Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Oldest Question in the Universe

My post on the Christmas Special of Doctor Who is still forth coming, but first, something else Doctor Who related that you might find interesting.

Today is my birthday.  Another person who has this birthday is the Madame de Pompadour.

She, in the real world was of course the famous mistress of the king of France in the eighteenth century, but more importantly, she is also the main character in the fantastic episode from Series Two, "The Girl in the Fireplace."

Since we share the same birthday, I commonly spend part of my birthday watching the episode.

This year, however, I noticed something new.

Steven Moffat wrote the episode and now is the head writer of Doctor Who.  We are all aware of how he introduced River Song in the last David Tennant season, a storyline which would play out over the next few Steven Moffat run seasons.

However, far more impressive is the fact that way back in Series 2, David Tennant's first season, Moffat set up the main storyline of Series 7!


We learned at the end of Series 6 about the Oldest Question in the Universe, a question whose answer could end everything, a question that has been hidden in plain sight from the beginning.

"Doctor Who?"

The identity of the Doctor.

In "The Girl in the Fireplace," written by Moffat way back in Series 2, over five years ago, the Doctor and Madame de Pompadour speak.  The Doctor uses his limited telepathy skills to try and discover what the clockwork robots want with her.  However, while he is in her mind, she looks into his.

"Doctor," she says.  "Doctor who?  It's more than just a secret, isn't it?"

Wow.  Total set up for a story that wouldn't take place for six more years.

That is impressive.

Well done, Mr. Moffat.  I tip my fez to you.  (Fezzes are cool).

Until Next Time, I will spend the rest of my day enjoying my birthday, but soon I will return with my thoughts on this year's fantastic Christmas Special.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, Doctor

48 Years ago today, BBC introduced the world to an amazing and enduring character, The Doctor.

A man from another planet with the ability to travel both time and space.

The Doctor has shared knowledge with us, protected us, and joined with us as we ran from danger and pain.  (The Doctor could probably be considered a version of a Process Theology God, come to think of it, but that's a post for a different time).

We are now, in year 48, on our 11th incarnation of the Doctor, and while Doctor Who is still very popular in Britain, where the show began, the Doctor's popularity around the world has skyrocketed to new and incredible heights.

For all those that have never seen the show before, Netflix Instant Viewing has Season's (Series) 1-5 of the new series that began in 2005 (after a hiatus that makes the waits we endure through for Fringe, Community, Psych, and others seem like a pittance).

But today, in honor of the birth of the show, I will try to embed the episode that aired that night, 48 years ago.

Happy Birthday, Doctor.  Here's to 48 more...




Until Next Time, speaking of Doctor Who, come back soon for a new Simul Blog on the best shows currently on television.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pilot Reviews and First Look at JCFBNSOTS 8

The pilot reviews are up, if you haven't checked them out yet...

For my review of Up All Night and Free Agents go here...

For my review of Whitney and New Girl go here...

For my review of 2 Broke Girls and How To Be A Gentleman go here...

For my review of Pan Am and Prime Suspect go here...

For my review of Unforgettable and Person of Interest go here...

(My thoughts after Terra Nova, although not a proper Pilot Review, is here...)

The competition actually looks pretty fierce this year after last year was a bit of a disappointment (although the ultimate JCFBNSOTS 7 award winner was unquestionably deserving regardless of the lack of competition.)

First off, all four of the major networks are in the running (some a little more strongly than others)

NBC has a contender in Up All Night, although it is probably towards the rear of the chase right now.

ABC only has one contender with Pan Am, but it is certainly towards the front of the pack.

FOX and CBS each have two strong contenders (New Girl and Terra Nova from FOX and 2 Broke Girls and Person of Interest from CBS).

Right now, I would have to say that Terra Nova, New Girl, Pan Am, and 2 Broke Girls are pulling away from the competition, but it is still early.

Until Next Time, stay tuned as the season progresses for more info on this highly contested race!

Pilot Reviews: Unforgettable and Person of Interest

More Pilot Reviews...


Ignoring my love of red-heads, this show is actually pretty good.  The main character's perfect memory is a nice twist on the procedural (and a little more original than, for instance, The Mentalist which just copied the concept of the far superior Psych).  The connection to the head detective on a case in the main character's apartment building was a little too coincidental, and the way that the first episode ended was predictable and annoying.  The overall mystery and the set up seem to be capable of turning this into a strong television show, however, and the second episode was much better, in my opinion.

However, this is about pilot reviews, so to that end...

Pilot Grade: 79%

Interesting Fact: While many fans will recognize Poppy Montgomery, the lead female character, from her work on Without a Trace and Dylan Walsh from his work on Nip/Tuck, I'm most excited about the presence of Kevin Rankin, who was Herc on Friday Night Lights.

Person of Interest

Created by Jonathon Nolan, brother of Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Memento, Insomnia, Inception, Prestige), and screen-writer of the films his brother has directed, this is the first foray of the film writer into television, and sadly, I felt like that showed on the screen.

Nolan is a fantastic writer with an unbelievable imagination (after all, Memento, the most intriguing of Christopher Nolan's films at least until Inception came along was all Jonathon), but television is a different animal than the feature film.  Therefore, it might take some time for Jonathon to get the hang of writing effectively for television.

Overall, it just felt a little off to me.  I haven't had a chance to see the 2nd episode yet, but I expect that the show will get better from where it started.  The pacing wasn't great, and the introductions of the characters and the exposition took me out of the episode more than once.  But these are definitely things that well get better with experience.

As for story, I really like the concept, and you can't ask for a better cast: Jim Caviezel who has primarily been a film actor, but did recently star as 6 in the AMC remake of The Prisoner, Taraji Henson, who was Oscar nominated for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and, of course, Michael Emerson, who was one of the best actors (and characters) in LOST.

I have hope for the show, but it did disappoint me a little with the first episode.

