Your uncle Geekly started watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend this past summer, so he’s getting to the show during its final season. It’s too bad the show is ending after four years because I’ve enjoyed most episodes, but sometimes the best shows end after short runs. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is both the CW’s most over-the-top show and its most grounded. Yeah. It’s the oddest mix. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a musical comedy, so ridiculous dancing and singing abound, and while its main character Rebecca obsesses with love and romance, the show focuses on mental health.
The most recent episode aired a couple of Fridays ago and it had a musical number about antidepressants and how more people take these medications than one might think. Seriously, this show is about destigmatizing mental health issues and making sure folks who suffer from these ailments seek help and know that they’re not alone. This is a far different message than what most CW shows present. The majority of CW shows devolve into who is with whom as in dating or bedhopping. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has had its share of Rebecca bedhopping, but these acts feed into her mental health issues. Plenty of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend watchers subscribe to Team Greg or Team Nathaniel or even Team Josh. But I hope, for the sake of Rebecca’s wellbeing, that she ends up with no one.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against love and romance, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has a higher calling than shipping (as in the slang for matchmaking) the main character with a specific beau. The show would betray its serious message about mental health and undercut a lot of good it’s done. I’ve seen just as many Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fans talk openly about mental health and reach out to others in need. But Rebecca choosing any of these men would end up a poor choice.
She moved to West Covina to obsess over Josh who was dating someone else and may have a touch of Peter Pan Syndrome (that’s unhealthy behavior), rebounded with Greg who has his own demons with alcoholism (another unhealthy choice) and eventually plotted revenge with Nathaniel who suffers from abandonment issues and poor social skills (yet another unhealthy choice). It’s okay if Rebecca ends up alone. Or she could leave the door open for romance if she works on her issues first. There aren’t enough episodes remaining for Rebecca to get well enough to focus on romance.
To the show’s credit, it looks as if Rebecca will choose to work on her mental health first. Sorry, folks. We’ll probably get one more push for romance between Josh and Nathaniel, but it appears as if Rebecca may go back to her first love, theater, and that’s something else Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does so well, they suggest that love comes in many forms, not just romance. Other CW shows should take notice.
What’s your favorite element of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? If you’re a fan, what do you hope will happen in the series finale? If you disagree with me, you can have Nathaniel order a hit on me, or you could leave a comment. I could be moving to Venus or Mars soon, so leaving a comment would probably be more effective.
Standard Issue Star Trek Geek Jim came back with another Trek article, but he insists it isn’t a Trek article. The Orville isn’t exactly Star Trek—or it is. I may have to watch these shows and find out what he means. Fortunately for those of us who haven’t purchased the CBS App, Jim has consumed these shows and is willing to share his thoughts. Enjoy.
If the headline drew you in, then you must have seen it, the Keyboard Commandos arguing that The Orville is the only “real Trek” on TV today, or Star Trek: Discovery’s backers denouncing The Orville as frat-boy humor for bitter Trek fans who never understood Gene Roddenberry’s vision to begin with. Both shows are well into their second seasons by now, and I’ve recently caught up with both, so I wanted to take a moment to stop and look at each show, get into what’s working and what’s not.
The Orville: What’s Going Wrong?
Any show, in fact, any story, is about its characters. What happens is never as important as who it’s supposed to be happening to. The Orville offers some quality characters, and in the spirit of Star Trek, it puts them in not just physical jeopardy, but in ethical dilemmas that are sometimes hard for the viewer to reconcile. This, in and of itself, is a good thing, but legitimate criticism is due when those dilemmas don’t result in any noticeable changes to the characters involved. For example, not nearly as much has been made of the decision to change an infant’s gender at birth, in compliance with alien cultural practices, as the fact that Captain Mercer still pines for his ex-wife. This makes understanding the stakes on a week to week basis rather difficult and can be disengaging for an audience.
The Orville: What’s Going Right?
Contrary to what I’d expected, this show is not a Star Trek spoof. I say that because it isn’t a show that makes fun of itself. They don’t mock the thought of an idealized future for humanity. They don’t poke fun at the concept of an interplanetary alliance. The jokes in the show tend to be situational, as in snarky comments about given situations. Failing that, the humor comes from the quirky personalities of ship’s crew. The charge that The Orville showcases “frat boy” humor is, I think, more the result of an unfair comparison. Star Trek is a franchise that takes itself quite seriously. Jokes in the original series were almost completely limited to nothing more than a wry quip that might earn a moment’s side-eye under the arched brow of a stoic vulcan. In later Trek, Data offered some light-hearted moments as he read poetry or pet his cat, but the show never aimed too hard at making anyone laugh. Next to these, it’s not hard for anything meant to be funny to look juvenile. In this way, McFarlane’s show writes a love letter Star Trek without trying to be Star Trek.
Let’s talk about the other one, shall we?
Star Trek: Discovery: What’s Going Wrong?
I’m going to get some obvious points out the way. These are my primary objections to the show, and they’re far more about decisions made at the outset than anything any one episode has chosen to do. First, and I’ve said this before, having a show that depicts a utopian humanity that has conquered poverty and scarcity set behind a pay-wall is horrible. CBS should be airing this series on its network, and they’re insulting the material, and hurting its ratings by not doing so. Second, I am bored to death and beyond with prequels. Trek fans have been pining for a look at the post-Dominion War federation for years now. We’ve already gone back to Starfleet’s humble origins with Star Trek: Enterprise, and I believe audiences may well feel that anything that hasn’t been mentioned in fifty years of Trek before now, must not be all that interesting a part of the story. How can it be? It needs to either fit neatly into established canon, or ignore established canon. The season-one premise of offering audiences a look at the Federation in wartime is nothing new. Remember what I just said about The Dominion War? We’ve seen Starfleet at war. It was in Deep Space Nine, and those were some of the best episodes the franchise has ever produced, but it’s done. Lastly, making Michael Burnham Spock’s foster sister and dragging Sarek into the story undermines the show even more. It’s one thing for Captain Janeway to namedrop Picard, or for Torres to namedrop Data. It’s fine that Deep Space Nine begins with an uncomfortable meeting between Picard and Sisko in the aftermath of the battle at Wolf 359. None of those characters, Janeway or Sisko, leaned on Picard to make them interesting. Likewise, Picard was interesting before he met Kirk in the Nexus. There’s nothing about Burnham that means she can’t be an interesting character who can carry a show on her own, but by making Sarek (and now also Spock) recurring figures so early in the series, she’s not being given a chance to forge her own identity. She’s borrowing one from them. I could redouble this argument with a criticism about making Captain Pike the new captain of the U.S.S. Discovery, but it’s something that bothers me for a lot of the reasons I’ve already mentioned.
