LOGAN: The Death of the Comic Book Movie (The Birth of the Comic Book Genre)

This is not a review, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants of Gods, X-Men, Destiny, Time, Love, Storm, Rogue, Beauty… Comic Books.

Logan: The Death of a the Comic Book Movie (The Birth of the Comic Book Genre)

…Or this is just me rambling on about movies and comic books as usual.

Logan (20th Century Fox)

Directed by James Mangold

Written by Scott Frank, James Mangold & Michael Green

Starring Hugh JackmanPatrick StewartRichard E. GrantBoyd HolbrookStephen Merchant & Dafne Keen

“I get the feeling this review is gonna hurt, kid. The kind of pain that doesn’t heal. You know what I mean?” “Of course I do. I’m extraordinarily wise for a lab experiment… oh yeah and I can drive.”

Make no mistake, people. Logan is not a good film. It’s not a good superhero film or a good western. Even as it tries to compare its own shit writing to the classic western Shane (SACRILEGE!!!), it is not a good movie, period. But what it is, what Logan turns out to be, is the latest in a welcome trend. A regular movie that just happens to star a comic book superhero. Not a superhero movie. Not a comic book movie. There are comic books in the movie. Wolverine waves them around from time to time, if that helps to put the character in context. But that’s about it. And it does not.

“You see, in this reality they made us into comic book superheroes for their kids but still hunted us down like dogs… because that makes total sense.”

Wolverine, everyone’s favorite X-Man, has had three solo movies. The first and the third have been complete bullshit. The second, however, is one of my favorite comic book movies of all-time. The second Wolverine is an homage to his stand alone title. It is a perfect replica. The pacing. The cinematography. This is The Wolverine. This is the comic that I collected from issue ONE. I say this all the time and I will say it here again. “If you do not respect the source material do not take on the job of bringing it to the screen.” But I was about to tell you what this awful movie Logan means for the industry.

“Awful? Well that’s just harsh. Play that Johnny Cash song again. I think I’m gonna cry.””

The first sci-fi genre was a straight space adventure. Trip To The Moon. The second was The vampire Film. Nosferatu. Since those two, we’ve had tons of space adventures and tons of takes on the vampire. These are tried and true genres that once every decade somebody tries to reinvent and breathe new life into. But also there are other types of movies that aren’t as flexible. They come and go from era to era. They disappear and have resurgences. Like the western or the gladiator movie. These are just types of movies not genres. (in this context anyway. Because words can be tricky)

“I will kill you all with my Star Wars Prequel Yoda-like, physics defying, aerial acrobatics because I am a cartoon character in a serious movie!!! ARRRGH!!!”

In the past, the superhero movie was a type. (type vs genre) It was a costumed adventure. Fight the bad guy. Save the girl. Save the world. Period. End of story. There were a few comedy bits thrown in but mostly it was the superhero’s tale. But these types of movies are coming to an end. Their time has passed. Logan is not a comic book movie. It just happens to star a character from a comic book. And that is awesome. (Even while the movie Logan is not that awesome).

“Say my movie is bad one more time. I dare you… Bub.” *snikt

Logan is not a western either, by the way. I read that somewhere. I disagree whole-heartedly. It thinks it’s a western, but it’s not. If anything it’s a post-apocalyptic survival story like Mad Max: Fury Road. But instead of a global apocalypse, Logan is about the mutant apocalypse. The chase to hunt down the last mutants. At the start of this movie all but three mutants are dead. Professor X, Callaban and Wolverine. By the end of this movie… no spoilers but everywhere you look people are saying this is the last Wolverine movie. This is the last Wolverine movie. So you figure it out. And don’t talk to me about the kids. They were made in a lab (*see note). So not a natural mutation. Logan, the end of the Wolverine franchise, is some dark stuff.

*note: Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton was added in a lab but his mutation, his healing factor (Deadpool has the same thing but that too is from a lab) and Wolverine’s heightened senses (smell mostly) are a natural mutation. Of course the movie Logan all but ignores his sense of smell. It’s almost like the writers never read the comic books… but anyway. What was I saying? Oh yes.

“Wolverine, would you please tell Mel to stay on topic.” “He doesn’t listen to me, Professor.”

The comic book superhero is officially a film genre and not a type of movie now. And I know I’m not using the right words but bear with me. Because the word genre can fit for both of these categories of things and it gets confusing. The way I’m differentiating here is in the ways they can be presented. Some film types are the same no matter what. Different plot. Different characters. But you know the beats. Romantic Comedy. You get the gist. International Spy Thriller. You know what you’re going to get. Gladiator films changed from Roman to Martial Arts but they generally stayed the same. The Comic Book Movie was just like that not too long ago. Dark or Light. Marvel or DC. Nolan’s Batman, Donner’s Superman, Whedon’s Avengers and Raimi’s Spiderman are all the same fucking films. Like the western. It was a box. You could throw whatever superhero you wanted into it and the beats would always be generally the same. I’m not saying they are all the same quality because they are not. And there’s nothing wrong with opening up a box, knowing what you’re going to get and still being pleasantly surprised. It’s hard to like movies unless you’re okay with that.

“Wait… Are you the vampire, Callaban? And does that make me the Zombie? I don’t get it.”

But then you have the full on classic genre that’s not beholding to any style. Vampires. Are probably the best example. There are no rules. You can have a space opera with vampires. You can have a rom com with vampires or a western. Most recently Zombies have become the go to for putting them wherever the fuck you want. If you made a section of vampire movies it would make no sense. There would actually be more types of movies than you could shake a stick at under the vampire genre. Comic book superheroes are now officially crossing into that zone. And I’m psyched. The R rated comic book film with no crime to fight, no world to save… fuck yeah.

“Did somebody call for a super-villain? That isn’t really super or necessarily a villain. Just a misguided corporate stooge who blindly follows orders. Did somebody call for a misguided corporate stooge who blindly follows orders?”

