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Direct Beam Comms #73


Powerless – First, and apparently only, season Grade B-

The NBC comedy series Powerless unexpectedly ended its run a few weeks back. “Unexpectedly” since the series was pulled from the schedule before the last two episodes could air which effectively marks the end of Powerless.

Taking place in the DC universe, Powerless was about workers at Wayne Enterprises headed by Bruce’s Cousin Van (Alan Tudyk). Wayne Enterprises invents things to keep people safe from the superhero battles that are constantly going on all around them. In a clever twist, it turns out that some of their inventions turn up as gadgets used by Batman to fight the bad-guys, but most of Powerless was centered on the employees including Emily (Vanessa Hudgens) as a new girl in town enamored with all the goings-on of superheroes, Teddy (Danny Pudi) and Ron (Ron Funches) two engineers and Jackie (Christina Kirk) Van’s assistant.

Powerless was an enjoyable show and an interesting, comedic look at life of people living alongside superheroes and villains who see them mostly as an annoyance like traffic or bad weather than something to aspire to. I’m not sure why Powerless didn’t click with the general public? My guess would be that since it was half-comedy and half-superhero show, it didn’t really appeal to the people who might have tuned in for just a comedy OR a superhero show.

Regardless, I enjoyed Powerless and felt that the show was finding it’s legs as it were and was interested to see how the first season was going to wrap up.


The Lost Boys

When I first caught The Lost Boys on cable probably sometime in 1988 I was immediately hooked. This story about a family that moves to Santa Carla, California and finds that it’s infested with vampires was always one of my favorite movies as a teen. But I have to say watching the movie today 30 years after its release was a bit of a letdown.

I remember when The Lost Boys came out the big draw to it at my middle school was that it starred “The Corey’s” of Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. If either of those two actors are remembered at all today it’s because of their substance abuse problems in the 1990s which would lead to the untimely death of Haim in 2010. But in 1987 those two were the biggest teen heart-throbs on the planet with Feldman having just come off of movies like The Goonies and Stand By Me and Haim Lucas.

I remember Haim being the guy most girls at my school wanted to be their boyfriend and Feldman being the guy most dudes at my school wished was their best friend. In The Lost Boys, Haim plays Sam, younger brother to Michael and I so wanted to be Sam with his cool quips, driving cars without licenses and killer of vampires. A year later and both Haim and Feldman would star in the movie License to Drive which was a big hit in its day but now is mostly an unknown movie to anyone under the age of 35.

The Lost Boys also starred a few actors who would go onto have big careers including Jason Patric as Michael in an early role who would go onto films like Rush and Narc and Kiefer Sutherland who then was just entering the big movie-stardom phase of his career which would lead to roles like Young Guns and Flatliners and is a TV star these days. The Lost Boys also co-stars Jami Gertz as the one lost girl of the bunch who’s had a long career on film and TV and Alex Winter too who would go onto co-star in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure in 1989.

If anything, The Lost Boys has loads of style. It’s a movie that college professors today could use as an example of how films from the late 1980s looked with costumes, set designs and colors. And that’s one of the reasons I think that the The Lost Boys hasn’t aged that well the last 30 years. It’s a fantastic movie to look at and is very fun to watch but is lacking in the story department. It’s one of those movies that works the first time through when the viewer doesn’t know the trick/twist of the film coming, but after that future viewings are mostly style over substance.

So much style that the design of the vampires from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series owe a great deal to the heavy forehead and freaky eyes vampires of The Lost Boys.

The Lost Boys is a pretty spectacular film in the gore and gross-out department, though. When the vampires kill, they bite into the heads of the unlucky ones which causes a gush of blood almost like they’re popping the top of a frosty beer. And when the vampires start meeting their ends, it’s pretty gruesome as well with them bursting into flames, receiving horrific burn wounds via holy water and even dissolving into green blobs of skeletal puss when immersed in the stuff.

In fact, The Lost Boys is rated “R” which I couldn’t ever see happening today. If it were released in 2017 instead of 1987 The Lost Boys would be rated “PG–13,” would feature a lot less gore and would be more focused on the action. I guess even if The Lost Boys isn’t a great movie it’s still great that it was released in 1987 instead of 2017 since I can only imagine it would be more Twilight than Evil Dead.

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1937: George Takei, Sulu of Star Trek is born
  • 1940: Lance Henriksen of Terminator, Aliens and Near Dark
  • 1984: The TV mini-series V: The Final Battle premiers
  • 2008: Iron Man opens in theaters
  • 2013: Iron Man 3 premieres in theaters

Direct Beam Comms #61


The Expanse – Episode 1, season 2 Grade: A-

I won’t talk much about The Expanse on SyFy since I just published a feature-length article on the series a few weeks ago except to say that the second season, which premiered as two episodes back-to-back, kicks off with a bang right where the first ended. That season of The Expanse generally followed the first half of the book Leviathan Wakes with, I’m assuming, the second season covering the back-half of the book. Which should mean for some seriously good TV with ships zooming around the solar system, Mars and Earth at the brink of war along with an out of control city-sized asteroid with its sights set on the Earth.

Powerless – Episode 1 Grade B

Have we reached peak superhero yet? The creators of the new Powerless TV series sure hope we haven’t as they launch their new series on NBC that is “the first comedy series set in the DC universe.” Starring Vanessa Hudgens, Alan Tudyk and Danny Pudi, Powerless follows the staff of Wayne Security, yes it’s owned by Bruce Wayne, who try to invent products that will help the common person might someday be caught in the middle of a superhero battle with no place to go. Things like a device that alerts the wearer whenever villains are near or a suit that acts like an airbag when they’re about to be hit.

