The Life & Times of an Auteur.

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The End of the Year

So here we are, 2013 came and went and while it might not have been the best year for this blog, it was, overall, a good year. After eight years, Season Two Volume Two of  "Gargoyles" finally came out, if you haven't bought it yet, go get it. I moved, I'm planning a new strategy to pursue my career and I am hopeful for a better 2014. I also learned that President Obama has the same taste in television that I do.

"Tarantino Month" which became "Tarantino Summer" which became "Tarantino Year" was a total bust because, well, I wasn't feeling it this year. Aside from the fact that I was very busy this year, busier than I've been in a long time, I just wasn't often in the mood to blog when I did have free time. I have no excuse, since I prefer to do the things I say I'm going to do, and for that I apologize. I could say that I plan to do more blogging this year than last, but I'm not sure if I'll have the time or the spark when I do have the time. But if I have something to say about a movie or a TV show, I'll post.

In the mean time, here's my year end review. Some of the grades may have changed since initial reviews (if there was an initial review) due to time and distance.


Berserk: Golden Age Arc II - Battle for Doldrey
- An enjoyable second adaptation of Kentaro Miura's manga. The animation is great, the direction is perfect. But that dance sequence near the end of the movie goes on for way too long and I feel that the time spent could have been used on better material. Grade: B

The Butler - A nice little movie whose heart was in the right place, but questionable casting and moments inappropriately played for laughs lead me to just writing it off as an entertaining and harmless diversion. Grade: B

The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug - Overall, I loved the movie. I didn't love some of the studio forced "additions", and I felt the pacing was off, but those were hardly deal breakers. Grade: A-

Iron Man 3 - A fun movie but very controversial throughout comicdom, and for good reason. While the Mandarin was never my favorite, I think I would have enjoyed a traditional Mandarin more than what we got. Not that what we got was a bad movie. Grade: B

Man of Steel - Do I need to say more about this than I have already? Non-existent characterization, mixed with disaster porn that exploited 9/11 imagery in a manner so gaudy and classless, it was like watching the third Transformers movie again. I didn't think it was possible to make a Superman movie worse than "Superman Returns" but Snyder and Nolan showed us the way. Grade: F

Much Ado About Nothing - My favorite film of the year. Smart, witty, sexy, and a nice re-telling of William Shakespeare's classic comedy, and all in Joss Whedon's house. Grade: A+

Pain and Gain - It's Michael Bay, what did I expect? Honestly, I expected the worst movie of the year and I didn't quite get that. Still... Grade: F

Star Trek Into Darkness - A terrible movie made by a mediocre director, and the ultimate result of what happens when you bring someone into a franchise who admits to outright hating it. I like Benedict Cumberbatch as much as the next guy, but he was terrible in the role made famous by Ricardo Montalban. Laughably stupid (and not even funny), and the most unpleasant movie viewing experience of the year. Grade: F

Thor: The Dark World - A fun sequel, far from perfect, but a perfectly good time. Hemsworth and Hiddleston still own their roles. Grade: B

Twelve Years A Slave - This is going to be nominated for Best Picture. A brutal film based on a true story about a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. I can't say I had a good time watching it, but I'm glad I did see it. Grade: A+

Zero Dark Thirty - This was my pick to win Best Picture last year. Not that "Argo" was a bad movie, but ZDT was better, and it really stays with you. The questions it raises, the depiction of our sins will haunt you for a long time. Grade: A+


Agents of SHIELD - It fails on every level. The writing is hilariously bad, the acting is embarrassingly mediocre (I've seen better in softcore porn). The relationship between Ward and Skye makes Edward and Bella on "Twilight" look sophisticated by comparison. There are many shows I dislike, but few enter this level of loathing. It's down there with "Family Guy" for me. I hate to be that guy, but I am hoping for the swift cancellation of this failed experiment. This series is outright disgusting, the most unpleasant thing I've viewed in years. Grade: F

Avengers Assemble - I only watched the first part of the pilot, but my overall opinion has not changed. They killed a great "Avengers" cartoon to bring us this thing. The most I can give it is that it's not as bad as "Ultimate Spider-Man". Another TV series executive produced by Jeph Loeb that receives a Grade: F

Breaking Bad - A show that I resisted, but several people I respect recommended it to me, and after a month passed and the finale was still unspoiled, I binge-watched it and found a show that more than lived up to the hype, it exceeded it. Sometimes my opinion cools on things, but this still ranks as one of the greatest TV shows I have ever watched, if not the greatest. Grade: A+

- The final season was a let down on every level. It started with potential and quickly squandered it. The final episode nearly saved it, but ultimately a decree from Showtime that the title character could not be killed off was the final stake in the heart. While I can be glad that we've had five great seasons, this season was terrible. Grade: F

Downton Abbey
- I just started watching the third season, and I'm enjoying this show immensely. Ensemble pieces are hard, especially with a cast this large. But it captures the time period perfectly, with a focus on several well rounded and very likable characters. Grade: A+

Dr. Who - I'm limping my way through this, I just finished the Christopher Eccleston season, and started David Tenant's. While I am enjoying it, and I can definitely see why people like it, I can't say I understand the pandemonium in the nerd community for it. Sometimes it gets too hokey for me, but there have been some great episodes so far, and I'm willing to stick it out and find out what draws people in. So, the only honest grade I can give it at the moment is Grade: Incomplete

Game of Thrones - Another show I resisted, and another show I fell in love with. This is great TV, and the best genre show I have seen in ages. The critics love it, and for good reason. Like "The Lord of the Rings", "Game of Thrones" is a truly transcendent experience. Spectacularly intelligent, never talking down to the audience. I can't wait to see what comes next. Grade: A+

How I Met Your Mother
- I have not watched a network television sitcom since "Frasier" ended. HIMYM is a lot of fun, the writing is sharp. The characters are quirky and likable. I watched it all on Netflix over the course of a month and I now watch the final season as it airs. It entertains me, I usually laugh a few times per episode, and I look forward to seeing how it ends. Grade: A

The Legend of Korra
- I've written at length about this show, so I'll be brief. Horrible beginning, meh middle and a horrible end. One of the worst animated series that I have ever watched.  Grade: F

- A fun diversion that is carried by a great cast, and a production team who are all clearly having a good time. It does way more than "Agents of SHIELD" does with a fraction of the budget. But it has a lot of heart and soul. Proof that network dramas aren't beyond saving. While the earlier seasons are better than the latter seasons (and season seven was a turd), I continue to enjoy it. Grade: A-

The Venture Bros
- This show is always a treat. We might have to wait a long time between seasons, but what we get is one of the most well written and consistently funny animated shows of all time. "Batman", "Gargoyles" and "Venture Bros" are the trifecta, and this season did not disappoint. Can't wait to see what happens next. Grade: A+

Young Justice: Invasion
- Probably the best DC animated series since "Batman: The Animated Series", and another show that was taken from us way too soon. While I thought the series often had trouble balancing its very large cast, I still enjoyed it greatly and miss it. While not as strong as "Gargoyles" or "The Spectacular Spider-Man", it was still a top notch show. Grade: A-

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Desolation of Smaug

I saw "The Desolation of Smaug" tonight and I am still processing this. I liked it. I liked a lot. I wish I could say I loved it, but I didn't. If I'm completely honest, all of Peter Jackson's Middle Earth movies had some dumb moments and elements in them. But they never annoyed me to the extent that two unfortunate pieces do in this film. Let's get these out of the way first.

I thought this movie had some really bad pacing issues. A lot of people complained that the first movie was very slow, that it took over an hour for things to start happening. Too many quiet moments. This movie took the opposite extreme, the action was almost non-stop. There were very few moments to breathe. While most of the action scenes were awesome, Peter Jackson didn't quite know where to stop in places, and what was awesome crossed over into excessive at times... granted, it became awesome again at various points, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. The barrel chase went on for too long, and so did the confrontation with Smaug at the film's climax which I would have been more than okay with if that barrel scene didn't go on for too long.... because the battle against Smaug was really cool.

