Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #88



TV

Mr. Mercedes

The AT&T Audience Network series Mr. Mercedes begins in 2009 in a surprisingly gory/disturbing scene with the mass murder of a group of people waiting in line at a job fair during the Great Recession by a killer running them down in a stolen Mercedes. Based on a novel by Stephen King with the series being created by David E. Kelley who also created shows like The Practice and Ally McBeal, Mr. Mercedes then jumps ahead two years with lead detective on the case Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) having retired in the meantime unable to solve the Mercedes murder of 16 people. But Bill begins receiving mysterious messages from the killer (Harry Treadaway) who taunts Bill being unable to catch him and letting him know that the killer’s not finished.

One thing I don’t care for in cop shows like Mr. Mercedes is when it’s about “who’dun’it?” As in, each episode will deal with the hunt for an unknown murderer where a lot of people seem to be the guilty person, but aren’t. Until the final episode where the person “who’dun’it” is brought to justice. The problem with that format is that since you’re sure the murderer isn’t going to be found before the last few/final episodes you can pretty much skip everything until then since most everything in the series will be filler. I think where Mr. Mercedes gets things right is that the audience knows who the killer is, we know right from the first scene. It’s Hodges and everyone else who’s unsure. Which is very effective since we spend time with Hodges trying to get to the bottom of a case he shouldn’t even be investigating anymore along with scenes of the murderer going about his life, working at an electronics shop, dealing with a messed up home life and keeping tabs on Hodges as he slowly turns the screws trying to drive him crazy.

The Carmichael Show

It’s hard to believe, but at this point The Carmichael Show is the longest running sitcom on NBC. Or at least it was until NBC cancelled it a few weeks back. And, to be honest, I can see why they did. The Carmichael Show was never easy for NBC as it tackled weighty issues from the n-word, abuse, rape and much more through the guise of comedy and the sitcom. I can only imagine that advertisers hated the show because it wasn’t safe, read “lame,” like so many sitcoms are these days that are forgotten as soon as the episode ends. The Carmichael Show was about something — and it was funny too.

I really thought that NBC might have a hit on their hands when The Carmichael Show debuted in 2015 but I was wrong. Sure, NBC aired the series for three seasons in at least three different time slots during different times of the year. But, realistically, if The Carmichael Show was a series people were going to find, they would have found it. But like so many other series they never did.

My biggest fear is that The Carmichael Show will teach networks to not take chances with weighty comedies like this show, but let’s face it. It was a miracle a show as good as The Carmichael Show ever aired on NBC and a double miracle that it got picked up for two additional seasons after that.

The Deuce promo

Movies

The Monster Squad

For a long time it was hard to see the movie The Monster Squad. To be sure in the late 1980s and early 1990s The Monster Squad was very easy to see with it being available to rent on VHS, popping up on pay cable and even appearing time to time on broadcast TV. But in the 1990s when all sorts of other movies were being released on DVD The Monster Squad was conspicuously absent. Now I’m not sure anyone but people who’d grown up with that movie noticed its absence, but it was noticed.

In fact, for a long time those of us who wanted to see The Monster Squad either had to settle for a bootleg DVD of the movie from VHS or LaserDisc. I settled on the Laserdisc to DVD version and had that copy for years until I gave it to a cousin who grew up loving The Monster Squad but hadn’t seen it since he was a kid.

Now it’s a lot easier to see The Monster Squad legally with it having an official DVD release in the mid–2000s, a Blu-ray release and it even pops up on the various streaming services from time to time.

To me, The Monster Squad is a movie that holds up 30 years after its release, if I’m not sure it holds up for audiences born after it debuted.

Here, a group of kids uncover a plot from Dracula to take over the world with the help of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, the Mummy and the Gillman. And since parents just don’t understand, it’s up to the kids along with a “scary German guy” to stop the monsters from bringing darkness to the Earth. Essentially, The Monster Squad is the movie The Goonies by way of the Universal Monsters. So, if you like either The Goonies or the Universal Monsters there’s a chance you’ll like The Monster Squad too.

