Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

X-aminations in February

As we're entering into a period where the X-Men start making significant appearances outside their own comic (and, further down the road, a spin-off starts up), the last Tuesday of each month I will post the issues we'll be covering in the upcoming month for anyone who is following along at home. This would also be the place to quibble with what issues I'm including or the order in which I'm covering them (though I make no promises that quibbling will result in a change, but I'm open to suggestions).

So without further ado, here's what February looks like:

2/1: Uncanny X-Men #143
2/8: Uncanny X-Men #144
2/15: Spider-Woman #37-38
2/22: Uncanny X-Men #145
2/29: Uncanny X-Men #146

Monday, January 30, 2012

Retro Review: Marge Gets a Job

Or the One Where
Marge goes to work at the nuclear power plant, where Mr. Burns falls in love with her. 

The Setup
After the foundation of their house cracks, Marge gets a job to pay for the repairs. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Last Week in TV #17

A quiet week and a short post, as most shows are in reruns in anticpation of February sweeps. I wasn't able to catch the Thursday night shows yet, so they'll be covered in next week's post.  

Once Upon a Time: 7:15 AM


Thanks to this show taking a little mid-winter break and a couple weekend catch-up sessions, I've managed to get current. Like Lost before it, it's become a show where I tend to enjoy one-half of the episode more than the other. Unlike Lost, here, it's the flashbacks that are most compelling (dicey CG and anachronist dialogue aside), while watching Regina be a bitch in the present day can get a little one note (and like Lost, the best episodes are the ones where both halves are compelling, like the episode where we learned the origin of Rumpelstiltskin and Emma ran for Sheriff).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dr. Bitz Ranks Every Television Series Ever...Sorta (Part 5)

More rankings! This week I'm revealing numbers 40 through 36. As you'll soon find out, two more anime series appear in this section. It got me to thinking about the fact that, without counting, there's a lot of anime on my list.

The reason is two fold. One, I like anime. Two, anime is usually much shorter of a series than American television series. This enables me to watch more of them. And while I don't necessarily need to see an entire series to rank it, I do like to see a majority of a series so I can get a good feel for a show. That's much easier to do when your series is 26 episodes long instead of 180 episodes. So the relatively small amount of episodes gives anime the advantage in terms of bulk number on my list.

However, I also feel that anime has an advantage to make it higher on my list. That's because it's easier to make every installment of a 26 episode series higher quality and it's easier to give the entire series a cohesive narrative.

If you're a long running television show you are definitely going to have some poor episodes and, hell, even poor seasons. And if your show has no definitive end date then it's damn near impossible to have an overarching narrative for the entire series.

Basically, this is a long winded way of saying that, for my tastes, relatively short series with a predetermined end date have all the advantages.

On to the rankings. As always, if you're unfamiliar with these posts, check out the introduction here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #142

"Mind out of Time!
February 1981

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men defeat the Brotherhood, but aren't certain the future has been changed. 

Writer/Co-Plotter: Chris Claremont
Artist/Co-Plotter: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
In Washington DC, the X-Men attack the Brotherhood, determined to keep Senator Kelly safe. Professor Xavier and Moira are unknowingly led away from the scene by Mystique, who knocks them out. In 2013, the X-Men reach the Baxter Building and take out the Sentinel guards. Leaving Rachel outside to guard Kate's unconscious body, Wolverine, Storm and Colossus enter the building. Back in the present, Kate worries that the X-Men are losing, and not knowing who is responsible for killing Kelly, determines to stay by his side. The army arrives on the scene and targets both teams. Slowly, the X-Men manage to turn the tide and send the Brotherhood running, but not before Nightcrawler notices the similarities between himself and Mystique, and Mystique tauntingly tells him to ask his adopted mother about it. As Storm whips up a fog to cover the X-Men's escape, they realize both Kitty and Destiny are missing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Few Thoughts on the Oscar Nominations

The nominees for the 84th Annual Academy awards were announced this morning. Check out the full list here, and some quick reactions from me below.

The Magic Number is Nine
The big question going into the morning was how many best picture nominees there would be. The new rules put into effect last year allow for a variable number of nominees, depending on how many receive at least 5% of first place votes. Most pundits had been predicting anywhere from five to seven, but we ended up with a surprising nine.