My second big complaint was Tauriel. Okay, I am not opposed to inserting a new character, adaptations do this sort of thing all the time. Someone needs to be leading the wood elves who capture the dwarves. Want her to be a badass female elf warrior? Cool. Go for it. But where the character lost me was when they made her not only Legolas' love interest, but Kili's love interest, too. I can buy into Kili thinking she's hot, but I don't understand what attracted her to him like that so quickly... I don't understand what motivated this character period. As my friend Jennifer says, Tolkien's books tend to be sausage-fests, so I get why she was introduced, but... and once again, we come to the issues of excess... they didn't need to go so all out with her like they did. I get the feeling this is what they wanted to do with Arwen in the "Lord of the Rings" before they realized it was a bad idea.

EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that the love triangle wasn't in the script, and wasn't filmed when they did principle photography. Evangeline Lilly was part of a love triangle when she did "Lost" and didn't want to do another one, and made Peter Jackson promise there wouldn't be one, to which Jackson agreed. Then when they did the 2012 pickups, she was greeted with "Uh, the studio would really like to see...", and this is why bean counters should not dictate cinematic content.

Now that all of this is out of the way, let's talk about the rest because there is so much to like.

Smaug had a lot to live up to; I've been wanting to see him on the silver screen ever since I was a young child, and I was more than satisfied. Smaug was perfect. His design was perfect, I dare say that he is the finest computer-generated creature I have ever seen (okay, the bit where he was briefly covered in molten gold looked unfinished, but that's nitpicking). Benedict Cumberbatch's voice was perfect, and as I understand it, he did some motion capture for the dragon... I look forward to the Behind-the-Scenes features on the next Extended Edition Blu-ray to see how they brought Smaug to life. Smaug was a delicious villain, and while he doesn't get slain yet in this movie, I admit I am not all that disappointed because it means I have more of Smaug to look forward to.

Gandalf's straight out of the appendices subplot has been off-putting to some, but I enjoyed his investigation of the Necromancer of Dol Guldur (no, folks; Jackson did not make this part up). We see once again why he is such a powerful wizard, as he takes on a small army of orcs alone... but even he is no match for the Necromancer, and while I can't think of any non-book reader who didn't see it coming at this point, the reveal of the Necromancer's identity when Gandalf confronts him was really, really cool.

As usual, Martin Freeman's Bilbo Baggins is great. Richard Armitage's Thorin is great, and it's nice to get to know some more of the dwarves... Bombur gets a crowd pleasing badass moment during the barrel chase. And, as we all know, Sir McKellan just is Gandalf. Stephen Fry was acceptably slimy as the Master of Laketown. And while I liked Luke Evans as Bard, I couldn't help but think he looked like Legolas with a beard.

Don't take my first three paragraphs as a slam against the movie, I really enjoyed it, and I will recommend it. I just think it was flawed, but I hope the Extended Edition will help out with those pacing issues by inserting some quieter scenes back into the movie... I did enjoy the Extended Edition of the first film, I should mention. Was it the best movie I've seen this year? No. Did I enjoy it more than the comic book movies I've seen this year? Hell yes. Overall, I think "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Twelve Years A Slave" are the only ones I enjoyed more. Tauriel sucked, but I liked everybody else. That cliffhanger was just evil, and I wish I didn't have to wait a year to see the next installment.

Oh, and look for Stephen Colbert's cameo in Laketown while you're at it!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rain of the Ghosts

I wish I could say that I pre-ordered this book from, but I didn't. And for that I'm sorry, I'm really, really sorry. But I'm flat broke these days. But I had every intention of buying it anyway, and when I saw it put out on the shelf a day early in my local Barnes & Noble, I snatched it up fast and ran to the register. I read the first half of it last night, stopping at about 4am, and then just finished it about an hour ago.

"Rain of the Ghosts" is a fun romp through the Prospero Keys, a fictional chain of islands located near the Bermuda Triangle. The book serves as a two-hundred page introduction to what becomes a well thought-out world populated with a large cast of characters (each with their own distinctive voices). I also counted at least six heavy references to Shakespeare's works, particularly "The Tempest". In other words, it feels very much like a pilot to a Greg Weisman-helmed animated series; and I mean that as a positive. But while Gargoyles' "Awakening" could function as a nice stand-alone movie, "Rain of the Ghosts" operates more like Spectacular Spider-Man's "Survival of the Fittest" or Young Justice's "Independence Day": the immediate situation has been dealt with, but more questions are presented which will lead us into the second book, "Spirits of Ash and Foam" and hopefully beyond.

Rain Cacique serves as a strong protagonist. She's smart, tough, sarcastic, but still vulnerable and still a thirteen-year-old girl. Her best friend, Charlie, is someone I think every one will easily be able to relate to... yep, I felt that way at thirteen. Rain's grandfather, 'Bastian, is the grandfather you wish you had... very wonderfully human. Other characters pop up, many of whom while not important to this first novel will doubtless be developed later, as this is the first in a nine book series... already some are intriguing mysteries. I especially look forward to learning more about the villains in this series we've only gotten the barest glimpses of; Weisman's villains are always delicious.

The third person narration took a little bit of time for me to get used to, mostly because I kept on wondering just who was chronicling this for us; and at the same time,the point of views often change between paragraphs so we can get into the heads of other characters where appropriate. As with his TV shows, Weisman doesn't talk down to his reader and trusts them enough to trust him, leading to a neat reveal.

I had fun reading it, and it left me with a need to begin the second novel. Can't ask for more than that.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Broadcast VS Cable

I just read this article, and thought I would share it:

Should We Mourn the Death of the Network TV Drama?

I can't say I disagree with this article at all. I'm barely able to find a single drama on broadcast that is worth sitting through, let alone investing an hour a week for a year in. A show I was really looking forward to, "Agents of SHIELD", turned out to be a shining example of everything that is wrong with broadcast television. No brain and no soul. On the other hand, cable has given us "Breaking Bad", "The Sopranos", "Game of Thrones", "Mad Men" and like the article says, this is where writers want to go because they won't get network executives crawling all over them and focus-testing every aspect of the series to hell and back.

George R.R. Martin said: "Characters don't need to be likable, they just have to be interesting. People who are scumbags can engage our sympathy." 

King Joffrey Baratheon is a hateful douchebag who I cannot wait to see die, but you can't say he isn't interesting. Is Skye interesting? Is she likable? Not in the slightest as far as I'm concerned. Are the lead characters of NCIS or any of its clones memorable? I've seen a few episodes, but I couldn't tell you any of their names. But I doubt I will ever forget Tony Soprano or Walter White.

Not that there aren't exceptions to every rule. Showtime famously decreed that Dexter Morgan couldn't die which led to an ending that nobody liked. Meanwhile "Supernatural" is a show on broadcast which does just well enough to keep being renewed while mostly staying out of the eye of the suits and thus the cast and crew are given the freedom to do what they want and have a great time doing it.

I have friends who don't like live action drama and when I asked them why, they said they felt the medium was very limited. I of course soon realized their recent experiences with it were confined to the crap on network, even the shows they somewhat enjoyed were toothless fluff. I've always held the belief that drama needed to not just have teeth, but fangs as well; when it bites, it has to hurt. William Shakespeare understood that, and so do the likes of David Chase, Vince Gilligan, and George R.R. Martin.

