Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Flash review: The Once and Future Flash

Barry goes to the future to try to learn Savitar's identity. Future Barry would just tell him, right?

Everytime Barry travels in either direction through time, something always goes horribly wrong,  This time, in the future everyone is pretty miserable, it's like their "Wonderful Life" episode they couldn't wait till Christmas to make. But instead of George Bailey seeing how miserable everyone's life is if he hadn't been born, Barry sees how miserable everyone's life is after Iris dies and future Barry goes into seclusion.

In the end, he rallies the team together again and everyone's happy. That was easy! Even the miserable in-seclusion Barry comes back.

In the forgotten "Superboy" series from the late 80s, Superboy travels through some alternate dimensions, finds a burnt-out version of himself and he comes back to save the day.

So it was a hybrid of "Wonderful Life" and that one good episode of "Superboy."

It's still fun to watch, but they might be running out of ideas.

Killer Frost is back, with a great tease at the end to the real ID of Savitar.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The TV character whose other job is as TV host trope

The internet and I have explored TV tropes before: the jump the shark moments, the death of a beloved character never mentioned before, disposable love interests, the unnecessary plot contrivance.

But here's something I've never seen explored: The-TV-character-whose-other-job-is-as-TV-host trope.

In the late 80s-early 90s, it wasn't enough that Bob Newhart was an innkeeper, in the later seasons, he had to be an innkeeper with his own TV show; it wasn't enough Tim Allen was a handyman, he was a handyman with his own TV show, it wasn't enough Kelsey Grammar was a psychologist, he was a psychologist with his own radio show, George Wendt had a short lived show (based on NPR's "Car Talk,") where he and his brother were mechanics who had their own radio show.

We've seen plenty of backstage sitcoms before, but Rob Petrie only had one job!

Why would they all have a second job? Why would the second job always be in media? Where did this come from? In each case I suspect network interference, because all of these shows would have been just as good without the main character's extraneous job. In every case, the extraneous job seems tacked on; the implication is 'doesn't everyone have his/her own TV show?'

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Dennis the Menace works blue

Probably more about the Mitchells' sex life than we'd like to know, but I like when old comics try something new.

Review of 10-year-old comic book I've finally gotten around to reading, part 2

A beautiful Alex Ross cover, some beautiful retro Jerry Ordway, Bob Wiacek art. What's not to like? Well....

The story picks up from JSA 17 where the Magog-ish god-like character banishes Power Girl to ...
some manner of Pre-Crisis Earth 2. Huntress is still around, Dick Grayson is still around, and the Justice Society had merged with Infinity Inc., and it's a real kick to see these characters illustrated by the wonderful Jerry Ordway again.

But, in one of a long series (dating back decades) of Power Girl and Huntress having late-night, rooftop conversations, PG tells Huntress she feels out of place and it's pretty obvious she's the wrong Power Girl for this dimension.

They go on to break up the Joker's gang and PG even saves Huntress' life....

And then the dimension's real PG shows up, has a hostile reaction to her doppleganger and of course, a fight breaks out.

The JSA decide, with no evidence at all, the the doppleganger PG must be evil and they begin to hunt her down (despite her just saving Huntress' life not an hour earlier.)

It is then to be continued in JSA, but ... eh, who cares.

DC has this long history of contempt/neglect for Earth 2, it's hard to work up ethusiasm. Is this the real pre-Crisis Earth 2 or just one of a million deviation universes so numerous it's hard to get an emotional attachment? Either way, it will be gone soon, so just forget about it and move along.

Secondly, the "He/she must be a villain; let's beat him/her up" misunderstanding was a staple for Marvel in the 60s and 70s and let's admit, it's getting pretty tired by now.

So, it starts out as a treat to old-timers like myself who enjoyed Earth 2 stories  and the mid-80s Infinity Inc. run, and still feels the Crisis on Infinite Earths was a colossal mistake, but by the ending, most good will has been squandered.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review: Amy Schumer's Leather Special

It's funny, a lot of oral sex jokes. But her blackout stories are a little worrisome. "There was this time I blacked out and when I came to I found out I had...."

She tells several stories like that, and instead of finding it hilarious, I'm thinking, if she's blacking out this many times, she might need some intervention.

Are we going to be reading an interview with her in People magazine five years from now when she says, "No one realized my jokes were really a cry for help."

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Review of 10-year-old comic book I've finally gotten around to reading, part1

Having kids didn't stop me from buying comics, it just kept me from reading them! So I've stumbled upon a couple books I finally got around to reading.