Star Trek: Discovery: What’s Going Right?
The “What’s Going Wrong” section of this write-up looks disproportionately long. I realize that, but when you discount the fact that the paywall and the setting as a prequel were always going to be points against it for me, the damage really isn’t all that bad. One of the common internet gripes about this show is its heavy-handed agenda, but let’s be honest. Star Trek has always had a heavy-handed agenda. In the interest of fairness, some people may be reacting to the feeling that politics are permeating everything nowadays. It’s become inescapable, and I find it exhausting in so much other media, but Star Trek has never been a place to go to escape social, ethical, or philosophical discussion. The fact that Discovery engages in this is probably the way in which it is truest to the spirit of the franchise. If you were to strip any Trek series of its social, political, and philosophical agendas, you’d be left with phaser battles and ship explosions to carry the series, which interestingly enough, leads to another complaint people make about Discovery. It’s too action-focused. I don’t agree here either. As I said, any Trek series features combat (which makes their claim of Starfleet not being a military outfit silly), but in the past, the limitations of television budget and special effects have hindered their ability to make the battle scenes impressive. With Netflix footing the bill for Discovery’s first season, the producers were able to add a lot of polish that fans of the franchise just aren’t used to seeing. That doesn’t mean the violence underneath that polish is anything new. So if you have a problem with agendas, and action sequences, why watch any Star Trek series? Without both of those, you don’t have much more than William Shatner or Jonathan Frakes making bedroom eyes at women in bodypaint and forehead prosthetics.
So Which One Works?
They both work. I truly enjoy both shows so far. Neither is perfect, and I hope to see each improve, but as is the case with so much media in Geekdom these days, I wish people could enjoy these for what they are. Neither needs to be bad for the other to be good. You don’t have to like each for the same reasons, because they don’t offer the same things. They aren’t trying to. If The Orville took itself too seriously, it would be a shameless ripoff. If it didn’t pick a demographic to target, it would fail because nothing is all that funny to everyone. If Discovery didn’t deviate from past series, it would have no chance to add something new to the franchise. Because it’s playing to a modern crowd, it stands to draw new fans who may end up deciding to go back and watch what came before it, gaining new attention for the older shows and ensuring what Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, and Archer had to say won’t dissolve into obscurity as their audiences age out. We’re fans of science fiction. New shows keep science fiction thriving. Let’s be glad about that.
Jim handed me two Star Trek 3 Lists of 3 last month and somehow your uncle Geekly only posted one of them. My bad. I don’t have a whip on hand, so I may have to flagellate myself with my back scratcher.
Thanks for the Trek article, Standard Issue Star Trek Geek Jim.
In my last Star Trek article, I listed The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine ahead of The Original Series. Lest some of our readers take that as a knock on The Original Series, I want now to give credit where it’s due and explore some of what makes TOS special.
Things to Love about Star Trek: The Original Series
Each Star Trek series reflects its time in a certain way. Now, with everything happening in our twenty-four-hour-news world, it seems the product of that is post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. In the 1960s, we faces race riots, the Vietnam War, and the threat of mutually assured destruction with the USSR. Somehow, Star Trek managed to imagine a future that had taken all of that and persevered onto better things. I know, in Trek canon, there is an apocalyptic war, but we survive it and we prosper.
In a time when Americans feared a communist takeover of the world, we see Chekov, a Russian, on the bridge of the Enterprise. Twenty years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we see a show put a person of Japanese ancestry, Sulu, on the bridge with Chekov. An African American woman, Uhura, is a bridge officer herself. This is the world we’re still striving for today.
Star Trek has always had episodes that posed philosophical questions, but it all began with The Original Series. Yes, there were plenty of episodes that focused on seducing green women, but TOS questioned its viewers with what we might do in a situation where we found ourselves the inferior life form, and how we might respond should a superior life form treat us as indifferently as we, at times, treat our own planet’s less evolved animals.
You knew he’d have to be here, so let’s skip the how and get into why he’s a special character without having to compare him to other Trek captains. James Kirk is the prototypical romantic idea of a starship captain. He’s young to hold such a high rank, he’s handsome and charismatic, but he’s also evolved in a way that fits with the idea of our future the show sets out. Yes, we can get into his sexual proclivity and criticize the character for that, but episodes like Balance of Terror and The Enemy Within do a great job of complicating Kirk as a character and showing an appreciation for his gentler nature, his respect for life, and the effects of the strain of command.
Another one you knew would have to make the cut, but let’s talk about why. Spock introduces us to Vulcans on the show, but he’s only half Vulcan. In that way, he’s a surrogate for the audience in understanding the differences between the races, but in another, very progressive way, he represents the joining of worlds the show hopes for, and what is mirrored in the civil rights movement of that time.
Doctor McCoy is gruff, old fashioned and at times, even a little backward in his thinking by comparison to the other characters aboard Enterprise. Somehow, however, there’s still a place for him. He’s still a part of that world, still thrives in it, and the crew is better for having him there. Maybe this is Roddenberry’s way of acknowledging there will always be holdouts where progress is concerned, and maybe that’s okay.
