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

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Last Week in Pop Culture #21

Around the Web
Couple reviews from me up at Sound on Sight: Guardians of the Galaxy #12, and the Transformers portion of IDW's X-Files crossover.

The Oscars


Putting aside my bitterness over losing my Oscar pool by one point, this wasn't a terrible show, though it wasn't a terribly good one either. Ellen turned in a perfectly cromulent monologue, then became far too obsessed with going out into the crowd (which, I know, is her schtick). Some of that material worked, some of it didn't. The pizza thing mostly did, largely because, as fabricated as it may have been, the reactions to it felt genuine. There's something undeniably entertaining about seeing people like Meryl Streep and Brad Pitt fishing around for change or Harrison Ford's excitement at the prospect of pizza, just like regular people!

The various montages were largely pointless, as they usually are, but what can I say? I'm a sucker for montages.

After the Jaws-theme debacle last year, this year barely any winners got played off the stage (which likely led in part to the show's longer running time), but for the most part, the speeches were pretty good this year, with very few "lists" thanking agents and stylists and most of them some combination of heartfelt, well-composed and entertaining.

I'm still not sure why Wizard of Oz (and Oz alone) got singled out for recognition. 1939 was a banner year for film (Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Gone with the Wind, just to name a few), and probably could have gotten its own montage.

Sleepy Hollow: Indispensable Man/Bad Blood
Kudos to Fox for giving this show an early second season pickup, as it enabled the creators to end season one with a bonafide balls-to-the-walls cliffhanger. Every single one of the main characters is in a bad situation, which is an impressive feat. Had this aired with the show on the bubble, it would have been a giant "eff you" to the audience, running the risk of ending the show with the fate of all the characters up in the air. Since we know it's coming back, instead, it's just a great cliffhanger ending to a surprisingly strong first season.

I should have, but didn't, see it coming that John Noble was a bad guy. Well, the fact that he's Crane's son, I probably should have guessed. That he's also War was a pretty clever twist on a twist, and I like the fact that both War and Death have a personal beef with Crane.

That said, I'm not sure of the logistics behind how Crane's son, who was buried alive when he was roughly a teenager, emerged looking like John Noble and abjectly older than Crane himself. I feel like he should either be the same age as when he was buried, or, like, hundreds of years old. 

And yes, I'm questioning the logic of that while letting the secret booby-trapped Masonic tomb of George Washington hidden in the woods of upstate New York roll right off my back.

I'm not sure how I feel about actual cops investigating all the stuff with Irving's family. On the one hand, the confluence of the real world and the fantastical world is an interesting conflict to mine; on the other hand, I'm not sure the pacing of this show will allow for the real world forensic stuff to get its due.

Agents of SHIELD: T.A.H.I.T.I


Glad to see that there's more to Coulson's resurrection than we'd gotten in "Magical Place", though I have no freaking clue who the blue Engineer from Prometheus is supposed to be (in terms of species, it's probably either a Kree or an Atlantean, both of whom are traditionally blue skinned and the former of which will be appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy, but I have no idea what the "GH" represents, whether a species or character name).

I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop with Bill Paxton and Not Falcon, expecting one or the other (or both) to turn out to be evil or at least more pro-"the book" than Coulson's team, but for this episode at least, they wisely avoided that course.

That said, one or the other is probably the Clairvoyant, right? With Paxton, being the bigger star, the most likely culprit but Not Falcon a contender just for the possibility of a swerve away from Paxton.

Glee: Frenemies
Over Glee's long winter break, the producers announced that when the show returned, it would focus more fully on the New York storylines in favor of the Lima storylines, yet that wasn't present in this episode, which was divided mostly evenly between the two settings (with New York getting a slight edge material-wise, but by no means the domination we were led to believe would occur). Maybe they're just easing into that new dynamics, or maybe the press was just a ruse to get people to stick around for what the producers clearly feel is the more popular characters/storylines.

The idea of Rachel and Santana getting the same part (essentially) in a Broadway musical is patently ridiculous, but at least the show acknowledged this and made a plot point out of it (in that the director revealed he cast Santana as much for her hailing from the same high school as Rachel as for her obvious talent, for publicity reasons).

