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Direct Beam Comms #86


Midnight, Texas

The new NBC series Midnight, Texas is the latest attempt at a network to bring serious horror out of cable and to broadcast TV. While I thought that Midnight, Texas was lacking, none-the-less I also felt that it’s probably the best that a network show can be right now given all the limitations of broadcast TV.

Based on the series of books of the same name by author Charlaine Harris who also wrote the novels the series True Blood were based on, the town of Midnight, Texas is a sort of safe haven for those things that go bump in the night like witches, vampires and fallen angels. But these aren’t evil witches, vampires and fallen angels, they’re everyday witches, vampires and fallen angels just trying to get along in a world out to get them.

While I thought the characters of Midnight, Texas worked well and I was intrigued in the setting what I wasn’t sure of was the overall story. It seems like much of the series will deal with an outside force attacking the weird Midnight enclave and trying to drive out these misfits. In the first episode there’s a murder by some bikers ala the Sons of Anarchy that seemed like someone decided that since horror is hot right now and TV series like Sons of Anarchy too then why not try and blend the two and make something great? But this comes off a bit overdone for my tastes, if it’s probably right in-line with what the average viewer of broadcast TV expects in terms of story.

What I wasn’t expecting was just how scary some of the moments in Midnight, Texas were.

Manfred Bernardo (François Arnaud) is a psychic who really sees dead people. Really gross looking dead people who are trying to make contact with the living world. Be it a dead husband who looks like he just rolled off the morgue table, Bernardo’s grandma who pays him a visit and looks like she crawled out of a dusty grave or a drowning victim who’s bloated and rotting but when she tries to talk it comes out like waterlogged bile.

If this and the characters were all that Midnight, Texas were about I think I’d be really excited about the show, especially since the last NBC horror series Hannibal was one of my favs. That being said, I am interested in Midnight, Texas and will keep watching the show, if it wouldn’t surprise me that at some point in the season I stop watching and head off looking for a series with the characters of Midnight, Texas if not the story.

People of Earth

The first season of the TBS comedy People of Earth wrapped up last winter with the second having launched last week. I thought the first season of People of Earth was one of the better comedies on TV in 2016 if it took a while for the series to get going.

In the first season, writer Ozzie Graham (Wyatt Cenac) travels to a small down to do a piece on a support group for people who say they’ve been abducted by aliens. And what starts out as a joke evolves into something different when Ozzie realize that he too was abducted in the past and that the entire support group’s been together for decades now since the aliens have been abducting them since they were children.

The aliens doing the abducting are a mix of creatures. One’s a traditional “grey” alien named Jeff (Ken Hall), one’s a dreamboat alien with white hair Don (Bjorn Gustafson) and there’s a reptilian one named Jonathan (Michael Cassidy) too. These are more workaday aliens than monstrous ones who have deadlines, overbearing bosses and monthly quotas to meet.

Think The Office crossed with The X-Files and you’d be close to what People of Earth is.

The second season starts right where the first left off with Wyatt, now a believer trying to find the truth, Jeff dealing with new management in the whole abducting thing breathing down his neck and group member Richard (Brian Huskey) coming to terms that his girlfriend who exploded last season was really an alien robot plant.

After having read that paragraph again I know that must make People of Earth sound like a really weird series and to be honest it is a weird one. But it’s a good kind of weird, the kind of weird we need on TV in 2017.


IT trailer

Cool Sites

The Reading List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1947: Arnold Schwarzenegger of Terminator, Predator and Total Recall is born
  • 1956: Michael Biehn of Terminator, Aliens and The Abyss is born
  • 1966: Batman the movie premiers
  • 1966: Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. premiers
  • 1971: The Omega Man is released
  • 1983: The TV mini-series V premiers
  • 1985: Weird Science opens
  • 1986: Flight of the Navigator opens in theaters
  • 1986: Howard the Duck debuts
  • 1987: The Lost Boys premiers in theaters
  • 1988: The Blob premiers in theaters
  • 1991: Terminator 2: Judgement Day premiers in theaters
  • 2002: Signs premiers in theaters
  • 2011: Rise of the Planet of the Apes opens in theaters

Direct Beam Comms #55


People of Earth – Season 1: Grade: B+

I wasn’t totally sold on the TBS comedy series People of Earth when it premiered a few months back. The series about a support group for people who’ve been abducted, err…, experienced aliens where it turns out the members of the group really were abducted started off a bit too broad but within an episode or two found its footing.

