The Life & Times of an Auteur.

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An Old Joke

A junior film executive struts into his supervisor's office at a Hollywood studio. "Good news, boss!" he says. "We got the MPAA to change the rating of the movie from NC-17 to R!"

"How'd you manage that?" asks his boss.

"Well, y'know the ending, where the hero has the passionate sex scene with the love interest?" asks the younger man.

"Sure," replies the executive. "As I recall, that was the part with which they had the biggest problem."

"Yeah, which is why we re-shot it," answers his protegé. "Now, instead of making love to her, he kills her."


MPAA "logic" - Caress a breast? NC-17. Cut it off? R. In the minds of the ratings board, violence is better than sex every time.

Why do I bring this up?

Will Shame change the game for the NC-17 rating? - No, it won't.

Let's not pretend this is an MPAA problem. This is an America problem. Even on most forums, places where people often tear each other apart and make pedophile jokes are not exempt.

It's fine if I post this picture on just about any forum:



But this one would get me banned (NSFW).

Or, to put this into even further perspective, "The Human Centipede" got an R-rating. Think about that.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Get Gellar



I've spent the last hour mulling over this one. I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it. On the one hand, I called the twist with Gellar being dead way back in the first episode of the season. On the other hand, the season has been so thrilling that I do not mind too much. In fact, I might also compare it to the Green Goblin mystery in "The Spectacular Spider-Man." I pretty much called it and how it was done very early on, but that didn't make the story any less thrilling.

I'll also be honest, I don't think Gellar being dead is even going to be the big twist of the season. I think the creative team wanted us to pay attention to this to distract us from something else they're building up to. What could it possibly be? Who knows, but I suspect it's going to involve Debra. Hell, I am sure that this is the season Debra finds out the truth about Dexter. There has been a theme of brothers and sisters all season. Travis and Lisa Marshall, Angel and Jamie Batista, Dexter and Debra Morgan.

I don't think any of us were surprised that Matthews was the one who ordered the cover up of the dead hooker. While he didn't kill her, his career is on the line. Now the question is, will LaGuerta carry out his wishes or allow his career to end so she can take his position. Knowing LaGuerta, she will act in her own self interest, just as she always does.

And then there's the Louis subplot. Turns out he bought the Mannequin Arm piece from the Ice Truck Killer case for his "collection." Where this subplot is going, I am not sure about just yet.

Great episode, three more to do.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Top Twenty Favorite TV Shows of All Time



First of all, here’s what didn’t make the list and why.

Pinky and the Brain: This series was very close to making the list. It was a hair away from making it. But it was just slightly edged out by another show. So, consider this #21 on the list.

Any Star Trek Series: Don’t get me wrong, “Star Trek,” particularly the original series, has a lot of brilliant episodes. But over time, it became less about telling great stories and more about franchising outward. I’ve always considered it to be the Burger King of science fiction, while “Star Wars” is the McDonalds… they are less about telling stories and more pop cultural institutions.

Battlestar Galactica: I’ve never seen an episode, and I’m told I’m missing out.

Berserk: I considered it, but ultimately, I prefer the manga and decided to give the spot to something else.

Buffy & Angel: I love both of these shows, but when they were weak, they were very weak. When they were great, they were genius. Sadly the weaker seasons bumped both shows off the list.

Mad Men: Like “BSG” I’m told I’m missing out. I have seen the first three episodes though, and I do like it.

Avatar the Last Airbender: I like this series. I like it very much. But I don't love it. I don't mind the occasional fling, but I won't go steady with it. I don't think it broke any new ground, but I do think it did what other shows did extremely well.

Any Dr. Who: Never seen any of it, sorry.

20. Titus

Christopher Titus’ semi-autobiographical series was truly one of the great, underrated sitcom comedies. The relationship between Titus and his father, played by Stacy Keach, was my relationship with my father. Right down to my brother’s ability to walk away from conflicts with him while I would stand up to him, and often make mistakes on when to pick and choose my battles.

The series was a black comedy, and it went places that many sitcoms didn’t go. If other shows did go there, it would usually be with “a very special episode.” Not this show. This show adapted the true story of Titus’ mother killing one of her husbands and later committing suicide herself and it made it funny. Let me repeat this, Christopher Titus took his own mother’s suicide and played it for laughs. The fact that it worked is a testament to how brilliant this show was.

19. Black Adder

I love British comedy, I love the works of William Shakespeare, and I love history. This series was the perfect combination of all three. This series was a hard sell for me, because I was not a fan of Rowan Atkinson prior to this. I did not like “Mr. Bean” and I still don’t. But I rented the first season, and it opened with a satire of Richard III. I was sold.

The series is brilliant, especially if you’re well read. There are a lot of jokes in here that the layman is not going to understand. I suppose that makes the series, or at least my write-up of it sound a tad elitist. But it is what it is, especially in later seasons. But I think there is a lot in there to enjoy even if you are not well versed in Shakespeare and British history. The jokes are great, and the timing is perfect.

18. Weeds

You’ve heard me talk about this series. A lot. I’ve reviewed the entire seventh season episode by episode. So, I’ll keep this brief.

If I were to have created a TV series, this would have been it. In fact, when I was in film school, we were pitching ideas for movies or TV, and I suggested a series about an expose on suburbia starring a drug dealing single mother. Then I was asked if I’ve seen “Weeds.” Well, I did later, and I was jealous because Jenji Kohan got to it first and she did it far better than I could.

Mary Louise Parker plays the character of Nancy Botwin to a tee. And the rest of the cast is terrific. It’s a great ensemble piece featuring a lot of funny characters played by great actors. While some people didn’t appreciate the series re-inventing itself every few seasons, I rather like it. It helps the series stay fresh and exciting. The first season dealt with suburbia, seasons four and five dealt with the Mexican border and their drug cartels, season six was the Botwins seeing America, and season seven took place in Manhattan. All the while, Nancy sinks deeper and deeper into the world of crime.

17. Daria

If you went to High School in the 1990’s, then you can relate to this show. This show really caught the culture, and was, honestly, way too smart for MTV. Daria Morgendorffer spun off from “Beavis & Butt-head,” a show that, quite frankly, she was way too good for. While “Beavis & Butt-head” seemed to glorify and revel in crass stupidity, Daria was smart, witty, intelligent, and to this day I’m surprised MTV ever produced it. Smart, witty and intelligent are not in MTV’s vocabulary. But what should we expect from the network that imposed “Jersey Shore,” “Teen Mom,” and “My Super Sweet 16” on the culture.

Daria was a likeable protagonist who approached the idiotic world with the perfect weapon, witty sarcasm. I related to her in High School, and I still relate to her now. Although I like to think I’m more social than she is. Her supporting cast was terrific, and everyone was funny. It was great, character based humor and I don’t suspect we’ll ever see anything quite like it on TV again.