Also, Eleven
Which is the total number of Oscars Hugo is nominated for, including Best Picture and Best Director, making it the film with the most nominations, despite failing to receive any acting nominations. It is followed closely by The Artist, with ten, which puts Hugo back into the Best Picture discussion alongside the current front runners, The Artist and The Descendants

And Two
There are only two, literally two, nominees for Best Original Song, a sad commentary on the state of songs written for movies, which makes this category an Oscar pool gimme. The two nominated songs are "Real in Rio" from Rio and "Man or a Muppet", which was my favorite of several great songs from The Muppets.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Retro Review: Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie

Or the One Where
Bart is forbidden from seeing the Itchy and Scratchy movie.

The Setup
After being admonished by Marge for not punishing Bart hard enough when he misbehaves, Homer finally puts his foot down and forbids Bart from seeing the movie everyone is talking about after Bart leaves Maggie unattended, allowing the baby to drive off in the car.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Last Week in TV #16

In addition to everything below, I did watch the first episode of Alcatraz, but not the second, so I declined to write about it. But if you watched it, feel free to sound off in the comments (in brief, for the first episode at least, I was intrigued by all the mystery stuff and surprised by the downplayed case-of-the-week stuff. We'll see if that holds up in later episodes, or if it just becomes another Person of Interest).

The Simpsons: The D'Oh-cial Network


If last week was The Simpsons at its latter day satirical best, this episode seemed to be phoning it in (pun intended). The satire here, in a loose parody of The Social Network, was much more toothless than last week's, and by the end the whole thing got a bit muddied as the episode seemed to suddenly switched gears from lampooning Facebook to lampooning modern cell phone usage. Nothing here was bad, and the episode was plenty funny, but especially after last week, the whole thing seemed rather tame. There's plenty to mock about both Facebook and modern internet culture; this episode tried to mock both but didn't go nearly far enough.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

X-amining X-Men #141

"Days of Future Past"
January 1981

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men of the future try to change the past. 

Writer/Co-Plotter: Chris Claremont
Artist/Co-Plotter: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
In the 21st century, Kate Pryde hurries through a Park Avenue slum to a rendezvous with Wolverine. After fighting off a gang of humans, Wolverine gives Kate the final component of a jammer, and says to be ready at midnight. Kate makes her way back to the mutant internment center in the Bronx run by the Sentinels. She meets with the surviving X-Men: her husband Colossus, Storm, Magneto, Franklin Richards and a young woman named Rachel. They all agree to go ahead with the plan. After Franklin uses the last component Wolverine sent with Kate to complete a jammer that will neutralize the collars inhibiting their powers, Rachel telepathically sends Kate's mind back through time. In the present, on Halloween, the X-Men are training in the Danger Room when Kitty suddenly collapses. Taken to the infirmary, when Kitty awakens she tells the X-Men that she is Kate Pryde, the older consciousness of Kitty inhabiting Kitty's younger body. She hurriedly tells the X-Men that on this day the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants will assassinate  Presidential candidate Robert Kelly, Professor X and Moira MacTaggert, triggering a chain of events that, in the future, will lead to nuclear holocaust. Though dubious, Wolverine senses she's telling the truth, and the X-Men agree to go to Washington DC, where Professor X can mindscan her.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Few Thoughts on the Golden Globes

In general, this was a pretty lackluster show. The awards themselves are either so predictable or ridiculous that it's hard to get too worked up about who does or doesn't win, and the Globes' role as an Oscar prognosticator has lessened in recent years as awards season gets ever lengthened. So the real appeal of this show is to see who says what once they've had a few drinks, and hope the host gets in a few good zingers.

After all the hubbub last year when Ricky Gervais dared to tweak the sensibilities of some of Hollywood's finest (but then, it turns out, he didn't really), it was kind of a big deal when he was asked back to host again this year, but he was pretty tame throughout. He certainly had some good lines, but there wasn't anything terribly "Gervais-ian" about his schtick this year. Whether asked to rein it in or choosing to do so himself, his biggest sin was being unmemorable.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Last Week in TV #15

We're back, with a whole bunch of shows. Let's get right to it. 

