Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #21



TV

Game of Thrones  &  Veep

Both Game of Thrones and Veep returned to HBO last week with GoT entering its sixth and Veep its fifth seasons. These two series are still pretty good, but I feel that, especially with GoT, they’ve started to slip.

game-of-thrones-season-6-1-4To me, GoT is kind’a starting to feel like The Walking Dead, where there’s no end in sight for the story with the series set to go on and on and on. Which is fine, as long as interesting things are happening on the show — which, if this were, say, the second season of GoT it’d still be good. Except that much of the GoT story this season and last has been introducing new story elements, suddenly and sometimes violently killing characters while at the same time not really ending any particular story.

Lately, the storylines of GoT is like a ballon being filled. And which each breath the ballon grows larger and larger. Next to the balloon is a sharp knife and slowly the ballon gets bigger and gets closer and closer to the knife and destruction. And when the first ballon is starting to get realllllly close to that knife another ballon appears and like the first is slowly inflated until it begins to get closer and closer another sharp, pointy knife and oblivion.

And then there’s more and more balloons introduced to the point where the tension rises and rises with each breath and expectant pop.

Except that when you look back at the first balloon, the one that had you on the edge of your seat for so long it’s not so much as touched the knife and exploded, instead all the air’s just been let out of it and since you were paying attention to all those other balloons you never noticed that instead of some fantastic explosion that first balloon ended in a big flabby mess.

To me, that’s the formula of GoT. Lots of stories are introduced and lots of exciting things happen, but there’s not much closure or resolution on anything.

There’s still a war, the great GoT “houses” still don’t like each other and the series is full of characters only looking out for themselves. And much of this feels like it’s in place to keep the show in a “steady state.” That if we look back on GoT in a few years time maybe the faces have changed, but the stories will have not.

I’ve heard arguments that the stories of GoT are like real life. That these things really do happen and people really do look out for themselves. And that’s true, except that GoT isn’t real life. It’s a fictional story with dragons and magic and zombies. Which to me means that GoT really should be heading towards some conclusion. I get that maybe this conclusion might be the conclusion of part of the story and not the conclusion of the story as a whole. But it should seem like overall GoT is headed somewhere. Otherwise, GoT is just covering the same unique territory it covered in the first season but it doesn’t feel all that “unique” all these years later.

Veep, on the other hand has done a good job of changing and morphing as the series has progressed. The first season started with the title character Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) as the Vice President of the US, then changed with her having delusions of power as she became the actual President as the President she served under stepped down. Now Meyer’s in an election fight on three sides with her holding onto the office in doubt.

Aliens Defiance

Aliens Defiance

To me, Veep works best in short, controlled bursts. The first season of the series had eight episodes while later ones ten. Which isn’t many extra — but it does seem like when the creators of Veep are forced to be focused with a limited run like with the first season, Veep is a much more focused show. With more episodes sometimes the story wanders a bit, and I wonder if it’s more because that’s what the writers wanted to do, or if it’s because they had to create more content for the longer season?

Game of Thrones – Grade B- Veep – Grade B+

Comics

Out now is Aliens: Defiance #1 from Dark Horse. What makes me interested in his comic is the cover artist; Mark A. Nelson. Nelson drew the very first Aliens title for Dark Horse back in 1988 and this image marks a sort of return for the artist to a character he hasn’t drawn in quite some time.

Movies

X-Men: Apocalypse trailer

“Just because there’s not a war doesn’t mean there’s peace.”

“Not all of us can control our powers.”
“Then don’t.”

Toys

NECA is set to release even more toys from the movie Aliens (1986) this time based on the characters of Vasquez and Frost. They already have a few figures released from that movie including Bishop, Ripley, Hicks and Hudson. Which makes me wonder if NECA is planning on releasing all of the A and B squad Colonial Marines?

On the Horizon

I’ve got columns in the works/planned for the X-Men film franchise, Independence Day: Resurgence, the movies of 1986, Suicide Squad and Star Trek too.




The best TV series of 2014



The last several years, this one included, the new fall TV season has been underwhelming at best and just plain bad at worst. It’s not like there aren’t any interesting new shows on in the fall anymore, it’s just that there are so few of them. If the fall season is so blargh, then lately the winter, spring and summer TV seasons have been a true joy. In fact, you won’t find a single series here that started in the fall. Each and every one was a non-fall show.