Things We Can Forgive
I love the optimism in Star Trek. It’s probably my favorite things about the franchise, but there are some things that get a little too sugar-coated. One thing that comes to mind is Gene Roddenberry’s insistence that currency does not exist in the Federation, despite references to “credits” in the show. Who would volunteer to scrub plasma conduits, or wear a red shirt in a landing party if they weren’t being paid? What does the Federation do if not enough people aspire to mine dilithium on colony worlds? Do they force them? That’s suddenly a much darker world, isn’t it? Even so, I’ll take a little wishful thinking over mindless pessimism. The issue of currency rarely comes up in the show anyway.
For those who don’t know the term, “retcon” means retroactive continuity. In essence, it’s what happens when a story contradicts itself and needs to be explained away. The Klingons’ appearance, and the changing color scheme of crew members’ jerseys are examples of this in the show. Gene Roddenberry described himself as a notorious revisionist, and told fans whatever the most recent instance laid out should be taken as canon. Given that Star Trek boasts improvement and evolution as some of its major themes, can’t we accept a little revising now and then?
It didn’t do more
Simon Pegg, in promoting Star Trek: Beyond, expressed disappointment in the fact that some fans bristled at Sulu’s portrayal as homosexual in the movie. This was meant as an homage to George Takei, who originally portrayed the character, and is homosexual himself, but I think this portrayal may have undercut Roddenberry. We may feel discouraged by the intolerance we see in our daily lives today, but there’s no denying that whatever bigotry exists in our world, it isn’t the same as the institutionalized intolerance of the past. Some have said Gene Roddenberry would have loved to portray a gay character, but we have to remember he was facing bans in the south for having an interracial kiss on screen (Kirk and Uhura). Roddenberry may have wished he could push the envelope further. Today, an interracial kiss on screen isn’t even noteworthy, so before addressing the social issues Star Trek didn’t tackle, it’s only fair to acknowledge that we today aren’t up against the same things Roddenberry was in the 1960s.
Hopefully giving a little love to The Original Series assuages some of the perceived shade my last Trek article may have thrown in that direction. If you’re a die-hard fan of TOS, and you still feel I’ve wronged the classics, just remember that all I’ve really said is Star Trek is a franchise that has improved on itself. Would Gene Roddenberry have wanted it any other way?
Jim walked into the Geekly office, and it looks like he has a new 3 Lists of 3. You have the floor, man.
Who thinks it’s time for a 3 Lists of 3 on Star Trek? No one? Well, we’re doing one anyway. Firs thing I should admit is that Star Trek Discovery isn’t even up for consideration here, because I haven’t watched it. I don’t want to support that business model of endless streaming services, and also I’m cheap. Without further stalling for word count, here are the three best episodes of the three best series in all of Trek-dom.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
I said it, so fight me. I’m a TNG guy. You think you’re mad now? Keep reading. The Original Series isn’t even #2 on my list. Here are the three best episodes of The Next Generation.
The Best of Both Worlds
Okay. This is a cheat, since it’s a two-parter, but I’m going to count it. This/these episode(s) saw Captain Picard assimilated by The Borg and turned against the Federation .The experience changes Picard, and also feeds into a couple other crucial plot points in Star Trek lore.
Chain of Command
Now I’m doubling down on two-parters. Hey, the series did this quite a bit, and more often than not, when they did it, they did it for a good reason. This story is another great bit of character development for Picard as he’s tortured in the captivity of the Cardassians. You may have seen the gif of a traumatized Patrick Stewart shouting, “There are four lights!” This is from this episode. It addresses the psychology, efficacy, and morality of torture, and also puts Deanna Troi in a proper Starfleet uniform, so there’s that.
The Measure of a Man
Starfleet decides to study Data and orders him to submit trial is held to determine if Data is a living being, and has the right to refuse. It’s Star Trek at its best, an examination of philosophy and ethics applied to characters we love.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Did you think I was bluffing about the TOS not being #2? Well, I wasn’t. Truth be told, ask me to do this list again tomorrow and I might put DS9 ahead of TNG. DS9 shows the Federation at war, challenging so much of the doctrine Gene Roddenberry laid out for this franchise, but doing it thoughtfully. It’s not just great Trek, it’s great storytelling.
In the Pale Moonlight
Remember what I said about DS9 complicating the morality of the franchise? No episode in all of Star Trek does this better. It also features Garak, one of the most complex and interesting supporting characters the franchise has ever seen. Here, Captain Sisko manipulates the Romulans to get them to enter the war on the side of the Federation. We’ve seen Starfleet officers compromise their ethics before, but these are depicted as traitors to the uniform, or at best, men who’ve lost their way. This episode makes no such judgment, and it’s truly refreshing.
The Siege of AR-558
This episode shows us a side of Starfleet we haven’t seen often. Sure, we’ve seen ships explode, and even some shootouts on the ground, but this episode depicts a long, ugly battle in the trenches. Here we see the cost of the Dominion War in action, and it’s made personal when Nog is wounded in combat. This is also an important episode for adding depth to the Ferengi, who have too often been given the one dimensional alien monoculture treatment.
Kira was a great second in command in this series. She’s smart, capable, and continues this series’ legacy of complicating moral questions. In this episode, we get glimpses into Kira’s past as a member of the Bajoran resistance, as well as her experiences under Cardassian occupation. Here we see her come face to face with a man she remembers as the commandant of an infamous forced labor camp. Her relationship with Sisko is challenged, as is her willingness to operate under Federation protocol.
Star Trek: The Original Series
Okay, so The Original Series does make the list. It has to, really. Without the original, nothing that came after would have been possible, and that’s a debt always owed to what came first. This show had plenty of misfires, but also some truly classic moments.