It wasn't always like this, once upon a time shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", "Angel", "Babylon 5", "Hill Street Blues", "Homicide" and the like pushed the envelope of what you could do on television, and those shows had teeth. But the market has changed, with the rise of cable and Netflix, I don't think any of those shows would survive on network today; I don't even think they would have been initially pitched to network today. I often wonder what would happen if Joss Whedon sat on "Firefly" for a few years and pitched it to the Sci-Fi Channel or A&E.

All the passion has gone to cable, it is no coincidence that the quality has followed. Broadcast might still be in more homes, but "Agents of SHIELD" is losing viewers by the hundreds-of-thousands every week; how fitting as it is the embodiment of the broadcast drama.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Twelve Years A Slave

I actually watched this about eight days ago, and I wasn't quite sure how to review it. "Twelve Years A Slave" is a terrific movie, but it is also a very hard movie to watch. It's not necessarily watching the lashings, or the beatings because you know they're coming. It's the same thing that made "Schindler's List" so difficult, the very notion that one human being can do this to another. This isn't like watching Loki's army of Chitauri rampage through midtown Manhattan, or Shelob sting and web up Frodo; everything depicted in "Twelve Years A Slave" actually took place. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, a free man from Saratoga Springs, NY, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery down in Louisiana, renamed "Platt", and the film adapts his book as he tries to just survive.

I apologize for the brevity of this review, but as I've already said, this is a hard movie to review. All I can say is that it is excellent. Everyone involved turns in great performances, particularly Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. If you get a chance to see it, please go.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Loki's Back!

.... because, let's face it, Tom Hiddleston's Loki is likely the biggest draw and Marvel Studios knows it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I just returned from "Thor: The Dark World" and while it is not a perfect movie by any means, I had a perfectly good time viewing it, in spite of the full bladder I held in throughout most of the flick (I need to learn not to drink that large soft drink an hour before I sit down in the theater). As much as I enjoyed the first "Thor", it was mostly an okay movie saved by by Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. It had a lot of problems with pacing, essential scenes being left on the cutting room floor, Jane Foster and her sidekicks feeling like pointless add-ons just to name a few. Most of that is corrected in this installment, now with "Game of Thrones"' own Alan Taylor at the helm.

For starters, the polished and clean Asgard is gone. Whereas last time the set was so clean, you could eat off every inch of it, this time Asgard felt like a real place where these people lived and worked instead of a sterile sound stage. It was nice seeing more of the city, it all really came to life... and thank god because it made the Viking Funeral sequence more powerful because of it.

Jane Foster... didn't annoy me as much this time. She didn't feel as forced. I know, I'm shocked. I could have done with less of Darcy and her intern, but they did get some laughs out of me. I still would have traded them for more of Sif and the Warriors Three... but it is my understanding that Jaimie Alexander broke her back at one point during filming which is why Sif disappears from the story about halfway through the movie. But they introduced the notion of Sif being jealous of Thor's infatuation with Jane, and I hope they play that up more in the next movie.

Once again Chris Hemsworth owns the role of Thor. I don't think I need to say that he continues to be majestic in the role, because while not everybody has seen the first "Thor", everybody on Midgar has seen "The Avengers". Thor has learned the lessons of the first movie, and is humble and honorable while still appropriately proud.

I don't believe I am mistaken when I say that Tom Hiddleston as Loki is, by this point, as essential to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark (and don't think Marvel doesn't know it now). I first saw the signs at the 2011 New York Comic Con when, during the Avengers movie panel (which I was in the room for), 90% of the questions from the audience were directed at Hiddleston (while Chris Evans, Clark Gregg, Mark Ruffalo, Cobie Smulders), to Loki becoming a sex symbol when "The Avengers" came out (something I never saw coming in my 20+ years reading the character in comics) to his in-character appearance at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con when I swear the thousands of people in that room would have kneeled. His scenes (most of them with Hemsworth) are among the best in the movie, and as usual, you can tell that Hiddleston relishes the role... and he fooled me at a key moment, like any good trickster should.

Rene Russo as Frigga was the surprise for me, I won't say too much, but I appreciated her role here since she is, for all intents and purposes, what set the story into motion.

Unfortunately, Christopher Eccleston as Malekith the Accursed is, without a doubt, the most underdeveloped villain in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. As I understand it, a lot of his material wound up on the cutting room floor (which also happened to Loki in the first movie... but didn't cripple the character), so Malekith comes off less than a character and more as an obstacle to be overcome. He is the film's weakest link, but not a crippling one because, well, is there anyone in the world who is going to see this movie to see Malekith? I know that "Doctor Who" is huge in the nerd community, and the fact that one of the Doctors was in this movie barely seemed to register with any geek I know. He wasn't horrible, nor was he great. Malekith was.... adequate.

The action was mostly good, but the final battle against Malekith was a bit lackluster. Again, not horrible, but... acceptable. I was more excited by the fleeting glimpses we got at the other realms than Thor defeating Malekith. I thought the assault on Asgard as well as the battles on Svartalfheim were better than the Battle of London.

My overall grade for the movie would have to be a B+. I liked it a lot, I had a great time, and it was great fun. And, quite frankly, I needed to have a great time with the Marvel Cinematic Universe after being let down by the imbecilic "Agents of SHIELD". At the end, we were promised that Thor would return, and I look forward to seeing his next cinematic adventures in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and beyond.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cute Animal Theater

Can cuteness counteract evil? Twenty years ago, Conan O'Brien decided to find out.

Friday, November 1, 2013

An Update

1. "Shows I Want To Like" will not be an ongoing segment on this blog, after all. I dropped both "Legend of Korra" and "Agents of SHIELD". I just couldn't stand either one of them. I've gone on about my problems with the former ad nauseum. The latter, well aside from Agent May, I hated all the new characters. The writing was barely above amateur, and the acting is laughable... especially from Skye and Ward. Maybe if Coulson was the main character, but he's not... Skye is and she's terrible. Both her and Ward need to be taken out behind the barn and shot. Considering those two characters are getting terrible buzz, alongside the two actors, I wonder if maybe something will be done... Marvel Studios are already planning to "fix" the Mandarin.

2. I think the reason I've been dragging my feet with the Tarantino movies is Jackie Brown is terrible and I'm not looking forward to re-watching it. But I plan to set time aside to do it tomorrow, so I can cross that hurdle and get to Kill Bill, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchained. I think I'll save Django for late December, one year after it came out and see how it holds up.

3. This is just an FYI to you all. If you recommend a show to me, and I say I'm not interested, insisting on it, and pushing it is more likely to turn me off to it, as opposed to getting me to check it out. Generally speaking, it takes a lot to get me to watch a new TV show, and I am more likely to if the recommendation comes from a handful of people I personally know who are both friends as well as professional contacts... I just don't have time to check out everything. It's not that I don't value your opinions, I wouldn't allow comments if I didn't, I just don't have the time and stick with people I know and trust. Don't take it personally.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Top Twenty-Five Live-Action TV Villains

This one is long overdue, but I'm glad I waited.

25. Saffron

Did we ever learn her real name? I guess it doesn't matter, since her name didn't matter so much as her actions. Screwing everyone in her path to get what she wanted. I enjoyed her in both appearances, and would have loved to see more. That and it made me a fan of Christina Hendricks.

24. Khan Noonien Singh

While better known for his appearance in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (and another movie we will not speak of), Ricardo Montalban made his debut as Khan in one of the best episodes of the original series... and Nicholas Meyer was impressed enough to bring him back in what is considered the best movies of all time. But "Space Seed" is great, and you can easily see why Khan made an impression.

23. Brian Moser

This guy was creepy. Dexter's first Big Bad, and second best. His older brother who represents what he could have become. The first person Dexter didn't want to kill, but felt he had to.