Here’s the thing, though. The way the kids of The Monster Squad talk is 100% accurate to the way kids of the late 1980s talked, myself included. They say things that today is totally un-PC like calling each other “fggot” and “rtarded” as put-downs. Which makes watching the movie today is a bit jolting. But when the movie was released language like that wasn’t given a second thought.

That’s why I think new viewers today might have a tough time with The Monster Squad. I think it’s still a great film but I also think that since those terms were used in the movie it might at as minimum pull out new viewers out of the story or at worse make them actively dislike it. Which is a shame since I think The Monster Squad is a fun ride, warts and all.

The Reading & Watch List

Rumor Control

A few weeks back I started work on my yearly fall TV preview column. Some years in the past I’ve had not a lot to write about, or what I did write about were series that I was making fun of. This year has been quite a different experience. Between new and returning series I’m covering more than 20 shows. So far I’ve written what is the equivalent of four articles and will spend the next weeks going through this material a few more times tweaking things before it prints. This year’s preview will post on September 15 just in time for the new series to start premiering on network TV.

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1952: Jonathan Frakes, Commander Riker of Star Trek: The Next Generation is born
  • 1954: James Cameron, writer/director of Terminator, Aliens and Avatar is born
  • 1984: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension opens
  • 1984: Dreamscape premiers
  • 1986: The Fly opens in theaters
  • 1987: The Monster Squad opens in theaters
  • 1997: Event Horizon premiers



Direct Beam Comms #78



Movies

The Girl with all the Gifts

The Girl with all the Gifts is probably the closest film adaptation to the story I Am Legend I’ve ever seen and the character Glenn Close plays of Dr Caroline Caldwell is probably the closest we’ll ever get to the novel version of Robert Neville even though the story of I Am Legend has been the basis of three films since it was written by Richard Matheson in 1954.

And I mean “closest” in a great way.

In The Girl with all the Gifts, it’s an unspecified time after a virulent fungal plague has swept the planet and turned those affected by it into green, flesh-hungry zombies. The UK military has abandoned the cities and has retreated to bases in the country in order to study the outbreak and come up with a vaccine lead by Caldwell. Enter a group of kids born after the plague including Melanie (Sennia Nanua) who have the infection but haven’t turned into blood-crazed ghouls and seem to be the key to finding a way to end the apocalypse.

But when the base is overrun and the survivors, including Caldwell, Melanie and a few soldiers lead by Sgt Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine) go on the run across a ruined landscape, the question is will they find the vaccine in time or is it already too late?

In many ways The Girl with all the Gifts reminded me of the movie 28 Days Later as well. I’m sure some of that comes from the fact that both movies take place in the UK and a lot of the action around London. But there’s also the idea of a few soldiers being left behind after things fell who are still working and fighting the hungries as well as a group of survivors having to trek across a apocalyptic country dodging the flesh-eaters to try and find a safe refuge. It seems as if most US based zombie stories are about groups holding up in some refuge which is something that happens a lot in the genera creator George Romero zombie films. In Night of the Living Dead it’s a farmhouse, in Dawn of the Dead a mall, in Day of the Dead a military complex and Land of the Dead a walled-off city. But in the UK zombie stories from 28 Days Later to 28 Weeks Later and even in Shaun of the Dead much of the action takes place with character on the run out in the open and very exposed

And this Caldwell/Neville character connection –– not to ruin things too much, but much like with Neville, Caldwell is so focused on coming up with a solution to reversing the apocalypse that she can’t see that a new order has started to emerge which is changing the balance of power on the planet.

Unfortunately, The Girl with all the Gifts comes at a time when we seem to have reached “peak zombie” with there being zombie movies like World War Z and TV series like The Walking Dead to name a few. So any new zombie movie like The Girl with all the Gifts has to somehow stand out from what’s come before to get noticed. Which I don’t think the movie did very well. How can it when it’s competing with nearly 50 years of zombie history with most of that created in the last 15 years? Unfortunately, The Girl with all the Gifts only made a reported $2.6 million at the box office, meaning good movie or not I don’t think we’ll ever see a sequel to The Girl with all the Gifts.

