On Supernatural, Castiel Finds a Purpose


Season 12, Episode 19 “The Future”

Written by Robert Berens and Meredith Glynn
Directed by Amanda Tapping

In fact, it’s almost like he’s going to be a father. It’s very much like Castiel (Misha Collins) is going to be a father because if he had fathered a child they’d be having the same dilemma except that the child would not be as powerful.  It makes me wonder why they didn’t just go ahead and make it Cas’s kid in the first place.

This week on Supernatural we return to the storyline of Kelly (Courtney Ford) and Lucifer’s (Mark Pellegrino) baby. She’s miserable now that she knows she won’t survive the birth. It doesn’t help that Dagon (Ali Ahn) has her manacled and is trying to force feed her vitamins. Dagon tells her all the evil things her son will do and all of the people he will kill. I truly feel sorry for Kelly at this point. She’s in a very bad place, and none of it is her fault. Dagon lets her loose to bathe and she cuts her wrists in the bathtub.

I have got to get a better hospital room. (Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW)

Castiel shows back up suddenly and with little explanation as to why he’s been out of touch. Dean (Jensen Ackles) is hurt because he’s been worried and is furious with Cas for making him worried. He really is insecure. Castiel is acting angelic-that is to say, he’s being a jerk. This is because he plans to steal the Colt and go after Dagon himself. Once again he has taken it upon himself to protect the Winchesters without their consent. The plan was hatched up in heaven, of course.

Kelly has miraculously survived her suicide attempt and massive blood loss. Her mood has made a turnaround. She feels that the baby must love her to have saved her, but Dagon says it’s self-preservation.

Sam (Jared Padelecki) comes up with a plan they could use. They think that removing the nephilim’s grace would make it human and therefore powerless, whether it was evil or not. They have reason to believe that, since removing an angel’s grace renders them human and trapped in the vessel they are in.

Castiel finds Kelly but can’t bring himself to kill her. He kidnaps her, or liberates her, depending on your point of view. They run off together which gives them some time to bond. Kelly tries to convince him that no one is born evil, and that her baby is good. Castiel tries to convince Kelly that she and the baby have to die for the good of the world. If he takes her to heaven she will disintegrate, something like a transporter accident. Castiel points out that she will die in childbirth and there will be no one to raise her child and teach it to be good. That’s not the sort of thing you should say unless you want the job yourself.

He touches her belly while the baby is kicking and she knows instantly that Cas is the one who’s supposed to be the guardian and that it would be okay to go to the playground.

Now how are babies made again? (Robert Falconer/The CW)

Dagon meets them at the sandbox that is the entrance to heaven. The Winchesters find them there as well. Dagon destroys the Colt. Kelly and Cas hold hands and the baby (who really needs a name by now) takes Cas over and destroys Dagon with a touch. Sam and Dean explain their idea but Kelly doesn’t like it. She thinks the baby will be a force for good and and needs its powers. Cas is fully empowered and full of purpose. He heals Dean and then knocks them out with a touch. Castiel and Kelly run off together and Castiel tells Kelly that her baby showed him the future.

It’s my sandbox and you can’t play in it. (Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW)

This is the closest thing they ever have to an ep without the two leads. Most of the screen time was Castiel’s. It probably gave the actors some much needed family time. Misha did a great job during the ep, with being sneaky at the beginning to the interactions with Kelly to the conversion to acolyte.

Is it possible that Lucifer’s child is not evil? I would like to believe what Kelly says, that no one is born evil, but the odds are that he is evil. Blind faith is frightening. An entity controlling or possessing someone else is not a good sign. Cas is vulnerable to being influenced because he’s had a series of failures lately. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is a very powerful being. It destroyed a Prince of Hell with a touch of Castiel’s hand. The more power, the further away from humanity with its frailties, the more evil something is on Supernatural. Look at what happened to Castiel when he absorbed godlike powers.

Even if Lucifer’s child was not born bad, his life has been pretty negative so far. If he is aware enough to save his mother, he might have known her state of mind and experienced the abuse she suffered secondhand. That’s not a good start in life.

Now Castiel will be standing between the BMoL and the child, which puts him in a lot of danger. Sam and Dean want the kid neutralized, not killed.  They may be guarding the kid as well, but they are also not on the same side as Kelly and Castiel. We don’t know how far Castiel will go to protect him.

There are two interesting bits of trivia about this episode. It’s directed by Amanda Tapping, who starred in Sanctuary and Stargate SG-1 and its spinoffs. She was the angel Naomi on Supernatural, so she should know a few things about angels.She’s also no novice to directing. She’s directed episodes of Sanctuary, Continuum and many others. She did a great job in this episode.

The other factoid is that this is Misha Collin’s 100th episode. It was a wonderful tribute to him that they made it a Castiel centered one.

Do you ever get the feeling that the episode went on without you? (Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW)

In the next episode, the brothers get a call from the twins, Alicia and Max, and it looks like Mary has a confrontation with Ketch.

 

Supernatural airs on the CW on Thursday nights at 8 pm/7c.




DEVIL’S GATE Opens Up the Genre at the Tribeca Film Festival

Devil’s Gate will give you splinters. It’s a taut thriller with layered, underlying themes that never seems to be the movie you think it is at any moment you think you know.

Milo Ventimiglia as Jackson Pritchard

Texturally, the film looks like it will hurt if you get too close. The jabs this film offers aren’t just in the peeling paint and parched landscape but in the gritty ways the characters interact and the story that unfolds with increasingly unexpected turns.

From its opening scene, it appears you’ve checked into a traditional horror movie, complete with a lost stranger on a solitary road and a creepy farmhouse. Horror tropes literally hang from every available beam. So when what you expect to happen next never materializes, it quickly becomes clear that this movie is already one step ahead. Technically listed as a Sci-Fi Thriller, it never lets you forget its horror heritage. In a movie world where Scream and Cabin in the Woods have deconstructed the genre, Devil’s Gate uses these images to remind you and make you feel a certain way, but it relies on tight storytelling and fierce acting to tell its story and draw you in.

