Tag Archives: TV

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SDCC Trailer Reaction Round-Up!

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San Diego Comic-Con has once again brought us a bounty of new trailers–here’s our thoughts on a portion of the upcoming nerd buffet.

Stranger Things

Mary: This is my favorite trailer from SDCC. I’ve watched it so many times and it even inspired me to rewatch season one again. I thought I glimpsed Sean Astin running down a hall and sure enough, he’s in season two, which has led me to speculate what other 1980s stars we might eventually see in this series… will we get Wil Wheaton? Cory Feldman? Mia Sera? Drew Barrymore? Anyway everything about the trailer has me excited… it’s set at Halloween, they’re wearing Ghostbusters costumes, Will’s seeing monsters and poor Joyce is terrified for him, Nancy’s got a gun, Steve Harrington’s wearing sunglasses, Hopper is upside down, Eleven is escaping, THRILLER IS PLAYING, and it all culminates in Vincent Price’s iconic evil laugh. Everything is just perfect. (Side note: in rewatching season one I’ve been admiring David Harbour’s performance again and I think he’s going to make a great Hellboy.)

Rob: Still sad about Barb. Too soon!

Thor: Ragnarok

Mary: I have never been excited about a Thor movie before now, but OMG I CAN’T WAIT! This looks hilarious and over-the-top and so filled with bad-ass action I get giddy every time I think about it. I love Hela’s and Valkyrie’s costumes, Thor’s haircut and lightning eyes, Hulk speaking, and all things Jeff Goldblum. I really can’t wait to see how Taika Waititi brings it all together. Also, Ragnarok’s commitment to the 1980s metal aesthetic is fantastic and the neon titles are delightful. (#fonthole)

Rob: Hell yeah metal! The first two Thor flicks were…pretty bad, though the Avengers movies demonstrated pretty conclusively that neither Hemsworth nor Hiddleston were to blame. This looks like great, goony fun, and I hope this means bigger and better things for Waititi in the future.

Justice League

Mary: I’m still debating whether I’ll see this. I’m stoked for more Wonder Woman and I can’t wait for Aquaman, but I still don’t understand DC’s decision to separate their films from their TV shows and I will sorely miss Grant Gustin’s Flash. And I’m extremely tepid on Ben Affleck’s Batman and have absolutely no interest in Henry Cavill’s Superman. DC has not earned my trust in their cinematic universe, and there’s nothing in this trailer that convinces me otherwise.

Rob: Oh hell no. I will watch Aquaman, though,

Ready Player One

Mary: My terrible nerd secret is that I didn’t love this book as much as apparently almost every other nerd alive. My short assessment is that it has all the nostalgia of Stranger Things with none of the emotional impact. I wanted to like it—I always want to like things!—but I ended up feeling meh. (Friend-of-the-Hole Paul Constant explains the book’s shortcomings better than I can here.) That being said, the trailer looks fun and I just heard that Lena Waithe from Master of None is co-starring so that gives me hope. So yeah, I’m gonna see it.

Rob: Why so serious? I fully expect this to be dumb and bland and still make a kabillion dollars, and yes, a few of those will come from me.

Marvel’s The Defenders

Mary: OK I can’t wait for The Defenders… I’m stoked to see Jessica, Luke, and Matt together. (And I guess Danny Rand will be there, too. Nothing’s perfect.) Best parts of the trailer: Jessica cracking the beer on the subway; Luke and Jessica’s disinterest in being “superfriends” and Matt’s chuckling understanding of that; watching them all fight together; and Sigourney Weaver is, as always, formidable and compelling. My only complaint is that it seems entirely focused on The Hand storyline versus tying into Infinity Wars at all. (Oh and that Danny Rand continues to exist. Nothing’s perfect.)

Rob: Yep, there’s a lot to look forward to–even Iron Fist. I’m desperate to know if the problems with the standalone show were all about the showrunners or if Finn Jones bears some responsibility. Certainly in the trailer he had the same constipated expression and tone of voice, but maybe he’ll show some depth we haven’t seen yet. I’m as thrilled as can be to see more of the other characters, of course. I’m not as concerned about the lack of Infinity Wars crossover, because the Netflix section of the MCU seems more personal than cosmic. Seems likely that the galaxy-spanning stories will get mentioned offhand in upcoming series, ie “This is the kind of shit that happens when billionaires take off to fight space battles.”

