mean, it wasn't half way through season one, and she's sitting down with the Manhattan Clan to join them in their Christmas feast. Um... I don't think so. On the timeline, this is maybe two months after she tried to commit mass genocide. And why? Because Angela in TGS was a stupid see-you-next-Tuesday and threw a fit to have her there.

For better or worse (usually for worse), Demona is easily the character who has the most variety in fan interpretations. Check out most fics, everyone has their own, very different take on Demona... honestly, I don't think some of these people quite get the character. But, for a fic series that truly wanted to carry on the spirit of the TV series, you can't de-fang your greatest antagonist, replace her with an evil fairy card-carrying villain, and have her befriend a hippie artist and tell her "I love you."

I really never get the logic behind this fast track redemption. Even the newer flashbacks were added just to show "hey, look, she's not so bad. She was friends with Nostradamus!" It's about a hair's width away from "Springtime for Hitler" played straight.

When I became Head of Edits, halfway through production on the third season, I slammed down the gauntlet and said "we are making Demona the primary antagonist again!" and believe me, I did not allow that to be put up to a vote (I would have lost if I had). Had things gone differently, and season four and five of TGS been written, you would have seen a Demona more in line with the actual canon Demona. I would have tried to make it stick for as long as I could, even though the TimeDancer stories that took place in the future pretty much destroyed a lot of what should have been done with her.

Is it too extreme to say "The Goliath Chronicles" did better with Demona than TGS did? Because I think I will say that.

The Unseelie War: A great idea on paper. I just think it could have been executed better. The material in the first season, particularly Nicholas Maddox's "friendship" with Lexington and how he used and manipulated and mutilated him, was pure gold. There was a lot of promise in the second season. But well, we were all amateur writers.

First and foremost, Madoc Morfryn was not Goliath's enemy. He was an adversary. But look at Goliath's conflict with Demona, or Xanatos,or Thailog, or the Hunters. Madoc doesn't even compare. The only reason he wanted to kill Goliath and Elisa was because he was afraid of a prophesy saying a union between gargoyle and human would one day destroy him. It was not personal. It had no drama. Yes, Madoc had a great conflict with Merlin, that was personal. And his conflict with Oberon was okay, even if not touched on often.

Also, Madoc was as powerful as Oberon, and his legions of followers could have overwhelmed the world easily, but they just sat around a lot. Yeah, there was nothing stopping him from just appearing at the Eyrie Building and going Dragonball Z on the place during the day. They just didn't feel like it.

Honestly, Madoc's powers should have returned slowly, and the entire Unseelie Court should not have gathered all at once. There should have been a slower build up. Let the Unseelie slowly come out of hiding, they are waiting for their powers to fully return, and then, when the armies are finally gathered, when Madoc's power is at its peak, then he'd attack the world.

I think "The Darkest Hour" and "The Rising" should have been one single event.

And Jesus Christ, there should have been a major casualty. It was a war. Greg Weisman killed off the Magus cause he felt the events of "Avalon" were a war. And war has a cost, and that cost has to be painful. But no, it ended with a broken arm, and new clan members.

I'll admit, I was gung-ho about the Unseelie War when the ideas were proposed and we began producing it. Then it got bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger... and then Madoc became the main character of TGS altogether.

Gargoyle Culture: It just seems to me like the gargoyles lost their culture. They were picking up more and more human customs. In the future they were raising their hatchlings like humans, instead of communally like gargoyles. But, alas, a lot of the writers didn't much understand what they were writing about.

But then again, I have noticed that a lot of fans seem to want to "Christianize and civilize" gargoyles in their fics. More often than not, they are turned into what I have dubbed: "Humans With Wings." To be fair, this isn't just a problem with TGS. Just about every single fan writer and fan artist has been guilty of this.

It's kind of creepy, because it smacks of a different kind of prejudice. Looking different is okay, but thinking fundamentally different is not.

Brooklyn's Kids: Ah, the twins. Graeme and Ariana. I hated them. They were annoying stereotypes. Hated Sata too, I thought she was beyond dull. That being said, I enjoyed our first glimpse of Katana, Nashville and eventually Tachi in the actual canon, and hope to see more.