While I thought that The Girl with all the Gifts did a good job of changing enough things with the well-worn zombie genera to make that movie different to the stories that have come before, there was one part of it that made me laugh. At one point one of the soldiers is off scrounging for food when he comes across a rack of nudie magazines which he begins pursuing. “Oh no,” I thought, “this guy’s dead for sure.” Since in horror movies the quickest way for a character to get killed is by having sex I figured that by this soldier reading a nudie mag that was probably the closest thing to sex this movie was going to get so I put two and two together and… Well, you know the rest.

Lucky Logan trailer

TV

The Carmichael Show

The third season of The Carmichael Show premiered on NBC last week. It’s a show very much like a Community or Arrested Development that gets a lot of critics talking about it and a lot of praise but is a series the network doesn’t know what to do with since that praise doesn’t equal viewers. With The Carmichael Show we get a series that had a first season premiere at the end of August 2015 for six episodes then a second seven months later in March and now a third more than a year after the end of the second at the end of May and has constantly changed nights and times along the way.

The Carmichael Show is very interest, and good, in that it’s a sitcom that’s actually about something. It seems like most sitcoms these days are about nothing whatsoever and after a viewing they’re quickly forgotten. But not The Carmichal Show that started this season with an episode about rape and then one about whether or not soldiers are great simply because they’re soldiers, or if they can be just as bad as regular people too.

I think because The Carmichael Show focuses on some serious subject matter that harkens more back to the sitcoms of the 1970s than the 21st century and doesn’t end each episode on an “awww, isn’t family great?” moment that seems to be a prerequisite for each and every modern sitcom is why The Carmichael Show is such an overlooked show. Maybe in a world where where our day to day reality can be somewhat bleak at times, to have a show like the The Carmichael Show say, “yeah, the world might be bleak but that doesn’t mean we can’t make fun of it,” turns some people off who’d rather be watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory on TBS while wearing their “Bazinga” t-shirt.

The Deuce TV spot

The Gifted TV spot

Books

Planet of the Apes: The Original Topps Trading Card Series

I had no idea there was ever a card series based on the Planet of the Apes movie series, but apparently there were at least three sets released over the years. One for the original Planet of the Apes movie, one for the live-action TV series and one for the Tim Burton movie. All of which are being collected in this new Planet of the Apes: The Original Topps Trading Card Series book due out this week.

From Amazon:

This deluxe collection includes the fronts and backs of all 44 cards from the original 1969 Topps set based on the original film; all 66 cards based on the 1975 television series; and all 90 base cards, 10 sticker cards, and 44 chase cards from the 2001 film. Also included are four exclusive bonus trading cards, rare promotional images, and an introduction and commentary by Gary Gerani, editor of hundreds of trading card series for Topps…

The Reading List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1982: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan opens in theaters
  • 1984: Gremlins opens in theaters
  • 1984: Ghostbusters opens
  • 1986: Invaders from Mars debuts
  • 1989: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier opens in theaters
  • 2014: Edge of Tomorrow is released.



Direct Beam Comms #26



TV

Daredevil

latestI finished the second season of Daredevil last week after having spent most of last spring pacing myself by watching one episode a week since the series launch — that is until Memorial Day weekend where I blew through the last three episodes in quick succession. The first season of Daredevil mostly dealt with Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) slowly becoming the bad guy fighting, anti-yakuza and Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) battlin’ Daredevil we know and love. And the second season featured a more confident Daredevil taking on the mysterious Hand ninja clan who will stop at nothing to achieve their own ends with only Daredevil standing in their way.

Which is one point about the second season of Daredevil that I didn’t care too much for; the Hand might be too mysterious for the story going on here. I’m not totally sure exactly what the Hand was after all this time — other than what they get in the very last episode — or why they were willing to sacrifice so much in order to get it?

That being said I really enjoyed the second season of Daredevil. It was much better than the first season which was pretty good to begin with and had one of the best supporting cast on TV.

There’s Elden Henson and Deborah Ann Woll playing Foggy Nelson and Karen Page respectively. In lesser hands these characters would have been pushed to the background, in the series only to move the Murdock/Daredevil story along. But here they feel like real people with their own needs, wants and desires that sometimes are with, and sometimes go against the main Daredevil story.

