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

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Last Week in Pop Culture #22

Around the Web
Two more reviews from me at Sound on Sight: the penultimate chapter of the "X-Files Conspiracy" crossover, and the penultimate chapter of "Trial of Jean Grey". It was a penultimate week, apparently.

Also, as some of you may have seen on twitter, this week Dr. Bitz and I began recording the Saved By the Bell Reviewed podcast, along with Billy Superstar of the Full House Reviewed blog and Portland artist Carolyn Main.

We're still a few weeks away from going live (we want to get a few under our belt and work out the kinks before we start posting), but you can be sure I'll pimp the hell out of it here once it goes up. In the meantime, you can follow the show on twitter @sbtb_reviewed, and check out our under-construction tumblr here.  

The Simpsons: The Man Who Grew Too Much


Always nice to see a Sideshow Bob episode centered around something other than Bob trying to kill Bart. But let's not pretend the act one reveal of Sideshow Bob is at all shocking when Fox has been pimping his appearance in commercials all week.

Once Upon a Time: New York City Serenade
Similarly, you know what takes a lot of the interest out of an episode that is constantly asking "who could have done this?" or "who could be behind this?" A massive months-long ad campaign that spoils the episode-ending reveal. This one I almost blame on the writers more than ABC: they had to know ABC was going to pimp the hell out of the Wicked Witch of the West being the new Big Bad, so maybe don't hold her reveal for the end of the episode.

Despite the series finale feel of the midseason break, I fully expected a pretty standard reversion to status quo by the end of this episode, but was still surprised at just how much was restored. I figured Emma would get her memories back by the end (all the better, because we don't need Hook trying to convince Emma he's a not a loon for multiple episodes), but having everybody back in Storybrooke seems like maybe too big a "back the way things were" moment for the first episode of the new half-season.

It also seems odd that all it would take to restore Emma's memories was a magic potion, when a big deal was made at the end of the last episode about how permanent Regina's memory wipe would be. Like, obviously, she's getting her memories back, but it should have taken more than a relatively mundane method to do so.

On the one hand, I appreciate that Emma's boyfriend turned out to be a flying monkey, because it makes her less of a jerk for running out on him. On the other hand, ewwww, Emma was sleeping with a flying monkey! 

Glee: Trio
Probably because there was a lot of older stuff (and I am old, especially in my musical tastes), I liked more songs in this episode ("Don't You Forget About Me", "Danny's Song", "Gloria" and "Hold On") than any other episode I can remember short of the all Billy Joel ep.

The Rachel/Santana conversation towards the end of the episode was actually really good, made all the better because it didn't magically repair their friendship. They just both acknowledged some hard truths, opening a window for future reconciliation, but then walked through the door of their feud (or something like that).

Also, I love that Starchild straight-up refuses to play Rachel & Santana's game, and that Santana and Dani are still dating even though Santana was kicked out of the band. Sometimes the most minor of characters on this show are the most adult/realistic.

We had lock-ins in high school. They were fun, but certainly not epic on the scale Tina, Blaine and Sam were expecting.

Agents of SHIELD: Yes Men


This wasn't the greatest episode of the show or anything, but it stands as a pretty decent template for what I'd like to see from the show moving forward (and frankly, expected from the beginning): the main cast investigating some little corner of the Marvel Universe, featuring a C-List or so guest star or villain. Obviously, I don't expect Tony Stark or Captain America to show up regularly, but there's no reason the show couldn't feature characters on the level of Sif or Lorelei on a more regular basis.

Part of me wonders if this Sif appearance was planned from the beginning, or if, after the first few episodes aired and the producers heard the fan reaction, they were like, "crap, who can we get from the movies, stat?!?" Probably the later, since, if you could get Jamie Alexander, why not use her in the Thor 2 tie-in episode, unless you hadn't bothered to ask at that point (unless they had and her schedule just didn't allow for it)?

Sif's list of blue aliens (Interdites, Levians, Pharagots, Kree, Sarks, and Centaurians) adds weight to the idea that the blue creature Coulson saw last episode was indeed a Kree, as it's the name from that list with the most significance, and the one slated to appear in a movie later this year.

Words cannot describe how bored I am with the idea of a May-Ward-Skye love triangle. 

Other Shows I Watched
The Simpsons "Diggs" Bob's Burgers "The Frond Files", Family Guy "Mom's the Word", New Girl "Fired Up", Brooklyn Nine-Nine "Fancy Brudgom", The Goldbergs "Lame Gretzky", Trophy Wife "The Wedding Part One", Suburgatory "I'm Just Not That Into Me", Modern Family "Other People's Chidlren", Revolution "Three Amigos", The Big Bang Theory "The Friendship Turbulence", Community "App Development and Condiments", Parks and Recreation "The Wall"

8 comments:

  1. The tribute to Marcia Wallace/Edna was rather touching.

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  2. I think I've said this before, but I really want to know why SHIELD isn't in the middle of a month-long "Winter Soldier" story arc right now. To set up Cap 2 and get them some nice, inflated tie-in ratings at the same time. This feels like an absolute no-brainer to me. I mean like, the most no-brainiest no-brainer possible. Like a child could come up with this idea. A time traveler from the 18th century who has never heard of Marvel, SHIELD, or even TV would understand this is what they should be doing right now. I mean, seriously.

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  3. @wwk5d: The tribute to Marcia Wallace/Edna was rather touching.

    It was. I mean to mention it, and plum forgot. I like that they acknowledged that the character had died on the show (rather than just never mentioning her again), but didn't make a whole deal out of it.

    @Matt: A time traveler from the 18th century who has never heard of Marvel, SHIELD, or even TV would understand this is what they should be doing right now. I mean, seriously.

