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!)