Action Comics Annual #10

This one's a head scratcher. The cover has the go-go checks, layout  and the '48pg giant' logo all from the 60s, which is supposed to evoke some feeling of nostalgia from old-timers like myself. I bit, I bought it, expecting a bunch of standalone Superman stories like the good old days, but no.

Instead it's a collection of unfinished stories, and Superman is hardly in it. My first clue should have been Superman not even being on the cover (he is featured prominently on the alternate cover, so those readers must have been really disappointed.)

OK, no Superman and unfinished stories. Oh, I get it, there had just been another reboot, and these were the introductory stories to upcoming interminable story arcs for the next issues of Action.

At least that's my theory, I hadn't bought too many Actions after this.

That, and I hate DC story arcs. They never finish. They spend more thought on setting up the arc than actually seeing it through.

The first story ..um no, not actually a story. Lex Luthor goes through a jungle imagining different ways to kills Superman. He finds some Kryptonite, and that's it. Four pages. Great Art Adams art though.

Second story is a retelling of the introduction of Mon-El. Why didn't they just reprint the original story from the 50s? The only difference is instead of stressing the cover tease of a brother from Krypton (not really), it stresses Clark Kent's loneliness. It does have a beginning, middle and end though, unlike everything else in the book. Eric Wight provides some indie-comic style art.

The "Mystery of the Blue Sun" story is the real head scratcher. Thanagarian space police cruisers investigating destroyed cruisers come upon some Bizarro Supermen. Once again, that's it. Two pages! At first I thought it was a production error because the "story" ends abruptly and it goes to a two-page spread of the "Secrets of the Fortress of Solitude," ... then a two-page comic about the Wii, you keep flipping pages looking for the Bizarro story to continue, and it never does! It's always great to see Joe Kubert, especially in the 2000's when he was nearing retirement, but still. There's no there there.

"The Criminals of Krypton" is the closest we get to a story with some interesting concepts. It's based on the deleted scenes from the first Superman movie where the Kryptonian council sends its storm troopers to take out Jor-El. OK, great idea, tell me more. We get some background on the Phantom Zone villains (they weren't evil, just misunderstood -- or lobotomized) -- and more background on Jor-El. OK, a good story, with beautiful art by Rags Morales.

By then though it's too little, too late, because it closes with the continuation of Lex Luthor unveiling the new and improved Metallo

It's all a big tease and big cheat, DC is essentially saying: Here's a bunch of unfinished ideas we may or may not get back to, thanks for your $3.99 though.

I used to think I stopped buying comics books because I had kids and no time to read them, now I'm thinking it's because I kept feeling like I'm getting cheated.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book review: Truth is a Total Defense by Steven Bochco

A TV fan will find a lot of good stories here. Bochco recounts his career and it's fascinating to read about the degrees of separation between "MacMillan and Wife" and "NYPD Blue," and all the backstage fighting to get there.
And, he names names. Who showed up drunk everyday, who was an hour late for shooting everyday because he couldn't poop anywhere but home, and who had her hair cut and permed in the middle of filming an episode (spoiler, Sharon Stone), and who was a total dick (David Caruso).

There's also some great stories about network executives, some good, some bad, and some elderly and confused (William Paley in a very funny cameo.)

The other star of the book is the tons of money a TV creator/producer can make.

Brandon Tartikoff plays prominently, and I saw some overlap with his book "The Last Great Ride."

Both books discuss TV in the 80s, and the authors' cancer battles.

Well worth reading if you're a fan of anything Bochco has done, and who isn't?

On the negative side, this is a vanity press product. You can tell because there's no publisher listed, and the book is rife with typos, grammatical errors and factual errors.

It's hard to believe one of TV's greatest writers doesn't know the difference between there, they're and their. Or its and it's, or Dianne Warwick and Dionne Warwick. He calls ABC president Bob Iger 'Bog' twice on the same page! And there's lots of repetition. He lists the actors he lined up for "Hill Street Blues," then three paragraphs later he lists them again. He constantly refers to Barbara Bosson as his ex-wife, yes we know. And he makes fun of Rock Hudson for not reading his scripts, but he mistakenly describes Hudson's character as a police detective where in "MacMillan and Wife" he was the police commissioner.

Crazy errors spell checker probably pointed out to him are all over the place.

I'm guessing he just dictated his memoir and an assistant with not a lot of background in TV history, or grammar just typed it in.

He keeps talking about the millions he's made. Steven, we love you, give an intern $500 to proofread your book.