There’s also Elodie Yung who plays Elektra Natchios, a spoiled rich girl from Murdock’s past who has much more depth as a character, and is much more dangerous, than anyone expected. I was surprised as to just how good Yung is playing the character of Elektra here — one minute soft and demur and the next scary and strong. I’d only ever seen her before as Jinx in G.I. Joe: Retaliation but she’s absolutely wonderful here.

A special nod goes out to Jon Bernthal who plays Frank Castle/The Punisher. There’s been at least three different actors to play the Punisher on-screen all the way back to Dolph Lundgren in the late 1980s. But it’s Bernthal who seems to have finally cracked and perfected him. He’s always on edge, always in the shadows who operates within his own moral code. It’s also an interesting version of the Punisher that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before in any form — brain damaged from the attack that killed his family and never sure if what he remembers from his past is real or if it’s just a figment of the fragment of the bullet he took to the head?

Here, the Punisher is the anthesis of Daredevil — both want to stop crime yet it’s the Punisher who’s willing to kill to do so. And it’s where these to characters bump up against each other; both trying to do the same thing but are somewhat enemies because of their different ethos, that makes the Punisher/Daredevil relationship so interesting.

And apparently Bernthal’s portrayal of Frank Castle was so well received that a Netflix Punisher series is now in the works. Which does beg the question — can a third season of Daredevil without Punisher be as good as the second with? And too, can the character of the Punisher carry his own show when, as shown here, he works best operating in the shadows of some other super-heroes’ storyline?

I was also surprised as to just how gory the series is. Compared to other Marvel series like Agents of SHIELD and films like Captain America: Civil War where a lot of blood means a tiny tricky out of the side of a characters nose, Daredevil is positively The Evil Dead in blood in comparison. In the series people are cut and they bleed, and it sometimes takes stitches to close up the wounds.

Though this gore is more comic book in nature than realistic — people are cut and bleed but somehow things never get that bloody — it’s still adds to the realism of the show.

Regardless of what the future holds, right now I’d say that to me so far in 2016 Daredevil ranks as one of the very best shows of the season so far.

Grade: A

The Carmichael Show

lead_960The second season of The Carmichael Show wrapped up last week on NBC. It’s a different kind of sitcom in that it’s actually about something.

The Carmichael Show follows the Carmichael family with son and lead of the show Jerrod (Jerrod Carmichael), girlfriend Maxine (Amber Stevens West) and Jerrod’s mom and dad played by David Alan Grier and Loretta Devine with Jerrod’s brother (LilRel Howery)and his brother’s ex-wife (Tiffany Haddish) too. So far, episodes of The Carmichael Show have dealt with things like racism, gentrification, pornography and the current political climate. Jerrod’s girlfriend is going to “Feel the Bern” next November while his father’s voting for Trump since he’s, “Going to bring the jobs back…”

It’s not the typical show and I think that might be part of the reason The Carmichael Show hasn’t been doing well in the ratings — though it was recently picked up for a third season. Most sitcoms find a formula, and if it works, pound it into the ground for years and years and years. But The Carmichael Show isn’t like that. Since each episode deals with different topics and themes, each one feels different that the one before.

While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with shows being about “nothing” ala Seinfeld, it’s nice that there are still shows out there that are about something. Be it series like Community, Arrested Development or, though not yet in those two show’s league, The Carmichael Show.

BTW — it’s nice to see David Alan Grier in a TV series again. To my generation Grier was one of the cornerstones of the In Living Color TV series. And while Grier’s worked consistently the last two decades, it’s nice to see him back on a weekly TV series.

Grade: B+

Angie Tribeca

960The second season of the TBS series Angie Tribeca begins this Monday at 9(EDT). The first season that aired in a “bingeathon” last winter was pretty funny. The show takes its cue from the irreverent humor of series like Police Squad and movies like The Naked Gun and Airplane. It’s goofy, silly fun.