And again I’m talking Sherlock Holmes in space type shit. Not just some detective. I’m talking about recognizable comic book superheroes in all kinds of movie boxes. Not just some generic superhero they made up that’s supposed to remind us of stuff from the comics, but the name-brand heroes from the comics. It’s time for a Batman movie where he never puts on the cape. Just a detective story or a revenge tale. One of my favorite aspects of The Hulk movie (still my favorite comic book adaptation) is the romance between Liv Tyler and Ed Norton. And that’s what the Hulk was for me when I was a kid, a romance. Stop trying to make him into a superhero. He’s not a superhero. He’s a monster in love. Spider-man as a teen drama would be nice. Sure he’s still the spider-man but that’s not the movie. The movie is about a kid trying to finish high school. Stop it with the super-villains. Enough already. We get it.

“Logan, do you remember that Star Trek episode where Captain Picard has a full life and grows old in a simulated tribute to an alien species?” “No I didn’t watch that nerd crap.” “I wish that was what this was. Because this movie is depressing as fuck.”

So anyway, what Logan represents to me is the death of the comic book movie. We saw the beginnings in Winter Soldier… that’s more of a spy thriller than comic book. And Deadpool… an R rated fourth wall comedy, a parody of itself. The comic book movie as movie type, is burning itself out. There will still be tons made, because you know how it takes Hollywood a couple of decades before they get the point, but we’re already getting tired of them. Bring on the comic book heroes in regular movies. These are great classic characters. They don’t have to fight The Riddler every week. That’s just their job. It doesn’t have to also be the movie plot.

“Here Lies The Superhero Movie Genre… I mean Movie Type… May It Rest In Peace… I mean Pieces. – Hugh Jackman.”

So Logan, this mediocre, unbelievably corny and poorly written take on The Wolverine, really wasn’t that great of a movie from where I was sitting (seat L10 right behind the wheelchair section because, you know, leg room ftw). Even though Hugh Jackman is great as Wolverine, here he reminded me of Arnold Schwarzenegger coming back to play the Terminator one last time… nostalgic. And to tell the truth, I didn’t see Wolverine in Logan at all. I saw the actor who plays Wolverine and a character with claws who references the comic books like that’s enough. That’s not enough.

“Daddy?” “Yes Laura… wait. Did you just call me daddy? Damn, maybe Mel is right. This is some corny ass shit.” “I have to go to the bathroom.” “Hold it. We’re almost there.” “AARRRRGH!!” “Really? Again with the screaming?”

But what I also saw, in the theater, and on the screen, is what it means for comic book movies going forward… a whole new set of rules. The possibilities are endless. Creativity run amok. And that shit was better than the movie. That shit was beautiful.

– Mel

The Comic Book Movie is dead.

Long Live the Comic Book Genre.

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Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: Avengers- Age of Ultron

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Avengers Age of Ultron Poster

Written & Directed by Joss Whedon  Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring Robert Downey, Jr.Chris HemsworthMark RuffaloChris EvansScarlett JohanssonJeremy RennerDon CheadleAaron Taylor-JohnsonElizabeth OlsenPaul BettanyCobie SmuldersAnthony MackieHayley AtwellIdris ElbaStellan SkarsgårdJames Spader & Samuel L. Jackson

What’s that sound I hear coming from the movie screen? It’s the sound of Joss Whedon trying to be funny and failing miserably. Avengers: Age of Ultron is ruined by three awesomely fantastic things. Three things I so hate to blame for this failure. But I must. I must. Those things are: The Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, The Guardians of the Galaxy movie and how much money it made & James Spader… well more accurately, James Spader’s mouth. I did not enjoy myself at the new Avengers movie… and this, my friends, is why my heart was broken.

Verdict: SPOILED

Avengers in Action

All the excitement of a Saturday morning cartoon.

SPOILER ALERT

Avengers: Age of Ultron is the opposite of the Avengers first movie. Where that movie was set up by the many solo movies of its heroes, this Avengers movie seems to exist only to set-up the next movies in each of those franchises. If the Marvel Cinematic Universe were a musical, Avengers: Age of Ultron would be a book number. Designed purely to advance the plot… not a showstopper. Whatever corporate shill who came up with the idea to make a movie that’s sole reason for existing is to set-up the plots for other movies needs to be fired.

Quicksilver and Scarlet-Witch

“We are, how you say, disposable and unnecessary, dah?”

Avengers: Age of Ultron is not Guardians of the Galaxy and Joss Whedon is not James Gunn. Nearly every intentionally funny line in Ultron is groan-inducing. The comedy is awful and not organic to the story but seemingly shoehorned in to make the movie “funny” you know like Guardians of the Galaxy (said some executive in some boardroom). That “funny” feeling I got in my stomach was me wanting to vomit every time another character pointed out that Captain America doesn’t like bad language. How is that funny? Avengers: Age of Ultron is not Guardians of the Galaxy and Joss Whedon is not James Gunn. Some one said, Let’s create a preposterously contrived romance between the green character and the pretty one you know like in Guardians of the Galaxy. Maybe it wasn’t because of the romance in Guardians. Maybe instead it was an homage to this very funny, very x-rated Avengers porn GIF with Hulk and Black Widow.

WARNING: Hardcore porn GIF featuring Hulk and Black Widow. Do not click if you do not want to see porn.

Hulk and Black Widow Hardcore Porn GIF

Captain America

“Captain America doesn’t appreciate your smut, junior. Wash your mouth out with soap.”

Question. Why are the robot’s lips moving? What the hell is that? Talk about your uncanny valley. Could that be any more creepy looking? Nope. I love James Spader. And I realize his disembodied voice on the soundtrack like so much Bane from Dark Knight Rises would have been disconcerting… I suppose, but the animated lips on the metal man were just the perfect amount of What The Fuck to take me right out of the film.

The Vision

“I’m here to help.”

