Review: Who Killed the Fonz by James Boice

Who Killed the Fonz?In the late 80’s and early 90’s, fondly remembered television series of the past received made-for-television reunion films. James Boice’s Who Killed the Fonz feels like it could be a long-lost reunion movie for the cast of one of my all-time favorite shows, Happy Days.

Beginning in 1984 (the year that Happy Days finally ended its epic run), Who Killed the Fonz finds Richard Cunningham at a crossroads in his Hollywood career. While he’s had success as a writer, including an Oscar nod, he can’t quite get his dream project off the ground. When his agent tells presents him an offer to make write a Star Wars clone, Richard is less thrilled. However, it’s either write the movie he doesn’t want anything to do with or face the end of chasing his dreams in Hollywood.

Then, Richard receives a call from Milwaukee that his old friend, Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli had died in an motorcycle accident. Seems that Fonzie flipped off the front of his bike on a bridge, plunging to his death in the icy waters below. Richard goes back to Milwaukee for the first time in twenty years to bury his old friend and to consider what the next stage in his career will be. (Marion moved out to Hollywood with Richard and Laurie Beth years ago after Howard passed away and they left the famous house to Joanie and Chiachi).

Billed as an 80’s noir thriller, Who Killed the Fonz is a loving homage to the classic series. Boice clearly knows his Happy Days lore, sprinkling in a few nostalgic flashbacks to classic episodes and moments from the series run as Richard comes to terms with the Fonz’s death and that he hasn’t been back to see his old friends in two decades.* He even has Fonzie’s funeral take place at the same funeral home used in the “Fonzie’s Funeral” two-parter late in the run of Richie episodes. Continue reading

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Review: The Reckoning by John Grisham

The ReckoningSince I first picked up The Firm a quarter of a century ago, I’ve enjoyed journeying through the pages of a legal thriller with John Grisham. When he’s on top of his game, the pages seem to turn themselves.

At times, his latest novel The Reckoning had the pages turning quickly. At others, it was rough sledding to turn the pages, wondering why Grisham was taking us on an extended flashback sequence to the second World War.

Local war hero Pete Banning is a pillar of the community, farming his land and providing not only for his family but also the people who work for him. But that’s not to say that Banning hasn’t dealt with his own share of setbacks — whether it’s a poor growing season, low crop prices, or having to commit his wife to the state mental facility, forbidding his kids from visiting her.

But nothing could prepare his children or the community for the morning when Pete Banning takes his gun, visits the office of his local Methodist minister and shoots the pastor dead in cold blood. Banning heads home and prepares himself for his arrest, offering no defense for his actions and refusing to offer any explanation as to why he killed the minister. Eventually, Banning is sentenced to the electric chair and executed. Continue reading

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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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