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.
Made for TV Mayhem: A site that reviews 1970s and 1980s made for TV movies.
The Reading & Watch List
- The making of Apple’s HAL
- Why Deep Space Nine and Voyager Aren’t On Blu-ray… And Why They May Never Be
- Apartment Find: This Ferrari 250 GT PF Coupe Was Hidden In Hollywood For Decades
- Close Views Show Saturn’s Rings in Unprecedented Detail
- A Four Planet System in Orbit, Directly Imaged and Remarkable
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