TV-Round Up: The Orville, The Passage, & True Detective

The Orville: Primal Urges, Home

primalurgesI’m not sure what this says about season two, but my favorite episode of the young season is one held over from their first season. Borrowing a page from TNG’s “Evolution,” “Primal Urges” finds the ship in danger because of crew member’s carelessness. On TNG it was Wesley Crusher creating a new form of sentient life. And The Orville, it’s Bortus getting a nasty virus into the computing systems thanks to his new-found addition to holodeck adult content.*

*Because the series has to remind us at least once per episode that Seth McFarland is behind this. Don’t get me started on the CGI alien whose species writes the best adult simulations in the business and how he talks exactly like a character out of Family Guy. Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday: On the Radar

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For the second Top Ten Tuesday of 2019, we’re asked to look ahead to things on our radar for 2019.  I’m going to make this one that includes all of pop-culture.

Books:

  1.  Cemetery Road by Greg Isles
  2. Who Killed the Fonz? by James Boice
  3. The Iron Codex by David Mack

TV Shows

  1.  The Passage
  2. Good Omens

Movies

  1.  Captain Marvel
  2. Shazaam
  3. Glass
  4. Avengers: End Game

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TV Round-Up: The Orville “Ja’loja”

orvilleseasontwoI started off last season doing a weekly recap of The Orville.  Well, at least until three or four episodes piled up on the DVR and I got behind in my viewing and recapping.

I eventually got the rest of season one, binging them* over a short succession of days. What I found was a show that was growing in confidence, characters, and storytelling, slowly moving away from the “typical” Seth MacFarland type of set-ups for jokes that more often than not didn’t quite land.  The only drawback of the last three-quarters of season one was the show spent far too much time dwelling on what I considered the least interesting aspect of the show, the “will they or won’t they” aspect of Ed and Kelly’s relationship.

*As much as one can binge having a two-year-old.  That generally means that binging is watching a full episode in one sitting without being distracted by whatever mischief Shortcake has discovered.

With the season one finale, I hoped the show might have finally resolved this arc and decided to move on. Continue reading

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Comic Book Friday: Batman: White Knight

Batman: White KnightDC’s Black Label line of comics has caught a bit of flack lately for a recent installment that brought Batman’s genitalia to light (or in the case of said panel, in shadowy highlight that somehow slipped past the censors at DC and has ensured that issues with the panel in tact will go for a high dollar value on the collector’s market). This isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I heard that DC was publishing a line of comics that were intended for adult audiences.

So, it was refreshing to find that the eight issues making up Batman: White Knight did what I wanted a comic book aimed at adult to do — namely, not just rely on flashes of nudity and swearing in order to be “adult.”

The premise is a fairly intriguing one. What if Batman and the Joker switched places in how the citizens of Gotham viewed them? Both are vigilantes who operate outside the law, but Batman has always done so with the tacit endorsement of Jim Gordon and the police while the Joker hasn’t. As this series so intriguingly points out, it’s Batman who causes just as much destruction in his wake taking down the various villains who show up to take on the Caped Crusader. Exactly where the millions of dollars needed each year to rebuild Gotham and how those funds are allocated is just one of the intriguing questions delved into over the course of these eight issues.

The early issue finds Batman and Joker’s battle of wills reaching a new height. After nearly beating the Joker to death with his fists, Gordon and some members of the police force begin to question their loyalty to and endorsement of Batman. When the Joker starts taking a medication that slowly reduces his more manic side and he decides to run for city government, public sentiment begins to turn from the Caped Crusader to the Crowned Prince of Crime. Seems all he needed was the love of a good woman in the first Harley Quinn (the series gives us two women who play Harley to the Joker, thus ticking off a few continuity boxes from how we saw Harley in the animated series and how she was in the big-screen Suicide Squad and the right medication.

But how effective is the medication really? And is the Joker playing some sort of long game to slowly undermine the Batman’s support mechanisms and destroy him once and for all? Could it be that the Joker would rather see his adversary in ruins rather than dead?

It makes for a fascinating story and one that it feels like Batman comics could or should have delved into before now.

If there’s one complaint I have about this collection, it’s that the final issue feels like it’s too quick to wrap things up. I understand there is a follow-up coming our way in the near future and I suppose they had to leave room for more stories to tell, but I couldn’t help but feel that the final installment didn’t stick the landing as effectively as it could or should have.