Pilot Grade: 81%

Interesting Fact: The show is being executive produced by J.J. Abrams who created some fantastic television shows in his time: Felicity, Alias, LOST, and Fringe among them.

Until Next Time,

For my review of Up All Night and Free Agents go here...

For my review of Whitney and New Girl go here...

For my review of 2 Broke Girls and How To Be A Gentleman go here...

For my review of Pan Am and Prime Suspect go here...

(My thoughts after Terra Nova, although not a proper Pilot Review, is here...)

Pilot Reviews: Pan Am and Prime Suspect

More Pilot Reviews...

Pan Am

 Like Playboy Club (which NBC has already cancelled), Pan Am is trying to cash in on the success of Mad Men, and America's apparent interest in the 1960's.

I would argue that America is more interested in the fantastic storytelling and amazing characters in Mad Men as opposed to the time period (although it certainly doesn't hurt the show any).

Luckily, Pan Am seems to have gotten that.  The show is set in the 60s, and apparently will take full advantage of that, but it is also built around character and story.

Taking a page from LOST, the pilot spends a good portion of the time setting up the characters through their backstory with flashbacks.  This doesn't always work, but LOST used it to great advantage, and Pan Am seems to be following suit.

All of the characters and their backstories were intriguing, and the whereabouts of one of the stewardesses sets up an interesting mystery that should drive the show for at least a little while.

This is a show that is definitely worth checking out.

Pilot Grade: 96%

Interesting Fact: The show was created by Jack Orman, who was a long time writer for ER and then served as the Executive Producer of the show.

Prime Suspect

Prime Suspect has a lot in common with a recent NBC television show, Mercy (which I wrote about here).  A strong female character who has problems at times with the male authority figures where she works, but there are some key differences.  Where Mercy featured a female character working in a profession that was common for women, nursing, Prime Suspect has a female character that is a Homicide Detective in a squad where all the other detectives are men.  (Point Prime Suspect).  Mercy's main character had a backstory that saw her returning from serving in Iraq and dealing with Post Traumatic Stress, Prime Suspect's main character has just worked her way up the hard way, but due to an old relationship, there are those who wonder if she really earned her new position.  (It's not a bad backstory, but Point Mercy).  Mercy had fantastic supporting characters, Prime Suspect hasn't spent much time developing anyone beyond their lead.  (Point Mercy).  Both shows feature Peter Gerety as the main characters father.  (Tie).

The show has potential, but the pilot didn't wow me, while there isn't much negative you can really say about it either.  It is basically a run of the mill procedural with a strong female main character being the only thing really setting it apart.

Pilot Grade: 88%

Interesting Fact:  The show is a remake of a UK serial that starred Helen Mirren (The Queen) in the lead role.

Until Next Time,

For my review of Up All Night and Free Agents go here...

For my review of Whitney and New Girl go here...

For my review of 2 Broke Girls and How To Be A Gentleman go here...

For my review of Unforgettable and Person of Interest go here...

(My thoughts after Terra Nova, although not a proper Pilot Review, is here...)

Pilot Reviews: 2 Broke Girls and How To Be A Gentleman

More Pilot Reviews...

2 Broke Girls

This show is way better than I thought it would be.  The second episode isn't as strong as the pilot, but still had quite a few laugh out loud moments.

The pilot is fantastic.  The characters are strong, the story is a little cliched but pulls it off quite nicely, and the writing and acting are damn near perfect.

I originally wasn't going to watch this show at all, but all of the rave reviews about it on my Facebook feed got me thinking it might be at least worth checking out, and now it has earned a spot in the precious space of my DVR (since it isn't on HULU, which goes a long way towards my watching a show.  If I can find it on HULU in the little bits of free time that I have, I am way more likely to watch it.  Just letting the networks know.)

I'm looking forward to the third and fourth episodes on my DVR in the next couple of days.

Pilot Grade: 93%

Interesting Fact:  This show was created by Whitney Cummings who also created Whitney on NBC, but it looks like all the good jokes were given to this show.

How To Be A Gentleman

Really, Dave Foley?  You left a recurring role on How I Met Your Mother for this show?  (Although Dave Foley was replaced by Martin Short, so I guess it worked out for HIMYM in the end).

I can't really blame Kevin Dillon.  After all, Entourage has (sadly) ended.

But Dave Foley should've stuck with HIMYM.

The show isn't terrible (thanks in part to the presence of Dillon, Foley, and especially Mary Lynn Rajskub, best known as Chloe on 24), but I was very unimpressed with David Hornsby who plays the lead character.

He's pretty hilarious as Rickety Cricket on It's Always Sunny, but I don't think he's capable of carrying a tv show.  Had Neil Patrick Harris been available and cast in the lead role instead of Hornsby, this would be a runaway hit.  As it is, I don't think it will really last.

Pilot Grade: 67%

Interesting Fact:  More about New Girl really, but Rickety Cricket isn't the only Sunny in Philidelphia character getting some screen time elsewhere, but The Waitress is Nick's ex-girlfriend on New Girl.  Glad to see these actors elsewhere after they've done so well on Sunny.

Until Next Time,

For my review of Up All Night and Free Agents go here...

For my review of Whitney and New Girl go here...

For my review of Pan Am and Prime Suspect go here...

For my review of Unforgettable and Person of Interest go here...

(My thoughts after Terra Nova, although not a proper Pilot Review, is here...)

Pilot Reviews: Whitney and The New Girl

More Pilot Reviews (although I promise I am not doing every new show this year).


Whitney Cummings, a comedienne, has two shows she created on television this season.  This one, she also stars in as the title character.

While Whitney herself is pretty funny, she is not (as of yet) a very accomplished actress.

Of course, neither was Jerry when Seinfeld started, and neither was Larry when Curb Your Enthusiasm started.

The difference is that everyone else in Seinfeld and Curb were fantastic actors and actresses, but that isn't really the case here.

In fact, for me, the only convincing character was Whitney's boyfriend, Alex (played by Chris D'Elia).