So what DID I like? Vision. Vision was cool as shit. What didn’t I like? The Russian emo twins. And Elizabeth Olsen pulling the “heart” out of a robot and asking it what it felt like. No. No. A thousand times no. What did I like? The serious tone of the movie even while they tried to shove jokes into it later. What didn’t I like? Nearly every action sequence in the film, the use of slow-motion and every single time Cap and Thor did some cutesy maneuver with the shield and the hammer (after the first time they did one). What did I like? The Jeremy Renner side story that was an obvious attempt to make him the anti-American Sniper. What didn’t I like? The stupid cliché of Hawkeye going back for the kid and Quicksilver dying while trying to save them both after the two not liking each other and I expected more from Joss Whedon and the whole thing felt like corporate meddling and now I feel like they’re gonna screw up Star Wars and I’m sick to my stomach because I know Joss is better than what I just watched. Grrr Argh!

Ultron

“Stop looking at my mouth.”

So in conclusion, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a money grab designed to set-up future movies like as if the entire film was one of those after-credits scenes. It is rarely funny but too frequently tries to be. The fight scenes are overly cute and use slow-motion to hide the fact that it ain’t that exciting. The twins are way too moody. The plot and dialogue are way too cliché. The romance between Hulk and Black Widow is pointless and the robots mouth moves showing emotion like a cartoon character from a Disney movie… oh right… oops.

Hulkbuster Armor

Nice try on the Hulkbuster armor. Too bad that battle wasn’t the climax of a Hulk movie.

But we’ll always have Vision… Vision is bad-ass. My favorite part was when he looks over at Thor and has cape envy. Vision needs his own film. That’s one hot android.

“I do not have this cape envy of which you speak.”

The Vision is definitely bad-ass. And he almost saves the film… Almost.

– Mel

P.S. They showed the trailer for Ant-Man and it looks amazing. Ah-May-Zing

Broadcast TV Dramas: Top Ten TV Mega Post Part Seven

My Top Ten TV Mega Post in Ten Parts is still going strong with installment NUMBER SEVEN: Broadcast TV Dramas. (Oh how time flies)

You may have thought I’d forgotten when I said that I would do ten TV mega posts in one year? But I’m all over it. I’m just trying to remain calm about current events.

Agent May Tai Chi

Agent May knows what I’m talking about.

I get a little obsessed with politics around election days, so I can’t really do or think of much else. But I’m back to it now. And for all you folks who didn’t vote during the election, Agent May has a little hidden message for you guys who still want to complain…

Agent May has a message

There’s a bunch of stuff in my blog folder. Expect a flurry of posts before year’s end.

Starting…. Now.

Broadcast TV Dramas. Broadcast dramas have improved with the rest of the television landscape. Just not as much. They can still be a wee bit campy. And here in the states, the major networks have to churn out 22 or 24 unique episodes a season, so they can get a little watered down or repetitive.

But with more bad-ass and kick-ass female leads and more superheroes than you can shake a stick at, a bunch of my favorite shows these days are broadcast network dramas. A lot of pretty people in pretty outfits doing things that are pretty cool.

For my overseas readers, the broadcast channels are CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, & CW. They are the channels you can get with just an antenna. (at least I think you can still get them with an antenna. I haven’t used an antenna for anything in a long time)

Emily Thorne

Emily knows what I’m talking about.

Here are ten of my favorite TV shows on the broadcast networks: Four Superhero Action Dramas, Three Mystery-Thriller Dramas, and Three Dramas with Strong Female Leads. All ten of which have sincerely rocking wardrobe departments.

As it turns out, wardrobe is very important on broadcast dramas. All the pretty people have just got to look pretty. So each of the following are very well-dressed shows.

To the list…

First up… Comic Books

The Comic Book Superhero Shows

Comic book fans (of my generation) have lived through a lot of really awful superhero shows. Besides Smallville and Lois & Clark, and this latest batch of shows, the last good comic book based show I can remember was the 1960’s Batman (with Adam West).

The Flash

The Flash knows what I’m talking about.

And that was only good because it completely embraced its camp and was a lot of fun because of it. Here are my faves. (and except for Constantine, which I really couldn’t stand, I think this might be all of them)

Marvel Agents of SHIELD (ABC)

S.H.I.E.L.D.Created by Joss WhedonJed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen Based on S.H.I.E.L.D. by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring Clark GreggMing-Na WenBrett DaltonChloe BennetIain De CaesteckerElizabeth Henstridge & Nick Blood

First of all, this season of S.H.I.E.L.D has been sensational. It was difficult to tell what this show wanted to be in its first year. The second half shake up of the first season was long over-due and the finale was extremely satisfying and exciting. And now in its second year, the show has reached its stride. I’m loving it.

Agents

The additions to the cast have all been casting perfection (and very hot looking [guys and girls]). The writers have stopped answering questions with questions and they’ve begun to give answers to some of the mysteries. …and the characters.

Season 2

I’m loving the character development. Joss Whedon and the gang are famous for their dialogue and character development. Fitz and Simmons relationship is heartbreaking. May and Coulson’s is evolving. (Agent May vs Agent May fight scene was outrageously good)

Fitz and Simmons

Phil Coulson makes a great director of S.H.I.E.L.D. And Simmons makes a fine undercover bad-ass. And the way each of them has interacted with Ward this season…

Agent Simmons

I’m telling you. I’m loving everything about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this year. Fantastic.

The Flash (CW)

The Flash

Developed by Greg BerlantiAndrew Kreisberg & Geoff Johns  Based on Characters appearing in DC Comics

Starring Grant GustinCandice PattonDanielle Panabaker, Rick Cosnett, Carlos Valdez, Tom Cavanagh & Jesse L. Martin

This Arrow spin-off, called The Flash, is already one of my favorite shows even after just a few episodes. I freaking love the cast. And the villains. And the effects. And the stories.

Flash and his gang

And I really like the way they handle Flash’s superpowers. It’s a lot like Quicksilver from Days of Future Past mixed with “The Blur” running speed from Smallville.

Flash on the table

This show is reminding me a lot of early Smallville in fact (and I loved that show). So, I’m already hooked. I’m so happy they’re finally getting superheroes right by getting the villains right. Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold is worth the price of admission.

Captain Cold

“There are some things you can’t outrun.” – Captain Cold

The crossover episode with Felicity Smoak was very satisfying and I’m hoping for more from that relationship. I know it’s still early but they have done a lot of things right.