16. Seinfeld

I honestly have no idea what happened here. Jerry Seinfeld is generally not funny. His stand up is weak, and except for this show, I have never enjoyed one of his projects. But, throw him into a writing partnership with the brilliant Larry David, and team him up with three characters to play off of, and that not only saved him, but created the “Citizen Kane” of television sitcoms. Let me clear this up, Jerry is the least interesting character on this show. He’s the comedian and yet he plays the straight man. I can only conclude that he knew this to be the case. George Costanza, Elaine Benes, and Cosmo Kramer made this show what it was. Jerry was simply the glue that held them together.

The series is fairly timeless, I can still watch it and except for a few movie references here and there, and the lack of cellular phones, it plays today as well as it did during the 90’s where it both reflected the culture and influenced it. And it influenced every single sitcom that ever followed it. Seriously, watch a sitcom now, you can trace something in its DNA back to “Seinfeld.”

15. Firefly

I’ve been a fan of Joss Whedon’s work since “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” premiered. It was consistently a brilliant show, but it hit a few bumps in the road in its seven year run, same with “Angel” in its five year run. But along the way was a short lived series whose fans will never let the world forget it, the space western, “Firefly.”

Before he was Richard Castle, Nathan Fillion was Malcolm Reynolds, a once idealistic man who lost his faith in the universe around him. Knowing he was out of place in this world, he decided to gather together a rogue band of misfits and build a life with them, traveling the solar system and doing odd jobs here and there. If the jobs were illegal, well, it was his way of giving the oppressive government the finger.

Space really is the final frontier, and nowhere is that concept truer than in “Firefly.”

14. Cheers

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came. Cheers was the archetypal hangout. If we didn’t have a place like this in our lives, we all wish we did. This series also had the perfect ensemble. Everyone was an archetype as well as a fully realized character in their own right. And they all grew and changed as the series progressed, with one exception.

The first five seasons, especially, are brilliant TV. We watched our two leads, Sam Malone and Diane Chambers’, relationship grow from hate to love back to hate, and go through every emotion in the book. It was hilarious and it never felt forced or dishonest. And everyone was growing around them, especially a relative latecomer to the series, Dr. Frasier Crane. If there was one flaw, it was after Diane left the series; Sam Malone began to regress as a character while everyone continued to grow around him.

Still, it was smart, every episode was funny, and the show knew when it was time to finally bow out. “Cheers” was a huge part of the pop culture, and it did not overstay its welcome, nor did it leave to early. It knew when it was time to go, and it left us feeling nostalgic to this day.

13. South Park

“South Park” is terrific. As “The Simpsons” before it, it changed the face of primetime animation. Unlike “The Simpsons,” the show never declined, in fact with their formula of producing an episode in six days, it has always managed to reflect where we are as a culture and a society and holds a mirror up to us to show us how stupid we’re behaving. Every time something big happens in the news, or in pop culture, I always wonder what “South Park” is going to say about it. It even had me questioning at one point what was worse “Jersey Shore” or al Qaeda.

No one is safe on “South Park,” there are no sacred cows. And honestly, this is a good thing. There shouldn’t be any sacred cows. And anytime a sacred cow is propped up, I think the best thing one can do is to tear it down. And through four foul mouthed fourth graders, “South Park” does this week after week.

12. Married With Children

Once upon a time, this was the most crass and irreverent series on television. And it’s still up there. Meet Al Bundy, a former High School football star who became a poor shoe salesman. Adding to his misery is his lazy, unemployed wife, Peggy, his vapid, bimbo daughter, Kelly, and his scheming, perverted son, Bud. Not to mention his feminist neighbor who hates his guts.

The original title for this show was going to be “Not the Cosbys” and it shows. Where the Cosbys were wholesome, loving, supportive, and so sweet they made you want to puke, the Bundys were the exact opposite. I think every family is dysfunctional, some are just more dysfunctional than others. And it was funny; it was laugh out loud funny.

I prefer the earlier seasons with David Garrison as Steve Rhodes to Ted McGinley’s Jefferson D’Arcy. Steve was the exact opposite of Al, a successful banker, kind of a geek, and utterly whipped by his wife. So it was fun to watch Al slowly, over time, destroy this guy. I didn’t care for Jefferson’s lame “I’m a CIA agent” past. That was around the time the show became a live action cartoon. It was still funny, but it wasn’t the same.

11. The Venture Bros.

In the past, I’ve pitched this show to people by describing it as Greg Weisman getting together with Matt Stone and Trey Parker to make an adult cartoon. “The Venture Bros” is brilliant. Brilliant in its satirical humor, brilliant in its references to comic books, old Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and 60’s 70’s and 80’s music and pop culture. And it’s definitely genius in its overarching story arcs and actual character development.

The theme of the series is failure, and “Venture Bros” presents it in a way that is just sublime. Our protagonist is Dr. Thaddeus “Rusty” Venture, a bitter, self-centered, dick who didn’t live up to the expectations the world had for him. He is far more concerned with getting rich and getting laid than he is with raising his sons, Hank and Dean, or worrying about his arch-enemy, The Monarch, who is probably the only person on the planet just as pathetic as he is.

The show always makes me laugh, and it’s also the sort of show I get together with friends to discuss what happened, and what could possibly be coming up. Like I said, the story arcs are brilliant, and if they’re not pre-planned, they certainly feel like it. A little seemingly throwaway line of dialogue in season one becomes an important plot element by the third or fourth season. It’s just genius, and I would love to work on this show in some capacity.

10. Batman the Animated Series

Before anyone crucifies me for daring to put other animated series ahead of this one, I love this series. I love it. I can and often do pop my DVD in and tune into a random episode when I am in the mood. I thought the seasons that ran on Fox Kids were brilliant. I didn’t care much for it after the move to Kids WB, but before the move, this series was the most groundbreaking thing to happen to television animation since “The Simpsons.”

Before this series came out, action cartoons were terribly animated. Take a look at shows like “Transformers” and “GI Joe” and take a look at Batman’s contemporaries like “X-Men” and “Spider-Man” and look at how cruddy the animation was. There were so many details in the character models that those characters could barely move. I feel for the animators in Korea who had to draw Wolverine’s body hairs over and over. Bruce Timm was a genius; he came in and simplified the designs to allow for fluid movement. And the style of the series was dark and moody. It was the most atmospheric cartoon to ever air on American TV.

The writing was brilliant too. While I greatly prefer overarching storylines and character development, when it came to done in ones, Batman was the best at it. Each episode was packed and told a complete story, with some great character writing. Without this show, American animation wouldn’t be what it is today.