Everyone else really came across a little awkwardly.

Sadly, that even included Maulik Pancholy (who is fantastic as Alec Baldwin's assistant Jonathon on 30 Rock), so perhaps the problem goes beyond just acting.

There were moments that were somewhat funny, and lines that should have been funny, but I wasn't really finding myself extremely amused.

Overall, I feel like something is missing from the presentation; it just isn't working.

Pilot Grade: 63%

Interesting Fact: Whitney Cummings also created 2 Broke Girls, which doesn't also star her, and is much, much funnier.


First off, I am a huge Zooey Deschanel fan.  She is unbelievably talented.

Here she is playing a slightly neurotic young woman who finds out her boyfriend has been cheating on her.  She moves out and ends up moving in with three guys she finds through Craig's List (or some internet equivalent).

Hijinx ensue.

The pilot does a very good job of setting up the characters (although one of them, Coach, is actually replaced in episode two), but doesn't quite fire on all cylanders right off of the bat.  But then, very few sitcoms do at first.  In fact, in the past ten years, only How I Met Your Mother and Modern Family have started out of the gate at the top of their game.  Many, many other great sitcoms, including Parks and Recreation, which is probably the best sitcom on right now, and Big Bang Theory started out worse than New Girl did.

Although it is cheating a little bit since this is a pilot review, if you stick with this show to the third episode, you will be rewarded.  It really hits its stride with episode 3 and you can see how good this show is going to be.

Pilot Grade: 83%

Interesting Fact: Zooey Deschanel also wrote and sings the shows theme song.

Until Next Time,

For my review of Up All Night and Free Agents go here...

For my review of 2 Broke Girls and How to Be a Gentleman go here...

For my review of Pan Am and Prime Suspect go here...

For my review of Unforgettable and Person of Interest go here...

(My thoughts after Terra Nova, although not a proper Pilot Review, is here...)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The New DCU: Sept. 28, 2011, A Simulblog

As always, this is a Simulblog being conducted by me, Fat Train, Justin of Cavemen Go, Chad of Political Jesus, and occasionally Arthur of Arthur the Lesser.

Justin's blog on week four can be found here...

Chad's blog on week four can be found here...

My post on Justice League #1 and the end of Flashpoint can be found here (with links to the others participating in the Simulblog)

My post on Week #1 of the new #1s can be found here (with links to the others participating in the Simulblog)

My post on Week #2 of the new #1s can be found here (with links to the others participating in the Simulblog)

My post on Week #3 of the new #1s can be found here (with links to the others participating in the Simulblog)

Since this is the final week of the Simulblog (and the fact that I've been sick has made it ridiculously late; after all, this week gives us our first #2s) I have decided to refrain from doing a book by book review and instead focusing on an overview of the entirety of the number ones.


The surprise storytelling and fantastic art that were on display in Animal Man, a book I would have not been reading at all had I not agreed to take part in this Simulblog.  Having already read number 2 which was released today, I can tell you that the story continues to surprise and the art is even better in issue number 2.  This book is, for me, the clear winner of the reboot/relaunch.

The new take on Superman, returning him to the beginning of his character in the 30s and 40s in terms of story and power (although in a modern context) along with a concentrated effort to have him be the Superman of the people, a Social Justice Superman, that we are seeing in the Grant Morrison penned Action Comics.

The story developing in Batman and in Nightwing capturing two of my favorite Gothamites in a way that none of the other issues devoted to the Bat-family seem to have been able to.  Bruce/Batman is captured perfectly in the first issue, and the story is fantastic.

Speaking of the Bat-family, Batgirl was outstanding as well, and with Gail Simone writing probably will avoid some of the problems the relaunch has had (more on that later).


The Green Lantern Books (not counting Red Lanterns) including Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, and Green Lantern Guardians.  For the most part, nothing new is going on in Green Lantern or Green Lantern Corps, if you were a fan before, chances are good you will still be a fan now.  Green Lantern Guardians is going to be something a little new, and the first issue was interesting, mysterious, and quite a bit of fun as well.  I have never been a huge Kyle Rayner fan, but this book seems to be off to a good start with the character.  It was true to Kyle, but I also enjoyed it a lot more than I have often enjoyed reading about Kyle in the past.

The connections that are building up around the characters, such as Supergirl's super hearing manifesting by hearing dialogue that was taking place in other books such as Aqua-Man.  In Detective Comics #2, a character references Oliver Queen (Green Arrow)'s company in a conversation with Bruce Wayne.  I like the idea of the universe being connected and this relaunch offers an opportunity to build that universe from the beginning and for the most part, DC seems to be doing that.


The fact that many of these reboots/relaunches have either been very pedestrian (Green Arrow) bringing none of the real excitement that a number one should have has been disappointing, as has the fact that some of these supposed reboots/relaunches clearly required prior knowledge in order to get into the series, which seems to defeat the whole purpose of starting over at number one (Legion: Lost and Legion of Superheroes).

Another thing that has bothered me is the new time-line which doesn't seem to make sense, or at the very least is impossible to keep track of.  There is a mass break out of Arkham Asylum in both Batman and in The Dark Knight and it doesn't seem like there is too much time difference between any of the four Batman titles, which seems like a bit of a waste.  I enjoy that Action Comics and Superman take place a different times, allowing us to see Superman now, as well as where he came from and how he developed.  A book like I, Vampire, which came out in the last week of the new number 1s was very interesting, but with the epic events taking place in the issue make me think that those are events that would draw at least the attention of some, if not all, of the heroes, but it isn't something that appears to be on the radar of any of the superheroes or the various teams.  The Teen Titans first issue seems to make it appear as if the team is being formed for the first time (especially since Action Comics seems to say that Superman is the first super-powered being ever) yet in Red Hood, it appears that there is still a history of the Teen Titans and that Starfire was once a member of the Teen Titans.  Then, if Superman was the first super powered being, why is Hawkman trying to get rid of the Nth Metal that has made him Hawkman, as if he's been a Superhero for some time.  Obviously Action Comics takes place some 6 years ago, so there is time for these things to develop, but not much time, and it would be helpful if the timeline were a little more clear.