The methods I use to determine my “best of” lists changes every year. Sometimes I try to rank the shows best to worst throughout the year and sometimes it’s simply based on my mood when compiling the list at the end of the year. That being said, this year I did things a bit differently. The list this year is mostly based on how much I wanted to watch a season of a show again after having finished it. And the show that kept coming to the top of my list when thinking about this was The Americans on FX.

The Americans

Phillip Jennings: “The KGB is everywhere.”

The "normal" Jennings family

The “normal” Jennings family

The Americans is the rare series that’s actually about something. The first season of the show was about what it’s like to be a married couple in the US in the guise of a 1980s period spy drama of USSR vs USA and this season was about what it takes to get someone to betray their ideals in pursuit of a greater cause.

Here, characters Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) are KGB agents posing as a normal married American couple in early 1980s Washington DC but they’re really Soviet sleeper agents out to bring down the red white and blue. In this most recent season, Philip and Elizabeth are trying to uncover the secrets of new stealth technology while at the same time hunting the killer of another KGB family that was a mirror of the Jennings’.

What was really interesting with The Americans this season were the places series creators were willing to go. Be it with the murder of an entire family, Elizabeth mentoring an young idealist agent who shares the same ideals whom Elizabeth must sacrifice for the greater good to Phillip and Elizabeth learning that while mother Russia might want Phillip and Elizabeth to make sacrifices for “the cause,” that’s nothing compared to what they have in store for their children.

Halt and Catch Fire

Joe MacMillan: “I’m not talking about money, I’m talking about legacy.”
Cameron Howe: “You’re not the future, you’re a footnote.

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Mackenzie Davis in Halt and Catch Fire

I’m not sure how or why, but I seem to be the only critic out there who liked Halt and Catch Fire, let alone loved it. Some have complained that Halt is too much like Mad Men with it taking place in the corporate world, having a young woman as an up and coming employee with a strong male with a self destructive streak in the lead. As if only Mad Men were allowed to do this or even that Mad Men is far from the first series to play out this way.

Regardless, I was enamored where Halt went with certain characters being plowed under by the stress of trying to create a new PC in the early 1980s and others rising to the challenge. And not to spoil the ending of the first season too much, but if every other show out there is about people building something great and successful, Halt was about building something that turned out to be, at best, average. I’m not sure any show has ever done that before.

Hannibal

Hannibal Lecter: “Occasionally I drop a teacup to shatter on the floor. On purpose. I’m not satisfied when it doesn’t gather itself up again. Someday, perhaps a cup will come together.”

2013-blog-hannibal-hugh-madsIf the first season of Hannibal was about FBI detective Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) trying to track down a serial killer who they don’t realize is Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), then the second season is about the FBI trying to catch Lecter in a trap and jail him for the murders. Except the one guy you don’t try and trap is the guy who’s going to be ahead of you every step of the way setting traps of his own.

True Detective

If Hannibal was head-trippy then True Detective was acid-trippy. It’s a show that seems to divide up my friends nicely. Some of whom loved it and character Rust Cohle’s (Matthew McConaughey) ramblings about the intricacies of good and evil in an uncaring universe while others hated the show and found the series to over the top and boring.

Community

In its fifth season Community returned with series creator Dan Harmon back at the helm after an absence of a year and returned a sheen of greatness to a series that had faltered in recent years.

Sherlock

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in Sherlock

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in Sherlock

Even if micro-series Sherlock is only three episodes long, they’re some of the best hours you’ll spend in front of the television. If there’s anything I’m worried about with Sherlock is that while there are two season’s of the show left, Sherlock star  Benedict Cumberbatch is now on the verge of uber-stardom with recently being cast as Doctor Strange in a Marvel movie and I can’t see him wanting to stick with Sherlock any longer than he’s contractually obligated to do so.

Game of Thrones

I find it humorous when people binge-watch past seasons of something like Game of Thrones in a few days or weeks. They have absolutely no idea of the excruciating wait between new seasons that makes viewer’s wait nearly 10 months between the end of a season and the start of the next agonizing. I’m not complaining, though. When it’s on Game of Thrones is the best thing on TV. I do wonder if it had aired in the fall rather than spring if Game of Thrones wouldn’t have made an appearance much higher on this list?

Orange is the New Black

Taylor Schilling

Taylor Schilling

While Orange is the New Black did start off a bit slow this season and focused on more characters than Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) as in the first — the sure sign that someone is trying to stretch out a show into multiple seasons — I thought the back half of Orange was just as good as the first season of the show.

Veep

Another great year for a great comedy almost no one’s talking about. Here’s to President Meyer!

