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

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Last Week in Pop Culture #25

Around the Web 
This week, I contributed another article to Sound on Sight's "Greatest TV Pilots", this time for The Wonder Years. You can read it here. Also, I did a new "To Better Know A Hero" post on Falcon, which you can read here.

Bob's Burgers: The Kids Rob a Train
Anytime Regular Size Rudy shows up, you know a good time will be had by all.

Once Upon a Time: Quiet Minds


Full disclosure: I watched this episode immediately after the HIMYM finale, so I may have missed some important details as a result of the loud, rage-induced ringing in my ears at the time.

I'm a little unclear as to why Neal had to die. I get that he and Rumpelstiltskin were one now, so that only one or the other could be dominate at any given time, but I'm not sure why Neal had to die to let Rumpel out to tell Emma about Zelena. Couldn't they have just let Rumpel reassert himself briefly?

At the time, I figured they'd find a way to bring Neal back at some point (a la Rumpelstiltskin), but I've since read that apparently he's gone for good, as the actor has left the show.  

In hindsight, it was a great big telegraph of his upcoming death, but I did appreciate that Neal and Hook had that moment together. That aspect of their relationship was always far more interesting than their rivalry over Emma.

At least the witch's identity has been revealed. I was really worried they were going to drag that out all season.

Agents of SHIELD: The Beginning of the End
One of the show's best episodes yet. Amazing what happens when the plot kicks into high gear in favor of another case-of-the-week episode.

So are we supposed to be thinking that Victoria Hand is the Clairvoyant? Because I don't, but I'm not sure if the show is trying to make us think that or not by the ending. I will, in fact, be disappointed if Hand is the Clairevoyant, simply because making the prickly good guy who doesn't like the main characters the villain seems too obvious. I assume she's just operating under the impression that Coulson's team has been comprised and is bringing them in, but various places on the internet are talking like the end of the episode revealed her to be the Clairvoyant.

Also, I don't for a second think May is the Clairvoyant either. I'm pretty sure she just has a direct line to Fury, knows more than she's letting on about Coulson's resurrection, and has been monitoring him for Fury.

I do, however, still think that Garrett (or NotFalcon) is the Clairvoyant. There were some scenes with Garrett that were downright sinister in this episode, so either he's the Clairvoyant, or the writers know we're thinking that and are having some fun with it.

I'm still not entirely certain how Skye's double-blind trick was supposed to work. The Clairvoyant wouldn't need both his name and location being thought to pick up on SHIELD - one or the other would be enough to clue him in.

The moment where Skye pulled a gun on May was nice just for the way it showed Skye being an actual agent of SHIELD and not a super special and totes unique Mary Sue snowflake for once. 

Ward shooting Wormtongue was frustrating, both for the sheer stupidity of it, and because it was motivated by his feelings for Skye, of which I could care less.

That said, I am very pleased that Coulson figured out Wormtongue wasn't the Clairvoyant relatively quickly, within the confines of one episode. 

Department H got name-checked this episode. They're basically the Canadian version of SHIELD, and responsible for the original organization of Alpha Flight. I have no idea who owns the film rights to Alpha Flight as a whole or the various characters, but I wouldn't complain if some of them appeared on this show. 

Still puzzled by the lack of a more direct Winter Soldier tie-in. And no, using your end tag to sneakily run a clip from the movie doesn't count as a tie-in. But it sounds like Winter Soldier may end up shaking up this show, so at least some kind of tie-in effect will be there.

Glee: 100/New Directions


By no means a perfect pair of episodes, it will nevertheless be hard to top them next year when the show actually does run its series finale. As always, what it lacks in realism and logic it makes up for in emotion, and these episodes (particularly the second one) nailed the bittersweet feeling of saying goodbye and moving on.

Glee has suffered for awhile now from its identity crisis, trying to be both a show about a glee club and the people who pass through its walls, and a show about those people and what they do after they move on from the club. I've always enjoyed the former more than the latter, even while some of the replacement students never quite popped (and in part because Rachel has only grown more and more insufferable), but the show needed to pick one identity and commit to it, and I can't begrudge them sticking with Rachel, Kurt, etc.