Flash to the rescue

So, I’m excited. I can’t wait to see where the show takes us. (At lightning speed)

Gotham (FOX)

Gotham

Developed by Bruno Heller  Based on Characters published by DC Comics

Starring Ben McKenzieDonal LogueDavid MazouzZabryna GuevaraSean PertweeRobin Lord TaylorErin RichardsCamren BicondovaCory Michael SmithJada Pinkett SmithVictoria CartagenaAndrew Stewart-Jones & John Doman

Speaking of new shows that have already got me hooked. Gotham is all kinds of awesome. I love the casting (again) but I also like the atmosphere and the clothes. (Wardrobe department shout out) I love the look of Gotham. It’s dark but it’s pretty.

The Penguin

The bad guys are sensational. The Penguin is perfect. I also like that there’s more than enough truly flawed anti-heroes to choose from. So it’s not likely to get stale.

Selina

Selina Kyle knows what I’m talking about.

The show doesn’t have to focus only on the adventures of James Gordon. You’ve got Selina, Bruce, Alfred, Barbara, Harvey, Ivy and even Edward Nigma all waiting to develop into their iconic roles.

Gordon

Add to that a host of early Gotham organized crime bosses who aren’t just evil for evil’s sake: Well-portrayed and well-written characters fighting over real estate… Arkham.

The Waynes

Gotham is my favorite NEW show, and it is fast becoming my new FAVORITE show. I hope FOX doesn’t pull a… FOX and cancel it. That would suck.

Arrow (CW)

Arrow

Developed by Greg BerlantiMarc Guggenheim & Andrew Kreisberg  Based on Characters appearing in DC Comics

Starring Stephen AmellKatie CassidyColin DonnellDavid RamseyWilla HollandSusanna ThompsonPaul BlackthorneEmily Bett RickardsColton HaynesManu Bennett & John Barrowman

Arrow is back for a new season and it started with a bang by killing off another major character almost immediately. Same old Arrow.

Arrow Cast

I love that the show doesn’t shy away from offing a main character now and then. It keeps the audience on its toes. And with the way the show is set up, you can still see the character in the flashback episodes.

Green Arrow and Black Canary

What I DO NOT like about this new season is the Oliver & Felicity relationship teases. That joke isn’t funny anymore. The producers know we ship them. (we ship them so hard) And they’re just making fun of us now.

Felicity 2

Felicity knows what I’m talking about.

Speaking of Felicity. I love the way they style Miss Smoak. She always looks amazing. I’m also loving the training theme of this new season. They can finally justify Laurel’s quick weight loss (she dropped a ton of body fat and looks great). They tried an addiction story line but it didn’t work. Yet, now that she’s boxing those muscles don’t seem out-of-place.

Felicity and Oliver

And then of course there’s Oliver’s little sister, Thea; who I’ve loved from the beginning and who is finally getting the chance to be a little kick-ass ninja. Arrow is a great show.

Felicity 1

But as you can plainly see, Felicity is my favorite, my favorite part of the show. Felicity is awesome. I love the smart girls. I love them. Oh no. I think I may have scared her off.

Felicity is leaving

“I’m outta here. This guy’s just too weird.”

She’ll be back.

Next up… The Crime Drama

The Mystery – Thriller Crime Dramas

Each of the following outstanding programs may seem like your run-of-the-mill procedural but they are far from it. This ain’t CSI, This ain’t Law & Order. This is much cooler.

Sherlock and Joan

Joan and Sherlock know what I’m talking about.

Sure, there’s the customary mystery of the week but beyond that, there are these interesting characters and their relationships. And each has its own mythology and all of them are just so cool with fascinating subjects and main characters that are brilliant.

Person of Interest (CBS)

Person of Interest

Created by Jonathan Nolan

Starring Jim CaviezelTaraji P. HensonKevin ChapmanMichael EmersonAmy Acker & Sarah Shahi

I have a little bit of a Person of Interest obsession. The show has evolved in such interesting ways. I was feeling a little apprehensive with the start of this new season. But these last few episodes have been some of the best of the series.

Shaw

Here are some of my favorite things about the current story line, in no particular order…

Harold & Root

1) Trying to teach an AI to care about people is fantastic. And all the times that early versions of the AI tried to kill its creator… that makes me so happy.

2) Root’s existential crisis as her “God” (the AI) is on the run from the other.

3) Reese seeing a police department therapist who immediately sees through his BS is awesome too and it’s about time we drilled down into that characters psyche.

4) The fight scene where the other operative in god-mode goes up against my girl Root who, of course, is also in god-mode was pure unadulterated amazing awesomeness.

Root

Root knows what I’m talking about.

editor’s note* [God-mode is a state in the show when an operative is under the complete control of the AI and just blindly does whatever it tells them to do without thinking]

Reese

Person of Interest is so freaking cool. I love the show so much because even as the ongoing story develops, they still have time for a new mystery each week. The machine still sends them to save random people without knowing who or even why. Love the show.

 The Blacklist (NBC)

The Blacklist

Created by Jon Bokenkamp

Starring James SpaderMegan BooneDiego KlattenhoffRyan EggoldParminder NagraAmir ArisonMozhan Marnò & Harry Lennix

Everyone will tell you that James Spader is the reason the Blacklist is amazing. That he alone carries the show to greatness. And they are not half wrong because the man is deliciously brilliant. But what makes this show great for me are the villains of the week.

James Spader

The Blacklist is a rogues gallery of the most despicable super-villains in the world. Meanwhile our hero; the green Agent Keen, has no experience and no special skills and is basically out of her depth at every turn.

Agent Keen

Elizabeth knows what I’m talking about.

I just love Keen and Reddington’s relationship and how much he has helped her grow. And how much she’s evolved since the first episodes. And how he guides her and protects her yet she continually makes mistakes because she is not qualified to be going after these international terrorists and mobsters and super villains.

Keen & Reddington

But yes, James Spader is outstanding as he cleans up after her messes in some of the coolest and sinister ways on TV. If he starts to tell you a story, you should be worried.

