Resin Heroes

The best TV series of 2017



Mindhunter

Serial killers have been stalking lots of TV series in one way or another for decades now. They play a sort of “boogeyman” to all sorts of various procedural shows and even turn up in regular old dramas from time to time. It wouldn’t surprise me if one day to lift sagging ratings that one might show up in a series like Modern Family. I jest, but it’s true that they’re all over modern TV yet there’s never really been a TV series to address where serial killers come from — that was until Mindhunter on Netflix.

Here, FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), Bill Trench (Holt McCallany) and professor Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) stumble upon the science of profiling active serial killers by interviewing jailed ones in prison. Back in the late 1970s when Mindhunter takes place everyone knew serial killers existed, but no one had taken the time to figure out how to find them. Then, the FBI was setup to take down bank robbers, not men who murder others for seemingly no reason. Enter Ford, Trench and Carr who spend the series trying to come up with ways of figuring out why serial killers are the way they are and if there’s any way to stop them in the future.

That’s why I think Mindhunter works so well as a series. The show isn’t about the FBI tracking down serial killers — that’s been done many times before on many other shows. Mindhunter is the thinking person’s CSI where the characters aren’t gunning down suspects, they interviewing and probing convicts to find out how they tick to try and develop a science as it were in order to be able to put together an intelligent profile of the killers to be able to catch them before they’re able to murder again.

Better Call Saul

Three seasons in and Better Call Saul is still one of the best things on TV — as of right now it’s the only reason to watch AMC. I’m constantly astounded at the quality of the writing, acting, directing, set design … well, everything about this show.

The third season of Better Call Saul finds lead character Jimmy McGill’s (Bob Odenkirk) life slowly imploding around him as important people in his world turn their backs on him while his law practice goes up in flames leaving him with very few options for a future where he’s got next to no money coming in with the bills still piling up.

GLOW

Another Netflix series, GLOW takes place in the 1980s at the heart of a real burgeoning women’s wrestling TV series called the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling — or GLOW. What, you don’t remember women’s wrestling in the 1980s!? The good thing is with Netflix’s GLOW you don’t have to as this show isn’t so much about the wrestling as it is about all of the women and men who went in to make GLOW a reality. Like Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), an actress who can’t land a part to save her life where GLOW represents a last chance for her to be in the entertainment industry.

I think what works best about GLOW are the characters like Ruth — they’re all different and they all want different things out of their experiences with GLOW. Sometimes what they want goes together and sometimes what they want doesn’t.

Stranger Things

The second season of the bonafide pop-cultural phenomena Stranger Things debuted on Netflix a few months back and was easily the series the most people I knew were excited about returning. Stranger Things is a show that cuts across different demographics — I know 50 year olds who watch the show along with 10 year olds. It’s not necessarily a family show but is a show I think families can watch together. As long as those families don’t have kids who are too little and might be frightened of terrifying things that go bump in the night.

The Orville

I can’t say I was much looking forward to The Orville when I first heard about it last summer. A live-action sci-fi show from animated series impresario Seth McFarlane who seems to reveal in being controversial? And the first TV spots for The Orville sold the show as a sort of TV version of Galaxy Quest where the crew of the ship are buffoons.

But even watching a single episode of The Orville it’s plainly obvious that the series has got nothing to do with Galaxy Quest. In fact, The Orville might be the show that’s closest to the true spirit of the original Star Trek since, well, the original Star Trek.

The Punisher

Netflix really “hit one out of the park” with their latest Marvel series The Punisher. Like I’ve said before the character of The Punisher is one of my favs, so I suppose I’m predisposed to like this show. But I didn’t just like The Punisher, I loved The Punisher. It’s certainly one of my favorite series based on comic books ever, and is certainly my favorite Netflix superhero show.

Legion

I’ve never really been a fan of comic book TV shows. They tend to put the story ahead of the characters when to me it should be just the other way around. That’s why I loved the FX series Legion so much. There were parts of that show that literally take place inside of characters heads in this weird mental space where I had no idea of what was going on. Yet the characters of Legion are so strong I would, and did, follow them almost anywhere.