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TV Mid-Season Lightning Round

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Srs bizness. (l-r) Orphan Black, Legion, American Gods, Supernatural, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and The Flash.

We’re just popping our heads up from our long hiatus to tell you what nerdy stuff we’re watching on tv! Here is a super-quick round-up of what’s been draining our eyeballs*, in no particular order.

  • The Flash
    Mary: Still great and still fun! AND I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE ARROWVERSE MUSICAL CROSSOVER EPISODES NEXT WEEK!!!
    Rob: I hate to say it, but I may be peeling off from the Arrowverse. (Do I really hate to say it? Do I?) The good stuff is good–gotta love Jesse Quick–but the dialogue is insultingly bad across all four shows. At least one of them (see below) sometimes flips into camp, but Barry and the gang never quite get there. That musical could make it all right again, though.
  • Arrow
    Mary: SO morose, and SO hit-or-miss, but I’m still watching.
    Rob: If it weren’t for Mr. Terrific, I wouldn’t be watching. (Looking forward to Echo Kellum’s next role.) I do kinda like Ragman too, but he’s out until they need him to go bad or remind Oliver he’s a dick or whatever.
    Mary: Agreed about Mr. Terrific. That dude is great.
  • Supergirl
    Mary: I’m glad this show exists, but I’m only watching the crossover episodes now.
    Rob: IGTSE also. That said…meh? Bits and pieces are kinda neat, and there will forever be a Buffy-sized hole that needs filling, but inertia and my sick drive to complete sets is all that’s keeping me watching.
  • Legends of Tomorrow
    Mary: I mostly forget about this show except for watching the crossover episode with the Arrowverse.
    Rob: This is the one show out of the four in the Arrowverse that seems to enjoy being what it is–stupid, campy time-travel adventures. Some of the corn is just unbearable–when Dr. Stein started singing the Banana Boat Song in the control room of Apollo 13, to name a recent example. But it commits to the bit every week and it’s at its best when it’s diving headfirst into idiocy.
  • Supernatural
    Mary: Season 12 is the best in a long time, it’s really fucking good. I could do a whole post on this, and I might just do that.
  • Legion
    Mary: Holy shit this show is AMAZING and I’m obsessed. I love the styling, the music, the acting, the actors… I’ve described it as a dark Wes Anderson superhero show. And it just got picked up for a second season!
    Rob: I could not be happier that this show made it to air and is showing off what’s possible both in genre TV and in TV generally. Few shows step up to this level of extreme psychedelic weirdness. More than anything, I want tv to treat me like an intelligent adult, and Legion delivers. There is just so much to recommend this show, but I suppose the less you know about it the better. Check it out.
  • Lucifer
    Mary: There’s not a new episode until like May or something, but it’s still charming and I’m still on board mostly because of Tom Ellis.
    Rob: Ditto, though I’m a little concerned about the recent move toward Lucifer’s serious side. That could ruin the show for me. (if a show is going to be dumb, it has to know it and revel in it–see Legends of Tomorrow above.)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    Mary: I gave up. I’ll probably catch up someday. It just got to be homework and my tv schedule is already pretty full.
    Rob: They’re doing something interesting with long story arcs wrapping up in midseason finales, and of course they’ve got overarching plotlines and occasional movie tie-ins. But is it any good? Short answer: I guess? Clark Gregg is a gem, and the other main characters are all good fun, but like most other modern genre shows, everyone’s gotta have a dark side, yawn. The most recent arc touched very lightly on some Westworld-adjacent themes and delivered a few genuine surprises, so I’m staying in.
  • The Magicians
    Mary: I can’t explain why I like this show, and I’m not recommending it but I find myself compulsively watching every episode.
    Rob: I love this show, but they forgot to make Eliot the main character.
  • Colony:
    Mary: I haven’t been watching the second season in real time, but I really liked the first season on Netflix and will probably binge the second. It’s especially scary in light of current events.
  • Grimm
    Mary: I gave up but a friend of mine says I should get back in so I will probably catch up.
  • Sleepy Hollow
    Mary: I honestly didn’t know this was still on. I fizzled out midway through season 3, and really didn’t know they’d gotten a 4th. That being said, I’ve heard it’s delightful still and I might jump back in.
    Rob: Wow, I didn’t realize that season 4 had already started. The finale of season 3 seemed pretty…final, but I’ll give it a shot for old time’s sake.
  • Gotham
    Rob: This one is also taking a quick break, but I’m looking forward to its return next month. The triple-head-fake on the Joker has been marvelous to watch unfold, and Robin Lord Taylor is killing it as the Penguin. But as I’ve said before, Bruce Wayne is the Jar Jar Binks of Gotham.
  • The Expanse
    Mary: I watched a good chunk of the first season and then fell off, but I want to get back in. There’s a lot to love.
    Rob: Now that they’ve more or less unified the storylines, I’m loving season 2 without reservation. Solid dialogue, surprising plotting, amazing effects, and generally high-quality acting make this essential viewing. Of course, if hard sci-fi with deep roots in the Campbell tradition isn’t your thing, you’re excused.

