Thursday, May 14, 2015

DC Starting to Come Together on the TV Side

Next season will see two new DC shows on network television with the Arrow/Flash spinoff Legends of Tomorrow (yes, yes, terrible title) on CW and Supergirl on CBS all from the same production teams.  I find myself far more excited for the DC side of things on television than I do for the films that follow the terrible Man of Steel and will continue with the horribly dry and dreary looking Batman v Superman.

I have some problems with Arrow (which we'll get to in a moment), but let's start with the positive -

Let's start with Supergirl.

CBS gave an over six minute look at the upcoming show during upfronts, and I have to admit, it has me excited.

I have to say this appears to be the best live-action portrayal of a Super-family member we've had since Christopher Reeves.  It's only six minutes, but they seem to get who Kara is and who the El family is much better than Zach Snyder.  Count me in for this!

Being from the same producers, there are rumors that Supergirl could crossover with Arrow/Flash/Legends.  And while they are on different networks, CBS owns a stake in CW.  This, of course, means that Superman is a part of the Arrow/Flash universe!  And that's awesome.

You know who else is a part of that universe?

Green Lantern.  As in the Hal Jordan Green Lantern!  In the latest episode of The Flash, Barry used an abandoned Ferris Air for a covert operation.  Captain Cold questioned Barry, "I thought they closed this place down."

Barry answered, "They did.  One of their test pilots disappeared."

Those who know their Green Lantern lore know that the pilot that disappeared could be none other than Hal Jordan who found a dead Green Lantern and was given his ring, which took him deep into space to Oa where he would learn to wield the power of the Green Lantern Ring and master his will.

It was such a blatant reference, I would be shocked if Hal Jordan/Green Lantern doesn't make an appearance next season.

After all, in the comics, Hal is best friends with Oliver Queen and Barry Allen (otherwise known as Green Arrow and Flash).

Some people are also postulating that John Diggle on Arrow might become a Green Lantern as well (and honestly he would make a great one), and there are some striking similarities between Diggle and John Stewart (who is a Green Lantern in the comics).

That would be awesome, but I am skeptical of that theory.  Mainly because it would be too smart a move, and let's be honest here, Arrow doesn't seem to make too many of those.

Let's get to the negative part of this post, before we close it up with some positiveness.  Spoilers for this season of Arrow will follow.

Arrow has been awful this season.  Throughout the show's run, there have been some questionable writing decisions.  Laurel is one of the worst characters in television history, but the fact that she has never been consistent (or perhaps has been consistently inconsistent) seems to have moved to all of the other characters this season.

This season has typified one of the worst sins that storytellers can make: forsaking character in order to facilitate story.

Oliver and his friends constantly do things that make no sense for their character in order for the story to work.

The most recent example is of course Oliver not telling his friends anything about his plan to work with Ra's al Ghul in order to ultimately take him down.  (And the fact that Oliver kills him undoes all of the legitimate character work that they had done over the last three seasons teaching Oliver that killing is never the answer, unless, I guess, it is).  The least they could have done was have Oliver leave them out of the loop since they left Oliver out of the loop on the whole Roy Harper isn't really dead thing while they were planning on faking his death.  Of course, that made even less sense, since not knowing the plan made it almost impossible for Ollie not to go off and attempt a rescue himself, which would have ruined everything.  And it made zero sense that Oliver held off not trying to rescue Roy, except that of course the story needed him not to.

By not telling each other of their plans, however (Ollie not telling the team about his Ra's plan and Team Arrow not telling Ollie about the Roy Harper plan), the writers were able to keep the viewers in the dark.  Look! Drama!  Because they wanted to keep the viewers in the dark, it required the characters doing things that the characters as they have been set up over the last three years that they would never do.

Look, you can have characters act contrary to the way they normally would.  You just have to have a good reason for it, a good in story/character reason for it.  Your reason can't be "because the story requires them to act like this."

This season did a fantastic job of selling me on the fact that Felicity and Ray Palmer (who despite the fact that up to this point his ATOM suit is very much a cheap Iron Man rip-off, but that's for another post) have fantastic chemistry and work together as a couple.