The names there made no sense. "Sata" is not Japanese for one thing. It would be "Seta"... and that is not a real word anyway. The closest translation to English would be "Was." And the names Graeme and Ariana? Those are human names! Not gargoyle names... and there was no thought put into them. Where did the names come from? Back in 1997, when this project was being considered and discussed for the first time, someone who didn't even become a TGS staffer threw those names out there at random in the Station Eight Comment Room, and someone on TGS liked those names and stuck them in TGS.

Keep in mind, this was before Greg Weisman revealed the names Katana, Nashville, Tachi and Fu-Dog. But he did reveal them months before the TGS stories went live, and there was time to change them. While I understand TGS wanting it's own identity, and won't begrudge them that for new characters... I thought the pot shots that first story took at the name "Fu-Dog" were completely disrespectful towards the man who created all this in the first place.

"I still like 'Fu-dog,'" Ariana said, coming a little closer, looking shyly at Hudson. "It's cute."

Graeme snorted. "And I still say it sounds like it came from a really cheap Japanese cartoon."

"You LIKE cheap Japanese cartoons!"

"Yeah, but --"


How disrespectful is that? That quotation was from the TGS story, "Out of Joint Part Two."

Oh, what did TGS call the gargoyle beast? Nudnik. That's right... Nudnik. Why? I don't know. Yeah... that's so much better than Fu-Dog. I can only conclude that certain people did not know what a Fu-Dog was.

Nashville? Well, when we saw him in the canon, he was wearing a United States Navy t-shirt. Considering his father is named Brooklyn and if you know anything about the navy, especially in the Pacific Theater, you can figure this out. Tachi? Consider the name Katana.

Oh yeah, and in TGS, there was that one time that "Graeme" defeated Sekhmet, the Egyptian Goddess of War with... bubblegum. You can thank Stephen "You can't have Thailog do that, it's mean!" Sobotka for that one.

"Requiem:" First off, this was a beautiful story in concept. Unfortunately, it gave way too much away, and tied a lot of hands. Angela and Broadway still alive well, well into the future. Random lines thrown out, and characters we needed to shoehorn into seasons four of "TimeDancer" and even season five (when we were planning it). It also cemented the notion that gargoyles would start having nuclear families, and I've already gone on about that. Why? To add some very contrived tragedy to Demona and Macbeth choosing to commit suicide (because her latest mate, Blandy McBlandbland died), because she would be leaving behind a young hatchling she had been raising.  Angela was dying, so she insisted on Demona raising an orphaned hatchling... Demona had no daughter, this hatchling had no parents. Um... gee, you would think this is why gargoyles had communal parenting to begin with? But what do I know, I only watched the show.

David "Mr. Sappy Good Guy" Xanatos: This was "The Goliath Chronicles" version of the character... to the core. In fact, the reason I left TGS... well, there were a lot of reasons, but the final straw came when there seemed to be a full on staff uprising because I decided to depict Xanatos as an amoral, manipulative schemer. I did not typo. Portraying him the way the show did was bad, but having him throwing barbeques for the gargoyles while wearing an apron that says "MONEY TO BURN" is good. Okay, okay, that apron is kind of funny, but you know what I mean. Wait... no it's not. Let's just say I felt extremely vindicated when Xanatos appeared in the comics, and was being portrayed as... an amoral, manipulative schemer who did sic Coldsteel, Coyote, and Steel and Iron Clan robots on the gargoyles. Extremely vindicated.

The Wrong Focus: Goliath ceased to be the main character entirely. While he did get some focus, most of it centered on Brooklyn and Angela. Brooklyn had just returned with Not-Katana and the two really annoying twins so I get why they were explored, but they shouldn't have dominated. Angela became who everyone wanted to kidnap, plus her overnight reform of Demona Troi. But really, and especially in the second season, the Unseelie Court became the villain protagonists of the series in all but name. They dominated. Goliath went from being the main character to a supporting character, albeit an important one, but still. In retrospect, I contributed to this one back in the day because I liked Goliath a lot less than I do now. I loved Demona even if, back then, I hated what had been done with her. I was a big fan of Brooklyn also. I'd rather not step on any toes, but before I left TGS, there was a story being planned (or at least talked about) that would have been about the passing of the Gargoyles Minority Protection Act. Yes, I wrote a story about that years after the fact, but it was not that story. For starters, in the TGS one, Demona was still a good guy (this might have been changed had my plan for her in season four and five gone as I wanted), and Goliath didn't sacrifice his life.