In the spirit of Police Squad, Angie Tribeca follows the title detective (Rashida Jones) and her partner Jay (Hayes MacArthur) as they investigate all sorts of weird crimes from a ventriloquist dummy lead crime ring, illegal pet ferrets being smuggled into California as well as every single cop show cliche from the last 20 years from forensic scientists who seemingly know everything to gruff, but lovable bosses and everything in between.

That being said, Angie Tribeca does feel more like an Adult Swim style show than a TBS one. In fact, it sure seems like Angie Tribeca took a lot of the core elements from its show from other series like NTSF:SD:SUV that seems to share a lot of the same character types and themes too.

Grade: B

The Reading List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1982: E.T.:The Extra-Terrestrial premiers in theaters
  • 1984: Gremlins opens in theaters
  • 1989: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier opens in theaters
  • 1993: Jurassic Park opens in theaters



Screaming for attention: 400 TV shows and counting



Late last year researches at FX Networks found that there were more than 400 scripted TV shows in 2015. Not 400 HOURS of scripted shows, but 400 DIFFERENT shows. Let that sink in for a minute. If there’s 400 scripted shows and each show has on average 10 episodes, some would have more and some less, that’s something like around 4,000 hours of NEW TV produced last year. To put that number in perspective, with that amount of content you could watch nothing but new TV shows 24 hours a day from December to mid-June.

Humans on AMC

Humans on AMC

And that’s not including news programs and game shows and variety shows and reality and TV movies either. That’s 4,000 hours of scripted dramas and comedies.

Part of why there’s so much “stuff” out there is that every channel wants to have a hit series that draws in viewers, which might turn a channel very few are watching, and therefor getting less ad dollars, into something many are watching and talking about and getting lots of ad dollars. Case in point AMC. A decade ago AMC aired classic movies, hence the name; American Movie Classics. Then in 2007 they launched Mad Men to great acclaim and have since launched other popular series like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Before, AMC was a channel that hardly anyone watched. Now, AMC is one of the most watched spots on TV and one that now makes a lot of money.

And with viewers “cutting the cord” as it were online services are also trying to get in with scripted shows too. Netflix and Amazon have have been creating series specifically for their service for a few years now and now other platforms like Hulu and YouTube are getting in on the game too with content of their own.

Jessica Jones on Netflix

Jessica Jones on Netflix

I watch a lot of TV, probably too much. And even with my prodigious TV habit I couldn’t watch everything last year that I probably would have in years past. For example, the series Humans on AMC looked interesting enough but I had too many things to watch at that time and never got around to it. And with a show like Jessica Jones on Netflix I did watch the first episode but when it didn’t immediately connect with me I moved onto something else.

Now I’m not saying that I’ll won’t go back and try and watch Jessica Jones or Humans again this summer when there used to be fewer new things to on, but I can’t guarantee it since nowadays there are just as many new and interesting series premiering during the summer as there are in the fall/winter months.

New shows last summer like Halt and Catch Fire, True Detective and The Carmichael Show, all of which I enjoyed a great deal, took whatever time I would normally have to checkout things I’d missed during the fall and instead put the focus on them. In fact, the only show I did catchup on last summer was Fargo, and that was only because a friend highly recommended it.

Maron on IFC

Maron on IFC

Which makes me wonder, what am I all missing? Years ago I was only ever able to get into The Wire when I caught up with it after HBO aired the first few seasons before the start of the third. Up until then I’d watch a few episodes at the start of each new season and give up. It was only because I had the time to catch up on it that I was able to be sucked in by that wonderful show.

But the last few years that really hasn’t been happening for me. I tell myself that I need to watch the latest season of House of Cards or Justified or Maron and something else new will appear on my pop-culture radar and I find myself putting off things for one more season.

I suppose the solution to all this is to count my blessings, too much of a good thing is better than nothing, and wait for the day that the eventual collapse of all this good stuff which is inevitable. There’s no way that all the networks and cable channels and online services can be pouring BILLIONS into these new shows with all expected to make back any money.

Maybe what I need to do is to get a colossal DVR and record EVERYTHING I might be interested in when the day comes after the pop-culture collapse when the only thing on to watch are reruns of The Big Bang Theory and episodes of Redneck/Swamp-Truckers/Fishermen/Miners/Pawn on The Discovery Channel.




