30 Aug 2013

If Trends Continue, Ultron May Have Some Perverse Sexual Fetish

James Spader is one of my favourite actors, and not just because he's rocking that pimp hat up there. Certainly he's one of the few who could get me excited about watching a drama on NBC again. Of all his various roles, many of whom are deviants in some grotesque way, I've always found his turns as villains to be far more satisfying then his time as heroes. As much as I love, and will defend Boston Legal, I feel that the Alan Shore that appeared in the final season of The Practice, the man destined to tear down everything the show had built up, was a far meatier version of the character (this version lived on though the first season of Legal, then the show became a cartoon, which was equally enjoyable).

So, it is exciting that Marvel have announced that Spader as been cast as Ultron in Joss Whedon's Avengers: Age of Ultron. Exciting for a number of reasons. First, they've hired a fantastic actor based on the quality of his performance, not on market appeal (because bizarrely, Spader isn't a hot topic in the 15-25 crowd). Second, when Whedon said they'd be doing an original origin for Ultron, the internet assumed that meant that Tony Stark would have a hand in creating the killer robot, rather then Hank Pym. So, either Spader's role will be motion captured, and make good use of his voice, or Ultron will have a far different origin then we have yet imagined. Perhaps a man driven mad by obsession embraces the Singularity?

Pair this with the casting of Elizabeth Olsen (never thought I'd be excited about an Olsen being cast in anything) as Scarlett Witch, and Whedon has got himself a top shelf cast. The Avengers sequel will being filming his winter in Pinewood Studios London, after James Gunn has wrapped up his equally impressively cast Guardians of the Galaxy.

Via Den of Geek.

In Space, No One Can Hear You Pass Out, Get Sick All Over The Front Of Yourself

Really, the only thing that need be said about Space Drunk is how the filmmakers describe it on the YouTube page:
Star Drunk is an experiment in writing a short film while drunk; several writers from Portland got together one night to write the script. We promised each other that whatever we wrote that night, we’d produce as a short film. We ended up creating a Star Trek-Star Wars-Battlestar Galactica’esque parody with laser gun fights and space battles. Taking the concept a step further (and stranger), we asked our cast to be drunk on the night of filming.
So, written and acted whilst drunk. Art, ladies and gentlemen.

Via Uproxx (where you can also check out a behind the scenes feature on the filming.)

[Opinion] - Tis The Season. I'll Be In The Car

As the summer comes to an end, and the first week of September approaches, the minds of parents turn towards that cherished annual tradition: I speak of course about the Christmas shopping season. I know that the season is nearly here because several stores I frequent have already begun winding down their Halloween displays, meaning that it won't be long until garland, artificial trees and officially licensed Disney ornaments once again clog our store isles and pet's digestive tracks.

And why not? What about the damp, occasionally balmy autumn doesn't scream festive preparedness? And why shouldn't the commercial exploitation of people's high suggestibility take on a length challenged only by American Presidential elections? I'm all for it, if it means I can buy the entire series run of Cheers for $20. But let's be honest with ourselves for a moment, shall we? Because despite all the plastic holly branches and animatronic Santas saying lewd things to Mrs. Claus, it isn't anymore about Christmas then Bed, Bath And Beyond's candle section is about Hanukkah. So let's call it what it is: Buying Season.

29 Aug 2013

MR. Clark's (Very Brief) Advice For New College Students

There will be no further posts today, as I am currently undertaking that most loathsome of tasks: helping someone move. Specifically, my kid sister, who begins her halcyon days of higher education. At least, that's what it said in the pamphlet. I don't remember any halcyon days back when I was in uni. I remember drunks setting off the dorm's smoke alarms at 2 am because they tried to make pancakes in their toasters.

While I'm hauling boxes, and thousands of students prepare to take this first step into adulthood (or, if you eventually become a grad student, a Groundhog Day-like quagmire of self doubt and student loan deferments), I thought I'd share some advice for all those taking their first steps into a larger world (just watch your step: there will be vomit on the floor).

28 Aug 2013

When This Happens For Real, It Won't Be This Good

There is a rumour going around that Bryan Cranston has been cast to play Lex Luthor in multiple films for the DC Movie Universe. Aside from making perfect sense, I won't go into further detail until this has been confirmed by Warner Bros. Until then, this fan made trailer for What's Eating Superman And Batman, editted together by soylentbrak, puts Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne and Cranston's potential Luther into the world of Henry Cavill's Clark Kent.

And it's pretty damned effective. And make me very, very sad, because the actual finished product of Bruce And Clark's Excellent Adventure will be nowhere near as enjoyable as these two minutes. And to any Affleck nay-sayers, I say watch this and shut up until we get to see the real thing. Because if this fan's efforts prove nothing these, there is potential here. Potential that Zack Synder and David S. Goyer will smother to death with a pillow.

The Gun Will No Longer Be In The Dog

[Author's Note: this post is spoiler free]

Luther creator Neil Cross confirmed last week, at the Edinburgh TV festival, that the recently finished series three will be the last of the BBC programme. This comes as little surprise to anyone who has seen series three (reviews of which can be found here), as it had a very definitive end. And together, the three series form a complete character deconstruction and reconstruction. As I said after the final episode aired, the story not only needed to end, but it would be to its detriment to see it continue just for the sake of continuing. So, I feel no sadness seeing the character retired.

There does remain a hope from both Cross and series star Idris Elba, that a prequel film will happen at some point, if not in cinemas, then at least as a television special (the BBC loves bringing back old series for one offs during the holidays). Until then, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Luther: The Calling, and hope that Elba starting picking better film projects then his recent choices.

And any Americans out there can wait until the end of September, when series three airs on BBC America.

Via The Mary Sue.

[Review] - The Newsroom, Season 2 Episode 7, "Red Team III"

Courtesy of HBO
There is a phrase that Aaron Sorkin has used in each of his series: doing a big thing badly. I can see the appeal of the phrase; it has a poetic lyricism, a balance that makes it seem more profound then it is. And it is a perfect way to examine this episode of The Newsroom, both within the context of the plot and the execution of the episode, and the series as a whole. Because over the course of these two seasons, any steps forward in terms of plotting, pacing, and character, are almost always balanced out by a step back. I guess we can't fault it for being inconsistent, but I'd prefer the consistency to live at a higher level.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are fun when they're high.

27 Aug 2013

Past Pete Is Here To Kill Future Pete

I feel that now is the time to drawn attention to the fantastic mashup tumblr Mad Rock, which blends the antisocial insanity of Mad Men, with the calm, soothing truths of 30 Rock. And I'm not just drawing attention to it now that they've posted my submission (seen above). I'm drawing attention to it because nothing else that doesn't have Simon Pegg associated with it has brought me as much joy over the past week as Mad Rock.