Yes, it did spin off an entire universe of shows, “Superman,” “The New Batman Adventures,” “Batman Beyond,” “Justice League,” Justice League Unlimited” and while I like some of those shows better than others, none of them matched "Batman the Animated Series." They caught lightning in a bottle with “Batman the Animated Series” and created a timeless classic for the ages.

9. The Colbert Report

Every time I tune in, I ask myself just what the hell Stephen is going to do next. This man is dangerous, and dangerous in the good way. Stephen Colbert plays himself, sort of (but not really) as a faux conservative commentator very much in the vein of Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. Like a small child who thinks he’s the center of the universe, and he finds a way to make every story about him.

Whether he’s calling President Obama a “scary black man” or warning us about the danger we are in because of the Bear Agenda, Stephen Colbert is fighting for us. Who doesn’t love that he has his own Super Pac? And I do want to know how many people in Iowa voted for Rick Parry. There are so many segments I can point at and say “look at this, he’s brilliant!” But my all time favorites will always be the “Better Know a District” segments where he sits down with these congressmen and makes them look like the fools that they are, except for Eleanor Holmes Norton who had his number. Of course, he doesn’t do this segment much anymore, I think most of Congress is afraid of him and rightly so.

Stephen Colbert, if there is a god, you are doing that god’s work.

8. Frasier

Spin-offs seldom work, and it’s even rarer that they exceed the series they’ve spun off from. “Frasier” was better than “Cheers.” I loved the ensemble; I loved the premise, and the setting. After Dr. Frasier Crane divorces his wife, Lilith, he leaves Boston and moves back to Seattle where he becomes a radio psychiatrist while trying to re-connect with his father, who he has always had a distant relationship with.

The writing was funny but mature at the same time. This was definitely a sitcom for grownups. Not that you need to be well read to appreciate it, but it helps. I probably knew more about what Frasier and Niles were talking about than what Martin was talking about when he went on about sports. Niles was my favorite character in the series, and I thought he had the best lines in the series, maybe even on television. His wit and sarcasm still slays me even to this day.

When “Frasier” ended, I don’t think the void has ever been filled. Most sitcoms since then seem to be voids of vapidness. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some gems since then, like “Arrested Development.” But nothing quite like “Frasier.” I hope this is rectified.

7. Dexter

I was a latecomer to this series. I didn’t have Showtime. I knew about it, I knew the basic premise, but I had not seen it. Hell, I didn’t even know what Michael C. Hall looked like. I’ve had friends rave about it for years. After one particular friend of mine went several weeks talking about nothing else but “Dexter” I finally checked it out.

This show is brilliant. I love it when ethical questions are raised, and this show raises them and makes our rational sides confront our own inner savages. Dexter is a serial killer who kills other killers, child molesters, the worst dregs of society. We root for him as he does this, but then we ask ourselves is this right? Is he a monster and are we monsters for applauding this behavior?

The closest real life comparison I can think of right now is the death of Osama bin Laden. Was it the right thing to do? I say yes. Was it legal? Well, we did invade a sovereign country. It wasn’t the legal thing to do. But the trash needed to take out, and this was a long time coming.

When my brother and I watch this show, the thing we seem to discuss the most is Dexter’s foster father, Harry. Did he do the right thing or should he have gotten this kid extensive therapy? Would therapy have even helped? Ultimately, Harry was a man; a good man, but a flawed one. I think he loved Dexter as much as he hated the system which let many murderers walk.

Also, one thing about the show is how Dexter is the outsider trying to blend in, I think on some level we can all relate to that one. We all have our own inner demons, and I think each one of us has our own dark passenger. Most of us aren’t killers, but we all have impulses.

6. The Spectacular Spider-Man

I’ve talked about this show a lot, so I will keep it brief. Not only is this the perfect adaptation of Spider-Man and his mythos, this is also the single perfect superhero show. Peter Parker has always been the everyman, and his life has always been just as interesting as Spider-Man’s crime fighting career; maybe more so. This series balanced the two aspects of his life perfectly and every character felt real and alive, as opposed to previous adaptations of Spider-Man where everyone was a walking plot device.

“The Spectacular Spider-Man” did for Spidey what “Batman the Animated Series” did for Batman. As Bruce Timm did before them, Vic Cook and Sean Galloway simplified the designs to allow for fast and fluid movements. And did it ever pay off. I’ve never seen action scenes in an animated series as lively and dynamic as the ones here. It was breathtaking.

This series also, for me, represents a time in my life where the possibilities were endless. I was living in Los Angeles, going to film school, while the series was in production and being aired. I was down at the studio so often I may as well have been working on the series. I didn’t, beyond helping to get a few character references when Marvel was slow in providing them.

Most of all, the series had heart. Everyone involved had a great deal of love, affection, and respect for the series, the character, and the mythos and it shined on screen. Most other adaptations of the wall-crawler lacked that, and were mostly put together by people who didn’t care for much except their paycheck. I’m looking at you Toby Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and John Semper Jr.! “The Spectacular Spider-Man” shows that a creative team can’t just be competent, they have to love what they do, because the results do pay off.

5. The Sopranos

If “Seinfeld” changed the face of sitcoms, “The Sopranos” changed television dramas, and really put premium cable on the map. For the eight years this show was on, it was the one show everybody talked about. Even presidential candidates made references to Tony Soprano in speeches, debates, and commercials. It was everywhere.

In a lot of ways, it was modern day Shakespeare. Family tragedies in modern America, but instead of royalty, it used a mafia family. When you think about it, aren’t Mafia families the closest thing we have to medieval royal families in this day and age? Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola understood that.

The series benefited from powerful writing, understated acting, and characters we could relate to. These characters felt real, and most of the time it seemed like someone was actually documenting the lives of a real family.

I think what we could all relate to was the feeling Tony had that he was born in the wrong decade. The heyday of the Mafia is long over, and as I look at this terrible economy we’re living in, I wonder if the same could be said about America. Are we over as a country? Is the American dream dead? “The Sopranos” asks this question.

4. Cowboy Bebop

“Where has this been all my life?” That was the first thing I said after I watched this series for the first time. I’m not a fan of anime, but I loved “Cowboy Bebop.” After I was done with “Bebop” I went on an anime/manga spree, and aside from “Berserk” I didn’t find much else that appealed to me. But “Cowboy Bebop” remains one of the best pieces of art I’ve ever exposed myself to.

The music is brilliant, the characters are lively. I love Spike Spiegel, one of the all time great heroes of any medium. The guy running away from his past, but no matter how far he runs, he can never escape it. I adore Faye Valentine, the woman without a past so desperately trying to find it.