Elementary (CBS)

Elementary

Created by Robert Doherty  Based on The works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Starring Jonny Lee MillerLucy LiuAidan Quinn & Jon Michael Hill

I still love Elementary. The mysteries are smart, funny, interesting. The characters are very likable. Lucy Liu’s wardrobe is fantastic (I’ve always loved her style). Jonny Lee Miller portrays the intensity of Doyle’s master detective brilliantly and beautifully.

Holmes & Watson

The biggest difference between this show and BBC’s Sherlock (besides that there are 22 episodes a year) is that this Holmes is less efficient. Less super-human. I like a Sherlock Holmes that makes the occasional ego-driven mistake. The Sherlock Holmes I remember from my childhood was far from perfect in the books, movies or television.

Holmes and Watson

Don’t get me wrong I love the BBC’s Sherlock but mostly for Sherlock’s relationships with other people on that show and his awful social skills (I can relate) and of course the acting and direction. But I also feel that, as Moffat & Gattiss continue to try to one up themselves, the show-runners have taken the show and the character into the realm of the fantastic

Holmes and Watson

The Sherlock Holmes of Elementary is a flawed hero. And while both shows show his flaws well, I think Elementary goes a long way toward keeping him… human.

Holmes and Watson 3

I’m excited that Holmes has a new companion this season. It gives it kind of a Doctor Who feel and lets Joan Watson grow as a detective and a character.

Next up… Powerful, Sexy Women

The Dramas with the Powerful Women

All of these next three shows feature very powerful (and well-dressed) women (magically, politically, physically, emotionally) locked in a battle of love vs hate, good vs evil, white hats vs black hats, woman against woman, fashion against fashion. Choose a side.

Scandal 2

Photo not available

But the lines between good and evil, love and hate are often always blurred. And in a perfect world all three pairs of enemies would be powerful allies but, you know… too much history. Too much baggage. Too much drama.

Scandal (ABC)

Scandal

Created by Shonda Rhimes

Starring Kerry WashingtonColumbus ShortDarby StanchfieldKatie LowesGuillermo DíazJeff PerryTony GoldwynBellamy YoungJoshua MalinaScott Foley & Henry Ian Cusick

It’s funny really. I love everything about Scandal except for the main character. Usually, me, not liking the main character would be enough to stop watching a show but all the other characters are so amazing. I love the show. So, for this section, there will be no pictures of Olivia Pope (and she can’t do anything about that).

Scandal Cast

Photo not available

Olivia Pope is awful. I’m on Team Mellie. In fact, I’m the captain of Team Mellie. The ravishing-ly beautiful Bellamy Young plays the president’s wife and Olivia is screwing her husband. And she is an awesome political wife and first lady. What is wrong with that guy? She’s strong and gorgeous as hell and the mother of his children. Sure, she’s been a little broken this season, but you can’t blame her for that. And I get the distinct feeling that she’s coming back with a vengeance. Here’s a picture of Mellie at the White House.

Mellie Grant

Photo not available

But having said that, I love all the other characters just as much. Puck is amazing and heartbreaking in the way he finds it so hard to communicate with people. Also how Quinn (the very sexy Katie Lowes) became a serious sociopath and not just a little scary but a lot scary. I love how all the bad-ass assassins on the show are afraid of her now. Those two make a great couple by the way. I could go through the entire list. I love the-whole-damn cast. Here’s a cast picture w/o Kerry Washington in it.

Scandal 3

Photo not available

I just can’t stand the main character or the way she’s portrayed. SHE’S SO ANNOYING and always has to have her way. Although once you see where she came from (her parents are psychotic super villains) you can kind of understand. However, Scandal is still sensational. The story of the week is always very interesting and the overall stories and relationships are very cool. But me, me personally, I am firmly on #TeamMellie.

Revenge (ABC)

Revenge

Revenge: Where you can’t tell the players without a score card.

Created by Mike Kelley

Starring Madeleine StoweEmily VanCampGabriel MannHenry CzernyAshley MadekweNick WechslerJosh BowmanConnor PaoloChrista B. AllenBarry SloaneJames Tupper & Karine Vanasse

I thought this show would run out of steam but it still finds ways to stay fresh. Another show where the wardrobe department is freaking fantastic (I love a well-dressed show). Especially the way they style the French-Canadian actress who plays Margaux (the exquisite Karine Vanasse). I’ve loved her since Pan Am (anybody remember the short-lived ABC show Pan Am? That was another well-dressed show).

Emily and Margaux

I like that the revenge on Revenge has spread and now everybody wants revenge on everybody else who tried to get revenge. (my girl Charlotte has gone dark) And I’ve even liked the slightly convoluted surprises this season. Revenge is still a fun show to watch. They don’t give us enough Nolan, though. Give that man his own show.

Emily

In the battle of Emily vs Victoria, I’m with Emily. That’s my girl. She’s Batman. (well, she was Batman) Even as they get more into Victoria’s emotional back story and make her a more sympathetic character, and begin to show how Emily has let her desire for revenge destroy her sense of right and wrong, I’m still like: screw that. “Kick her ass, Ems.”

Once Upon A Time (ABC)

Once Upon a Time

Created by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz

Starring Ginnifer GoodwinJennifer MorrisonLana ParrillaJosh DallasJared S. GilmoreColin O’DonoghueRobert CarlyleRaphael SbargeJamie DornanEion BaileyMeghan OryEmilie de RavinMichael Raymond-James & Michael Socha

I’ve loved OUAT (that’s what the cool people call it) from the beginning. I like how the theme of each season is a different fairy tale mythos. They did a bit of Wonderland, they did a bit of Oz and the Snow White – Red Riding Hood thing, but in this season they took a chance and added characters from Disney’s Frozen. I know, I know… but it’s cool.

Kristoff and Elsa

I thought the Frozen theme would be too hokey because the movie is so recent. But it’s not. And I really enjoy the Sorcerer’s Apprentice story-line. This show is very clever and is still very good. I hope more Wonderland characters show up. The Wonderland spin-off wasn’t given enough time. The show never had a chance but I really liked the characters.