The Kurt/Starchild stuff was mostly harmless, but I really hope the show isn't seriously setting up another overly-long "trouble in paradise" storyline for Kurt and Blaine, triggered by that photo. 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Tactical Village
This was a perfectly decent episode, but in terms of the underlying relationships, I'm still not on board with doing a "will they/won't they" plot between Peralta and Santiago, and I'm also not too wild about the implication that Boyle still isn't over Rosa.

Community: Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality


As strong as the two main plots in this episode were (the Britta/Jeff/Duncan stuff and the Abed/Hickey interactions), the C-story involving Chang was probably the best use of Chang on this show in at least a season-and-half (since sometime before the whole "Chang Dictatorship" business).

Other Shows I Watched
Mom "Jail, Jail, and Japanses Porn", New Girl "Sister", "Sister II", Brooklyn Nine-Nine "The Apartment", The Goldbergs "Goldbergs Never Say Die!", Trophy Wife "Happy Bert Day", Revolution "Come Blow Your Horn","Everyone Says I Love You", Modern Family "The Feud", "Spring-A-Ding-Fling", Suburgatory "Blame it on the Rainstick", The Big Bang Theory "The Table Polarization", Parks and Recreation "Anniversaries".

8 comments:

  1. We laughed so so hard when Boyle was showing how he was going to kick his expelled magazine into the throat of a perp and then exclaims "My butt holes!!"
    I love shows that continue to play off past jokes.

    And there was just so much underlying tension in SHEILD just because we didn't trust Paxton AT ALL.
    I also heard on the interwebs that there's a possibility the big guy could be a frost giant (why? Though SHEILD does have a closer relationship to the THOR franchise than any of the others) or an Inhuman (which i know nothing aboot)

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  2. Sleepy Hollow:

    I was kicking myself for not considering the season would end on a cliff hanger. Of course it would once it got picked up. I'm, personally, kind of over season ending cliff hangers. But I know they're not going away.

    But I too didn't see John Noble being War but felt like I should have.


    Marvel Prevents: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:

    If someone was around, I would have lost a lot of money betting that what Phil Coulson was going to discover was his own dead body. What he did find was...odd to say the least.

    I would be remiss not to point out that in order to save Sky's life S.H.I.E.L.D. killed two seemingly innocent people. (And who knows what kind of medical miracle cures were destroyed.) I'm not sure the utilitarian calculus works out on that one.

    Also, I felt really bad for the wife at the end. They were newly weds! It was...sad....

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  3. @Sarah: I also heard on the interwebs that there's a possibility the big guy could be a frost giant (why? Though SHEILD does have a closer relationship to the THOR franchise than any of the others) or an Inhuman (which i know nothing aboot)

    Ah, yeah, Frost Giant could be the case. They're certainly blue-ish and big in the movie like that guy, and SHIELD does seem, as you say, more connected to Thor than any other property (for whatever reason).

    Could be an Inhuman too, though I can't think of one in particular who is larger than the average human or whose name could roughly translate to "GH" (not that any Frost Giant maps to that either...).

    Dr. Bitz: I'm not sure the utilitarian calculus works out on that one.

    Ha! Seriously though, were they good guys? I got the impression that was a non-SHIELD facility (it was off the books or something) that SHIELD used to bring back Coulson. But maybe that was just me expecting the other shoe to drop as far as Paxton or Not Falcon being evil.

    And hey, SHIELD didn't blow up the facility and the miracle cures - the base's paranoid security measure did. Whoever runs the place didn't HAVE to respond to intruders so forcefully (which makes me think whatever was there in terms of medicine is probably somewhere else, too).

    Also, I felt really bad for the wife at the end. They were newly weds! It was...sad....

    Aw, he does have a heart :)

    That was sad - I'm hoping the next episode will allow for the hoodwinked husband to return to his wife with an explanation she accepts, but I doubt the show would be concerned enough with an ancillary character like that to allow it to happen...

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  4. "Could be an Inhuman too, though I can't think of one in particular who is larger than the average human or whose name could roughly translate to "GH" (not that any Frost Giant maps to that either...)."

    So, I may have missed it, but was there a reason to dismiss the idea that GH didn't stand for Guest House, the facility's name?

