31 Jan 2014

Two Blokes Go To Italy, Make Voices At Each Other

In 2011, IFC Films released The Trip, starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, as they take a tour of bed and breakfasts and manage to bicker and do impressions at each other. The film wasn't great, mostly because it was a heavily edited down version of the six episode BBC TV series The Trip. The film essentially cut together the best of their improve dialogue, without any of the context or better character development.

The series was a hit for the BBC, so they commissioned a second series (to air this year), which IFC have gotten their hands onto and reedited into a sequel, The Trip To Italy. this time, the film will precede the series, essentially turning the TV version into a director's cut of the film. This clip isn't a trailer per say, but it does show Coogan and Brydon duelling with one of their better impressions, Michael Caine.

I'd still wait for the series, me.

Via Collider.

Fit For A Queen. Or, A Princess Anyway

It's little secret that Sideshow Toys makes pretty much the best collector statues on the market. Sure, their pricy as hell, but you get what you pay for. The Premium Format items are especially well crafted, and their latest is the final in their DC Big Three series, having begun with Batman and Superman. Now they turn their attention to Wonder Woman, and the results are very impressive. If I didn't need a new laptop, I think my name would end up on the pre-order list for this one.

Via Sideshow.

[Review] - The Barenaked Ladies: Grinning Streak Tour

Via Sun Media
While some might disregard the Barenaked Ladies as a nineties holdover, this year marks their 25th anniversary as a group. And this tour is as much a celebration of that fact as it is of their most recent album, Grinning Streak. Not just pulling from their list of hits, the show is a broad selection of music from across their career, including early, obscure and eclectic choices, and a few covers as well. And, happily, after a few rough years and recent albums that have lacked their characteristic energy and enthusiasm, the Ladies are back to form. Still irreverent, just a more mature form of it.

Hit the jump for the brief review. Balls!

30 Jan 2014

Eventually, In The Old West

I've made no secret about Western being my favourite genre. I feel that, like Science Fiction, it's a genre that enables a writer to tell any story they want. And because of the extreme nature of the environment in both of those genres, story must become focused on character and because of that, they can be (when they don't become too caught up in the trappings of the genre) immensely human periods.

Problem is, unlike sci-fi, westerns aren't popular outside of North America. In fact, the western has been called the only exclusively American genre. So, despite a number of fantastic westerns made over the last ten years, they under perform and studios aren't keen to give money over to a project that won't have international appeal (the failure of the Lone Ranger will probably halt any productions on non-independent westerns for the foreseeable future). Happily, Seth MacFarlane's A Million Ways To Die In The West was already too far along for the studio to pull the plug. And, the surprising success of Ted gives MacFarlane a little leeway in terms of output. 

I'm excited for Million Ways. I like MacFarlane's comedy for the most part, which when working at maximum efficiency can be nearly as smart and as crude as Archer. It's only when it devolves into simple vulgarity (or when it becomes too self referential) that it looses me. The studio has released a series of character posters, and they showcase pretty succinctly the balance that MacFarlane strikes in his humour. They are simple and packed in innuendo. Sure, I would have liked them even more if they had designed them to look like actual old timey posters from the old west, and less of the 40 Year Old Virgin design everyone has run into the ground the last decade or so. But unless the trailer is an absolute mess, this film is going to sit pretty high on my most anticipated list for this year (and this year, that's a short list).

Hit the jump to see the various character posters, which also showcase one of the strongest comedy casts I've seen in a long time.

From Another Dusk Til Dawn

From Dusk Til Dawn is the only one of Robert Rodriguez' films that I really love. Sin City is alright, The Facility is fine, and Desperado is enjoyable. But I've never felt that way about his films. Certainly not in the same way that I feel about his friend Quentin's movies. Except Dusk, mostly because of the sharp right turn the narrative takes half way through. It's experimental film-plotting, and it works wonders. What the near endless direct to market sequels had working against them is that the twist is already twisted, so they just became excessively violent vampire films.

It's with that in mind that I'm hesitant to get excited about the Rodriguez backed TV adaptation of the the original film. It's absolutely certain that no one will come close to matching Tarantino and Clooney's chemistry, and again, we already know that all roads lead to the Titty Twister. So I struggle with the why, other than perpetrating yet another nostalgia driven reboot of a once popular franchise for the sake of filling in time. I need to know there is a purpose to it's existence other than a familiar name. What new will the TV series bring to this particular tale that the film missed out on?

[Review] - Justified, Season 5 Episode 4, "Over the Mountain"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
Everyone knows that one of the rules of comedy is that lists come in threes. And that a good comedian will attempt to find a way to subvert convention while still getting the desired effect. So, my favourite part of this week's element heavy episode of Justified came at the end, when the Detroit marshal tells Art that America has too many Canadians in it. It wasn't that his list of examples was Justin Bieber and Celine Dion, and it wasn't that Art finished the rule of three with Steve Nash. It was the slightly longer than usual pause between the two men as they tried to think of a third Canadian. Obviously, the lines were written, so all credit goes to the actors for throwing that in there.

This episode had a lot going on, especially in the third act. And while still being a good episode, it was easily the weakest of this season so far. But when Justified does a weak episode, you're still in for better hour of television than most shows can deliver in an entire season. Still and all, it seemed like the writers were desperate to get a lot of ground covered here, and I'm sure some of it could have been pushed into surrounding episodes. Oh well.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that have never spent a dime in Boyd's bar.

29 Jan 2014

There Were Singing Vegetables!

I'm not one for sport, so I don't watch the Superbowl, or get overly excited about the ridiculously expensive commercials that air during. But this one has Muppets, and is fantastic (and works just as well as an ad for the general wonderfulness of the Muppets as it does for the car). Seriously Disney, you need to bring back The Muppet Show. Terry Crews (who is awesome anyway) is brilliant in this, as was Gordon Ramsey in that Muppetsode a few weeks back. A new Muppet Show would work so well.

So just do it.

Via The Mary Sue.

Size Matters

You know why I love the deep past? Because everything was huge. Sloths were huge, birds were huge, insects were huge. The modern ecosystem can't support mega-fauna (thanks, decreasing oxygen content of the atmosphere), which is why even if humans hadn't spent the last two centuries being supreme assholes to other species, creatures like elephants and tigers and other hold overs from the last Age of Giants would be on their way out: there isn't room for them anymore.

This video highlights some of the largest animals ever, and should serve as a reminder that you might think you're a big fish in your particular pond, but there was once a 30 foot tall rhino so you're really nothing to look at, monkey-man.

Via Geekologie.

He Doesn't Bother To Bite Your Jugular Like A Lion

Agents of SHIELD is still off for another week, but until then here is a tactical raptor. Oh, I'm sorry, the Tactical Raptor. Because being the great killing machine of the Cretaceous wasn't enough, you had to go and give it ammunition stores. Are you trying to get us all killed?

You are? Oh, well... then, go about your business.

Hit the jump to see the beast, currently making the rounds at trade shows with blue Force Gear, in full.

28 Jan 2014

Most Wanted Poster Still Not Wanted

Disney has released a new poster for Muppets Most Wanted. Is it perfect? No, it's still a pretty terrible poster. But it's leagues better than the last one, which I believe might be one of the worst of the year. This poster, despite using stock images of the Muppets, scores over the other by featuring the humans in character, and actually having some relevancy to the plot of the film. It's just frustrating that, despite the filmmakers clearly knowing how to make a Muppet movie, and whomever is in charge of the trailers hitting it out fo the park every single time, the print media sucks felt.