Emma, Prince Charming and The Naive of Hearts

In this show’s good vs evil match-up, I love both Regina & Emma. I like when they accidentally become allies. Those two together are an unstoppable force. But we’ll see if they become friends. Regina is just so very evil. I’m also liking Emma and Hook’s relationship this season. (and I know. He’s a pirate so… um… you know… he probably just wants to plunder her booty… it’s past my bedtime, I’m sorry)

Emma and Hook

Once Upon A Time is still a fun show with a lot of cool fairy-tale and Disney characters thrown into a real life setting. It is still exciting and romantic and worth watching.

And that’s ten.

But wait, there’s more.

There were a few left off the list that I need to mention. These are the shows that I feel could be better. On the bubble squad, so to speak. I still watch them but not like I used to. I sort of watch them while I do other things.

Nashville (ABC)

Nashville

My favorite thing about Nashville is still the music by far. Every episode features 4 or 5 good performances. With a great cast who can all hold a tune. I love the characters, especially the song writers. And I like when the show shows the creative process.

Nashville 2However the story has gotten stale; the relationships and the politics. And that’s not good. The story is kind of boring. But I still watch for the characters, the different musical pairings, the writing and the music performances. From the small performances at the BlueBird café to the arenas on tour. I love the music.

ScarlettAnd by far my favorite character is Scarlett O’Connor. She’s so sweet and she sings so gorgeous. Scarlett keeps me coming back. But the story may turn me off.

Reign (CW)

Reign

I still love Reign (again the wardrobe department… wowzers people). The costumes are so pretty, as are the actors. I like the palace intrigue and the characters. The murderous and sexual misadventures of Mary and her court. I even love the music and the story.

Mary Queen of Scots

In the past I have called Reign a guilty pleasure. It is not the best show on TV.

Reign 2

Mary and Catherine know what I’m talking about.

It is not a history lesson. They may use names from history and places but Reign is NOT historically accurate. Not even close. But it is so pretty to look at. Still a guilty pleasure.

Sleepy Hollow (FOX)

Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow is back for a second season but it’s too campy for me. I still love Ichabod. The man is suave. The man is gorgeous. So I still check it out but they’re losing my interest. Maybe they’ll win me back before I stop watching altogether.

Hannibal (NBC)

Hannibal

I was into Hannibal up until the finale of the second season. I really didn’t like it. I’ll see what they do next season but the last one left me with a bad taste in my mouth (Hannibal Lecter is too good of a chef for that). I want to root for him. The show needs to lighten its tone. Even Dexter wasn’t this dark.

How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)

How to get away with murder

I tried to get into How to Get Away with Murder but didn’t like all of the jumping around. The flashbacks within flashbacks. The main story is a flashback and then they flashback for the mystery of the week. It’s trying too hard to be Damages.

The last episode I watched was the “why is your penis on the dead girl’s phone?” episode. If the show sticks around maybe I’ll binge watch the whole season but I don’t have time for all the flashbacks. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

And that’s actually all of them.

Next up we’ll tackle the Cable TV Dramas. A little more gritty and not as well-dressed.

I have to go and untie Agent May now. But if you didn’t vote this year, I think you should run before I do. You know what I’m talking about.

Agent May

She ain’t happy.

Until next time,

I’ll see you guys on the couch,

– Mel

Avengers: Age of Ultron (Teaser Trailer)

NIce. We got an Avengers trailer to watch over and over and over and over and…

I’m a little speechless here.

I don’t know what to think of this. It looks a lot darker than the first one. And that kind of scares me. But I trust in Joss. If he thinks we have to go dark, then… fine… we go dark. However I can’t help but think that the darker tone (in the trailer at least) is a direct reaction to the success of Guardians of the Galaxy and its ultra- light tone.

This is usually the point where I say I can’t wait. May 2015? (I know what someone’s getting for his birthday) But I CAN wait for this one. I’m a little scared of this one. There is a lot expected from it. And also there’s that old sophomore jinx to consider. Take your time, May 2015. Take your time.

– Mel

The Hidden Gems of 2013 (Year-End Review Mega Post)

Everyone has their own year-end review posts. I do them too. It’s a good way to put the previous year in perspective. And prepare for the new one.

Breaking Bad

In 2013 there were some good movies (award season is upon us) and some great TV finales. Some of them ended well (Breaking Bad). some ended not so well (I’m looking at you Dexter). Some ended too soon (Nikita). While some waited a season too long (Burn Notice). But everybody talks about those shows. Let’s talk about the shows nobody talks about. Let’s talk about the movies that aren’t up for Awards or Box Office Records. Let’s talk about the stuff nobody talks about.

Nikita

I call 2013 the year of the over-discussed and the under-exposed.

Michonne from The Walking Dead

Yes, The Walking Dead was good (not as good as before but it’s hard to keep up that level of intensity) and the Marvel Movies this year were awesome (yawn). Big budget films like The Lone Ranger & After Earth were two of the worst movies ever made (Tell me something I don’t know). While Breaking Bad cemented its place as the best show in television history (That’s right I said it again. Go to your room The Wire and think about what you could have been). And we can’t forget about how Game of Thrones stabbed us in the heart again and again. (Had me seeing red)

Agents of SHIELD

While Marvel’s Agents of Shield needs more time to discover what it wants to be when it grows up, Doctor Who was spectacular once again. And Jay-Z released the best collection of songs in his storied career. Even Lady Gaga finally got her shit together and released a good album. Yes, The Affordable Care Act‘s Healthcare.gov website (affectionately known as Obamacare) couldn’t handle all the traffic at first (who knew people without healthcare would want some?) but got it together in time for the holidays and Congress reached a new low in obstruction and not doing the job they were elected to do… (speaking of jobs. Where are the jobs?) Until Harry Reid got serious and said, “No more.”

Taylor Schilling

Oh yeah and House of Cards & Orange is the New Black changed the way we look at TV. Netflix ruled 2013 even Hemlock Grove was good. (Let’s see how they fuck it up in 2014).

Kevin Spacey

… but everybody knows that. We lived through it. We talked about it ad nauseam. I will attempt with my year-end list to rank the things… OTHER than those things. Stuff that nobody talked about (or very few talked about… and me). The hidden gems of 2013. The underexposed movies that I loved. The TV shows that are going strong without their own after shows and blog recaps. This is my year-end list.