The Expanse

I know SyFy has been trying to turn their image around for years now. And while the quality of most of SyFy’s shows are questionable at best — as I write this SyFy.com which is a website that’s ostensively there to promote SyFy’s TV shows instead has articles about Stranger Things and Thor Ragnarok on its homepage, neither of which appear on SyFy — there’s one bright spot on the bleak thing that SyFy has become which is the TV series The Expanse. One of the best, if not only, hard-sci-fi series on TV these days, in its second season The Expanse continued to improve and tell quality stories about life in the future where humanity, on the brink of extinction, is still squabbling over trivial matters.




2017/2018 TV preview



New Series

The year superheroes broke TV

There are so many superhero series debuting this TV season there’s almost too many to cover here. In fact, there are at least eight new live-action superhero shows debuting this season which will bring the number currently airing to more than 25 based on comic books.

Inhumans

Inhumans

What was originally set to be a series of Marvel films has now become a TV series with Inhumans on ABC. I never really collected any Inhumans comics so I don’t really know the core Inhumans story. I do know that the show will be the third Marvel series to debut on ABC with Agents of SHIELD entering its fifth season and Agent Carter being cancelled after two. I wasn’t a fan of Agents of SHIELD nor of Agent Carter but will still checkout Inhumans, if with a bit of trepidation.

What I do know about The Inhumans, and what I could glean from ABC’s marketing materials, has them as a race of super-powered people living in a hidden city on the Moon with the likes of Black Bolt who’s voice is so powerful it can destroy entire cities and Medusa with living hair. In the series, a coup on the Moon forces this ruling family down to the Earth to face life among us mere mortals and the rest of the Marvel universe characters.

The Gifted

The Gifted

The Gifted on FOX looks to take the X-Men franchise TV screens with a series about a family on the run after they learn that two of their kids are mutants with super-powers. Some X-Men characters are set to appear in the series but don’t expect Wolverine, Cyclops or Jean Grey to show up in The Gifted. Instead the likes of Polaris, Thunderbird and Blink will be the muties helping the family on the run.

Krypton

Syfy enters the superhero TV game with their series Krypton about life on Superman’s alien home-world decades before his birth. But like with The Gifted don’t expect the Man of Steel to swoop in during sweeps week to boost ratings on the show as Krypton follows Superman’s granddad Seg-El as a spry 20-something living and working on Krypton before the planet went and got all explody.

The Punisher

The Punisher

The Punisher, on Netflix, follows the character of the same name who originally began as an ally/antagonist on the series Daredevil before being spun-off onto his own show. Not much is known about The Punisher other than to expect to see him eliminating as many bad-guys as he can in 13 episodes.

Runaways

The Hulu series Runaways sounds interesting, but reports from the creators of the show make me wonder if it’ll be as interesting as I first thought? The comic series Runaways is about a group of teens who discover that a) they all have superpowers because b) their parents are all major super-villains who run a west coast crime empire. But the creators of the Hulu version have said that the series will be “the O.C. of the Marvel Universe” and that just because the parents are super-villains who quite literally sacrifice people, “that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all that bad.” Ugh, ugh, and double ugh.

Black Lightning

Black Lightning will join the CW stable of established DC characters like Arrow, Supergirl and The Flash this season with the title character who can harness electricity and must return to the superhero fold years after retiring.

Freeform, the old ABC Family, is set to debut two new superhero series next season with New Warriors and Cloak and Dagger.

New Warriors

Cloak and Dagger

When I was a teen New Warriors, a comic about a team a sort of teenaged X-Men, was one of my favorites. But this TV New Warriors isn’t an action series, it’s reportedly a half-hour comedy starring a character named Squirrel Girl, who’s, admittedly, really popular with the younger set these days.

Cloak and Dagger

In the comic Cloak and Dagger Cloak was a character of darkness and Dagger of light who were a team called, you guessed it, Cloak and Dagger. From the looks of it, the TV version retains the characters and their powers, but looks to be more Twilight, “they’re from two different worlds but are in love,” than X-Men “let’s kick Magneto’s butt” in tone.