It does have a great tag line though.

Via The Mary Sue.

Fry Takes A Day

My interest in 24: Live Another Day has been less than nothing. I gave up on 24 long before it finished, back when Jack Bauer had only died a couple times. And in perfect TV exectutive logic, becuase it was once popular, it must still be, and I have a feeling they'll be disappointed when they launch this London based miniseries followup and no one turns in because the viewership has moved on.

I will admit though that my interest has been peaked with the announcement that Stephen Fry has joined the cast. Fry will play the recurring character of Trevor Davies, British Prime Minister, who is "a strong and charismatic leader whose friendship with President Heller (William Devane), and the Anglo-American alliance itself, comes under tremendous pressure because of personal and political crises." And if I remember 24 correctly, he'll probably die in an explosion.

Will I turn in? Probably not. But Fry's involvement will mean I'll be keeping at least one eye on the series as it develops.

Via Den of Geek.

Not Twelve. Thirteen

Well there he is. While we've seen Peter Capaldi hanging out in Matt Smith's former costume a couple times, now the BBC has released this first look at the 12th Doctor's official costume. Said Capaldi, "He’s woven the future from the cloth of the past. Simple, stark, and back to basics. No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100 per cent Rebel Time Lord." It's nice to see the Doctor referred to as a rebel again, after nearly a decade of him being The Last.

I like it. Of course, it'll be something else to see it in action, but at a first look, it's a solid costume. It touches on, but skews the Victorian/Edwardian look that Smith took, and isn't as formal as Tennant's suits, or as informal as Eccelston's biker chic. The previous Doctor it reminds me the most of is the Third, the often called Dandy Doctor. Capaldi isn't wearing frills and a cape, but it has the same draping and straight lines. And I hope that's a sign that the 12th will drift closer to the Professor type of Doctor.

Now we just have to wait for autumn to see how he gets on.

Via the BBC.

Remember The Challenger

Left to right are Teacher-in-Space payload specialist Sharon Christa McAuliffe; payload specialist Gregory Jarvis; and astronauts Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, mission commander; Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist; Mike J. Smith, pilot; and Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist (via NASA).
There will be further posts today, and it's some good stuff, you should definitely check back later on. But I wanted to take a moment first and remind everyone that today is the 28th anniversary of the loss of the Challenger.

On January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger launched from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida at 11:38 EST, and 76 seconds into the flight an O-ring failed, causing a catastrophic sequence of events that lead to the breakup of the module. All seven crewmembers, seen above, were lost.

Exploration, discovery and investigation are perhaps the greatest calling that we can aspire to. The further we reach the more we learn, not just about our world and our universe, but about ourselves. Every boundary we push, every frontier we cross adds to greater whole (the greatest whole) of knowledge. But it is not without risk. Any time we push a boundary, there is a risk that the boundary will push back. We might feel that the time of great explorers disappearing off into the wilds, never to be heard from again is gone, but it isn't. Despite our advances, despite our safe guards and our best efforts, accidents happen. This was an accident. Tragic, horrible and avoidable. And, in the worst possible way that one can learn a lesson, educational. The loss of these seven scientists - explorers - should never be minimized, never be degraded and should never be forgotten.


24 Jan 2014

No Posts Today

We are experiencing technical difficulties. Or at least that's the story we're sticking with.

23 Jan 2014

FX Is Straining Towards The Summer

It won't premiere until July, but Guillermo del Toro's The Strain continues to tease us with more vague notions that trouble is coming. Showrunner Carlton Cuse also recently confirmed that they aren't looking much beyond a three season run, with each season adapting one of the novels that the series is based on, though he did leave open the possibility of splitting the last novel across two years, much the same way that Game of Thrones has adapted A Song Of Ice and Fire.

People Don't Use The Word "Dames" Enough Anymore

There is a popular trend amongst internet artists right now, adapting Disney princesses into other things: steampunkers, dress gowns, Star Wars characters, etc. Artist Tony Fleecs has opted to do something different, and put super heroines onto the covers of pulp novels. And the results are pretty wonderful. I would read any of these (though the Batgirl one is on the creepy side of suggestive).

Hit the jump for some of the more popular super ladies.

[Review] - Justified, Season 5 Episode 3, "Good Intentions"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
This episode could have just as easily been titled Seduction of the Innocent. Excepting, of course, that no one being seduced here is in any way innocent. But it was an episode where best intentions got put to the side in favour of winning favours, showing off, or trying to do a good thing. But as Yoda said, do or do not, there is no try. And in trying is where the folks of Harlan really had trouble this week.

While this week's episode wasn't as strong as the past two episodes, it's complex and twisting storyline served as a reminder of how many plates these characters are keeping spinning this season, and how little effort it would take to bring them all crashing down. And a reminder that, time and time again, people make the same bad choices that have lead them to tears in the past.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that EAR!

22 Jan 2014

Shortpacked! Packing It In

By David Willis

I was introduced to David Willis' Walkyverse a few years back through Shortpacked!'s Batman jokes (it was Batman can breathe in space, specifically). The longer I read, the more I realised that I was missing something, and spent far too much of the following couple weeks reading the complete backlog of strips, beginning with Roomies, It's Walky and Joyce and Walky. Caught up on the Head Alien, Robin and the whole complex backstory, I can honestly say that for the last eight years or so, Shortpacked! has been my favourite webcomic. It was originally meant to be mostly one-off jokes about Batman and Transformers, and turned into a continuity heavy, plot driven emotional roller coaster. So it is with equal degrees of sadness and contentment that last Friday, Willis announced that one year from now, Shortpacked! will cease to be. It will be no more. It will become a former webcomic. Says Willis:
"I’m in a place that Shortpacked! can end whenever.  It’s finally unnecessary, except for those times I have to yell at MRAs. Ultimately I’ve decided it will end on its tenth birthday, mostly because I really really like round number anniversaries and I’ve never done any single thing for a full decade before."
I didn't obviously realise it at the time, but it's felt like it has been ending for a while. Which was Willis' intention:
"I didn’t want to leave my characters hanging, so starting in 2010 I immediately started wrapping things up one by one. I gave Amber closure with her father. I gave Amber and Mike a happy ending together. I got Robin and Leslie back together (as was always the plan). I got Ethan the hell away from retail."
Willis earns himself several points for this decision. First, he's doing it so he's not creatively or physically strained when he and his wife start having children. Second, he's being a responsible writer and bringing a massive shared universe to a gentle and organic conclusion rather just abandoning it. And third, he will focus all of his comic-ing energies entirely on Dumbing of Age, his alternate universe spin-off/reboot which has been just fantastic since it launched a few years ago.

So yes, my daily routine will be a little less joyful without Shortpacked!, but as a writer I appreciate the instinct to stop telling a story at a certain point.

Via David Willis.


Despite Jeremy Clarkson's claim that the 21 series of Top Gear would start tomorrow, the BBC has confirmed that the series will in fact start on the 2nd of February, in it's usual Sunday night slot. And they've released some teasers accordingly.