If we didn't already know the series only had one more season to go, I'd probably bail at this point. As I said, I liked the school-based stuff more, and it seemed like the material that had the most potential for at least reaching a baseline of being entertaining and realistic. But with only one more season to go, I'll stick around (unless it gets absolutely deplorable). I'm a completist, after all, and there's not that much left. May as well close it out. And hey, at least the music can still be enjoyable.  

So how long before Schue raps his way into New York?

At this point, I can't stand Rachel any more than Santana can, but I am so glad their whole feud storyline is over. 

Also, Mercedes, Rachel, while your "who is more famous?" feud is cute (by which I mean annoying), I can assure you, the level of fame you've both achieved this quickly out of high school is equally ludicrous.

So Brittany is joining Santana in New York - how is Santana's current girlfriend going to feel about that? And did Heather Morris leave the show, not get anything better, and has now come back, or was this the plan all along?

Nice to see Quinn again, especially since she missed the Finn tribute episode. If that's the last we see of her and Puck, that'd make for a decent series wrap for the pair.

Also, we never, ever need to see April Rhodes again. Even beyond my irrational dislike of Kristen Chenowith, she brings nothing to the table. 

I'm not going to lie: that (fourth?) reprise of "Don't Stop Believin'" was pretty great. Seeing the remaining original New Directions members, followed by the initial recruits, then the second wave leading Will on stage as everyone joins in and jams out, well, like I said, it's going to be tough to top that when it comes time to end the show for real. 

"Biff Mackintosh" is either my new band name or my new pornstar name.

Community: G.I. Jeff


I have no idea how this played to anyone who didn't grow up watching G.I.Joe or playing with the toys (my wife mostly liked it), but I loved it, from poking fun at the tropes of the genre (nobody dies) to the new character designs and names, and the spot-on fake commercials. I will say that the animation in the original cartoon was actually better than what they used here (though certainly not great and not expensive - the repeated animation gags were highly accurate), but that aside, this was a loving homage and a fantastic episode.

I haven't taken the time to look it up, but it sure sounded like they got at least some of the original Joe voice actors for this. Though not Cobra Commander's.

"G.I. Jobra" just about killed me.

Parks and Recreation: Prom


Pikitis!

Other Shows I Watched
The Simpsons "You Don't Have to Live Like a Referee", Family Guy "Secondhand Spoke", American Dad "Stan Goes on the Pill", The Goldbergs "The President's Fitness Test", Trophy Wife "Couples Therapy", Suburgatory "The Ballad of Piggy Duckworth", Modern Family "A Hard Jay's Night",

Quotable Quotes 
The Simpsons
Superintendent Chalmers: I have seven other principals, and I have never yelled their names—not even once.

Lisa: The Amazon! It’s just like I pictured it after seeing all those pictures online!

Glee
Sue: Will Schuester’s profligate spending and his penchant for staging elaborate private bacchanalia replete with extravagant scenery and costumes not seen since the reign of Caligula.

Community
Fourth Wall: Don’t paint graffiti; play sports!

Parks and Recreation
Ben: I specifically requested elliptical cartridges for the turntables. How am I supposed to keep my Hüsker Dü albums in near-mint condish?

8 comments:

  1. SHIELD

    So are we supposed to be thinking that Victoria Hand is the Clairvoyant?

    Have you seen "Winter Soldier" yet? This episode leads directly into it in ways big and small. I think you'll see the Clairvoyant reveal differently after seeing the movie.

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  2. I was more confused about why they were able to bring Rumple back but not Neal- I thought the rule was "magic can't bring back the dead". Now it seems to be
    "Magic can bring back the Dark One but not his son".

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  3. Regarding COMMUNITY, the original voice of Cobra Commander, Chris Latta, died a couple decades back, so a reprisal from him was not an option. And the substitute they used did not impress me. The guy playing Destro, however, did a pretty good job even though Destro's original voice, Arthur Burghardt, is still kicking around out there.

