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.
If you think Batman is oversaturated, you’re never going to be proven otherwise at the rate DC milks this cash-cow. Out of the four 2016 movies featuring Batman, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders was the best because it didn’t take itself so damn seriously. Thankfully his solo LEGO film follows in that vein. My favorite movie of last year, Deadpool, was released in February. Will history repeat itself with The LEGO Batman movie? Since I struggled to write a review that’s not just “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!,” I’d recommend betting on black.
Somewhat SPOILERY iterations of what I discussed with The Wages of Cinema to follow. (Do you prefer me speaking extemporaneously on movies or reading me take the extra time to make typos about movies?)
If you’re reading this, congratulations on having survived 2016! Let’s all begin our venture through 2017 with low expectations! After all, 2017 is the year of The Running Man. They say to be the change you want to see in the world, so this year I’m having myself drawn & quartered!
Some good news is that both my 2016 views & visitor stats markedly increased over 2015’s, though WordPress hasn’t sent me a qualitative analysis like last year. Seeing as how my 2015 tenure was two months shy of of a full year, I’m especially glad the opposite wasn’t true. The most read blog was “Let’s All Ride Deadpool’s Coattails!,” so click through some of my lesser viewed blogs to even things out. I was going to include a Top Ten Movies of 2016 list since I saw exactly ten movies at the cinema last year, but then I realized my quantitative rankings would be mostly arbitrary. You’re better off reading my full reviews because they’re made of ambivalence & anhedonia!
This is my hundredth blog! I don’t believe it either! Arithmomaniac readers may notice that there’s actually 101 entries on this blog, but I don’t count my reblog of Cain S. Latrani’s review of The Dolorous Adventure of Brother Banenose. Contrariwise this one is full of my own substantive content! I made it to 100 installments of Matt The Catania in under two years by sometimes posting twice a week. See, I can be productive when there’s no immediate monetary gain! To celebrate this milestone, I’m writing about whatever I damn well please (as opposed to those previous ninety-nine posts)!
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is Marvel’s most delightful comic book. In other news, you can describe water in three states. This is a comic book that’s unashamed of making you learn stuff like how to count to thirty-one on each hand. Eventually it will teach me an entire college education’s worth of computer programming at a fraction of the cost! Where else can you get a Choose Your Own Adventure comic about defeating Swarm, the breakout villain of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark? (Note to self: publish your review of S-M: TOTD while it’s still timely!) Marvel really should’ve put the romance cover to the second #8 (now do you see the folly of constantly cancelling & restarting series?) as the cover for the fourth volume to better match its title, “I Kissed A Squirrel & I Liked It.” (Sadly it lacks Squirrel Girl’s story from Secret Wars: Secret Love.) It, along with Mark Waid’s Daredevil, are the only things that have ever made me care about the Mole Man. Who knew Tricephalous was such a romantic? HawkGuy is the worst, bro!
Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe! thankfully skews closer to Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe than Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe. Did you know I was the first customer to get it signed by Erica Henderson & Ryan North the World’s Tallest Torontonian at NYCC? I read it months ago but didn’t review it until now because I don’t being on top of things.
I asked for the personalization to prevent me from selling it … unless I find someone else named Matt.
I just wanted proof of the custom inscription, by my cat just had to make herself the center of photographic attention.
Pantone has declared “greenery” the color of 2017. That means this blog’s eye-bleedingly vivid hue is ahead of the curve!
Neither version of Spider-Man: Homecoming’s trailer wowed me. It somehow looks simultaneously too similar & too different from earlier Spider-Man films. As the Vulture, Michael Keaton threatens Spider-Man’s loved ones with all the disinterest he musters whilst disturbed in the middle of lunch by well-meaning Beetlejuice fans. How is the Vulture even a challenge to Spider-Man when he’s already pals with Iron Man? Marvel Studios will eventually do its take on Green Goblin, so why lessen his impact by starting off with bargain basement Green Goblin? I’d nitpick it more, but I will take the un-journalistic approach of saving it for my eventual review of the full movie.
The porn parody should be named Spider-Man: Home Cumming, right?
I vowed to start talking about books again as TV has run off on winter break like a lazy
cow herd coward. (Nickelodeon hasn’t even aired the final four episodes of TMNT’s fourth season! I can still mumble about how lackluster Gotham’s & Legends of Tomorrow‘s fall finales were if I really get desperate for semi-timely content.) So I guess that’s what I’m (barely) doing this week.
My dad shot me in the thigh with a Cold Steel razor tip broadhead blow gun dart. I am thankful he missed my genitals by three inches. I really should’ve led with that … so I did! Somehow this will be useful background research.
In backwards-vision, divulging my only weakness to strangers was a mistake.
Game of Thrones season six came out on DVD earlier than expected this year, & watching it has been cathartic. The following contains spoilers for this season you’ve probably already seen & maybe some books that haven’t been written yet.
It was nice to see so many tertiary characters I thought they’d forgotten about. (I’m still waiting on Nymeria’s triumphant return.) While watching “The Winds of Winter” where winter finally comes to Westeros (do they need to worry about erratic seasons in Essos as well or is it localized to one continent?), it snowed outside! I’m am very excited for next season’s Clash of Queens, even if it’s lopsided against Cersei.
Naturally Daenerys’s dragons saved the day! Ride that one-trick pony all the way to victory! The only reason not to immediately use dragon babies to solve political conflicts is to prolong her story-line with the illusion of tension. Of course if all of Daenerys’s problems can be easily solved by the application of dragons, maybe they should be presenting her with different ones?