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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AVATAR Sequels Finally Get Release Dates

It’s now official: the trips to Pandora will re-commence in December 2020.

Director James Cameron revealed at last year’s CinemaCon that there will be four sequels to the original Avatar, which is still the top-grossing film of all time at the global box office. The 2009 entry into the franchise made $2.8 billion worldwide.

In the meantime, the Tours to Pandora feature at Walt Disney World in Orlando will begin May 27, 2017. It’s part of the productions partnership with Disney Animal Kingdoms, and was announced in August 2015. In a February 2017 conference call, Disney exec Bob Iger announced that the new park would be opening this summer.

 




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.

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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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Sony picks up WHEEL OF TIME rights

The Karaethon Cycle had it wrong, after all. Sony Pictures has thrown in its hat along with Red Eagle Entertainment and Radar Pictures on a television adaptation of Robert Jordan’s prolific fantasy Wheel of Time series.

The series nominally follows Rand al’Thor, a humble farm boy from the distant edge of Andor who is unwittingly thrust towards his destiny. As the Dragon Reborn, a reviled and widely feared savior who would battle the Dark One Shai’tan for the fate of the world, thus ushering in a new age. Also of great importance are his friends Matrim Cauthon, Perrin Aybara, Egwene al’Vere, and Nynaeve al’Meara, all young people from the same village who find their own place of importance in the swifly shifting world.

This move by Sony marks the first update since legal issues were resolved in April of 2016, and details surrounding the project will probably be some time in coming. Fans of the book series – 15 books in total, 3 of which were completed by Brandon Sanderson with Jordan’s notes after the author’s 2007 death – eagerly await any hints ahead of production.

The Wheel of Time has been enticingly teased in both television and film formats since 2000, when NBC first gave us hope of a miniseries of the series. In 2008, interest flared up again as Universal acquired film rights a short time after Robert Jordan’s death. While neither of these projects came to fruition, each whisper of possibility renews hope.

The Karaethon Cycle, the Prophecies of the Dragon, claimed he would be reborn on the slopes of the Dragonmount. I suppose, in an Age that once was – an Age that is yet to be – that must’ve been what the people called Sony.




The Truth In THE X-FILES New Season

Fox still believes the truth is out there. They announced plans for 10 new episodes of The X-Files.

No details were given for the plot, but they did confirm that the show’s two stars, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, and creator Chris Carter were all aboard.

The X-Files follows Agents Mulder (Duchovny) and Scully (Anderson) as they investigate paranormal cases. Last year a six-episode event series aired after over a decade after the end of its original nine-season run. The revival drew in 16 million viewers.

This announcement comes after a promise from Carter who stated, “I can tell you, almost without a doubt, we will come back,” after the mini-series ended with a cliffhanger.

Fox Broadcasting president Dave Madden expressed his excitement during the announcement, stating:

Iconic characters, rich storytelling, bold creators – these are the hallmarks of great TV shows. And they are some of the reasons why The X-Files has had such a profound impact on millions of fans worldwide. Chris’s creativity, along with the brilliant work of David and Gillian, continue to propel this pop culture phenomenon, and we can’t wait to see what fresh mysteries Mulder and Scully uncover in this next chapter of The X-Files.

Production will begin during the summer.




VISITING HOURS at BATES MOTEL – Emma Says Goodbye, Romero Says Hello


Season 5, Episode 9  “Visiting Hours”
Written by Scott Kosar
Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi

[All images courtesy A&E/Cate Cameron]

Despite a little bit of filler in the RomeroWatch story, “Visiting Hours” brought this season’s three parallel storylines (Dylan & Emma, Romeo, and Norma/n) together with plenty of heartbreak all around. Emma says goodbye to a mother she barely knew while Romero adds to his lengthy list of felonies on his way to a reunion with his stepson Norman.

 RELATED ~ Review – Bates Motel Season 5 Episode 8  “The Body”

“Visiting Hours” opens with a snippy Mother (Vera Farmiga) grudgingly putting up with the indignities of being booked for multiple counts of murder in the 1st Degree. Electronic fingerprinting, mug shot — so undignified!  Over at the Bates place, Sheriff Greene (Brooke Smith) oversees a mass of crime scene techs sweeping over the grounds.