    "Ha! Seriously though, were they good guys? I got the impression that was a non-SHIELD facility (it was off the books or something) that SHIELD used to bring back Coulson."

    Well, now I'm confused. It's a non-S.H.I.E.L.D. facility that S.H.I.E.L.D. uses? Doesn't that make it, by definition, a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility?

    My impression was that the Guest House was like, SUPER black ops. It was so under cover that not even Coulson knew about it. But that doesn't mean it wasn't S.H.I.E.L.D. sanctioned.

    So, to me, those two guys were just soldiers put in place to guard that super black ops S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. And yes, their response was forceful, but isn't that the exact same response any secret government facility would give to people who forcibly breaks into the premises without proper clearance?

    Yes Phil Coulson said they were in need of medical attention but doesn't that sound like the exact kind of lie any would-be-threat trying to gain access would use?

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  5. @Dr. Bitz: was there a reason to dismiss the idea that GH didn't stand for Guest House, the facility's name?

    Maybe? Obviously, the GH stood for "Guest House" in terms of the facility, but then when it was written on the alien dude's tank, I assumed it also referenced its name or species in some way, and that the "GH" in the name of the medicine didn't stand for the name of the facility where it was stored, but the name of the being from which it originated.

    That's all assumptions on my part though, so I could be wrong.

    It's a non-S.H.I.E.L.D. facility that S.H.I.E.L.D. uses? Doesn't that make it, by definition, a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility?

    I read it as, like, a facility created, used, and staffed by some other organization (A.I.M, Hydra, I dunno) for which Nick Fury made some kind of Faustian bargain to use in order to bring Coulson back - that's why it was off the books and what not.

    But again, I could just be reading too much into a line that meant to establish it was deeply top secret and nothing else.

    And yes, their response was forceful, but isn't that the exact same response any secret government facility would give to people who forcibly breaks into the premises without proper clearance?

    The armed guards didn't bother me, level of response-wise, and Coulson and friends probably should have found a non lethal way to get in (what happened to their stupidly-named Night Night guns?). I was just deferring some of the blame to the outright destruction of the facility to whomever planted the charges and set the timer - if the research being done there is so critical, maybe blowing it up in ten minutes isn't the best course of action, especially if only two guys are guarding it?

    Also, in terms of lots of people dying for Skye, it should be noted that now not only is she a super-hacker with a mysterious, possibly alien origin, but now she's also got this weird drug derived from some non-human being coursing through her veins.

    It's not quite a Mary Sue since none of that (yet) has translated into special abilities, but how much "specialness" can/should one character handle? Especially one as relatively blah as Skye?

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  6. After five years, I'm finally throwing in the towel on "Glee." It's just off the rails.

    I noted last season that the show was suffering an identity crisis: Was this a show about the McKinley High School glee club (and thus featured a rotating cast as kids entered and exited high school) or was this a show about the dozen or so characters we met in glee club during seasons one and two (and thus would follow those characters after high school)?

    It appears that Ryan Murphy finally has the answer to that question. Unfortunately, it appears that the answer is "Neither, this is a show about Rachel Berry."

    Trying to turn an ensemble show into a spotlight show would probably never work -- but it simply cannot work as the writers insist on making Rachel the least likable character on the show.

    Rachel has done so many terrible things to so many people on the show that I'm just left feeling that she is a bad person who cannot learn from her past mistakes. Seeing her be awful to her friends -- again -- is not fun.

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  7. @Michael: After five years, I'm finally throwing in the towel on "Glee." It's just off the rails.

    My wife's not far behind you...

    For me, I'm sticking around mainly out of abject curiosity over just how batshit insane/narratively nonsensical it can get (and because, frankly, I'm enough of a completist and it's close enough to its end that I feel compelled to stick out until the bitter, bitter end).

    Plus, there are few moments, such as in the last Nationals episode, that I do genuinely enjoy, as well as a few musical performances, so I'm not entirely hate-watching at this point, even if those moments are fewer and farther between these days.

    Rachel has done so many terrible things to so many people on the show that I'm just left feeling that she is a bad person who cannot learn from her past mistakes.

    Seriously, I was all about Santana in this episode for just that reason. Watching her come in, usurp Rachel's big number and completely own it felt great, just because of how awful Rachel has been lately. Just desserts, and all that.

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