Bridget Regan, Shawn Ashmore and Amanda Schull

Most good movies in these genres have metaphorical meanings: the endless consumerism of the zombie, the red scare of the body snatcher, the fear of industrialism and automation of the stitched-together monster. The one behind Devil’s Gate is the fear of the other, and Clay Staub, the director and co-writer, wastes no time in making Federal Agent Daria Francis (Amanda Schull) the subject of that fear. A wife and child (Bridget Regan and Spencer Drever) have gone missing in a small town. While all indicators point to the husband Jackson Pritchard (Milo Ventimiglia), relationships in this small town are so intertwined that Sheriff Gruenwell (Jonathan Frakes in a small role that will have you asking, “does he – is he?”) and his deputy, Colt Salter (Shawn Ashmore) tell her to focus her energies anywhere else. She’s the pushy outsider who doesn’t understand him like they do. However, Agent Francis is not about to be cowed by the misogyny and distrust she encounters. She has a job to do, and that commitment is heavily colored by the outcome of her previous case.

It is in Agent Francis’ backstory and soon her investigation where a main theme of Devil’s Gate emerges: Every character is caged by their beliefs. At various points throughout the narrative, those psychological cages are opened and the characters are faced with freedom or the choice to withdraw. Shawn Ashmore’s Deputy Salter shines in his moment when his naive, green lawman stops solely following instructions and chooses to do what he thinks is right – with spectacular consequences. Milo Ventimiglia gives Pritchard’s cage a terrifying darkness touched with beautiful moments of tenderness and despair.

Agent Daria Francis is the hero of the story, and Amanda Schull brings her to life with conviction.  Director Clay Staub revealed that the original script called for a male FBI agent, so it was refreshing to see Ms. Schull tackle another strong lead in a role typically given to a man. While none of the characters ever let us forget that the bizarre circumstances have them frightened, they manage to hold onto their humanity. Yet no matter how frightened, no matter how bizarre the situation is,  Agent Francis manages to maintain laser focus on her goal: to uncover the truth, consequences be damned.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8I0RY6Q2ww

Devil’s Gate is not a one-trick pony where the whole story is supported by a few twists. It thoroughly explores and tells a story with purposeful, sentient characters, while nodding thoughtfully to the genres that inspired it. If twisting, genre-bending films make you squeal with joy, then put Devil’s Gate on your list of must-see movies this year.




TV Review: Time is Relative in GENIUS

{All images images by Dusan Martincek, used courtesy National Geographic.}

Genius, season 1, episode 1: “Chapter 1”
Written by Noah Pink (based on the book Einstein: His Life and Universe, by Walter Isaacson)
Directed by Ron Howard
Produced by Imagine Television, shown on National Geographic
Copyright 2017

Science and education has been in the middle of a battle lately, and has been placed front and center in today’s political climate. With that in mind, National Geographic and Imagine Entertainment brings us Genius, their first scripted series. Planned as an anthology series, the show will focus on a different person every season.

For their first year out, the focus is on physicist Albert Einstein (Geoffrey Rush when older, Johnny Flynn when younger). Based on the book Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson, the ten episode story follows Einstein as he becomes the legend he is today.

https://youtu.be/SICLBlHizUY

Directed by Ron Howard, the first episode starts off with an attempt to make Einstein sexy, opening with the older version of him having enthusiastic sex with his assistant while his wife (Emily Watson as Elsa Einstein) is off running errands.

We are then torn into two timelines: one during the 1890s, when he is young and still in school (or not, as the case may be, as he drops out of one and attempts to go on his own); the other during the 1930s when he is teaching in Germany as Hitler is rising to power. The political message is pretty on the nose, but then again, unfortunately (as TV Tropes states), some anvils need to be dropped.

Despite the multiple timelines, the transitions are smooth and easy to follow. I’m curious if the rest of the season will continue the splitting between the two eras, maintaining each thread as they come together. It’ll be fascinating if they can pull it off.

Young Albert is bored.

Howard’s directing is spot on, with the episode fast paced and moving quickly. The sets and costumes are gloriously done, although the use of CGI to show Einstein’s thoughts about the universe come across a little too intrusive to me, breaking the suspension of disbelief.

Of course, Rush is excellent as Einstein, although it definitely feels like “Geoffrey Rush playing Einstein”. Flynn is outstanding as the younger Einstein, playing perfectly that passion and fire that is only seen in that twenty-something age range when we’re all so desperate to prove we deserve to be adults.

The attempt to make the man sexy didn’t quite play for me: the show seems to be pro-Einstein, with the tone coming across that every woman should be so lucky to have Einstein’s interest. However, we have a great introduction to Mileva Maric (played by Samantha Colley), who will become Einstein’s first wife.

The episode ends on a great place, and I definitely am interested to see more. The first episode of Genius aired tonight, and the series continues on Tuesdays on National Geographic. For more information about the show, visit the official website.

 

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: How To Lose Friends And Eat People With The SANTA CLARITA DIET

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With The Walking Dead done for the season, #TeamZombie turn their attention to the darkly comedic feast that is Santa Clarita Diet!


Season 1, Episode 6 “Attention to Detail”
Written by Leila Cohan-Miccio, Directed by Craig Zisk

Season 1, Episode 7 “Strange or Just Inconsiderate?”
Written by Ben Smith, Directed by Lynn Shelton

Santa Clarita Diet

 

Dustin: Weren’t we going to try and keep these things to 30 minutes?

Mindy: Actually, I’m kind of amazed you two have kept it under 45.

Dustin: “You two“? You’re in this thing too, missy.