Quite simply, I've hated the objectification of women that seems so prevalent throughout many of these books and the fact that diversity is still not really been fully addressed.  After all, have you realized that everyone of the members of the Justice League have their own book except for Cyborg, the one non-white member of the team?  That's a little troubling, but the objectification of women has been far, far more embarrassing.

The primary example of this has quite clearly been the portrayal of Starfire in Red Hood and the Outlaws.

The idea of an expansive ideal of womanhood, something beyond the typical or patriarchy driven vision of what womanhood should look like or represent, can be vast and express itself in many different ways; however there is still some question of who gets to envision or portray those new and expansive ideals.  Written by a male, Kory, called Starfire, is portrayed throughout Red Hood and the Outlaws as an object.  Her costume, like many of the costumes of female characters in comic books, is very revealing, but the writer and artist (both men) put her into an even more revealing bikini, and have a teenage male snap a picture with his cell-phone as she comes out of the water.  He then puts that picture up on the internet for others to ogle.   

It is revealed early in the book that she is in a sexual relationship with Jason Todd, the Red Hood, and then she offers to have sex with Arsenal, Roy Harper.  When he protests that she is sexually involved with Jason, she tells him that sex is not for love, but for enjoyment.  This conversation is the only time we are given anything from her perspective.  The author maintains that she is a sexually liberated female, and any uproar over her sexual identity is misplaced, after all, people don’t fret as much about male characters who have multiple sex partners or a liberated view on sex and sexuality.

While that might be true, I don’t think that the uproar is due to the attitude that Starfire has towards sex.  The problem is the fact that throughout the book her character is the subject of objectification, and the desire to have meaningless sex with both of the main male characters in the book comes off across more as a teenage male fantasy of what a sexually liberated woman would be like as opposed to a fully developed female character who happens to have a more loose view of sex and sexuality.

Many of the women that work at DC have acknowledged that they were troubled by the portrayal before the release of the issue and asked the writer to tone it down or use the fact that the character used to be a sex slave on another planet to explain why she might be acting in this manner, but the writer refused, claiming that focusing on her past would only be treating her as a victim, seeming to ignore the fact that by portraying her solely as an object for male fantasies was victimizing the character as well.

This is only one of the most blatant examples.  DC likes to point at Batwoman and claim diversity because of the fact that she is a lesbian, but in the first issue, she spends most of it in some form of undress with another woman (not in a sexual way).  Again, it seems more of a teenage fantasy of what lesbians should do rather than really dealing with issues that a lesbian superhero might face.

Voodoo, released in week 4, is about a bi-sexual stripper who literally becomes a monster that kills as she gets naked, and then takes the form of the man she killed, seeming to make a statement that women are inconstant and monstrous, and have worth only due to their bodies.

It is not that a stripper/alien can't be a strong character, just that the way these characters are being written are as objects, not characters.

If it were just one or two books, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but it is in a multitude of them, and each week as well.

As for Week 4...




Green Lantern: New Guardians



Savage Hawkman

Teen Titans

Justice League Dark


The Dark Knight

I, Vampire

All Star Western



Fury of Firestorm


Until Next Time, feel free to comment on any of these thoughts or bring up anything else the entirety of the new number ones might have brought to the forefront of your own consciousness.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Doctor Who, The Wedding of River Song, first thoughts

What a fantastic finish.  Quickly and easily dispatched the season long death of the Doctor storyline and set up many, many more stories to come.

"Silence will fall when the question is asked."

And the question, well, it has been there from the beginning, hidden, as they say, in plain sight...

The answer has actually been toyed with all season as well.  I mean, there is the obvious answer in terms of "What is the Doctor's real name?" but more fundamentally, who is the Doctor?

A group of people, after all, viewed him as a weapon.  They stole the baby of his companions to turn into a weapon to use against him.

The Doctor frightened them.

Another group has turned the meaning of the word Doctor into "great warrior."

Despite what the Doctor believes he stands for, there are those who view him as something different, and even he must acknowledge that all too often his attempts at a peaceful resolution fail.

But what about all of those that he has traveled with?  Surely they are better for having known the Doctor?

Adric - dead

Rose - lost in a different dimension

Donna - unable to remember  the Doctor or she will die

Okay, maybe not.

The Doctor has begun to doubt that he is good for those that he comes into contact with, so much so that he left Amy and Rory behind and traveled for a time companion-less.

But, on the other hand...

When River refused to kill him, setting up the alternate reality where time was forever stopped and all of history co-existed, River had set out a distress signal, informing the rest of time and space that the Doctor was in trouble, wouldn't anyone help him?

The response was overwhelming.  The Doctor has helped so many people through his long life, and they were all willing to return the favor.

Craig, in last week's episode, made the case that despite the dangers and even sometimes the horrible outcomes, traveling with and knowing the Doctor, having those adventures, would be better than the alternative, and after all, the dangers would be there regardless.

At least the Doctor gave them a chance.

I was reminded of the terrific episode Turn Left in series 4 when Donna was presented with an alternate reality where she never met up with the Doctor.  Instead of saving the world with Donna in The Runaway Bride, the Doctor died and wasn't there for all of the events of Series 3 and 4.

The world was certainly worse for wear.

The idea of who the Doctor is, what the Doctor means, not just to earth, but the entirety of time and space is an important question, and, perhaps, the oldest question.  A question with enormous repercussions.

Outstanding job, Mr. Moffat, I am ready for whatever is next.

A few other things before we're done, that makes two straight seasons that ended with a wedding; although this one was a little less formal than the last, I still got a little emotional.

The Brigadier in The Sarah Jane Adventures

I definitely think my favorite moment was the wonderful nod to Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, portrayed for so long by Nicholas Courtney who passed away on the 22nd of February, one month before the events portrayed in the season finale.  (For more on the significance of the date of the Doctor's death, check out this post by James McGrath).  The fact that this revelation led to the Doctor finally accepting what he had to do was quite touching.

