Week of 11-9-22
There’s times when I think I’m really enjoying Sventoonie even better than Svengoolie. There’s something to be said for blowing through some of these old Public Domain movies and encapsulating them into a half hour show with host bits rather than trying to present the whole thing and watch the same old movies again and again (it’s one of the things that really burned me out with online Horror Hosts like you see on the Monster Channel). Indeed, it worked way better for Bucket of Blood and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. The quick summary and visit on those was everything I needed to feel satisfied, almost like watching the movie without actually watching a movie (I have similar feelings about movie trailer compilations). It’s even better though last week, because the subject was Night Tide… A killer mermaid movie that I’ve never seen. And yet, I still feel like I’ve pretty much seen the whole thing. The show makes good use of jaws parodies and general schtick , and it’s just in enormously fun to watch. On the other hand, you have nights like this week where they screen clips of Brother from Another Planet. It’s another one I’ve never seen, and now I feel like I must go seek it out. I absolutely have to know what this is about! Again, the real beauty of these kind of shows. I’m gonna actually be pretty sad when I finish up this quickie season.
Stargirl remains solid. Actually, you kind of expect them to be better than solid, you’d expect them to be really good considering we’re entering the end of the series. But this week really felt more like part two, a good follow up from last week and the attack on the elder icicles. Seth Greens Thunderbolt continues to be the high point of the series for me. I feel like they’ve gotten into the right groove with him now. They don’t overuse him… That character could get annoying really fast if overexposed. On the other hand they don’t underuse him either… The way they did all of last season. He is a genuinely good character, and watching him and the two boys kind of do their own mini Scooby gang thing… The young All-Stars instead of the JSA, it’s really been fun. For me that’s the perfect B storyline. A group of young burgeoning superheroes to balance out the teenage jSA that really keeps the show together. Like I said, solid. I will admit though, we got some killing at the end that really took me by surprise. It shouldn’t, considering that since this is the end of the series, anything goes. But still, I was a little shocked and sad. You never know when they’re going to kill off the character that you like.
Speaking of solid, the only comic book worth mentioning this week really was Amazing Spider-Man #13 which resolved the current goblin story nicely while setting up more stuff happening down the line. They are still maintaining that interesting feel with all of the supporting characters, and that’s really the thing that’s been keeping me coming back to this book during this run.
Solid is also the word to describe Nailed It. I know I’m using that description a lot, but average television is still better than bad TV, so I’ll take it. I only have a minor quibble with this particular season. As much as I like the fact that they’re going Halloween this time around, I wish they pick different subjects. Look, I’m familiar with the Witcher, and I’ve heard of the umbrella academy. I don’t watch either of them. Yes, I Realize it’s basically cross series promotion on the same network, but only having a passing familiarity with these series makes me wish they had picked something with a wider familiarity. Do Dracula and Frankenstein instead of just hitting your other network shows. With that said, there’s not a whole lot to complain about. Really if that’s my biggest beef, then I’d say the show is still doing pretty good. Honestly, I wish they’d have longer seasons and more of them. This one’s been a perennial favorite in our home since the kids discovered it and it’s really the only context I enjoy Nicole Byer in!
Speaking of my kids, I recently noticed something strange. My younger daughter is obsessively watching the 100. My older daughter just finished seven seeds and is considering going back to the hunger games. My wife is watching a series called the society. Basically they’re all watching TV shows set in fairly post-apocalyptic settings where the kids are left on their own to try and build some sort of a society. They’re all nihilistic and depressing. I on the other hand and obsessively watching Star Trek Prodigy. It’s also about a bunch of kids left to their own devices, but in the best traditions of Star Trek, it’s hopeful and optimistic!
The Trek Culture channel over on YouTube made an interesting observation this week. They pointed out that this weeks episode actually acts as a great jumping on point… A good introduction to anybody who has been watching the series. You’re absolutely right about this. Aside from the opening where Jayne was still trying to get information about the lost Protostar from a semi catatonic diviner, the story is actually. A nice straightforward adventure for the crew of the Protostar. It begins with some narration from Dahl, explaining that the Protostar has a weapon hidden on it, one that is designed to infect Starfleet if they ever come in contact with them, or even open up a hail. Until they can figure out how to get rid of it – a task that is driving Jayne come mad – they’re going to continue to try and Explore space, and help people. To that end, they’re answering a distress call (And doing it in uniforms by the way. As much as I’m not a big fan of these uniforms, I’m so glad to see they they are staying in them most of the time now. Uniforms are a PART of the Star Trek aesthetic, even if this current production team seems to hate them.).