Lack of Shakespeare: A lot of TGS staff members didn't know Shakespeare all that well. Some did, a little bit more was brought in, but just as much was shut out or shut down. There was also a desire among some staff members to bring in Prospero from Shakespeare's "The Tempest", and he almost was... then those staff members left, and the ones who remained on staff de-Shakespeared Prospero... they removed his magic, his immortality, Ariel and Caliban, and made his "alias" his real name because they couldn't be bothered to read the play or watch a production due to lack of interest.

Don't get me wrong. I liked a lot of what was in the first two seasons. Just looking back in retrospect, it could have been done better, and that is without factoring in what Greg revealed and what was in the comics. That and I just like Greg Weisman's take on things much better.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Terrors



And "Young Justice" returns in a big way with what has become a staple of Greg Weisman shows, the prison episode. Okay, I know a lot of shows utilize this, but Weisman really, really loves this trope. "Leader of the Pack" and "Turf." "J Is For Jewel." "Group Therapy" and "Opening Night." All good stuff. Great stuff

Batman sends Superboy and Miss Martian undercover as the Terror Twins inside Belle Reve Penitentiary to find out why all the ice villains from the pilot are there. Well, Icicle Jr and Mr. Freeze both demanded their lawyers transfer them there from, well, easier places to be incarcerated. As the episode ends, Superboy and Megan finally kiss (AND IT DIDN'T TAKE THEM THIRTEEN OR SIXTY-FIVE EPISODES!) as we discover the whole escape attempt was a ruse to have Amanda Waller removed as warden, and for the Light's own agent, Dr. Hugo Strange to take her place.

I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. I still don't know jack about DC Comics, but I enjoyed both Icicles. I kept on wondering who Icicle Sr was voiced by, it kept nagging at me... and, OF COURSE! James Remar! I could have sworn Icicle Jr was voiced by James Arnold Taylor, maybe because I was getting a Harry Osborn vibe from him at times... son trying, in vain, to please his sociopathic father. Guess Junior there doesn't take the Code of Icicle seriously. *ducks as tomatoes are thrown* I could not resist.

I do admit, I am curious as to why Superboy was chosen for this mission. He was well programmed, don't get me wrong. But he was also practically born yesterday and found in a Cadmus lab. That doesn't seem to be ideal to me. But looking through the rest of The Team's male line up, I can't think of anyone else that would fit.

Miss Martian was far less grating in this episode. Don't get me wrong, I am not one of the Miss Martian haters, but she is my least favorite member of The Team. But it was nice to have less of her 50's sitcom attitude here, and I admit that I enjoyed Superboy calling her on it in their therapy session with Dr. Strange. I'm not saying it's bad. In fact, I am sure there will be significant pay-off for it. I'm just saying it's not my favorite aspect of the show.

Now, if I may, I need to address some comments I have seen where people say they don't believe that these two characters can possibly be truly in love, and are dismissing it all as poorly thought out. I think they are missing the point. These are teenage hormones. The connection there is that they both think the other one is hot. It's like Romeo and Juliet. They are young, they dig each other, and they might think they're in love. But it is all hormones mixed with a not fully matured psyche. Right now this might be the most important thing in the world, just as Romeo and Juliet did, but Romeo and Juliet also died young. Had they lived long enough to mature, they might have seen their tryst and secret marriage as a mistake. Assuming Superboy and Miss Martian survive, I don't see them as a couple, let's say, five years down the line. It's a huge teenage crush, and those tend to be pretty consuming. But that's my analysis and it wouldn't be the first time I was wrong.

Finally, I loved the Riddler's cameo. All the crap he got, all the disrespect, and he was the one who managed to escape. Hope to see him again down the line, but knowing how Weisman loves to lay pipe and plant seeds, I am confident we will.