    On the other hand, that was indeed Michael Bell as Duke and Bill Ratner as Flint, reprising their roles from the original cartoon. The weird thing, though, is that they got Mary MacDonald-Lewis, the original voice of Lady Jaye, to provide the voice of Scarlett here. Even though Scarlett's original actress, B.J. Ward, is also still at large in the voiceover community. Not sure what the thinking was there. If MacDonald-Lewis was available but Ward was not, why not use Lady Jaye instead of Scarlett? Of course, this is assuming the voices were recorded prior to the animation being produced, as is the case with most cartoons.

    But overall, that was like the greatest episode ever. I loved the extra film grain on the animated sequences. The background music was nicely reminiscent of the original JOE as well, and the opening titles were practically a shot-for-shot remake of the cartoon's first season. Even the old character models looked pretty much dead-on.


    I'm finally caught up on SHIELD for the first time this season (wanted to get there before seeing CAP 2), and I agree that this episode was great. I'm with Michael regarding Hand -- I'm not sure she's supposed to be the Clairvoyant, but I'm guessing in the wake of WINTER SOLDIER that she is ===MASSIVE SPOILERS SERIOUSLY DO NOT READ THE REST OF THIS SENTENCE IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED=== one of the Hydra moles within SHIELD.

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  4. @Michael: Have you seen "Winter Soldier" yet? This episode leads directly into it in ways big and small.

    When I wrote this post, I hadn't seen it. Now I have. And yeah, it kinda blows the whole thing wide open. As in "how is this even a show now"? I'm more excited for the next episode than any I have been for any other episode this whole season.

    @Anonymous: Now it seems to be
    "Magic can bring back the Dark One but not his son".


    Let's be clear: I'm pretty sure it's "magic can't bring back the dead except when the plot demands it". This show has always played pretty fast and loose when it comes to its own rule.

    @Matt: And the substitute they used did not impress me.

    Yeah, I was not impressed, either. Latta's a tough act to follow. Destro was pretty good though.

    The background music was nicely reminiscent of the original JOE as well

    I started laughing seemingly out of nowhere at one point and my wife was like, "what?" and I said, "even the BACKGROUND MUSIC is spot-on!"

    the opening titles were practically a shot-for-shot remake of the cartoon's first season

    That was really impressive.

    SPOILER

    but I'm guessing in the wake of WINTER SOLDIER that she is one of the Hydra moles within SHIELD

    Me too. And I'd argue that it still seems like an easy play (making the cranky one a bad guy), but hell, Winter Soldier cast Sitwell as a Hydra Agent, so all bets are clearly off. I also wouldn't be surprised if the Clairvoyant turned out to be Zola.

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  5. Once Upon a Time: Quiet Minds

    // I'm a little unclear as to why Neal had to die. //

    Neal had to die so that Emma and Hook could play "Will they or won't they?"

    I was surprised that Neal and Gold sharing a body didn't get stretched out longer. The series consistently burns through plot twists that I'd expect to last longer — which is kind-of admirable, but at the same time from a writing perspective I honestly can't figure out the showrunners' motivations in doing so. We get things revealed to the viewer and then in short order (sometimes within the same episode) revealed to the characters as well, whether it's stuff we know is coming like the Wicked Witch being the new Big Bad or stuff we figure out is coming like Zelena and Regina being related after Regina mentioned sealing her office with "blood magic" or stuff that we barely have time to guess after some hints before it comes to light like Neal being inside Gold.

    Agents of SHIELD: The Beginning of the End

    So much to say but it's kind-of moot since another episode has aired and you'll probably cover it this weekend.

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  6. Glee: 100 / New Directions

    The end!

    In fact, SHIELD and Glee could swap titles — "The Beginning of the End" is perfect for Glee now that the rest of this season basically plays into the upcoming final, NYC-only season and "New Directions" is perfect for where SHIELD is headed.

    Anyway, I pretty much agree with all your comments and questions, including how this could easily be (and very possibly should be) a series capper, although I'll add a few of my own.

    I was surprised and a bit disappointed at the lack of Emma, given her importance to the show and Will's arc, even as stuffed as the episodes were with returning cast and guests. Maybe now that she's only recurring Jayma Mays wasn't available.