Wyatt Cenac stars as writer Ozzie Graham who starts off the series as a journalist doing a story about the abductees but quickly finds himself at the center of things when he’s abducted. The group, lead by Gina (Ana Gasteyer) quickly welcomes Wyatt with open arms if everyone there has their own issues. But People of Earth isn’t just about the abductee group, in a hilarious twist it’s also about the aliens doing the abductions too. There’s bug eyed monster Jeff (Ken Hall), lizard Kurt (Drew Nelson) and dreamy nordic hunk Don (Björn Gustafsson) who go about their day snatching people and erasing their memories in order to prepare for an invasion.

In many ways, People of Earth reminds me of the series Community, not so much in tone but the idea of a group of disparate people thrown together who only have one thing in common and are forced to deal with each other. The characters are interesting and the interactions within the group on People of Earth are pretty funny too. I especially liked the character of Father Doug (Oscar Nuñez) who runs the church the group holds their meetings at. He’s not too interested in the group until one night he experiences something which sends him down the path of abandoning the cloth and getting his old fusion-jazz band back together.

But what’s funniest and best about the show are those aliens. They’re so workaday just doing a job who are a little in over their heads which makes People of Earth work so well. Plus, I’ve got to hand it for whomever did the makeup for the aliens, especially the one for Jeff. It’s a wonderful appliance with the piece covering his entire head that includes blinking eyes and everything.

Even though TBS has renewed People of Earth for a second season I’d be down for a Jeff spin-off series!


Blade Runner 2049 teaser trailer/announcement

“Replicants are like any other machine, their either a benefit or a hazard.”


Aliens – Foam Replica – 36″ Alien Skull

This replica skull of the monster from the movie Aliens is awesome. At first I wondered if I were to get it what I’d even do with it, but then I thought that it might make a cool Halloween decoration to scare the kiddies with. Then I saw the cost, $270, which is just a few hundred bucks out of my traditional Halloween decorating budget!

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1932: Nichelle Nichols, Uhura of Star Trek is born
  • 1980: Altered States is released
  • 1982: The Thing premiers in theaters
  • 1997: The Postman premiers
  • 1999: Galaxy Quest opens in theaters

Direct Beam Comms #48


Stan Against Evil – Grade: D+

I generally like horror series and even the ones I don’t care for I can see things in them things that other fans may like. However, I didn’t see anything in the new IFC series Stan Against Evil that I liked nor do I see what other horror fans would care for in this show either.

Here, John C. McGinley plays the title character who’s an ex-sheriff forced to resign after he attacked a woman at the funeral for his wife. Enter new sheriff Evie (Janet Varney) who one week into the position learns that every other sheriff before her, minus Stan, was killed on the job. And the rumor is it’s all related to 176 witches burned at the stake centuries earlier by the first town sheriff. Stan only survived his tour because his late-wife was going out nights to do battle with these witch-spirits, and now that she’s gone and Evie’s the new sheriff it’s up to Stan to continue the good fight.

It seems like Stan Against Evil wants to be something like Ash vs. Evil Dead meets 30 Rock. So it’s got some of the gross-out humor of Ash vs. Evil Dead and some of the deadpan humor of 30 Rock which unfortunately aren’t a great fit with each other. It doesn’t help matters that McGinley, whom I genuinely like, is doing a rougher and gruffer, though definitely a version of his Dr. Cox character from Scrubs which is amusing but gets old fast here.

Stan Against Evil seems to be a show that won’t really appeal to either the horror crowd or the comedy crowd and perhaps that’s why IFC premiered it late Halloween night after the horror season’s mostly done? Maybe they see this show as a comedy first horror second show? All of which is disappointing — the creators of Ash vs. Evil Dead make this kind of horror/comedy look easy which from the looks of Stan Against Evil it isn’t.