Non-comic book series

I can’t tell you how weird it feels to write that. Literally a few years ago there weren’t any series based on comic books, now there’s so many I can’t even keep track. But even though there’s quite a few new superhero TV series to look forward to this season, there are a few non-superpowered shows debuting 2017–18 as well.

The Crossing

The Crossing

The Crossing on ABC has a small town becoming inundated when hundreds of bodies begin washing ashore from some disaster. But this disaster is something that’s going to happen in the future and these people are really refugees escaping to their past, our present, to find safety. The Crossing is a show I’m interested in as long as it doesn’t turn out to be another Lost where the goal is to spread the mystery of it out over as many seasons and episodes as possible rather than telling a coherent story.

Even The Crossing seems to have somewhat of a superhero element to it with some of the characters from the future possessing strange abilities far beyond that of mere mortal men.

There are a few interesting looking non-superhero series on FOX this season, the first of which is The Orville.

The Orville

The Orville

The Orville created by and starring Seth McFarlane of Family Guy fame is a live action comedic take on Star Trek. From the looks of things, The Orville is a sort of TV version of Galaxy Quest if the characters on Galaxy Quest were really the bumbling crew of a starship and not Hollywood actors playing them. I think The Orville is a great idea for a series, if I don’t think I laughed once at the promo that was released for the show a few months back.

Ghosted

If The Orville is a take on the movie Galaxy Quest then Ghosted also on FOX seems to be a take on the movie Ghostbusters. This time, instead of four scientists working together to bust ghosts, it’s, according to FOX, a skeptic (Craig Robinson) and true believer (Adam Scott) who’re the ones having to go around and do the busting as it were.

LA > Vegas

LA > Vegas

LA > Vegas has the most unique sitcom setting I can think of over the last few years. The show takes place aboard an airliner that makes a weekly round-trip between LA and Las Vegas with there being some regular characters of LA > Vegas including jet’s crew and people who travel to Vegas every week as well as new passengers each episode on a trip to lose money in the desert.

S.W.A.T.

The S.W.A.T. franchise has had a surprisingly long history. The original TV series of the same name debuted in 1975 with a feature film version in 2003 and a low-budget sequel released in 2011. And now comes a new S.W.A.T. TV series on CBS that’s set to premiere later this fall. CBS dramas aren’t known for their subtly and the promo for S.W.A.T. isn’t subtle with S.W.A.T police officers having gun battles in the streets one minute, smooching with their wives in the shower the next to dodging bazooka blasts a later that evening.

Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery also on CBS has the most interesting path to series of any show in memory. This series has been around so long that I originally wrote about it in my 2016 TV preview. Star Trek: Discovery was supposed to premiere January 2017 but was then pushed back to May after execs realized that there was no way the series would be ready to air last winter. Then, a few months into 2017, they also realized that a May debut wasn’t going to happen either so the series was once again pushed back to September 24. Which looks like it’s going to happen since there’s been quite a bit of marketing released on the series including things like posters and online promos for the show.

But wait, there’s more.

Only one episode of Star Trek: Discovery will be shown on CBS with the remainder of the episodes then debuting over the next few weeks on the CBS All Access streaming service for residents in the US and Netflix for most of the rest of the world. Which seems like a bit of a misstep to me. I think CBS is eying fans of Star Trek and are just assuming they’re going to shell out $6 a month to watch Star Trek: Discovery because it’s Star Trek and fans of Star Trek will pay any amount of money to see anything labelled Star Trek. Now, I’m a fan of the Star Trek but I think most of what CBS offers is pure mung and can’t imagine shelling out $6 a month just to watch Star Trek: Discovery when there’s so many other things to watch on TV, especially around the time Star Trek: Discovery is premiering.

Here’s what I could see doing, though.

Star Trek: Discovery

If that first episode of Star Trek: Discovery that airs on CBS is good, if it’s intriguing enough for me to want to checkout the rest of the episodes — all of which is debatable since though I consider myself a fan of Star Trek none-the-less I really haven’t liked anything Star Trek since the late 1990s. If Star Trek: Discovery is interesting enough what I may do is wait until all the episodes are available on CBS All Access since they’re not all being released at once but instead over the course of a few months. And when they’re all available get CBS All Access for a month, binge them and then cancel my subscription.