And they posted my submission. Which is pretty weak compared to most of the images they've accumulated, which I blame entirely on me not actually watching Mad Men. I can't stand the show, but thank to blogs like this and the equally hilarious Archer/Mad Men, I at least understand the character archetypes. So, my advice to you is to follow this simple, three step process:

Step 1) Read Mad Rock. It'll take most of your afternoon, but you'll be giggling like a loon the entire time, so you won't care.

Step 2) Suddenly feel the need to marathon through all seven seasons of 30 Rock, do so in an equally embarrassing and impressive amount of time.

Step 3) Take note of any of the innumerably fantastic lines from 30 Rock, submit your own image to the fine folks over at Mad Rock, earn precious internet points.

It should be noted that this is not the first time the worlds of Mad Men and 30 Rock have intersected, nor do I expect it shall be the last. After the jump, I've posted some of my favourites from Mad Rock.

In A(nother) Land Of Myth, And A (Different) Time Of Magic...

OK, this one is on me. I missed it, and I own up to that. My only excuse is that, during the summer months, I don't pay that much attention to the internet. I'm rarely around a computer, and don't check feed sites with same regularity that I do while I'm trying not to work. So this one slipped through my fingers. Until now.

I'm all kinds of excited about the BBC's Atlantis, for many reasons. Firstly, Classical Greek Mythology is one of my areas of expertise, and any adaptation, no matter how terrible they ultimately turn out (and sadly, often do), is of interest to me. Secondly, Howard Overman is running this series, and despite both Misfits and Dirk Gently having rough patches, both were good series, and I expect more of the same (with better consistency) from Atlantis. Third, it has a fantastic cast.

More details arrived at the start of the month, accompanied by the poster seen above, about the series. The cast have now all been associated with roles, and I am proud to say that my initial assumptions as to who would be playing what were almost half right. The series will star Jack Donnelly as Jason, who washes up on the shore of Atlantis. According to Overman and Merlin's Johnny Capps, the series will take place "before" the modern myths, which will allow the writers to explore mythical characters like "Medusa...before she becomes a snake‑haired goddess." And I won't point out that Medusa wasn't a goddess, because I don't want to be that guy.

Co-starring will be Mark Addy as a drastically reinvented version of Hercules, who will "create his legend as the series progresses.  He's not a particularly brave man, but he's utterly charming and has a great sense of humour, and he creates the legend of Hercules." Also seen on the poster is Robert Emms as "the studious" Pythagoras, who will no doubt be the comedic relief sidekick. The rest of the cast include Jemima Rooper as the young Medusa (easily taking on the Morgana-type role here), Juliet Stevenson as the Oracle, Sarah Parish as Pasiphae (mythic wife of King Minos, and mother to:), and Aiysha Hart as Ariadne (the mythic daughter of Minos, who eventually helps Theseus defeat the labyrinth and the Minotaur).

Based on those last two, and the presence of a very obvious minotaur in the poster, I'd guess that we'll also eventually meet King Minos, who will serve as a villainous, King Uther-like presence, and I have to ask why the show isn't called Crete instead of Atlantis, and why the hero isn't Theseus instead of Jason. Because so far, nothing they've described has any similarities to either the myths of Atlantis or Jason, but a significant amount of the Theseus myth. This, no doubt, will be an ongoing concern with me, since I've spent a not-so-small portion of my life studying these myths. I guess I'll just have to get over it.

Via Den of Geek and KSiteTV.

[Review] - Breaking Bad, Season 5 Episode 11, "Confessions"

Courtesy of AMC
Right off the top, in a short scene like something out of an Elmore Leonard novel, we get acquainted with the Nazi skin heads that took over the former Heisenberg empire at the close of last week's episode. These guys are clearly going to be of growing importance down the line, because front and centre is actor Kevin Rankin, also known as Justified's Devil, and I have to wonder what sort of typecasting is "articulate neo-Nazi," that he keeps getting these roles? Anyway...

Part of the joy of knowing that everything Walter has worked for will come crumbling down around him, is trying to see how it happened before it happens. Will Jesse do this? Will Hank do that? Will Walter's hubris finally get the better of him? As the tension mounts, all the characters start reaching their breaking points, and it's only when Walter reaches his will everything be over with. He's not there yet. But Hank is, and Jesse finally reached his in the subversively named Confessions.Perhaps a better name would have been Mutually Assured Destruction.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that keep their secret firearms inside an old pinball machine.

26 Aug 2013

Justified Season 5 Might Eat Crowe

Justified, despite being one of the three best shows on TV (and one of the five best shows on TV and the internet) right now, gets very little in the way of tease or build up before each new season. So while we're salivating at the news of who has been cast in Game of Thrones' fourth season, despite being eight months away, any news of Justified's fifth season is next to nonexistent, despite starting in January.

In fact, this tidbit of news probably wouldn't have escaped from the writer's room if it wasn't for the sad and demoralising fact that Justified's originator, Elmore Leonard, died last week after suffering a stroke at the start of the summer. Speaking to Deadline about Leonard's death, series creator Graham Yost said, regarding paying tribute to the man, “We’ll do something for the Season 4 DVD set, and I’m sure we’ll do something on the first episode of the new season." Then let this slip:

"Before he had his stroke we were thinking, you know, we’re headed to end of the series, we’ve maybe got two seasons left – so we wanted to bring in the Crowe family which is a big part of his world. We’ve got Dewey Crowe on the show but there are other Crowes that populated his books and we thought it would be fun to focus on that."

Dewey Crowe is, of course, the audience (and writer) favourite former neo-Nazi, who so completely lacks anything resembling intelligence, and has given the series many of the show's funniest moments. Having been with the show since its first episode on a recurring basis, he was completely absent from last season. At the time, Yost said, "we don't want to force it," referring to using the character just to put in an appearance rather then actually having something to do. As with Leonard's works, which inhabit a massive shared universe, the show too has cultivated a well established catalogue of support characters which it routinely brings back, and occasionally become more important then they were originally intended (just look at the evolution of Jim Beaver's Shelby). So, for the fifth season to focus attention on the Crowe clan makes perfect sense.

Which of Dewey's various relations might be making the transition from prose to series? After the jump, we'll examine the suspects.

Don't Get Excited, We've Still Got Eight Months To Wait

The final of George R.R. Martin's teased three major castings has been completed for season 4 of Game of Thrones. First it was Pedro Pascal as the Red Viper (and Indira Varma as his lover, Ellaria). Then it was Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Mace Tyrell. Now it is Joseph Gatt as Styr, the Magnar of Thenn and redundant right hand man to the King Beyond the Wall. I'll give the producers this, Gatt certainly as a presence and fits the character description to a tee, despite the fact that his role has already been taken on the show by Tormund Giantsbane.

But more importantly, this announcement means we can definitively say that... we have no idea who Mark Gatiss will be playing. At this point, I feel he's either playing someone of immense importance that demands to be kept secret, like the Mad King in a flash back (which the show doesn't do, so unless they are changing their format, which I've advocated for years, that's out); or he's playing little more then a cameo for someone utterly insignificant like a nameless Septon in one scene, and his casting was mistakenly announced.