Direct Beam Comms #15



TV

The Carmichael Show

The Carmichael Show returned last week for a second season and is still pretty darn funny. The first preview episode that aired a few Wednesdays ago entitled “Everyone Cheats” was funny enough as were the two that aired last Sunday night; “Fallen Heroes” and “The Funeral.”

The Carmichael Show has a lot of controversial elements, from the characters debating on seeing Bill Cosby in concert even with his trial looming to the pros and cons of cheating on significant others. While it might have controversial elements, it never goes out of its way to simply be controversial, to try and stir up controversy for controversy’s sake. Instead the show tackles weighty subjects head on and doesn’t pull any punches. B

The Americans

Space-Ghost-Variant-Bill-Sienkiewicz

Bill Sienkiewicz Space Ghost comic cover

The Americans returned last week for a fourth season — which is amazing in of itself since the series has never been embraced by the masses so simply getting more than one season is a huge win for those of us who are fans of this show. This new season felt very much like a direct continuation from the last, with daughter Paige learning of her parent’s dual identities and exactly the wrong time in her life and falling into the abyss of depression.

Of course there’s loads of sexy spy stuff too!

The only other thing I the creators of The Americans could’ve done differently this season would have been to move the series ahead a few years in time. To pick up at some point in the future where the Jennings are a bit older and have passed Paige’s crisis where how they dealt with it could have been told via flashbacks. But sometimes handling story this way feels like gimmicky, so I’m not at all disappointed the creators of The Americans handled things like they did.

One prediction for this new season; some major characters won’t make it until the end — and I’m not talking about Pastor Tim whom I’m surprised has made it as long as he has. 😉 I mean it wouldn’t surprise me if a character like Martha or Stan aren’t around at to see the last episode this year. B+

Daredevil

The second season of The Punisher & Daredevil Show, err…, I mean the second season of Daredevil was released on Netflix Friday and so far I’ve watched the first episode. It was actually kind’a great. My big worry was that the Punisher would be “saved” for later episodes, but he had a big presence in the very first episode and from what I’ve heard seems to be a big part of the second season of the show overall so I’m very happy.

The New York City of Daredevil is an interesting place. It seems to take place in some dark reality where the “bad” New York of the 1970s and 1980s never ended and went right into the 21st century. New York City in Daredevil is a dark and dirty and dangerous place where someone like Daredevil really could exist to try and bring order to all this chaos.

Yet into Daredevil trying to bring order is injected a true agent of chaos; The Punisher. Someone who’s simply interested in destroying all crime in the city by any means necessary be it by gun or grenade or garrote. A

Malcolm-Jamal Warner & Max Casella

It’s great to see Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Max Casella on TV again. Warner* is best known for playing Theo in The Cosby Show and Casella* as Vinnie Delpino in Doogie Howser, M.D. Warner currently plays Al Cowlings in The People vs OJ Simpson on FX and Casella as Julie Silver in Vinyl on HBO.

Though that’s not quite fair, over the years Warner and Casella have been in many movies and films outside of those roles. For example, Casella did 28 episodes of The Sopranos* and Warner has appeared in Community, Sons of Anarchy and American Horror Story to name a few.

Movies

Star Trek

Other than budget, I think the main difference between the Star Trek TV series and the Star Trek movies are there are more people on the bridge of the Enterprise in the movies than the TV shows. 😉

X-Men: Apocalypse

Toys

Starship Troopers Roger Young 35″ Long Studio Scale Model Kit

The $650 model in question

The $650 model in question

I’m a huge fan of Starship Troopers and am always on the lookout for a good collectible from the film. And a few collectibles have been released for the film the last few years, but they’re always quite expensive. Take this $650 MODEL KIT, yes, this is a kit you put together yourself that costs $650!

The Reading List

This week in pop-culture history

  • William Shatner turns, and Leonard Nemoy would’ve turned, 85 this week.
  • The last episode of the modern Battlestar Galactica aired seven years ago this week.