Categotry Archives: Spoilers

0

Episode 27 – Free Comic Book Day

by

FCBD2

Paul and Rob had the great good fortune of speaking with Paul Constant, formerly of The Stranger and currently of Lit Hub and Re/Code, about Free Comic Book Day, which is coming up this Saturday 5/2. Paul C is smart, funny, and perfectly charming; we look forward to bringing him back to the Hole some time soon.

In lieu of show notes, we’ll just direct you to our exhaustive guide to getting the most out of Free Comic Book Day in the Seattle area. Get out there this Saturday and pick up something great!

0

Episode 24 – Orphan Black

by

Orphan Black Season 3
Caught between a truck and a corn maze

Orphan Black’s new season premieres April 18, so we decided to share our love for this terrific, darkly funny show. Spoilers don’t kick in until about midway through (and we let you know before we start), so noobs are more than welcome–we’d love to add a few new members to the Clone Club!

LINKS

0

The Walking Dead, Race, and Death

by

Spoilers ahead!

So on last week’s podcast, I mentioned that The Walking Dead was back to the One Living Black Man situation, but I spoke too soon. It sure looks like the showrunners have brought back Morgan and may be installing him as an honest-to-god main character, which brings the number of LBMs to two.

That’s good! And his fairly lengthy screentime in the finale shows off the character’s depth and sets him up as a friendly counterweight to the increasingly bizarre and troubling choices made by the main characters–chiefly Rick and Carol, but including Michonne and Glenn. I’m more hopeful than I was a week ago that the show can get back on track, but it lost ground on its struggle toward diversity this last season in a way that makes its job hard.

One of the producers pointed out that the show is ecumenical in its killing, and I mentioned that it would be weird if they didn’t kill off black characters. But that producer and I both missed the larger point by a mile: When a show like TWD has a small number of black male characters, their deaths affect the cast balance disproportionately. While it’s true that the show has killed almost exactly 50% of its white characters and 50% of its black characters, that’s not the stat that matters most.

Diversity is hard, and it requires thinking explicitly about issues many of us with privilege would rather keep implicit. We have to think differently about characters who differ from the white/male/straght/cis standard until it isn’t a standard anymore. That changes the creative process significantly, and it feels artificial to those of us who aren’t obligated to deal with it explicitly every day. But it’s essential now and will be for decades to come, most likely.

I won’t give up on TWD just yet. Despite its problems, notably including Rick’s instant redempton/acceptance after his sickening descent into violence, the finale showed some promise. If the showrunners bring Morgan on and keep Gabriel alive (preferably adding a dimension or two to his character), that’ll be a great start. I want to believe they can keep getting better.

These infographics were invaluable in helping me figure out the numbers. They are also lovely, weird, and show off sweet obsession.

0

Episode 23 – Space Mustaches

by

Space Marshals
In space, no one can hear your civil rights complaint.

This time, the nerds rant about a clueless article that clutched its pearls about how it’s getting harder for white actors to get work. Then Paul takes a moment to get real about his new favorite iOS game Space Marshals.

A quick note (with spoilers) from Rob’s mention in the podcast about race and character death on The Walking Dead: we ran the numbers and the death percentages are actually the same–-50% of the show’s main white characters have died, as have 50% of the show’s main black characters. But that headline stat masks the fact that there just aren’t that many black characters around at any one time, and at this point we’re back to the unfortunate One Living Black Man situation.

LINKS

0

Powers on PlayStation Network

by

Powers

You heard right, Powers is dogshit–but it may yet redeem itself. The pilot is hard to watch even for folks like me who aren’t big fans of the comic series*, and while its quality does pick up in subsequent episodes (we’re up to #3 now), it still stinks of wasted talent.

But god help me, I’ll watch through the whole dang series. I know I will.

Here’s the 101: Christian Walker is a Powers Division cop in a world in which superheroes and villains (“powers”) are slightly more prevalent than they are in Marvel/DC comics. The series breaks with the comic narrative by quickly and repeatedly informing the audience that Walker was an A-list superhero once–in print, writer Brian Michael Bendis slowly built to a sizable reveal. Old friends and enemies pop up once Walker starts investigating the death of a hero with DARK SECRETS. It’s half police procedural, half noir-y paranoia.

The pilot was plainly written by well-meaning folks who understood their audience to be thoughtless jerks. Every little thing is telegraphed, overexplained, and lingered upon to the point of suffocation. The writing improves in later episodes, but the unfortunate attitude toward the audience remains. Many shows have this problem (I’m talking to you, Heroes), but it shines especially brightly here. Fans of the comic series are pretty uniformly outraged over liberties taken with plot and character, but adaptations are usually hard for us nerds to take. (Cf. Fantastic Four, Ghostbusters, and pretty much everything else, really.)