Previously the show has done a great job of selling me on Felicity's crush on Oliver, but has never once made me think that Oliver feels anything whatsoever romantic towards Felicity.  But then, out of nowhere, this season, Oliver admits to feelings for Felicity.  I never once bought it, and it completely weakened the ending of the season.  Arrow didn't earn Oliver and Felicity together.  At all.  All it did was make me wonder how the hell Ray took it so in stride when Felicity left him for Oliver (who everyone happened to think very well might be evil at the time, I might add, making the whole thing make even less sense!).

I'm glad Ray is leaving for a new show next season.  He deserves better than the Arrow writers have given him thus far.

The plus side, of course, is that The Flash has been pretty terrific throughout its freshman season.  Even better than Arrow was when it started (and remember, Arrow finished second to Elementary its first year in the Josh's Choice For Best New Show of the Season Award).

And, perhaps there is some hope that some of the awful mistakes Arrow has made can be somewhat fixed by the events of The Flash's finale next Tuesday (May 19).

Barry has plans to go back in time to stop the murder of his mother.

This was the plot of Flashpoint in the comics which rebooted the DC universe.  While, I've no doubt that Barry will ultimately fix the timeline from the huge change preventing his mother's murder will probably cause, there will be a chance to keep a few things changed.

Namely, I suspect that Sara Lance (the Canary we deserved on Arrow instead of the terrible Laurel) will no longer be dead (since it was announced today that the character Caity Lotz who played Canary will be playing on Legends of Tommorow is in fact Sara Lance) and that Oliver Queen will be cleared to return to action as Green Arrow (and maybe taking the actual name instead of just The Arrow).

Until Next Time, perhaps it will retcon this entire season of Arrow and we can all pretend it never happened.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Top Ten NuWho Episodes in Honor of the Tenth Aniversary

Ten years ago today, Doctor Who regenerated (see what I did there) onto our screens with Rose.  Since, four (five if you count the War Doctor) different actors have joined the eight that graced our screens previous to the reboot as one of the greatest characters of all time.

In honor of the 10 year anniversary, what are the 10 best stories since Doctor Who returned?

Everyone will have their own choices for this, of course, but here are mine!  Feel free to tell me where you agree and where you disagree in the comments!

10. ASYLUM OF THE DALEKS (Series 7 Episode 1, Story 226, written by Steven Moffat)

I was torn with what episode would go here.  Also in the running were (in chronological, not necessarily preferential order) DALEK (from series 1), HUMAN NATURE/FAMILY OF BLOOD (from series 3), MIDNIGHT (from series 4), THE STOLEN EARTH/JOURNEY'S END (from series 4), THE ELEVENTH HOUR (from series 5), and THE IMPOSSIBLE ASTRONAUT/DAY OF THE MOON (from series 6).  Any of those would definitely be in the discussing for deserving a spot, but I ultimately went with the season opener from series 7.

We knew this would be the last season for a pair of longstanding and awesome companions, Amy and Rory, and we knew that midway through the season we would get Jenna Coleman as new companion, Clara.  Therefore, it was quite a shock when Jenna Coleman showed up in this episode!  Not only that, but it was awesome to see Daleks from all eras of Doctor Who.  A great opening to a season that wasn't one of the strongest for the show (by the way, the two strongest seasons of NuWho in my opinion are series 8 and series 4).

9.  VINCENT AND THE DOCTOR (Series 5 Episode 10, Story 210, written by Ricard Curtis)

One of the most heart warming and wrenching episodes of all of Doctor Who.  The Doctor and Amy meet Vincent Van Gogh.  One of only three episodes on this list not written by Steven Moffat, this episode was written by Richard Curtis, the only episode of Doctor Who he has written.  He has written a ton of British comedic episodes, including many episodes of Blackadder, Mr. Bean, and The Vicar of Dibley.  He is also the screenwriter of some very well regarded films, including Love, Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and War Horse.  His one foray into Doctor Who is as iconic as anything else that he has done.

8.  TURN LEFT (Series 4 Episode 11, Story 197, written by Russell T. Davies)

The second of the three episodes on this list not written by Steven Moffat, TURN LEFT was written by Russell T. Davies who we have to thank for the return of Doctor Who.  This is an episode that looks at the world that might have been had Donna not met the Doctor.  It also expertly sets up the end of the series and, sadly, the end of Donna's run as one of the best companions the Doctor has ever had.