In many ways, Powerless seems like a cross between the series Better off Ted (2009–2010) that too was about the employees of a corporation trying to invent wild and wacky things along with the beginning of the comic series Kingdom Come (1996) that takes place in a world so overrun with superheroes and the battles that people aren’t even pawns in these “good guy” vs “bad guy” little wars, they’re completely ignored and expendable.

But whereas Kingdom Come was deep and brooding and Better off Ted wild and zany, Powerless is more of a mainstream comedy.

In Powerless, Emily Locke (Hudgens) arrives at her job at Wayne Security in Charm City from having grown up in a “flyover state” — or a place so insignificant the heroes literally flyover and ignore it. She’s got to lead her team of scientists and inventors to come up with something before Bruce Wayne shuts the company down. Which is pretty much a foregone conclusion since if they don’t succeed there wouldn’t be a Powerless series.

The first episode was a little light on comedy — I think I chuckled once or twice. But I think Powerless did have enough going for it and enough subtle insider DC humor, from “Shazam” to an interesting twist ending, that I can see myself sticking around with the series to see where it goes.

Santa Clarita Diet – Episode 1 Grade B

And speaking of Better off Ted — the new Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet, of which all episode are currently available to stream, was created by Victor Fresco who is also the creator of Better off Ted. Santa Clarita Diet follows married realtor couple Shelia and Joel, Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant, who’s life take a turn for the weird when one day Shelia literally pukes her guts out during the showing of a home and apparently dies. Except that even without a heartbeat she still seems quite alive and mostly normal except for a few changes. For one thing Shelia’s gone from being slightly timid to more open and adventurous. Oh, and she has this need to eat raw meat and whenever she doesn’t feed that need bad things happen.

This isn’t The Walking Dead, there are no hoards of zombies threatening civilization as Shelia seems to be the only affected by this. In many ways, Santa Clarita Diet feels like a sitcom version of the serial-killer TV series Dexter. In that show, Dexter would only murder people who deserved it, a lot of times other serial killers. And In Santa Clarita Diet Shelia only wants to eat people who’ve done bad things.

Well, mostly bad things.

In the first episode the person she eats isn’t someone who’s killed or harmed anyone. He’s a dork who tries to have his way with Shelia and ends up, well, “feeding her need.”

Santa Clarita Diet joins a few other horror-comedy series like the successful Ash vs Evil Dead and the less-successful Stan Against Evil and on the whole Santa Clarita Diet is mostly successful. The first episode does wax and wane between feeling mostly real one minute to wild and wacky the next, which I’m not quite sure works just yet. I do give the series creators a lot of credit, though, for going for gore and gross-out humor in Santa Clarita Diet. They don’t shy away from thing like disgusting green vomit or showing the dismembered, twitching corpse of Shelia’a meal in the first episode.

And, much like with Powerless, I’m interested in seeing where Santa Clarita Diet goes and will be sticking with this one for at least a season or two.

Training Day – Episode 1 Grade D

The new CBS show Training Day is the latest movie turned series to turn up on TV this season joining the likes of Lethal Weapon, Frequency and the upcoming Time After Time. This Training Day is based on the 2001 Denzel Washington movie with Bill Paxton filling in as the corrupt cop Det. Frank Rourke with new officer Kyle Craig (Justin Cornwell) taking on the Ethan Hawke role from the film.

Essentially, the 2001 version follows relatively new officer, Hawke, being evaluated by a tough, grizzled street veteran cop played by Washington. Except that the grizzled cop is very dirty and when the new officer decides to expose the corruption he puts his life in danger. Early episodes of the series The Shield would borrow from the corrupt street cop Training Day plot before taking its own path for six seasons. Which makes me wonder about this new Training Day TV series, is there any new ground this show can cover? Especially being a CBS drama?

After the first episode at least it doesn’t seem that way. Training Day is basically a high octane version of The Shield with Craig leaping out of the window of an exploding apartment within the first sixty seconds of the show with a shootout on the streets of LA that’s reminiscent of the big shootout in the movie Heat (1995) abet smaller all within the first half. There’s also a few kidnappings and a house burned down that all happens in episode one.

I was really looking for something in Training Day to latch onto but, honestly, there just wasn’t much here. Paxton is interesting in his role but they make him a bit too Robin Hood in the first episode. Sure, he’s a corrupt cop who’ll shoot the bad guys and steal their money one minute, but it’s only because he’s trying to get them to stop targeting a kid who’ll end up getting the money in a trust fund when he turns 18. It’s like the creators of Training Day want there to be an edge to the Rourke character but do their best to make sure any edges are neatly sanded down.

It seems like the first season of Training Day will focus on the murder of Craig’s father when he was a boy and how Rourke, his father’s ex-partner, ties into it. But for me Training Day is a one and done show, so whatever happens in future episodes I won’t be there to see it.

Cool Sites

Made for TV Mayhem: A site that reviews 1970s and 1980s made for TV movies.

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1940: George A. Romero, creator of the modern zombie movie is born
  • 1960: Jenette Goldstein of Aliens, Near Dark and Terminator 2 is born
  • 1965: Michelle Forbes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Admiral Cain of Battlestar Galactica is born
  • 1974: Elizabeth Banks, Effie of The Hunger Games is born
  • 1983: Videodrome permiers
  • 2000: The last episode of the TV series Sliders airs
  • 2000: The TV series The Others premiers