Balance of Terror
Star Trek was, like all art, a product of its time. In this case, the cold war left its mark in an exceptionally clear manner. We have the neutral zone enforcing a delicate peace, and two groups who can’t even see one another prepared to destroy one another. It parallels the story of the film, The Enemy Below, and gave us the famous Trek quote, “…I might have called you friend.”
This episode explores the history of The Eugenics War, a critical point in the fictionalized version of Earth’s past within the Star Trek universe. It addresses the consequences of genetic engineering and, most importantly, it introduces us to Khan. Without this episode, Wrath of Khan, the best of the Star Trek films, would not exist.
The City on the Edge of Forever
What I like about Star Trek is that it takes an optimistic look at humanity’s future. Yes, things get bad. They’ll get even worse still, but someday we will get things right. That feels rare in science fiction. This episode has Kirk and Spock chasing a delirious Dr. McCoy into the past to preserve their future. There, amid rampant crime and poverty, Kirk meets a woman who is an almost insufferable optimist. She predicts eventual harmony and prosperity for mankind. In short, this episode functions as a sort of metafictional look at itself, at the sort of hopeful person who creates a better future by believing in it.
There you have it. There’s Jim’s take on the three best episodes of the three best series in Star Trek history. Do you disagree? Throw on a red shirt and we’ll fight about it.
A petition helped to bring back Saturday morning cartoons to broadcast stations in 2017, so that got your uncle Geekly thinking about Saturday morning cartoons that should make a return on ABC, CBS, Fox, or NBC. Bring back our crudely drawn cartoons.
This list is a little difficult as many cartoons that aired on Saturday mornings originally have been relaunched on several streaming services and premium networks. I’m also unsure about any plans to bring back these shows. One never knows what’ll happen.
Darkwing Duck split its time as an after-school cartoon and a Saturday morning cartoon, but I’m including it because it was fun and one of the few Disney cartoons that didn’t use preexisting characters. And these original characters became so popular that one can find many of DW’s greatest foes on the 2017 DuckTales relaunch.
These cameos led to unfounded rumors of a Darkwing Duck reboot in 2018. The outcry that the rumors were false may lead to a reboot after all. Until then, DW fans will have to read the new comic book series.
Okay. This is the second comic book spoof cartoon show on this list, but The Tick’s just as good, if not better, than Darkwing Duck. Yes. There’s an interesting live action show available on Amazon Video, so I guess The Tick has gotten a reboot, but there’s something special about the original cartoon.
I’m not sure if a reboot could ever capture the magic of the original, probably not, but someone should make this happen. Amazon’s The Tick, while good in many ways, isn’t as funny or down-right silly as Fox’s cartoon Tick.
Sym-Bionic Titan aired between 2010-2011. It’s by far the newest cartoon on this list, and your uncle Geekly has little reason to watch a cartoon when he was this age but screw it. This show was excellent. Judge me all you want. It’s a hybrid of Voltron and high school antics brought together by Genndy Tartakovsky, the mind behind Samurai Jack.
While I think certain shows benefit from a short run, Sym-Bionic Titan’s one season wasn’t enough, and if Tartakovsky’s previous gem’s timeline holds for Sym-Bionic Titan, there may be a second season any day now.
Batman the Animated Series is a far better series and more influential than the X-Men Animated Series, but some cartoon Batman has been on the air continuously since the last episode of Batman TAS aired. X-Men hasn’t received an animated series since 2009 and even that was a spin-off, Wolverine and the X-Men.
Like many other cartoons on this list, I’m uncertain if a new X-Men cartoon could capture half the magic of the original, but nine years (as of this write-up) is a long time between cartoons.
I’m not including the X-Men anime (2011) or The Super Hero Squad Show (2009) as they either took very different approaches with the characters.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if someone combined School House Rock with a kid-friendly Saturday Night Life? Histeria! might be the outcome. The show’s creator Tom Ruegger was a writer for Batman: The Animated Series and a key developer for Animaniacs (which is getting its own reboot), and the cast included original SNL member and writer Laraine Newman and the incomparable voice actor Billy West (Futurama). The show was fun and informative.
Histeria! deserves a reboot or at least, a means for viewers to see the original. I haven’t seen a DVD collection for it, and In2TV took down streaming episodes in 2009.
This list was so difficult. I’d look up Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and find that there’s a reboot scheduled for 2019. Then I’d think of Rocky and Bullwinkle, but that’s been rebooted too. So many of the better Saturday morning shows never went away, or they’d find life in some other way. Even so, I’m sure I missed a fair share of shows. Pound the table and curse the names of the ones I missed, or you could pound the keys of your keyboard and let me know in comments.
This bit of news doesn’t amount to much. It’s a slow news week, so eh. Bethesda announced that the Elder Scrolls VI Redfall will be a PS5 and Xbox (whatever they’ll call it) release. That’s pretty much what I figured. I said as much two or three weeks ago; this is just confirmation.
Starfield may have a chance of gracing current consoles, but there was little to no chance Redfall would make the PS4 or Xbox One. Fallout 76 counts as one of Bethesda’s flagship releases and the company likes to release one flagship title every three or four years. That means that Starfield should come out around 2021—maybe 2020 because they’ve been working on it for 6 years already and 2020 sounds like an awesome release year. Okay, there’s little chance Starfield will be a current generation console release.
Elder Scrolls VI should be released three to four years after Starfield, so that puts its release year at 2023 through 2025. Oh boy.
Guardians of the Galaxy 3 on Hold (Again)
Okay, maybe this is a pretty busy week of news. The third volume of Guardians of the Galaxy may not survive the firing of James Gunn. Here’s a quick recap of what’s happened. James Gunn posted insensitive tweets and was eventually fired as the director of Guardians Vol. 3. Some of the franchise’s actors back Gunn and Disney/Marvel has had a devil of a time finding another director they like. This has led to a stop-start every week or two.