It’s funny, it’s tragic, it’s dramatic, it’s sad, and it’s joyous. Except for one mediocre episode, all twenty-six are pure gold. It’s like listening to a classic vinyl album again and again. I always come back to this show. Words cannot describe how in love with it I’ve always been.

3. Babylon 5

I’ve dedicated an entire entry to this show, so again, I’ll be brief. “Babylon 5” is everything good science fiction should be. It asks questions, it speculates, but it doesn’t answer those questions. That’s our job. As series creator, J. Michael Straczynski, said “a good story should provoke discussion, debate, argument… and the occasional bar fight.” And this series is good at that. Great at that.

It also sadly seems to have been forgotten in the annals of television history, and that is a great pity. If anything, it’s done more for television science fiction than any other series. It was the first to stand up to the big bully that is Paramount and prove you could have a successful space faring science fiction series without “Star Trek” stamped to it. And Paramount tried hard to kill it. They stole from the series bible and pitch when J. Michael Straczynski pitched the show to them, announced “Deep Space Nine” shortly after B5 was accounced in the trades, rushed their pilot out to beat it to the airwaves, and tried to pressure sponsors and weaker networks into not supporting it. But “Babylon 5” persevered and told its story. The door was opened for others.

Love the new “Battlestar Galactica?” Thank “Babylon 5.” Adore “Firefly?” Thank “Babylon 5.” Enjoy “Stargate” and “Farscape?” You get the idea. “Babylon 5” picked a fight with the school yard bully and paved the way for you all to come in. It may not have had the best sets or the best special effects, but unlike post original series “Star Trek,” B5 had writing and vision. It was the first five year novel, and it impacted the way I think.

Remember how I said that “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” were the McDonalds and Burger King of television science fiction? Well, “Babylon 5” is that amazing, four star restaurant where the steaks are perfect.

2. Gargoyles

Okay, you’ve all heard me talk about this show before, so instead of discussing the show specifically, I’ll just say what it did for me. “Gargoyles” is what inspired me. It inspired me to become a writer; it was the first time I ever asked myself questions like “who wrote this?” “Who acted in this?” “Where did this come from?” While I’m sure that would have happened anyway, “Gargoyles” was the catalyst.

It also started a life journey. I started reading a lot of Shakespeare, became something of a fanatic, I started reading the classics, really self educating myself, and eventually I went to film school and started writing my own works. I can safely say the path I am on would not have happened if not for “Gargoyles.” And I can watch this series any time and never get tired of it.

"Gargoyles" followed in the path of "Batman the Animated Series" with simplified designs that animated beautifully, but unlike "Batman," it brought long term story arcs and character development to the world of television animation, and a lot of other shows have since followed in its footsteps.

Now, before I move on to #1. I just want to say that this was tough. I didn’t know what was going to be #1. So I flipped a coin and decided that I hated being predictable.

1. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

If “Gargoyles” inspired me on my path in life, “The Daily Show” is what keeps me going and makes me want to kill myself less. I look at the state of the world, the news media, our government, our economy, and frankly our culture and the people in it, and I am disgusted. Then Jon Stewart manages to make me look at it, and laugh at the same time. All the while making sure I never give up hope that this world is worth living in. Make no mistake, I’m not suicidal, it’s all just a figure of speech. But Jon has saved me from complete depression more than once.

Jon Stewart might possibly be both the smartest and funniest man on television. Sure he is just a comedian, but he understands the issues and what’s going on better than many supposed experts and our elected representatives. His shining moments being his first broadcast after the attacks on September 11th, when he brought down “Crossfire,” and when he shamed Congress into passing a bill to take care of 9/11 first responders. The man is an American icon and an American hero.

Jon Stewart is the Mark Twain of our era, and I think he will be remembered as such after he is gone.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sin of Omission



I've theorized about the nature of Professor Gellar all season. But now, if we must make bets, I am taking a stand. May I be proven right, may I be proven wrong, I feel like making my prediction official. Professor Gellar is not real.

If Gellar's cunning enough to elude Miami Metro for weeks, by being out in broad daylight several times even though his picture has been plastered all over the city (a city that is terrified by this guy mind you) and strong enough to knock out Travis, kill his sister and stage the whole "Whore of Babylon" tableau, then drag Travis back to the church and chain him up all by himself then why does he need Travis in the first place if he could do all that by himself? Why was Travis even hiding out back just to make sure his sister was safe. He could have just came to see her in class like he always does.

I think we are dealing with split personality. He blacked out as his Gellar personality took over and did all that artistic stuff and even going as far as chaining himself up in the church. Something traumatic happened to him when he was younger that made him hate women and Gellar brainwashed him or something when he was his student. Gellar is probably dead and buried somewhere on the church grounds. Dexter looking for something that was not there was all to surreal.

Remember all the womanizing that Gellar did when he taught at the university? I think this is what broke Travis' brain, so he killed Gellar and made up his own version of the Professor that became his Dark Passenger.

I have loved the direction that Debra has been taken this season. At the end of season five, I really thought she was about to find out what Dexter really is. She didn't, but the door was opened for that development. Now, eight episodes into season six, she may finally walk through that door. It's been a long time coming, and I want to see it happen.

LaGuerta continues to be the detestable character she's been since the first season. Now she's covering up a for a potential murderer. As for who killed that hooker, I'm leaning towards either Angel or Matthews. I don't think they'd go in that direction with Angel, and after what happened with Lila, I wouldn't want them to. So, I'm guessing it's Matthews.

Great episode, I've been enjoying the season, but I think the arc is really kicking into high gear now.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Just Spreading the Word

I did not write this essay, credit for this piece of work goes to Kathleen Coffin, an English major who wrote it as her final term paper. She got an A.

And with this garbage in theaters and stinking up our pop culture, I really wanted to say something about it. But I will not read them, I will not watch them. So here it is from someone who has.

TWILIGHT AND TEENS
Romanticizing Abuse, Obsession, and Anti-Feminism Since 2005

“Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin,” (Meyer, 2005) This quote, from Stephenie Meyer’s wildly popular series Twilight, aptly describes the obsessive, sexist, and often abusive relationship between a vampire and a human which is portrayed as romantic. The main character, Bella Swan, falls in love with a vampire named Edward Cullen, who loves her devotedly but does not know if he can control his rampant lust for her blood. (Meyer, 2005) Their tragic relationship has gained mass amounts of attention and fame. Twilight has topped the New York Times best-seller list and has grown a massive fan-base. (New York Times, 2007)

“I love Edward,” Alyssa, 15, from Muncie IN, proclaims. “He’s my favorite. He’s so sparkly and pretty!”
Her friend Nina (15) disagreed. “I liked Jacob—he seemed a lot tougher,” She muses. “And he never left!”
“Edward came back!” Alyssa cuts in pleadingly.
“He still left,” Nina replied flatly.