22. Lilah Morgan

Angel Investigations' most enduring foe had to be Lilah Morgan of Wolfram & Hart. She menaced them for four seasons while working her way up in the firm. She was pragmatic enough to use them for her own ends, and even entered into an affair made in Hell with Wesley. I remember being pissed when she got killed, but her contract with Wolfram & Hart extends beyond her death. I like to think she would have continued to be a thorn in Angel's side, even had the show not been cancelled.

21. Arthur Mitchell

"The dad from Third Rock From The Sun as a serial killer? How am I supposed to take that seriously?" was what I asked myself when I first heard that John Lithgow was playing the Trinity Killer on "Dexter", and what do you know, he turned in a very scary performance as Dexter's Big Bad. His modus operandi was frightening, his abuse of his family made my skin crawl. Everything about this guy was nightmarish. Not killing him when he had his first chance was Dexter's greatest mistake, which would resonate throughout the rest of the show's run. You would think I would have learned after this experience not to underestimate someone who played a wacky sitcom dad, but we'll come back to that....

20. Irene Adler

After being utterly disappointed with Rachel McAdams in the bland and terrible Robert Downy Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies, Steven Moffat rides to the rescue with the brilliant BBC series, "Sherlock" and an Irene Adler that would make Sir Arthur Conan Doyle proud. Lara Pulver plays an Irene Adler who is a dominatrix, serving high-end clients. Possessing incriminating photos of a member of the Royal Family, Sherlock is hired to recover the photos and finds himself captivated by her. Probably the best episode of the series, and a wonderful performance.

19. Lord Antono Refa

Don't let his stupid hairstyle fool you, Lord Refa is one evil motherfucker. A scheming patriarch of a powerful noble house in the royal court of the Centauri, Lord Refa takes advantage of Londo Mollari's "associates" to put a psychopath on the throne all while he pushes for galactic war to restore the Centauri to what he feels is their rightful place in the galaxy. He destroys the Narn homeworld, enslaves its people, creates extermination camps and commits all sorts of atrocities. His death scene is one of the most satisfying in the history of television.

18. Nancy Botwin

I've talked about her before. A suburban housewife who starts selling marijuana after her husband dies to support her family in their upper-middle-class suburban lifestyle. She lies, she schemes, she uses people. She never kills anyone, but people die because of her. Even her children get involved in the business. She starts out as the sane one, but slowly descends into depravity, but she loves her family and occasionally has her heroic moments. But only occasionally.

17. Lilith

God created the angels, then he created the humans and ordered the angels to love the humans. Lucifer couldn't do it and corrupted a human, transforming Lilith into the first demon. For a millennia, Lilith held all of the contracts humans made with demons, and was freed from Hell at the end of the second season to free Lucifer from his prison. She took the form of a little girl most of the time, and proved to be a thorn in the Winchesters' side, as she would do anything and kill anyone to break the sixty-six seals she needed to free Lucifer.

16. Gustavo "Gus" Fring

The owner of a chain of fast food restaurants in the southwest, Gus Fring is an upstanding member of the community, and a frequent donor to law enforcement. He is also one of the biggest distributors of methamphetamine in the country. He is very intelligent, and always cool and collected. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of the Big Man from "The Spectacular Spider-Man". His coldness was what made him so intimidating, and he you never knew what he was going to do next. Very cool. Very scary.

15. Melisandre

A religious fanatic from across the Narrow Sea who becomes a major player in the War of the Five Kings, as she believes Stannis Baratheon to be the messiah of her faith, the disciple of the fire god known as the Lord of Light. Stannis may be married, but Melisandre is his queen as she coaxes him to do terrible things including murder his younger brother and eventually take the Iron Throne so she may purge Westeros of the other gods. She burns people alive, all for the future she reads in the flames. She is right about one thing, the night is dark and full of terrors.

14. Mayor Richard Wilkins III

The nicest evil guy ever. A conservative, family-values politician who is as into cleanliness as he is evil. He built Sunnydale for demons to feed on, in exchange for one day being able to ascend by transforming into a powerful and immortal demon, himself. The brighter the image, the darker the negative. He takes a photo with boyscouts while sacrificing babies to a demon. He becomes a surrogate father to the rogue Slayer, Faith, all while corrupting her into a vicious killer.

13. Morden

What do you want? Think very carefully when asked that question, it could be your undoing otherwise. Mr. Morden is an unassuming man you might not glance twice at. But that's the devil's favorite shape to come in, and Morden is an emissary of chaos. When first we meet him, he visits every ambassador on Babylon 5 and asks them what they want, and when he gets the answer he's looking for the galaxy is soon plunged into a terrible war as his masters, the Shadows work to create chaos... all while Morden gladly helps them, as well as serves as the hook that allows Londo Mollari to damn himself.

12. Cersei Lannister

The scheming queen of Westeros... sold into a loveless marriage to King Robert Baratheon, Cersei finds her own happiness in the arms of her twin brother, Jaime... and mothers his bastard children who are all raised as King Robert's own. Once the truth comes out, she arranges to have Robert killed and maneuvers her son, Joffrey onto the throne. Utterly ruthless and without morals, Cersei is feared and hated across the realm which she sees as nothing more than enemies. Her only redeeming quality is that she loves her children, no matter how monstrous they are.

11. Lucifer

Once an archangel of God who, in his eyes, loved God too much. He refused to love the humans, and after twisting Lilith into the first demon, he was imprisoned in a cage so deep in Hell, no demon has ever seen him. Upon being freed, Lucifer takes a widower named Nick as his vessel and prepares for the Apocalypse... his ultimate goal to wipe out the humans and then his own creations, the demons and create a paradise for the angels to live in. Basically, Lucifer is an angry child throwing a rebellious fit on a cosmic scale.

10. Dexter Morgan

A merciless killer, trained by his father to hunt down other killers. But make no mistake, he doesn't do this out of a sense of justice but a need to act on his sociopathic urges by killing those who won't be missed and will only hurt others. At least until Showtime tried to turn him into some weird superhero in the latter seasons, forgetting what he was entirely. The latter seasons have a lot o problems, but the first four seasons are classic TV at this point, not that I didn't enjoy some things about those seasons, but Dexter is an example of a show which stayed on the air for way too long. But the character of Dexter Morgan is still an amazing creation, and he is still one of TV's greatest villain-protagonists.

9. Angelus

Just about every vampire and demon on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is a metaphor for coming of age. Angelus was what happens when a young girl falls for the wrong guy, sleeps with him, and he changes. His first scene with Buffy as Angelus, when he breaks her heart in the bedroom is always a scene that makes me want to apologize for my gender. Men can be dicks. And Angelus was a cruel and ruthless killer, engaging in torture and mass murder for the fun of it, always with glee. Easily the best Big Bad in the Buffyverse.

8. Alfred Bester

Humans aren't the most tolerant bunch, are we? When telepaths came out, fearing for our privacy and power, we stripped them of every right they had and forced them to police themselves in a government run organization called Psi Corps. What did we get? Black uniforms, an organization that has grown in power and helped assassinate one president to allow a new one sympathetic to them to take office. What makes the Psi Corps so scary is that if telepaths did come out, I can't see us doing anything different with them in reality. And nobody embodies the Psi Corps more than Alfred Bester, a Psi Cop whose job it is to hunt down rogue telepaths... by any means necessary, all while expanding the influence and reach of the Psi Corps... when he's not running prison camps for rogue telepaths which are little better than Nazi concentration camps. Bester oozed evil, and he was proud of it.

7. King Joffrey Baratheon

Where do I begin with him? Joffrey is a sadistic spoiled little shit when we first meet him, and his ascension to the throne doesn't make him any better, quite the opposite. He has people tortured and killed for fun, he believes, as king, that everybody in Westeros is his to torment. The product of incest, Joffrey rules in the same vein as Caligula or Nero. He is so terrible that the rest of the cast often has to assure the audience in interviews that the actor who plays him, Jack Gleeson, is a very nice kid in real life. Never before have I seen such a contemptible character, which in turn makes for a terrific villain. I think the internet is going to have an orgasm when he finally dies.

