With the official 2013-2014 TV season drawing to a close last week, and with me (mostly) caught up on the show I comment on regularly, as well as another looming work trip threatening to throw off my regular schedule once again, this will be the last regularly scheduled "Last Week in Pop Culture" post. I reserve the right to drop one in periodically, if there's something of note I'd like to talk about, but I won't have one up (nearly) every Saturday going forward.
However, I am hoping to resurrect my Retro Reviews of The Simpsons sometime soon (once I get back into the groove after my trip and give myself a little break). So look for those again shortly!
And, of course, I've still got three X-aminations posts a week to do, plus all my stuff at Sound on Sight and Capeless Crusader, and Dr. Bitz has three more Game of Thrones reviews to do, so you won't be lacking for content from us this summer, regardless!
Around the Web
Just one additional post this week, my weekly Market Maven column from Monday.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Not bad. It wasn't the greatest X-Men film, but it was entertaining, well-constructed, well-acted. The Sentinels were handled well, most of the action scenes were top notch, and kudos for wiping out most of The Last Stand. In the middle of the pack, but near the top (I'd still put X2 and First Class above it, for sure).
Like First Class, I thought this one had some pacing problems, though in the opposite direction. Whereas my biggest criticism of First Class was that, particularly in the middle, it was too fast-paced, to the point where the second act almost felt like one big montage and entire scenes and set pieces and locales flashed by in minutes, this film felt like it slowed down way too much after Paris and before the last big set piece in DC.
Part of that, I think, comes from the fact that the 70s era X-Men are lacking characters with flashy powers, so once they bid adieu to Quicksilver and unless Magneto was doing something, the action just wasn't as visually exciting as in the future set scenes.
Seriously, that stuff with Blink was pretty damned awesome. I'm in the "Blink is not as cool as everyone else seems to think" camp, but then I see this, and I start to get why she's so popular.
Having Bishop charge up his gun was just dumb. I get that "has a big gun" is part of his character bio, but I'd almost rather they skip the "charge up" part if they insist on giving him a gun.
McAvoy and Fassbender continued to kill it. I'd watch an entire movie of just them hanging out (or Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, for that matter).
I get that they wanted Kitty to play a role in the plot, especially since her original role was usurped by the popularity of Wolverine, but I wasn't clear if she was using some kind of device to send minds back in time (it seemed like she had some wiring or gloves or something on her fingers), or if that was supposed to be some kind of extension of her mutant power (like, she can phase...minds...through time?)?
Similarly, I'm not sure that the whole "young Xavier is taking drugs so he can walk but is powerless" added all that much to the story. I mean, I know why they did it, but I'm not sure that what was gained was worth the obvious artificiality of the plot device.
In terms of continuity wanks, why did Future Wolverine have adamantium claws? He lost the adamantium in The Wolverine (which led on from The Last Stand, which was part of the future timeline), and while he obviously could have just gotten it back at some point offscreen, the fact that his claws were metal and not bone never factored into the future story, so why not just have him slash Kitty with bone claws and avoid this question entirely?
Also, loathe as I am to recall the first Wolverine solo film, that movie established that Wolverine and Sabretooth fought in Vietnam and first met Stryker there, yet when this movie opens in 1973, Wolverine is stateside and hasn't met Stryker yet. No time travel had occurred at that point, so there's no reason anything at that point in time should be different.
At the end of the day, this movie needs to be applauded for one thing over all else: at least they brought back Cyclops (even if he is still just a dick cockblocking the character everyone in the audience has been conditioned to love).
Once Upon a Time: Snow Drift & There's No Place Like Home
Given that finales on this series usually revolve around the defeat of the villain-du-jour and a setup for the next season (or half-season) status quo, it's something of a curious decision to hand over this two-part finale to what was essentially a character piece for Emma. Granted, it was a character piece couched in a pretty blatant Back to the Future homage, but still. Not a bad thing (this was a largely entertaining two hours of the show, some clunky/obvious dialogue aside), but definitely a curious one given the show's history.