When looked at from a feminist and psychological perspective, Bella and Edward’s relationship is anything but ‘romantic’. According to the book Young Femininity, “Young women are encouraged to relate to their bodies as objects that exist for the use and aesthetic pleasure of others…” (Aapola, Gonick & Harris, 2005) When Edward refers to Bella as ‘his brand of heroin’, we can see an exact example of what Young Femininity was talking about. Bella is seen as an object, something to protect and coddle. She is written as co-dependent—the constant damsel in distress, whereas Edward is overprotective and possessive.

In the first few chapters, Edward saves her from a truck that nearly crushes her. When she gets nauseous in a biology classroom, he scoops her up and carries her out the door. When she is in Seattle and accosted by several men, Edward drives into the scene and saves her again. When an evil vampire decides to come after Bella, Edward once again carts her off to a different locale to protect her. Not that it makes much difference. Rather than listening to Edward like a good, obedient, girlfriend, she decides to sacrifice herself. So of course, when Bella decides something on her own, it’s something unintelligent that nearly gets her killed. Naturally, Edward saves the day. (Meyer, 2005) This is only in the first book. In the second, we get to see Jacob Black, an American Indian werewolf, (only briefly mentioned in the first book) enter the picture and also save her when she goes hiking by herself. (Meyer seems to be saying that when a woman does anything on her own it will inevitably lead to a near-death experience) Jacob saves her again when she jumps off a cliff in hopes of hearing Edward’s hallucinatory voice. Not once does this cultural icon influencing thousands of girls save herself.

Bella is not the only female character that represents anti-feminism. The three most prevalent females in the books are Alice Cullen, Rosalie Hale, and Leah Clearwater. Alice and Rosalie are vampires, adopted sisters of Edward whereas Leah is the only female werewolf in Jacob’s pack. (Meyer, 2007) One might think that vampire and werewolf women would represent strong female archetypes. But this is not the case. Alice Cullen rarely disobeys Edward’s orders and bribes, even going so far as kidnapping Bella in exchange for a car. (Meyer, 2007) She loves shopping, adores parties, dressing up Bella, and seems to represent pure femininity. There was more hope for Rosalie as a strong female vampire, especially since she found her mate Emmett, and saved his life by carrying him all the way back to the Cullens. (Meyer, 2005) But Rosalie is portrayed as selfish and vain, obsessed with beauty and good looks. She is shown negatively in all three books and in the final book appears to care for Bella but is more interested in taking care of Bella’s child since she is unable to have any of her own. (Meyer, 2008) Leah Clearwater is the best hope, being the only female werewolf in the entire pack. But yet again, Meyer cannot seem to bear to have a strong female character in her books. Leah is bitter and angry because Sam (the alpha of the pack) ‘imprinted’, or chose as a mate her cousin Emily. She antagonizes everyone and when she joins the battle in the third book, they nearly lose because of her. (Meyer, 2005) Sound female characters apparently aren’t what make the series popular.

Aapoloa brings up the point on how the norm in society is for a teenage girl to have a boyfriend. Young women provide evidence of their maturity and worldliness by having boyfriends—being accepted by young men is represented as an accomplishment. (Aspola, Gonick & Harris, 2005) When Bella arrives at her new school she is immediately lavished with attention from admiring boys and halfway through the book Edward declares himself her boyfriend. She is the envy of all the girls—some who try to befriend her and some who are merely catty towards her because of her popularity. As she befriends Edward more, it is clear that the entire relationship is hanging upon him and that he has the perfect right to order her around whenever he pleases. “‘Are you going to tell Charlie I’m your boyfriend or not?’ he demanded.” (Meyer, 2005) “‘I’m not going along with that.’ ‘Then I’ll have to stop you.’” (Meyer, 2007) This presents young girls the idea that relationships are up to the men and they will be outcasts until they get a boyfriend. This is not generally a good thing to impress upon young adolescent girls who are just starting to develop their identity and are insecure because of it.

We also see over and over the claim that Edward and Bella are passionately in love. That’s the point of the series after all. But nowhere in the books, in any of the books in fact, is the explanation on why these two love each other. Meyer compares the lovers to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett, (Meyer, 2005) Romeo and Juliet, (Meyer, 2006) and Heathcliff and Cathy. (Meyer, 2007) All of these characters (with the exception of Romeo and Juliet, their love was more of a ‘love at first sight’) had specific reasons for why they loved each other and how they fell in love. Though Meyer has the gall to compare her paltry vampire series to the great classics, she never explains why Edward and Bella love each other. We get description after description of Edward’s dazzling beauty (over 100 counted in the first book alone) but that is it. What’s the difference between Bella’s relationship with Edward and her relationship with say, Mike or Eric, one of the many guys that vied for her attention? Mike was just as overwhelming as Edward, even friendlier to be honest. (Meyer, 2005) The difference was that Edward was devastatingly beautiful, whereas poor Mike did not sparkle like a sequined prom dress. There is nothing in Bella and Edward’s relationship that does not go beyond sexual fantasy and personal appearance. So what does this teach adolescent girls? That the primary reasons for dating someone should be based on physical appearance? “The meadow, so spectacular to me at first, paled next to his magnificence.” (Meyer, 2005) What use do the beauties of nature have when you have an attractive boyfriend?

Another topic to discuss is if Bella and Edward’s relationship is necessarily healthy. Not just because he craves her blood—is the relationship as a whole a good relationship? This is particularly significant because thousands of girls wish to have what Edward and Bella have and might not recognize a dangerous situation because of these fantasies.

According to a volume of Journal of Women’s Health, the authors state that dating violence usually has three types: emotional and psychological, physical, and sexual. (Teten, Ball, Valle, Noonan, & Rosenbluth, 2009) They define psychological abuse as isolating a partner from his or her friends and family, controlling or jealous behavior, and acts of dominance such as assertion of power over decision making. (Teten, Ball, Valle, Noonan, & Rosenbluth, 2009) The most immediate example of how this relates to Bella and Edward’s relationship takes place in the third book Eclipse. Within the first chapter, Bella has to ask Edward’s permission to go see her friend Jacob Black. To make sure that Bella doesn’t disobey him, Edward goes as far as dismantling her truck to keep her from sneaking off to visit him. (Meyer, 2007) He claims he does it to protect her, for her own good—and because he loves her. How many times have women in an abusive relationship plaintively say that their significant other beats them because they love them?