Hit the jump to see how Captain Slow and the Hampster have been getting on.

Ryan Reynolds Kills Because A Cat Tells Him So

I don't often pay attention to film festivals. Certainly, the buzz worth films of the next year or two see their premieres at such places, but I won't have an opportunity to see those films until after they've done the festival circuits, so no use getting excited about something well before it's time. Occasionally though, something leaks through my filter and peaks my curiosity. Such is the nature of The Voices.

"This genre-bending tale centers around Jerry Hickfang (Ryan Reynolds), a lovable but disturbed factory worker who yearns for attention from a woman (Gemma Arterton) in accounting. When their relationship takes a sudden, murderous turn, Jerry’s evil talking cat and benevolent talking dog lead him down a fantastical path where he ultimately finds salvation."
Now, Ryan Reynolds does not have a great track record, but the law of averages suggests that eventually he'll make a good film (and his odder, more independent films do tend towards better than his big Hollywood pictures - see Buried). Gemma Arterton too is a quality actress that gets stuck in the absolute shittiest "tentpole" pictures (as do too many British actresses when they come to LA), but her lower budget films fair better. And the concept is just so damned strange, I can't help but be interested. The film also stars Anna Kendrick, and is directed by Marjane Satrapi, who previously directed the animated Persepolis.

Via Collider.

21 Jan 2014

If You Don't Throw Them A Piece Of Meat, They Go A Bit Nuts

Say what you will about Danny Boyle, the man has never conformed to expectations. His films are as eclectic as you can get, with Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, and Slumdog Millionaire only just scratching the surface. Then he'll jump to stage and direct a star swapping version of Frankenstein, then he'll put together an Olympic opening ceremony. And now he's jumped to TV, backing a dark comedy about the Met police force for Channel 4, because that makes perfect sense in that it doesn't make much sense at all.

From Peep Show creators Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, Babylon "takes a wry look at the people and politics in the command rooms and on the front lines of a modern police force, as it attempts to uphold the peace under constant scrutiny in one of the world’s busiest capital cities." PR manager Liz Garvey (Brit Marling) being brought into the London police department by Chief Constable Richard Miller (James Nesbitt) to assist in fixing their public perception problems. From the look of this trailer, the series looks like it might do for the police what The Thick Of It did for politics, namely relentlessly satirise it up the backside. I'm a big fan of Nesbitt, and the writers' pedigree is enough to get me interested. The series also stars Jill Halfpenny, Paterson Joseph, Bertie Carvel and Adam Deacon.

Babylon airs on the 9th of February on Channel 4, with a full series to follow later in the year.

Via /Film.

Bully For Them

NBC rarely passes up an opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot. Take, for instance, the recent success of their Sound of Music live show, which brought in stupidly high ratings for the Peacock, and that set all the executive's brains to "musicals=good." So, next year they'll be putting on a live version of Peter Pan, which will probably result in someone getting maimed on a rigging wire a la Spider-man: Turn Off The somethingsomething. The single minded focused approach has never served NBC well; just ask their dozens of failed Friends clones that are currently being rummaged through out back by raccoons and street tramps, desperate for warmth and finding none in NBC's trite 18-35 demo exploitations.

What was my point? Oh yes... NBC has renewed Parks and Rec for another season. And while I will wholeheartedly celebrate another year of Ron Swanson, Andy Dwyer and "the throbbing, turgid boner" of a programme they exist on, part of me kind of wanted the show to end this year, for quality control reasons. The producers should have learned from the Office about the dangers of over staying your welcome. This season wrote off two major characters because they'd run out ideas for them, and while I've enjoyed this season, it hasn't been operating at a level consistent with previous seasons. Until this past week's bacon and employee of the week jokes, I was thinking to myself that there hasn't been a truly great Swanson moment in a long time.

It won't help matters that the cast have all become movie stars in the time since the show began. While Adam Scott, Aubrey Plaza and Nick Offerman might be able to arrange their indie film schedules around the show, Amy Poehler and Chris Pratt are increasingly becoming Hollywood leads. Pratt already missed out on half of this season while filming Guardians of the Galaxy, and I can't imagine that Jurassic World won't interfere with next season. The rest of the cast might get a trip to Hawaii out of it, but it'll mean less Andy for us. Again.

I personally believe that five years is the maximum a show should last, no matter the quality, and discounting those first terrible six episodes, that's what Parks would have by this season's end: five solid seasons. So, congrats to the cast and the writers for another season. Just, don't wear out your welcome.

Via Uproxx.

I Have Seen People Broken By The World

I have absolute faith in Hannibal, which is the opposite of what I was saying a year ago when they began releasing material for it's first season. I was hesitant for yet another reboot to a franchise, and for yet another return to the world of Hannibal Lecter, but the series turned out to be one of the most interesting, the most disturbing and easily the best drama on network television of 2013. So, with this first look at season 2 (which is a mixture of footage from last year's finale and this year's premiere), I have absolute faith in Hannibal.

I don't have faith in NBC. Last year, the May air dates served the series well, because it essentially meant it had the entire timeslot to itself. The other network's shows had wrapped for the season, and all that Hannibal aired against on Thursday nights was reality shows and the news. A February release for season two (which I will be reviewing) means it'll be in direct competition with other first run shows, which means the standards for ratings (and NBC is still strictly adhering to the outdated Nielsen numbers) will be higher.

Secondly, the Friday night timeslot will not do it any favours. True, NBC is content with the performances of both Grimm and Dracula (which, content wise are a little closer to Hannibal than Thursday night comedies), but Friday is still regarded as the place you put things that you don't want people to see. My worry is that NBC is either trying to hide or sabotage the series, despite it being the best thing they've got going for them, and despite the fact that it is a cable-level show that managed to make it on network.

Hit the jump for the season two poster, which is nicely complimentary to the season one image.

20 Jan 2014

ABC Still Holds Out A Hope On Marvel

Courtesy of Marvel

Last week, ABC President Paul Lee made a couple of confirmations concerning the future of the MCU and Marvel television with the Disney-owned network. While admitting disappointment with how the series began, ABC is still supportive of Agents of SHIELD (right up until they have to renew it, anyway). Then he dropped this:
"Creatively, we are loving what we’re seeing for the back nine.  We’re doing a lot of work, and I’m really enjoying doing this with Marvel.  We can announce that Lady Sif is coming in, in Episode 15.  We’re shooting it now, and that’s going to be absolutely integral to that hour of television."
Right from the start, it was clear that SHIELD was not going to be a place where the Avengers popped up week to week. But the cameos from Maria Hill and Nick Fury helped in those early episodes to establish the series as part of the larger MCU. Since then, with the exception of the Asgardian episode and increasingly frustrating references to the three big MacGuffins of the films, the show has concentrated on establishing it's own corner of the MCU to live in, and avoided connections to the various film series. This has not exactly worked in the show's favour, so it's great to hear that they'll be fixing that, and in an episode that will air soon (presumably in February). And that's a fan favourite character, and that it's one of the few female heroes that the MCU has established is better news yet. The last couple episodes of SHIELD have been a rough step back, but I'm properly excited about this. I just hope it's less of a cameo a la Fury, and more of a full episode guest spot. Maybe now we'll find out what happened to that Frost Beast from the end of The Dark World.