Coming Soon

  • Iron Fist
    Mary: I’m really not looking forward to this. It sounds boring and Finn Jones needs someone to come pick him up because he is drunk and not helping his cause. I’ve taken to referring to Iron Fist as Kickpuncher because it sounds about as good.
    Rob: The initial reviews are scaring me off a little, but I know I’ll watch. Beyond the troubling cultural issues (I don’t think the showrunners could have made it work regardless of their casting, but we’ll never know), IF has the misfortune of having to tie together three very different, very well done shows and set the stage for the big crossover series The Defenders. That’s a big ask under any circumstances.
  • Orphan Black
    Mary: Coming back soon, yes? The third and fourth seasons were definitely not as strong as the first and second, but there’s no way I’d miss the final season.
    Rob: It’s coming out in June, and while it has meandered a fair amount latey, I’d watch Tatiana Maslany shop for USB cables for an hour a week if that was all I could get.
  • iZombie
    Mary: I had forgotten all about it and then I saw a promo on the CW and I’m probably going to watch the next season.
  • Preacher
    Rob: I had mixed but mostly positive feelings about the first season, and I’ll be watching when it drops again in June. The actors are so charming–especailly Ruth Negga as Tulip–that it should be good fun to watch even if it goes off the rails.
    American Gods
    Mary: My anticipation for this show is almost too much to bear. I honestly get chills thinking about it. The first trailer looks and feels perfect (the second is even better) and the casting is brilliantly on-point, I will be shocked if it doesn’t live up to expectations.
    Rob: See above.

* Look for Drained Eyeballs: The Story of Nerdhole, coming one day to herald the final true death of the publishing industry.

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On Re-Watching Supernatural

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I started re-watching Supernatural from the beginning this past Wednesday… it’s familiar, it’s comforting, it’s straightforward and uncomplicated, and it’s been helping me cope with the exceedingly complicated world beyond the TV screen. I’m not going to dwell on that in this post, though. This post is also not about the problematic parts of the show, though I’ll certainly talk about that at some point. What I do want to talk about is that I forgot how charming Supernatural is right from the beginning. I’m fairly certain this isn’t just my affection and familiarity talking… in fact I’m certain this is exactly how that affection began.

I talked about Supernatural at length on an episode of the podcast, but I’ll give you the rundown here as well: it’s about the Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean, who hunt supernatural creatures, live on the road in cheap motels, and make money by gambling and committing credit-card fraud. It’s largely of the monster-of-the-week variety with a big bad that ties each season together. But from the very first episode it’s so much more than that: the thing that makes the show such an obsession with fans is that the relationships between the main characters feel real, consistent, and fully realized throughout the series.

The series begins by showing us Sam’s apparently normal life… he’s just graduated college, he’s about to attend law school, he’s got a girlfriend he loves. Then his older brother Dean shows up and tries to convince Sam to come search for their father, John, who Dean meaningfully says is on a “hunting trip” and hasn’t been heard from in three days. It’s immediately clear that Sam’s relationship with his father and brother is strained, and as the show progresses it explores the messy nature of familial love, and later the love found in platonic friendships. (Romantic love exists occasionally throughout the show, but it’s rare, fleeting, and largely unimportant.) The lead characters—who are all male—have conversations about their feelings every episode, and just as often there are scenes where the actors subtly express all the complexities with only facial expressions or tears. Throughout the first season Sam struggles with feeling torn between leaving a normal life behind and the loyalty he feels towards his family. Dean suppresses jealousy that Sam ever had a chance at a normal life, hides the weight of responsibility he feels under jokey bravado, and desperately tries to maintain peace between Sam and their father John, the only two people he has in his life. John can be brusque, unhinged, and hyper-focused on the job, but it’s also clear he thinks he’s doing the right thing to keep his boys safe from all the horror he knows is in the world. And in between they kill monsters.

