Monday, September 27, 2010

An EVENTFUL post....

Last week, I commented on the pilot episode of NBC's The Event. I was brief, but critical; I felt it left a lot to be desired. It was slowly paced, and the numerous flashbacks seemed obtrusive and poorly integrated into the plot. With that in mind, I watched this week's episode, expecting to be disappointed again.

What happened was that my expectation of disappointment was itself disappointed, as this week's installment was a marked improvement over last week. The pacing was up, secrets were actually revealed which lead to more questions (whereas last week, the only question arising was, "What the **** was that?"), and overall, it felt like things HAPPENED; the plot felt like it had achieved substantially more advancement than it had last week. The flashbacks were still there, but, for the most part, they seemed more essential to this week's narrative. There are still some rough spots, to be sure, but it seemed like the producers of The Event got their act together in a very short amount of time.

Of course, the big thing about this week's episode is the reveal in the middle. Now, many internet users have already leaked it weeks before the show's debut, so don't read what's in these parentheses if you haven't watched any of it yet and would like to (Those people in the prison camp? They're ALIENS! Dun-dun-DUNNN!!!).

Anyway, I knew that reveal would come, but I'm frankly surprised they unveiled it so soon; judging from last week's episode, I had thought they'd drag it out a LOT longer. Now, there are still more questions that need to be answered, and I do wonder how long they can maintain the premise before it runs out of steam, but overall, if The Event can continually deliver like they did tonight, I think NBC has a solid addition to it's Monday Night Line-up.

As an aside, this post marks the beginning of my blog's Hundredth Post Countdown Spectacular. Only nine posts left until I reach triple digits!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Brave and the Bold Wishlist

So, this musical clip from an upcoming episode of Batman: The Brave & the Bold has been making the rounds. This clip only proves that B&B is the best Batman take in YEARS.

However, it caused me to wonder: the past two seasons have been so great, what could they do to top it if (God willing) they get a third season. Many of the characters that I've wanted to see have made it into the show already. Captain Marvel? Check. Woozy Winks? Check. Detective Chimp? CHECK.

Still, while they've put in many, MANY characters, there are still some guest stars I'd like to see. What follows is my list of Top Ten Characters I'd Like to See in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

10) The Batmen of Many Nations- These guys are somewhat obscure, but it'd be cool. Basically, the Batmen are costumed crimefighters from other countries that admire Batman. DC's Knight and Squire are the most obvious, but there are guys from Russia, Japan, and China, too. I'd like to see a little international flair come to Batman.

9) The Wonder Twins- If you have to ask about this one, then you clearly haven't read my blog enough. It should come as no surprise that I ADORE Zan and Jayna. I once wrote a philosophy paper where I use the Wonder Twins to illustrate a certain principal of Hindu thought.

Granted, Alex Ross can make anything look cool.

8) Captain Atom- But only if they get Greg Weisman to write the episode.

7) Swamp Thing- It used to be that Swamp Thing had quite a high media profile. He had a movie, a live-action tv series, and an animated series. But in the past few years, Swamp Thing has all but vanished from mass media. Now, when kids think of an ambulatory mass of vegetable detritus, they'll think of Man-Thing which, considering the SyFy original movie made of him, is unfortunate. Let's have Swamp Thing return to television, before it's too late. This message brought to you by the Swamp Thing Awareness Foundation.

6) Batman Beyond- Terry McGinnis kicks ass. Plus, he'd be a natural lead-in for the next group...

5) Legion of Super-Heroes- Brave & The Bold takes many cues from the Silver Age of Comics, and few comics reflect the sensibilites of that time period more than the Legion. Have Batman travel in time (perhaps with Booster Gold) and meet Karate Kid (not the Ralph Macchio one).

Not this one, either.

4) Dial H for Hero- Another very Silver Agey character. For those who don't know, the basic premise is that a young kid has this alien doohickey that looks like an old rotary phone dial. By dialing HERO, said youngster is turned into a random superhero. Now, it's similar to Captain Marvel/ Billy Batson, but I think the writing staff could come up with a way to work it in.

3) Mr. Terrific II- He's very similar to Batman, but he's more sociable. Also, he's awesome.

2) Wonder Woman- I honestly don't think there's really been a good Batman/ WW story. True, some writers, like Joe Kelly and Bruce Timm's staff, have toyed with them dating, but that always struck me as lazy. I'd like to see a well thought out story that shows the differences and similarities in personality without falling into the romance cliche.