The main problem with Bella is her lack of personality. Any of these flaws and messages could be acceptable if she was purposely written as a pathetically weak female character. But she is not. Meyer herself claims the character is ‘realistic.’
But the problem with Bella is that since the entire book series is a complete wish-fulfillment fantasy, it’s easy for young girls to insert themselves as the main character. Bella is shy and quiet—in the beginning of the first book she nervously wonders how she will fit in at her new school. (Meyer, 2005) What adolescent girl doesn’t worry about fitting in? Bella is terribly clumsy—girls go through adolescence stumbling and tripping as their bodies struggle to catch up with them. Suffice it to say, Bella is every teenage girl, which is why the ideas presented in this series are so very poisonous.

Bella is the hapless victim in a story that objectifies women, victimizes women, and romanticizes abuse and obsession. But thanks to a physically attractive savior, a mania painted as tragic, angst-ridden love, with just a dash of bodice-ripping sexual fantasy, we have a bestseller. One can only hope that girls will be able to recognize psychological abuse when they see it and not see it as something to aspire to.
Because that is what Twilight is really about—anti-feminism, sexism, and abuse.


Here is a link to the essay on facebook.

And here is a link to Kathleen's blog.

Secrets



I am speechless. This episode was perfect. I loved it, and I say this as a guy who has been wanting to love this series but so far has only been able to just like it a lot. I loved this episode.

Harm was a deliciously creepy villain. Everything about him was chilling. His speech patterns could have easily been corny, but thanks to great writing and terrific voice acting they were very unnerving. I spent most of the episode wondering how Artemis and Zatanna were going to defeat him. Scratch that, not just wondering how they were, wondering IF they were. And as a thirty-year old jaded TV watcher, I hardly ever wonder IF the bad guy is going to be beaten.

The story was very heavy, and the truth about Secret was heartbreaking. I've heard of Secret and Harm before, but I didn't know their story, and I had no idea she was dead, never mind that her brother killed her. Child murder in a cartoon? Okay, there's been plenty of attempted child murder, but the real deal? Harsh. Very harsh.

The B-plot balanced out the dark drama with a lot of humor. While Artemis and Zatanna fought for their lives, Superboy, Miss Martian, and Kid Flash were attending a school Halloween dance and there they warded off... a prank. I would like to say that Marvin the Martian with Godzilla's roar is the single greatest thing a human being could ever have come up with.

Martians invading, eh? Ooh... foreshadowing for season two? And here I thought Darkseid was being set up for season two. Hmm, maybe he is. Maybe he'll be in cahoots with the White Martians. Maybe I am reading too deep into this. It wouldn't be the first time.

The brief C-plot was about Aqualad, Red Arrow, Robin, and Batman discussing who the traitor was. At this point, I have no idea. I'm leaning towards M'Gann. Or maybe it's Aqualad.

If I had one complaint, it was about Artemis taking the news that Superboy and Miss Martian are a couple that hard. She only expressed interest in him on screen once, and that was in her first appearance. Aqualad alluded to it a few episodes back, but I think we needed more. Artemis, aggressive as she is, could have flirted with Superboy more. But that doesn't detract from this perfect episode, because it's not this episode's problem. The episodes that preceded this one should have laid a little more pipe.

BTW, Marvel Zombie... very cute.

A+, Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, Encore! Encore!

Nebraska



Okay, who didn't chuckle at Dexter and Brian's "American Gothic" pose?

This episode was nice. A nice throwback to previous seasons that tie us back to arguably Dexter's two best "Big Bads." His brother, Brian aka Rudy aka the Ice Truck Killer, and the Trinity Killer... although, John Lithgow does not put in an appearance.

After the death of Brother Sam, Dexter embraces his darkness which takes form as his brother, Brian. What follows is a twisted buddy comedy as they travel to Nebraska after word reaches Deb that Arthur Mitchell, the Trinity Killer, found his family in Witness Protection and killed his daughter and wife in a manner consistent with his killings. Of course, Arthur Mitchell is dead. Dead, cut up, and thrown in the ocean. The obvious culprit is Mitchell's son, Jonah. And it's up to our intrepid murderers to find him, and put him in the ground.

Of course, it's not that simple. Jonah's sister committed suicide, and in a rage, Jonah killed his mother. His guilt weighing upon him, he tries to force Dexter to end his life. Brian, like an evil Jiminy Cricket, encourages this. But, in the end, Dexter doesn't do it. Jonah doesn't fit his code, and will have to learn to live with it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Travis leaves Gellar's services. Or so we think. Their latest intended victim tells the police she was being held by two men. But she was blindfolded and never saw anyone. We don't know how many voices she heard. I'm still not convinced Gellar exists, and if anything, I think this episode, especially the scene where Brian (actually Dexter) stabs that redneck pot dealing with a pitchfork is setting up the Gellar isn't real twist.

Overall, a great episode But there is one thing that's driving me nuts. Why did the death of Brother Sam trigger this descent into darkness for Dexter? Okay, I know why. But what bothers me is that Rita's death didn't.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Damn, Hammster...



A review of the Dexter episode "Nebraska" is coming as soon as I am healthy enough to write it. I've been sick all week.

In the mean time, Greg revealed/confirmed something I've been wondering about for a while now.

Out of curiosity, how old was Silver Sable in season two of "Spectacular Spider-Man." She doesn't seem older than thirty... I'm just curious, because if Hammerhead worked for her dad before he went to prison, twelve years prior was she above the age of consent when they had a relationship?

Greg responds...

I don't think so. Which is part of the reason Hammerhead (1) now has a new skull and (2) why he no longer is working for Silvermane.


Damn, Hammy is a pig. This also makes Silvermane a lot more awesome.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Disordered



Well, this episode was, in some ways, a pretty big reminder of just how hokey the DC Universe is. But the hokeyness aside, it was a terrific follow up to last week's episode, and it's obviously setting the stage for things to come.

The A-plot centered around the true nature of Sphere, and I was wrong about it being from Apokolips. Sphere is actually from New Genesis, but was obviously stolen by Apokolips. The Forever People from Fourth World come to rescue Sphere, and they end up teaming up with Superboy to find more technology from Apokolips, which has been supplied to Intergang by Desaad.

As someone who is not at all a DC fan, I raised an eyebrow when I saw Infinity Man, and again when I heard the name, Infinity Man. I know comics, from both major companies, are full of ridiculous elements, but DC always took it a bit too far for my tastes. That being said, it was very well handled here. An absurd idea was well executed. I thought Andrew Robinson's script was terrific.

I remember Desaad well from "Justice League" but found him to be even more chilling here. His design was creepy, as was the way he carried himself. I'm looking forward to seeing more of him, and I am confident we will. I enjoyed his creepy reference to "The Wizard of Oz"

All that being said, I preferred the B-plot considerably. Some things we've suspected are finally spelled out as each of the teens has a therapy session with Black Canary. Artemis doesn't want The Team to know who her family really is, and she likes Wally; Miss Martian is a White Martian, even if it's not spelled out, it's confirmed; Aqualad doesn't feel like he's qualified to lead The Team, but doesn't think anyone else can; Wally is Wally.