6. The Shadows

There are beings in the universe billions of years older than the human race. Once long ago, they walked among the stars like giants, vast and timeless. They explored beyond the rim, built great empires, and came to be known as the First Ones. Eventually the First Ones went away, but two stayed behind as shepherds and guardians. One was the Vorlons, who were lords of order. The others eventually came to be known as the Shadows. Eventually the Vorlons and the Shadows fell out as both wanted to shepherd the younger races from opposite positions, as well as both coming to believe their way was the right way, the only way. The Shadows came to be Social Darwinists, lords of chaos... who would come out every few thousand years and kick over all the ant hills, start wars, and destroy entire races. With their black and terrible ships, that could shriek a terrifying scream, they were the stuff of nightmares. While eventually defeated, their legacy lived on.

5. Jim Moriarty

The most radical adaptation Steven Moffat made when he re-worked the Sherlock Holmes mythos into modern-day London was a risky one... gone was the cape-wearing university professor who was a gentleman upstanding member of society and in was a gay little Irishman who reveled in his evil. He wasn't the slightest bit subtle, and sometimes acted cartoonish.  An evil genius who made an attempt to steal the crown jewels in a very public manner and still managed to convince the world he didn't exist, all so he could destroy Sherlock Holmes... so far he was willing to go, that he killed himself and pinned all of his crimes on his enemy just so he could get his jollies. It shouldn't have worked, but it did.... a terrifying version of Holmes' archenemy.

4. Tywin Lannister

The patriarch of the Lannister family, Lord Tywin is the most powerful and ruthless man in all of Westeros. If you've ever wondered if there are worse fathers in fiction than Norman Osborn or Fire Lord Ozai, well here he is. He is not particularly fond of any of his children, and unlike the other two, there are no Freudian reasons. He loved his father, said he was a kind and loving man... and he has many fond memories of him.... but his father also nearly bankrupted and ruined the Lannisters, something Tywin vowed would never happen again, and that he would build a thousand year dynasty on top of that. As grandfather to and Hand of the King, he rules Westeros in all but name and title. The Lannisters' song, the Rains of Castamere was written about his crushing victory over a rebellious house that challenged him, and is sung as a reminder of the fates of all who dare cross him.

3. Crowley

A "Supernatural" villain cracks the top three, and it isn't Lucifer. Crowley was once a human tailor who sold his soul for a bigger dick, before becoming the demonic King of the Crossroads, making deals with humans for their very souls, and being so good at it that he was Lilith's right-hand. A pragmatist at heart, caring only for his own self-interest, he helped the Winchesters defeat and re-imprison Lucifer before becoming the King of Hell, himself. Smart and cunning, he runs Hell like a business, always seeking to expand his power and reach. He is also the only one who doesn't underestimate the Winchesters, and when their usefulness to him ended, he made every move to eliminate them. Charming, evil, funny, and ruthless... and recently he had a portion of his humanity restored. What this means in the long run is anyone's guess, but I always enjoy watching him and will raise a glass to Mark Sheppard's performance.

2. Tony Soprano

Even if you've never watched him, you've heard of him. The boss of the DiMeo crime family based in New Jersey who not only changed the world around him, he changed television forever. He was always fascinating to watch and often fun, raising a family and running his business. He loved animals as much as he loved strippers, but at heart he was always a sociopath... even seeing a shrink so he could become a better criminal. He was surrounded by a colorful cast in both of his families while never feeling like a straight man. James Gandolfini's performance will forever be remembered, and Tony Soprano will never be forgotten as he is still influencing television to this day. Up until recently, he would have been number one on this list, without question, but someone else flew into my radar.

1. Walter White

A High School chemistry teacher, who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has a pregnant wife and a son with cerebral palsy, is diagnoses with terminal lung cancer... not wanting to leave his family with medical bills, and to make sure they're taken care of, he teams up with a former student of his to cook methamphetamine... and that's how it starts, as a "victimless crime". But there's no room in this business for nice people, and slowly Walt becomes more ruthless, and more monstrous. Known to the DEA and the criminal community by the alias "Heisenberg", he transforms from unassuming High School teacher into the most ruthless and evil person in the series. Or maybe it wasn't a transformation, maybe that was all already there, and it came out. Walt has many chances to get out, other options come along that could solve his problems, but he rejects them all out of pride, and continues to build his business, leaving many bodies in his wake. Whatever his intentions, it doesn't matter and the show never sugarcoats him; Walter White is a terrible person; a bastard who destroys the very thing he sets out to save, all because he is a prideful narcissist who blames everyone else for his own failings.

Now, I wrestled with making him my number one, I only recently watched and finished the series, and I didn't want to think it was hype getting to me. I thought about it for a long time, but there was no other clear choice. He was it. It helped that the series made no bones about what he was, and never rationalized it, as much as he, himself, did. You weren't meant to root for him. I felt sympathy for him at first, I grew to hate him as well as pity him. But I never wanted to be him, he was a complete subversion of the badass outlaw alpha male fantasy in ways others on this list aren't, and all while never feeling preached to, and keeping him a fascinating, three-dimensional character. Yes, he loves his family... but just because he's not a one-dimensional cartoon character doesn't mean he's not one of the most evil people ever to exist in the realm of fiction. I raise a glass to Walter White, I would say that I hope you are some day topped, but the thought is frightening. Oh yeah, and he was played by Bryan Cranston... the dad from "Malcolm In the Middle" who turned in just as surprising a performance as John Lithgow.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

You're a monster, Mr. White

Television hasn't been too kind to me, lately. I've dropped two major shows that just about most people are making a huge deal out of. Fortunately, I am passed the point in my life where I will keep watching a bad show just so I can bitch about it week after week. I needed something great, something to make up for the TV shows that have recently disappointed me. "Breaking Bad" has been on my list for a while, even after the much-talked-about finale. Over a month after the series ended, I realized I still knew next to nothing about the show, and the ending remained unspoiled for me. But how much longer would that last? I fast-tracked "Breaking Bad" to the top of my list and binge-watched it in less than a week.

I'm not going to summarize the show or the characters since I think just about everyone in the world knows who Walter White is, and the basic premise of the show. But he is a terrific character, and now at the end of all things, I don't know how I feel about him, after watching him devolve into the creature he became. I sympathized with him, I hated him, I pitied him. But I can't say I ever liked him, nor do I think he was a "badass" of any kind. He's very smart, but he is also lowly, pathetic, piece of human garbage with an uncanny ability to self-rationalize everything he does. He's narcissistic, has more than enough chances to stop, and in the end destroys what he was initially trying to save. He certainly reminds a lot of another character whom I am very well known for loving.

"Breaking Bad" was an emotional roller coaster, as all great dramas are. I laughed, I cringed, I was horrified. The episode titled "Ozymandias" came very close to breaking me, I almost turned it off... but I couldn't. I sat there mesmerized by the cruelty and evil of the entirety. It was a punch in the gut, and pushed a lot of buttons for me. It was horrific, and it was also one of the most exceptional hours of television I have ever watched.

It was a great reminder of how great cable tv is, especially after "Agents of SHIELD" reminded me why I can't stand broadcast tv. Some people I know are calling it the best television series ever. While I don't want to make a proclamation that bold, "Breaking Bad" is very easily a contender for the title. It just keeps getting better and better. There are no low-points in the series, everything fits together like an important piece of a puzzle. There isn't a bad or even a mediocre episode. I can't say the same for most other shows. "Breaking Bad" knew when it was time to go, because I would not be surprised if AMC wanted to keep milking the Golden Goose. It was a very rare animal, a perfect TV show just as "The Godfather" is a perfect movie.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's Time For Another Clue-By-Four

The FCC Released A Bunch Of ‘Simpsons’-Related Indecency Complaints, And They Are Pretty Great

Here's another example, some idiot on ToonZone a few years ago whining and moaning about how the "Gargoyles" episode, Deadly Force, shouldn't have been made. - this one is old, I know... but it still makes my blood boil.