The series has also recast Tommen Baratheon, who to this point has been little more then an extra in royal family scenes, but will have an increased role, and actual dialogue, this coming year. This is in keeping with the show's practises, having in the past recast the roles of The Mountain and Beric Dondarrion for expressly the same reason.

Via Den of Geek and the Mary Sue.

[Review] - The World's End

Courtesy of Relativity Media
I don't just like movies, movies are important to me. I feel things about them, which is something i can't say about other elements of life, like people, or things. And because of this, a bad movie can completely ruin my day. Doesn't matter if I'm looking forward to it or not, a bad movie can sap whatever energy I had, and leave me a depressed husk of a "person" for hours, even days afterwards. And this summer, it seems like it has been one long slog through a network of bad days. Perhaps not surprising in a summer where four of the biggest box office flops ever arrived close enough to all in theatres at the same time. Even the promise of assorted original content, reportedly fawned and cherished by it's creators, left me numb and bitter.

Sadly, more and more, good movies are becoming an endangered species, borderline extinct in the summer wasteland. A truly great film is such an oddity to be thought almost mythic. Gone are the days of films that, ten, twenty years from now, will be thought of as classics. We'll all still be watching the films from twenty, thirty years ago today. And the films of Edgar Wright. Because he and Simon Pegg are obviously only concerned with making good and great movies. Being fans of the medium themselves doesn't get in their way of turning out the best product they possibly can, and have done yet again with The World's End, their most ambitious, honed and complex film to date. And leaves the viewer with a bloody good buzz afterwards.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which were surprised that they didn't take the opportunity to make a Star Wars reference at the end there.

23 Aug 2013

Daredevil Is Batman

Specifically, July 17th 2015

Now, I know that headline is a little unfair, and a comparison that everyone will be making, but it is technically true. In the same way that, three years ago the headline might could have read "Human Torch is Captain America."

But the truth - the inexplicable, sort of confusing truth - is that Ben Affleck has been hired to play Bruce Wayne, aka The Batman, in Zack Synder's upcoming Cash Cow BatWorld vs SuperFine. Synder's official statement reads:
"Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry [Cavill]'s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can't wait to work with him."

Now I'm going to go against the current tone of the internet, and indeed my own generally pessimistic tendencies, and not make a judgement on Affleck's ability to play the Dark Knight. I will, however, continue to make all sorts of judgements against the upcoming World's Finest vs Superman: it will be rubbish. There.

Now, back to Affleck. His casting is surprising, but then again, so has the casting of every Batman since the 1980's. Michael Keaton was a relatively unknown comedic actor when he was cast, and the various failures of the Burton films aside, he was a solid Batman (literally, walking around in that much layered rubber made him the Dark Brick Shithouse). Val Kilmer and George Clooney were just as unconventional choices. And Christen Bale was best known for his role in American Psycho. None of them, aside from perhaps Kilmer, were recognised action stars before taking on the role. And Affleck hasn't been an action movie star since his first stage career ejection. In an odd bit of career Freaky Fridaydom, it is now Matt Damon that is running and jumping and exploding all over the screen.

Since then, Affleck has proven himself to be a capable actor and a director with vision. And while I personally didn't care for Argo, either from a creative or performance angle, I am in the minority on that one, but I loved The Town. Hopefully, Affleck's casting suggests that the focus of Batman+Superman 4ever will be a character study, a compare and contrast between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent as obsessive and motivated individuals, and how these two very different characters, through both methods and abilities are as incompatible as the forces at work in the very world they live in.

AHAHAHA. Yeah right. This is Zack Synder we're talking about. This film will have as much emotional depth as a fruit cup. Still, despite the fact that the film will suck, there remains the chance that Affleck will blow us all out of the water with his performance, just like Heath Ledger did with his Joker. Remember, internet? Remember when you all hated that casting choice with a fiery passion that went unmatched on this or any other Earth? And remember when all your face holes clapped shut faster then an unlubricated sphincter once he appeared on screen? Affleck has that opportunity now. My suggestion to him would be not to waste it.

Of all the anti-Affleck backlash I've seen today, my favourite has to come from, of all places, Richard Dreyfuss, who posted this on twitter:

Yeah Boy!

You have one task this weekend: see The World's End. That's it. That's all you have to do. Forget about looking after the neighbour's dog, don't worry about that smelling coming from the kitchen pipes and ignore any phone calls from your mother, even though she might have tripped on those ornamental rocks in the back garden and broken a hip, because it's her own fault, and you did warn her that they were a hazard and she can't expect you to just drop everything and come and pick her up whenever she calls YOU'VE GOT YOUR OWN LIFE NOW...

Ah, so yeah, see The World's End. And to get you in the mood, here is The Cornetto Trilogy mashup mix, by Mike Relm. And if that doesn't get you're British satiric action movie juices flowing, take some time to explore the interactive scripts for previous entries Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

Via Collider.

[Opinion] - You Are About To Experience A Dropped Call

I have recently returned from holiday. It rained everyday. Which wasn't too disappointing; rain is actually my preferred weather system. I'd rather be damp then nipple-blisteringly hot or frozen more solid then a Butterball turkey. And it wasn't as though I went to some exotic location to work on my tan (my average skin tone could best be described as Alabaster-of-Pearl). No, I went where I usually go, to a cottage on the edge of a lake, where I can sit by the water, tapping lightly on my laptop, while ducks try to rape each other under my dock.

The rain relented long enough each day for the neighbours to appear, some to lounge on their own docks, listening to their own ducks rape each other, while others took to bikes and canoes to enjoy the calm before the inevitable next storm. All except for one fellow from a few cottages down. He decided that in this brief moment of sun and beauty, he would stand in my front garden and yell at someone on his phone. Which brings me to today's topic: cellphones, and how we now all get to be assholes on the go.

22 Aug 2013

Community Attempts To Court The Favour Of Spurned Viewers

I'm going to admit something here: I've given up on Community. I think. As much as I hope Dan Harmon's return means good things for the (presumably) final season of the show, Donald Glover's departure is not a sign of confidence. Plus, season four alienated me in a spectacular fashion. It will be the season I pretend simply never happened, which might be problematic if any of its various and underwhelming plots come into play in season five (the fact that Jeff graduated can't be glossed over).

In an effort to combat viewer fatigue with the show, Breaking Bad's Jonathan Banks has joined the cast. You'll remember him from his previous Thursday night comedy appearance, in Parks and Rec, seen above. In Community, he'll be playing Anne's criminology professor, Pat Nichols, who will appear in 11 of the 13 season five episodes this season. Which will make him essentially part of the main cast, except for tax purposes. It'll also make him the most reoccurring professor in a single season since John Oliver's Professor Duncan. Rob Corddry will also return to the show, playing lawyer Alan Connor, Jeff's legal nemesis.

From my perspective, this season has more winning-me-over to do then it did back when it was a new series. Back then, it could have been anything. Now, I know what it can do right, and I know what it can do very wrong. Here's hoping for the former and not the latter. Once NBC decides when they're going to air it.

