If you can read this, congratulations on making it through The Year Of The Bastard! History books will be indebted to Warren Ellis for this phrase. Anyhoo, we begin the new cycle with cold takes on TV, books, & a film retrospective that’s essentially a clip show. I’m not even starting out the new year fresh! At least my hyperlinks are almost the Pantone Color of the Year?
I’m quite perturbed they waited until after my Netflix subscription lapsed to finally release Black Mirror series four at 2017’s tail end. Thanks to my pals, Jack & Korey, however, I was able to spend New Year’s Day watching it. This show has such a stupendous batting average! Now I’m going to predominantly SPOIL “USS Callister.”
Can you believe we’re already up to the 2,048th Blade Runner sequel? The original is both a great movie & a bad adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (It was refreshingly humanistic to see a dystopian future on a dying world where people get along through a Jain-like religion based on empathy & animal reverence. ) I got to chat about the latest one on The Wages of Cinema because its usual co-host was unavailable again. When you can’t get Andrew, settle for second best!
Ofjack Korey is there too!
Pretty much anything I type about this film is a spoiler, so let’s drive right into Blade Runner 2049! Uh, you should probably watch the one of the cuts of the first flick beforehand as well.
Since last we saw Gotham, it won an Emmy for Outstanding Special and Visual Effects in a Supporting Role! Presumably it’s returned earlier than usual because it needs a head start on all the hiatuses it’ll be taking. It’s also moved to Thursdays so we can get double-header of Batman-inspired shows once (Green) Arrow follows it this season. Gotham seems to be a very polarizing show despite it embracing comic book-iness while taking liberties with canon to the same degree as the CW’s DC shows. (If you dig Gotham, I highly recommend you checking out Preacher.) Weirdly Telltale’s Batman games get praised for doing its own altverse take on the Caped Crusader but this show is hated for the same principle? I’ve heard Zoo is even more bonkers, but my credulity has its limits. Irregardless, Gotham’s fourth season is off to a great start!
“Pax Penguina’s” wedding Rickroll with Mr. Zsasz was comedy gold! Oswald Cobblepot licensing crime is peak Penguin! (Studying Discworld’s Lord Vetinari the Social Justice Tyrant was a wise move.) You can tell it’s Gotham City because the nameless new Mayor & Police Commissioner eagerly agreed to his scheme. (I love that this Gotham City is a venal villain factory instead of Nolan’s insistence that it’s a regular city with Batman being responsible for all its supervillains.) He even told reporters he froze The Riddler until his terminal illness could be cured as if Nygma was the late lamented Nora Fries! Despite his lax security, Cobblepot is a way better kingpin than dull Carmine Falcone. Kingsmen has made weaponized umbrellas hip again, so how long until this series hooks him up? If I ever meet Robin Lord Taylor, I’ll probably end up calling him Lord Robin Taylor. (It puts his initials in alphabetical order!)
Colin Trevorrow has been booted from Untitled Star Wars Sequel: Episode IX. People who’ve had the misfortune of seeing The Book of Henry tell me this is fantastic news. (That’s not to say there isn’t a deep pool of worse directors they can plug into this too big to fail conclusion.) He’s the fourth director (Remember Josh Trank’s aborted Boba Fett film?) to be let go by Disney’s Lucasfilm. WB gets dissed for its DC plans being in a state of apparent entropy, but obviously this phenomenon is not exclusive. If fans are going to come to Lucasfilm’s defense for trying to right the mega-franchise ship to avoid cinematic icebergs, maybe grant WB/DC some of that courtesy too? Or rag on them both?
Michael K. Williams’s performance has been cut from A Star Wars Story: Untitled Han Solo Film (Why isn’t it just Han Solo?) because he couldn’t fit extensive reshoots into his packed schedule. Rather than axe the character completely, replacement director Ron Howard has replaced him with Paul Bettany in the quickest instance of whitewashing. I’m hoping this half-animal character is a Selonian because Han Solo punching a giant otter in the tummy is actually something I’d like to see. At least he’s going full nepotism by giving Clint Howard a role so he can be in both of the big Star franchises. If Rogue One can be a non-swashbuckling war movie, why wouldn’t Lucasfilm let Lord & Miller make this a comedy? Millennial Falcon & Red Letter Media deserve some Imperial credits for cracking the screenplay. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
The Defenders comes out on Friday! Until I get a chance to watch it at a leisurely pace, here’s some random other musings! If you make it to the bottom, I’ll tell you about DuckTales!
My feline overlord had her ferocious fifth birthday! She actually liked her presents this year! I don’t know how to process this.