Even if Mother refuses to talk, there’s plenty of physical evidence being collected.  A deputy’s discovery of the suitcase belonging to Emma’s mother is one-upped by a tech discovering Chick’s (Ryan Hurst) body slumped over his typewriter in the basement. Poor Chick; he died as he lived — an unpublished writer.

Dylan (Max Theirot) is stunned to see Emma (Olivia Cooke) pulling into the parking lot of the King’s Motel. He embraces her tightly as Emma explains, “I want to be here to help you with this.” Her concern turns to shock as Dylan breaks the news of her mother’s death; he knows Norman is responsible.

After all they’ve been through, realizing the truth about Norman may break their relationship. Even as Emma reassures Dylan that “it’s not your fault,” her emotions rapidly shift to vengeance. She doesn’t want to hear Dylan say anything supporting Norman. At this point, Emma swears she’ll kill him herself (though she will have to get in line behind Alex Romero, of course).

In the contest of “who has the worse family member?” I’d give Dylan the edge.

Unfortunately for Norman, Mother’s strategy for resolving the “pickle” they’re in amounts to declaring “I didn’t do it – so Not Guilty!” She’s not as thrilled by Julia Ramos’ (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) news that even with a best-case scenario, a Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity verdict will land Norman in a mental institution for life. To Mother, physical death or life in a mental institution mean the same thing: hell. Mother puts her Norman act into overdrive, telling her attorney, “everyone has multiple personalities, Julia.”

This interview with her client compels Julia to visit Dylan and Emma. She begs Dylan to attend the preliminary hearing. Given the amount of evidence gathered by the state and what’s she heard and seen from her client, Julia needs Dylan to be at the preliminary hearing. Dylan is Norman’s connection to humanity; she needs all the help she can get putting Norman’s illness front and center.

Mother may have to destroy Norman in order to save him.

Emma goes to White Pine Bay’s only funeral home. She arranges for a less expensive cremation for the mother she had no relationship with in life and will now never have a chance to know. Emma’s stoic act breaks down when she makes her pilgrimage to Norma’s headstone. Emma cries openly by Norma’s headstone. “I’m so sorry, Norma. I miss you.”

At least she chooses a memorable spot to disperse her mother’s ashes. In sight of majestic snow-capped mountains, Emma shakes the ashes free while “Crimson and Clover” reverberates around her.

Dylan, prompted by the photos of his mother and brother, attends Norman’s preliminary hearing. He avoids the front row seat reserved for him by Julia Ramos and sits in the back row. Both he and Madeline Loomis (Isabelle McNally) leave the courtroom after hearing the matter of fact descriptions of the gruesome deaths of Joe Blackwell, Audrey Ellis, and Sam Loomis.

Madeline angrily asks Dylan, “How did he trick you your whole life? You knew. How can you live with yourself?” She was only fooled for a couple of weeks, although the whole “giving you my dead mother’s clothes” bit should’ve been a gigantic red GET AWAY FROM NORMAN flag.

That overconfident smirk? Norman is still sleeping.

By the light of the most annoying neon sign ever, Emma and Dylan tell each other about their respective days spend attending hearings and dispersing ashes. Guys, I know that that incessantly flashing neon light represents the hell you’re going through right now, but please — those pieces of fabric hanging over the window are called curtains and they were invented to help you get some sleep.

The next morning Emma bids a sad goodbye to her husband, but does not proceed straight out of Crazytown. She stops at the White Pine Bay jail to visit Norman. As the visit proceeds Emma sees how completely the Norman she knew (or thought she knew) has vanished into Mother. Mother’s Norman act works about as well on Emma as it did on Julia — which is to say, not well at all. “It’s me, Norman. Your Norman, your friend.” Emma sadly asks “Can I talk to Norman?” Mother smirks: “He’s sleeping.” Tears welling in her eyes, Emma asks Mother to “tell him I miss him.”

Look at Norman. So harmless. Wouldn’t hurt a fly.

RomeroWatch

After a meandering conversation with a fellow gas station customer regarding differences between the 1968 and 1968 Dodge Fury models, a stop at Maggie’s (Jillian Fargey) house to use her computer and refuse her tempting offer to flee to a life on the lam in Montana, former Sheriff Romero is ready for his final act of suicidal vengeance.