Mindy: I think that if you count the number of digressions that happen on this show, you’ll find I am pretty much in the minority. By a significant margin.

Dustin: Give it time.

Timothy: Anyway. Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Zombpocalypse Now, your weekly podcast about Dead Things and More. We are watching Santa Clarita Diet, and unlike The Walking Dead

Dustin: Which has been known to be funny in all the wrong ways.

Timothy: … THIS show is meant to be funny. And it really is.

Mindy: Oh, yeah, it is. And it’s really fun to watch you two laugh so much.

Dustin: I never laugh. I am a very serious person.

Mindy: Uh huh.

Timothy: Anyway. Thanks for listening folks. Please do us the kindness of commenting and rating us wherever you’re listening…

Dustin: iTunes, Podcasts.com…

Timothy: … because that helps more people find us, and it lets us know what you think of our ramblings.

Mindy: AND, you can come see us live at Kansas City’s Planet Comicon, April 28th-30th! We’re live-streaming the Con!

Dustin: AND we’re doing a panel! Saturday, April 29th! Noon o’clock! Our awesomeness in all our glory!

Timothy: We do hope to see you there. Thanks for listening!

SciFi4Me 20% Off at HumanCharger. Use coupon code scifi4me during checkout. Expires 12/31/2017.

 




MST3K Recap: 1102, Cry Wilderness

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1102

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

The second episode in a series is kind of a special one. Where the first establishes characters and sets up the story, the second is generally a “normal” episode, the first sign of what we can expect to get on a regular basis. There’s a little more establishment going on here and there, but overall we’re in our groove and rolling along.

Episode 2 of the reboot introduces a couple of ideas and fleshes out the world we’ve been given. It also brings back a few old friends, so that’s a pleasant extra. First up, we have Gypsy working on the ship, with a little slapstick involving falling tools. Then, Jonah gets sucked into a pneumatic tube and deposited in his old ship, there to re-create the show open. This is explained by saying Kinga’s technology doesn’t work for recording. This makes less sense the more you think about it. I know, I know, it’s just a show and et cetera et cetera, but really would it have killed them to just do the intro without having to work up an explanation for it?

The invention exchange is odd enough: a turkey with a theremin embedded in it. This invention really feels like someone pulled a couple of words out of a hat, but what the heck it’s only the second episode. The Mads take the premise that the Carvel “Santa Claus” ice cream cake is really just their “Fudgie the Whale” cake turned sideways and redecorated, and use it to create an even dozen themed cakes, all with the same basic shape. It’s pretty amusing, and fortunately they keep it moving fast enough that it doesn’t get old.

The experiment is Cry Wilderness, a really rather bad “Bigfoot” movie. It’s about a boy who goes to visit his father in the woods, because Bigfoot came to him and warned him that he (that is, the father) was in great danger. Somehow he manages to hitch his way all the way up to the woods and almost immediately stumble on his dad and his Faithful Indian Companion(tm). There follows a lot of wandering around, arguing with authority figures, oddly inappropriate laughter, half-baked pseudo-native mysticism that Disney would find insensitive, and important lessons learned about love, friendship, and all the usual things you get in these kinds of movies. Oh, and there’s a tiger that escaped from a circus. In the end, everyone is all right, mystical things happen, and Bigfoot books it for the mountains to avoid the possibility of a sequel.

The first host segment has Crow & Tom as a couple of adorably vicious raccoons who systematically trash the SOL after the manner of the ones who do the same to the father’s cabin in the movie. It’s a surprisingly long scene in the movie, and this reviewer would not have wanted to be on the cleanup crew afterwards. Naturally, the ‘bots take it just that little extra bit further, all while Jonah fake-laughs himself silly.

In the second host segment, Jonah uses a laser-cut model to try to break down the movie for the ‘bots. Specifically, why this mess got made in the first place. This reviewer cannot vouch for Jonah’s explanation, but it’s certainly as plausible as anything. Incidentally, it seems that laser-cut wood props are going to be making a regular appearance in the new series. They are very nicely done, this reviewer will admit, but perhaps don’t have quite the charm of the hand-drawn flash cards from the old days.

The third segment takes us to Moon 13, where the Mads are stressing out over Jonah’s persistent sanity. Suddenly a ship comes into range, and–surprise! It’s Pearl (Mary Jo Pehl), with Bobo & Brain Guy (Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, respectively) in tow. This was a welcome sight, even if everyone looks a little…off-ish. Kevin Murphy’s Bobo in particular seems to have actually gone backwards a bit as far as the prosthetics are concerned. Of course he always looked a little cheesy, but this is some full-on Time of the Apes stuff, right here. Things get a bit awkward in the family relations department, and the henchbeings exchange some knowing comments about the Forrester way of doing things. We also meet Synthia, Pearl’s clone she left behind to keep Kinga company (Rebecca Hanson, who also does the voice of Gypsy). Those of us who were wondering who the Pearl lookalike in the first episode was now have our answer. There’s also a bit where Kinga complains about the difficulty of keeping continuity with the old season, and how she should have just “rebooted” everything. This is funny, but it’s also intriguing: just how much control does she have over the world of the show? Maybe this will be explored in greater detail later.

After the movie, Crow makes like the mystical Indian spirit guide in an attempt to get Max to hand over control of Jonah’s ship. Naturally, Kinga shows up and shuts down that action toot suite. Max pushes the button, and another episode is in the can.

So, a pretty good second episode, all things considered. Some things I’m not terribly over the moon about (the opening sequence explanation, for one), but it’s nice to see some of the old crew come by, even if it’s only a once-in-a-while kind of thing. It will be interesting to see what they do with the Synthia character. Last week she was just a background figure, so perhaps this signals bringing her to the forefront more. I guess we’ll find out.

