Thursday, October 30, 2014

Not as Vast a Wasteland as it's Been

This isn’t my usual monster Halloween post, (meaning the subject matter, not the length. Yes I do know I tend to ramble, make asides and parenthesize excessively…like now!)
But I figure enough of these shows are costume based that it can count.

My current production television watching has been shrinking the older I get.  I have almost no patience for most of what’s on now, and I usually stick to viewing movies and box sets of old shows.  However, this year I find myself with an above average slate of recorded stuff to catch up on each week.

Annoyingly, every single one of them is on Monday or Tuesday night, requiring some DVR programming gymnastics.

This not counting Doctor Who, of course, which retains its traditional Saturday night spot.

Doctor Who isn’t really a television show for me, though.  It’s more of a lifestyle choice.

Wanna bet the phrase: "Clara Oswald has never existed," is another Moffat red herring, and she's only complaining about always being, "the impossible girl" or "souffle girl"?

Although, in the 2015 Special Edition Doctor Who calendar, every month features that number Doctor with one of his enemies behind him smaller and in black and white (Dalek, Yeti, Davros, Slitheen...etc) except for Capaldi who has a black and white Clara in that position.  Maybe the calendar is foreshadowing a major twist?

Holey Moley! 
This season has had a large amount of excessively strange and ridiculous occurrences (even for everyone's favorite Timelord)
Space Train
Moon Hatch
Defender Trees

I'm starting to think this whole season may be some Madame Kovarianish, Dream Lordesque, everything's happening in the Doctor's head, mind screw.

Sorry, I'm back now.
Here’s this seasons reviews in no particular order:

Sit Coms


Bridging from Doctor Who, I might as well get this one over with.  With the surprising awesomeness of the film containing a Technicolor faced fight between Uhura and Amy, my whole family was looking forward to this modern take on My Fair Lady starring Amelia Pond and New Sulu.

Disclaimer time, I have the least patience for new sit-coms out of any type of show.  I know I laugh when I catch episodes of Big Bang Theory and Hot in Cleveland that my wife watches, but I won’t seek them out and usually need something else to do on the occasions I watch them.

Therefore, my walking out about three minutes in isn’t much of a comment on this series.

However, my wife has a much greater tolerance for this type of show, as does my daughter. They both enjoy standard sit-coms and also the torrent of kid aimed ones on the Disney Channel, making them a much more accurate audience.

Aside:  I will admit that the Patty Duke Show clone Liv and Maddie has some surprisingly good comedy writing.  I’m sure Larry Miller’s occasional presence has something to do with that.

My wife sat through Selfie first and warned us it wasn’t good. 
My daughter regularly sits happily through marathons of Jessie, Austin & Ally, and (God help me) Dog with a Blog. About half way through the tiny run time (fast forwarded commercials) of the new show she asked,
“Can we stop watching this now?”

You’ve been warned.

Reality Shows

Dancing with the Stars

Face Off

I can't put up with any other competitive reality shows, but I’ve explained liking these before.  I’m a big fan of anything where I get to see the creative process in action by people who both love and enjoy what they do.

Much like my job…

BWA HA HA HAHA!!! Sorry I tried to keep a straight face there.

More importantly, these two shows display a giant sense of camaraderie in the competitors. This is in stark opposition to most "reality" competitions that outright encourage backstabbing and self-preservation above all.  On Dancing it may come from them all being famous to start with, and all going through the same educational journey.   Sometimes it makes me sad what is and isn’t reminisced about.  Everyone openly made marijuana jokes and talked about Tommy Chong’s jail time, but there wasn’t a peep concerning Howard the Duck with Leah Thompson there.

Aside: Dancing changes comments-
No results show: makes things a little rushed, but better than excessive padding and repetitions. 

All three of us think Brooke was way better and should come back, but we’ll also gladly take Leah Remini as a permanent.

We also miss Len as the stuffy, but usually accurate, voice of reason when he’s not there.

The camaraderie is even greater on Face Off due to the collaborative nature of the creative field they’re in.  Several groups of competitors have gone into business together after the show.  Episodes frequently show one or more artists helping competitors, in full knowledge that the other’s design could keep them from winning, or possibly get them sent home.  This season it even happened in the finale. 