Via Uproxx.

Gotham's Going To Burn

We're just over two months away from the release of Batman: Arkham Origins, and I'm anxious to see if WB Games Montreal's prequel will live up to the Rockstar Games. The steady release of footage, including this trailer featuring Firefly, makes it seem like they've done a near-enough-as-makes-no-difference. I'm a little less enthused about the voice work, with Batman and Alfred sounding pretty stiff, but maybe that's just the way the trailers have edited them. Troy Baker, for his part, is doing a decent Mark Hamill-as-Joker impression, though my preference would have been to leave the Joker out of it entirely, because you don't always need the Joker.

And as much as the gender shift on Copperhead is appreciated, how much do you want to bet it was done because Harley isn't in the game?

Via ComicsAlliance.

I'm Blinded By Science

Here's something I don't understand: we're living in an age when eighties nostalgia is at it's maximum (with the return of Boy Meets World, it might actually be on the wane). When toys and series and movies from that decade are constantly being remade, rebooted and flogged to hipsters and those craving the simplicity of their youth at an amazing rate. And people are making huge amounts of cash off of this desperation.

So how is it, during all of this, that Weird Science hasn't been considered for modernisation? Two computer geeks discover a way to digitally create the perfect woman, who then goes on a sex-spree? How, in the age of 3D printers, internet pornography, and the rise of Geek culture, has this film not been raped of all potential? Despite originating in 1985, this seems like a premise tailor made for today's teen-sex-romp cinemas. Not that I particularly want a Weird Science remake, it would almost certainly be terrible. But if 21 Jump Street, Footloose and Teen Wolf are all "worthy" of resurgence, then why not the John Hughes oddity.

Happily, Funny or Die understands the potential in the concept, and even throws in a reference to David Cronenberg's The Fly for good measure. And it stars RJ Mitte from Breaking Bad, who would be an excellent choice for a legitimate remake as well.

Via Guyism.

21 Aug 2013

I Want So Badly To Make A "Squeal Like A Pig" Joke Here

Does a person need a reason to post a video of Steve Martin and Kermit the Frog having a dueling banjo match? I don't think so. And if you do need a reason for that, well that's not a world I want to live in.

Via Funny or Die.

At What Point Did Brad Pitt Start Looking Permanently Greasy?

I'm going to do something a little unusual here, and compare Ridley Scott to Tim Burton. Not a comparison many would make. But both are well regarded directors who have unique perspectives and visions for their films, and who have been riding on their respective names and early successes for the last decade. Matchstick Men was the last Scott film that I enjoyed end to end, and since the, despite hype and potential of his projects, his films have been found lacking.

His most recent effort,  The Counsellor, is a hard nut to judge from this trailer. It certainly looks content to stew in it's own opulence, and with a cast that includes Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz, it certainly doesn't lack in the "looking pretty" department. And, being written by Cormac McCarthy certainly doesn't hurt either. I just hope that it is ultimately worth looking forward to, because I've been burned by Scott specifically before.

[Review] - The Newsroom, Season 2 Episode 6, "One Step Too Many"

Courtesy of HBO. If it had been Will instead of that Dantana guy back there,
this could be a DVD cover. The gang is almost entirely all here.

Being the episode to follow the best episode of the season is never an easy or envied task. And last week's real time examination of these character's lives certainly has been the best episode of season two thus far. And while last week was content to sit on it's laurels a bit in terms of advancing the season arc, this one had to be all business. We've only got three episodes left, and the two part finale is dedicated to the election, which leaves little room to conclude the ongoing Genoa story.

Too little room, as may have been the case. Call it poor planning, calling it suffering the loss of the tenth episode, or maybe Sorkin is concerned about not getting a third season, and wanted to cover as much ground as possible. Whatever the reason, this was another fast forward episode, which while featuring excellent moments for the plot and the characters, pushed the timeline forward at break neck speed.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are pleased that Gary didn't die like they thought he would.

Technical Difficulties... Please Stand By

Some readers may notice the site is not working quite properly today. I don't know why this is. I use Blogger as a platform, and it's probably their fault. New posts will go up as usual, and should be uneffected but don't be surprised if the side menus, add-ons and widgits are all messed up. I'll try to figure out what's wrong, and hopefully things will be back to normal tomorrow. Or they won't, and I'll deal with that then.

If you don't notice anything hinky, then kindly disregard this notice. As I'm sure you will anyway.

20 Aug 2013

When They Come For You, All You'll Know Is Bushy Tails, Then Darkness

True fact1: squirrels are the fears of young children made flesh and fur. Every time a child screams in terror, a squirrel is belched from the knot hole of a twisted pine or oak tree, but never poplar. They are the agents of the Nut Lobby, operating under strict orders to deplete our precious nut stores, there by driving up demand and increasing revenue for Big Nut. And if that jabbering little bastard outside my window won't shut up, he's going to have a harsh encounter with Mr. Cricket Bat.

Few are able to see this truth, and fewer still are willing to speak it. I have no fear, because of my natural ability to punt, and would be able to forestall any attacks against my person, so long as they took place in open field. Director Timur Bekmambetov is another unafraid to spread the truth, as is evidence by this footage. It might be presented as a trailer for an upcoming film project, but it should be a PSA, playing on a loop in every public park, nature trail and mini putt course (little varmints love to hold up in windmills until the heat dies down).

Between Bekmambetov warning us of the squirrel menace, and Marvel's upcoming educational film about the effects of stress on raccoons, the free ride we've given tree-based rodents will finally be coming to an end.

1. Not even remotely.

Elmore Leonard Has Died

Prolific western and crime writer Elmore Leonard has died at the age of 87, due to complications from a stroke. The author, occasionally called the "Dickens of Detroit" (a label the man himself had issues with), was known for his quick fire dialogue and lack of filler description, which gave his novels and short stories a quick pace and gripping sense of realism. His blend of course language, desensitised violence and keen sense of humour influenced authors such as Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry, and Stephen King referred to him as the "great American author." 26 of Leonard's works have been adapted to film and TV, the best of which include Out of Sight, Get Shorty, and the TV series Justified. His final published novel was Raylan, blending the Raylan Givens character previously introduced in Riding the Rap and Pronto, with the version seen in Graham Yost's television series.

This hurts. Besides Douglas Adams, I can name no other author whose works have had as deep an impact on me, both as a reader and as a writer, then Elmore Lenoard. His style (and his incomparable Ten Rules Of Writing) is so immersive and accessible, it invites emulation. The apparently effortlessness of the simplicity of his dialogue makes every one else's sound stilted and hacky. If I ever successfully publish any prose, similarities to Leonard's formatting will no doubt abound (and never approach his level of quality). Perhaps the most enlightening thing Leonard ever taught me, something that no other teacher, professor or so called expert ever imparted, that dramatically changed the structure and tone of my own writing, was the simple instruction, "Never use a verb other than 'said' to carry dialogue." When I read that, it was a thunder bolt.