As the credits roll, we find ourselves wondering where the character development is going to go as the season progresses. Will we see more of the new characters? How often do the old gang stop by? Is Max really right about shows not hitting their stride until around-about the fifth episode? Only time will tell.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck once had Bigfoot show up at her school to warn her that her father was in danger, but it turned out to be a 419 scam. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.




POWERLESS Gets Trapped in “Emergency Punch-Up”

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Season 1, Episode 9: “Emergency Punch-Up”
Written by Lillian Yu
Directed by Linda Mendoza

[All photos courtesy NBC Universal]

Score one for the viewers! We actually get the episode we were promised this week!

Ron (Ron Funches) is watching a new documentary on Dr. Psycho (which paints him in more of a favorable light.) Everyone thinks it’s bunk, but Ron thinks the documentary producers are correct and that Dr. Psycho is an innocent man.

Van (Alan Tudyk), meanwhile, is telling the staff about the upcoming corporate retreat in Coast City. Emily (Vanessa Hudgens) has been planning it and has plenty of fun in store for everyone.

If there is ever a Van Wayne action figure, I want him in this white suit.

Everyone leaves…except for Emily’s team, who has to wait for Dorothy (Dorothy Schock), to make sure the elder lady makes it to the retreat. Suddenly an alarm goes off! Dr. Psycho is attacking Charm City. The explanatory news caster tells us that everyone must shelter in place for at least the next 12 hours until the gas dissipates. The building is put in lockdown and Emily’s team is trapped at work.

Emily is worried about Dorothy, not to worry though, Dorothy is shown to be at the retreat, they stayed behind for nothing.

Since they are trapped, Emily decides to turn the office into a faux island retreat with a Tiki bar…and not much else, so the team just sits around and drinks. They play a game of Desert Island Companion, which only upsets Teddy (Danny Pudi) after Ron says he’d rather have Jackie (Christina Kirk) as a companion than him.

They bet Teddy that he can’t hit a trash can with a tiki torch. He throws, misses and hits a window, breaking it and letting in the white gas. The team quickly retreats into the lab, which can be sealed off easily.

Party Time!

Unfortunately, all the gas masks and hazard suits are outside the lab, having been appropriated for the party. Also, they are a man short, since Van had two writers helping him with jokes and speeches and the joke guy got left out in the gas, so he’s probably dead.

Emily uses the resources they do have in the lab to make a makeshift hazmat suit so she can venture out to get the masks.

Ron is ready to go.

And it turns out the joke writer wasn’t dead, the gas just made him super angry. He attacks Emily and breaches her makeshift helmet. She takes a breath of the gas and is consequently … not well. She’s mad and sick of having to babysit her team. She throws away the masks.

They receive a timely report on TV that the gas will eventually kill those exposed to it unless they are treated within a few hours. Jackie rallies the troop and tells them they need to get Emily back into the lab.

They put together another makeshift hazmat suit and Ron goes out to retrieve Emily. Emily attacks him and he fails and is pulled back to he lab. Van gives a rousing speech — from his speech writer — and they try a new tactic. They start singing Karaoke. Emily loves Karaoke and she comes back into the room singing and then collapses.

Later, the team do a post-mortem on the whole situation and take Emily out for a night of Karaoke.

A happy Emily is a good Emily.

Analysis:

I really liked this episode, which might be one of the best episodes of the series so far. It wasn’t over complicated; it stuck to one story instead of trying to shoe horn a “b” plot into the story. Hey, Powerless writers! More of this, please. Follow Lillian Yu’s lead and write them like this one.

So if Emily is the team’s baby sitter, is Jackie Emily’s watcher?

How is the gang not super mad at Dorothy for sneaking out of the building and making them get stuck in the building? They were kinda mad at the wrong person.

The team should some ingenuity in making those makeshift hazmat suits. That’s right, we get an episode that really shows that they can be MacGyver type geniuses when they need to be (or when the script tells them they can be).

The DC Universe references in this episode were sparse, just Dr. Psycho and Wonder Woman. I think this really helped out the episode.

Next week, we get to do what ever we want…or do we? It’s “No Consequence Day”!

Powerless airs Thursday at 8:30/7:30 Central on NBC. It can also be found on Hulu, Amazon, and NBC.com. For more information, visit the official website.

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H2O #154: In Which We Discuss the Premiere of DOCTOR WHO

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The Doctor has returned! And he’s got a new companion (two, really). And he’s got photos on his desk! And he’s got a desk! And a vault! What’s he got in the vault? Probably the thing that’s going to keep him Earth-bound this year, very much as he was in his Third incarnation…

After having seen the episode twice, we found plenty of things to like and plenty of things to wonder and speculate about. Sonic screwdrivers. Penguins. Lectures about physics and poetry (they both rhyme). And Susan! That photograph isn’t there by accident. With the original Cybermen making an appearance later this season, it’s a sure bet that the photo of the Doctor’s granddaughter is there for a reason.

SciFi4Me 20% Off at HumanCharger. Use coupon code scifi4me during checkout. Expires 12/31/2017.

Programming note: H2O is now on a bi-weekly schedule, so every other Saturday is when you’ll get a new episode.

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AGENTS OF HYDRA Gives Us Fits About Fitz — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #114

AgentsOfSHIELD_logoSM
Episode 418 “No Regrets”
Written by Paul Zbyszewski
Directed by Eric Laneuville

Finally, the introduction of Dad… and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) is starting to lose a little of that self-assured swagger he’s been sporting in the Framework. Is Madame Hydra (Mallory Jansen) telling him everything? Or is she manipulating her lover at the same time she’s digging her claws into the rest of everyone’s world?

It’s clear that the elder Fitz (David O’Hara) has had a profound impact on his son’s upbringing and resulting character and personality, and it’s also clear why the “real” Fitz doesn’t want to have anything to do with the man. The lovable Leo Fitz is a product of his mother’s influence, and it remains to be seen what happens when the team gets out of the Framework and Fitz has to confront his memories of this twisted version of himself.