The meat was learning just how badly Robin was messed up by the training session, and how as much as he tried to be Batman, he can't be Batman and doesn't actually want to be. Superboy's revelation was chilling, combine that with his revelation in the comic about dreaming about killing Superman, and you know there's trouble in his future.

I was a bit disappointed that we didn't see Queen Bee in this episode. The Sphere was last seen in Bialya, and I figured that's where Apokolips was delivering it's tech. But I suppose that is just where they were testing the delivery system. But, I admit, I was also really hoping to hear the lovely voice of Marina Sirtis again.

When I enjoy an episode that reminds me of why I couldn't care less for the source material, you know it was fun.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Just Let Go



Well, this episode caught me by surprise. There were some things that I didn't see coming, even though I should have. And one thing I definitely did not see coming. If you saw the episode, you know what the latter was.

Dexter is distracted from tracking down Travis by the shooting of Brother Sam. The identity of the shooter becomes a brief "who done it" after the chief suspect is arrested before Dexter can get to him. Dexter then discovers it was Nick, who Brother Sam has been trying to help and even baptized.

When Brother Sam asked Dexter to forgive Nick, and to pass on his forgiveness before passing away in the hospital, I will admit I was wondering which way he would go. Of course, had Dexter embraced the light that Sam saw in him, we wouldn't have a show. I'll elaborate on that in a moment. But I thought the confrontation between Dexter and Nick was brilliant. It went through so many moods, and while some of us who genuinely like Dexter as a person and wish he could have a happy ending somewhat hope he will heed Sam's words, I think we were immensely satisfied when Dexter "washed" that smirk off of Nick's face. I loved that scene.

Meanwhile, Travis gets cold feet and instead of preparing "the Whore of Babylon" for their next kill, he releases her. We don't get pay off for this development this week, and I am still not at all convinced Gellar is a living person, but I look forward to seeing what happens next.

We learn more about Gellar as well, as his belongings are gone through by Miami Homicide. Turns out Gellar isn't sending us a warning about the end of the world, he's trying to cause the end of the world. Apparently these murders will unlock doomsday. Well... leave it to the mind of a psychopath. And Gellar, either alive or dead, was clearly a psychopath.

Finally, Debra needs to take away Quinn's badge. The guy is a loose cannon. He's dangerous, and he's already jeopardized the case, as well as acted beyond unprofessionally for most of the season. I understand that he is hurt, but lives are on the line and people depend on the job he does. A job he is clearly not qualified to handle. I am calling it now, Quinn is going to end up dead later this season.

Speaking of dead, after Dexter kills Nick, he is visited by the spirit of his deceased big brother, Brian aka Rudy aka the Ice Truck Killer. I nearly applauded, before the credits rolled. And next week's episode looks like it's going to be amazing.

Now, a brief tangent. I've said this before, but Dexter is not going to go the way of Brother Sam, and he's not going to embrace religion. In Brother Sam and in Travis and Gellar, we have the two extremes. If Dexter embraces God, he'll either reform like Brother Sam did, or God will become his Dark Passenger, as it has with Gellar. I am sure he will learn a lesson, but what that lesson is, I am not sure. I'm just having fun going along for the ride.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Anonymity & Logical Fallacies

I want to set a couple of things straight.

First and foremost, I don't take anonymous posts as seriously as posts with a name attached. However, if you are anonymous and generally respectful, I tend to overlook that. If you are anonymous and antagonistic, as far as I'm concerned, you are a coward. And a pretty loathsome coward at that.

If you disagree with me, that's cool. I welcome and enjoy conversation. But if you disagree with me in a disrespectful manner, expect me to return that disrespect. Actually, expect me to multiply it. In other words, this is my house and I believe if someone comes into my house and behaves like an asshole, I have the right to kick their ass.

Now, if you have a problem with my opinions, guess what, nobody is making you read my blog. I'm not going to sanitize and sugarcoat how I feel so as not to offend your precious little sensibilities.

Shifting gears, let me discuss a couple of logical fallacies that have shown up in the comments section here. Actually, I suspect these both are originating from the same guy. But they were anonymous posts, so I don't know for sure. Although the similarities are pretty close. Personally, I suspect this individual has a condition.

Someone took issue with my reviews of the 2011 "ThunderCats" series (fuck that show!) and said that I should refrain because there are people who put in a lot of long hours and work very hard on that show. So because of all the hard work, I shouldn't have been as hard on that show as I was. Of course, that very same person did not mind that I am so hard on Michael Bay's movies, or the "Twilight" movies or the "Star Wars Prequels" or any of those atrocities. And, I don't know, maybe I'm taking crazy talk, but a little bird told me that there were pretty big production teams on those and they all worked very hard.

I remember pointing that out to this person, and he accused me of making bad comparisons. Of course he just didn't want to admit that he came up with a very stupid defense, and he would not apply that defense to material he didn't care for. Just material he does care for. Sounds hypocritical, doesn't it?

Of course, I think the idea that work shouldn't be criticized, even severely, because people worked hard on it is just stupid. I'm judging the work, not the people behind the work. If a movie or a TV show sucks, I'm going to say so. If I go to a restaurant and order a steak, and the steak sucks, I am going to say so. If a house is built, but comes crashing down later, regardless of how many people worked hard on it, something in the work itself was deeply wrong.

Finally, my opinions on the "The New Batman Adventures" episode, "Over the Edge" generated some controversy. I expected that, of course. That episode is a sacred cow in geekdom. But another anonymous poster (probably the same one) not only could not handle my criticism of it, but decided he had to get personal with me specifically. Well, when you do that, out come the claws.

He accused me of "slandering and berating btas" and went on and on about how "Batman the Animated Series" was groundbreaking and at the time no animated series had strong continuity or character development, and he felt I was holding "Batman the Animated Series" to some very unfair standards.

First, I feel I should point out the obvious. I was not even criticizing an episode of "Batman the Animated Series" much less "slandering and berating it." I was just voicing my dislike for one episode. One episode that isn't even an episode of "Batman the Animated Series" for crying out loud! "Over the Edge" is an episode of "The New Batman Adventures" which is a spin-off of "Batman the Animated Series." And don't tell me it's not, the series was retitled, the series was re-designed, they jumped forward in time a few years, the story tone and style was different. It was a sequel series.