MCU boss Kevin Feige announced this week that the franchise is on an indefinite hold. If the sides can’t find common ground (Bautista has no contract that covers a third Guardians movie), there’s a good chance that Guardians of the Galaxy 3 may not happen at all. Don’t worry. The gang will make an appearance in Avengers 4.
Boba Fett Movie Cancelled
Kathleen Kennedy confirms that the Boba Fett Star Wars spinoff movie is “100% dead.” While the cancellation of a Boba Fett movie helmed by Logan director James Mangold may upset some, the reason for this move is a shift to the Jon Favreau penned live-action TV series The Mandalorian. I couldn’t see both projects taking off, so a little focus for the Fett man may be in order. Let’s hope The Mandalorian delivers.
Andy Muschietti to Direct Attack On Titan
It director Andy Muschietti has just signed on to make a new Attack On Titan live-action film adaptation. The first one didn’t land well with manga readers. Why must every movie have a love story—especially when there isn’t a love story in the original work? Muschietti is a big fan of the original manga and if his work on It is any indication, the new Attack On Titan film will get the blockbuster treatment with plenty of chills.
PlayStation Classic Games List Confirmed
PlayStation announced that it’d join Nintendo with its line of diminutive classic systems with 20 preloaded games several months ago, but this week they announced the full list of games that’ll come with the system. They are as follows:
Battle Arena Toshinden
Cool Boarders 2
Final Fantasy VII
Grand Theft Auto
Metal Gear Solid
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
Resident Evil (Director’s Cut)
Ridge Racer Type 4
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
A lot of these are classic games or the first game in genre defining series. The PlayStation Classic hits shelves on December 5, 2018.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun! and Drum Session! (Switch, PS4)
Drum ‘n’ Fun (Switch) and Drum Session (PS4) mark the first time that a Taiko no Tatsujin game made it to the West. This series is a huge arcade/rhythm game in the East and it’s only a matter of time to see if the States and other countries will take to its catchy beats.
This is the big one this week for me. I’m a sucker for biopics and I like Queen. I don’t watch too many biopics in theaters, but I may make an exception for Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic for Queen front man Freddie Mercury.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Could this film be so bad that it’s good? I’m not sure. A lot of critics have called it “soulless” and “incoherent,” but the visual effects are good. It sounds like an impressive cast that includes Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, and Morgan Freeman can’t help The Nutcracker and the Four Realms from becoming Disney’s worst reviewed film in history. Yikes!
This one won’t be for everyone. If this movie follows the 1977 original, Suspiria tackles some heady material, and its trailer depicts vampires who let the blood flow even more. This lends itself to multiple watches, once to get over the gore and the second to dig deeper into what the film is about, but a run time of two and a half hours may be a little long.
This is the latest Tyler Perry comedy. In this one, Tanya (Tiffany Haddish) is released from prison and is reunited with her family. The family learns that she’s in an online relationship with a mystery man who may be “catfishing” her. It’s a fun premise, so I may watch it. It also doesn’t hurt that Whoopi Goldberg, Amber Riley (Glee), and Mehcad Brooks (Jimmy Olsen from Supergirl) are in the cast.
Eminem produces this odd fusion of comedy, battle rap. Eminem has a knack for the theatrical and it looks to continue here. Bodied has received a lot of praise and high marks, so it may be worth a watch.
The Front Runner
This one starts early next week. It’s another biopic, this time based on Matt Bai’s All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid. In short, it’s Hugh Jackman portraying Senator Gary Hart during his 1988 presidential campaign where he’s caught up in an extramarital affair with Donna Rice.
Friday, November 2, 2018
I’ve talked about this one in the past. Julia Roberts stars as a caseworker who helps military members transition to civilian life. Years after she starts a new life as a waitress when a Department of Defense auditor questions why she left the program. There may be more to her being placed as a former caseworker than she realizes.
House of Cards (Netflix)
Today marks House of Cards’ final season. I lost interest a long time ago, and the Kevin Spacey scandal didn’t help, but hopefully Netflix’s first original series ends on a high note.
The Other Side of the Wind (Netflix)
This film may be the biggest thing Netflix has ever produced; it’s one of Orson Welles’s lost films. Being locked away in a Paris vault (due to legal issues) for decades didn’t prevent The Other Side of the Wind from influencing other films that came after it. It all but created the Mockumentary. What’s even better is that Netflix plans to release a follow up documentary on the film’s history which may be just as interesting.
History beats The Front Runner (Gary Hart) to the punch with this series about Watergate. This scandal may have marked the United States’ loss of innocence; it definitely gave birth to scandal journalism.
Sunday, November 4, 2018
Mickey’s 90th Spectacular (ABC)
Mickey Mouse made his first appearance on May 15, 1928 (Plane Crazy), and Steamboat Willie was released around Thanksgiving of the same year. Mickey’s 90th Spectacular is a special that celebrates Mickey throughout the decades.
Based on the historical time travel book series of the same name, Outlander returns for a fourth season on Starz. The premise sounds interesting and it’s received good ratings, so I may give it a try.
I may be a little late with this one, because tabletop games are difficult to track down with their new releases. Betrayal Legacy holds my interest with a death grip. Rob Daviau was involved with the original Betrayal at House on the Hill (think of a Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods in board game form) and he adds his patented legacy game mechanism to the mix. For the uninitiated, legacy games are games that change the board through multiple plays, so Betrayal Legacy should play out more like a movie and the choices players make will have lasting consequences.
I may pour a little cold water on this writeup with saying that legacy games aren’t always executed as well as they could be. Gamers may want to wait and read a review (a spoiler-free review as this board game will play like a movie) before purchasing it.
That’s all we have for Geekly news this week. Be kind to one another and stay geeky.