But like I said that’s debatable. Star Trek: Discovery will have to be really good for me to want to do that and everything I’ve read about the show, from original series helmer Bryan Fuller exiting the series to CBS changing the look of Star Trek: Discovery from retro-Trek to something more futuristic makes me doubt that I’ll be in a big rush to checkout the rest of the series after it debuts in September.

Returning series

Because of the weird nature of TV I’m not quite sure what all current series are returning and when? Like both the series Legion and Westworld aired episodes in early 2017, but are only scheduled to return “sometime” in 2018, which might mean they’ll return in a few months or in more than a year. While there might not be a load of returning shows I’m interested in this season, those that are returning are really good and I don’t think I could be more excited about new episodes if I tried.

The Good Place

The Good Place

One show that is scheduled to return fairly soon is The Good Place on September 20. This NBC comedy about a woman (Kristen Bell) who dies and wakes in “the good place” but really was supposed to go to the bad one was the one new network show from last season that I liked that’s still around for a season two. I was surprised as to just how much a slow-burn The Good Place was, with each episode acting as a single chapter in a season-long story. My initial thoughts on the show was that it might be the most disturbing thing on TV since in the universe of the The Good Place 99.999% of everyone who dies goes to “the bad place,” and it’s only the supremely good among us that end up in “the good place.” So even the best of us are doomed. And in the show if Bell’s character is ever found out what happens to her? Does she get a one-way ticked to hell? I liked The Good Place enough to stick with it until the end, when a twist I saw coming from the very first episode hit that I was still surprised by made me change The Good Place from a show I liked to one I adored.

Stranger Things

Stranger Things

The 2016 breakout TV series that I think surprised everyone, including myself, as to how good it was Stranger Things returns to Netflix for a second season October 27. Stranger Things is a show about the 1980s but isn’t about the 1980s, it just so happens to take place there and is this weird, cool mesh of horror and sci-fi I really wasn’t expecting when I first started watching it last summer. Stranger Things stars a mostly pre-teen/teen cast of actors who, after one of the group goes missing and a girl mysteriously appears out of nowhere, must go on a quest to rescue their friend. But be it starring kids and teens or not, the danger and violence of the first season of Stranger Things was palpable with characters being shot, consumed by monsters and cocooned alive to wait out a fate worse than death. I don’t want to say that the first season of Stranger Things was a perfect show, but it might be about the most perfect show fans of horror/sci-fi these days can hope for.

Black Mirror

This surprisingly long-lasting British anthology horror/sci-fi series returns for a fourth season on Netflix this year. It’s easiest to describe this series as a modern day The Twilight Zone, but it’s really its own thing. Generally, episodes of Black Mirror take place in a few years time and deal with our everyday technology gone amok. Be it a society that runs on social media “likes” or soldiers with computers in their heads doing battle with mutant people who turn out to be a little less “mutant” and a lot more “people.” Where Black Mirror excels is at this everyday horror aspect to our lives, it’s the answer to the question, “Do we control our technology, or does it control us?”

And now for the ones that return sometime in 2018.

The Expanse

The Expanse

The Expanse on SyFy channel remains the lone holdout on a network that’s supposed to be for fans of sci-fi that actually is a quality sci-fi show. Two seasons in and I’m surprised as to just how well The Expanse has progressed. What started as a sort’a conspiracy thriller set in deep space with the search for a missing woman has grown exponentially into a war spanning the entire solar system with a group of characters spread out between the Earth, Mars, the asteroid belt, Jupiter and now Venus. I think what I like most about The Expanse is that while the show has grown in scope, the focus has remained on most of the same characters from the first season with a few additions here and there. So while a similar series like Game of Thrones has grown to the point of being unable to contain its story in a single episode, The Expanse has remained grounded and feels much like the same show when it started while the bounds of the story had been let to expand.

Legion

Legion

Legion might be the most trippy series on TV — and one of the best. It’s a superhero show but is nothing like a traditional superhero show since the focus of Legion is on character’s mental states rather than who can punch the villain hardest. I’m not sure the construction of the first season of Legion is like any other series out there. Legion starts out with David Haller (Dan Stevens) living his life inside a mental institution who has these weird memories of his childhood. It seems like David can do these strange things, or maybe he just imagines that he can. As the series progresses we go in and out of David’s, as well as other character’s minds, to the point where we’re really not sure what’s real and what’s not. But in the universe that is Legion what’s real and what is not is not as important as what the characters believe is real or not.