Great episode.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Une Mére Que J’aimerais Baiser



If you know what the title means, good for you! Things seem to really be coming to a head as we approach the end of the season, and possibly the end of the series. The central, emotional conflict of the season has been between Nancy and Silas, and with this episode, there is a big split.

Silas seems to have fallen hard for Emma, a rival drug dealer who has damaged the Botwin Family's plans. But while Silas struck a business deal with Emma, Nancy manipulated the police into arresting her, and taking her down. So Emma is in jail, and Silas decides to cut ties with Nancy for doing this, never mind his mountain of other issues with her.

What do I think? While I think Silas' many gripes with Nancy are legitimate, in this case he is allowing his dick to do his thinking for him. I don't type this often, but Nancy is right. Especially since the police already had enough intel on Emma's operation that a bust was coming sooner or later anyway.

There was also a subplot with Nancy, Doug, and Andy attending a party in the Hamptons, and Nancy observing a lot of rich people drinking expensive wines for the prestige, so she gave her blend of pot a fancy French name, called it exotic, and managed to make a lot of money selling to these people. Meanwhile, Andy really gets into his act, and gets drunk in the process, making an ass of himself.

It was a very entertaining episode. But we're nearing the end, and judging from history, "Weeds" will climax spectacularly.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Two Shows One Script



So in 1981, there were two Spider-Man cartoon shows on the air. One aired on syndication and had Spidey going solo, while NBC ran "Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends." In both series, the Green Goblin appeared once each. And both scripts had some striking similarities.

The writer of this episode(s) also provided the voice of the Green Goblin in both. That laughing was recorded as he ran away with his paychecks. This is lazier than my previous review of "Weeds."

Monday, September 12, 2011

System Overhead



I know this review is very late, but I have been a bit busy and I haven't had the chance to re-watch the episode. So I apologize for how brief this is. And how lazy it is.

This is the first time all season that Nancy seems to be on top of things. Shane messed up and got arrested, and Silas is an idiot who lets his dick do all of his thinking for him. Nancy not only got Shane out of trouble by concocting a clever lie that was clever and believable, she was going to take her competition out with help from the police.

Then Silas went and made a deal with the competition, and I am sure hilarity will ensue. Actually, all that aside there is a good question as to who made the better deal. Silas' deal makes good business sense, while Nancy's deal takes out a competitor entirely. But, considering what Emma pulled in recent episodes, I'm inclined to agree with Nancy... and Andy's nail gun.

I liked the episode a lot, and it left me eager to see the episode that will air exactly 95 minutes from now. And I promise that next review will be much better thought out and less lazy than this one.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Typical Episode of the 90s Spider-Man cartoon



NOTE: I did not write this. This was written by Hobo-Goblin of the Spider-Man Crawlspace Message Board. And I am reprinting it here for fun. The original can be found here.

(It is a sunny day on the ESU campus. Muscular everyman PETER PARKER spies his one true love, MARY JANE WATSON nearby.)

PETER: There’s Mary Jane. I’m gonna go talk to her!

(We suddenly hear a disembodied voice- PETER’S NARRATION.)

PETER’S NARRATION: Best not to get involved with her. My horrible mutation disease will only drive her away.

PETER: But then again, maybe it won’t be like that. And DAMN, those jeans must be painted on!

PETER’S NARRATION: No, she couldn’t possibly love me. I’d better just not go over there.

(Mary Jane sees Peter looking at her and shouts over to him.)

MARY JANE: (Overacts) Oh Peter! I love you! Ohhhh!

PETER’S NARRATION: Holy crap, you’re golden! Go for it, buddy!

PETER: (Dubious) What?? Wasn’t I just thinking I shouldn’t go over there?

PETER’S NARRATION: Look, just stop talking to yourself before people think we’re Deadpool.

PETER: You mean “Destroypool”.

PETER’S NARRATION: Uh, right.

(Peter starts walking over to MJ, but FLASH THOMPSON blocks his path.)

FLASH: Well, well! If it isn’t “Puny Parker”!

PETER: Flash, I’m more jacked than you. Why do you insist on calling me that?

FLASH: Haw! Look at the scrawny wimp think he’s all big! You’re a wimp who is also scrawny, Parker!