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Review: Elevation by Stephen King

ElevationScott Carey is mysteriously dropping weight. Despite no changes to his diet or lifestyle, the number on the scale is slowly decreasing. And what at first seemed like a good thing, despite the fact that his outward appearance isn’t changing to coincide with his weight loss, Scott is slowly becoming worried about what might happen if he continues to waste away.

But before he does, Scott has decided he’s going to accomplish a few things in the small town of Castle Rock. One of those is befriending and helping the lesbian couple that moved in a few doors down from his house and who recently opened a Mexican restaurant.

Stephen King’s novella Elevation doesn’t have King pulling any punches or hiding his feelings on the current day political climate in our country. Several digs at the current administration are present, making this reader wonder if and how well this story will age. Odds are it not age as well, which is a shame because when King isn’t scoring a few political points, Elevation is a taunt story that unfolds nicely over its 200 or so pages. It’s not vintage King and it’s not the best thing he’s published this year (that goes to The Outsider), but it’s still a story that explores one of King’s favorite themes — how do ordinary people act and react when extraordinary things happen to them.

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Audiobook Review: Luke Skywalker Can’t Read: And Other Geeky Truths by Ryan Britt

Luke Skywalker Can't Read: And Other Geeky TruthsListening to the essays that make-up Luke Skywalker Can’t Read: And Other Geeky Truths, I feel like Ryan Britt and I would be good friends if we ever met in the real world.

Covering things from why reboots happen and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing to the sad truth that Luke Skywalker and company don’t place a high value on literacy to the admission that he grew up listening more to Star Trek soundtracks that he did the popular music of the day (boy, did that one resonate with this guy, who can tell you pretty much were most musical cues from the original series featured first but couldn’t tell you much about the popular music of my teenage years), Britt keeps things entertaining, humorous, and compelling throughout.

Pointing out how the Back to the Future is every genre of film in one trilogy and then proceeding to deconstruct the time travel paradoxes within the film, Britt had me nodding in agreement at multiple points and considering some of my favorite genres and some of their most popular entries in a new light. And his final essay finds me wanting to visit Issac Asimov’s I, Robot again to see how it differs from most of the other robots in pop culture since the mechanical creatures don’t want to rise up and exterminate us all.

And while I agree with what Britt says in most of the essays, I differ greatly with him in his analysis of modern Doctor Who (but then again, I differ from a lot of fandom in my assessment and enjoyment of the revived series, especially the esteem to which a certain Doctor is held (ahem..David Tennant…ahem)). But that’s why I say I feel like Britt and I could be friends – because you don’t want to agree with your friends on everything….

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Remembering Stan Lee

Much to the chagrin of my AP English teacher, I’d have to say that Stan Lee is one of the writers I’ve read the most. Part of that is due to my obsession with Spider-Man comic books at a young age and into my early teens with Marvel reprinted the entire Lee/Steve Ditko run of Amazing Spider-Man in Marvel Tales. And part of that is because Stan Lee wrote a LOT of comic books.

So, I was saddened to hear that Lee passed away yesterday at the age of 95. For some reason, like many of the Marvel characters he created, I just felt like Stan would live forever. And maybe through his creations like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and so many other iconic characters he will. And his impact on pop culture is undeniable — and it’s only grown over the last decade as the Marvel Studios movies have become the biggest pop culture events on the planet.

Lee was the face and voice of Marvel for such a long time. And while he hasn’t been actively involved in that role in a long time, it’s still hard to imagine that we won’t get a new story by Stan for one of his iconic creations the next time he or she celebrates a milestone issue count or anniversary. Lee had a fertile imagination and while not every comic he wrote was a classic, he had more hits than misses. Listening to his distinctive voice in interviews, I know he wanted to write the “great American novel.” But maybe with the creation of a pantheon of heroes and villains that will continue on for decades to come, he wrote something greater.

I hope that Avengers 4 was able to film a cameo by Lee before his passing. Even so, it will be sad to know that Marvel Studios movies after a certain point will no longer see Lee making his trademark cameo any longer.

But for all the wonderful stories and memories he gave me, I say thank you to Stan Lee. And may you rest in peace.

As Stan would say, Excelsior!

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