The Crown – Grade: B+

the-crown-netflixI seem to be a sucker for dramas written by Peter Morgan. I loved his movie The Queen (2006) about the death of Princess Diana and the reaction of the British royal family to this event, and more specifically how Queen Elizabeth (Helen Mirren) almost lost the monarchy, I think the movie Frost/Nixon is an underrated little gem and now I like his new Netflix series The Crown too.

The Crown starts in the late 1940s with the marriage between Princess Elizabeth (Claire Foy) and Phillip (Matt Smith) and then we quickly jump to the early 1950s where Elizabeth’s a young military wife who’s father King George (Jared Harris) is succumbing to lung cancer which will very soon leave her as the 26 year old Queen of the UK. In many ways, The Crown is the middle story of a trilogy that would have started with The King’s Speech (not written by Morgan but David Seidler) where King George had to overcome his stuttering in order to deliver a speech about Great Britain enduring the second world war, here The Crown as a middle story where power transitions from George’s generation to the next and then The Queen where Elizabeth almost becomes the last monarch of the UK after a few missteps.

What I think works so well in The Crown, and of Morgan’s other dramas mentioned above as well, is that he does a great job of going behind the scenes of events that played out in the public eye and showing them in a new way. In Frost/Nixon it was the behind the scenes preparations of the two Frost and Nixon camps before the interview, in The Queen it showed what was going on behind the curtains of Buckingham Palace the news cameras couldn’t see and here in The Crown that was happening between George, Elizabeth and Phillip might not have been as cozy as the monarchy wanted everyone to believe with all sorts of real human emotions playing out in private.

People of Earth – Grade: B

poe-pilot-1600x900-800x450_072920160258The new TBS series People of Earth has a lot of potential, however, while the first episode was a disappointment the second was good.

I’m not sure what to make of it but episode of People of Earth are just 15 minutes long. Which almost makes me wonder if the series was originally developed as an Adult Swim series that ended up on TBS instead? The show follows journalist Ozzie Graham (Wyatt Cenac) as he interviews a group of people who’ve been abducted by aliens over the years. And in these interviews he finds that he too might have been abducted in the past so he decides to move closer to the abductees and the common place they were all taken of.

The first episode of People of Earth fell short was all of the jokes seemed telegraphed. I could tell when a lot the jokes were coming and was saying the punchlines before the characters were. And the show also falls into the trope where the lead character Ozzie is the one normal character on the show while the rest of the characters all seem like they’re standard, abet all a bit weird, sitcom characters and not real people.

That being said a lot of these issues were corrected in the second episode where the characters felt toned back a bit, and not as cartoony, and the humor was a bit more naturalistic as well.

One thing I did like and did find intriguing and funny in both episodes were the alien characters. These aren’t your standard scary The X-Files aliens, these are workaday Joes one of whom is the typical “bug eyed monster,” another a reptile and a third a nordic hunk. They complain about their jobs to each other and get on one and other’s nerves and two mercilessly tease the nordic alien.

I’m interested enough to see where this is all going and had enough of a good time with the second episode and watching the alien characters that I’ll probably stick with this one for at least the rest of the season.


Wonder Woman movie trailer

“The closer you get, the more you see the darkness within.”

Life movie trailer

Sort’a looks like Gravity meets The Martian by way of Alien.


20th Anniversary Starship Troopers Tanker Bug

14915604_1766471016946069_8598270323381981340_nChronicle Collectibles is releasing a 20th Anniversary (!!!) statue of the Tanker Bug from the movie Starship Troopers. The statue is a whopping 25” long, 20” wide and 10” tall and retails for $350. That’s a lot of money, however, when statues of 12” figures regularly retail for $150 and up, $350 doesn’t seem too pricey in comparison.

I have been a Starship Troopers super-fan the last 20 years and am excited that it seems like there might be some sort of recognition/merchandising push for a movie that was so badly slammed/misunderstood when it was first released. Even if there’s reportedly a reboot movie in the works from the writers of the upcoming Baywatch movie.

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1970: Ethan Hawke of Explorers and Gattaca is born
  • 1975: The TV series The New Adventures of Wonder Woman debuts
  • 1982: Creepshow opens in theaters
  • 1994: The TV series Earth 2 premiers