If these people have a problem with the content of a show, there is a simple solution: change the channel, turn the television off or program the parental controls to only allow TV-G content. Oh wait, these people want to control the content that I get to watch on my own television? Mind your own business, you fundie puritan zealots!

I wish these moral guardians would do society a favor and pick up their guns, stick the barrel into their mouths and pull the trigger. They whine, they bitch, they moan. They fucking hate the First Amendment.... either move to the Middle East where nothing that offends their sensibilities will ever be aired, or commit suicide. But they need to get the fuck out of this country.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New York Comic Con

1. I attended New York Comic Con this past weekend, with a press pass. I had a great time even though I didn't hit any panels. I wanted to get into the screening for the third "Berserk" movie, but sadly I didn't make it in. But I got to meet up with some friends, meet some creators I admire... and creators I hold nothing but contempt for. For example, I can confirm that Rob Liefeld does indeed possess feet... I wasn't sure.

2. Christopher Jones, who drew the third issue of "Gargoyles: Bad Guys" and the "Young Justice" comic book drew me a beautiful Demona. I already have a Mike McKone Demona and a Greg Guler Demona. I do have this insane hope to one day have every great comic book artist draw her. I'd love a Mark Bagley Demona, or if Hell freezes over, a John Romita Demona.

3. I met Bruce Boxleitner at Comic Con. He was doing a signing, and I stood on line for over an hour (and witnessed  the Green Power Ranger (I don't know his name, please don't tell me) hug Hulk Hogan) to meet TV's best captain. I called him that and he pointed and said "Shatner's down there." Very nice man. I've wanted to meet him for almost twenty years, so it was great to finally get the chance.

4. I cosplayed. It wasn't something I planned to do, but I had the clothes in my closet. A black business suit with a black shirt and black tie, and a black cashmere overcoat I had inherited from my father... so, last minute cosplay as Crowley, a crossroads demon and the King of Hell. Is it cosplaying when this is the type of thing I'd wear any way? I don't know, but I had fun. Yes, I'm a dork.

5. I didn't get to see Vanessa Marshall, and found out she was there after the fact.

So, I missed meeting up with Mary Jane Watson's voice actress while dressed up as the King of Hell. There's a "One More Day" joke in there, I'm sure of it.

6. Pondering the future of this blog. I seem to get the most comments when reviewing a certain show I refuse to watch another second of. I admit, I've even considered closing it since my interests don't seem to coincide with my audience's interests these days. But I will at least finish up the Tarantino reviews, I know I'll be reviewing "Thor: The Dark World" next month, and the second Hobbit movie. After that, who knows.

7. I've found that "Game of Thrones" is a very hard sell to other geeks, and I'm not sure why. This isn't only the best geek show of the last five years, it's probably the best show of the last five years, period. Three seasons in, and it might be in the top half of my all time Top Ten. The writing is spectacular. The acting is phenomenal. Everything about it is a home run... why can't I sell people on this one?

8. Planning a Top Twenty-Five Live Action TV Villains entry and video. It's not finished being compiled and ranked yet, but feel free to toss suggestions at me, in case there's someone I haven't considered.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

And Now For Something Positive

I recently finished watching the first season of "Downton Abbey" and this show is terrific. It's a British period piece, set in the years leading up to World War I (actually, season one ends with the war breaking out) about an aristocratic family in the Yorkshire countryside and their servants during the reign of King George V. Hugh Bonneville plays Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham whose heirs died when the Titanic sunk, and he can't leave his estate to his daughter, Mary and wants to, so he needs to find a new heir. That's the pilot, and it gets better from there.

The cast is terrific, the writing is very sharp. I've always been an enthusiast of history, and I love all the references to the events surrounding them. I've only just begun season two, and I'm loving it. It's a BBC show which airs on PBS. If you haven't seen it, I believe it's on Netflix. It features a footman named Thomas who is as much of a villainous scumbag as I've ever seen.

I plan to start "Breaking Bad" soon, too... and I'm sure I'll like it. Thank gods I have "Game of Thrones", "Downton Abbey", "Supernatural", and I'm sure "Breaking Bad" to keep me happy when other shows have disappointed me.

A Decision

I know a few days ago I said that I neither like or hate "Legend of Korra". But times change, things evolve, and so do opinions. The more thought I give "Legend of Korra", the more I despise it. There is nothing I despise more than wasted potential.

The story of the first Avatar intrigues me, so I'm sticking around for that. Once that story is over, I am done with the show. I know I said I'd give it the season, but I can't. I hate the show; it makes me angry. And I hate people who watch a show each week only to complain about it, and I never wanted to be one of those people.

This blog won't become the "I Hate Korra" blog. I'm out. I'm done. At least a Michael Bay movie is dead on arrival, and never had a chance to be good. This show could have been good, should have been good, but it was a piece of shit instead. Congratulations, "Legend of Korra", I'm rating you on the same level I rate Michael Bay's filmography and "The Goliath Chronicles".

It Is An Abomination

At the rate I'm going, I should re-name this blog "I Hate Korra".

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Shows I Want To Like Vol. 1

I was really looking forward to "Agents of SHIELD" and while I enjoyed the pilot; and even the second episode to a certain extent, there is something about the show that doesn't engage me, and it took me a while to figure it out. Which characters did I enjoy the most? Coulson, Hill, and Fury. Which ones am I having trouble caring about? Everybody else. The second episode was all about trying to make us care about these people, and thus far I cannot bring myself to.

I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Coulson as a character, but this feels more like a bad 90's syndicated series like Mutant X or Xena than what I was expecting from this show. I know most shows have their growing pains and need time to find their feet, so I plan to give this four more episodes. But if it doesn't hook me, I'm gone. And the scene with the inflatable raft was as stupid as Bolin.

Which brings me to "Legend of Korra". As for this week's episode? Well, I didn't hate it. But I hate how everyone is being made worse just to make the Creators' Pet, Mako, look good. Yes, I agreed with his actions in this. And Korra gets dumber and dumber every week. If Nickelodeon pulled the plug on this show right now, and it ended with Korra being eaten by an angry spirit, I wouldn't miss her... and I'd probably call it a happy ending at this point. I didn't hate her last season, but I despise her this season.

Water Lord Ozai sends his kids (including his crazy daughter) to hunt the Avatar and it succeeds in reminding me that I'd rather be watching the original series. Eska is no Azula. And Unalaq isn't even Fire Lord Ozai.

By the way, Varrick was behind the explosion and is trying to manipulate this war so he can make a profit. I don't know if he's going to turn out to be the real villain, or just an opportunist, but we'll see. Hell, I think that judge last week was paid off by Varrick to volunteer the info to Korra. She just demanded the sentence be changed, and then he just easily lets slip that Water Lord Ozai framed her dad years ago?

And what the hell is a prince of the Fire Nation doing working for another country's military? Shouldn't he be the commander of the Fire Nation navy?

Bolin, oh Bolin:

"Mako, that tingling feeling is back."
"Bolin, we've discussed this. Go to the Men's room, unzip your fly and pee. This is the 300th time this year. Go pee."
"Oh yeah... thanks, big brother."

When is Darwin going to kill off this retard so he can't infect the gene pool with his own crotch spawn?

I don't hate these shows, but I don't like them either.

EDIT: For the time being, I'm going to talk about both shows in a segment now titled "Shows I Want To Like"

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Another Show That Died Too Soon...