The use of the Tesselector to escape from his death was quite brilliant, made more so by the Red Herring of the Flesh running throughout the season making many of us overlook this solution.

Finally, the question I have is whether the Doctor traveled for nearly 200 years from when we saw him at the end of The God Complex to when he returns to Lake Silencio in the Tesselector.

If you recall, in The Impossible Astronaut, the Doctor claimed to be over 1100 years old as opposed to over 900 years old.

I'm asking the question because of rule number one... The Doctor Lies.

What are your thoughts?  Did the Doctor really take 200 years to say his goodbyes to people like Craig?  Have a few final adventures sans companions?

Or was he lying, and it hadn't really been that long?

That's what I'd like to know.

Until Next Time, while we await the Christmas Special, there is no better time to head back and acquaint yourself with some of the history of the Doctor.  There were 8 of them before Series One with Christopher Eccleston, after all.  (James McGrath suggests the same thing!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pilot Reviews: Free Agents and Up All Night

One year, I actually reviewed every new pilot on the network schedule.

Coincidentally, that year was also the year of the writer's strike.

I maintain that my reviewing the pilots had nothing to do with the writer's strike...

But to be safe, I'm not going to review every new series this time, just a bunch of them...

Starting with a couple of the new NBC Comedies

(although you could probably argue that I started with Terra Nova although I am treating these reviews differently than what I did with Terra Nova)


I love Hank Azaria (best known for voice work on The Simpsons).  I love Anthony Stewart Head (best known as Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, also known for a series of coffee commercials in the nineties, if you know them, then you know what I'm talking about).

As for this show, right now the strength of Azaria and Anthony Stewart Head plus the outstanding interplay between Azaria's character and the main female character (played by Kathryn Hahn who you might recognize from Anchorman or The Goods).  When the pilot opens, Alex (Azria) and Helen (Hahn) have just had sex.  Alex just got a divorce and Helen's fiance died a year ago.  Neither are ready to move on, and to make matters worse, they work together.

I like the supporting characters potential, although only Emma (played by Natasha Leggero) is already reaching that potential.  Her "ice queen" administrative assistant is hilarious in the pilot (and in the second episode is given a little more depth cementing her as my favorite character in the show so far).  As for most of the other supporting characters, they seem more like caricatures right now than characters, and that includes Anthony Stewart Head (although he is hilarious).

I would like to see more depth in the characters, even in the main characters.

But there is certainly potential in the show, although it certainly hasn't reached it as of yet.

PILOT GRADE: 78% (the second episode got better)

Interesting fact:  This is based on a UK television show of the same name, which also had Anthony Stewart Head in the same role.


From Lorne Michaels, he who gave us (and gives us) Saturday Night Live, comes a comedy for two SNL cast members, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph.  Headlining the comedy is Christiana Applegate, returning to tv after the two season run on Samantha Who? but still best known for her work on Married: With Children.

Chris (Arnett) and Reagan (Applegate) are a young, fun married couple whose life abruptly changes when Reagan discovers that she is pregnant.

I was immediately turned off when it seemed like Chris and Reagan were not at all excited about this development, but the show fast-forwards to a few weeks after Chris and Reagan have come home with their new baby, and they are clearly very dedicated to the new addition to their family.

Reagan is a producer for a Ellen/Oprah type television show starring Ava (played by Maya Rudolph) and Chris had been a lawyer, but while Reagan is returning to work, Chris has made the decision to become a stay-at-home dad.

Their life has clearly changed, and they are dealing with those changes to the best of their ability, but they are clearly loving parents and dedicated to Amy, their child, so my early worries were quickly answered.

It was a fun first episode as they re-entered the world after having the baby, but the pilot didn't really tell me what the show itself would become.

Having also seen the second episode now, I have a better idea of what the show might become and think that it will continue to be worth watching, if not "Must See TV" as NBC used to bill their comedies.

But, this post is about grading the Pilots so...


Interesting Fact: Emily Spivey who created this show not only used to be a writing supervisor for Saturday Night Live, but also was a Story Editor for King of the Hill.

Until Next Time,

For my review of Whitney and New Girl go here...

For my review of 2 Broke Girls and How to Be a Gentleman go here...

For my review of Pan Am and Prime Suspect go here...

For my review of Unforgettable and Person of Interest go here...

(My thoughts after Terra Nova, although not a proper Pilot Review, is here...)

Terra Nova, Genesis, first thoughts

I'm planning on doing a post of pilot reviews as this season seems to be off to a much better start than last season's horribly disappointing result.

But before I get to that post, I have to write about the show that I was really wanting to like and that turned out much better than I really could have hoped for.

I love the high concept idea of the show, a future planet destroyed by humanities refusal to be environmentally conscious, a link to 85 million years in the past providing a one-way trip to redo like and maybe not make the mistakes of your ancestors, and a few mysteries that mean everything in paradise is not quite what it seems.

The Mysteries so far...

The markings found by Sky, known to the Sixers and apparently Taylor, and their connection to Taylor's son and the mysterious "real reason for Terra Nova."

The reasons for the Sixers defection, who sent them to Terra Nova, and why

Why there was a 118 day delay between Taylor's appearance in the past and the arrival of those who followed him.

What happened to Taylor's son, where is he now, what is he up to?

How much of a connection is there between Taylor and the Sixers, because while on the surface their relationship is strictly antagonistic, the way that Mira (the leader of the Sixers) talked about him at the end suggests some sort of working relationship (although that can still be antagonistic, if begrudgingly respectful of the foe).

And, of course, the big one... if the real reason for Terra Nova isn't to "start over," then what is it?  And what does Mira mean by "control the past to control the future" if the past they are in is an alternate timeline?


I for one want to see what the answers to these mysteries are.