Westworld

Westworld

To me at least, this year wasn’t a great one for original series on HBO. I’m not sure if I’m just aging out of the core HBO demographic, but in 2017 the only show I really cared about there was Westworld, and much like with The Good Place I didn’t think it was going to be very good when I first heard about it. I mean, how could it be? Westworld was delayed ages because of “script problems” and was based on a decades old movie about rich people who visit a theme park where they can do whatever they want to the robotic inhabitants there. And I mean whatever they want. But instead of simply following the model of the movie, the creators of the Westworld TV show also made its focus on the robotic characters of the park in addition to the wealthy visitors. These robots are doomed to unknowingly live the same day over and over again, on a loop with the park’s patrons treating them like toys to be shot or raped or murdered. The question of the Westworld series is, what happens if these robots start realizing their lives aren’t their own and want to claim them back?

The X-Files

The X-FIles

An eleventh season of The X-Files is slated to debut in 2018 on Fox even with the 2016 tenth season having the fans divided. Some thought that because episodes of the new The X-Files were essentially a continuation of the old, and were told in the same anachronistic 1990s fashion, the new episodes were no good when put up against other modern series. While others, myself included, thought that when people were screaming that they wanted more The X-Files, and when more episodes of The X-Files arrived on their TV screens, what did they think they were exactly going to get?

Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul

The AMC series that started off as just a prequel to the hit series Breaking Bad but over the years has evolved into something so much more Better Call Saul usually returns in the first quarter of the year. The last two years I’ve called Better Call Saul the best series on TV and so far in 2017 it’s still the best. This series has some of the best characters out there, be it sack-sack Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) who in the third season is well on his way to becoming Saul Goodman, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), Jimmy’s not yet right hand man who turned to the dark side last season and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), a woman who’d seemingly have it all together and a great life as a lawyer except she’s fallen into Jimmy’s orbit and ends up literally crashing and burning this season.




Direct Beam Comms #69



TV

Legion season 1 Grade: A

We live in a golden age of TV where there are literally hours and hours and hours of good TV series to watch each week. So much so that even “good” TV shows nowadays seem to be average. Still, every once in a while there’s a really great TV show, something so good it stands out from the rest of the pack. The first great new TV series of 2017 is Legion that just wrapped up its first spectacular season on FX.

Legion might also be the best comic book TV series ever as well. It’s certainly the first comic book TV series that doesn’t seem to be constantly embarrassed that its source material is a comic book.

The first season story of Legion was of psychiatric patient David Haller (Dan Stevens) who slowly discovers that the voices in his head might be something more than mental illness, they’re something much worse than mental illness. So David and another patient Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller) go on the run, find others like them who want to help while also running from a quasi-government agency who sees David as a threat to global security, at one point his powers are referred to as being a “world-breaker,” as they all get to the bottom of what’s going on inside David’s head. And what’s going on isn’t nice — in fact it’s a lot evil.

Too many comic book TV series (and movies too) seem to take great shame in the fact that they’re based on comic books. How many of them are too embarrassed to say, “Based on a comic book” but instead go with the term “graphic novel” instead, of which none of the modern TV series or movies are. Worst of all these tend to either focus only on the dour, depressing parts of the comic books or trying to put them in a world so realistic that the superhero elements don’t quite fit. The creators of the TV series seem embarrassed that the source material might contain bright colors or goofy storylines and instead focus on gritty realism and gigantic city-spanning fight scenes. All of which are a part of the comics, but are not exclusively what makes up all comic stories.

I think the creators of Legion have actually done a great job of capturing a true comic book spirit with their TV show, ironically in a show that looks nothing like a comic book source material. The main characters of the show don’t wear standard uniforms, except sometimes they kind’a do in that they wear the uniforms of the psychiatric institution they were in. There are bright colors, devious villains with creepy names like “The Eye” and even allusions to the comic book source material with lots of instances of the letter “X” turning up in things like windows since Legion takes place in the X-Men universe. There’s also talk of backstory that readers of the comics would pick up on but aren’t so inside that it spoils the overall story for everyone else watching the show.