Alex makes an after-hours visit to the White Pine Bay jail. He adds to his long list of felonies by taking the receptionist hostage, rounding up every deputy in the building, shooting one in the shoulder. Romero tops off the crime spree by taking Norman and the thoroughly terrified receptionist off on a field trip. Norman stammeringly demands to know, “What do you want from us, Alex?”

“You’re going to take me to her body.”

And we’re off to the Bates Motel finale!

 

Psycho Notes

~ Even in sleepy White Pine Bay, digital fingerprinting is putting the ink pad out to pasture.

~ Ever wonder why TV (and real life) crime scene techs wear those DuPont Tyvek suits at crime scenes? Here’s your answer!

~ I looked into why a tech told Sheriff Greene “the pulp’s still fresh” while collecting samples from Norma’s bed. I’m very grateful Bates Motel didn’t go into detail on how that pulp got there.

~ Norman’s journey through the Oregon criminal justice system is tracking pretty accurately with Ed Gein’s journey to a mental institution.

***Somebody snuck in a very deep reference to the infamous true crime case that inspired Robert Bloch to write Psycho. The judge at Norman’s hearing, the Hon. Sybil Meredith Gollmar; the judge at Ed Gein’s hearing? Judge Robert Howard Gollmar.

~ This week’s swingin’ 60’s Hit Parade includes

  • “Call Me Irresponsible” – Bobby Darin version
  • “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” – Beach Boys
  • “Crimson and Clover” – Tommy James and the Shondells

 

The final episode of Bates Motel, “The Cord,” airs Monday April 24 on A&E at 8/9 Central.




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

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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!

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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!




THE NUN Gets Her Star Turn in THE CONJURING Franchise

[Images courtesy The Conjuring 2.com]

 

I was not a fan of The Conjuring 2 – it was the “One Dishonorable Mention” in my “Five Great Horror Movies of 2016” linked below. But I acknowledge being in the minority on this one. With an 80% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a worldwide gross of 320 million dollars (from a budget of 40 million), The Conjuring 2 had plenty of positive reviews and moviegoers worldwide who chose to pay good money to see it.

RELATED ~ Opinion – Five Great Horror Movies of 2016 and One Dis-Honorable Mention

The Conjuring (2013) didn’t just spawn a sequel, but also a 2014 spinoff starring Annabelle, the creepiest doll since Chucky. And like its parent, The Conjuring 2 has its own breakout supporting prop – a Night Gallery worthy portrait of an unquiet Sister menacing paranormal investigators Ed and Elaine Warren. As noted by the Hollywood Reporter last year, The Nun will be leaping off the canvas and into theaters in 2018.

More recent news about the director and at least one of the stars of The Nun indicate that this latest addition to the Conjuring family may turn out to be a spinoff (like Annabelle was to The Conjuring) that’s actually scarier than the movie it sprang from.

Elaine Warren vs The Nun in the mirror.

In February of this year, Corin Hardy was announced as the director of The Nun.  If you’re asking “Corin Who?” you’re not alone. Hardy is best known for The Hallow (2015) – a “Nature Strikes Back” story set in rural Ireland. The Hallow is a small indie movie that uses atmospheric locations, practical effects, and Irish folklore to create a sense of dread to go with the scares. Check out Hardy’s website to see his other work, including the short film “Butterfly.”

If nothing else, The Nun has a director who knows how to create a unique look and atmosphere – in a horror movie that is more than half the battle.

Another promising sign is the recent announcement of The Nun’s leading man. Mexico City-born Damien Bichir, besides appearing in television series Weeds and The Bridge, also earned a Best Actor nominee in 2012 for A Better Life. He’ll be playing Father Burke, “dispatched by Rome to investigate the mysterious death of a nun.”

The Nun – Another delightful resident of the Ed & Elaine Warren Souvenir Room.

Anabelle grossed  257 million worldwide (against a budget of 6.5 million) and created a fun, scary “evil doll” movie from another movie’s prop. With the creative talent announced so far, The Nun may do the same with an equally creepy supporting player from the Conjuring franchise.

 

 




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.




Hugo Weaving Joins MORTAL ENGINES

Mortal Engines has just added its fourth wheel and it’s a good one. Hugo Weaving is re-teaming with his Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson for his adaptation of Philip Reeve’s novel.