From 1953 til last year, Leonard published roughly a novel a year. That level of output, with very little fluctuation in quality, is staggering and numbing. His attention to detail, while apparently avoiding description, is masterful. His characters are more fully realised and more human then many people I know in real life. And that his novels all exist within one massive shared universe, existing within a Bermuda triangle of Detroit, Harlan County, and Miami, is a feat of organisation and talent that few can pull off within specific series, let alone across an entire career.

That his genius is gone is just wrong. Minds like his deserve to outlast the rest of us.

Dammit to hell...

[Review] - Breaking Bad, Season 5 Episode 10, "Buried"

Courtesy of AMC
Well, at least now we know how much money Walter had in that storage locker: enough to support a very large black man's DuckTales fantasies. Unfortunately, Walter has apparently never seen Fargo, and thus I predict that the series will end with a very wealthy hole in the ground, and not much more for his attempt to protect his money.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that only ever find dog turds on their lawns in the morning.

19 Aug 2013

For Some People, This Is Pornography

Professional stunt women Jessie Graff and Tree O'Tool, who I'm hoping chose that as a screen name, and didn't have incredibly hippy parents, have done something remarkable: made Family Guy relevant again.

Don't worry though, it's only by association. These two women have filmed a live action version of the Peter/Chicken fight from the animated show, and it is everything you would expect from five minutes of two women who could kick every single one of our asses, one of who is vaguely dressed like a bird, to the sort of choreography and special effects that puts the SyFy channel to shame. Mostly, it's awesome.

And proof that cartoonish effects work in live action, so long as everyone involved takes everything seriously. This attitude needs to be incorporated into more films, now.

Via Uproxx.

All I Did This Summer Was Explore All The Different Foods Covered In Powdered Cheese

Last Thursday, John Oliver officially stepped down as interim host of the Daily Show, in anticipation of the show's two week break and Jon Stewart's return to the host's seat in September. And Oliver did a fantastic job. While there was never an attempt to make the show his own, sticking very closely to the formula Stewart has perfected over the last decade, Oliver fit in the chair well. The interview segments were the weakest point of Oliver's tenure, prone to the sort of awkward sycophancy that new interviewers often struggle with. But when he actually cared about the guest, they were well researcher and could be biting, with Oliver willing to debate his opinion and more then one called a guest out without letting them wiggle out of the question. Almost like he was a real journalist, and not a satirist, which says everything you need to know about modern American journalism.

As I said when this was all announced, Oliver is the strongest correspondent the show has had since Colbert, and that Stewart and Comedy Central need to find a way to keep him in the family, or risk loosing his considerable talent to someone else. His stint as the substitute is further proof of this. Oliver was at his strongest in the segments that called for him to express outrage, to rant for five minutes at a time, like during the Anthony Wiener scandel, or the coverage of the Australian elections. And his earnestness during the interviews that weren't celebrity schmooze prove he's capable of holding his own. Perhaps it's time to consider adding a third half hour to Comedy Central's News Block. Or, lock up Oliver's contract long enough to keep him in place until Stewart retires (and may that be a long time off).

One of the better gags, wisely poking fun at the whole situation, was Oliver's nightly update of where Stewart was and what he was doing. How perfectly British to start every evening by essentially saying "I'm sorry for potentially disappointing you, but at least it won't take long." Vulture has assembled each of these excuses for Stewart's absence into a wonderful montage that is very much a "the King is dead, long live the King" sort of punctuation mark for Oliver's time.

Via Uproxx.

[Review] - We're The Millers

Courtesy of New Line Cinema
About the best thing you can say about We're The Millers is that it boldly asks the question, "would Nick Offerman look just as awesome with a horseshoe moustache as he does with his usual Swanson chevron?" The answer, as is no surprise, yes. Yes he does.

The rest of the film is yet another example of the sort of Hangover/Apatow inspired "extreme comedy" that has dominated the genre for the past decade (actually, basically since Anchorman, which I hope means that Anchorman 2 will kill this sub genre entirely). The sort of film that parades cuss words and sensational nearly-nudity in place of having actual jokes. The sort of film that basks in taking things to the limit, but then never really taking things to the limit. You get the sense that somewhere in the four credited writers, there was a disagreement as to where to establish the tone of the film, and that if they had taken things to an actual extreme, or dialled back and attempted to make a film that had a heart at the core of the comedy, it might have been a better film. Instead, it awkwardly rides that line, being neither while trying to be both, and results in being utterly forgettable.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that once had to fake a dead uncle on a flight to Nairobi, but that's neither here nor there.

16 Aug 2013

Why In The Hell Is There Going To Be A Jurassic Park 4?

Colin Trevorrow, soon to be director and co-writer on Jurassic Park 4, appeared on the Jurassic Park Podcast (I love the internet) to discuss the pre-production of the film, and how the project is progressing. He makes a point of saying that internet rumours, to the shock I'm sure of many, are not to be trusted, and that until an actual announcement and final product is presented, you shouldn't believe everything you read.

He also claimed to be very aware that there is an audience out there that will need convincing that this film needs to happen at all. I, despite my love of the original, am one of those. I need to be convinced that the filmmakers behind this picture are actually interested in making a picture, and it isn't just a studio driven money hunt. Otherwise, we'll get another JP3, instead of a followup that does the original justice (Lost World doesn't count because it's not really a Jurassic Park movie, but ask me about that later, it's the weekend and I don't have the time right now to get into that). Trevorrow does make that case, claiming:
"This is not a paycheck gig for me and it’s not the movie that I’m making so I can make the movies that I really want to make. I actually want to make a kick-ass Jurassic Park movie." 
I would argue that attempting to make the followups "kick-ass" is where the other films fell over themselves, sacrificing the character and story of the original for gratuitous dino-gore. Which there is certainly a time and a place for, but part of the charm of the original (for me anyway) is how little the dinosaurs are present. They are part of the environment, and that creates the suspense. If there is going to be a dinosaur on screen for the bulk of the run time, they might as well strap one of those voice simulators from Up around it's neck and call it Francis.

I don't know why the dinosaur would be called Francis, but it seems to fit. So I don't question it.

Via Collider.

These Are The Grey Hats

Depression-era mob stories set in LA are really nothing new. And frankly, since L.A. Confidential, there hasn't been a good one (I liked Gangster Squad, mostly because it was a Looney Tunes cartoon). I'd almost say that the material has run itself out. I want to be proven wrong on that, because when done well, it's one of my favourite genres.

I give Mob City (previously Lost Angels, previously L.A. Noir) a benefit of the doubt for two reasons: firstly, it's from Frank Darabont, who has earned all the benefits of any doubts we might have; and secondly, the cast is amazing. Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey DeMunn, Alexa Davalos, Neal McDonough, Edward Burns, Ernie Hudson and Simon Pegg are enough to draw my eye. I hope that those two elements are enough to overcome the primary weaknesses of this trailer: the cartoonish level of violence looks like it might fall too close to Gangster Squad (whose plot it already shares) in terms of action, but take itself too seriously in tone, so the whole thing might come off as cheesy. And the voice over hits square in the middle of some western cliches.