I just missed Iron Fist’s cancellation last week, and Luke Cage joins it this week. This may or may not be a sign of things to come with Marvel-Netflix’s shows. Several factors led into the decision to cancel the Heroes for Hire (Luke and Danny). I’ll try to keep this brief.
Disney still intends on beginning its own streaming service soon and is looking to reclaim the licenses of many of their characters; this also incited the proposed Fox buy-out. Netflix ordered fewer episodes of future Luke Cage and Iron Fist seasons as an effort to lower costs (fewer episodes mean less money for the license), but lowering costs means that they would give Disney less money and that makes Disney less interested in maintaining the agreement. But the chief reason may be that Netflix has matured (as a television network of sorts) to a point where they don’t overpay for licenses they don’t need or want, and they’re less likely to continue shows that don’t earn them new subscribers or downloads. Early Marvel shows like Daredevil and Jessica Jones brought in new subscribers, but Luke Cage and Iron Fist struggled.
Netflix still has the license to use Luke Cage and Iron Fist in their shows, so the cancellation of their individual series doesn’t mean that fans won’t see them on other Marvel-Netflix shows. Of course, things could change if Disney insists on reclaiming as many Marvel licenses as possible. The Mouse House could rescind their Netflix licenses or make the premiums for keeping any licenses untenable for Netflix.
Marvel Game Universe (MGU) Announced
And now for some lighter news. Spider-Man for the PS4 (released last month) is the official launch of an interconnected series of games that will feature Marvel Universe characters. The Marvel Game Universe, or MGU, will function in many ways like the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Spider-Man acting as 2008’s Iron Man.
Rumors swirl with numerous game developers attached to various Marvel properties. Sony’s Insomniac will continue with future Spider-Man games, but they’ll take on at least another character or two, Square Enix (of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest fame) will produce Marvel titles (and Sony hinted that they may be involved with the larger project), and Rock Steady (Batman Arkham series) has been mentioned as well. I’m not sure who’ll be in the final production line as far as developers, but the main Avengers and stars of future Marvel films are a safe bet for getting their own games, and if the results of future Marvel games are as good as Spider-Man, it’ll be a fun ride.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4, Xbox One)
The long wait for Red Dead Redemption 2 is now over. This game is a prequel to the first Red Dead Redemption (2010) and follows the story of outlaw Arthur Morgan of the Dutch Van der Linde gang. Let’s hope this Western ends in a more positive light.
My Hero: One’s Justice (Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC)
My Hero Academia gets the fighting game treatment. There’s a strong possibility that I’ll pick this one up on the secondary market. Plus Ultra!
Call of Cthulhu (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
This game will share more with the 1981 pen and paper role-playing game than the H. P. Lovecraft short story of the same name. What makes me interested is that Cyanide game studio contacted the original writers of the 1981 RPG, so this survival horror/role-playing game has some serious roots.
This one sounds like a good old-fashioned action adventure and that’s okay sometimes. The Russian president is captured and a U. S. submarine must rescue him while avoiding World War III.
Friday, October 26, 2018
The first season of this Netflix original anime followed the source material closely, but it dragged in a few places. I’m hoping the second season will build on a promising cliffhanger.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
Sabrina the teenage witch has largely been a comedic character and in 2014, Archie Comics gave her a grittier reboot. I can’t wait to see how Kiernan Shipka and the rest bring this reimagining of the character to life.
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Stan Against Evil (IFC)
This series is still on? I kid—sort of—because this series can scratch the itch left by a dearth of new Evil Dead material. I’ve always liked John C. McGinley (“Scrubs”), so I may give this comedy-horror series another shot.
Tell Me a Story (CBS App)
I like the premise of Tell Me a Story. This series takes the world’s most beloved fairy tales and reimagines them as dark and twisted psychological thrillers. Unfortunately, CBS is at it again with making some of its content only available on its streaming service. Ugh!
This is an understated card game. The game is played with a deck of 100 cards, 20 cards of each of the titular 5 Colors. Players simultaneously play a card from their hand. The most played color gets scored and each player that played the most commonly played color gains points on the card they played. It’s simple to understand, but once players catch on with how to play, the strategy begins.
Atlandice has a lot more going on than 5 Colors. This game’s main feature is a rondel (a circular device that changes throughout a game) and in the center of the rondel is a doom clock. Players draft dice and items during their turn, trying to get the most points before rooms get swallowed by a flood and the doom clock ends the game.
It’s an interesting game with a lot going on. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and get a closer look.
That’s all we have for Geekly news this week. Be kind to one another and stay geeky.
TV? I know what you’re thinking. The last iteration of JKGeekly devolved into nothing but TV posts. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to other geekery. Today we’re going to warm up with a new type of post: 3 Lists of 3.
This particular type of post will feature three small, interrelated lists of three. I hope you like the format because I have more than this one planned for Mondays. Here are three lists of three for television that I’m sure will offend someone. I don’t care. Do your worst.
Underrated or Overlooked TV Series
The Magicians (7.5 out of 10 on imdb)
This particular list of 3 was difficult to compile. I’m starting with a series that isn’t that lowly rated, but it’s still rated a 7-point-something; it’ll be hard to find something good to say about a 6 or less. The Magicians gets a lot of gratuitous nudity and over-sexed hate that Game of Thrones gets—more on GoT in a bit—but like Game of Thrones that hate may go too far. It also gets saddled as a Harry Potter clone, and again, that’s as unfair of a comparison as GoT and Lord of the Rings. The Magicians is an interesting take on magic in a modern setting and is one of the better, binge-able SyFy shows.
BBC’s Skins (8.2 out of 10 on imdb)
Did I mention how difficult this list was to compile? The BBC version of Skins makes this list despite being rated an 8.2 because fewer people have seen it, and they should. Skins is an odd show. It centers around teenagers making their way in the world and the bizarre things that happen to them. We’re talking a musical number breaking out of nowhere and someone who suffers from anorexia getting phantom text messages to tell her to eat. I received text messages for weeks, telling me to eat more fiber. Those were some angry butt dials.