All in all, I'm intrigued, far more intrigued after this pilot than I have been after the pilot of any other show since LOST.

Sure, Fringe is all full of mysterious goodness now, but remember, it started off as a pure X-Files rip off and took some time to get to the mythological heavy show that it has become.  Terra Nova got right to the mysterious right off the bat, and I love that.

I also thought that the characters were gripping almost immediately, up to and including Josh (who I like for more than just his awesome name).  I love the tension-connection between Jim (Jason O'Mera who I still miss as Sam Tyler on Life on Mars) and Josh, the fact that they are really similar leading into the problems they have with each other.

I love Maddy, who is a science/math junkie, and is already one of the best written female characters on television.  It is rare to have a clearly smart and nerdy (meant in the best possible way) teenage girl on a television show (Alex Dunphy on Modern Family being the only other recent example that I can think of).  Her awesome interactions with the cute soldier boy were hilarious, and they were made even better by the expressions of her five year old sister, who can already recognize her sister's awkwardness.

The show looked really good, as well, the dinosaurs being far more realistic than even some recent movie dinosaurs that come to mind (yes, King Kong, I'm looking at you).

The effects, the characters, and, of course, the mysteries added up to make this, in my opinion, the best pilot on Network Television since LOST, and I think the show can continue to get even better.

I certainly hope it does at any rate.

Until Next Time, did you watch the show?  What are your thoughts?  And any early theories on any of the mysteries?  (After all, it is never too early to start theorizing).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting Ready for Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song

If you haven't already checked out my first thoughts on Saturday's penultimate episode of the season, you can do so here

In the mean time, a few more things on everyone's favorite Time Lord as we get ready for the series 6 (season 32) finale,

The Wedding of River Song

First, Dr. James McGrath, author of the newly released book Religion and Science Fiction (which is on my Kindle and awaiting some free time so I can dive into it) is available, wrote a recent post on some of the recent questions posed by Doctor Who and some of the possible answers.  Click here to check that post out.

And second, the BBC has released a prequel to the final episode.  I have embedded it below for your convenience.

I can't wait!

Until Next Time, I'll see you here after the episode Saturday night!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Doctor Who, Closing Time, first thoughts

First off, what are the chances we can get Craig as a full time companion?  He was fantastic, and this episode showed off the comedic talents of James Corden (who returned as Craig from The Lodger) much better than the episode last season which focused more on the Doctor than it did the flat mate.

This time, while the story was ostensibly about some rogue Cybermen trying to re-constitute themselves and then take over the world (YOU WILL BE LIKE US!), but actually, it looked at the idea that's been thrown out these last few weeks indicating that the Doctor was a selfish bastard and that his companions (partners) were worse off for being with him.  And it looked at that idea from the opposite side, that the Doctor needs his companions (partners) both to save the day and to remind him of why it is all important.

Craig argues that the Doctor needs others, and the Doctor certainly needed Craig.

And Craig needed the Doctor.

Not to save him from the Cybermen, because actually Craig does that himself.

But to realize that he can be a good father, that he has that in himself, and he did have it in himself.

Craig is nearly killed by a cybermat

who, by the way look way scarier than they did in classic who...

From the 2nd Doctor era...

From the 4th Doctor's era

but Craig is more concerned about what the Doctor did with Stormageddon (which is by far the coolest self given nickname ever...) than with the creepy thing that nearly killed him.

And while he was nearly turned into the Cyberleader, his concern for Stormageddon allowed him to not only break free of the Cyberman-making process, but also infused their ship with that dreaded thing known as emotion (which is a way better weakness for the Cybermen here in the new series than Gold was in the old).

Craig gives us the argument that the Doctor needs his companions, and while the ending might not have been as happy for Rose or Donna, we see that Amy and Rory's life seems to be going quite well since they left the Doctor.

And after Craig and the Doctor defeat the Cybermen, the Doctor finally heads off towards the end he knows is coming (and gets the Stetson from Craig!)

Which gives us the teaser to next weeks finale showing us that it is indeed River who is in the astronaut suit as well as the answer to why she doesn't remember that she was the one in the astronaut suit when the impossible astronaut kills the Doctor: the Silence.

I'm going to be honest, I have no idea how Moffat will get out of this one, but I'd guess the title has something to do with it...

The Wedding of River Song

I think that it will be epic, but as to exactly what will occur?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Episodes this reminded me off (besides The Lodger) were old Cybermen episodes such as The Tomb of the Cybermen, a 2nd Doctor story that introduced the Cybermats and Revenge of the Cybermen, the last story of the first Tom Baker (4th Doctor) season, which also featured Cybermats (and Cybermats attacking companions or partners, in this case, Sarah Jane Smith).

Until Next Time, I'm sure that the finale will give us a lot to talk about.  See you next week.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The New DCU: Sept. 21, 2011, A Simulblog

Another week, another bunch of new #1s in the new DCU.

We here at Fat-Train, Optimistic Chad at Political Jesus, Justin Tiemeyer at Cavemen Go, and even Arthur the Lesser at Arthur the Lesser are here to let you know what we think about the change and the new books that are a result of that change.

My post about the end of flashpoint and Justice League #1 can be found here with links to the other blogs on the same subject...

My post about the first full week of new number 1s can be found here with links to the other blogs on the same subject...

And my post about the second full week of new number 1s can be found here with links to the other blogs on the same subject...

And now, week 3...


Justin's post on week 3 can be found here...

Chad's post on week 3 can be found here...

and Arthur's semiconnected take on the Simulblog week 3 can be found here.... (although he might totally write more, check back soon)

Let the Simulblog continue....

Last week was very disappointing, but while I didn't completely love everything that came out this week, there was certainly a lot more to like this week as opposed to last.

First, however, (so we can end strongly) lets start with the books that I probably won't be taking another look at.


Now, the fact that I'm leaving this book behind isn't because I hated it, I was actually a little intrigued by it.  The problem was, I have never really read much of or followed the Legion, and there was so much happening in this book and so many characters thrown at me all at once who I knew absolutely nothing about, I just couldn't keep up.