Let’s not forget the crazy dance numbers of Legion, no joke, episode arcs that take place entirely within the mind and unique characters I don’t think I’ve seen in any other show before.

At times Legion does move at a leisurely pace. Which, at the time I was watching them, seemed like a drag but looking back I realize was building up to something more.

Just like how comic book story arcs work.

Imaginary Mary Series premiere episode 1 Grade: B+

Starring Jenna Elfman as Alice, the new ABC series Imaginary Mary is a sort of cross between the classic 1980s TV series ALF and the 1991 movie Drop Dead Fred. Alice is a super-successful business woman who as a young child in a time of stress created an imaginary friend she called “Imaginary Mary” (a computer animated character but voiced by Rachel Dratch) who vanished as Alice became older. But when Alice falls for single dad Ben (Stephen Schneider) and gets stressed out when she’s going to meet his three kids, Imaginary Mary unexpectedly returns to try and get Alice out of this relationship and back to the life of partying and having fun.

It doesn’t help matter’s that Ben’s kids are the standard sitcom “kids from hell” who seem to have it out for Alice. But by the end of the first episode Alice has come to terms with her and Ben’s family, even if it seems that Imaginary Mary is here to stay.

Imaginary Mary is and undeniably cute show, the problem with it is that I’m not sure where the series goes from here? I enjoyed the first episode a great deal and thought that the idea of an adult still having their childhood imaginary friend, though not totally unique, was handled interestingly here. Alice is scared to grow up and latches onto something from her past to help get through a stressful time in her life. And while Imaginary Mary just wants her and Alice to have fun it’s not like she’s evil. In fact she sometimes has good ideas on how Alice can better get along with Ben’s kids.

My concern about Imaginary Mary is that while the first episode was interesting, I can see the series devolving into a standard sitcom — SINGLE MOM DATES A DAD WITH THREE KIDS AND WACKINESS ENSUES! — with the addition of the Imaginary Mary character. I could be wrong but to me it seems like Imaginary Mary would work best as a limited-run series or something on a cable channel that could push some boundaries. I’m not sold that Imaginary Mary will work as an ABC show, but I’d be happy to be surprised otherwise.

Fargo installment 3 TV commercial

Movies

Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer

IT trailer

War for the Planet of the Apes trailer

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets trailer

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1933: King Kong opens in theaters
  • 1968: 2001: A Space Odyssey premiers
  • 1970: Colossus: The Forbin Project is released
  • 1977: Michael Fassbender, David of Prometheus and Magneto of X-Men: First Class is born
  • 1978: The TV series The Amazing Spider-Man debuts
  • 1990: The TV series Twin Peaks debuts
  • 1998: The movie Lost in Space premiers in theaters



Direct Beam Comms #62



TV

Legion – Episode 1 Grade: A

We may have entered a second phase of superhero movies/TV series with the debut of the FX series Legion last week. Most superhero movies/TV series have always focused on the good guys vs the bad guys. Captain America against Hydra, Flash against Gorilla Grodd, Batman vs Joker. But Legion, along with the likes of last year’s Deadpool, does something different with the genre. It takes what has come before, turns it around, mixes things up and presents the story as something new and unique.

In Legion, David Haller (Dan Stevens) is in a mental institution as he has begun to lose his grip on sanity, hearing voices which drove him to attempt suicide. In the asylum, he meets Sydney Barrett (Rachel Keller), another patient who shows David that he might not be as crazy as he thinks he is. That these voices and his apparent ability to make things move with his mind might be something more. The word “mutant” is never uttered in Legion, but if you’ve read the X-Men comics or seen the movies you’ll know where this one is coming from.

David escapes the asylum but is kidnapped and taken by a shady government organization headed by some seriously creepy dudes who question him about his abilities, and give off the definite vibe that if they don’t like David’s answers they’ll kill him. But can David trust this reality? Is he really on the outside doing battle with these evil forces, or is everything that’s happening to him all happening in his head back at the asylum?