I suspect that this is one of the main reasons that the fan-base is largely female… the focus on feelings and interpersonal communication is far more interesting to us than the “will they or won’t they” romantic plot of so many shows. This may seem counter-intuitive when you’re scrolling through Tumblrs full of fan-fic and art devoted to placing the male leads in sexy situations with each other, but I think the truth is that most fans (including the fan creators) want those fanciful ‘ships to remain separate and sacred from the show’s canon.

So the show began with the right ingredients to create its current fan-base, but then that fan-base began to influence and cultivate the show into something even better. The show’s creators and cast are very connected with the fan community through conventions and social media. But they also respond within the show with easter eggs and entire meta-episodes, the best example of the latter being the 200th episode, “Fan Fiction,” which can only be described as a love letter to the fans. That relationship between the creators and fans feels unique and collaborative, like friends snickering together over inside jokes. And it’s yet another relationship that forms the backbone of the show—though to be clear it’s not exclusionary… the fan community is warm and you’ll quickly be welcomed into that click.

I’m afraid I’ve made it sound too soapy… is the series still a fun horror/fantasy escapist show? Absolutely, but that’s not what makes it special. I think after 12 seasons I have sometimes lost sight of that… I still heartily recommend it to people, but I’ve occasionally felt like it’s inertia that’s drawn me back season after season. Re-watching from the beginning has reminded me why I fell in love with the show and why it’s not even a guilty pleasure… it’s just a pleasure.

 

 

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Nerd HQ at San Diego Comic Con

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Zachary Levi at Nerd HQ 2016
Zachary Levi at Nerd HQ 2016

Some of the best panels at SDCC are always at Zachary Levi’s Nerd HQ, and this year is no different. So far this year the panels are some of Zach’s friends and favorites, including Nathan Fillion, John Barrowman, and Felicia Day. Some of the ones I’ll be watching that are still to come: the Orphan Black panel (the 2014 OB panel was OFF THE HOOK) and (SQUEE) an American Gods panel!!!

Here’s a link to the Nerd HQ playlist on YouTube and here’s a list of all the panels. Check em out!!

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Episode 52 – The Expanse

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Miller (Thomas Jane), Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), and Jim Holden (Steven Strait)
Miller (Thomas Jane), Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), and Jim Holden (Steven Strait)

Most of us lucky enough to have played in a kickass RPG campaign have dreamed of bringing our adventures to the page or the screen–and now we know that it can be done. The Expanse, currently running on Syfy, is based on a series of books with a storied RPG history. Paul schools Mary and Rob on that very engaging history as we explore our fascination and frustration with the show.

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ListHole: 7 Comics Characters We Want to See on Screen

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The new Ms. Marvel is SO GOOD.
The new Ms. Marvel is SO GOOD.

We’ve been warned that we’re reaching Peak TV: the time when it becomes impossible to keep up with all the shows we want to watch–or even all the good shows we want to watch. Lord knows there’s a delicious glut of comics-inspired TV with plenty more on the way; we’ve discussed it at some length on the podcast and here on the blog.

We’ve seen characters we love come to life–hello, John Constantine–as well as characters we could do without (sorry, Amanda Waller, check back with us when you get a second dimension). But there are thousands more waiting in the wings, hoping for some bright young writer (and grizzled old casting director) to help them make the jump from page to screen. Here’s our shortlist for showrunners:

1. Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan is one of our all-time faves, though her book has only been around for a year and a half. She’s smart, she’s conflicted, she’s excited about her newfound powers, and she sidesteps stereotypes of Muslims, women, and teenagers. As an Inhuman, she’d be a great match for Agents of SHIELD, though showing her powers might blow through their special effects budget unless they cut to animation whenever she’s onscreen.
Show: Agents of SHIELD
Actor: Sarayu Blue, though she’s already been on Agents of SHIELD, so maybe…Archie Panjabi?