Lee, while refusing to talk about future Marvel developments that he has no hand in, did provide the only official confirmation we've gotten on the Agent Carter series, saying:
"In terms of Agent Carter, the script has come in. It’s a really good script, written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who are great. Also, Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas are on that one. That certainly has a chance to be on the network. We’re looking for big, broad plays that we can plan on ABC, and really make great Marvel super-fan shows for Netflix. We think it’s a great balance, and the ABC Studios side of it are really enjoying it, as are Marvel."
While no pilot has yet been ordered, it's at least comforting to know that Marvel and ABC are putting man hours behind the project. Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas, who had previously worked on Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, and ran the criminally under appreciated Reaper, would act as the showrunners should Carter get picked up for series. Personally, I feel that ABC would be foolish to not pick the Carter series up for next season. And despite it's flaws, I think they would be shooting themselves in the foot if they cancelled SHIELD after one (it's ratings aren't great, but they are good by modern standards). It just needs an overhaul. I feel that the best win-win for the network, Marvel, and the viewers would be to split the year between the two series. 13 episode orders each would force the writers to focus their storytelling, and make better TV.

Via Collider.

Shameful. Just Shameful

I like Elizabeth Banks. She's a quality actress, capable of a broad range of comedy and drama, takes interesting roles that you wouldn't anticipate, and has a growing influence behind the scenes in the industry. So, I want to look forward to Walk of Shame. Some of the stuff in this trailer looks good, and some looks standard (I'm always tenuous with new "outrageous" comedies, which tend to stack trailers with all of the jokes). Banks will probably elevate the material beyond what it was probably written at. And I can't help but think that this trailer gives away too much in order to fill it with as many jokes, not all of which land.

But hey, Gillian Jacobs is in it too!

[Review] - The Bully Pulpit, By Doris Kearns Goodwin

Theodore Roosevelt is largely regarded as one of the best Presidents America ever had. William Taft is largely regarded as one of the largest. One is popularly remembered as a fist shaking, ride-into-battle cowboy; the other for being quite large. And these boiled down descriptions are in their own way true (Taft was a sizable individual), but the actual men, and their actual lives are far more complicated then that (as you would hope, otherwise they'd be too dull to account for a turtle-crusher of a book like this).

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Presidential historian, proves herself adept at relating history. Unlike others who might inscribe their words with a political agenda, Goodwin's works feel more like historical description, relating events as they happened, and as they were reacted to rather than trying to derive a specific narrative out of the lives of great men. And at nearly a 1000 pages, she has left nearly no stone undescribed in the lives not only of Presidents Roosevelt and Taft, but of their wives, their friends, and of the reporters who supported them. However, because the book covers such a long gulf of time, with so many characters, and with so many events transpiring between them, it lacks a primary focus to make it exemplary. It's simply exhaustive.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that have had a tub made special for them, that can fit four skilled workers, or six Irishmen.

17 Jan 2014

Penny For Your (Dark) Thoughts?

Just a couple of days after teasing us last, Showtime has confirmed a start date for Sam Mendes and John Logan's Victorian public domain series, Penny Dreadful. The show will begin on May 11th, and have celebrated the announcement with yet another teaser. Long this time, and featuring actual footage from the series. Josh Hartnett says words in this one, and we get a couple new shots of Timothy Dalton. Still no sign of Billie Piper, but there is plenty of time between now and spring for Showtime to tease us some more.

The series is currently filming in Ireland, where the BBC shot the similarly period Ripper Street, because apparently Ireland has become trapped in an architectural time eddy, which prevents it from progressing into the twentieth century.

[Insert Male-Genitalia Pun Here]

You know what I bet Rob Thomas would be great at? Marriage counseling. Because he never gives up on anything. He had his series Cupid cancelled on him, so he stuck that in his back pocket, and years later convinced ABC to bring it back (when it was cancelled again). Party Down gets axed, he obsesses over getting a film made. Veronica Mars ends prematurely, he spends ten years successfully developing a cinematic follow up. Plus a series of post-film books. And, now it seems a sort-of spin-off series.

Thomas and the CW have announced that CW Seed, the original digital output of the mostly teen-oriented network (and previous home of Veronica Mars), will produce a new mockumentary-esque series starring Ryan Hansen, whose career began playing Dick Casablancas, as himself attempting to get a Dick spinoff made. Think of it like Episodes, except with every available opportunity for former Veronica Mars and Party Down cast members to guest star.

Hansen is a fantastic comedic actor, especially when paired with Martin Starr as a foil, so here's hoping he pops up often in this offering. At the very least, it'll be an opportunity for lots of Dick jokes.

Via Uproxx.

[Opinion] - Sherlock, Series 4 And Beyond

Courtesy of the BBC
"There's an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it's God's own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared."
~Arthur Conan Doyle
As I mentioned in my review of the final episode, His Last Vow could have, save the final couple minutes or so, served as a damned good finale for the show. But every time he thinks he's been forced out, the universe (which is rarely so lazy) pulls Sherlock back into the mystery. And this time, it's for England.

Gatiss and Moffat have created something special here; well written, well played, and well received. It's a series that deserves its success, and these last three episodes were of a particular quality (Americans waiting for it's premiere this Sunday on PBS: you're in for something special). The characters have evolved from their stringent beginnings, and become fuller, more interesting and complex people (but not necessarily better). Moving into a fourth series, and into a presumptive fifth further down the line, the series needs to maintain this evolution, for fear of resting on it's laurels and lapsing into repetition.

The events of the final episode will certainly drive the first episode of the fourth series. But moving on from there, where does, or should, Sherlock go next? Doyle only wrote 60 stories of Holmes and Watson, and a good episode can get through two or three of these. After the jump, I express my thoughts on the finer points of the finale, and highlight those areas I feel the show should explore next. Expect considerable spoilers for the entirety of series 3 within.

16 Jan 2014

You Either Die A Villian, Or Live Long Enough To See Yourself Become The Still-A-Villian

The Oscar nominations were announced today, and everyone is getting all excited about them, except for me. I couldn't care less about the Oscars. Though, I will say that this is the first list of nominees I've seen in years where everyone nominated deserves to be so, and there were no obvious or unfair omissions. And in several categories (like Best Actress for instance), there is no obvious winner. This year's nominees were that good.

But enough about that nonsense. Marvel has released the first clip from their most recent one-shot, All Hail The King, a followup to Iron Man 3 featuring Ben Kingsley as Trevor "The Mandarin" Slattery. The Mandarin reveal in IM3 was a contentious point of that film, which people tend to either love or hate. Personally, I thought it was brilliant, and further proof that Shane Black not only thinks differently from a normal person, but uses that to be a better writer than the rest of us.

I also dig the 70's exploitation vibe Marvel went with on this one.

In For A Penny, In for A Pound

I like covering the build up towards the premiere of Penny Dreadful, because I get to see how many "penny" and/or "dreadful" puns I can come up with for article titles (note: they are all dreadful).

Anyway, there is a new teaser out for the series, and an image of the cast which I've included after the jump. It's important to point out, I feel, that despite the "psychosexual horror series" promising to "weave together the origins of literary horror characters" in Victorian London, none of the main cast are themselves playing public domain characters, which will hopefully separate it from the likes of NBC's horrible Dracula, or FOX's Sleepy Hollow or intended League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Personally, what I'm looking most forward to is Timothy Dalton playing a Big Game Hunter (ask me one-on-one, and I might admit that Dalton is my favourite Bond, but I'd never say such a thing in public - what? Oh sh...). The rest just looks like good fun.