What they discover is an unknown planet populated by people with very familiar names like Keurk and Suoo-looh, wearing a stitched together facsimiles of original series uniforms. Turns out, the shuttlecraft Galileo somehow got lost and crashed here with a supporting character from a single episode of the original series, Ensign Garrovick, from the episode “Obsession.” Garrovick accidentally First Contacts them… mostly to warn them away from the forest where fuel is leaking from the shuttlecraft . It’s a fun episode, and good storytelling. There’s a lot of ‘member berries in this one though, and I know that’s something I’ve complained about in the past. The thing is, it works here. This is a story that is built around all those callbacks. It’s designed around the exploration of a society that came into contact with Starfleet, but nobody knew. 100 years later, these characters are the stuff of legend, passed down through oral tradition… Well, oral tradition with a theater kid twist. It makes these callbacks feel organic. We have a crashed shuttlecraft, images of the bridge, and all these characters being able to imitate the motions and the controls of the Enterprise. At no point do I feel like it’s just ‘member berries for the sake of “hey remember this?? You love this!“ It’s not patronizing, like watching Mariner on Lower Decks suddenly whip out a batlith to cut someone’s arm with just because it’s random and funny and “remember Klingons? You love Klingons!“ This works. It just feels right, Especially considering it doesn’t happen every week.
I was crushed to learn that the Big Bad B Movie show with Leopold and Lenora has met its end. Change of management means no third season, but you can still catch Lenora on her YouTube show up on the found footage fest channel. Check out Lenora’s Midnight Rental and see what you think.
We’ll be back with more television and comics next week! (Probably).
The Week of 10/19/22
So, Nailed It is back, it’s a kind of Halloween themed series, but I gotta say I love the fact that this show has managed to hang in there this long. Netflix shows, even the quickie half-hour things like this are generally one to three seasons and done, but somehow, nailed it just keeps coming back. It’s an absolute delight for all of us in my family, and I hope this thing keeps going for many many years to come.
Then there’s Stargirl. We finally get to see Jade’s brother Obsidian… and he’s gay. It’s vitally important that you understand he’s gay. It’s terribly, terribly essential that they show you that he’s gay, and they have to do it within seconds of meeting him! It doesn’t actually have anything to do with the story, it never comes up again, and doesn’t drive the character thematically. In fact, now that I think about it, you could just as easily, (perhaps even more easily) have introduced him as a solo runaway before the rent-a-cops pick him up and deliver him to the Infinity Inc. guys, but no, it’s essential that we make sure you know he’s gay!
It’s one of the things that bothers me because Stargirl has, thus far, mostly been above this sort of ham-fisted virtue signaling. We got a little hint of social justice during summer school with Eclipso’s temptation of Beth, but it was mild, and organic to the story. This is just shoved in for no reason, very “in your face” and it pulls me out of the story. That kind of stuff is also the first sign of a CW show getting ready to jump the shark. Supergirl took a hard left turn into social justice first, and story as an afterthought. So did Legends, and Batwoman was basically defined by it from the word go. One of the things I’ve been enjoying about Stargirl (and for that matter Superman and Lois) is that they’ve been largely free of this sort of thing, and when it does show up, it’s nuanced and generally background… And organic part of a story. Perhaps I’m overreacting, but I’ve been enjoying Stargirl so much that it would be a real shame to see it go the way of a lot of the hyper politicized shows that the superhero genre seems to be plagued with. The rest of the episode is solid. We get some good green lantern action with Jade, and green lantern stuff is always welcome. There’s still some struggle as Courtney tries to regain her friends trust and we get a fairly shocking development with Yolanda right at the end of the episode. It’s super hero soap opera to be sure, but I’m a sucker for that sort of thing.
Got to close out by mentioning that The Food that Built America is back as well, although the format seems to have changed. It feels like they’re matching multiple episodes together… Building on The stories they’ve already told us. It’s very much a second season kind of feel to it… A continuation with some continuity to it. Interesting and unexpected for a documentary series like this. Still, I’m riveted, and it makes for good Sunday night viewing. It’s still a high recommend, if you haven’t seen this show, you should check it out.
As for me, I think it’s about time I pull out my copy of the great pumpkin!
Week of 9/20/21 Stargirl and What If?
So, I finally caught up on Stargirl, and got through the first five episodes over the weekend. It’s a show that I watch with my teenage daughter, so schedules frequently don’t mash and I’m perpetually behind. Even now, I’m a single episode behind… That is until the new one premieres tonight!