As with so many things, I plan to be disappointed, and hope to be proven wrong.

[Opinion] - The BRIAN BLESSED Of House Fixtures

If any of you are long time readers, or cursory readers, or happened to have have found your way here  across successive weeks, you'll recognise that there is something of a schedule to updates. Movie reviews on Mondays, TV reviews throughout the week, and what I laughingly call "original content" on Fridays. These usually consist of lists, because if the great and awesome power of the internet can and is utilised for anything in great volume, it's pornography. Followed swiftly by lists. Lists are everywhere, and on everything, and carry with them with all the authority of someone who is able to check Wikipedia.

My original intention with this site was to force myself to write, to produce product on a regular basis. And while “product” is about the loosest applicable term you can give to my lists, there are only so many time that I can claim that West Wing and Farscape excelled in a particular trope before even I loose interest. So, in an attempt to both challenge myself as a writer, and to interest you as a reader, lists will hence forth be fewer and farther between. And in their place, I will attempt to provide true "original content." Short essays, possibly even (if only unintentionally) funny, on a variety of topics which might include modern popular culture, and might be about how the guy I sat next to on the bus smelt of cheese and feet. The quality and success of these will depend entirely on me, and whether or not I'm willing to put actual effort into the content of this site.

For the first in this series fuelled by a renewed sense of purpose, I choose to tackle a topic of shared experience, a subject of great social importance, and one that action is long overdue to tackle: the loudness of the flush of a toilet.

15 Aug 2013

For One Night Only, It's Just A Show, You Should Really Just Relax

The guys over at RiffTrax, Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fame, have previously performed seven live shows of their unique form of heckling, and tonight for one night only, they will perform their eighth, riffing on Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers. And for the first time, the show will be broadcast across Canada as well as the US. US exhibitors can be found here, while Canadian audiences can get tickets here.

Troopers was the second choice for the group, having been unable to secure the rights to live-riff Twilight, arguably one of the strongest riffs available on their site. Troopers is just as good a choice for mocking, the film fitting perfectly into that niche of "so bad it's good," the wheelhouse of the former MST3K talent. Unlike the sequels, which were just bad. And, it's a film that they haven't riffed on their site, so those of us that will be attending will be treated to something entirely new.

There is still time before tonight's 8pm showtime to find your nearest location and get tickets. I recommend it.

Via RiffTrax.

Sex Is Sciencey

Showtime's programmes aren't exactly the greatest works ever put to screen. They aren't schlock, but they aren't art either. They all tend to follow the same pattern, starting strong in the season, then fall into a lull where they are mostly just making time, until coming to a rousing finish. They hype the sensationalistic and it gets them viewers, so I have no doubt that Masters of Sex will be a hit for them. This full length trailer, along with giving us a good view of the repressed William Masters, really sells the sex side of sex research, and Showtime isn't a network afraid to show skin.

I'll be tuning in for Lizzy Caplan, who deserves a hit, and because when he tunes it down to sensible levels, Michael Sheen is a very impressive actors. Plus, I never say no to Beau Bridges (which has meant I've spent some very long nights in some very dark alleyways with a burlap sack and a Philips head screw driver, but I promised I'd never talk about that). Masters of Sex begins September 29th in Dexter's old time slot.

And if Beau Bridges ever asks you for a favour, say no and run.

[Review] - Elysium, In IMAX

Courtesy of Media Rights Capital
Neill Blomkamp's Elysium could just as easily be called "We are The 99% IN SPAAAAAACE." Unfortunately, the average episode of the Muppet Show contained more social commentary then in these two hours. Which is odd, considering the director's debut, District 9, laid the metaphor on thick and was highly successful at doing so. Did Blomkamp, seduced by the prospect of bigger stars and larger budgets, willingly neuter his own picture, or is it just another case of the sophomore slump, when the urge and need to out due the success of the first overpowers the writer's brain? Possibly, a little of both, which means we get a very big, very nice looking film that ends up trading on the names of those involved, but has little to offer in return.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are still amazed at how much the kid at the beginning looked like Matt Damon.

14 Aug 2013

If It's By Shakespeare, Everyone In The Title Dies

As summer winds to a close, and millions of students prepare to return to the classroom, it is important to remember that over the course of their studies they will be expected to read many books. Some of them will be good, and fill them a wondrous awe that will nourish their souls for years. And others will be molar-meltingly dull (especially if it's by anyone named Dickens), and make stuffing their nostrils full of packing peanuts covered in Tabasco sauce seem like an excellent way to get out of class.

Where better to turn then, when looking for advice on how to get through the slog that can occasionally be classic literature, then the only voice of reason you could ever possibly need, Nick "Axe Swanson" Offerman, as he provides the boiler plate versions of the works students will need to know, without all the wordiness of Coles Notes.

Just remember, when stuffing your nostrils full of packing peanuts, use Frank's Red Hot instead. It's less bitey.

Via Uproxx.

Thor Returns To Our World, While Kevin Feige Plays The Long Game

While I was away, a new trailer for Thor: The Dark World appeared. It is largely the same as the previous trailer, featuring the same voice overs and many of the same sequences, with additional random bits of dialogue from characters like Idris Elba's Heimdall and Ray Stevenson's Volstagg. It doesn't sell any more of the story then the last trailer did, though it shows that more of the film will be spent on Earth then the previous footage suggested.

While Thor is busy stealing references from Indiana Jones, Kevin Feige has suggested that, though they won't be announcing anything anytime soon, that Marvel films has planned their film lineup up to 2021, which would would presumably end with Avengers 3, and bring a close to Phase 3. Said Feige: Will that happen? I don’t know. But what we planned for 2015 in 2006 is happening." Marvel's had a pretty good track record with doing what they said they were going to, the only hiccup that comes to mind being the SHIELD film that looks like it became the Captain America sequel, and the somewhat unexpected addition of the Agents of SHIELD TV series to the MCU.

What's important to take away from all this is, Rene Russo still appears to be able to kick all of our asses. That comforts me.

Via Collider.

[Review] - The Newsroom, Season 2 Episodes 4 and 5, "Unintended Consequences" and "News Night with Will McAvoy"

Courtesy of HBO

Here we have two very different episodes, in tone, in structure and in success. One was an over written melodramatic mess, the other was a brisk but engaging experiment. Both had their own particular flaws and successes, but if nothing else came of these two weeks of programming, it was the final nail in the coffin of my interest in Jim and Maggie as characters: I don't, if I ever did, care about these two, independently or together. Not when you've got Sloan and Don being far more engaging and interesting in the next room.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that shouldn't have said that last thing.