So… Here’s the other stuff…

Movies That Didn’t Get The Respect They Deserved

10. Warm Bodies

Warm BodiesA beautiful love story in a clever and original package.

9. Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About NothingJoss Whedon and Will Shakespeare… need I say more.

8. Jack The Giant Slayer

Jack the Giant Slayer Poster

A fun movie, a great love story, with a excellent cast.

7. Before Midnight

Before MidnightJulie Delpy. Julie Delpy. Julie Delpy. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder why we never became lovers. (Oh that’s right. I don’t know her)

6. The Iceman

The IcemanThe Iceman is no joke. Iceman is intense

5. The Grandmaster

The Grandmaster

A dance. A meditation. A heartbreak. A cinematic masterpiece.

4. Europa Report

Europa ReportThe heroism and dangers of space exploration done right. Done so right.

3. Stand Up Guys

Stand Up Guys

Three masters. Two guns. One awesome movie.

2. Oblivion

oblivion-main_1It seems like I enjoyed this movie more than everyone else. This is good Sci-Fi. I loved this movie.

1. The Bling Ring

The Bling Ring PosterDesigner nails on a limited edition chalkboard. Sofia Coppola does great work.

Bling Ring EmmaAnd so does Emma Watson.

There were more popular movies. There were better movies, but these ten films, in my opinion, were over-looked and under-exposed. And that’s a travesty because they were very good.

Television Shows That Are Still On The Air

These are the great shows that I think don’t get enough press. Don’t get enough love. So not Sleepy Hollow or Agents of SHIELD or The Blacklist or Almost Human (though I love them all) Go watch them before some executive pulls the plug.

In alphabetical order (because you can’t rank no TV shows), here are the ones I never hear people talking about.

2 Broke Girls (CBS)

2.Broke.GirlsLove this show. It gets funnier and funnier. They’ve added a bunch of new awesome people to the cast including the very funny Mary Lynn Rajskub & Eric Andre,

American Horror Story: Coven (FX)

American Horror Story CovenThis show amazes me. Each year they change the theme and the characters and the locations (they only keep the fantastic cast) and it is awesome every season. Lily Rabe is wonderful every year and Jessica Lange… wow.

Banshee (Cinemax)

BansheeThis is a fun action show with a sexy cast.

Banshee 2Great fight scenes and shootouts. A cool premise and an interesting story.

Banshee CinemaxAnd of course some sexy sexiness… it IS Cinemax. Banshee is a very cool and kick ass action drama.

Beware The Batman (Cartoon Network)

Beware the batmanI never hear anyone talking about this show. I love it. Good story. Cool animation style.

Beware the Batman KatanaSure, it’s a departure for the Batman but at this point who wants to rehash the same old bat. Beware the Batman is a very good animated series. (Just not for the Bat-man purest)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)

brooklyn-nine-nineBest new sitcom in quite some time. Funny as hell and I’ll tell you why… casting. Every single person on this show is hysterical.

Childrens Hospital (Adult Swim)

childrens-hospital-castThis show is wild and wacky but they do good work every episode with different film styles and joke formats. Childrens Hospital (no apostrophe… it’s not a children’s hospital) is so fucking funny. It’s 11 minutes of unadulterated awesome.

Continuum (SyFy)

Continuum

Still going strong. Geat story. Good continuity even with the time paradoxes. Exciting Sci-Fi action thriller with a very cool premise.

Defiance (SyFy)

Defiance-tvIt took me a few episodes but I eventually fell in love with this show. Great cast. Good stories. Post-apocalyptic political intrigue. Defiance, Continuum and Falling Skies, for me, fill the hole left by Battlestar Galactica.

Falling Skies (TNT)

falling-skiesFalling Skies reminds me the most of Battlestar Galactica in so many ways. It’s about a rag tag fugitive group of humans on the run from aliens and robots. Falling Skies is really good. If you haven’t watched it, hop on it. It gets better every year.

Hell on Wheels (AMC)

Hell on WheelsThese next two shows are kick ass westerns. Very cool. Sometimes brutally violent. With two flawed heroes. Both are gunfighters with a code of honor.

Hell-on-WheelsHell on Wheels takes place just after the Civil War and tells the story of one hapless company trying to build a railroad to the west… and all the bodies (white, brown, black, yellow, red) buried along the way.

Justified (FX)

JustifiedJustified is still good. Still amazingly cool. This is the modern-day western. The story of U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens; quick on the draw but always true to his word. Justified & Hell on Wheels are two of the coolest TV westerns since The Rifleman.

Mom (CBS)

Mom 2Allison Janney, Allison Janney, Allison Janney.

MomJust give Allison Janney another Emmy already. She makes Mom good. She makes it really good. This is a funny funny show.

Motive (ABC)

Motive

ABC picked up this great Canadian show that gives away the murderer in the first scene but makes you have to figure out why, putting the viewer ahead of the detectives. It is a welcome change to the common police procedural where the actor playing the killer has to try to fool the audience as well..

Person of Interest (CBS)

Person of InterestPerson of Interest has been a good show but in 2013 it got so much better.

Amy Acker & Sarah ShahiThe show, about the machine that can predict violent crime, added Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker, playing two of the baddest women on TV. If you’re not watching it, you’re missing out on one of the best shows on the air.

Reign (CW)

ReignI’m so sorry guys. I like this show. I tried not to like it. It’s fluff. It’s pure fluff. But it’s good fluff. It’s not historically accurate or even historically close to being accurate.

Reign 2It’s just good. I like it. I like the cast. I like the premise. I like the drama. I love the sets and the costumes. They’re probably not authentic but they look so good. It’s a guilty pleasure. And now I feel dirty. Moving on…

The Americans (FX)

the-americansThis was one of the best new shows from last year. Two deep cover Russian agents toward the end of the Cold War.

the americans 2Some of the best acting and suspense on TV. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are simply amazing as they try to both have a family and stay true to their mission.

the americansI can’t wait until it comes back. So good.