A Purricane of judgmental kitties would be more terrifying than any Sharknado.
If you’re like me & too poor to afford to watch Twin Peaks’ revival on Showtime, Riverdale may tide you over. At first I scoffed at this show because it’s six years too late for a gritty melodramatic adaptation of Archie Comics, the wholesome teenage love triangle sitcom that has inexplicably been in print for seventy-six years. To my surprise, the show that aired after Powerless is actually good! It should not work nearly as well as it does. Curse you for making so much quality television, CW! (If comic book adaptations aren’t your cup of tea, I suggest The 100 & Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.)
It’s probably a lot easier to enjoy this if you’re not a die-hard Archie fan (I’ve never met one in person, but I’m sure they exist) since it takes giant liberties with such characters as Chuck Clayton, Dilton Doiley, & Ethel Muggs. Jughead isn’t asexual, although the series was well into development when the latest comics reboot made that canon. It would’ve been easy to write Veronica Lodge in her Middle Earth cape as the rich bitch, but they’ve subverted that so well by making her repentantly compassionate. (The ensemble is so wonderful it’s hard to believe this is Camila Mendes’s first TV role.) Instead of fighting with Betty Cooper for Archie’s affections, they’re an awesome friend duo. Prototypical all-American girl next door (which could mean something very different depending on where you go in the US) Betty Cooper gets layers & family drama from having a mom named Alice Cooper who’s not the shock rocker. It’s spider brooch wearing Cheryl Blossom that gets to be the over the top mean girl, but it’s surprising she turned out as well-adjusted given her Gothic upbringing in Thornhill. Josie & the Pussycats give ridiculously awesome concerts, although they can’t top the superlative Josie & the Pussycats movie. Archie Andrews is ostensibly the star yet he remains its least interesting character. He’s also gauche enough to wear a varsity jacket to a wake.
Another rejected pitch was Roverdale starring Arfie Andrews, Sheltie Cooper, Furronica Lodge, Pughead Jones, Chien Keller, Dilton Doggy, Reggie Mastiff, & Feral Blossom.
Agents of SHIELD has been on fire this fourth season, which I shall SPOIL for you. One of its strengths has been splitting its narrative into discrete yet interlocking thirds to keep the momentum wound tight. I’ve complained that the show feels like the MCU’s redheaded stepchild, but ironically this season may be its strongest for having the least direct interconnectivity with Marvel’s movies. The series has built itself up enough that it can now stand on its own.
Remember when Captain America: The Winter Soldier excitingly set-up HYDRA as a major force of modern day villainy? Then how disappointing, albeit believable, it was that the Avengers flattened them out like tortillas under a steamroller in the prologue to Avengers: Age of Ultron? Then recall how HYDRA’s leftovers were somehow even more pathetic in the third season of Agents of SHIELD? Well the Framework’s VR simulation has HYDRA back to being a formidable foe. Not only is this a clever way to reintroduce HYDRA without rolling back the MCU’s stance that it’s been utterly destroyed for real this time, having them in charge feels eerily topical. The HYDRA propaganda posters are a nice touch. I love how the start this arc was named “What If…?” just like the comic series. This is the closest the MCU has come to doing an alternate reality since they’re not ready to dip their toes into an official multiverse like The Flash. It had plenty of callbacks to past seasons including a Bill Paxton tribute. Quit teasing us about Griffin!
Remember when I asked them not to make AIDA evil or seduce Fitz? Well the writers did both! Thankfully it’s executed much more deftly than I’d feared. Then this LMD 3-D prints herself a real human body to acquire free will & unsimulated sensations. She wisely gave herself all the inhuman powers because not only is she Madame HYDRA (unlike AIDA, it’s not actually an acronym), she’s also Super-Adaptoid! After being repressed all season, Mallory Jansen let out all the emotions like a fire hydrant! She honestly deserves an Emmy for doing the most acting!
AIDA as Ophelia as Madame Hydra may be the show’s first costumed supervillain. (That’s kind of sad, albeit less so than giving that honor to Deathlok.) Just like Dr. Strange’s training outfit, her shirt has weird elbow gaps before the cuffs. She even wears a cape in one scene like Veronica Lodge! While far superior to Polaris’s hair in the generic The Gifted, it’s too bad they didn’t dye her hair completely green like
Fire Green Fury on Powerless. (Please get Natalie Morales to reprise that role on a CW show!) Sadly the color grading makes her outfit look practically gray most of the time. Of course she’s also not really Viper as Madame Hydra, but she’s closer than The Wolverine’s version. Whatever her name is, she’s one of the most compelling foes in the MCU.