PETER: Out of my way, Thompson!

(Peter throws a punch…which turns into a grab at Flash’s jacket mid-flight. Peter easily hoists Flash over his head. Flash looks down at him and laughs.)

FLASH: HAW! Look at Puny Parker think he’s tough! You’re a weak wimpy wuss!

PETER: (Angry) STAAA-OP MOCKING MEAAAAAAAGH!!!

(Peter throws Flash twenty feet into the air. Flash lands with a violent thud on his head, then just gets back up and starts laughing again.)

FLASH: Ha! Puny Parker can’t even throw me right! What a loser!

(Everyone in the immediate vicinity stops what they are doing to point and laugh at Peter. Peter looks down, fuming.)

PETER’S NARRATION: I’m such an outcast! A handsome, muscular outcast!

(Suddenly, from out of the sky, MORBIUS the Living Vampire swoops down!)

MORBIUS: Bleh! I hunger foar deh plasmah!

PETER: Oh no! My most enduring, implacable foe, Morbius!

(Morbius snatches Mary Jane off the ground and begins to fly away. Peter reaches out to Morbius’ retreating form with a desperate, outstretched arm.)

PETER: (Screams) MAAARY-JAAAAAAA-NE!

(Morbius flies through the city, carrying Mary Jane to his secret hideout. He passes the DAILY BUGLE building. J. JONAH JAMESON and ROBBIE ROBERTSON run out onto the street, seeing Morbius pass overhead. Jonah looks to some nearby cops and shouts at them.)

JONAH: Quick, shoot him with your standard-issue police lasers!

ROBBIE: Jonah, as an outspoken yet reasonable black man who knows his place, I must say that’s a bad idea! They’ll hit the girl!

JONAH: (Not listening) I’ll bet Spider-Man is behind this!

(Detective TERRI LEE walks up behind Jonah.)

TERRI LEE: Jonah, Spider-Man is a good guy!

JONAH: I refuse to listen, Ethnic Jean DeWolff stand-in!

(Meanwhile, SPIDER-MAN is swinging between incredibly poor-looking CGI buildings, trying to catch up with Morbius.)

SPIDER-MAN: If I don’t get there in time, my worst enemy Morbius will hand-suck Mary Jane‘s plasma and possibly send her to the next dimension! I’ve got to hurry!

(Suddenly Spider-Man is surrounded by pink mist and we hear another disembodied voice.)

MADAME WEB: Spi-dah Meah-An...

SPIDER-MAN: Oh go the fuck away.

MADAME WEB: I’m Stan Lee’s wife and you WILL listen to my extremely tedious platitudes!

SPIDER-MAN: Sigh, fine. God!

(Meanwhile, the KINGPIN of Crime watches events unfold on a giant monitor with his lieutenant HERBERT LANDON.)

KINGPIN: Behold the power of cheese, eh Landon?

HERBERT LANDON: Why am I here? Why am I Two-Face?

KINGPIN: (Laughs heartily) Indeed!

(Meanwhile, having endured Madame Web’s banality, Spider-Man arrives at his worst enemy Morbius’ secret hideout.)

SPIDER-MAN’S NARRATION: A perfect place for a trap! I’d better be careful!

SPIDER-MAN: Shut up, narration! You don’t own me!

(Suddenly there’s an explosion. Spider-Man leaps away from it, web-swings through a different setting for a moment, then returns to the Morbius secret hideout backdrop. Spider-Man kicks open a door and finds his worst enemy Morbius inside, with Mary Jane tied to a pillar nearby.)

SPIDER-MAN: MAAARY-JAAAAAAA-NE!

MORBIUS: My secret hideout! How did you find it?

SPIDER-MAN: Let’s just say an old lady told me.

MORBIUS: Very well! Let our epic struggle commence!

(Spider-Man fires a web at Morbius, it sticks to him. He rips it off. Spider-Man jumps at him. Morbius steps aside so Spider-Man just tackles air. Then Morbius tackles Spider-Man and sends the two of them to the ground, rolling back and forth together. Suddenly, we hear another voice from off-screen.)

WOLVERINE: You two girls done foolin’ around?

(Spider-Man and Morbius get up and see WOLVERINE standing there for no reason.)