As for that homage, wow. All of that had to be intentional, right? I mean, even the botching of Snow and Charming's first meeting involved one of Emma's parents being in a tree. Then you had Rumple as Doc, Emma battling her parent's nemesis, Biff/Regina, it's all there. I was half expecting Emma to play "Johnny B. Goode" before returning to Storybrooke, at which point she'd return home to find a new jeep waiting for her.
I didn't see the Marion thing coming (though I should have), but it did make me laugh, just from a "of course that's who she is" standpoint. While this is obviously going to have repercussions next season, I really hope it doesn't mean a return to straight-up, boring Evil Regina next season (especially once Robin learns Marion originally died at Regina's hand, adding a further wrinkle to the situation).
I was fully expecting the woman who turned out to be Marion to turn out to be next season's Big Bad (since the finale has to do some setup in that direction); instead, that turns out to be Elsa from Frozen, emerging from the urn Hook disturbed. I'm betting they haven't cast her yet (since we never saw her face). I'm also curious if they're going to make her an actual villain; something tells me that wouldn't sit right with the legions of Elsa fans out there, whom the show is obviously courting.
Given that Rumple was in full sparkly regalia, and there was a CGI portal spinning behind them, Morrison and Carlyle really killed that scene when Emma told him about Neal, and begged Rumple to let his son die a hero (even if the circumstances of that death still remain dubious, in terms of narrative necessity).
I'm glad Hook and Emma finally got together, not because I was shipping them or anything, but just so the show can move on from that particular set of story beats.
Was Emma's Princess Leia alias the closest we'll ever get to a Star Wars nod on this show, now that the galaxy far, far away is in the same corporate house as Snow White, Belle and Frozen? Yeah, probably.
Red's back (again)! Always a pleasure to see Meghan Ory; hopefully, with Intelligence officially cancelled now, she'll be back more next season.
Aurora is in Storybrooke now; turns out Zelena's magic broke just before she gave birth. Sure, whatever show. At least they explained what triggered the time portal.
Agents of SHIELD: The Beginning of the End
Having Coulson and the gang rebuild SHIELD is a pretty decent setup for the next season. It gives the show a specific purpose, while maintaining the "working without a net" feel of the last few episodes. Plus, it opens a window for future SHIELD appearances in the MCU.
Keeping Ward around for next season isn't exactly a surprise, and in principle, I have no problem with it. I just worry about the inevitable redemption arc, after one arc where he's still a bad guy, then another arc where he has to team up with SHIELD against a greater evil, followed by the arc where he decides maybe he wants back in but nobody accepts him and we're supposed to feel bad for him, followed by the arc where he does get accepted, followed by all the time after that when we forget about all the people he's killed.
Skye realizing what the "Incentive Program" meant was actually pretty clever, and by giving Deathlok the means to turn on Garrett, she proved herself to be an effective member of the team without being too Mary Sue-ish.
Also, Deathlok turning on Garrett was a pretty great "F@#K yeah!" moment.
Has there every been a moment more Whedon-y than when Garrett seemingly comes back from the dead, only to be shot by Coulson from offscreen?
I have no idea what to make of Fitz's injuries, in terms of what they could possibly be setting up for next season. I do hope Triplett sticks around.
I'm not sure I quite like the idea that Fury brought back Coulson just because he's always been the heart of SHIELD, but it is a very Whedon-esque notion.
So, is the new Koenig a twin, a clone or an LMD? I'm thinking LMD, because if they're not going to use it for Coulson, they've got to use it somewhere.
Other Shows I Watched
Silicon Valley "Signaling Risk", Veep "Detroit", 24: Live Another Day 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM" " Glee "Opening Night", Suburgatory "Dalia Nicole Smith", Modern Family "The Wedding (Part 2)", The Big Bang Theory "The Proton Transmogrification"
Agents of SHIELD
Skye: I have a weapon much better than a bomb that will absolutely destroy
Ward: And why is that?
Skye: Because you slept with her, and
she’s really pissed off.
Coulson: Think he learned his lesson?
Fury: He learned something.