2. Squirrel Girl: She effortlessly defeats the biggest of the big bads; even Galactus finds another planet to eat after meeting her. Despite this, her down-to-earth charm and easy-on-the-budget powers make her a great guest-spot match for any show that needs a lighthearted change of pace. Unfortunately, Marvel has gone all-in on Serious Drama, though SG was nanny for Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ kid, so we’ll just slot her in there and hope for the best.
Show: Jessica Jones and Luke Cage
Actor: Shailene Woodley

3-4. Dream and Death: Sure, they’re faintly ridiculous, grubby, deus-ex-machina characters who are relevant only in our 90s-addled minds, but come on! How awesome would it be for the Endless to start showing up in our favorite shows? They would have been perfect for one-shots or recurring roles on Constantine, but it’s now dead beyond hope, so we’ll have to make do. Gotham’s too gritty, The Flash is too flashy, and Legends of Tomorrow is probably too sci-fi-oriented, so it’s up to Arrow to make this happen.
Show: Arrow
Actors: Adrien Brody and Emma Stone

5. Midnighter: Warren Ellis’ take on the Batman archetype added superhuman fighting instincts and a license to kill to the dark vigilante myth, and Midnighter is one of the fiercest gay superheroes we’ve ever seen. He’d be interesting on Gotham if he powered down a little, if only to give Baby Bruce something to think about. But he’d be perfect as an adversary on The Flash–his overclocked tactical mind could challenge Barry like nobody else, and his status as permanent antihero would be a nice splash of darkness in Central City.
Show: The Flash
Actor: Taye Diggs

6. The Question: Yes, he started as a ridiculous mouthpiece for ridiculous political ideas, but the dude had style. Wearing a featureless mask was perfectly creepy, and his Justice League Unlimited incarnation is the perfect launch point for live action. He’s an ecumenical conspiracy theorist who’s always right (at least when the plot needs him to be), and that makes him a perfect quirky quest-giver for a show like Supergirl–or we hope so, as all we’ve seen is the trailer. Bonus points: There will be nerds who accuse the show of ripping off Watchmen‘s Rorschach.
Show: Supergirl
Actor: Kevin Corrigan

7. Sub-Mariner: Ah, Prince Namor. Marvel’s go-to asshole always tells the truth the heroes don’t want to hear while sounding like the rich villain in a summer camp movie. He’s got a longer history than most, so he could plausibly pop up in our favorite post-war comics adaptation, Agent Carter. No doubt he’d simultaneously recognize Peggy’s ultra-competence while still giving the SSR boys a master class in casual sexism. He’s just weird enough to fit into Carter’s world without delivering an “everything you know is wrong” vibe.
Show: Agent Carter
Actor: Harry Shum, Jr.

Once we take over Hollywood, we’ll make sure these folks get the love they deserve. Which characters do you want to see on screen? And hey, since there’s not a chance that every one of these casting choices is okay with you, let us know who should really play them in the comments.

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Misfits – Episode 39

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Misfits
We miss you, Season One!

In this episode, we take a fond look at Misfits, a British sci-fi show broadcast on E4 from 2009-13. Like so many of the things we love, it started strong and got weaker over time, but the first two seasons are essential and the third closes out a long-running story arc. If you’re a completist weirdo like Rob, you’ll endure the last two seasons as well, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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Episode 31 – New Upcoming TV Series

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Screen shots of AKA Jessica Jones, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and Heroes Reborn
(from the top) A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Heroes Reborn
This week we’re talking about upcoming new TV series that we’re excited about, including a few that are new all over again. We start off in-depth with A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and Heroes Reborn, and end with a lightning round of all the other things we’re looking forward to. There’s one Arrow spoiler from last season’s premiere, but you probably already know if you’ve seen anything about Legends of Tomorrow. Still, heads-up if that sort of thing bothers you.

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Episode 30 – Daredevil

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The D'Onofrio and the home of the brave.
Child + Monster = Kingpin

We love love love Daredevil, and hope this spoiler-free episode will inspire you to binge it hard–or re-binge, if you’ve already taken a spin.

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