Second of all, yes "Batman the Animated Series" was a groundbreaking series, and I wasn't criticizing it at all. But honestly, I should be allowed to if I want to. As my friend, AJ Wells said: if there isn't a criticism-related logical fallacy in which a work must be treated fairly simply because we ought to be grateful it broke ground, there ought to be one.

And I think most would agree that "The New Batman Adventures" was an inferior show to "Batman the Animated Series." And before someone brings up "Mad Love" that episode was written for the former show, and made into a comic. It wasn't a "New Batman Adventures" episode, it was just adapted into one.

The complaint I received was that in 1992, hardly any animated series had continuity and character development, so I shouldn't be pissed off that "Batman the Animated Series" didn't have it. And guess what, I'm not. However, "The New Batman Adventures" premiered in 1997, and by then continuity and character development were quite common in action dramas. Now, I'm not criticizing them for choosing not to have it (although, I still hate that it was teased in "Over the Edge" and squandered, but that's a whole other post), but if they decided to evolve the art style and change the tone already, maybe they could have tried something new. Or maybe not.

But I hardly slandered or berated "Batman the Animated Series." If anything, I was the one being slandered and berated in that exchange. And by an individual too cowardly to even sign his name. I am sure he is reading this, and I am sure he will likely post to continue his anonymous berating, as well as completely miss the point. But, to quote Tony Soprano, those who want respect give respect. And I will give him just as much respect as he gives me.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Failsafe



Well, this one kept me guessing. Mostly between dream and simulation. I know that teleporting beams were a possibility, but one I dismissed. Story structure wise, you don't do something this, well... apocalyptic, early in a series. I knew a twist was coming, but I had no idea which of the two it would be. Surprise, surprise it was both.

I've already seen people compare it to "Over the Edge," an episode of "The New Adventures of Batman" I always thought was severely overrated. In that episode, Barbara Gordon falls off a building and dies, Gordon blames Batman and swears vengeance; Batman is publicly unmasked, becomes a fugitive; Gordon is kicked off the case and then hires Bane to help him take down Batman; Bane betrays Gordon; Gordon and Batman die; and then Barbara wakes up and it was a nightmare induced by Scarecrow's fear toxin. She then vows to tell her father the truth to prevent something like that from actually happening and then doesn't. And then I throw my remote control at the TV. What a crock! Not only is there no internal logic to the nightmare, I mean... who has a dream or nightmare where they are dead and their mind is playing this? And then she decides to do something that would result in character development and change the status quo in an interesting way and doesn't? Really! Then I got on the internet and found out this was one of the most revered episodes of the series.

I've seen "Failsafe" get compared to "Over the Edge" several times already, and while "Failsafe" isn't perfect, it doesn't cheat anywhere near as much as "Over the Edge" did. If it did, the entire Team would have been killed in the first two minutes and this still would have been their simulation and dream. That, and the outcome of what happened here will likely have lasting consequences as opposed to Barbara deciding to tell and then not tell her dad she was Batgirl. I'm a firm believer in continuity and actions having consequences, and while I loved "Batman the Animated Series" and its spin-offs quite a bit, it tended to shrug off long term consequences to keep a certain status quo.

I think a closer comparison would be to the "Gargoyles" episode, "Future Tense." Like "Failsafe," that episode was both a dream and an illusion. Apocalyptic things happen, and you keep waiting to find out what the twist is going to be, but it also throws so much at you, you're distracted from thinking about it... you just know that something is wrong. Overall, I thought "Future Tense" was far more effective at distracting you on that first viewing. I also felt that it played fair more than "Failsafe." In "Future Tense," we never left Goliath. He was in every scene, and we saw everything he was seeing, and nothing else. While "Failsafe" was cutting to civilians hiding in bunkers, and other moments that no one on The Team was witnessing. And if they weren't witnessing it, why was it part of the simulation and their dream?

"Failsafe" was better than "Over the Edge" but not as good as "Future Tense." But then, few things are. It may be a little unfair of me to make the comparisons either way, but that's where my mind went and those were the comparisons that I drew. A comparison to a similar premise in a DC animated production and in another Greg Weisman production.

I really enjoyed seeing General Wade Eiling make his animated debut, at last. And with his proper design and the correct pronunciation of his name. Eiling appeared in "Justice League Unlimited" but with a different look, since General Hardcastle's design was pretty close to Eiling's comic design, and back in 2007, when Greg Weisman and I were having lunch together at a Taco Bell near the Sony studio he was producing "Spectacular Spider-Man" at, we briefly discussed Captain Atom, and I pronounced Eiling the way JLU did, and he corrected me. Since he co-created the character with Cary Bates, I think he'd know. Just like Dennis O'Neil knows the proper pronunciation of Ra's al Ghul even if Christopher Nolan does not.

I hope to see more of Eiling. I've read some of Greg and Cary's Captain Atom run, and he's a terrific character.

The ending of the episode opens a lot of possibilities and lasting consequences. M'Gann is more powerful than previously thought. I have some theories on where this will lead, but I am not well versed in DC lore, so I intend to keep them to myself... except for one. I am convinced she is a White Martian. And hey, this episode has plenty to make both people who love and hate the character happy. People who like her get a great episode that focused on her. While the people who hate her can make an animated gif of her getting stabbed by Martian Manhunter. Everybody wins.

Great episode, and if you will indulge me one more comparison to "Future Tense," well was it a dream or a prophesy? With the second season being titled "Invasion," that's something to ponder.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Villain Protagonists

I was recently thinking about how my three favorite television characters of the past decade are Tony Soprano, Dexter Morgan, and Nancy Botwin.

Tony Soprano needs no introduction. Dexter is a serial killer who kills other killers. And Nancy is a pot dealing soccer mom who gets deeper and deeper into the world of criminal activity, and all three are the protagonists of their respective shows. And they're all either amoral or immoral. Or, in Dexter's case, messed up morals.

I guess what I am asking is, do you think we will ever see a western produced animated series with a protagonist like this that is not being played entirely for laughs? And would you want to?

I'm all for it. Variety is the spice of life. But is there a market for it? I'd like to think so, but I think as long as television animation is (incorrectly) viewed as a medium for just children, this is unlikely to happen. Moral Guardians would have a field day with it.

Are there any villains who I think are strong enough to carry there own animated series? Of course. I think the Joker is a prime example of a baddie who could do it, and I would gladly watch a show starring him and his misadventures with Harley Quinn.

Demona from "Gargoyles" could easily carry her own series. Easily. There's a nine-hundred and thirty-seven year long gap between her falling out with Macbeth and when the gargoyles were awoken in Manhattan during the pilot. Just open a history book, think of a role she could play and already you have a cornucopia of material. Throw in Macbeth and the Canmores hunting her and you have something.

And then, there is always something original, built up from scratch.