Likewise with Mack (Henry Simmons), who’s going to eventually have to give up the idea of being with his daughter Hope (Jordan Rivera). And though Jemma (Elizabeth Henstridge) is affected by that one relatively happy tableau, she’s still keenly aware that this is all just a digital make-believe world. Jemma faces a crisis of conscience, of a sort, complicated by the fact that Mace (Jason O’Mara) and Ward (Brett Dalton) don’t buy her story.

May (Ming-Na Wen) also faces a crisis of conscience when faced with the notion that Hydra will brainwash and kill people to keep them compliant. In the face of her failure at Baharain, her failure at Cambridge, and the way Daisy (Chloe Bennet) has been trying to get through to her, maybe — just maybe — there are things finally not adding up. Unless 1 + 1 = terrigenesis and a lot of whoopins…

Props to O’Mara for his very solid performance this week. His life in the Framework as the Patriot is worthy of song.

SciFi4Me 20% Off at HumanCharger. Use coupon code scifi4me during checkout. Expires 12/31/2017.

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt

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ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: Another Dose Of The SANTA CLARITA DIET

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With The Walking Dead done for the season, #TeamZombie turn their attention to the darkly comedic feast that is Santa Clarita Diet!


Season 1, Episode 4 “The Farting Sex Tourist”
Written by Michael A. Ross, Directed by Ken Kwapis

Season 1, Episode 5 “Man Eat Man”
Written by Chadd Gindin, Directed by Marc Buckland

 

Timothy: I have to admit, waiting to watch this show on Sundays with you people is getting harder.

Dustin: It’s bad enough that Mindy has already watched all the episodes.

Mindy: I regret nothing.

Timothy: I regret a lot of things. But not watching this show. It’s just really good, and I’m tempted to skip ahead, is all I’m saying.

Dustin: I have three children and I have no time to skip ahead, SO DON’T YOU DO IT, TIM HARVEY.

Mindy: He seems pretty insistent about that.

Dustin: He does. I AM NOT GOING TO BE THE ONLY ONE NOT KNOWING WHAT’S GOING ON.

Timothy: Why are you shouting?

Dustin: You’ve seen my dining room, and the mountain of laundry that is vexing me. IT IS VEXING ME.

Timothy: We shall do our best not to vex you. Speaking of reducing the vexing, we do have a sponsor for our podcasts this month, the link to which you can find directly below, at HumanCharger.com. You can get a discount if you use scifi4me as a coupon code!

SciFi4Me 20% Off at HumanCharger. Use coupon code scifi4me during checkout. Expires 12/31/2017.

Mindy: So sit back and listen as we talk about the 4th and 5th episodes of Santa Clarita Diet, and don’t forget to rate us and comment at Podcasts.com and iTunes!




MST3K Returns: The Not-Too-Distant-Future is Here

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1101

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
From the not-too-distant past:
There was a cow-town puppet show
That nobody thought would last (lalala)…

It’s been almost 30 years since the first MST3K experiment (“Invaders from the Deep”) flashed on Minnesota TV screens as a way to kill a couple of hours on local channel KTMA. From November 1988 to August of 1999, Mystery Science Theater 3000 bounced from local UHF to basic cable, from comedy to sci-fi. It introduced “riffing” to the popular lexicon and as a pastime of choice for media-weary viewers tired of a landscape saturated by mediocrity. Nearly everyone involved with the show has carried on riffing duty in one form or another, but no one ever really expected the show that started it all would come back.

But come back it did, and hard. On the back of one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever, fourteen new episodes were filmed and subsequently snapped up by Netflix, who knew a good thing when they saw it. So now, a new generation gets to strap in and enjoy bad movies turned into genuine entertainment.

If you are reading this, the entire season of MST3K, Season 11, has been released en masse by Netflix. However, your faithful reviewer remembers a time when Saturday was MST3K night, gathering with the other oddball students in the senior dorm to catch the new episode. For that reason, we’ll be watching–and recapping–one episode per week. As somebody once said, it’s too nice a job to rush.

So let’s get started: Gizmonics employee Jonah Heston (comedian Jonah Ray following the tradition of keeping his first name) is hauling some meteors back to earth when he gets a distress call from the dark side of the moon. It quickly turns out the call was a trap: he is captured and promptly bundled into a tube which deposits him unceremoniously on the Satellite of Love, still amazingly intact. This is all done to a new, rather jazzy rendition of the classic theme, giving us our first look at the new villains and the rather elaborate sets that have been put together.

The same old ‘bots are still on board: Crow (Hampton Yount), Tom Servo (Baron Vaughn), and Gypsy (Rebecca Hanson). The latter has had the biggest change: apart from anything else she’s now voiced by an actual female, and is much more lucid. Also, she lives in the ceiling, so that’s cool.

The villains this time around are eerily familiar: Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day) is apparently the daughter of original “mad” Dr. Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu), determined to restart her father’s (and grandmother’s) experiment in search of selling the brand to Disney for scads of money. At her side is Max, aka “TV’s Son of TV’s Frank” (Patton Oswalt), who looks just too much like Frank Conniff to be believed.

One surprise this viewer was not expecting was the resurrection of the invention exchange. In fact, the first one out of the gate is something that’s not only quite doable, but looks to be really neat. This reviewer expects to see 3-D printer/CNC plans for it on Thingiverse and elsewhere in very short order, in fact. Since the inventions were always Joel Hodgson’s “thing”, we’re likely in for more of the same.

The first movie out of the gate is Reptilicus (1961), a Danish-American production in the Giant-Monster-Tromps-All-Over-Everything-While-Scientists-Flail-Around-Helplessly genre, an old favorite. After going through a door sequence that is extremely impressive (they really have upped their model game), we come out into the theater for the movie, and the riffing begins.