Vikings (History Channel)

VikingsOkay, let’s be honest. Most of what the History Channel puts out is crap. They find a couple of so-called experts to agree with a historical premise that they happily feed to their ignorant audience of moronic misanthropes who think that watching this channel is a substitute for an actual education. For goodness sake, why don’t you do another show about the Nazis for your core audience of old racists or another piece of bullshit bible inspired claptrap for the History Channel’s pseudo-christian demographic. But the Vikings is a good show even if it is just more white supremacist programming from the most overtly racist channel on cable besides FOX news. Don’t give these people your money. Steal it. Pirate it. Fuck them. NEXT

Witches of East End (Lifetime)

Witches-of-East-EndAnother of my guilty pleasures. It’s not American Horror Story: Coven. Not even close. But it’s a nice bit of whimsy with a hot cast. Whimsy that I enjoy. I don’t have to justify my viewing habits to you.

Those are what I call good shows. Not the best but the most underrated in my opinion. And here are the bad ones…

Five Bad Shows (that need a complete reboot)

Dracula (NBC)

DraculaGreat casting is the only good thing I can say about it. But because I like the cast so much, I hope they retool it and come back stronger. It suffers from not being on a premium channel. Vampires without gratuitous sex and violence is just wrong.

Family Tree (HBO)

Family-TreeI waited for this to take off. I love Christopher Guest and his style of comedy. This had so much potential but it was maddeningly unfocused. And I really love this cast. So I’m hoping it comes back and just (I don’t know) focuses itself a little more.

Hello Ladies (HBO)

Hello Ladies

I hated this show and I kept watching, hoping that these horrible characters would learn something but they never did. It was like Eastbound and Down but without the funny.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC)

Once-Upon-a-Time-in-WonderlandI wanted to like this show so much because I love the original Once Upon A Time (still good) but I don’t like this cast and I don’t like the Alice character… (yet?). But just like everything else on this list, I’m still watching, hoping it gets better. Because I love Alice in Wonderland.

Red Queen

And because I can’t live in a world where this woman here is not on my TV each week…

2013 Disney|ABC TCA Summer Press Tour Red Carpet Event

Emma Rigby as the Red Queen.

Emma Rigby 2

She’s too hot not to build a better show around. Get on that Disney.

The Tomorrow People (CW)

the tomorrow peopleI am so close to saying goodbye to this show. I don’t like the lead (everyone else is great) and the powers are inconsistent and the magic system is flawed and stupid. And it’s so racist. I know that’s the point. Their “species” is being hunted. But the way they talk about themselves and humans, it just makes me uncomfortable.

And now for something completely different…

News & Politics

First I have to acknowledge one of my personal heroes even though we spent a good three weeks eulogizing him here in the states…

Nelson Mandela

Nelson MandelaRest In Peace Madiba.

Minimum Drug Sentencing

U.S. Prison PopulationDrug Policies… no not Legal Marijuana in some states but a strong push from the executive to eliminate mandatory minimums and to set non-violent drug offenders, who had been sentenced to extraordinarily long prison sentences (for offenses that are in no way offensive), free… at last.

Obama & HolderPresidential pardons have now led the way for Governors following suit in some states. Releasing some of our nation’s political prisoners in this endless and hopelessly misguided war on drugs.

Leticia Van de Putte for Lieutenant Governor

Van de PutteWendy Davis stole the headlines but it was her partner and candidate for Lieutenant Governor in Texas, Leticia Van de Putte, that made us all applaud. I have never cheered alone in my room to a live feed on the internet from a senate session in another state… in my life. But when she said what she said, I stood up raised my arms to the sky and yelled “Fuck Yeah!” And then I applauded.

At what point...They couldn’t hear me through the internet but I cheered and applauded along with the gallery in support of Wendy’s filibuster. Cheered for what I hope is the next Governor of Texas. I would move back to Austin and vote for her, if that didn’t involve moving back to Texas.

Marissa Alexander Out on Bond

Marissa Alexander out-of-jailThe Zimmerman Trial… no not the fact that George got away with murder because we all know he will be punished. It is inevitable. But Marissa Alexander who was in prison for 25 years for firing a warning shot. And how the trial brought light to her sentencing and her trial and got her released. Fat boy may not have done any jail time (his conscience would disagree) but it had an effect on the Stand Your Ground controversy and helped to get Marissa Alexander a new trial… and inspired one of the best South Park episodes of this past season.

Healthcare

Medicaid Expansion MapHealthcare… no not the website or the governors who refuse to expand Medicaid to the poor (who would rather see them die than give them Health Insurance at no cost to the state) but the millions of people with pre-existing conditions and college age kids on their parents plans and the garbage policies that had to be cancelled and better policies offered. Yeah, the corporate media is sponsored by drug companies and the medical industry, so we won’t hear much about it but Obamacare is working extremely well and saving lives.

Pope Francis

Pope FrancisThe Pope… not just for the statements he makes & things he says but for the way he has forced conservatives to admit that they aren’t as pious as they pretend. Watching them scramble for ways to justify their greed and callous disregard for the needy is almost fun. As they argue with the Pope. As they argue against feeding the poor. As they argue for the idolatry of wealth. As they argue against income and wealth equality. While claiming to be Christian. You don’t worship Christ. You worship money. You hear people on the left say “If Jesus himself told them they wouldn’t listen.” He did. And they still don’t.

Mars Rover Curiosity

Mars Rover CuriosityThe Mars Rovers… I’m horribly guilty of the personification of objects, especially technology (I apologize to my chair if I bump into it). Mars Rover Curiosity is one of my personal heroes. Sending beautiful pictures from the surface of Mars. Never to return home. If I could, I would nominate Curiosity for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

********************************************************************************************

There were a lot of good things in 2013 but make no mistake, I hated the year. Mostly for personal reasons: I tried to write a book but failed miserably. I lost a friend without being able to tell her she was my friend. And I spent more time fucking around than improving anyone’s life, including my own.

2014 will be NO different. 2014 will be the same “suckage” as ’13.

But 2015… that’ll be my year.

That’s gonna be my jam.

Have a Happy New Year everybody.

– Mel