The story is set in a steampunk post-apocalyptic future where the cities of Earth are on roaming wheels. They attempt to destroy each other in a struggle for limited resources, a system called Municipal Darwinism. In one of the cities, Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) meets a mysterious woman (Hera Hilmar) who changes his life forever.

Weaving will play Thaddeus Valentine, Head of the Historians.

Joining Jackson in the producer seat is Fran Walsh. Christian Rivers will both direct and produce. Jackson, Walsh and Philippa Boyens wrote the screenplay.

Mortal Engines is the first of four books in the series, followed by Predator’s Gold, Infernal Devices, and A Darkling Plain. The books have won several awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Smarties Gold Award, and Blue Peter Book of the Year.

Jackson and Walsh announced they were beginning production on the first film last October after optioning the rights from Scholastic in 2009.

Weaving is no stranger to film series. Besides his role as Elrond in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy, he has also played Agent Smith in The Matrix trilogy and voiced Megatron in the first three Transformer movies.

Mortal Engines will soon beginning filming in New Zealand, the perfect location for Jackson and Weaving’s reunion, and will be released December 14, 2018.




Jude Law To Play Dumbledore in FANTASTIC BEASTS 2

Law is going back to school. He has been cast as the fan favorite character of Albus Dumbledore in the next installment of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

This film will show Dumbledore at a younger age, before he became the great wizard most fellow wizards and audiences love. His character starts as a Transfiguration professor at Hogwarts and is “quite a troubled man” according to a teaser from J.K. Rowling last November. “[You’ll] see him at that formative period of his life.”

Rowling has said the next film will “move deeper into an increasingly dark time for the wizarding world” as Newt Scamander and company are having to decide where to place their allegiance, with muggle lovers or Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), the charismatic dark wizard who believes wizards are superior to Muggles and No-Majs.

Director David Yates showed his enthusiasm for Law’s casting, saying he is “a phenomenally talented actor whose work I have long admired, and I’m looking forward to finally having the opportunity to work with him. I know he will brilliantly capture all the unexpected facets of Albus Dumbledore as J.K. Rowling reveals this very different time in his life.”

Law will be the third actor to take on Dumbledore. Richard Harris portrayed the headmaster in the first two Harry Potter films until his death in 2002. Michael Gambon took over the role for the final six movies.

The two-time Oscar nominee has also appeared in the Warner Bros franchise, Sherlock Holmes, as Dr. Watson. He will next appear in their King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Filming is scheduled to start this summer and set for a release date of November 16, 2018.

Related News – Film Review: Fantastic Beasts Is The Hufflepuffiest Movie




New XANTH Film and TV Franchise in Development

[featured image: cover art by Michael Whelan]

Variety reports that Steven Paul’s Sp Entertainment Group is developing a series of film and television projects adapting Piers Anthony’s Xanth fantasy series.

Beginning with A Spell for Chameleon (1977), the series originally was planned as a trilogy — the next two being The Source of Magic and Castle Roogna — but Anthony continued in the wake of strong positive reception from fans. It’s now one of the world’s largest fantasy book series, with number 41, Ghost Writer in the Sky, set to be published this month. Anthony noted in the Author’s Notes for book 27, Cube Route, that the first trilogy was now complete. (27 = 3 cubed)

The Xanth series is set in a universe where humans are born with unique magical abilities, and the stories generally center around people with “Magician” level abilities. There are also centaurs, demons, dragons, gargoyles, golems, naga, nymphs, ogres, zombies, and a host of other magical an fictional beasts. Some half-humans also have been found to possess magical abilities as the series progressed.

A Spell for Chameleon tells the story of Bink of North Village. Bink, it seems, possessed no magic and was afraid he would be exiled. Except the charts say Bink has power at the level of the King or the Evil Magician Trent. But no one can figure out just how Bink’s power manifests itself, Bink gets exiled to Mundania, where he has to figure himself out. Along the way he meets a strange woman named Chameleon (so named because her beauty and intelligence shift in inverse proportions depending on the time of month). They also encounter evil magician Trent, who wants to invade Xanth.

Paul will produce along with Hans Futterman and Spike Seldin, who heads development and production for SPE. Paul’s genre credits include Ghost in the Shell and the two Ghost Rider movies.