Anyway, Skins is also an odd show to watch as several of the cast regulars, who were in their late teens or early twenties at the time, have since appeared in major films and television shows.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (7.7 out of 10 on imdb)
Yeah, Skins may have two or three sneaky musical numbers in the series run, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has two or three musical numbers in each episode. It’s not for everyone. I even pause the show every once and a while because it’s getting too ridiculous. She’s singing about period sex again. Turn on the red light.
It’s also a bit of a cheat having the show on this list because the critics at Rotten Tomatoes rate it in the 90s, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is very good and tends to get overlooked.
It’s a CW show that satires other CW shows. At first, it subtly suggests that someone who lives their life according to romances (books, TV shows, and movies) should seek psychiatric help because life doesn’t follow a romance plot. After a while it flat out says, life isn’t a romantic comedy. It’s okay to enjoy them, but don’t expect your life to be one. There is more love in life than romantic love. You can love your family and friends. Sorry. Uncle Geekly has a long, complicated history with CW shows, so this sentiment is refreshing, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend also does a good job at handling mental illness and behavioral problems without stigma. And some of the musical numbers are catchy and fun—even the ones about period sex.
Overrated TV Series
Game of Thrones (9.4 out of 10 on imdb)
I’m not saying that Game of Thrones is bad by any means, but 9.4 is a little high. As of this write-up it’s the fourth best TV show of all time according to imdb, edging out Breaking Bad. I’d place Breaking Bad ahead of Game of Thrones and there are plenty of shows further down the list that I’d happily place ahead of the gang from Westeros too. Oddly enough, some of the reasons I’d knock Game of Thrones down a few dozen spots are the same reasons George R. R. Martin believed that it wouldn’t make a good TV show: too many characters, and at times, unfocused storytelling.
Stranger Things (8.9 out of 10 on imdb)
If neuroscience is correct in saying that nostalgia provides a similar chemical brain reaction as methamphetamines, then Stranger Things is TV’s version of crystal meth. Hey, another Breaking Bad reference. Yay! There’s little else to this series than a ton of callbacks that include frame-by-frame recreations of 80s shows and movies. I like plenty of 80s properties, but if I have a hankering for 80s nostalgia, I’ll watch the originals.
House of Cards (8.8 out of 10 on imdb)
House of Cards can be fun to watch. I like seeing how the various traps are set and schemes come to fruition, but the show gets a little too ridiculous at times. Perhaps even random musical number ridiculous. One needs to suspend disbelief to an absurd measure with this title. While I’m okay doing that for the occasional fantasy or science fiction story, it’s a little difficult to do so for shows that are supposed to be more grounded.
It also doesn’t help that Kevin Spacey’s recent sex scandal and subsequent firing from the show make House of Cards difficult to watch.
Intriguing Upcoming TV Series
The Romanoffs (October 12, 2018)
The Romanoffs is the first TV show from the creator of Mad Men since Mad Men ended in 2015. It also features a great cast of Diane Lane, Aaron Eckhart, and Paul Reiser and centers around various people who believe they’re descendant of the Russian royal family. This could get trippy, and I look forward to watching the Amazon original.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (October 26, 2018)
The reboot of the campy teen series Sabrina the Teenage Witch airs just before Halloween and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina pits a young witch against the forces of evil that threaten her family and the world. Mad Men star Kiernan Shipka stars as Sabrina, and the reboot shows plenty of promise. But if there’s no talking cat, I might reconsider.
Homecoming (November 2, 2018)
I may need to listen to the hit Gimlet Media podcast of the same name, but the excellent cast (Julia Roberts, Sissy Spacek, and Dermot Mulroney to name a few) and Mr. Robot creator Sam pique my interest.
Are there any shows we missed with our lists? Which shows do you think are overrated or underrated? Which shows do you look forward to this upcoming season? Let us know in the comments.
It’s official, The CW produce and air The Flash-Arrow spinoff that’s been setting the rumor mill ablaze. You didn’t have too much in the way of facts prior to now because The CW was on the fence about the series – who are they kidding, we knew they were going forward with the series – but now that CW has confirmed the series and named it Legends of Tomorrow, they’ve leaked plenty of information about the upcoming series.
The tentative tagline for the show reads When heroes alone are not enough, the world needs legends. The tagline reveals that we won’t just have heroes in this new team; some villains will grace this team. The title, Legends of Tomorrow, hints at a time-travel, but we now know that our time-jumping hero will be Rip Hunter, played by Arthur Darvill. Hunter has seen the future and will try to prevent something big from happening but he’ll need the help of The Legends to stand a chance of defeating this unstoppable threat.
And here’s our team of Legends:
Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter
Rip Hunter isn’t this time traveler’s real name because as Rip says, “As a time traveler, I can’t let anyone know what my own past is. What’s to stop my enemies from suffocating me in my crib? Or doing the same to my father?”
We may not know what Rip’s real name is but with the help of his Time-Sphere, he’s had a lot of time traveling exploits. We also know that Rip’s part of the Carter family and that Booster Gold is his father. Don’t get any ideas, dastardly villains, or our next Legend will shrink you down to size.
Brandon Routh as Atom
Starling City isn’t big enough for Atom and the Arrow, so Ray Palmer’s taking his talents to South—actually, I don’t know where this show will be set. If we assume that Starling is in Wisconsin (check out our DC Comics Cities Map for more details), Ray should be headed south and my best guess is that the Legends of Tomorrow could have some scenes in Pittsburgh, PA.
Rip Hunter has spent some of his formative years in the Steel City and so did the next member of The Legends.
Victor Garber and Robbie Amell as Firestorm
Two heads are better than one or so this nuclear man on fire would have you believe. Well, Firestorm’s two heads do come in handy and we get some great dialogue that’s more of a monologue. Would that make it a monialogue?