7.  SILENCE IN THE LIBRARY/FOREST OF THE DEAD (Series 4 Episodes 8-9, Story 195, written by Steven Moffat)

Steven Moffat has done a lot of great things for Doctor Who, but his greatest accomplishment might be introducing two of the greatest characters in the Doctor Who universe.  One of those he introduced in this creepy two part story in the middle of series 4, River Song.  While some people complain about the resolution to the mystery of River Song, there is no denying that the character and the mystery surrounding her captivated viewers.  It was fascinating to see a character from the Doctor's future, one who knew him intimately, but the Doctor, like those of us watching the episode, was meeting her for the first time.

6.  THE EMPTY CHILD/THE DOCTOR DANCES (Series 1 Episodes 9-10, Story 164, written by Steven Moffat)

Unquestionably one of the scariest episodes in Doctor Who history (I would add a couple that are further along in this list as well as Midnight, which just missed the list to the scariest episodes in NuWho history), it also has one of the best conclusions of any storyline.  More importantly, however, is the fact that this story introduces the second of the characters I mentioned during the last story.

This is the story that introduces viewers to Captain Jack Harkness, who would go on to get his own fantastic spinoff, Torchwood.

Also, somehow, Captain Jack is currently in Starling City pretending to be called Malcolm Merlyn (See: Arrow).  That would explain the mystery of how he came back to life, at least.

5.  THE GIRL IN THE FIREPLACE (Series 2 Episode 4, Story 171, written by Steven Moffat)

An episode that beautifully captures the effect the Doctor can have on a person's entire life.  Coming in and out at various times throughout the entirety of the life of Madame du Pompadour (who in real life, share's my birthday, making this a yearly watch for me on my birthday), the Doctor has a profound influence on someone who herself had a profound influence on an entire country.  This is also a perfect episode to introduce someone to how great this show can be (although the one I usually use is still to come on this list).

4.  LISTEN (Series 8 Episode 4, Story 245, written by Steven Moffat)

This is another of the scariest episodes in the show's history.  An outstanding look on the idea of fear itself, LISTEN also manages to tie in some to the overall mythology of the show itself and give viewers an inkling into why the Doctor has spent all that time traveling throughout time and space.  This was also the episode where I got super excited about Peter Capaldi's take on the titular Time Lord.

3.  BLINK (Series 3 Episode 10, Story 186, written by Steven Moffat)

Besides being the first big role for Carey Mulligan who since starred as Daisy in the recent Great Gatsby remake, this is the episode of NuWho that I most often use to show new viewers how great this show can be.  The tensions of the Weeping Angels, one of the scariest monsters in the history of the show, the complexity of the plot, and the perfect explanation of the "timey-wimey" nature of the show of which this episode is just a part make this not only one of the best episodes/stories of NuWho, but one of the best in the entire 50 + year history of the show!

2.  THE DOCTOR'S WIFE (Series 6 Episode 4, Story 216, written by Neil Gaiman)

An episode that delved into the longest running companion of the entirety of the show, the TARDIS herself.  Sci-Fi genius Neil Gaiman (of American Gods, Neverwhere, Stardust, Coraline, Sandman, and much, much more fame) made this the first Doctor Who episode he had ever written, despite being a life long fan of the series.  Of course, there is some history of famous Sci-Fi writers working for the show (see Douglas Adams, he of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fame).  Gaiman's episode brought back the TARDIS corridors to NuWho, which often made an appearance in Classic Who, and personified the TARDIS herself, leading to some great moments that fans didn't know they needed until they actually happened.

1.  THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR (50th Anniversary Special, Story 240, written by Steven Moffat)

50 years to the day after the show first aired, this special premiered as the largest world-wide simulcast of all time to that point.  Getting back to the heart of who the Doctor really is, this special fixed one of my main problems with NuWho, had a ton of nice Easter Eggs for fans of pre-2005 Doctor Who, and showed exactly how great a meeting of David Tennant's 10th Doctor and Matt Smith's 11th Doctor would be (spoiler alert: exactly as awesome, perhaps even more awesome, as you imagined).  This might be my all-time favorite story in the totality of Doctor Who.  It doesn't hurt (no pun intended) to add such a great actor into the time between the Doctor Who TV Movie featuring the 8th Doctor and the resurgence of Doctor Who that occurred exactly ten years ago today.  Furthermore, this special tied the new series inextricably to the classic series, proving once and for all that the show, despite the hiatus, is still Doctor Who, just like it was on November 23, 1963, just like it was on March 26, 2005, and just like it is today!