Good, bloody, nuded-up Victorian fun.

[Review] - Justified, Season 5 Episode 2, "The Kids Aren't All Right"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
One of the reasons I consider FX to be the best of the American cable networks (sorry HBO) is because of the creative freedom they give their shows. The basic company line is, so long as you turn in a good product, we won't meddle. The awareness that the creative types should be the driving influence of the product, and that management should only worry about making money off what they make, not trying to change what they make, is refreshing and rare. And because of it, FX's shows are consistently good over the lifetime of their series, and some of the best on TV (It's Always Sunny, Archer, Louis, Justified to name a few).

It's with this in mind that the announcement that Justified has been renewed for a sixth season, which will also be it's last should be considered a good thing. The show has never been a rating's bonanza, but is critically acclaimed. On another network, it might have been retooled earlier in it's run, or cancelled outright, or had it's soul stripped out into something procedural and meaningless. Instead, it's been allowed to live on, for it's intended lifetime. Said FX Networks CEO John Landgraf, "It was Graham Yost and Timothy Olyphant's decision. I would have liked to have had more Justified. It's one of my favorite shows." From day one, Yost has envisioned Raylan's story taking six season to tell, and that's exactly what we're going to get. The quality of the show has been and remains strong, as evidenced in this second episode of the now penultimate season. It's business as usual in Harlan, and business is good.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that know how to pass the time in a whore house.

15 Jan 2014


As I've said several times, I'm not a fan of posting casting announcements. Until the film is in the can, anything can happen. Actors can drop out, they can die, they can be replaced. But Marvel has had a pretty good track record of keeping their actors in a project, and alive (as much as they have control over that, I suppose). But, since Guardians of the Galaxy is well into post production, and Age of Ultron should be going before cameras soon, the next thing coming down the pipe is Edgar Wright's Ant-man.

A while back, when I was having some fun with making wild casting predictions, I took a shot at Hank Pym. My choice for the role was Steve Martin, based on a comment Wright had made years ago (remember, Ant-man was announced at the same time as the first Iron Man), which follows:
"[T]he idea that we have for the adaptation is to actually involve both. Is to have a film that basically is about Henry Pym and Scott Lang, so you actually do a prologue where you see Pym as Ant-Man in action in the 60′s, in sort of Tales to Astonish mode basically, and then the contemporary, sort of flash-forward, is Scott Lang’s story, and how he comes to acquire the suit, how he crosses paths with Henry Pym, and then, in an interesting sort of Machiavellian way, teams up with him. So it’s like an interesting thing, like the “Marvel Premiere” one that I read which is Scott Lang’s origin, it’s very brief like a lot of those origin comics are, and in a way, the details that are skipped through in the panels and the kind of thing we’d spend half an hour on."
It's nice to see that Wright is sticking to his guns. In the wake of announcing that Paul Rudd would be the lead on the film, Kevin Feige stated that Rudd was Wright's and the studio's first choice years ago, and they were able to finally realise that choice. It seems as though the over-all plot of the film hasn't changed either, at least in the broad strokes, because Feige has announced that screen legend Michael Douglas, fresh off his Golden Globe win, has joined the film as Hank Pym, officially making Rudd Scott Lang.

This is a pretty big get for Marvel, the most recent in a series of big gets for Marvel that include Robert Redford in Captain American: The Winter Soldier, James Spader in Ultron, and Glenn Close in Guardians (and I'd say going back to Anthony Hopkins in Thor, except Hopkins isn't as... particular with his film roles as these more recent actors are). Said Douglas, "I’ve been dying to do a Marvel picture for so long. The script is really fun, the director is really good." It also speaks to the increasing credibility that the MCU has brought to superhero films. It helps that Phase 2 has taken more of the tact of making genre films that happen to be about superheroes, rather than specifically making standard issue superhero films, a task they are content to leave to Sony and Fox.

My first thought when I heard this news was "fantastic," though not for the reasons you might think. I see this opening a whole new potential door for Marvel. Douglas will obviously be playing the modern, older Pym, which leaves room in the cast for the younger version to feature in flashbacks. Which take place in the sixties. With the exception of Captain America, and the presumptive Agent Carter TV series, Marvel's movies have all been contemporary. Ant-man could be their gateway into more period stuff. Their deal with Netflix certainly proves they are willing to test material in other formats, and I don't see why a period caper series in the vein of The Avengers (the other, British ones) or the Man from UNCLE , featuring the adventures of a young Hank Pym, wouldn't be something Marvel would be interested in exploring.

Hell, by the end of the decade, why shouldn't we have a SHIELD series in each era of the 20th century?

Via /Film.

Only One Year Left Of One Year Old News


When season two of the Newsroom ended, it's future was unknown. The season had ended in a fairly series-finale-ish way, and Sorkin was shifting his focus to a Steve Jobs bio-pic for Sony, which he had postponed in order to do the Newsroom. Well, Sorkin has apparently finished that film, and is ready to dive back into last year's news. The twist? This will be the final season of the Newsroom. Said HBO Programming Director Michael Lombardo, "The Newsroom is classic Aaron Sorkin — smart, riveting and thought-provoking. I’m sure this farewell season will be one to remember."

Added to the behind the scenes staff is former Office writer/actor/producer Paul Lieberstein as an executive producer, I suspect probably to make certain that scripts get in on time. Important, considering last year's first third rewrite that cost them an entire episode. And considering that Sorkin, left to his own devices, takes his time on projects, but HBO seems keen to get the season filming in the spring, so they can air it in the fall. Now, so long as he focuses on the right news stories, everything will be fine (and hey, my crazy idea about having Olivia Munn's character go on the Daily Show while John Oliver was hosting is now that much easier that John Oliver is a fellow employee of HBO)

The sort of good news about HBO cancelling the show is that, along with the announcement that Boardwalk Empire is ending after it's next season, this frees up some budget at HBO, for shows like the new and popular True Detective, and the ever-forthcoming American Gods. It also means the notoriously cancel-happy network is less likely to cut Game of Thrones budget to make up the difference. Heck, they might even find a couple more bucks to pushed Westeros' way.

Via /Film.

[Review] - Agents of SHIELD, Season 1 Episode 12, "Seeds"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Productions
Last week, I was cautiously hopeful that the lacklusterness of that episode was a bump in the road. After this week's episode, I'm worried that the show has went right back to square one. And will spent the back half of it's first (and if they aren't careful, only) season building back up to a level that can only be described as "fine." Because this episode, from Monica Owusu-Breen (who wrote the terrific Asgardian episode) and showrunner Jed Whedon, was lacking the necessary charm, structure or quality that should be standard by this point. And in light of the final moments, it seemed like little more than a filler episode, setting up yet another potential recurring element. Which I had hoped we'd moved past. It would be nice to see some of these established threats actually, you know, be threatening one of these days.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that also have a rivalry with operations.

14 Jan 2014

It's Not Easy Not Getting Gold

At the Golden Globes on the weekend, Muppets Most Wanted didn't win a single trophy. True, it wasn't nominated for any, and that is a travisty. Yes, the film doesn't actaully come out until March. But dammit Hollywood Foreign Press Association, haven't you ever heard of retroactive award... giving... thing? Or, I guess, preemptive awardning(?).