I'm sure that for someone who is a long time reader of the Legion books, this won't be much of a problem, but if the goal was to allow others an easy jumping on point, I think that the writer failed here.

Very similarly to my feelings on Legion of the Lost last week, I have no idea what the main point is, what the heroes are supposed to be accomplishing, what kind of threat they are facing, or any of those basics.  Sometimes it is okay to be unsure of those things, but usually you are unsure because the protagonists are also completely unsure about those things.  In this case, they were completely caught up on all of that, but I, as a new reader, had no freaking idea.

Having to play catch-up on so many characters and story-lines isn't what I signed up for, so I'm leaving this one behind.


So, a lot of people are probably going to talk about the sex scene at the end of the book.

Sure, it was a little shocking that they went there, but to be honest, it didn't bother me all that much.

There is something about Selena that has always gotten to Bruce, and the fact that she uses her sexuality in such a way to get what she wants would make it pretty hard for Bruce to resist, let's be honest.

After all, it isn't like Batman is the picture of perfect morals or anything.  I mean, sure, he doesn't kill his enemies, but does that mean he isn't going to engage in premarital sex?  I don't see why it should, and after all, we know that he already has.

Damian (the current Robin) is his son by Talia Al Ghul (also not quite a hero, apparently Bruce has a weakness for the bad girls).

So, that honestly didn't really bother me.

And it definitely isn't the reason that I won't be buying Catwoman #2.

No, the reason that I'm probably done with Catwoman is that I just don't care to read about her escapades on a monthly basis.  If she shows up in a Batman book I'm reading, that's great.

The question of what Batman thinks of his dalliances with a cat burglar, a perpetrator of crime in his precious Gotham City, that is something that I wouldn't mind reading more about, but what Catwoman thinks about it?

Honestly.  I don't really care.


Personally, I'm a fan of Jason Todd.  Despite the ridiculous way that he came back to life in the original universe (and perhaps in this one too, although I hope not) I find his story compelling, but not as the lead character amongst other troubled characters.

If Red Hood were to make an appearance in Batman, sign me up, but on his own (or on his own plus 2 other anti-heroes, in this case Starfire and Roy Harper/Arsenal, formally Red Arrow, formally Speedy) it doesn't really interest me that much.

Plus, I'm not a fan of the indiscriminate killing they do in order to free Roy from prison, especially considering that both Red Hood and Arsenal were brought up by heroes who refuse to kill (Batman and Green Arrow).

As for Starfire, while the book tries to make her a liberated female with a liberated view on sex and sexuality, the fact that nearly every scene that she is in includes a male objectifying her or viewing her in a strictly sexual sense lessens that claim some (a lot).

I have no problem with women being sexual and even flaunting that sexuality, but Starfire is written in such a way where that sexuality is more of a male-fantasy sexuality than it is a liberating reality, and that is disappointing.

Overall, this was probably the worst of the issues released this week to me.


Many of the books I am moving on from suffer from the same problem, there isn't enough in the first issue to make me care about the character or what happens to them.

Whereas Animal Man certainly changed that opinion through the amazing writing in the book and Mister Terrific had good characterization and interesting mystery plus an incomplete and engaging backstory, many of the other books that didn't have any pull on me before didn't do anything in the first issue to change my feelings towards the characters.  This is again the case here.

While the issue is interesting, and I'm mildly curious how Captain Atom has a) gained his new ability and b) how he will ultimately reconstitute himself, I figure I can just look it up if I really feel the need to know.  And if I don't, it probably won't bother me that much, because there really just wasn't enough in the issue to make me care overly much.


While the idea of DC Presents is something I fully support, and a lot of the characters that are actually part of the new 52 would probably work better in this sort of rotating format rather than actually having to carry their own book, I think I will wait until the next character gets a shot at carrying DC Presents.

Look, the concept is a pretty cool one, a character who is dead/a ghost but is called into bodies that need his help, which he provides to make up for the selfish past he had when he was alive and the hope of a brighter future for himself.

But never having read or kept up with Deadman in the past, I would kind of like to know what exactly is meant by giving his help.

In this issue we get a rundown of many of the people he has inhabited as well as the difficulties they were facing, but got no clue as to how exactly Deadman (aka Boston Brand) was helping them.

What exactly does he do?

It appears that he is able to take over the bodies that he inhabits (a la Sam Bennett in Quantum Leap), but what is he supposed to do once he takes over these bodies?  Who is to say that the people he inhibits won't go right back to being who they were prior to the "intervention"?

I would have liked to see some of these questions addressed, but instead we get a mystery about the person (thing?) (goddess?) that set Brand on this quest to help others, and it just wasn't enough to keep me from wondering about the questions I just raised or to keep me reading.

I do, however, look forward to seeing who the DCU will present next.

Moving on to the books that at the very least warrant a longer look.


I am a pretty big fan of the character, but I have never been an extremely big fan of her comic book.  I love her in relation to (and in action with) the other heroes of the DC, specifically as a member of the Justice League.  But on her own, I prefer her in the televised realm as opposed to the comic book one.

I was really hoping that having a new jumping on point might change that, and it still might, but I didn't fall immediately in love as I have with some of the other new books in the DCU.

I can't put my finger on exactly why I didn't either.

I think it was how rushed the story felt.  I was a little put off by that.

There was a lot I really liked about the book as well.  The alien-like design of the gods was pretty cool.

I'm down almost anytime that centaurs are around.

As for the overall storyline, Diana has to protect the unborn child of Zeus, I'm not sure what I think.  It is a bit of a cliched storyline, but if handled correctly it could turn out okay.

All in all, I liked the book for the most part, but not as much as I hoped I would (and honestly expected to).

Either way, I'm definitely willing to give it time to fully hook me.


Black Canary is a great character, and this book just kind of works for me.