Until Next Time, find the majority of these episodes and more on Netflix and celebrate the return to our televisions of Doctor Who with whatever your favorite episodes of the show might be!

Monday, February 23, 2015

8th (Mostly) Annual My Thoughts As I Had Them During The Oscars

For all but one of the last nine years I have been basically live tweeting the Oscars through my blog (even before Twitter existed!), but now, I actually do live tweet the Oscars and post the results here afterwards in this segment we call


You can follow along on Twitter during the Oscars next year with the hashtag (#MTAIHTDTO) or you can just wait a day and read them here.

So, with no further ado, the 8th (Mostly) Annual My Thoughts As I Had Them During the Oscars!



Until Next Time, There you have it!  My thoughts as I had them during the Oscars!  We'll do it again next year!  In case you missed it, make sure to check out my Top Ten Films of 2014 here!

Sunday, February 22, 2015


The one time of year I can be reasonably counted on to make some sort of post, it is Oscar Sunday!

The weather is miserable (I'm wearing my Game of Thrones shirt proudly proclaiming that Winter Is Coming as we are expecting some sleet and ice over night.  I am very aware that much of the country is very aware of winter as it has already announced its presence, no need for any further warnings), but the movies this year have been grand.  Without further ado, here is my Top Ten from the last year in preparation for those hoping to take home Oscar Gold tonight.

As always, we will be counting down:



Lead by a masterful acting performance (although there were a couple even better ones as well), this is a heartbreaking story about a terrible injustice done to a man who deserved much better.  The worst part of course is that while Alan Turing was eventually pardoned after being convicted due to his homosexuality, over 40,000 other males were persecuted for the same crime and deserve the same recognition of the wrong done to them.

This film does a great job of telling the story of the code breaking that led to the Allies winning World War II as well as the early work on what would become computers by one of the most gifted minds of all time, alongside the backdrop of the horror of the disservice that the UK did to someone who should have been among their greatest heroes.



Guillermo del Toro is becoming a feature in my Top Tens, and although he only produced this film, his influence is clear.  This is a fantastic fable about love, family, and discovering who you are in relation to those who came before you.  I also love the message against violence as this film actively works against the myth of redemptive violence that so often persuades our culture, often especially in children's movies (although this is not the only one working against that, to some degree so did Big Hero 6 as well as my choice for Best Animated Feature still to come in this Top Ten).  It is a crime that this film didn't get recognition as a nominee for Best Animated Feature, but it places in my Top Ten.  Hopefully that serves as some consolation.



A weird, haunting, and yet beautiful treatise on artistry, especially amongst self doubt. Open to interpretation, the story is quite interesting, but the outstanding all percussion score, which is probably my second favorite score of the year (following only the also percussion heavy Whiplash), and the long takes, reminiscent of a few scenes in Scorsese's Goodfellas who unsurprisingly gets mentioned by name as well as in the cinematic homage, both successfully bring you fully into the film, forcing you to experience it and therefore deal with the film as it seeks answers to the situations it presents.



 In what can quite easily be considered as the 2nd best Batman movie ever made, Christopher Miller and Phil Lord (who also brought us the Jump Street films as well as the first Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs) continued their streak of taking films that shouldn't really be very good and turning them into something way better than you ever imagined that they could be.  Like Big Hero 6 (which will most likely win for Best Animated Feature) and Book of Life (which like this film are somehow mysteriously absent from the nominations), The Lego Movie doesn't ultimately view violence as the answer to the problem at hand.  In fact, The Lego Movie literally suggests that creativity, friendship, and seeing the best in others is the best way to deal with our problems.  The world might be a much better place if we took that lesson to heart.  Most importantly, this film gives us the ever important reminder that EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!