13 Aug 2013

Yet Again, It Will Soon Be Time To Play The Music

Of my areas of expertise, you can count the subjects of dinosaurs, classical mythology, and the Muppets. When any of those things happen to intersect with my life's obsession, the world of film, I get excited. In the same way that Jack Russell terrier's can be described as "rambunctious." So, it is only after I've calmed down to the stage where my hands are merely shaking uncontrollably, that I can post the first teaser for the next Muppets film, The Muppets Most Wanted.

The trailer itself is kind of disappointing, certainly very bland and not nearly as self aware as the brilliant marketing campaign for the previous film. But it is early days (there are in fact 220 days until the film's release), more then enough time for more impressive, more Muppety trailers to appear.

And prove to those more cynical of us that, despite the presence of both Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell as human leads, this will be a good film.

This Post Contains Bad Words

It never fails that, when I go on holiday, something stupidly huge happens, then I come back and everyone's been talking about it for a week and I'm sitting there with an expression on my face usually reserved for frightened infants with no object permanence playing peekaboo. That... didn't happen this time. It nearly did, but I postponed my time off for a whole day in light of the BBC recognising that there was no hope in hell they'd be able to keep Peter Capaldi's casting a secret until November.

Here is, as far as I can discern, chronologically the first of the inevitable Malcolm Tucker/Doctor Who mash-ups, which took a disappointing four hours to be posted after the announcement last week. Four hours? Come on internet, I expected more from you then that.

And I use the words "expected" and "more" quite wrongly there.

[Review] - Breaking Bad, Season 5 Episode 9, "Blood Money"

Courtesy of AMC
As with last season, or the first half of this season (for the love of gods, not this again...), I find myself at something of a loss. Because Breaking Bad is, quiet simply, the best show on TV. There is next to nothing that this show does wrong, from the writing to the superb acting, to the cinematography and every detail in between. And considering that my modus operandi is to complain about all things that are wrong and terrible about film and TV, when a show just doesn't have any of that, I struggle. But I persevere as best I can, because it is rare for a show to be recognised as the best while it is still airing.

Plus, I took great delight in Skylar nearly snapping Lydia in half like a twig. And she could have done it too. Anna Gunn is not someone you mess with.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that tread lightly.

12 Aug 2013

[Video] - Decay

[The author has been on holidays for the past week, so you'll have to look elsewhere for day old news, poor grammar and an inability to end list jokes with the strongest possible option. Or, wait until tomorrow, when the author will return. Until then, enjoy a selection of short films found around the internet.]

For the last in the holiday week of films, we have a full length feature, Decay, by Luke Thompson and Clara Nellist, two Ph.D students working at the CERN facility in Geneva, where they filmed this zombie movie. While I might not be the biggest fan of zombie films, I am a big fan of physicists making movies. It combines my two favourite things: the unbreakable natural laws of the universe, and hard edits.

9 Aug 2013

[Video] - Paraphernalia

[The author is on holidays for the next week, so you'll have to look elsewhere for day old news, poor grammar and a level of self deprecation that borders on just straight up self hate. Or, wait until next Tuesday, when the author will return. Until then, enjoy a selection of short films found around the internet.]

Paraphernalia is a sweet little film about a robot and a boy from director (and not legendary composer) John Williams. I generally sit on the fence when it comes to personifying robots. On the one hand, they tend to be adorable. On the other, they will eventually kill us all. But pairing a small child and a mechanoid, and all you get are "ahhhs" from me.

8 Aug 2013

[Video] - Hybrids

[The author is on holidays for the next week, so you'll have to look elsewhere for day old news, poor grammar and an unhealthy attraction to Muppets. Or, wait until next Tuesday, when the author will return. Until then, enjoy a selection of short films found around the internet.]

Today's selection is Hybrids, by visual effects artist Patrick Kalyn, and starring Daniella Evangelista. Kalyn has worked on the effects for movies like District 9 and King Kong, so it shouldn't be that big a surprise that, despite being filmed with practically no budget, the CG heavy short looks gorgeous.

7 Aug 2013

[Video] - Two Scoops

[The author is on holidays for the next week, so you'll have to look elsewhere for day old news, poor grammar and a pathological inability to process emotions. Or, wait until next Tuesday, when the author will return. Until then, enjoy a selection of short films found around the internet.]

Next up is Robert Rodriguez's Two Scoops, staring his recent muses, twins Electra and Elise Avellan. What makes Two Scoops unusual was that Rodriguez asked fans to film and submit footage they filmed, which he would then polish and edit into the film, attempting to make the first collaborative film over the internet.

6 Aug 2013

[Video] - ABE

[The author is on holidays for the next week, so you'll have to look elsewhere for day old news, poor grammar and sarcastic indifference to the development of DC film projects. Or, wait until next Tuesday, when the author will return. Until then, enjoy a selection of short films found around the internet.]

Up first this week, and kicking off something of a running theme, director and SFX artist Rob McLellan directs ABE, described as "Silence of the Lambs involving a robotic serial killer." The short stars Sam Hoare, Claire Huskisson and Emily Baxter, and is based on a short film made for the 48 Hour Film Challenge, products of which we've seen before.

5 Aug 2013

"When I Turned Again, Sherlock Holmes Was Standing Smiling At Me Across My Study Table."

I'm off for a week of holidays. There will be posts between now and then, but I won't be back properly until next Tuesday with a review of the first episode of the final bunch of Breaking Bad episodes.

I leave you with the first glimpse of Sherlock Series 3, which hints at Sherlock's reveal to all of his friends, and which I think the only thing that needs to be said is: nice moustache, John.

Have a good week.

[Review] - Continuum, Season 2 Finale, Episode 13, "Second Time"

Courtesy of Reunion Pictures
A season ago, Continuum concluded with a big episode. Terrorist plots, suspicious CSIS agents, and a building collapse. This year, things were more low key. But what it lacked in grand action it more then made up for in grand ideas, bombarding us with new pieces of information, some revelations concerning questions we've had all season, and leaving just enough ambiguous to start us salivating for season 3 already.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that remain spoilers in this timeline.

[Review] - The Wolverine

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
The X-Men franchise was one that I had all but given up on. Despite all the very exciting things coming out of Bryan Singer's twitter account, that the series hasn't produced a good instalment since X2 was rather off putting. But Fox keeps pushing, insistent that this is a sustainable lineage of films. And for the first time in a decade, they might be right. Because while not perfect, and ending about fifteen minutes later then it should, The Wolverine is easily the best instalment of the the series since X2. And it achieves this rare honour by being the one thing most superhero movies aren't: a real movie.

And then a giant robot shows up, but we'll get to that.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that aren't spoiling like they used to.

And The Dozenth Doctor Is...

Peter Capaldi, most famous for his role as the foul mouthed Malcolm Tucker on The Thick of It. Capaldi's casting as the 12th Doctor, starting from the Christmas Special this coming December, was announced Sunday on a live special, broadcast on the BBC. When asked in said special to use three words to describe Capaldi's 12, series writer Steven Moffat said, "different from Matt."