The Simpsons: Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson

 
This was essentially another "Homer gets a job" episode (and at this point, those episodes are so ubiquitous that I didn't even view the episode in those terms until long after I'd watched it) but his stint as a conservative political TV pundit was really just a vehicle through which the writer delivered one of the most overly-satirical episodes of the season. We got zings at the state of air travel (“You should have thought about that before you drank the fluids you need to live”), politics in general ("I'll just vote for a democrat. The great thing about them is they when they get in office, they act like Republicans anyway") and TV pundits (“Take that, centers of art and commerce!”; also, that Liberal strawman show was 100 kinds of hilarious), from start to finish. Easy targets? Yes, but still funny as hell. Really, the only thing that didn't work was, as has been the case often, the ending, which wrapped things up rather abruptly (and really, all the Ted Nugent stuff in the third and fourth acts seemed a bit random and not as biting as the earlier gags). That said, the whole Homer crying/"feeling things really extremely" bit was nicely setup earlier in the episode, so it wasn't a completely out-of-nowhere resolution.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

X-amining X-Men #140

Rage!
December 1980

In a Nutshell
Wolverine and Nightcrawler fight Wendigo

Writer: Chris Claremont
Plot/Pencils: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Outside the X-Mansion, Colossus struggles to remove a tree stump from the ground when Angel drops in. Colossus explains that he finds the work clearing the ground to be a relaxing reminder of his former life, but then Angel is called away by Professor X. Xavier asks him his opinions of his new teammates, all of whom Angel has no problems with except for Wolverine. Calling him dangerous, Angel worries that Wolverine could hurt one of his teammates during one of his berserker rages. Professor X defends Wolverine, saying he has great potential and that Professor X considers part of his mission to help Wolverine fit into society. In Salem Center, Storm picks Kitty up from dance class, and finds herself jealous of the close relationship Kitty has developed with Stevie Hunter. Meanwhile, in Canada, Nightcrawler is attacked by Wendigo. He manages to elude the monster for awhile, but ultimately is punched into Alpha Flight's cabin and knocked out. Wolverine and Alpha Flight rush outside and manage to fight Wendigo off. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Twitterpated

Never let it be said that I don't eventually come around on these newfangled technological fads: Teebore is now on Twitter!

That's right, you can follow me on Twitter @AustinGorton (there goes my secret identity...), or via this blog (my five most recent tweets now appear beneath Dr. Bitz's infrequently-updated Doctor Manhattan Twitter feed on the sidebar).

In addition to learning stalker-ish and generally pointless things like when I'm going to the gym or how much I liked the dinner I just ate, I'm planning on tweeting immediate reactions to the TV shows I watch, as I watch them (including shows not regularly covered in the "Last Week in TV" posts), as well as a weekly heads up about which issue of X-Men is coming up next in "X-aminations" (which will become increasingly useful as the year goes on and we start covering random non-X-Men issues like Avengers Annual #10 more frequently). 

Also, I'm already following a ton of people funnier and smarter than me on Twitter, so you'll be privy to all of their great stuff that I retweet.

So welcome to 2007 folks; it's gonna be a great year!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Last Week in TV #14: Midseason Report

Before diving back into new TV next week (this week's How I Met Your Mother and Top Chef will be covered in next week's post) let's take a quick look at the state of the numerous new shows that debuted this season which I've been watching. 

Pan Am
Despite featuring one of my favorite pilots of the season, after three episodes there wasn't enough narrative urgency to keep this from slipping further down the queue as my TV time got crunched. Now, it seems like a dead show walking, having played out its string but unlikely to get picked up for any additional episodes. I'll finish it out, thanks to the style and characters, but probably not until other, more urgent or intriguing shows, bow for the summer. 

Once Upon a Time
Another strong pilot and one of the show's I most regret falling behind on. Hoping to catch up with it soon. Definitely not perfect, but seeing fairy tale characters re-imagined (both in the flashbacks and the modern day) plus a Lost-ian style ongoing narrative is enough to keep me watching. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

X-amining X-Men #139

"...Something WICKED This Way Comes!
November 1980

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine goes to Canada and makes peace with Vindicator. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Pencils/Plot: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
The X-Men work out in the Danger Room under the supervision of Professor X while Kitty Pryde looks on, but the recently re-joined Angel is out of practice, and almost gets Nightcrawler hurt. He apologizes for his mistake as Nightcrawler brings in some refreshments and Kitty Pryde chooses a code name. Wolverine, wearing a new costume, decides it's time to put an end to his troubles with the Canadian government once and for all, and declares his intention to return there to set things right. Professor X agrees, and sends Nightcrawler along to keep Wolverine out of trouble. Later that day, Storm takes Kitty into Salem Center to meet Stevie Hunter, her new dance teacher. Kitty is excited to be able to continue dancing, and takes an instant liking to Stevie. In Canada, Heather Hudson, wife of Alpha Flight's Vindicator, returns home to find Wolverine and Nightcrawler waiting for her. Happy to see Wolverine again and to hear that he's returned to make peace, she tells him that her husband and Alpha Flight are in the north country, on Hudson Bay, investigating some kind of trouble.