The title monster is discovered when an oil drilling team accidentally pulls up a section of the beast’s tail. When typically careless movie scientists allow the specimen to thaw, they find to their shock it regenerates itself entirely. They waste a lot of time shambling around stumbling into failure after failure before determining their best bet is to kill it with poison. Unfortuantely, there is one loose bit left behind that begins to regenerate, because of course there is.

The riffing is about par for the course, with the riffs being more or less interchangeable between the characters. One feels they will find their comic voices as the season progresses. There seems to be a lot more in the way of music-based riffs, short bursts of lyrics and so forth. This is by no means a bad thing, just one of the few things that struck this viewer as distinct from the previous iterations.

Despite the online, commercial-free venue of the new season, Hodgson put in “bumpers” where the commercial breaks would normally go. These feature the “Skeleton Crew”, the live-ish band that are seen at the opening of the show as well. Hodgson has explained that he has a certain affection for those moments, and feels they help retain the feel of the original shows.

Also true to the original series, there are three “host segments” interspersed throughout the movie. In the first one, Jonah explains (by means of a rather catchy rap number) how the idea of giant and/or scary monsters can be found all over the world. Some very clever lyrics here, and it fits very well with the tradition of creative and funny songs in the history of the show.

In the second segment, Crow takes one of Tom’s arms and regenerates a bunch more Toms (all one-armed themselves, natch). It’s a bit of a running gag across the series that Tom keeps duplicating himself, so this would appear to be a nod to that. It’s short, but amusing, though a couple more of the “mutant” versions would have been nice.

The third segment has the crew reading viewer letters. This is interesting, as that was generally saved for after the movie up til now. Only a couple of notes this time around, understandably, but no doubt there will be more to follow.

Post-movie, Gypsy goes Kaiju on a model Copenhagen while Kinga & Max plot the future.

So, off to an interesting start. It feels very much like coming home for this longtime viewer, though there are some serious questions about continuity. First of all, we have the Satellite of Love, bots included, but the last we heard the SOL had crashed and the robots had settled on Earth. Also, if Kinga and Max are both descended from the original villains Dr. Clay & Frank, then that raises all kinds of questions, particularly since Frank ascended to Second Banana Heaven before taking a job as a Soultaker (it’s a long story). Hodgson & co are being extremely coy about how they intend to resolve the various continuity questions, or whether they intend to address them at all. We’ll just have to see.

There are some nice surprises among the cast and crew. Trek fans will be delighted at the beginning by a familiar face among the Gizmonics personnel. Longtime Best Brains wardrobe mistress Beez McKeever is back on the crew, doing what she does best. Series veterans Paul Chaplin & Mary Jo Pehl are also involved, with rumors of other MST3K alumni to follow. And then there’s that “Movie in the hole!” guy…doesn’t his voice sound familiar?

Altogether, it’s a pretty strong start to a new generation of the show. As I mentioned in my previous writeup, MST3K has always been a show that adapted over time, and because of this managed to stay enjoyable and entertaining for a very long time indeed. There’s a lot new here (Tom’s voice particularly is rather different to this old fan’s ears), but it is in the main familiar enough that it should take longtime fans back with relative ease, as well as introducing a whole generation of new ones.

Kelly Luck is old enough to remember when “Keep Circulating the Tapes” was still a thing. As indeed were tapes. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.

What do you think, sirs?




POWERLESS Formally Introduces The New Hero in “Green Furious”

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Season 1, Episode 8: “Green Furious”
Written by Dean Loray
Directed by Michael MacDonald

[All photos courtesy NBC Universal]

Breaking News! The Olympian (Joel Michael Kramer) and Green Fury (Natalie Morales) have split up!

Anyway, Emily (Vanessa Hudgens) sees Green Fury being mobbed on the street by the paparazzi after pulling off a rescue. While her attention is on them, Jack-O-Lantern (Kimani Ray Smith) takes the moment to try and fry our new hero with a pumpkin bomb! Luckily, Emily grabs Fury and saves her. “I owe you one,” she tells Emily and gives her a signal device so she can call on the green haired one in the future.

Van, meet Green Fury.

The team looks at Emily’s “prize”, with Teddy (Danny Pudi) being furious because he’s still hung up on the firey lass.

Today, Emily is going to sit in on a board meeting with Van (Alan Tudyk); he tells her not to talk, but just laugh at his jokes.

Jackie (Christina Kirk) has brought her daughter, Ruby (Willa  Miel Pogue) with her to work because she was suspended from school for hitting. Wendy (Jennie Pierson) warms right up to the tyke, much to Jackie’s chagrin.

In the board meeting, Emily is dismayed that they’re considering axing the Poncho that Emily likes. So, Emily speaks up and tells them that they need a new ad campaign with a superhero selling the product. She pulls out the signal device and summons Green Fury, impressing the board.

Fury is a little upset that she was summoned for something so trivial, but Emily convinces her that this will help reshape her image which was damaged by the breakup. The green haired heroine agrees to be in the commercial.

Van better watch what he says to the green-haired one.

Meanwhile, Ron (Ron Funches) is in a focus group when Teddy busts in with his new leather jacket, wearing it in the hopes that Fury will notice him. The group just tears him down.

Meanwhile, Wendy and Ruby are becoming friends, when Jackie comes over and asks Wendy to stop hanging around with her child.

At the commercial shoot, Emily is dismayed to find that the executives have taken her tasteful commercial and made it really sexy, featuring a nude Green Fury and very little of the poncho.

Jackie is at the end of her rope with Ruby and tells Wendy that she can have her. All she really wants to know is why Ruby hit that other kid. Ruby finally comes clean and admits that the kid was saying bad things about Jackie.

The Olympian is available for all your stripping needs.

Meanwhile, back at the studio, Green Fury isn’t having the changes that the execs made, she trusts Emily though and they come up with a compromise.