Another perk of watching is seeing the few arrogant, jerky and uncooperative ones (or as my daughter says, “He’s a butt.”)  hit the road quickly.

Super-Hero Shows

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Speaking of shows that remain awesome…

S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to give us weekly peeks into the Marvel Cinematic Universe to tide us over between theatrical releases.  Having its main focus be “the glue” of Phase One of that storyline helps a great deal.  The twists and turns from last season (and The Winter Soldier) continue on full force, proving the TV and Movie Marvel Universe is just as insane and unpredictable as the “real” one.  It will be interesting if they continue Talbot’s single minded focus against the ever awesome Phil and his gang, or he’ll switch that obsession over to the Hulk as in the comics.  Either way, I’m sure his mustache will remain awesome.

To continue with the overuse of “awesome”:

Having Ming Na Wen out awesome her previous outing as an excessively awesome kick butt woman in a Disney owned franchise adds icing to the heroic cake.  In my head, Agent May is, in fact, a descendant of Fa Mulan.

Speaking of awesome women, Mockingbird! 
Get that Jeremy Renner cameo stat!
(Yes, behind all this geeky heroic bluster lurks the heart of a romantic who wants to see his first and still favorite comic book happy couple reunited.)

One last one:

But, y’know what could make it more awesome?
Lucy Lawless somehow revived in the thrall of Hydra as Titania!
(Leading to a cross over with the inevitable She Hulk film, he added hopefully.)


This show generates a serious major internal conflict in my brain. Despite never being interested in Smallville’s Superman show without Superman, this Dark Knightless Batman adventure manages to keep my attention and make me eager to return each week.

The problem the show generates is the comic geek that controls most of my mind keeps screaming, “WRONG!” whenever it (frequently) contradicts 75 years of bat history. If it continues both to improve in quality at its current rate and deviate from the established bat-mythology, my head may explode.

It’s the mix that confuses me. Selina and Bruce are kids. 
(Well, Bruce is ten. As he frequently points out in all media, he stopped being a kid that night in Park Row/Crime Alley.)
Allen and Montoya are from Gotham Central time, Gordon is pre Year One, the Mobsters come out of the Loeb/Sale stories, and Essen is somewhere before her return in Alan Grant’s run.  Barbara “not Gordon yet” Kean (sounds like Kane) seems to have elements of Batwoman mixed in.

Sadly, I’m embarrassed to admit I had to see other people point out Jada Pinket Smith is doing an Eartha Kitt impression before I realized who Fish Mooney sounded like.
(Once a Julie Newmar fan, always a Julie Newmar fan.)

I still can’t figure out if Harvey Bullock is a mostly unseen early form of the comics character before his loyalty to Gordon straightens him out, or he’s more the same type as Detective Flass from Year One.  As the show progresses it's heavily leaning  towards the former, but it could be the latter because Donal Logue is so dang likable it makes his darker doings acceptable.

I’ll be surprised if CSI Eddie survives long enough to be the Riddler without the cops killing him for holding up their investigations with his games.

Then there’s Oswald Cobblepot.  FINALLY an adaptation of the Bat-world is showing him as (or on the road to being) an intelligent, formidable, ruthless and creative criminal mastermind. There’s a reason he’s been one of Batman's longest lasting foes in the comics, and it isn’t because he’s funny or gross.

Having the insanely wonderful (or vice versa ) Carol Kane show up as the proto-Penguin’s loopy mother was an added bonus.

One aim of the series appears to be the destruction of the myth that all the crazies are in Gotham because Batman attracts them.  This Gotham can attract them very well on its own, thank you.

There are two problems beyond the head exploding aspect of the show.

One is Alfred is played by Sean Pertwee, who, while perfect in the role and upholding all the awesomeness that is Alfred, now looks almost exactly like his dad.  Watching the youngster destined to be the Guardian of Gotham cared for by the Third Doctor freaks me out at times. 

The other issue is, although it is high quality, it has taken the darker less family friendly route that Warner’s/DC usually chooses for its superhero fare.  While my whole family looks forward to enjoying Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. every week (and looking for hints into the Marvel films we all share watching as well) I watch Gotham alone.

The Flash

Hey, you know what I was just complaining about concerning Warner’s/DC and darkness in their superhero properties.  (I believe I may have also mentioned, and ranted about it endlessly on other occasions as well.)