Created by Noah Hawley (Fargo), Legion feels like it’s a series where the creators have taken in decades worth of comics and movies and have distilled all this with other elements from pop-culture like a Wes Anderson/Stanley Kubrick aesthetic mixed with the tone and nonlinear storytelling techniques used in things like the TV series Hannibal. The first episode of Legion starts during the present and flashes to different points in David’s past. From when he was an infant, to an out of control teen and to his time in the asylum. And all these timelines play out during the episode which works brilliantly. I don’t think anyone would mistake Legion for another superhero series like Arrow or Agents of SHIELD since Legion doesn’t look or feel like any superhero thing that’s come before.

Which makes me really excited for Legion and the future of superhero movies/TV series in general. I’m a fan of anything superhero and have been most of my life. I’m going to love just about any superhero movie or TV series, or at worst give them a pass. But it makes me wonder how many movies like Batman vs Superman that people who don’t give anything superhero a pass are going to take before they stop going to them? What gives me hope is if superhero movies/TV series can evolve and change like Deadpool and Legion did/are, and hopefully the upcoming Logan movie might be, maybe I don’t have to worry about a coming superhero movie collapse and me with nothing to watch?

24 Legacy – Episode 1 Grade: B-

TV show revivals are popular these days. Last year FOX brought back The X-Files and later this year will premiere new episodes of Prison Break. But their latest revival series 24: Legacy is kind’a a spin-off, kind’a a remake and kind’a a continuation if the original 24.

24 Legacy follows the structure of the original series with each episode taking place in “real time” with the hero, this time ex-Army Ranger Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins) in the lead, racing around trying to stop terrorists before they can launch some attack. I swear I tried watching each new season of the original 24 with an open mind, but the longest I ever lasted was about six episodes in the first season. I could never get past the idea that events in the show are taking place in “real time” which meant people would be able to drive through city traffic that should take hours instead of minutes while at the same time having running machine gun battles all around town with seemingly no one noticing. I even remember one season where a terrorists set off a nuke in LA. Now if that happened today I’d suspect everyone in town would be hitting the roads heading for the hills, yet that kind of stuff never seemed to happen in 24.

And unfortunately 24: Legacy seems to essentially be the same 24 with subtle variations.

This time, terrorists are tracking down six members of an Army Ranger squad who killed one of their leaders in a Osama bin Laden Zero Dark Thirty style raid. The bad guys aren’t looking for revenge, but are looking for a lock box that contains a something that I’m sure this will be revealed in later episodes. Regardless, while four of the Rangers and their families are murdered by the terrorists, they didn’t count on Carter and Carter’s wife who together take out a terrorist team who breaks into their house looking for the box. And since the only people who knew Carter’s and the other Ranger’s identities were the leaders of the CIA, FBI and CTU, the only person Carter can really trust is ex-CTU head Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto) who thought she was out, but was pulled back.

24: Legacy is entertaining if a bit vapid. The stories for over 200 episodes of 24 never seemed to vary too much; terrorists want to blow something up and it’s up to one dude to stop them, which all becomes very repetitive. And by the looks of it 24: Legacy seems to be following the same mold.

24: Legacy isn’t bad TV, it’s just average ordinary TV.

Stranger Things season 2 TV spot

The Americans season 5 TV spot

Iron Fist first season TV spot

Comics

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Newspaper Comic Strips

Out this week is He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Newspaper Comic Strips that collects all four years of something I never knew existed.

For over four years, Masters of the Universe had its own newspaper comic strip! This story continued the tales from the Filmation cartoon and bridged the saga to the space-themed New Adventures of He-Man cartoon relaunch. The comic strip only ran in selected newspapers and was never reprinted, so most fans have never read it … until now!

The Forever War

Titan Comics begins reprinting the long out of print and now very expensive The Forever War comic series written by Joe Haldeman and illustrated by Marvano. Forever War is my all-time favorite book so I bought the first comic collection when it was out decades ago the last time the series was published but am seriously excited about this new comics series.

An epic SF war story spanning space and time, The Forever War explores one soldier’s experience caught up in the brutal machinery of a war that reaches across the stars.