The Knick

Writer/Director Steven Soderbergh returned to TV with The Knick, a series about a hospital at the turn of the 20th century New York City. In The Knick, medicine is taking leaps and bounds forward like never before. Even if it means that most people who go into the hospital end up dying there or that having a doctor like John W. Thackery (Clive Owen) hooked on cocaine is not only legal, it’s normal.




The Best Movie and TV Posters of 2014



The last several years have been good ones when it comes to TV and movie posters. Even if the movies/TV series said posters were promoting didn’t always light up the box office/TV screens, none-the-less designers offered crops of nice posters to marvel over. And while this year wasn’t a “bust” whatsoever creatively, it wasn’t the best year for movie/TV posters either.

Still, there were a few nice posters to choose check out.

the_amazing_spider-man_2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I didn’t like the movie The Amazing Spider-Man whatsoever. I didn’t like it so much I’ve yet to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But I don’t take into account how the movie did at the box office when making this list, just how the final poster/campaign turned out.

While the posters for The Amazing Spider-Man were dark and dreary, the posters for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seem to be awash in bright, comic book colors. I really like how the action is portrayed on the posters. Sometimes we see Spidy’s back, other times he’s head on or from the side. Each pose is different and the action scenes are askew from the normal horizontal/vertical plane adding a lot of interest to the visual element.

dawn_of_the_planet_of_the_apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The poster campaign for Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) was alright. Posters for that movie ranged from just the title of the film, to ape Caesar with his arm raised to a closeup shot of computer 3D created Caesar’s face. What was interesting with this Rise of the Planet of the Apes closeup poster was that the designers were confident that totally computer generated Caesar was going to hold up even at close viewing to warrant his mug on a movie poster.

And the designers of the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes poster took this design element and ran with it, this time featuring closeups of Caesar as well as some of his ape minions on posters for that film. If the poster for Rise featured a somewhat pensive and curious Caesar, then the posters to Dawn features a much more mature Caesar who’s in charge and is not someone to be messed with.

Halt and Catch Fire

I’m a big fan of the TV series Halt and Catch Fire and was excited to see the series the second I saw the poster and other marketing materials for it. Mimicking the corrupted computer screen/something’s in the image even if I can’t quite tell what it is look of the opening credits to the show, the poster for Halt features the leads of the show on a red nuclear-blasted/neon landscape. The real kicker here is the tagline, “The battle for CTRL begins.”

halt_and_catch_veep

Veep

I thought the poster last year to the TV series Veep was one of the best of the year and think the poster this year is pretty darn good too. Here we have Vice President Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and co crossing the Delaware ala George Washington. Except that whereas Washington’s crossing was presented as heroic, Meyer’s crossing is anything but. Some of Meyer’s staff members fawning over her, others checking their e-mail and some are trying to drown one and other with Meyer looking her best with the brilliant copy, “Boldly running for President, proudly standing for everything” above.

RoboCop

robocopI try to avoid limited-edition posters that are more directed towards fans and collectors rather than the public since I don’t think it fits with the spirit of this list. But I thought that the limited Imax poster to RoboCop did deserve mention here. I love almost everything with this poster from its harsh two-toned look to RoboCop’s prime directives listed out on the poster.

I only wish more designers of the main posters for movies and TV series would take a cue from this RoboCop poster and try something different than to keep recycling what they’ve done in the past.

Inherent Vice

That being said – these days traditionally illustrated posters are the rarity rather than the norm they were a few years ago. That’s why I dig the poster for Inherent Vice so much. It’s hand illustrated to the point that you can see some of the brush strokes. While lots of limited edition posters are illustrated this way these days only a few mainstream ones are. Which, if how well the poster to Inherent Vice turned out is any indication, more should be.

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Veep character posters



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The Best TV Series of 2013



The start of the 2012-13 TV season was little more than a barren wasteland. Of the few new shows I checked out last season there wasn’t any I stuck with for more than a few episodes. To say I was depressed this time last year at the state of TV would not have been an understatement.

But then something happened. Once ’12 ended and we rang in ’13 all sorts of interesting TV series began appearing, to the point that I’d call 2013 one of the better years for quality TV in recent memory.

Charles Dance in Game of Thrones

Charles Dance in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones (HBO)

I’ve really liked Game of Thrones since it premiered back in ’11, but it wasn’t until this year that I thought it was the best show on TV. And that’s not a dig on previous seasons of the series whatsoever. Game of Thrones has always been great and it’s been getting better and better with each new season of the show. Plus now that we’re a few seasons in, I think the audience is a lot more invested in the series and its characters than before since we’ve gotten to know and “live with” the series these last few years.