Come on!

Live In The New World, Or Die In The Old One

I just met someone who is working their way through Game of Thrones for the first time, in anticipation of the season 4 premiere. They are currently in the earlier third of season 3, and believe that things are "going well so far." Viewers of the show knows what waits for them. And readers of the books know what waits for everyone in this coming season, premiering on April 6th, which should ratchet everything up to a breaking point nicely.

It's more than just Starks that are mortal, even if they are the ones with the greatest tendency to prove it.

[Review] - Sherlock Series 3 Finale, Episode 3, "His Last Vow"

Courtesy of the BBC

"Miss Morstan entered the room with a firm step and an outward composure of manner. She was a blonde young lady, small, dainty, well gloved and dressed in the most perfect taste... In an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents, I have never looked upon a face which gave a clearer promise of a refined and sensitive nature. I could not but observe that as she took the seat which Sherlock Holmes placed for her, her lip trembled, her hand quivered, and she showed every sign of intense inward agitation."
~Arthur Conan Doyle
First off, I was right. Mostly right. Partly right. I'm very glad that I wasn't completely right, because this episode packed in twist after twist, while also clustering the references to canon, and somehow managed to divert the series off into it's own original direction, one that will potentially drive the series from here on out. It was the most mystery drive episode of this bunch, the most conventional episode, if Sherlock has conventions, and inevitably will likely be the most derisive. It was also a hell of a way to end out what I firmly believe to be the strongest series yet (that two year break served the writing well) of one of the best shows on television.

And for a moment there, every Cumberbitch on the internet hated Yasmine Akram.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that aren't funny, just this once, not this time.

13 Jan 2014

If You Hit Reboot Enough Times, Eventually The System Crashes

I've made no secret about preferring Marvel's films to DC's. And, I hope, I've made no secret about preferring DC's books to Marvel's. Given the choice, I'd rather read about Zatanna or Martian Manhunter, or the Detective Chimp over The Defenders, X-Force or the Silver Surfer (OK, maybe those were all bad examples). Up until the New 52 happened, DC's books were simple more interesting to me, the characters more interesting and the mythology more fulfilling (since the New 52, the only book I can stand for more than a couple issues is Wonder Woman).

The exception to this was the Ultimate Universe. I liked the Ultimate Comics. Ultimate X-Men was intense, Ultimate Fantastic Four was weird, and Ultimate Spider-man was one of the best written books in the entire Marvel catalogue. Despite having a very simple and profit driven origin - make continuity-free books based on the success of the Spider-man and X-Men films - the ability to approach seasoned characters in new and non-longevity minded ways allowed for a freedom of storytelling. Eventually The Ultimates appeared and the imprint took it's place as one of the best examples of what the House of Ideas could achieve. It's no small expression of influence that the Ultimate books have helped shape nearly every Marvel movie to come out since they appeared, especially in the MCU films, right down to the Avengers lineup and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.

Then things went bad. X-Men started retconning itself, Fantastic Four stopped making any kind of sense, and Jeph Loeb took over the Ultimates. Then Ultimatum happened, and everything when to shit. Mostly it was an excuse to kill off entire roasters of characters (and in the Ultimate universe, death is fairly permanent). The entire line relaunched, but quickly became a muddled mess of mini-series, character retcons and a continuity thicker than the standard universe, which had been going for fifty years. So, they relaunched again, killing off Peter Parker, taking the lines back to basics, and renaming everything Ultimate Comics (which resulted in Ultimate Comics: Ultimates, which is laughably bad and sad that it got past editorial). Again, quickly, it was a mess of miniseries (there was at one point two separate Ultimates books, and an Avengers title, none of which paid much respect to the others) and "major events," like President Captain America, that felt flat and obvious in their shamelessness.

Now they've announced that, once again, after Galactus is finished chewing on them, that Ultimate Comics will relaunch yet again. Part of me was hoping that the current cross over event would end with the entire line ending, and the few interesting characters left (that haven't either been killed or written into mediocrity) moving into the main Marvel line. Instead, the Ultimate line will once again reduce down to three titles: Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man from Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez; All-New Ultimates from Michel Fiffe and Amilcar Pinna; and Ultimate FF from Joshua Hale Fialkov and Mario Guevara. All-New will feature characters like Kitty Pryde, Cloak and Dagger, and "a new Black Widow" (something like the line's ninth). FF will concern the Future Foundation, which will be all of the universe's geniuses. This line-wide streamlining will last right up until there is another major cross over event, or there is a bevy of character specific mini-series to bog the backstory up in contradictions.

I'm all for change, and progression, and character evolution. But there is a breaking point, and I can't help but think that the Ultimate line reached it long ago.

Via ComicsAlliance.

Just Like The Gypsy Woman Said

Consider this your reminder that Archer returns tonight on FX, and that is only a good thing. If the producers are to believed, we're in for a massive shift in the narrative (I won't spoiler anything for you, but let's just say that country music is involved). I believe that if anyone is capable of taking a show in a new direction, without sacrificing what has made the show great, it is Adam Reed.

So long as the ratio of literary and geek references, and sexual... um, I guess, nuendo remains at 1:1, I'll be happy with whatever they give us.

[Review] - Her

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Lets all just accept that Her is probably the most critically acclaimed movie that features two beginning-to-end phone sex sequences that aren't watered down or censored. In a way, it's for sequences like these, as well as the myriad of dream sequences, awkward dates, and general human weirdness, that Her might be one of the truest depictions of actual everyday human existence put to film. That it features a man dating an artificial intelligence is secondary.

It's taken me a few days to work out exactly what Her is meant to be. My immediate impression was that this is a very well made film, with excellent and honest performances, that is without a central thesis. It was taking us on a journey, that much was clear, but what was the point of the journey was less clear. I've settled now, and maybe others came to this realisation earlier, that the journey was the point of things. This is a movie about growth, about becoming more than you are through the experiences we share, or want to share, with others, and how for good or ill, we are better people when we come out the other side. So, it was ironic that I saw it alone.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which were a little terrified of this movie's more prophetic moments.

10 Jan 2014

That's Just One Of Our Block Builders From Sector 7-G

I think the record will show that I am a fan of Lego. I also feel, in various ways, as though I've made my thoughts on The Simpson's known. Bring the two together, and you'd think we'd have a party, yes? Well...

Lego has proved a large number of high-res photos to promote their soon to be released, 2,523-piece 742 Evergreen Terrace set, which will retail for $200 US, and includes in minifig form the entire Simpsons clan, plus Flanders (instead of Grandpa). The set is huge, and an impressive design, in which every room is included in the fully enclosed house. I like a lot of things about this set. I like that, on the box art, Maggie is holding what appears to be an axe. I like that the wheelbarrow has "Property of Ned Flaunders" on it. I like the attention to detail each room has been given.