SPIDER-MAN: What? There’s nothing wrong with two grown men in tight uniforms rolling around on the ground and grasping at each other!

MARY JANE: I’ll say.

WOLVERINE: I’m here for a gratuitous guest appearance! Anyone lookin’ to start trouble? Cuz I got trouble… (unsheathes claws) -RIGHT HERE. And by "trouble", I mean these claws.

MORBIUS: No! I must find a cure for myself and my horrible condition so I won’t bother you anymore!

SPIDER-MAN: I’ll NEVER let you cure yourself, Morbius!

MORBIUS: (Pleading) Why are you so cruel???

WOLVERINE: REH-ARRRRRRRRRRRRH!

(Wolverine unsheathes his claws and charges at Morbius, screaming. Morbius stands perfectly still as Wolverine runs…right past him, keeps going until he reaches a metal pillar that is roughly twenty feet behind Morbius, and slashes at its base repeatedly. Morbius and Spider-Man just stand still and watch him as he keep slashing. Finally, he cuts all the way through and the pillar falls towards Morbius. Morbius raises his arms in apparent shock, but makes no move to avoid it. The pillar falls on Morbius, pinning him to the ground.)

MORBIUS: AH! Noooo! Now I’ll never get to be with my beloved Fel-eeee-sha!

WOLVERINE: Serves ya right. (Looks off-screen) You can take it from here, Blade.

BLADE: (Runs in) KNOWING SPIDER-MAN DOES NOT…MAKE YOU…”COOOOOOL”!

(Spider-Man web-swings away, without Mary Jane, because that’d require the use of NON-stock animation.)

SPIDER-MAN’s NARRATION: Maybe one day I’ll make up for allowing my Uncle Ben to be destroyed by a thug with a laser, but for now…I MUST SWING ON!

THE END

Things To Do...

I've been distracted lately, but I plan to get this place moving at a brisker pace very soon. Here's what I have on my mind.

1. This weekend I'm going to review the most recent episode of "Weeds," before the new episode airs on Monday. I don't want to fall behind.

2. I am planning to watch "The Big Lebowski" with a friend of mine who hasn't seen it before. I'll talk about that a bit, and review the movie. It's a favorite of mine.

3. "Young Justice" is starting up again on September 16th with "Targets" officially airing at last. Since I've already reviewed that, expect me to continue reviewing the series week by week. After the animated abortion that is "ThunderCats" it will be very nice to be reviewing a quality animated series again. I also plan to review "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" episode by episode too.

4. In relation to #2, I plan on doing a lot more movie reviews. Old and new. Hope you like them.

5. This is more a question than a comment, but do any of you who read this care when I blog about something that is not comic book, animation, or geek related? If I were to post a review of the classic movie "All About Eve" would you all even read it?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Artists' Bane

A problem which plagues all artists: what do you do once you've established yourself? There are two main routes, and no matter which way you go, you will have detractors.

First, you can continue doing what made you successful in the first place, with subtle variations. This is the idea behind most procedural TV shows like "Law & Order," and while that's an interesting show and can be entertaining, there's only so much you variation to be found in between the primary events: crime, arrest, trial, verdict. People who dislike these types of art claim that a creator is one note, boring, afraid to try something new, and ultimately, not truly creative.

On the other hand, you can take whatever made you successful and push it out in new directions, or even do something completely different. This I would say is more common in music, where a band will transform itself and its sound over time. Look at the most popular rock band ever, The Beatles, as they transformed from well-groomed suit-clad British blokes singing about holding hands to long-haired bearded hippies singing about the glories of LSD. Of course, critics of this path say that you're abandoning what made you popular and by extension your original fan base, that you've "sold out" or weakened your product by not sticking to what people originally liked you for.

Personally, and I still hope I one day reach a point where I am faced with this dilemma, but while you are damned if you do and damned if you don't, I would choose the second option every time.

The Royal Tenenbaums



I will admit right off the bat, the filmography of Wes Anderson was an acquired taste for me. A friend of mine, as far back as High School loved "Rushmore" while I was rather meh on it. I didn't get it, I didn't appreciate it. That has changed, and I may write a blog entry on "Rushmore" some time, but tonight I am focusing on Anderson's magnum opus, "The Royal Tenenbaums."