1) Superman- They need to do at least one team-up with the Man of Steel. Or, if that's overplayed, have one of Superman's supporting cast show up so you can still touch on the Superman/ Batman dynamic in a new way. Jimmy Olsen or Steel are two characters that come to mind. At the very least, I want to see a Mxyzptlk/ Batmite or an Ace the Bathound/ Krypto team-up.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

New TV Season, Part 3

Big Bang Theory (CBS)- Ah, yes. I'd never really watched this show before, despite how awesome all my friends told me it was. After all, it used to air on Mondays, and there was always something else to grab my attention- pro wrestling, Chuck, Heroes, shows on Cartoon Network, etc. Now it's on Thursday nights, so there's nothing preventing me from watching it.

This show is GENIUS in how insidious it is. On the surface, it appears to be nothing more than your typical formulaic sitcom that CBS has been trying so hard to resurrect. However, I'd say it's target audience is NOT formulaic sitcom fans. All the jokes are aimed towards nerds! Jokes about Star Trek, comics, etc. The season premiere even featured this gem- "How does Aquaman poop?"

The premise is that a bunch of nerds live together and there's a hot blonde who lives next door. Hijinx, predictably, ensue. And you know what, it works. Sitcoms have had nerds before, but usually they've been on the periphery. They show up, a joke is made about pocket protectors, and then the standard jokes about how men like football and women like shopping resume. BBT takes a hard look about how it is to be a nerd living in society. And they're NOT portrayed as losers; they're generally pretty happy about their lives. Brilliant.

**** My Dad Says (CBS)- One would think this would be a good show for nerds. It's based on a blog, and of the two leads, one was a villain on Chuck and the other is William Shatner. Needless to say, I was looking forward to it. After five minutes, I was looking away from it, disgusted.

**** My Dad Says IS totally a formulaic sitcom. Shatner is basically Archie Bunker, and every word or act is merely a set-up so he can say something that's shocking, offensive or (in theory) funny. Bleh! You know what sums up the show? This...


Fringe (Fox)- I never watched Fringe before, but I'd heard some good things about it, so I decided to check out the season premiere. The premise was that a group of FBI people check out weird happenings using fringe science and solve them. Now, there's some kind of cold war with an alternate universe. It was entertaining enough, but if you haven't seen it before, it's not the easiest to follow.

The Good Guys (Fox)- This show debuted last May, but no one said anything, so I'm sure there were a few people who thought last night's episode was the first. Anyway, it's pretty easy to get into.

Bradley Whitford plays Dan Stark, an 80's cop who still acts like it's the 80's. His partner, Bailey, is a by-the-book type fellow. Together, THEY FIGHT CRIME. It's a silly, mostly enjoyable, action-comedy spoof. It still feels like the producers and writers are trying to find their groove, style-wise; I feel they could've gone a bit more over the top. Still fun though.

Also, TNA's Matt Morgan guest-starred as a large, violent criminal, which is what pro wrestlers usually get cast as. Still, I certainly believed that Morgan was a large man who could kill me with his bare hands, so he at least nailed the character.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New TV Season, Part 2

Hawaii Five-O (CBS): It wouldn't be a new tv season without a rehash of a beloved show, and yet no one has tried to revamp Airwolf. Shameful. Anyway, as the original was inspired some of our generation's finest minds, including Mick Foley and Conan O'Brien, I decided to give this a shot.

The Bad- Oh, man, the two leads take every play out of the TV cop cliche handbook. McGarrett, a man seeking to bring the man who killed his father to justice, is a loose cannon. He doesn't like the system, he doesn't like the governor who gave him the authority to go outside the system, and he doesn't like his new partner who he himself picked. Meanwhile, Dan-O, an East Coast cop who moved to the Big Island to be closer to his daughter, appears to have gone to the Lenny Brisco Police Academy. He's sarcastic, talks a lot, and has a psychotic ex-wife. Together, McGarrett and Dan-O run the gamut of the TV/ Movie Police Range of Emotions, running from dislike, to grudging respect, to friendship. Together, they form a team of police force outcasts who are Hawaii's only hope of ousting corruption from the island. Meh.

There's also a decided lack of pompadours. What the hey?

The Good- Daniel Dae Kim is in this, and he's, as expected, awesome. At one point, he smacks a suspect across the face with an ash tray. James Marsters also plays the pilot episode's villain, but he's only in it for five minutes. Finally, they kept the original theme song, more or less unchanged.

Undercovers (NBC): This show would probably win the Most Hyped Show of the Season if The Event didn't exist. The ads have usually taken one of two forms.

Ad One- "From JJ Abrams, the man who brought you such JJ Abrams programs as JJ Abrams' Alias, JJ Abrams' Lost, and JJ Abrams' Fringe, as well as the visionary who brought you JJ Abrams' Star Trek (but not Cloverfield; let's just pretend that didn't happen), comes the most JJ Abrams-est series in at least 3 months!"