Stargirl was really the highlight of my television last year. Not only are you pretty much guaranteed to get my attention by invoking and flashing back to golden age DC with characters in the Justice Society,, but it’s also just generally good rollicking superhero fun, heavy on characterization and action, and light on ideology… Sort of the opposite of what the CW’s pattern has increasingly been. Courtney, Stargirl herself is a good character, but even more daring is the fact that instead of going through the bad Dad trope, they actually explore her complex relationship with her stepfather, played by Luke Wilson who steals every scene he’s in. There is resentment there but there’s also some genuine affection there, with a Dad who’s just trying to do the best he can, and isn’t portrayed as bumbling or stupid… But perhaps a little overwhelmed sometimes.
After defeating the Injustice Society last year, series kind of has to start fresh this year, and giving it the whole “Summer School“ hook was a delightful idea. It probably would’ve worked better if the show had managed to premier back in July or so, but I understand that the plague has wreaked havoc on shooting schedules so I’m willing to give them a little slack… Especially when the end result is as fun as this.
The evil daughter Shiv is back, trying to rebuild her parent’s Injustice Society with the kids of the original members. Obviously, that’s going to be the main baddie this year, right? Except there’s something awfully familiar about the black crystal that she’s using and channeling for power. The first episode opens with one of the creepiest little kid sequences I’ve seen in a long time, and even my daughter immediately realized… Eclipso was coming. The Shade also arrives this season as well. The Shade’s been a regular villain when it comes to this legacy, I’ve just finished reading James Robinson‘s excellent Starman run from the 90s, and the Shade is all over that thing. True to form, he’s a villain, but sometimes he’s not… Again, complex. Serious props for challenging writing here.
In the meantime, the gang is all back, and facing their own issues. Hourman still feels isolated and is feeding something that I suspect is Solomon Grundy related in the woods. Dr. Midnight is dealing with her parents divorce, and Wildcat is still trying to reconcile the fact that she killed Brainwave Junior. I know that’s a lot of gobbledygook to throw at you all at once, but it’s genuinely good stuff and propels the whole series developing forward. Despite this, there’s actually a noticeable lack of attractive people standing in hallways talking about their feelings. It’s still there, but not nearly as present as in say, The Flash.
Once we hit episode five though… remember how in the last third of Superman and Lois, it seems like every episode I was saying “this feels like a season finale cliffhanger… Or a penultimate episode right before the season finale“. Stargirl goes right ahead and does it in episode five, with a face off of the new injustice society versus the justice society which results in Eclipso being freed. And man, Eclipso does not disappoint. The make up and look is dead on, increased in detail for television, and every bit as terrifying as I remember him from those crossovers in the mid 90s. It’s shockingly effective. I guess that means I really got a find a good way to bribe Maddie to sit down and catch up on last week and this weeks episode… Because I’m dying to know what happens. Perhaps if I bribe her with more episodes of He-Man…
What if continues to be the strongest of all the marvel television series. Perhaps it’s because it’s not truly bound to continuity (yes, I know some stupid editor said “it’s all in continuity”. That’s not really the case, even if you rationalize multiverse nonsense.) but also because it very much feels like episodic MCU. Really, that’s what the movies have been trying to do for a while now, but to get it chopped up and served in bite size half hour portions every week, with different elements of the MCU, played by the same people and featuring the same look in environments… It’s actually really satisfying.
I once said I prefer Doctor Strange in other peoples movies rather than his own, I’m beginning to wonder after his What If episode, if it’s just that I prefer him in smaller doses. What if Doctor Strange lost his heart instead of his hands actually feels like it could be its own standalone thing within continuity, if they just tweak the end. It’s actually a nice visit with a good doctor in that world, and takes some chances with some of the dark themes it uses. Of course it’s not nearly as dark as Marvel Zombies. My daughter is a huge fan of marvel zombies, she’s collected all the comics, and this is actually the episode they got her into What If. I agree with her assessment, Watching this episode just makes me want an animated marvel zombies series on it’s own. It’s that good. It captures an interesting variety of heroes from different films, and while there’s a decision with the vision that I don’t entirely agree with, it’s really nice to see Tom Holland’s Spider-Man here, as well as getting to see Doctor Strange’s cape, with it’s own distinct personality, acting on its own again. That of course brings us to last weeks episode… A little bit of light-hearted fun before things get serious in the last two. What if Thor never had the maturing influence of a rival like Loki… and had just essentially grown up to be a giant frat boy. I feel like I should take some offense of this, but it’s so much fun and has us laughing so much through it… Also it manages to feature Howard the Duck, and Darcy; two of my favorite characters in the MCU. Can we please get a Howard the Duck series? Put it on right after the marvel zombies series… That’s all I’m asking!
It’s been a fun week, and if you get tired of superhero stuff, pop over to Netflix… There is a new season of nailed it up there, which is the most entertaining (if a bit mean-spirited) baking show you’ll ever see.