Anyway, Firestorm may be the most overpowered member on The Legends. Here’s a quick breakdown of the powers he’s had over the years:
Density Control: He can manipulate the density of solids, liquids, and gases—from elements as light as hydrogen to ones as heavy as uranium (you know, because he’s a nuclear man).
Eidetic Memory: Anyone tied to the Firestorm Matrix can access the memories of anyone else (human or otherwise) who has ever been fused to the Matrix, and they can do so with moment to moment clarity. Thanks, but I’m good with not having the memory of another man’s birth.
Energy Absorption: Whether it’s solar, nuclear, petroleum, or even life-force, Firestorm and sap energy from just about any source. How does he stay so thin?
Energy Projection: Nuclear blasts, plain and simple.
Enhanced Vision: Anything you can see, Superman, I can see, too—only I have Thermal Vision.
Flight: Yeah, we know he can fly.
Molecular Reconstruction: How else could he reform his body after he implodes in a ball of nuclear fire?
Phasing: Wow, you couldn’t let Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde) from the Marvel Universe have one cool thing about her. You just had to be able to pass through solid objects, too.
Psychic Link: Eat your heart out, Grodd.
Regeneration: That’s another neat trick. He can already reconstruct his molecules, so why not?
Self-Sustenance: Firestorm can survive in space and doesn’t have to eat.
Superhuman Durability: He can survive bullets and stab wounds.
Superhuman Strength: But can he challenge Supes to an arm wrestling match?
Fortunately, The Flash weakened Firestorm or else The Legends would be playing cheerleader and we’d have no use for one of the next members on our list.
Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold and Dominic Purcell as Heat Wave
Why have one Rogue when you can get two? Miller and Purcell reprise their roles as Captain Cold and Heat Wave in The Legends. I’m not entirely sure why the team needs Heat Wave but the more the merrier. And there may be another addition to The Legends that might make some Arrow merrier.
Caity Lotz as Black Canary?
All we know is that Caity Lotz will be in The Legends. We don’t know if she’s only in flashbacks, portrays a different character, or if she returns as an alternate reality Sarah Lance/Black Canary or if she’s Sarah post-Lazarus Pit. We’ll have to see how The Legends plays her character but we do know the identity of the other female member of the team.
Ciara Renee as Hawkgirl
Hawkgirl was the new hero I most wanted to see in The Legends but this may not be the hard but clean nosed heroine from the mid-80’s to 2011. This Hawkgirl’s alter ego is Kendra Saunders and she might share the New 52’s Hawkgirl origin as a reformed treasure hunter/grave robber. Either way, I can’t wait to see Hawkgirl get some air time and she’s by no means the most mysterious member of The Legends.
Franz Drameh as Jay Jackson
First thing’s first: there is no Jay Jackson in the DC Universe.
He could be a new character or his name could be used as subterfuge for the true identity of the character Drameh’s portraying. This wouldn’t be the first time that DC has introduced a new character in a TV series (Harley Quinn, anyone?) but it also wouldn’t be the first time that DC changed a character’s alter ego name so that fans would keep guessing who the character was over the course of a summer.
Action Jackson – please don’t let that be his character name if he’s a new character – could be anything from Karate Kid, to a reimagining of Kid Flash, to even Cyborg from The Titans. That last one might be interesting. TNT has a Titans TV show planned for later this year or next year but they don’t have Cyborg in the line-up. The CW could be changing Cyborg’s alter ego name (from Victor Stone) to Jay Jackson so that TNT could use Stone as Cyborg in a future season of Titans. It wouldn’t be the first time for that either but I don’t know what the CW has planned. All I know is that I’m intrigued by The Legends’ large cast.
iZombie is essentially Pushing Daisies—with a splash of zombie—for a younger demographic. I didn’t include this comparison in my review of iZombie’s pilot (if you want to read my review, here’s a link) because I didn’t want to marry the two shows to each other. I loved Pushing Daisies, so I’m leery to compare it to iZombie. But there are some lessons iZombie can learn from Pushing Daises.
We’ll get to these lessons in a bit, but first, let’s see how these two shows stack against each other.
By the numbers, iZombie resembles Pushing Daisies, but it doesn’t have the same whimsy. The zombie motif adds a dark streak. iZombie could overcome this by adding flare to the special effects and art direction. That’s not a knock on iZombie necessarily. The effects and art direction for Pushing Daisies was top-notch, Emmy worthy. But with its smaller budget, I’m not sure if iZombie can ever compete with Pushing Daisies in this regard, so they could make the subject matter even lighter and still, getting too light-hearted could be an issue.
Pushing Daisies balanced the goofy humor, mystery elements, and romance pretty well—the first season. It got a little too weird for its own good in season two and lost a lot of viewers. Likewise, iZombie’s pilot balanced its elements well. But will iZombie fall prey to the same weird just for weird’s sake? There are a couple of factors that might help.
iZombie grounds itself in police work more than Pushing Daisies ever did—that’s because Pushing Daisies was a fantasy—and you don’t have to explain a zombie as much as a magical pie maker, so that’s another obstacle averted. Then, you have a change in point of view. In Pushing Daisies, you gain distance from the dead because the pie maker brought people back to life: third person reanimated dead. In iZombie, Liv is a zombie and she experiences unliving first-hand: first person reanimated dead. I like the point of view shift. It helps to separate the two shows for me, gives a fresh perspective on the undead, and could keep the show afloat.
There’s plenty of room for both shows and for iZombie in the growing number of zombie media. We’ll have to watch tonight’s episode to find out whether or not iZombie’s elements fall out of balance and even later to see if it can match or beat Pushing Daisies’ number of twenty-two, total episodes. I’d love it if they brought back or rebooted Pushing Daisies.