This is not, as is often the case, Capaldi's first involvement with Doctor Who. He appeared alongside 10 in 2008's The Fires of Pompeii. But it was the far meatier role of tortured and optionless government official John Frobisher in 2009's Torchwood: Children of Earth that attracted far more attention and accolades. And not just because it was distinctly the opposite of the permanently put upon and constantly cussing Tucker in Armando Iannucci's twenty first century answer to Yes, Minister. Capaldi's geek cred is given further weight by his originating the role of the Angel Islington in Neil Gaiman's original BBC miniseries version of Neverwhere. Most recently, he'll have been noticed by international (read: American) audiences as the third act participant in World War Z, playing with just the perfect amount of serendipity, a WHO doctor.

After the jump, you can find my reaction, and what this means for the series going forward.

2 Aug 2013

He's Been Out Of The World For A Spell

Agents of SHIELD has already overcome the first major obstacle in getting a series to air, in that it has been picked up. Now, it moves on to the next challenging bit: producing more episodes. And with that comes casting of new roles, and look who it is! Ron Glass, AKA Firefly's Shepard Book, in full SHIELD lab gear.

I had no doubt that, like Dollhouse before it, SHIELD would feature guest appearances by former Whedon regulars, but I wasn't expecting the talented if under the radar Glass, and I wasn't expecting anyone so soon. And to be perfectly honest, I was expecting the first Whedon regular to appear on the secret spy show to be Adam Baldwin, who seems like too perfect a fir for the series not to have been cast in a role already.

Time will tell whose next.

Via The Mary Sue.

This Is Literally The Worst News

Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe are leaving Parks and Recreation. According to series creator Mike Schur:
The news about Rob and Rashida is true — they will be leaving the show after the 13th episode of the upcoming season six. We’ve been working on their storyline (on and off) for four seasons now, and heading into this year, with the two of them contemplating parenthood, it felt like a natural time to move them into the next phase.

We absolutely love both Rashida and Rob, and will be sad to see them go. Rashida was one of the very first people we knew we wanted in the cast, and as important as Ann is to Leslie (and vice-versa), she’ll certainly never be far from Pawnee. Rob we initially thought we could only have for six or eight episodes, and we couldn’t be happier that he will have stuck around for 75.

They are wonderful, funny, committed actors, they’ve been a huge part of the Parks and Rec family, and we think we have a great Pawnee send-off in the works for them. 
As sad a news as this is, I can't say it's exactly surprising, for several reasons. First, see see Schur's comment about the Chris character originally being meant for a limited run. His character has struggled to find relevance in a continuous role since the end of that initial story arc, and that he has remained in Pawnee all this time makes very little sense in universe. I've thought for several seasons now that he would have been much better served in a recurring role.

Second, the writers have never been able to find something for Anne to contribute to the show, and is the very definition of a supporting character. Ann-centric stories tend to fall flat, and she's best used when backing up Leslie or helping Ron with inpromtu home repair. Stories like her dating Tom or her dating an endless string of random guys, or last season's fairly terrible baby crisis are signs of continuing desperation in finding relevance with the characters. Getting her and Chris back together to have a kid signalled pretty much the end of either character's significance or growth potential. And fictional characters are only interesting if they continue to grow. Or, if they are like Ron, they never ever do.

All of that aside though, they are amazing characters, and I'll miss them both. Leslie won't be the same without her best friend, though that role has been quietly shifted over to Ben over the last year or so. And Chris has provided some of the more genuine, non-Ron related laughs. His limitless enthusiasm has elevated episodes like Flu Season and Emergency Response into memorable episodes.

If, however, it means a potentially larger role for Lucy Lawless on the show, then I'm fine with it.

Via Uproxx.

[List] - 8 Of The Best Franchise Continuations In Other Media

Canon is a weird thing. First appearing in the modern context in 1911 in relation to, what else, Sherlock Holmes, to distinguish between the original and "official" Doyle stories, and those written by other authors. The concept of canon has exploded in the internet era, and reached a level of cultural penetration that even movie studios, during their bouts of rebooting, will refer to separate franchise canons.

Over the last decade or so, the "canonical continuation" has appeared, adding a new level of head scratching puzzlement to the issue of what counts in fiction. Essentially, a canonical continuation is additional material concerning characters or stories that is either created by, has some involvement from, or has the blessing of the original creator, and can be viewed as having "actually happened" in relation to the original TV series, movie or book. And wipes out of existence any noncanon works that might have been written for less artist and pure motives, like capitalising on brand recognition.

After the jump, I look at 8 of the best canonical continuations of popular franchises, and at the form they continued in.

1 Aug 2013

Even More Of An Unexpected Journey

Finally a concrete announcement on the Extended Edition of the first of the Hobbit Films. And happily, there will be a DVD release. I was concerned at this point, since the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions were partly responsible for the DVD revolution back in the early 2000's, and I was worried that The Hobbit might go all blu-ray, which is a laughable yet potential thought.

The extended cut will feature 12 more minutes of integrated footage, on top of about thirty minutes that was included theatrically that shouldn't have been. It will be available in three different configurations: a 5 disc DVD set, a 3 disc blu-ray set, or a 5 disc 3D blu-ray set. Regardless of which version you pick up, there will be over nine hours of behind the scenes extras, including production diaries, commentaries, digital effect work, documentaries, and everything else that made the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions a cinephile's wet dream.

The Extended Cut will be released on November 5th, with a digital version available on October 22nd.

Via Den of Geek.

The Lord Oaf Of Highgarden


Roger Ashton-Griffiths has been cast as Mace Tyrell, father to soon-to-be-Queen Margaery, in the upcoming season of Game of Thrones, meaning I and most of the internet was entirely wrong about Mark Gatiss playing the role. That means Gatiss is either playing Styr, a minor role, or a surprise that hasn't been previously announced (one of the Greyjoy brothers perhaps?).

Ashton-Griffiths has had a long career in theatre and film, having appeared in Gangs of New York, played Hitchock in Grace of Monaco, and appeared in the Tudors. I look forward to him exchanging barbs with his Westerosi mother, played by Diana Rigg.

Via Den of Geek.

Bryan Cranston Could Start Giving Morgan Freeman A Run On Narrating Things

Bryan Cranston reading Shelley's Ozymandias is about as haunting as you can get. And pretty pitch perfect for the coming final episodes of Breaking Bad, which begin on August 11th on AMC (and reviews will appear here on Tuesdays, replacing the departing Continuum recaps).

Because of a particular English professor back in the day, the line "Nothing beside remains. Round the decay" causes my mind immediately to jump to Yeats' The Second Coming, which wouldn't have been as perfectly suited for this, but I very much want to hear Cranston read aloud now. In fact, I will go on record as saying I would pay many monies for an audio collection of Cranston reading classic poetry in a threatening manner.

And the book of Revelations. Especially the "behold a pale horse" bit.

Via Uproxx.
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