Game of Thrones is the rare show where every action taken by the characters has consequences; some good, some bad and some both, and seemingly no character is safe from unexpectedly meeting their demise and earning a quick exit from the show. It’s almost to the point where I wonder who’ll still be in the last episode of the series who was also in the first?

Hannibal

The cast of Hannibal

Hannibal (NBC)

One of the biggest surprises to me earlier this year was the network TV series Hannibal. Let that sink in for a minute, a network drama is one of the best shows of the year. While Hannibal has some of the trappings of a procedural cop series; flashy cases of the week, a wide cast of characters. Hannibal also breaks that same mold in that the title character of the show Will Graham (the wonderful Hugh Dancy) is actually a unique character I don’t think we’ve ever seen on TV before. His “gift,” if you can call it a gift, is that he can relate to an extreme level with serial killers while investigating their motivations for killing. But Graham begins to question his sanity when working with a pre-jail Hannibal Lecter (the equally wonderful Mads Mikkelsen) who councils Graham and begins to bend his mind to Lecter’s sick and twisted will.

Keri Russell in The Americans

Keri Russell in The Americans

The Americans (FX)

The other TV surprise this season was The Americans and unfortunately I had almost written off The Americans before I’d even seen it. For whatever reason I just didn’t think the show was going to be very good and only watched it since I watch a lot first episodes of series just be sure I’m really not missing anything. But literally five minutes into The Americans that’s about Soviet spies in Washington DC in the 1980 but is just as much about how relationships between couples work I was hooked.

Veep (HBO)

Veep is the one show in the last few years that I laugh hard enough while watching that I literally have to pause it in order to compose myself in order not to miss the next big laugh.

Taylor Schilling and Yael Stone in Orange is the New Black

Taylor Schilling and Yael Stone in Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

I think the biggest revelation this year was just how good TV series could be that wasn’t on a traditional channel, the best of which was Orange is the New Black on Netflix. The only reason this series isn’t much higher on my list is that there were so many other good series on TV this year in competition.

Mob City (TNT)

I’m not sure if it’s a genius move on the part of TNT to air the entire Mob City series over the course of three weeks, or a bone-headed one? Maybe viewers will dig watching all of Mob City quickly, or maybe it’ll all get lost in the clutter of the holidays? Regardless, I really dug this one and hope that the new year will bring tidings of comfort and of joy AND more episodes of Mob City.

Gillian Anderson in The Fall

Gillian Anderson in The Fall

The Fall (Netflix)

Another interesting series on Netflix, abet not an original production like with Orange, was The Fall. Starring Gillian Anderson as Detective Inspector Stella Gibson, The Fall follows Gibson as she tracks a serial killer on the streets of Belfast, Ireland. The interesting bit about The Fall is how the partisanship of Belfast works into everything and that we spend as much time with the killer and his cute family who have no idea that the “normal” dad is really a monster as we do with Gibson.

Underbelly: Badness (DirecTV)

I’m guessing I’m the only American who watches this Aussie crime drama import, now in its sixth year, but I thought Underbelly: Badness was a return to greatness for this series that had lagged in recent years.

Noah Wyle in Falling Skies

Noah Wyle in Falling Skies

Falling Skies (TNT)

I think I may be in the minority here when I say this, but to me Falling Skies was actually better this third season than the last. And I really liked that season too.

Young Justice (Cartoon Network)

The most overlooked show on TV the last few years was Young Justice, which ended this season. What I liked best about Young Justice was that it was the rare show, animated or otherwise, where the characters experienced actual change during the course of the series. It seems that we live in a world where once we get to the parts of the story that are actually interesting — Is Batman getting too old to fight crime? Can Spider-Man have a life outside of web-slinging? — that the story is ended and a new one rebooted so we can start at the beginning yet again.

But the characters of Young Justice actually grew and changed and matured over the too short two seasons of that show.

Danai Gurira in The Walking Dead

Danai Gurira in The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead (AMC)

I feel like The Walking Dead is still one of the best shows on TV, if it’s getting a bit harder and harder to watch now in its fourth season. I like the characters of The Walking Dead and it’s tough to see bad things happen to them time and time again living on a dangerous, zombie infested world. And simple put, I’m not sure how much more I can take of that. At a certain point my desire for the characters to escape their bleak world, which, according to the creator of the comic book will never happen, will collide with not being able to stomach the all the bad in The Walking Dead and I’ll bail on the show. It just hasn’t happened yet. 😉