What I don't like is the way the set bifurcates the rooms, resulting in weird segments, and a hall door hanging in mid air (which, when the set is closed, you can't access anyway). While I like that the house is complete, but I dislike that it hinges in the middle, rather than have a removable back wall (something akin to the Bag's End Hobbit set). And I dislike the eyes on the minifigs. I don't know which artist decided on everyone having weird eyes rather than going with the standard Simpsons wide-eyed stare (as they have done with Maggie). Margie looks like she's trying to be seductive, Homer looks tired, Lisa looks fraught, and Bart looks... actually Bart looks seedy, and that works. So, Bart and Maggie have eyes that don't look bizarre. That, and I'd prefer it if the torso pieces were more generic of the characters looks rather than customised (Flanders and Marge without aprons, Homer without a tie).

I probably won't be dropping the $200 to buy this; I can think of other ways to spend that much money. But if me from twenty years ago had access to this, there wouldn't have been a force on this or any other earth that could have stopped it form being mine.

Funny how a couple decades can mellow a person, isn't it?

Hit the jump for photos of the set.

Well, If Twitter Likes It, It Must Be Good

I'm not going to lie: this site is probably going to be pretty Muppet heavy for the next couple months. Indeed, expect March to be as Muppet-centric as November was Doctor Who-oriented.

And we shall start with this early television spot. Remember during the last film's release, when they made all those brilliant parody trailers based on what else was being released that year (Hunger Games, Twilight, etc.)? Well, it looks like they've hired the same advertising agency this tie around, because they are at it again, this time with a parody of the sort of crap twitter and blog comments that promotions have started adding to movie trailers and posters, because some movies have to be that desperate to find a kind word said about them.

It's nice to have the Muppets back. But that's always true.

[Analysis] - Who Is Mary Morstan

Courtesy of the BBC
Back in March, Benedict Cumberbatch seemed to confirmed a fourth series of Sherlock had been confirmed, saying "All I know at the moment is that I'm doing these three and another three." This was officially confirmed yesterday by producer Sue Vertue and Steven Moffat, who stated, “Rather excitingly, Mark and I, for no particular reason, we just got out of the rain and sat at the top of the production bus ... and we just started plotting out what we could do in the future... And we plotted out the whole of series four and five. The ideas we had that day, I thought were the best we’ve ever had."

The future of the series, which the BBC is no doubt desperate to keep around considering it's level of success on both sides of the pond, is dependent entirely on the availability of stars Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who bolstered by the success of the series, have become two of the most active actors working (Freeman will shortly appear in the FX minseries adaptation of Fargo). They both seem to enjoy their roles on Sherlock, and seem open to continuing the series, when they can.

In universe, what is less certain is the future of the new Mrs. Watson, Mary Morstan, played by Martin Freeman's real life partner Amanda Abbington. Introduced only two episodes ago, she suddenly seems as integral to the series as either of the two leads, or at least as necessary as Lestrade or Mrs. Hudson. So, as we move forward to the series 3 finale this Sunday, I look at what we know of her thus far, and what Conan Doyle's stories might tell us about where Moffat and Gatiss plan on doing with her. And I might float some crackpot theories of my own, in anticipation of having them well and truly debunked come Sunday evening.

Hit the jump for the analysis, which contains spoilers for Sherlock Series 3 (Americans beware), and for the century old stories on which it is based.

9 Jan 2014

In Space, No One Can Hear Your Children Scream

Usually, when a company announces that they are developing a video game based on the Alien franchise, the acceptable reaction is to groan, then forget it exists. At least a dozen games across pretty much every console, and the only one that was next to playable was Trilogy, though it suffered from extreme repetition problems.

Creative Assembly is hoping to change this with Alien: Isolation. In development for three years, the game is to be released as part of the year long celebration of the original film's 35 anniversary. Billed as a survival horror game, it will be released in the late fall, across all the non-Nintendo systems (including last and next-gen consoles, much like Ghostbusters was five years ago). Here is the official description:

When she left Earth, Ellen Ripley promised her daughter Amanda she would return home for her 11th birthday. Amanda never saw her again.

Fifteen years later, Amanda, now a Weyland-Yutani employee, hears that the flight recorder of her mother’s ship, the Nostromo, has been recovered at the remote trading station Sevastopol. The temptation for her to finally understand what happened is too much to resist. When the crew arrive at Sevastopol, they find something is desperately wrong. It all seems to be connected to an unknown menace, stalking and killing deep in the shadows.

In order to uncover the truth about her mother, Amanda is forced to confront the same terrifying thing that separated them.
Apparently, the lone alien has responsive AI, which means he won't jump out of the same foot locker every time you re-spawn. It learns, and reacts to your actions, which if it works could be properly terrifying. I just wonder how long running in terror from a beastie while the lights flicker is going to stay interesting. Or, when you luck out and kill the thing with a fire extinguisher thirty five minutes in, what does that mean for the rest of the game? If the creature is not driven by a programmed narrative, and the goal is survival, what drives extended gameplay?

Via Gamma Squad.

Thor: The Dark World Nearly Included More Kick Ass Women

Last year, I advocated the use of both Thor villainous The Enchantress, and love interest Valkyrie in any potential third Thor film. I still advocate this, though unless they get rid of either Sif or Jane (neither of which should happen), they should avoid introducing a third love interest to the Thunder God's roaster. Turns out, there might have been a time when the Valkyrie's introduction came in the Dark World.

John Nizzi is a concept artist. On his deviantart page, he's revealed some more of the material he put together for Thor 2, including three images of Valkyrie (one above, and two more after the jump). Now, concept art is hardly a sign of intent, but clearly someone on the production (be it Marvel, or the director) was interested in what a MCU variant Valkyrie would look like. There wasn't an obvious place in the narrative for her, so I'm betting that if it had come to pass, it would have been an Easter egg, perhaps hidden in the opening battle sequence in Vanaheim.

Or, maybe someone at Marvel just really wanted a professional-grade illustration of a she-Thor riding a winged horse. Who knows. But with the sever lack of female heroes present in the present MCU, hopefully this is a sign that they intend on moving more in that direction. The trick is getting the character off the concept board and onto the screen.

Hit the jump for the additional images, included the winged Aragorn (which would be an... interesting element to introduce to the MCU).

[Review] - Justified, Season 5 Episode 1, "A Murder of Crowes"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
Grab your hat and pack a bag, Justified is going on a road trip. Two actually, taking both or our narrative leads out of Harlan County and into the Wider World of Crime, and in opposite directions too. Raylan heads south to track down old "friends," while Boyd heads north to deal with the Canadians. It's only a one episode sojourn, but it opens Justified's world significantly, and is an excellent way to kick off the fifth season.

If you don't already, I highly recommend that you read Entertainment Weekley's postmortems on each episode. They've been doing them for the past few seasons, and they are entertaining and educational commentaries by creator Graham Yost on the behind the scenes reasons for what happens week to week. It's in these postmortems that we learn stuff like, this season's theme is "Let The Right One In." This theme is in full force in this first episode, as both of the leads establish new relationships that will undoubtedly bite them in the ass further down the line.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that agree that, once chainsaws become involved, things have gone too far.

8 Jan 2014

Dennis Nedry Has The Weirdest Laugh In Film History

Here is five minutes of people laughing like crazy people. I like it. I like it because Christopher Walkin, Nic Cage and Jack Nicholson are included as often as you expect, and because the Muppets show up more often than I was expecting. But I like it because it is excellent proof of how iconic some of these examples have become. And there was worst things in the world than being known for your laugh. Even if it is the laugh of a lunatic.