Ad Two- This ad consists of nothing but the word "sexpionage" ad nauseum. You'd think it was some lame word invented by a marketing exec, but no! They actually use that word six or seven times during the course of the pilot. And it's not like you even need a new word combining sex and espionage. Sex has been a part of the spy genre for decades, thanks to James Bond and others.

Anyway, the premise of the show is that two CIA agents, Steven and Samantha Bloom, get married, retire, and then are brought back into the spy business years later by Major Dad. This helps to rekindle their marriage, as evidenced by slightly humorous but forced banter throughout the course of the pilot. They also cross paths with the guy who played Sammy's evil ex-husband Franco on Days of Our Lives.

Anyway, as this is a JJ Abrams show, I'm waiting for the inevitable WTF turning point. My theory is that the Blooms' marriage was subtly orchestrated by a secret government conspiracy. Their retirement threw a wrench into the secret cabal's plans. Major Dad brings the Blooms back in so they can rekindle their romance and proceed to boinking. The desired outcome of said boinking is to produce a super spy baby who is genetically predisposed for sexpionage. This baby will grow up to be Major Dad, who will travel back in time to continue the loop.

Either that, or something totally ludicrous.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New TV Season- my thoughts thus far....

The trees are starting to drop their leaves; similarly, in a few weeks, the networks will drop half of the new shows they've trundled out! Zing!

Anyway, in the meantime, there are quite a few geek-friendly shows. Here are my thoughts on a few....

Chuck (NBC)- I LOVE this show. Any program that will do an '80's style montage set to the tune of "The Touch" by Stan Bush will have my unconditional affection guaranteed. The season premiere was this past Monday, and it had everything I've come to expect- action, comedy, drama, and LOADS of nerd references. This season also promises a ton of guest stars, including Linda Hamilton, Olivia Munn, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, and Timothy Dalton, to name a few. Chuck's guest stars always make sense, and their presence adds to an episode instead of detracting from it.

The Venture Bros. (Adult Swim)- Whether this is a continuation of the last season or a new season all it's own is irrelevant. It's fantastic, and HANDS DOWN the best animated and best written show on Adult Swim.

The EV3NT- Ugggh. This show is slow-moving. They took an hour to advance perhaps 10 minutes of plot! If you like pointless flashbacks and scenes replayed several times, then this is the show for you!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Get me Kaputnik and Fonebone!"

So, the other night, I watched Cartoon Network's newest program, Mad. Now, like many a young man, I read Mad Magazine a time or two in my youth. I read Cracked Magazine first, mind you, but that's irrelevant as they've REALLY differentiated themselves from Mad over the years.

And in high school, I watched Mad TV, a sketch comedy show that was AWESOME in it's first few seasons, though it turned to crap in later years. (Personally, I blame a decided lack of That's My White Mama sketches for the decline.)

So, I decided to catch the new animated version of the venerable comic humor magazine.

It's like Robot Chicken in that it's a fifteen minute animated program with a variety of short sketches. It differs from RC in two main regards. First, it does not feature one Leah Cevoli, who is one of my favorite voice actresses and a really nice person besides, so go check out her IMDB page, why don't you? Second, unlike Robot Chicken, it's AWFUL.

Perhaps that's a rash judgment, as I've only seen one episode. However, I feel justified, as that episode damaged me badly. Not nearly as badly as the WWE's Katie Vick fiasco, which is quite possibly the worst thing to have ever aired on television EVER, but Mad the animated series was unpleasant nonetheless.

There was a bad Transformers parody, a Facebook joke, a iPhone parody (instead of "app", they say "crap"! Ha-ha-haa! Kill me.), and a parody of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. While I'm no fan of George Lucas's megolamaniacal raping of his once beloved creation, I question the wisdom of a Cartoon Network series making fun of a series ON THE SAME NETWORK.

Overall, the show was tiresome and loaded with lame pop culture jokes. Even a Spy vs. Spy cartoon did little to provide solace in the face of such tripe. Only watch Mad if you are contemplating driving rusty nails in your eyes and need a strong incentive to do so.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

They bump back.

So, Starz has been showing some of the Hellboy animated movies on their various channels (namely Encore and Movieplex) and they're pretty awesome. I watched Blood and Iron yesterday, and it was very cool. Now, it had a lot of flashbacks that didn't seem fully integrated to the main story. They were related to the story, certainly, but their placement throughout felt slap-dash and haphazard. They detracted more than added to the tale.

The animation is solid. It's kind of a cross between Mignola's original style and the style popularized by the various Bruce Timm animated projects, and it works.

And, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the voice talent. Actors from the live-action films, such as Ron Perlman, Doug Jones, Selma Blair, and John Hurt, join veteran voice acting talent. Overall, this provides a top notch voice cast that really shines.

I also caught the last half of Sword and Storms today, which is similarly good, though having missed half of it, I'm hesitant to comment on it fully. On the other hand, the parts I did see had Hellboy fighting a bunch of Japanese demons, like the kappa, so that's pretty cool. Of course, Hellboy is pretty cool regardless, so that probably goes without saying.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Doctor is in-Freakin'-credible!

Today, I'd like to talk about one of my favorite new webcomics, Awesome Hospital. What is Awesome Hospital? I'm glad you asked that.

In the creators' own words- "Death Rays. Mind Control. Teenage Werewolves. When you’ve got a problem so rad that conventional science can’t help, you need to consult the specialists of Awesome Hospital."

Basically, AH is a slam-bang combo of radicalness. It's like someone took St. Elsewhere and The Venture Bros. and put them in a blender.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention one of the strongest influences for AH. The creators have noted none other than Jack "The King" Kirby as an inspiration, and it shows. From the concept, to the art style, to the character design, reverence for The King is apparent in every update.

The characters are awesome. Chief M.D. Kris Kringle heads up a wild staff of doctors and nurses, including Dr. Caveman, Dr. Bulldog-on-a-Skateboard, Nurse Punk Rock, and more. It's great. The current story features AH being bought out by their medical rivals, Weakler Associates (Weak-Ass Hospital), so the awesome staff has to deal with the likes of Dr. Prop Comic, Nurse Fan-Fiction, and Dr. Casual Racism.

Basically, if you like fun, check out Awesome Hospital. If you don't like fun, then the terrorists win. Awesome Hospital updates Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"What can change the nature of a man?"

As should be well apparent by now, I am huge geek. Comics, video games, rpgs, the works, I love 'em all. RPGs are especially fun, as they blur the line between what the author writes and how it's enjoyed by the reader(s). If anyone's studied media theory, one could state that rpgs are the ultimate producerly text, with the text being intended to be reinvisioned by the reader.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that I've read quite a few rpg books in my time. Generally, I like setting material to read, as rules-related stuff can get rather dry. (In fact, I challenge all those folks who claim that D&D promotes Satanism or whatever to actually read the Dungeon Master's Guide. If there were any such messages, they'd be rendered so boring and mechanical as to make Satanism totally unpalatable in the real world.)

One of my favorite rpg settings will always be TSR's Planescape, for AD&D 2nd Edition. While Wizards of the Coast has revisited the Multiverse from time to time, I can sum up my thoughts on those visits with one picture....


2nd Edition had ALL the good stuff for Planescape. It was almost a total 180 from the Tolkein-esque fantasy that D&D had pioneered to that point.

But I'm not here to talk about the setting, per se. I'm here to talk about one of my favorite PC games, which just so happens to be adapted from the setting- Planescape: Torment.

Made by the creators of Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, and other classics, Torment was, in a word, BRILLIANT. Developed by Black Isle (whose workers went on to form other development firms like Bioware), the game is remarkably open-ended. There are countless different options for playing the game. The alignment system in particular makes play complex and nuanced. Unlike more recent games, like Fable or Infamous, where the moral choices are ridiculously black and white, Torment's choices require serious thought, as there are 9 different alignments possible.

Then there's the writing of the story. While being ridiculously faithful to the Planescape setting and concepts, the creators managed to add in various unique twists. The missions are a departure from traditional hack and slash games, the characters are imaginative and well-developed, and the dialogue shifts effortlessy from humor to drama and back.

It's remarkable how well this game holds up. It remains a fan favorite over a decade later, and is still fun to play. How good is it? One game site, in their list of 100 greatest video games, listed Torment higher than Final Fantasy 7.

Suck it, Cloud!

Since I mentioned the characters, let me talk about them. They're GREAT. True, those familiar with Bioware's later efforts can see the seeds of various formulas they use, but sometimes formulas work beautifully. You have Morte, the lecherous flying skull; Ignus, the constantly aflame pyromaniac; Nordom, the goofy robot-like creature; and many others. And then you have Annah.

Annah, voiced by Sheena Easton (rrrowwwr!), is hands down one of the best female video game characters of all time. She's spunky, funny, and competent. This combination has landed her on many a game site's Best Female Characters list. Plus, she's really hot.

"I'd like ta come over and roll in yer clover and kiss yer Blarney Stone!*"

I could talk more about it, but then I'd just be rehashing what everyone else has already said. Hands down, Torment gets replayed by me very often due to it's masterfully crafted storyline and imaginative design.

*I managed to cram in TWO MST3K references in a post about D&D. I'm very pleased with that.