When this movie came out, it was immediately the best film Marvel had put out yet, and that was saying something.  It also catapulted itself into the conversation for the best Comic Book movie ever made.  It made me want a Black Widow solo movie more than anything.  But I loved it because it perfectly utilized Cap to both represent what this country should be and criticize what we too often are.  Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier and Anthony Mackie as Falcon also gave us two fantastic characters that could one day take up Cap's shield and continue to help lead the struggle to have the United States strive harder to become a true and shining example of freedom.



The Winter Soldier's reign as unquestionably the best Marvel movie of all time didn't last very long.  I have to admit, when I heard Marvel was making this movie, I was sure that the magic of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was about to be dead.  How could anyone make a movie with a talking racoon and a giant tree who can basically only say its own name (like a Pokemon) be any good?

I shouldn't have doubted.  From its opening scene, Guardians of the Galaxy reminded us how much fun comic books are, and how much fun comic book movies can and should be.  It also told an epic, fantastic story, and perfectly introduced the cosmic side to the comic universe that Marvel has been so ably building since Iron Man.  It also sported my third favorite soundtrack of the year in Awesome Mix Vol. 1.



There are a few filmmakers whose films I will always be interested in seeing.  Wes Anderson might top that list.  He has a distinctive visual style that aids immensely in the stories he has to tell, and he has done it again with Grand Budapest Hotel.  Filled with the offbeat characters that he is known for, the story manages to equally surprise and delight throughout the film.  And, as always with Anderson, it looks magnificent.  Like The Royal Tennenbaums, Grand Budapest Hotel hits perfectly on all the right notes throughout the film.  Moonrise Kingdom is still my favorite Anderson film, but this is certainly in the conversation for which of his movies is the next best.



An amazing piece of film-making from Richard Linkletter (who also wrote and directed A Waking Life which is one of my all-time favorite films that also subverts the common way film-making is done), this film tells a story of 12 years and was filmed over that same amount of time, chronicling one young boy's life from when he was 6 until he is 18.  Attempting to discover who you are amidst the travails of childhood, this is a film with a universal story told in a unique way.  We might never get a film told in this way again due to the constraints and inherent dangers of taking over 12 years to make one movie, but if this is the only time something like this is accomplished or perhaps even attempted, at least it resulted in a fantastic film.



I honestly don't know how the hell this didn't garner Ava DuVernay a Best Director nomination as it was, in my opinion, the best directing job of the year.  And David Oyelowo became MLK Jr.  His performance was dead on.  The only performance that was even in the same league was Eddie Redmayne's as Stephen Hawking.  That's the only actor that has any claim at beating Oyelowo, but I think Oyelowo's performance is more impressive because of how omnipresent the real MLK is in our minds.  The fact that he isn't nominated for this performance is criminal.

When we look beyond the egregious snubs in nominations, we are left with an unbelievable film.  It is a movie that reminds us of a horrendous past not that far gone that unfortunately also reminds us of our present.  As this film aired in our theaters, the same scenes were playing out in some of our cities, and the same condemnations given in the film by the racist people in power towards the courageous acts of King and those beside him are the ones we hear today against those who stand up for black lives and demand some accountability from a system that inherently treats minorities in a disparaging manner.  It is a powerful film made perhaps more powerful because of the reminder that the past is not truly in the past just yet.



Not only was this my favorite film of the last year, it is one of my favorite films of all time.  It provokes excellent questions about destiny, freewill, and the purpose of humanity.  It looks amazing, contains outstanding acting (continuing the trend of Matthew McConaughey's transformation into an incredible actor), raises profound questions, and also thrills the audience with a tight, fantastic story.  Reminding me in many ways of another of my favorite films of all time, Contact, Interstellar was not only a fantastic film, but has also worked to further science, as the blackhole of the film has helped scientists to visualize blackholes in a new way and learn even more about them.  That's pretty impressive.

Until Next Time, In a year where half of the Oscar Best Picture nominees made my Top Ten (which is about the best we can hope for), the absence of Interstellar among those nominees is another glaring omission in a year full of them (joining the snubs against Selma, Lego Movie, and Book of Life).  But on the plus side, Neil Patrick Harris should be an epic host!  Follow along on Twitter for My Thoughts As I Had Them During The Oscars (#MTAIHTDTO) or tomorrow on Fat Train when I post the tweets in my 8th Annual My Thoughts As I Had Them During The Oscars Post.