Because I'm tired of talking about a show that probably should have been cancelled after its first season let me talk about a show that I loved that didn't get to finish its debut season.

Another victim of the Fox Network comes one of the most vicious and yet funniest sitcoms that ever aired. I loved it, but most of America seemed to fucking loathe it. Yes, I'm swearing... they did on the show. The 1999 comedy, "Action" starring Jay Mohr as the sleaziest producer in Hollywood, Peter Dragon.

I remember watching this show as it originally aired and being disappointed when it was cancelled. Then, while attending film school in Los Angeles, I stumbled across the DVD set and bought it... hell, not even all of the episodes aired. The show's satire of the film business and the people in it was so dead-on, so brutal... and I appreciated it even more now than I did as a teenager.

Illeana Douglas plays Wendy Ward, a former child actress who was once very famous before her career tanked due to a cocaine habit and now works as a high-priced call girl. Circumstances in the pilot lead her into going to a movie premiere with Peter and after giving honest criticism of his latest box office bomb, she becomes his Vice President of Production while in an open relationship with Peter.

There are other main characters, but the basic premise revolves around Peter producing a bomb and buying a script that he absolutely needs to succeed, and the trials and tribulations of getting it into production all while being the most vile human being on the planet. Obviously this isn't a show that would play well in flyover country. It did well in big cities, but middle America loathed it. Well, what do those ignorant rednecks know anyway? I kid, I kid... I always enjoyed the country every time I flew over it.

It's mean spirited. It's not politically correct. None of the characters are likable, but that's totally by design. Peter Dragon is obviously based on producers such as Joel Silver and Jerry Bruckheimer, and it cuts. It cuts deep. I thought it was brilliant, and I wonder why it was on Fox at all. This should have been an HBO show. But the premium channels hadn't risen to what they were today. Broadcast was the wrong home for it, and it was killed. A shame, it was ahead of it's time.

For now, I'll leave you with the pilot. When my brother first came out to visit me in LA, we watched the pilot and he looked at me and asked "you want to be like this guy, don't you?" I'll let you guess what my answer was.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

Legend of Korra

Okay, huge improvement this week. Except for Bolin who isn't funny, just annoyingly stupid... I mean, good lord. It's reached a point where he's such an idiot, I'm wondering if he needs help wiping his own ass.

Everything else was fine. Korra's head was pulled out of her ass and let's hope it stays that way.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Farewell to the Morgans

Sigh... it was so close to being perfect. So close.

I admit it, this final season of "Dexter" was pretty lackluster. While Dr. Evelyn Vogel was a terrific new character, played well by Charlotte Rampling; the season meandered a lot on new characters we didn't care about, and a Big Bad who was pretty underwhelming... but then, I stopped expecting Brian Moser and Arthur Mitchell to be topped long ago. Some say I was kinder to seasons six and seven than I should have been. But I always enjoyed watching Dexter and Debra Morgan, even when the plot wasn't worthy of them.

That all being said, I was apprehensive about the finale. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, and also prepared myself for disappointment.

All things considered, I loved what we got. The penultimate episode ended with Dexter getting over his need to kill. Big Bad, Oliver Saxon aka the Brain Surgeon had been captured, Dexter chose to give him to his sister, Debra (who had rejoined Miami Metro Homicide), and he was going to leave the country for Argentina with his son, Harrison; and fugitive girlfriend, Hannah McKay. He was on his way to a happy ending and ten Saxon got loose, shot Deb and escaped.

Now we've seen Debra get shot before, and this episode teases you with the notion that she's going to pull through. She survives surgery, she has a conversation with Dexter (who got off the plane after shenanigans with a bounty hunter going after Hannah (played by Sean Patrick Flannery who I worked with once, yay!)), and the doctor gives her a good prognosis. Dexter sends Hannah and Harrison away with a promise to meet up with them after he is sure Debra is safe, and sure enough, Saxon shows up to finish the job only to be arrested by Miami Metro. All is well, Deb is sage.

But, for Dexter Morgan, there are no happy endings. Nor should there be. There were complications with Debra's surgery, she had a stroke, her brain was cut off from oxygen and she's brain dead. She will spend the rest of her life as a vegetable... and despite everything, Dexter knows this is all on him. He is a monster, and a horrible cloud on his family's lives.

He goes back to Miami Metro, goes into Saxon's cell and kills him in a manner he can say is self defense. Batista and Quinn know this is bullshit, obviously... but they never knew what Dexter was, and were just as happy to see this scumbag die.

And this is the end, Hurricane Laura (same name as Dexter's mother) is fast approaching Miami, the hospital is being evacuated, and Dexter goes in and commits his final kill. The most difficult one he's ever done, the first time we've ever seen him cry. He knows Debra would not want to live as a vegetable and pulls the plug in a very powerful scene. He then smuggles her body out of the hospital in the hurricane confusion and onto his boat, where he buries her at sea in a beautifully shot scene. He calls Hannah and speaks to his son one last time before deciding his son needs to be protected from himself... and then he drives his boat into the hurricane. The remains are found days later, and Dexter is declared dead. Batista mourns, Hannah mourns in Argentina as she protects Harrison from this information, and we fade to black.

After a lackluster season this ending was perfect, it was actually beautiful, sublime. It was nice to see Dexter finally have a moment of clarity and realize what a poison he's been to the people who care about him. Most importantly of all, this was about Dexter and Debra. The relationship between the brother and sister was the core relationship of the entire show. Dexter had to destroy the person who, throughout his life, he cared about most.

The flashbacks to Harrison being born, and Dexter and Debra seeing him for the first time were terrific, and really summed up how Dexter was kidding himself, how he felt that maybe he could connect with others, how maybe he could have a happy ending. But he can't. He shouldn't

I was fine with him escaping legal justice. We had Miami Metro hunting the Bay Harbor Butcher in season two, and we had LaGuerta privately hunting Dexter in season seven. I didn't need to see this same story again only this time they catch him.

When it faded to black, I was ready to give it an A+

Then we arrived in Oregon, and found Dexter living alone with a full beard, cut off from other people working in a lumberyard. Having sent himself into exile. I'm sorry, but no. I get what they were going for on an intellectual level, they wanted him to live with what he did, knowing he can never be near his son again, and finally having his actions weigh on him. But, as far as I'm concerned, you could either have had the one ending, or the other. The idea that he could pull a Batman and escape from a hurricane... and even beyond that. The death scene we thought we were getting was so well done, I believed in it... Debra was so human, she was his humanity. The final shot, there was just no soul to it, in an episode that already had a lot of soul.

I don't know what grade to give it. I loved the episode until the cop out ending. I have no idea what compelled them to do it. It felt like an alternate ending that would turn up as a DVD extra.

TV just hasn't been kind to me lately.


So, I've spent the last two days arguing about this with my brother... I'm going to give the show the rest of the season. Maybe my complaints will be addressed. I think Korra is salvagable as a character... I think Mako and Bolin are not. But, there are five people in the world whose opinions are, as far as I'm concerned gospel (even when we do occasionally disagree), and my brother is one of them.

Okay, Korra, you have my patience. Thank my brother.

Friday, September 20, 2013

I Quit.

This is a show I want to like. Really. I really do. "Book One" had problems, but the scales didn't tip for me, the good outweighed the bad. But Book Two so far... well.

Korra… she’s just a completely unlikable idiot who never learns a damn thing. The little girl who called her "the worst Avatar ever" got applause from me. I almost think the show would be more interesting if she was evolving into the primary antagonist, a corrupt and dangerous Avatar who the world needs to band together to take down. But they won't do that.

I don’t like Bolin. He’s not funny, he’s just stupid. Bolin is asking Mako of all people for advice on how to cleanly end a relationship in a way nobody gets hurt. And all the attempts at humor with him make me cringe. Sokka was funny, but there was way more to him than that.