It’s not all bad–far from it. The actors are mostly terrific and well-cast. Noah Taylor (Game of Thrones) in particular turns in a lovely performance as Johnny Royalle, a complex villain whose big, nebulous plans include opening a nightclub for powers. Sharlto Copley (District 9) plays the lead with an unfortunate stiffness that doesn’t cater to his strengths as an actor; I’m hopeful that he’ll get to stretch a bit later in the season. Relative newcomer Susan Heyward plays Walker’s n00b partner and is a great foil. Add Michelle Forbes (Battlestar Galactica) as top hero Retro Girl and Eddie Fucking Izzard as an insane, godlike power held chained and naked in a super-dungeon and you’ve got a cast that’s super-fun to watch.

The effects and visual design are also good fun. There’s a weird Miami Vice vibe to the set design that works better than it should, and the costumes and makeup on the powers–especially the trashy club kids–are delightful. The special effects are nice to look at, but not overwhelming or distracting. It definitely feels like a comic book world.

And while the writing hasn’t found its mark yet, the mysteries underlying the plotting and certain character motivations are engaging enough to keep me involved. If they can avoid bullshit lines like “Your real name is Walker. Like as in one who walks ’cause he can’t fly anymore” and focus on the big picture, Powers could turn into an innocent pleasure.

* Yeah, I know, I’m a philistine AND a terrible person. I’m likely to give the comics another chance because I feel sorry for them now.

0

Episode 21 – Chuck

by

CHUCK "Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer"
“Is this a token I see before me?”

We’re trying something new (to us) this episode: One of us tries to sell the others on some beloved but underappreciated bit of nerd culture. This time, Mary schools Paul and Rob on Chuck, a NBC series that aired from 2007-12. Despite Rob’s skepticism and Paul’s amnesia, Mary’s enthusiasm won the day.

LINKS

FUN FACTS

  • We stumbled on season length, but here you go: the first season was a short 13-episode run, while subsequent seasons were more typical at about 20 each.
  • We joked that Matt Bomer might show up on Arrow because he’s hot, but in fact he will star on the next season of American Horror Story because he’s hot.
  • Zachary Levi will be in Heroes Reborn, which leaves us with confused feelings all around.
0

Episode 19 – Agent Carter

by

agent-carter-tv-show-poster-01-horizontalMarvel’s Agent Carter on ABC just wrapped up its 8-episode engagement—tucked in between the two halves of Season 2 of Agents of SHIELD—and we took some time to explore its many virtues. Rob and Mary spoil the season ending for Paul, so if you haven’t caught up yet, you may want to do so first. We’ll wait—and it’s definitely worth your time!

For once, Rob was right about something: Hayley Atwell did indeed appear on Agents of SHIELD in a couple of flashbacks. To balance things out, he was wrong-o about Leviathan’s relationship to HYDRA. Turns out the former is all about the Soviets, while everybody knows HYDRA is just a Nazi rebrand. He regrets the error AGAIN.

LINKS

0

Episode 18 – Old Man’s War

by

<em>Old Man's War</em>
Old Man’s War

It’s the first-ever Nerdhole Book Club! Mary and Rob, ever in sync, found out they were each reading John Scalzi’s Old Man’s Way series at the same time (though Mary was and still is far ahead of Rob), so we grabbed the brass ring of synchronicity and casted a pod all about it.

LINKS

0

Under the Skin (spoilers, sort of)

by

A little nerdy, a little campy, and scampering right up to the line of pretension without ever quite crossing it, Under the Skin Rorschachs the shit out of its viewers. Is it a feminist allegory? A reactionary anti-feminist hit piece? An homage to arty science fiction films like The Man Who Fell to Earth and Liquid Sky? An opportunity to exploit and punish those who want to see Scarlett Johansson naked? Sure, why not, if you say so. Who’s going to say otherwise?

Johansson plays a non-human figure (“alien” feels presumptive and limiting) who drives around Scotland picking up isolated men and leading them into a thick, dark pool to an incompletely described but unpleasant-looking fate. Reactionary! Through her work, she comes to question her male authority figure and explore the world on her own terms. Feminist! The story is told without much regard for typical narrative conventions—in particular, the dialogue is as irrelevant to the plot as it is muddy and heavily accented. Arty!

But the ambiguity and deliberate pacing help convey Johansson’s character’s displacement and alienation nearly as well as her impassive, barely perceptible facial expressions and body language. Mica Levi’s music is much more direct, setting moods from ominous confusion to over-the-top campy terror. It’s a long 108 minutes, but a weird delight for the patient viewer.

1 2