With "The Royal Tenenbaums," Wes Anderson turns his lens to the American family, and all the drama that can entail. The Tenenbaums are a dysfunctional family, the parents have been separated for decades, and Royal (Gene Hackman) is a disbarred attorney who has long since moved out of the family's enormous town house. The children, all geniuses and overachievers in their own way, are then raised by Etheline (Angelica Houston), an archeologist. Chas (Ben Stiller) is a financial wizard; Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), is adopted and was a published playwright at 11; and Richie (Luke Wilson) is a tennis prodigy. We are given the family history at the start of the film, then are introduced to the family twenty-two years later. Chas is still a financial wizard, but, having lost his wife in a plane accident is now the paranoid father of two small sons. Margot is married to Raleigh St. Clair (Bill Murray), is depressed and hasn't written in years; and Richie, after having a nervous breakdown on the tennis court a couple of years earlier is traveling the world by boat. Still hanging around is Eli (Owen Wilson) a long time family friend from across the street who is now a literature professor and successful novelist. Etheline is being wooed by her accountant, Henry (Danny Glover) and when Royal gets wind of this, he embarks on a bid to win his family back after not speaking with them for years.

Wes Anderson has an unusual style of film making that has been static throughout his career. Highly theatrical, almost in the style of a play, he presents the story of the Tenenbaums to us as if it were taken directly from a novel, so much so that if you were to read the few sentences that are visible in the book that accompanies the beginning of each "chapter" you would see that the written narrative follows the action to the letter.

Anderson favors primary colors, and characters that are identifiable by very distinct appearances. Chas and his sons have their red track suits they always wear, Margot wears the clip in her hair, Izod dresses from the 80's and dark eyeliner surrounding her eyes, Richie wears the sweatband around his head, Eli is in cowboy gear and Raleigh looks like a Freud knockoff. One of the results is that there are varying degrees of recognition for the actor in "real life." When seeing Raleigh, it's easy to forget that it is Bill Murray, and Margot for that matter is so different from how we are used to seeing Paltrow.

Anderson also favors point of view shots, characters looking directly at or addressing the camera, and is also one of the few modern masters in the use of music. The soundtrack to 'The Royal Tenenbaums' features some classic songs (Ruby Tuesday, Hey Jude) but also has some obscure tracks that are bizarre and fit the scene beautifully.

'The Royal Tenenbaums' has a phenomenal cast, and all of the actors are excellent in the film. I get the strong impression that, since Anderson isn't a mainstream film director, A-list actors sign up to work for him because of his alternative vision and his obvious talent.

Coming from a "broken home" I can relate to the high dysfunction of the Tenenbaums as an adult and embrace the story beyond the presentation, despite its highly stylized format. "The Royal Tenenbaums" is a brilliant film that is both emotional and eye-catching, and truly cements Wes Anderson as a talented filmmaker.

The black comedy counterbalanced with the drama of the issues raised in this film left me feeling like I'd witnessed a film event, rather than just another film. I loved every frame of it, from the Alec Baldwin narrated opening, to the final tying up of ends. It never dwelled on melodrama, or the more potentially unsavory elements, and it didn't sink into the schmaltzy "We all love each other" end it could well have. It began perfectly, and it ended perfectly.

I can't recommend this movie more highly. It's a must see for anyone who loves quirky and emotive storytelling, great characters and beautiful dialogue.

The family really reminds me of the family from "Franny and Zooey" (terrific book by the way, totally worth reading). All the people in it are slightly dark and pretentious, and they were all famous at a young age only to have their family torn apart by death and dysfunctionality.

"The Royal Tenenbaums" is one of those movies that you will either get, or you won't. I can totally see why people wouldn't though. It's an extremely slow movie and the comedy is targeted at a generally small audience, many of the characters are unlikable if you don't like the comedy portrayed by them. It's very niche. Very subtle, very tongue in cheek. If you're the type of person who thinks "Mrs. Doubtfire" or "Napoleon Dynamite" are good comedy, you will probably not like this.

I loved this film. Wry, poignant and beautifully understated.