The Olympian, a total glory hound, is called in to do the commercial. We see the finished commercial with a bare naked Olympian washing a car and Green Fury demonstrating the poncho at the end. The commercial tests positively.

The commercial works and the paparazzi are more interested in The Olympian then Fury’s life. Fury even got a call from the Justice League…Europe.

Oil him up, he’s ready to go.

Analysis:

This episode was… not bad. In fact, I might say this has been one of the best episodes of the series so far.

We get a good look at our new hero, Green Fury, and she doesn’t even like that name.

We get a “b” story that stays short and in the background allowing the “a” story plenty of time to work with.

And for the ladies, we get The Olympian “naked”.

We also got some good DCU references including Darkseid, Justice League Europe and The Scarecrow.

I just wonder if we aren’t missing an episode between this one and the last, as last week Green Fury had just arrived and this week were she and The Olympian were breaking up.

Maybe it’ll be in next week’s episode, “Emergency Punch-up”, the reason that “Green Furious” was switched for this episode was because “Emergency Punch-up” featured a gas attack and that just happened in Syria. Although this episode does come after “Van v Emily…” in the production order, so I guess we will see.

How difficult must it be to live in a world where you need to carry around a security poncho so not to be injured or killed? That must kinda suck.

Natalie Morales’s performance as Green Fury was pretty good. I do wish that her flames would cover her body all over like in the comics, but that might be beyond the budget of a half hour sitcom.

Finally, we still have no idea if this show will get renewed. The viewership has been consistent at around 2 million, but that might not be enough to save it.

Next week, this series gets an “Emergency Punch-Up”, (we hope).

Powerless airs Thursday at 8:30/7:30 Central on NBC. It can also be found on Hulu, Amazon, and NBC.com. For more information, visit the official website.

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SUPERNATURAL Always Gets Their Goatman


Season 12, Episode 18 “The Memory Remains”
Written by John Bring
Directed by Philip Sgriccia

With episodes like this it’s good to remember that Supernatural’s main mission is not what I watch it for. I watch for the characters, the stories, the brotherly moments, and the vast mythology that’s been developed over the years. Its main mission is to scare the crap out of people. In that respect, it does a good job.

When the episode started, I found myself wishing that we would find that Mick (Adam Fergus) was alive and he and Ketch (David Haydn-Jones) had fooled Dr. Hess (Gillian Barber). It was a very small wish, because lying on a table with blood around your head and your eyes open looks pretty dead. They do use the excuse I thought they would. Mick was sent back to England in disgrace.

A group of young people are partying in the woods, with beer and a fire. One of the guys heads home, walking alone in the woods, which is never a good idea. He gets got by a human trap. His buddy hears him and arrives in time to see a goatman (Bill Mikolai) knock him out with a rubber mallet.

Goatman looks a lot like Krampus. He’s not, though, he’s a man in a costume. This is obvious to us, the viewers, because he hits the guy with a rubber mallet. A monster would have claws or teeth or super strength or an archaic weapon. Also, who can go to the store to buy mallets and backpacks when you look like that?

Sam and Dean get a note from “Mick” about the case. It’s Ketch, trying to get them to leave the bunker so he can search it.

Sam and Dean go to Wisconsin and talk to the sheriff, who is working on a stuffed stoat, I think. Immediately he’s the main suspect for me, because who else but a taxidermist would be good at making a goat costume? He tells them the missing guy, Jared Hayes (Daniel Doheny), had a hard life and probably just bailed. They talk to the best friend, Daryn (Antonio Marziale), who tells them it was Black Bill, the local goat man. They talk to the missing guy’s boss. He worked at a meat packing plant, which isn’t the least suspicious. The boss is a jerk, not being the least bit concerned with the missing guy and chewing out Daryn even though he saw his friend get grabbed.

Oh Man. My job sucks, my friend got kidnapped by Black Bill the Goatman, and now the Feds catch me with reefer. (Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW)

Dean is distracted by a pretty blonde waitress (Aliesha Pearson) and is overconfident because of the Colt. If he had been seriously working the case, he might not have ended up as the damsel in distress.

Daryn gets got by the goatman, and ends up in a meat locker watching Jared get eaten by something we can’t see.

Sam and Dean find out that Sheriff Bishop owns the meat packing plant and used to own the town before he started selling things off years ago. They check out the family’s abandoned mansion and hit pay dirt. There is a murder room in the basement, behind a door with many locks. There’s a table that tilts towards a grate in the floor.

The sheriff catches them and tells them the story of his family. They made a deal with Moloch (John DeSantis) after catching and imprisoning him. This is the same god that plagued Sleepy Hollow’s first season. The family invented Black Bill, the Goatman, to cover up the fact that they had been killing a person a year and feeding them to Moloch. Sheriff Bishop had been trying to make amends for the last twenty years and hoping Moloch would starve to death. Bishop is not the killer. Moloch’s cage is empty.

Do I look like a Goatman? No, don’t answer that. (Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW)

They hear a sound upstairs and Dean goes up, alone, to see what it is. How stupid is that? They are assuming it’s Moloch, and Dean has the Colt. He’s distracted by an empty goatman suit and knocked out from behind.

It’s Sheriff Bishop’s brother, the jerk manager, who luckily likes to talk and thus gives us all the exposition. Pete Garfinkle (Ryan MacDonald) resented being born on the wrong side of the blanket and was angry because of Sheriff Bishop’s disposal of the family property. Pete found Moloch and was fattening him up, hoping he would make him rich.

Dean goes a few rounds with Moloch and Sam and Sheriff Bishop go a few rounds with the brother, who has stolen the Colt. Dean is getting the worst of it, which I’m not sure he doesn’t deserve. Sam and Bishop defeat Pete. Sam bursts in and shoots Moloch with the Colt just in time. It kills the monster.