Minus points for not including Doctor Horrible, though.

A Heartbeat Away

Another trailer for season two of House of Cards, and things certainly appear to be escalating. Considering the season one was entirely devoted to Frank's rise to power, I doubt he'll be sitting on his laurels for season two. This trailer focuses very much on keeping all the villainy from season one under wraps, but there is a hint of the President starting to feel some heat. And as the various congressmen, lobbyists, special interests and basically anyone who got in his way learned last year, if Frank Underwood is applying the heat, it's best to get the hell out of the kitchen before you burn.

[Review] - Agents Of SHIELD, Season 1 Episode 11, "A Magical Place"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Studios
So now we know. And I suspect that many people - including most of the internet - were probably underwhelmed by the revelation. And probably a little confused by it. I was not one of those people, at least concerning the former condition. From day one, I have advocated a smaller, less complex explanation, and they gave us that in a confusing, complex way. What underwhelmed me was the rest of the episode, which delivered on none of the promise of the first part, and seemed to disregard all the good will the series had built up over the first ten. It was very much a lackluster episode, and perhaps a sign that the show is not as certain of it's footing as it had led us to believe.

Or, it was a road bump. Those happen. It's just a crappy place to hit one.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that keep saying that.

7 Jan 2014

Watching Television Tonight Is Justified

Just a reminder that season five of Justified starts this evening on FX. This season promises some snark from Raylan, a tendency to over talk from Boyd, and I would imagine a fair amount of gun play. Otherwise known as business as usual. Reviews will follow on Thursdays, with Agents of SHIELD reviews moving to Wednesdays.

We've F**king Time Travelled, Yes?

While we shouldn't' expect to see anything new out of the TARDIS until at least the fall, "the Capaldi era begins," claims Steven Moffat as Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman begin filming in Cardiff on the new series of Doctor Who. This first behind the scenes picture of them, Capaldi still dressed in Smith's costume, confirms the filming that began earlier today.

Here's hoping that the Capaldi era takes a more measured approach to story telling than some of the more cumbersome aspects of the Smith era.

Via Metro.

[Review] - Sherlock, Series 3 Episode 2, "The Sign Of Three"

Courtesy of the BBC
And thus we explore the dangers of a dedicated fandom. In the wake of the most recent episode of Sherlock, a cleverly framed, largely comedic, but no less emotionally poignant episode, I've seen waves of decent upon the internet, bemoaning the fact that Moffat, Gatiss and Thompson have watered The Detective down. That somehow he's "less than" because he's showing growth as a character. That this is tantamount to jumping the shark. I would assume that these are the over reactions of children if it weren't for the fact that I've read them in the reviews of papers of note.

Therefore, they are clearly the reactions of a stubborn viewership who wants what they love to remain as still as statues. In which case, I invite such persons to purchase the series one DVDs and wear them out. Because in a good and decent world, actions have consequences, people grow and time moves on. And so it in the world of Sherlock, where a two year separation from each other, and the undated courtship of Mary Morstan have brought Sherlock to a very uncomfortable place: the realization that he is, after all, only human.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that hate dancing.

6 Jan 2014

And Starring Morgan Freeman As The Wise, Calming Influence

"Every actor is something. Robert Downey Jr.: good. Jim Belushi: bad. Van Damme: the good kind of bad. Johnny Depp: the bad kind of good."

Posting the first trailer for Wally Pfister's Transcendence isn't just an excuse to quote the most recent episode of Community (which, is a good thing to be proud of again), it's also an opportunity to realise I can't remember the last time I saw Johnny Depp appear in something where he wasn't acting like a nutball. I'm thinking... Seventh Gate? Good lord...

Anyway, Pfister, the former cinematographer of Christopher Nolan, clearly has a good eye, but the story looks a little too hard at trying to be Nolan, rather than establishing a cinematic identity for himself. Which will be important if his career is to have any longevity. As always, I'll wait to see the finished product until I judge, but I'm not getting too excited about this just yet.

Personally though, the man said some uncool things about Joss Whedon's style a while back, so screw that guy.

Help Us Veronica, You're Our Only Hope

For the sake of argument, let's say I've been off for two weeks. Now, usually this time of year is safe from major news breaking, but I've still got a pile of stuff to sort through, so the next couple days might be stuff you already know, that I'm just getting to. Stay with me, I'll catch up, and be to my normal only-a-day-behind self in no time.

Case in point, the first real trailer for Veronica Mars. Most of the footage is stuff we've already seen in the online teases, but this is a trailer designed to play in actual cinetoriums. Before real movies, not just provide desperate bilge sites like this one click bait. This is the first real world proof that this movie is actually going to be a thing come March, which is just fantastic.

Unlike Veronica's decision making, as this footage reminds us.

[Review] - Saving Mr. Banks

Courtesy of Disney.
Sometimes I feel that people associated with the lives of those being biopiced shouldn't have anything to do with the film. Emotions can get in the way of telling an unbiased story. However, due to copyright, this can sometimes be impossible (I imagine the only reason there hasn't been a Jim Henson film made yet is the sheer amount of legal wrangling it will inevitably involve). And this goes double for corporations, who do not want to see their corporate brand tarnished by a negative portrayal, even if it is part of the long past and established history.

It would have been impossible to make Saving Mr. Banks at any other studio, especially considering the judicious amount of material borrowed from Mary Poppins. But beyond that, the House of Mouse would never left anyone else take on part of the life of Walt. Unfortunately, they wouldn't let even themselves show Walt as anything other than glorified, for fear that it would reflect badly on the history of the company. So, while Saving Mr. Banks has a lot working for it, and is filled to the brim with talent, there is the constant reminder that we are watching a Disney film, with a Disney message, telling a Disney version of the story.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that

3 Jan 2014

[Review] - Community, Season 5 Episodes 1 and 2, "Re-Pilot" and "Introduction To Teaching"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
First, let me say this won't be a regular thing. I find half hour comedies the hardest thing to review, which is why I don't do Archer reviews despite it being the best half hour comedy on TV right now. But with all the hoop-la surrounding Dan Harmon's return, and the anticipation to see if Community has returned to it's former glory, I felt that giving this hour long return to Greendale some focus was appropriate. Plus, I had nothing else ready to go.

Hit the jump for the brief review, which contains spoilers that would have accepted a week of meatball lunches without question as well.

2 Jan 2014

[Review] - Sherlock, Series 3 Episode 1, "The Empty Hearse"

Courtesy of the BBC
Ooh, the cleverness of them, eh? Well aware of the internet obsession with the how of Sherlock's survival, Mark Gatiss (and I presume Steven Moffat) put together an admonishing little vein in this inaugural third series episode, lampooning, mocking and straight out deriding the pyjama people's theories and behaviours and inability to be satisfied with a straight answer. Taking the wind out of the internet's sails before they had even begun to blow, a clear message of "if you're not happy with it, tough. We're moving on."

And that's exactly what needed to happen, though for a bit there I'm sure American viewers will be completely confused by the Derren Brown cameo, in so much as Americans have no idea who Derren Brown is (he also got a shout out in the Doctor Who fiftieth; Moffat must be a fan). But the point isn't how he survived, but that he survived. And now he's back, his name is clear, and the game is afoot. So let's get on with it.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that made special note of who was being called before Parliament.
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