They seem to be learning.

Spinning off from the dark and gritty Arrow series comes The Flash!

It does employ Barry Allen’s tragic past, as created by Geoff Johns in The Flash Rebirth in 2009.

Aside:  Reading then current comics based on that parental loss between Rebirth and Flashpoint was made even more disturbing as Showcase Presents the Trial of the Flash came out during that time.  It highlighted how supportive Barry’s parents were throughout his life and especially during his troubled times near the end of his “present day” adventures in the 1980’s.

The tragedy is used to fuel the season arc plot, but doesn’t override the show.  Finally we have a DC live action series demonstrating the fun of superpowers that the whole family can (and in our case does) enjoy.

It doesn’t down play powers, amping up the effects for heroes and villains alike.
It doesn’t pretend the hero is alone in the world, throwing in references to and appearances by characters from all over the DCU.
It doesn’t ignore its comic book roots, using first person narration in the style and tone Flash comics have been using since the Silver Age.
It doesn’t pretend previous adaptations don’t exist, casting both John Wesley Shipp and Amanda Pays from the (underrated and a mess of fun) 1990 Flash series.

With hints at possible future appearances of the far beyond mainstream and nearly impossible to "sublte up"  Firestorm, Metamorpho and -dare we hope- Vibe, (and even if we don't- Cisco had on an Astrosmash cool is that?) only a couple episodes in, it’s sure to run to some wild places now that it’s been picked up for a full season.

The only down side is the movie slate announcement made by Warner’s/DC which indicates that there will be no connection between this show and their movieverse.  There will be a new cinematic Flash in the Justice League with his solo film in 2018 following the bleak path started in Man of Steel.

Y’know, assuming one of the other films before it doesn’t underperform and spook them like Green Lantern did in 2011 causing a total reboot, again.


I guess this is sort of a superhero show.  He could be classier version of DC’s Resurrection Man, or a saner version of Marvel’s Mr. Immortal.

TV Tropes nailed it, describing this series as a mash up of Quincy, Sherlock and Highlander.  What they leave off is the amusing improvement to Sam Fujiyama, Doctor Watson, or Rachel Ellenstein as the “companion."  (He’s British and wears a scarf; I can use a Doctor Who term.)

The immortal and highly deductive Medical Examiner Doctor Henry Morgan works with Detective Jo Martinez (a graduate of the dry wit school of Elisa Maza/ Animated Series Renee Montoya) and has lived an exceedingly long time with Abe (Played by Judd Hirsch with the same levels of wisdom and snark that convinces me his real name is “Alex Rieger”).

Then there's his socially inept but goofily endearing assistant Lucas providing comedy gold every time he’s on screen.

This is definitely our family’s favorite currently US produced, non-competition, live action show.

How’s that for a quantifier?

Come to think of it, with both Brave and Bold and Young Justice long gone, you can probably drop "live action" from that list...

And possibly "non-competition" as well.  It's a heck of a show!
The writing is excellent, mixing compelling single episode stories that feature creative uses of Dr. Morgan’s experiences and powers, with overarching questions and hints pointing at a bigger picture to come.

The main characters are all developed and likable, and the setting is New York. Once again, it’s probably the only city with enough of its own history, character and internal magic to support these kinds of adventures.

Aside (last one, promise) - I wonder if we'll find out he's even older than two hundred years and he's forgotten about being the Welsh (like actor Ioan Gruffudd) pirate Henry Morgan before becoming a more altruistic medical man.  I also wonder if he was the American radio comedian Henry Morgan, just because it would have made a heck of an episode of I've Got a Secret.

Man, I’m really glad some of the seasons are ending.

Way to dominate Face Off Dana, looking forward to seeing your work in films.

Here's hoping more finish up before the triumphant Tuesday return of Dominic Monaghan Pokes Dangerous Animals with a Stick

We’re running out of recording space.


Unknown said...

Thanks for answering the question I had planned to ask you…What do you think of Gotham?

Great info, as always!

Jeff McGinley said...


Happy to be of service.

I keep expecting to fly into a nerd rage, but every week I am pleasantly surprised again...enough to give up some more sleep right now and go see if there was a new one tonight.

thanx again.