When Ketch was finished searching the bunker, he made two mistakes. One was that he took Dean’s picture of his mother and himself from before she died. Dean may not look at those often, but it will be missed. The other is that he planted a big honking microphone under the table. The same table that Dean keeps a holster under. Don’t the Men of Letters, London Chapter, have the newest technology? How long before that is found? When the boys check in, they find out that Mick is gone and Ketch is their contact. Making the old saying true, Ketch the eavesdropper hears nothing good about himself, leaving him staring at the picture he purloined.

This is a middle of the road filler episode. It makes it very frustrating because we don’t know where Cas is, we don’t know where Kelly and her devil spawn is, and we don’t know if Eileen is okay. I am assuming that Mary is actually hunting a chupacabra in Mexico.

I suppose it’s building tension that we took this little side trip but it also makes me a little crazed.

The bulk of the story was classic horror. Or, as Maia Ades said, they used every horror trope in the book. The basement, the murder room (and why do they need torture implements if all they are doing is feeding blood to Moloch?), the meat locker, and even walking in the woods. One of the things they did right is that we never see Moloch in his entirety. Just a clawed hand, or a silhouette through plastic. The imagination is much more frightening than a monster in daylight. Seeing it is the first step to accepting it. In contrast, we first see the goatman in the dark, and then increasingly in daylight until he is unmasked.

We have to use flashlights because the light bulb blew up. (Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW)

The goatman is taken from an urban legend of a goatman in Wisconsin. There’s one in Maryland, too. Supernatural started out with urban legends before it developed its own mythology and has never left its macabre modern mythology beginnings.

I’ve seen this episode described as if they faced Pan, or a Greek god, or a faun or satyr. That’s the false monster, the goatman made up by the Bishop family. The real monster, Moloch, is a Canaanite god from the old testament. He has a bull’s head and is associated with human sacrifice. So yes, they did kill a god but not a Greek one.

There’s a bit of humor but not as much as in say, the bunnyman episode, “Plush”. Surely there are as many comedic possibilities with a goatman.

There is one scene that’s a little deeper, and related to the ongoing story of the boys’ heroes journey. Sam and Dean are talking about what they will leave behind, and they carve their initials in the desk along with flashbacks of the two of them carving their initials in the Impala when they were small. Too small to be handling those knives! It’s almost too much but it’s so cute I forgive them.

Little vandals. (Photo by Teresa Wickersham. Taken of Mary the Impala.)

Next week it looks like we find out what happened to Cas.

Supernatural airs on the CW at 8pm/7c on Thursday.




2 LAZY GUYS (And Guests) Get Into Dissonance Theory on WESTWORLD


Episode 04 “Dissonance Theory”
Written by Ed Brubaker & Jonathan Nolan
Directed by Vincenzo Natali

This week, the entire gang piles on. Jared, David, Sam, and Lauren discuss the fourth episode of HBO’s Westworld and explore cognitive dissonance, robot personalities, and God complexes.

Westworld stars Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, James Marsden, and Ed Harris.

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AGENTS OF HYDRA Will Ruin Fitz — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #113

AgentsOfSHIELD_logoSM
Episode 417 “Identity and Change”
Written by George Kitson
Directed by Garry A. Brown

First, a discussion of the newly released trailer for Thor: Ragnarok:

https://youtu.be/v7MGUNV8MxU

We finally catch up with Mack (Henry Simmons) and his daughter Hope (Jordan Rivera). They’re living off the radar, keeping their heads down. Only Hope jeopardizes that a bit by picking up a Hydra drone that went on the fritz. So when they get picked up, it’s very much a bad place for Mack. He ends up being set up by May (Ming-Na Wen) to expose Daisy (Chloe Bennet) as a mole within the organization.

Meanwhile, Coulson (Clark Gregg) is remembering slightly just a little more, and he goes with Jemma (Elizabeth Henstridge) and Ward (Brett Dalton) to find Radcliff (John Hanna) in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. And things do not go well. At. All.

Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) is going to be one messed up dude when all of this is over…

SciFi4Me 20% Off at HumanCharger. Use coupon code scifi4me during checkout. Expires 12/31/2017.

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Kammie Settle, Jason Hunt

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ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: Trying Out The SANTA CLARITA DIET

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With The Walking Dead done for the season, #TeamZombie turn their attention to the darkly comedic feast that is Santa Clarita Diet!


Season 1, Episode 1 “So Then a Bat or a Monkey”
Written by Victor Fresco, Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Season 1, Episode 2 “We Can’t Kill People!”
Written by Victor Fresco, Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Season 1, Episode 3 “We Can Kill People.”
Written by Clay Graham, Directed by Marc Buckland

Timothy: We meant to review this show earlier than this.

Dustin: But we’re terrible with dates and schedules.

Mindy: Luckily I’m here now, to rescue you two.

Timothy: Yes, this week we start binge-watching…

Dustin: And binge-reviewing…

Timothy: … Santa Clarita Diet, the Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant zombie-comedy!

Dustin: Now with more Intern Without Portfolio!

Timothy: We are, in fact, joined by Miss Mindy Inlow, whose name you’ll have seen on many an article here on SciFi4Me.com, and whose voice appears on a podcast or two as well.

Mindy: Hi!

Dustin: Mindy has discovered how close we have to sit together to record this thing we do, and she didn’t run screaming or anything.

Mindy: Not yet, anyway. It’s early though. While I’m here, I’ll just plug our podcast sponsor for the month of April, HumanCharger, whose link is right beneath these very words.

SciFi4Me 20% Off at HumanCharger. Use coupon code scifi4me during checkout. Expires 12/31/2017.

Timothy: It’s good to have a responsible adult around. Anyway, sit back and listen to the three of us talk about a zombie show that is actually supposed to be funny, and please rate and comment on the show, wherever you listen to this podcast of ours!