    Doesn't McKinley still have, like, chorus as a class? I know it's just kids on risers singing SATB Simon & Garfunkel medleys, which maybe to Will is totally soul-crushing, but it's something. Frankly, I hadn't even heard of "show choir" in high school — we had chorus (bigger) and "concert choir" (smaller and supposedly more elite) as electives. I also know from personal experience that arts funding is getting slashed across the nation due to the economy, but the glee club at McKinley has always occupied this weird place between after-school extracurricular activity like sports (and cheerleading) and class that meets during school hours, and there's been no mention of any actual music class. Why can't the club use the auditorium — I know there was some weird lip service paid to that but it went over my head because it sounded like the upshot was they literally couldn't afford to have an auditorium or something when the structure is obviously standing — and raise its own money for any costumes or performances or trips like they've had to sometimes anyway, Will just not taking a salary?

    I'm a sap. "Don't Stop Believin'" is a song I really never care to hear again, yet the reprise did get to me.

    Kurt's "I Am Changing" was gorgeous. I would consistenly rather listen to him than Mercedes or Rachel, although Mercedes did often get a raw deal.

    What the holy heck did "Party All the Time" (which I never thought I'd hear again after 1985) even have to do with Temple Grandin and her animal husbandry?

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  7. Community: GI Jeff

    GI Joe basically marked the moment, circa 13 years old, that I didn't care so much for new action-figure lines and animated series. I'm sure this was helped along by the fact that the "Real American Hero" incarnation was such a departure from the GI Joe figures I knew as a younger kid — and that the earlier figures were 12" or 8" (with kung-fu grip) rather than dinky little 4" ones; outside of a few 12" figures, you had no choice with the Kenner Star Wars toys, but I much preferred bigger figures like my beloved Megos. Still and all, I remember seeing the commercials, I know the refrain of the theme song, and I definitely read about the comics and the cartoon — heck, I specifically recall reading an article in Comics Scene or something that referenced how everyone had to be shown parachuting to safety after their ships blew up — so I got how brilliantly spot-on this was.

    I looked it up and most of the main voice cast were the originals. The episode was directed by Rob Schrab, whom I knew once upon a time in his Scud: The Disposable Assassin days; I always get a kick out of seeing his name in the credits of some TV show or another.

    Parks and Recreation: Prom

    Ron: "I attended prom with Susan Hoffler. I picked her up in my truck, we danced to a Merle Haggard song, and then I left early to go to my shift at the quarry. I was twelve years old."

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  8. @Blam: Neal had to die so that Emma and Hook could play "Will they or won't they?"

    Blech. Yeah.

    I was surprised and a bit disappointed at the lack of Emma, given her importance to the show and Will's arc

    I'm disappointed I didn't really note the lack of Emma until you mentioned it...

    Why can't the club use the auditorium ... and raise its own money for any costumes or performances or trips like they've had to sometimes anyway, Will just not taking a salary?

    Because reasons.

    Seriously though, yeah. Fine, turn the choir room into a computer lab. You still have the auditorium; the glee club can meet there. Will is still on staff as a teacher - he'd be more than willing to coach the club for free. Set them out to do bake sales and other fundraisers to raise money (or, you know, just have their ridiculously successful alumnae kick in some money). Establish that the elaborate sets and costumes are specifically for the audiences benefit and not meant to represent the reality within the show, instead of the weird place they've been in where sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. Problem solved.

    I would consistenly rather listen to him than Mercedes or Rachel, although Mercedes did often get a raw deal.

    Ditto.

    What the holy heck did "Party All the Time" (which I never thought I'd hear again after 1985) even have to do with Temple Grandin and her animal husbandry?

    Because Gwyneth Paltrow is whacky?

    The episode was directed by Rob Schrab, whom I knew once upon a time in his Scud: The Disposable Assassin days

    I had no idea Rob Schrab became a TV director! That's amazing. I was briefly very, very obsessed with Scud back in the early days of my comic fandom, thinking it was the coolest damn thing walking at the time.

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