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1957: LeVar Burton, Geordi of Star Trek: The Next Generation is born
  • 1975: The Stepford Wives debuts
  • 1975: Zardoz opens
  • 1988: Smeg! The TV series Red Dwarf premiers
  • 1989: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure opens in theaters
  • 2000: Pitch Black premiers
  • 2009: The TV series Dollhouse premiers



Direct Beam Comms #53



TV

Westworld season 1 – Grade: B+

“Cease all motor functions!”

I am afraid of Westworld. So many times in the past I’ve fallen for shows like Westworld that have these deep, intricate character-driven storylines only to be disappointed in the end. In my heart of hearts I know that with TV series like Westworld the journey is more important than the destination, but I’m always hoping that the series ending will be as good as the road it took to get there. And so far at least, one season in, Westworld has taken one fine, interesting road and has quickly become my favorite thing on TV in the last few months.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect with Westworld but whatever I was thinking the show might be like isn’t anything as to what it actually was like. Much of the story is told via three groups of characters. The first group is of people like Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) who are trying to keep this massive park running while at the same time making improvements while acting in a sort of god-like way even if some of their changes have started causing glitches in the robots of the park known as the “hosts.” These robots don’t know that they’re robots and awaken each day anew not realizing that they’re all in a story loop and essentially play the same day over and over again. With this robot group are characters like Maeve (Thandie Newton) who’s starting to have memories she shouldn’t have and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) who’s beginning to question the nature of her reality. And then there’s the human visitors of the park like William (Jimmi Simpson) and “The Man in Black” (Ed Harris) who are experiencing the park in very different ways. Harris’ character is convinced that there’s a core story beneath the veneer of Westworld that the rest of the guests experience and wants to uncover this truth, even if it means he has spend 30 years there and cause pain, death and destruction to the hosts to do so. And William, brand new to the park, wants to help Doloris in her quest for self realization but isn’t sure what all is required to do so or the ramifications of.

I think that what works best about Westworld are all the questions that the series creators ask. Like if Dr. Ford is creating these robots, and these robots are self-aware, feel pain and have emotions, has he created life? Even if that life can be changed, controlled and obliterated at the flick of a switch. And for the “hosts” of the show who, if they’re somewhat self-aware now, what happens in the future when they become fully self-aware and want to control their own destinies and futures and not be controlled and tied to the Westworld park as they are now? And what will they do when they realize the people who’ve created them have spent decades abusing them over and over again with no consequences?

I’m also fascinated with how Westworld ties into modern day video games. In those games players come up against characters in the game who they can do what they will with. Though there might be consequences in the game if the players harm these characters, there are no real world consequences if they decide to do so. And this is the same for Westworld where the visitors can do whatever they want to the hosts be it hurt them, rape them or kill them. There’s no consequences since technically you can’t hurt, rape or kill a robot. But what if someday the robots started remembering these terrible things done to them and what if they wanted to fight back?

It’s interesting to imagine just where Westworld will go in future seasons? In my head I’ve got it all mapped out down perfectly to the series sixth season. But if I’m lucky the creators of Westworld will continue to do their own thing and keep creating a surprising show that asks a lot of bit questions about what it’s like to live in the times that we do without providing a lot of easy answers.

Legion TV Spot

“The human race is beginning to evolve.”

The Expanse TV Spot

“In this world that we live in you have to pick a side.”

Movies

Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer

“This is my chance to prove myself.”

War for the Planet of the Apes trailer

“All of human history has lead to this moment.”

The Mummy (2017) trailer

World War Z + Suicide Squad = The Mummy

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1917: Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rendezvous with Rama and Childhood’s End to name a few is born
  • 1941: The Wolf Man opens in theaters
  • 1976: King Kong debuts
  • 1978: Superman opens in theaters
  • 1984: Dune premiers
  • 1984: Runaway debuts
  • 1984: Starman opens
  • 1996: Mars Attacks! premiers
  • 1998: Star Trek: Insurrection opens in theaters
  • 2002: Star Trek: Nemesis premiers
  • 2005: King Kong opens in theaters
  • 2010: Tron: Legacy debuts