Mako is, at best, horribly bland and at worst a complete abomination of a character. Oh yeah, and Mako referred to Asami as a blood sucking leech. You know, the girl who sacrificed everything for him. I reiterate this… bland at his best, a complete abomination of a character at his worst. Please kill him! Please! But they won't. In fact, the creators spent half of the entire audio commentary for the first season defending/justifying Mako and behaving as if his critics didn't know what they were talking about. The last time I saw that kind of defense in a commentary was about Sofia Coppola's performance in "The Godfather Part III"

I like everyone else on “Legend of Korra”, but these three are the leads… and for a show I desperately want to enjoy, they are sinking the ship for me.

And while I like the new locale and the new characters, I hate that we’re pretending the Equalist uprising never happened, sweeping it under the rug. It was a nuanced plot that should have had consequences, regardless of whether or not Amon was a fraud or not. But nope, out of sight, out of mind… no dealing with aftermath. Barely even a mention.

Tenzin is a great character. So are the members of his family. Lin? Awesome. Even Korra's parents are good, as were Amon and Tarlokk. There's a lot of good in this show. So why am I quitting? Because this is easily one of the most frustrating shows I've watched in a long time. I know they are capable of better. The supporting cast is wonderful. But I don't like the three main characters at all. This isn't like a Michael Bay film where I know it's going to make me angry, it's dead on arrival anyway. This could be spectacular, should be spectacular. I don't think it is. It actually breaks my heart. I originally said I would give it the entire season, and I might be lured back in due to my wanting to like it. But, for now, I'm not going to go out of my way to watch it. I doubt I'm going to miss it.

And yet, despite all this, I still root for it's success. Because I want action cartoons to be seen as profitable. My prediction is people will claim that the low ratings it's now receiving is because the lead is a lady and then we'll never get it again. They say that every time a comic movie with a lady matter how awful it is. You never hear that with "Jonah Hex" or "Lone Ranger". 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Yom Kippur

This day of atonement with two of my favorite bad guys (for the price of one).

Friday, September 13, 2013

Elisa Maza Is a Badass

While I muster up the constitution to watch Jackie Brown, I think I'll talk about one of the, sadly, unsung great heroes in the realm of animation. I was musing the other night about how I should write an essay on her, and then after being told by a friend that I had to do this, well, this is what you're getting.

Elisa Maza is often compared with April O'Neil, and I have no idea why. I suppose if you're channel surfing and spend less than a minute on "Gargoyles" and only take things in at their most superficial, you'll see a normal woman hanging out with a bunch of gargoyles and make that leap. But that's as ridiculous as saying Demona is just like Mystique or Xanatos is just like Lex Luthor. Elisa is so much more than that, and I will say it, she is one of the greatest animated heroes of all time. Notice that I didn't say "greatest animated love interests" or anything like that. I don't put her toe-to-toe with Lois Lane, Spike Witwicky from Transformers, or the aforementioned April O'Neil. No, I'm putting her toe-to-toe with the likes of Batman; any version of Optimus Prime; and yes, even the love of her life, Goliath.

Unlike April and Lois, Elisa is no damsel in distress (or, in their cases dumbass in distress). She can and does take care of herself and, while I haven't counted, she's rescued Goliath and the other gargoyles more often than they've ever rescued her by a significant margin... and all without making Goliath and his kin look like weak heroes in the process. Imagine a Superman show where Lois saved Superman more often than he saved her, chances are you'd have people complaining that they were making Supes look weak in favor of "girl power" or something. Not "Gargoyles." Not Elisa Maza. "Gargoyles" showed us very early on that Elisa wasn't going to be your typical gal pal when, in the fourth part of the five-part pilot, she takes down an entire squad of commandos single handed; commandos who were written as being competent instead of your garden variety moronic thugs that pop up in most cartoons.

A big point is made about how David Xanatos looks at his wife, Fox, as an equal. Fox even beats her husband in chess and judo sparring. Likewise, Goliath and Elisa respect each other and regard each other the same, a great reflection of Xanatos and Fox, I think. Again, one need only look at "Awakening Part Five" to see Elisa save Goliath's life from Demona before he in turn saves her from the collapsing castle as Demona falls towards her... apparent death (at least we thought so for a moment). They are a team. They are partners. They are equals.

Elisa is also a woman who is very self-possessed. Growing up mixed race (the daughter of a Native American father and an African-American mother) was probably not always easy, but it's clear to me that she grew up well-adjusted despite any hurdles she had to overcome there, never mind her succeeding in the police which is still, to this day, often considered "a man's world." She sees past appearances, choosing to see what is beneath the surface. Notice how quick she was to accept Goliath, strike up conversation with him, and get to know him. On the flip side, she didn't trust Xanatos from the moment she met him, despite the fact that most fall for his charms and suave demeanor.

This isn't to say she's perfect, no one in real life is (and no fictional character should ever be written that way). She's stubborn, she has acted selfishly, and she's guarded. She's tried to pretend her feelings for Goliath don't exist and then even after acknowledging them, she briefly panicked and tried to run away from them. But this doesn't weaken her as a character, quite the contrary, it strengthens her. She's human, without being just the human friend, she embodies the best of humanity just as Goliath embodies the best of his people... and they really are perfect for each other.*

She's a hero, as much as she denies being one, all while being human in the best sense of the word. Most pop culture heroes like Batman and Superman may as well be gods, or allegories for gods. They are larger than life, have amazing powers or abilities or resources, but they are too above us to ever truly be human. Elisa Maza might not be able to move planets, stop volcanoes and hurricanes, own a hi-tech suit of armor, be injected with a super soldier serum, be descended from gods, be a science experiment gone wrong, or be able to defeat any foe with enough prep time (she can't even beat Demona in hand-to-hand combat at night), but armed only with her brain, her heart, her badge, her gun, family and true friends, she carries on and does the best she can and has even helped save the world without ever feeling like she was invincible in the process. Elisa Maza is the hero we can all be.

*This is also a great sum up of why Elisa should never be transformed into a gargoyle again.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Summer 2013

Well, summer 2013 has come to an end. I cannot wait to see "World's End" and then that's it for me. But as I don't know when I will be seeing it, I can't review it.

My biggest regret of this summer has been neglecting this blog and Tarantino Month which turned into Tarantino Summer (and I botched that too), but life has been keeping me busier. Busier than it has been in a very long time. But in a good way. This has been a great summer, and a great year.

The summer's two biggest highlights for me are buying a house... becoming a property owner. It's a big step in the game of Life. New house and a new car. The other one is the release of "Gargoyles: Season Two, Volume Two." While I am not so obsessed with this show that I consider that greater than owning a home, it makes me happy; I've waited eight years for it... and now I have the complete run of my favorite show of all time (I know I put "The Daily Show" ahead of it when I made my Favorite Shows post, but who the hell was I kidding?). I also attended Connecticon and met Doug Walker and got to hang out with Marina Sirtis.

I hung out with a lot of friends this summer, met some new ones. So, overall, I can't complain. It's been good.

Now comes the part where I rank the summer movies. Well, the ones I saw, anyway.

Iron Man 3 - 4/5
Star Trek: Into Darkness - 1/5
Man of Steel - 1/5
Much Ado About Nothing - 5/5
Pacific Rim - 4/5
The Butler - 3/5

I didn't get to see everything. I had no interest in "The Wolverine" and I am waiting for "Kick Ass 2" to hit the second run theater. My opinion on "Man of Steel" has actually managed to lower since it came out and I thought about it more... don't ask why, I am finished discussing that movie. I look forward to "Thor: The Dark World" and I really am looking forward to "The Desolation of Smaug."

Great summer, I hope for more like it.