    Ha! Indeed. I don't get it either. I'd say that maybe they're saving the Cap 2 tie-ins for after the little promo break this week, but I highly doubt it.

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  4. Once Upon a Time: New York City Serenade

    Ewwww, indeed.

    I still can't believe that this whole narrative shift wasn't saved for a season, rather than midseason, cliffhanger, no matter how much shows these days are moving to the "pod" or split-season format.

    The lack of suspense re the Wicked Witch's reveal is just par for the course anymore, I guess. I didn't even think about it in terms of a reveal to the viewers, honestly, although it was arguably presented that way, but I don't see another way to do it — while the dramatic appearance of the character at the end is a reveal if you aren't hip to what's coming, it's just a punctuation if you do. She can't simply pop up in the course of things without an appropriately portentous entrance, because the episodes themselves exist without the framework of promotion. (None of this is arguing with you in the adversarial sense, Teebore, just ruminating on it all.)

    I am with you on the ease of quickly restoring Emma's memories with a magic potion. My own rationalization or expectation is that it came from Gold, since just as he built a failsafe into the curse — I think it was him, not Regina — he'd naturally have concocted or be able to concoct an antidote to that failsafe. All that aside, though, I agree that it was kind-of essential to get Emma back on board with haste and that it feels a little too pat.

    I have some more to say on the turn the series has taken but I think it's better left for discussion of last night's episode.

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  5. The Simpsons : The Man Who Grew Too Much

    Was this the one with the "couch sequence" done by the folks behind The Triplets of Belleville? I saw that online.

    Glee: Trio

    I remember wanting to make notes of some songs in this ep and then forgetting. Laura Brannigan's "Gloria" was one that I loved to hate as a kid — a real earworm but, man, that dramatic vibrato.

    I'm with you on Starchild, etc..

    Agents of SHIELD : Yes Men

    Ditto what you and Matt say, very much... One thing that continues to not compute is that, regardless of whether bit characters from the movies do/can appear, let alone the major stars, we don't hear about any other situations involving the superheroes as background. I get that the studio would be wary of setting continuity and handcuffing later films, but it was clear at the start of The Avengers that Iron Man was involved in stuff between movies and Captain America has to have been also. The show's inclination to invent new characters rankles me, yet especially since it's doing that it should be easy to reference the big guns' involvement in a case whose loose ends fall to Agent Coulson's group to clean up. Setting up the next movie makes perfect sense, just using plot points and attainable guest appearances. Wouldn't "Get the first look at Batroc from the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier in next week's Agents of SHIELD!" drive more people to the show than "Catch a new extended preview of the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier during next week's Agents of SHIELD!" (which aren't even mutually exclusive promotional gambits) since the trailer is its own thing sure to be repeated on TV and the Internet?

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  6. @Blam: I didn't even think about it in terms of a reveal to the viewers, honestly, although it was arguably presented that way, but I don't see another way to do it

    You're right, of course. I just got annoyed with all the characters crying out in anguish "WHO could have done this?!?" throughout the episode, while I shouted back, "it's the Wicked Witch! Haven't you seen the commercials?!?" :)

    My own rationalization or expectation is that it came from Gold, since just as he built a failsafe into the curse — I think it was him, not Regina — he'd naturally have concocted or be able to concoct an antidote to that failsafe.

    It was him that created the original failsafe. And yeah, if the potion turns out to have come from Gold, that'd be fine.

    Was this the one with the "couch sequence" done by the folks behind The Triplets of Belleville?

    I forget if it was this one or the episode that aired before it (they aired two episodes this week, for whatever reason).

    One thing that continues to not compute is that, regardless of whether bit characters from the movies do/can appear, let alone the major stars, we don't hear about any other situations involving the superheroes as background.

    That bugs me too. Like, it wouldn't kill them to throw in a line of dialogue that says "Cap is going to be doing X, so we'll need to help out by doing Y" or something like that.

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  7. SHIELD seems to have taken a step back towards "Is this show worth sticking with" territy after "TRACKS" and "TAHITI" actually made it interesting.

    First off, Skye is still alive. I mean, I knew in the back of my head that they would never kill her off, but I was really, really pulling for that.

    But really, there were so many "WTF?" moments this episode that I almost turned it off --

    a) Why did Coulson and Ward join the team taking down Lorelei? Why not just send an all-female team? Coulson is that dumb? Sif is that dumb?

    b) Why did Ward let Lorelei get so close to him? He was briefed on her powers working by touch.

    c) Are we really supposed to believe that Fitz can repair alien tech in two hours? The team doesn't appear to have any limitations anymore -- people near death get magic alien goo, people with alien smallpox can concoct instant cures, and broken alien tech -- tech from an alien that calls things at SHIELD's disposal "primitive" just moments before -- is instantly fixed off-screen. If it was that easy, why did the writers bother breaking it? Did they really need to kill that 30 seconds?

    I could go on... But I'll stop here.

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  8. @Teebore: // "Haven't you seen the commercials?!?" //

    I hear ya.

    @Michael: // "TRACKS" and "TAHITI" actually made it interesting. //

    Apropos of those titles rather than our conversation: I haven't seen any rhyme or reason behind which titles get all-caps except for them being one word — like, it doesn't seem to be a clue to hardcore mythology episodes or anything. My mom watches the show, and besides the fact that I get a kick out of that in general and her calling it Marvels specifically (the marketing ploy did its job — kind-of, since she only calls it that and not SHIELD), when those episodes run she asks me what the letters stand for so I keep having to tell her that it's just a thing they do.

    Your lettered bullet points are all good ones, though... unfortunately.

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