As opposed to some of the other team up books (such as the Legion books and Demon Knights particularly) Birds of Prey doesn't force every character into the book in a large rush.

In fact, we get very little about the characters that will make up this team and what exactly their purpose is.

But that's for the most part okay.

We get enough about the two members currently in play as Birds of Prey, and considering most people will already have some idea about Canary it is more about Starling that we might want to be filled in, and we don't really get anything about her at all, which is one reason I want to know more.

There is enough information to keep you feeling like you're aware of what you need to be, but enough you're unsure about to want to know more.

One thing I think we've learned this month is that that isn't the easiest tightrope to walk (any inadvertent circus puns are unintentional... at least until we get to Knightwing), but Birds of Prey does it pretty well.

While it isn't a clear homerun for me, the book is good and I'm definitely ready and willing to keep up with it a little longer.

Speaking of books that are clear homeruns, this week had its fair share of those....


An origin story of sorts, a definite beginning to the characters story on earth at any rate, Supergirl just feels right.

There is action and there is mystery.  The character, despite being almost immediately thrust into a fight she doesn't anticipate or really even want, is incredibly well drawn out through the use of inner monologue. 

The art is among the best this week, in my opinion, and the writing is terrific as well.

Another thing I loved about this book is the subtle connections to the rest of the DCU.  When Supergirl is overwhelmed by her developing Super Hearing, the dialogue that she hears is clearly from other books, including the first line that Starling has in Birds of Prey and what I'm sure will be a line of dialogue in Aquaman next week.

It does however bring up the question about timing in these books, by which I mean I wish that where each of these books are taking place on the timeline was a little more clear.

However, that is probably a thought best served for its own post, perhaps after this month of number 1s is behind us.

Considering the sexist portrayal of women that has been apparent in some of these books, I really enjoyed the portrayal of Supergirl here, especially considering how often she has been shown as nothing more than a petulant overpowered teenager.  While she will be quite powerful (since she is Kryptonian), she also clearly has a brain, and the focus of the issue on her striving to figure out where she is and how she got there even in the midst of the fight highlighted that nicely.

I look forward to seeing what happens next and why she has suddenly appeared.

I also liked the Zod reference!


Like Supergirl, this is an origin story as well.  It sets up the past of the Scarab which gives the Blue Beetle his powers (although Ted Kord usually didn't use it), hints at some future trouble for Blue Beetle and the Green Lanterns, and introduces the main character and his friends/family/possible enemy as well as showing us how the new Blue Beetle becomes the Blue Beetle, and as such it worked really well for me.

I love that Jaime becomes connected to the Scarab by trying to save the life of his friend.  An act of heroism leading to the power that he will soon have is a good way to start, especially considering the past that the Scarab has.

In past continuity of the Scarab and the Blue Beetles, the Scarab was malfunctioning allowing there to be more individuality in the wearer; the fact that the Green Lantern got a hit on the Scarab before it careened down towards earth probably means that is still the case.  What wasn't clear was who has had the Scarab in the past and what happened to them.  The people after the Scarab make clear that it has been used by others and that the fates were not kind to those users.  That could certainly describe what fate had in store for Dan Garrett and Ted Kord.  I certainly hope that the past Blue Beetles (particularly Ted Kord) somehow play into the story of Jaime as he comes to terms with his new found abilities.

Overall, extremely well written introduction resulting in a book that I am pretty excited about.


Nothing much new here, but then there doesn't really need to be.

We get something killing Green Lanters (and in a quite brutal and attention grabbing way) and we get an introduction to the two main Lanterns that will lead this team, (the annoying, yet in a love to hate 'im type way) Guy Gardner and (my personal favorite Lantern, sorry Chad) John Stewart.  In other words, we get everything we need.  It works quite well.

Considering that this title was one of the best selling prior to the relaunch, there isn't a big change or any huge surprises, and yet the book does a great job if you are happening to just now join the Green Lantern bandwagon (and if you are, welcome, there is room, we'll scoot).

I loved the way that we were introduced to the main characters, Guy gets annoyed with all the attention that comes from being a GL (while still inviting all the attention), and John refuses to budge on his morals and also makes it quite clear that John Stewart and Green Lantern 2814.3 are indistinguishable from one another.

You don't fix what isn't broken, and Green Lantern Corps looks to be just as good as it ever was here in the relaunch.


I'm putting these two together because I feel it will be easiest to talk about them all in one take.

First, I'm glad that there is finally a title centered around Batman that is worthy of his name (as I wasn't really impressed with either Detective Comics or Batman and Robin).  This book was fantastic.

As was Knightwing #1, fresh off of his run as the Dark Knight.

Both work with a similar storyline, there is something killing that is very connected to Dick Grayson (aka Knightwing, formally Batman, formally Robin).

In Knightwing, a mercenary/hitman is out for Grayson's blood, telling Knightwing that Grayson "is the fiercest killer in all of Gotham... and he doesn't even know it!"

Meanwhile, in Batman, a horribly gruesome murder interrupts a fundraiser for Gotham's future thrown by Bruce Wayne.  At the murder scene is a message found by Batman (actually acting like a master detective, unlike in Detective Comics) that foretells the death of Bruce Wayne, and the murderer?

According to DNA results, none other than Dick Grayson.

These two storylines are clearly connected, and the storyline is automatically one of my favorite of the new run of DC comics.

I loved the way Knightwing's past was handled through current story telling, and I loved the fact that Batman got to face off against a bunch of Batman's rogue gallery at the beginning of his book while also doing a masterful job in describing the complexities of Gotham to the readers.  (Plus having it seem like he was working with Joker only to find out that it was actually Dick in disguise was pretty priceless).

Overall, I'd have to say that four of the books released this week (Batman, Knightwing, Green Lantern Corps, and Blue Beetle) are already among my favorites of the whole relaunch, and there were others this week that were more than just enjoyable.  In other words, a much better week than last week.

Until Next Time, one week left of number 1s.  See you here then?