Direct Beam Comms #70
Brockmire Series premiere episode 1 Grade: B-
The new series Brockmire debuted on IFC last week. The series stars Hank Azaria as the title character, a baseball announcer for the Kansas City Royals who had a drunken on-air meltdown a decade ago that effectively ended his broadcasting career. Fast forward to today and Bockmire has returned to the US after having been around the world finding work where he can like announcing cockfights as well as having some serious addiction issues of which booze is the least of his worries.
But what Brockmire doesn’t know, but Jules (Amanda Peet), owner of the minor league baseball team the Pennsylvania, Morristown Frackers, does, is that he is an internet celebrity because of his on-air meltdown and subsequent post-meltdown press conference that became one of the first internet viral videos. Jules wants Brockmire to announce the Frackers games that feature stunts like having obese players who get hit at bat because their gut sticks out of the plate and always get a walk to hiring a “celebrity” like Brockmire to announce their games and drive attendance.
The first episode of Brockmire was interesting, if we’ve seen the character type a few times before. He’s a person addicted to some substances who tells it like it is but who’s personal life is a mess/in shambles which seems to be a theme of many dramas over the last few years. And honestly the first half of Brockmire as the broken man who returns home to find that while others see him as a celebrity but he sees himself as a joke, is all right. Things do pickup in the second half of the episode where Brockmire goes from an unwilling participant in the Frackers organization to someone who’s excited about baseball again.
That and Jules promises him free booze at her bar if he agrees to stay.
Angie Tribeca Season 3 episode 1 Grade: B
The third season of the TBS series Angie Tribeca is set to debut April 10 but the premiere episode debuted a bit early a few weeks back. I’ve enjoyed Angie Tribeca the last few years and this third season seems to be shaking things up a bit. In previous seasons, the show was structured around self-contained episodes with a sort’a season-long story arch taking up some of the second season. But this new third season looks like it’s going to instead focus on a single story about a serial killer who’s kidnapping trophy hunters and is taking the hunter’s skins in order to cloth the animals.
Think The Silence of the Lambs with Chris Pine as a hilarious stand-in for Doctor Lector meets Naked Gun and that’s the basic vibe for this season of Angie Tribeca.
When Spaceballs was released on June 24, 1987 I can happily say that I was sitting in the theater that day with a great view of the screen with my brother and cousin. Unfortunately, that day we chose to see the movie Dragnet instead of Spaceballs. The reason we probably saw Dragnet was that the little two screen theater within bike riding distance of home usually showed one film that was for the kids, Dragnet, with the other film being for adults. My guess is that other screen was showing something like Roxanne or The Witches of Eastwick which we would have had no interest in seeing and chose the sensible Dragnet instead.
Which is a shame since the 1987 Dragnet has been all but forgotten to time but Spaceballs remains a cult classic film to this day.
A Mel Brooks spoof of sci-fi movies, more specifically Star Wars, even today Spaceballs is still pretty funny. And I think the reason I say, “pretty funny” and not “hilarious” is because I’ve seen Spaceballs so many times on VHS and HBO and TV that I know most of the jokes by heart. And it’s hard to laugh at joke you know is coming. Still, when there were jokes I didn’t remember, especially the whole sendup of the Spaceballs movie within a movie, that did get me laughing.
Looking at the movie now I’m surprised that it was rated PG. There’s quite a bit of cursing in Spaceballs, so much so that I’d assume today it would be rated R for language alone. It’s interesting to see what people 30 years ago thought was acceptable for a movie the whole family could see, some cursing, whereas today we’re so averse to that we think cursing happens in movies only adults should see. Then again, I feel that the levels of violence in our PG–13 movies would surly make them rated R 30 years ago.
After watching Spaceballs, or really anything he was in, I come away really missing John Candy. I’m not sure there’s been a comedian like him to come along since he died who has his level of physical comedy and sweetness mixed with his unique timing. At this point Candy’s been gone longer than he was around in pop-culture, but he’s a guy I still really miss.
The Mummy trailer
Alien: Covenant TV commercial
The Reading & Watch List
This week in pop-culture history
- 1976: Jonathan Brandis of the mini-series IT and TV series SeaQuest DSV is born
- 1979: Mad Max debuts
- 1983: The Evil Dead premiers in theaters
- 1986: Critters opens
2017 Summer movie preview
Out first this summer is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 May 2. I wasn’t a fan of the first movie but am in the minority since the launch of these trash-talking, comedic space-faring heroes lead by Star Lord (Chris Pratt) quickly became a surprise mega-hit at the box office a few winters ago. This time, “Chris Pratt of the 1980s” Kurt Russell joins the cast as “Ego,” who in the comics anyway is quite literally a “living planet.” And what’s not to love about that?
May 19 sees the release of Alien: Covenant, the third Ridley Scott Alien film, and a direct sequel to Prometheus (2012). Prometheus got a bad rap by the critics but made more than $400 million at the box office hence Alien Covenant. What’s interesting here is that from the looks of things Scott has taken Alien: Covenant back to something a little more in the vein of Alien with the crew of a ship fighting the insect-like baddies and away from the more esoteric Prometheus, which I happened to like a great deal. Luckily, I also happen to like Alien a great deal too and couldn’t be more excited for this movie if I tried.
DC Entertainment tries to get their movie act together with the release of Wonder Woman on June 2, the fourth release of the modern DC movie universe. Originally appearing in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and stealing the show, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) launches the Amazonian to the big-screen in her own movie set during WWI. My only concern for Wonder Woman is that she fought the monster Doomsday in Batman vs Superman and almost single-handedly took him down in an ultimate bad !#$ way. So whatever she faces in Wonder Woman has got to be as big or that movie might be disappointing.
The creators of The Mummy on June 9 are attempting to create their own franchise and so-called “shared universe” of movies with the Universal Monsters. Starring Tom Cruise not as the mummy but someone trying to stop her from destroying the world, early looks at The Mummy seem to indicate something like Mission Impossible crossed with Suicide Squad. The Mummy is the first movie of this interconnected film universe that will also include the likes of The Invisible Man, Wolf Man, Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon in future films if this one’s a hit.
Spider-Man movies have had a really weird path to the big-screen the last few years. There were two Andrew Garfield The Amazing Spider-Man flicks a few years ago that failed to score billions at the office so that version was shelved. More recently Columbia Pictures, who owns the film rights to the character, had a new Spider-Man, this time played by Tom Holland, crossover in the Marvel movie Captain America: Civil War last year while still retaining the rights to make their own Spider-Man stand-alone films. Now comes that first film Spider-Man: Homecoming out July 7 this time with Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) crossing over to this film.
A third Planet of the Apes film War for the Planet of the Apes is out July 14. The Apes film series is one of my favorites with the first chronicling why the apes got their smarts and the second what was happening with them just after the fall of man. This third film seems to be the story about the final apes vs man battle, with the winner taking claim to the planet. If you’ve seen the 1960s/1970s apes movies I’m sure you know how that works out.
Closing out the summer is the first movie based on the The Dark Tower Stephen King book series on July 28. Starring Idris Elba as the heroic gunslinger Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey as the evil sorcerer, the The Dark Tower movie series is being billed as a sequel or continuation of the books rather than a big-screen version of them. It’s hard to describe The Dark Tower without giving too much away, but there are alternate dimensions, monsters and magical powers and, best for Hollywood, if this first is successful a series of seven other books that can all be turned into films.
Direct Beam Comms #53
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.”
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