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

Monday, March 31, 2014

X-aminations in April

With "Fall of the Mutants" behind us and the continued expansion of the line (as well as bi-weekly shipping and "Inferno") still ahead, April looks to be another straightforward (if fill-in laden) month.

On Sale December 1987
April 2nd: Uncanny X-Men #228
April 3rd: New Mutants #62
April 4th: X-Factor #27

On Sale January 1988
April 19th: Uncanny X-Men #229
April 10th: New Mutants #63
April 11th: X-Factor #28

On Sale February 1988
April 16th: Uncanny X-Men #230
April 17th: New Mutants #64
April 18th: X-Factor #29

On Sale March 1988
April 23rd: Uncanny X-Men #231
April 24th: New Mutants #65
April 25th: X-Factor #30

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Saturday Night Live: Louis C.K. & Sam Smith


After an odd three week hiatus (after having been shelved during the Olympics), SNL returned this week with another episode that landed firmly in "middling" territory, one of those outings with no real stinker of a sketch but no real standouts either, despite the best efforts of the host. Like most hosts with a background in sketch and/or stand-up comedy, Louis C.K. acquitted himself well and seemed perfectly comfortable with what he was asked to do. For the most part, he simply played some combination of quirky or put-upon straight men, but that's what he does well, and he did it well here. But after all that time off, you'd have hoped the show would have come back with a bit more energy.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Last Week in Pop Culture #24

Around the Web 
Two reviews from me at Sound on Sight this week, as I wrap up a pair of crossovers: The X-Files Conspiracy #2 and Guardians of the Galaxy #13.

Also, I slightly tweaked and updated by To Better Know A Hero post on Captain American, which you can find here.

The Simpson: The War of Art 


This wasn't the funniest or most groundbreaking episode, but I'll give it credit for being relatively original plot-wise, covering some ground it hasn't covered before, which is a pretty rare accomplishment here in the 25th season.

Friday, March 28, 2014

X-amining Excalibur Special Edition #1

"The Sword is Drawn"
1987

In a Nutshell 
The return of Phoenix and the first appearance of Excalibur. 

Author: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Paul Neary w/Mark Farmer
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
On Muir Isle, Kitty awakens from a dream in which the X-Men are still alive but slaves of Mojo, trying to capture Phoenix for him. Elsewhere, Meggan finds Captain Britain drunk and despondent after the death of his sister Psylocke, and she leaves to find him help. On Muir Isle, Kitty and Nightcrawler realize they both had the same dream. They are interrupted by the arrival of Gatecrasher and Technet, interdimensional bounty hunters seeking Phoenix, followed shortly by Meggan. A fight breaks out, and Technet manages to capture Meggan and Kitty while Nightcrawler escapes. Meanwhile, Rachel Summers, Phoenix, escapes from Mojoworld and arrives in London, pursued by the Warwolves. Elsewhere, Nightcrawler seeks out Captain Britain, but finds him still a drunken wretch and leaves, admonishing him, In London, Phoenix is captured by Technet, prompting a scuffle between the Warwolves and the bounty hunters.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

X-amining Power Pack #35 & Fantastic Four #312

Power Pack #35
"Life or Death!"
February 1988

In a Nutshell
Power Pack helps X-Factor battle Apocalypse and his Horsemen. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Jon Bogdanove
Inker: Hilary Barta
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Carl Potts
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
With their father away at a conference, the grounded Power children are waiting for their mother to come home from work when the power goes out. After hearing on the radio that the blackout was caused by The Horsemen of Apocalypse, Katie, the only one not grounded, flies off to find their mother on the subway to make sure she's alright. In one of the subway tunnels she encounters Pestilence and is able to escape, but not before getting sick. When Katie doesn't return, the rest of Power Pack track her down and help her heal. They then see Apocalypse's ship crash into the Empire State Building and try stop it, only to encounter Cyclops and Marvel Girl. Pestilence attacks again, but she's hit by debris and Power Pack is unable to save her. After Cyclops and Marvel Girl leave to stop Apocalypse, Power Pack works together to prevent the ship from crashing into the Statute of Liberty, triggering an explosion that blows off enough to ship's tail pipe to save the statute and the tourists inside. After seeing X-Factor emerge triumphant from the ship, they race home, getting there just ahead of their mother. They admit they left the house, but she is too grateful they're okay to punish them further.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

X-amining Captain America #339 & Daredevil #252

Captain America #339
"America the Scorched!"
March 1988

In a Nutshell 
The Captain battles Famine. 

Story: Mark Gruenwald
Pencils: Kieron Dwyer
Inks: Tony DeZuniga
Letters: Jack Morelli
Colors: Gregory Wright
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Famine arrives in Kansas and begins laying waste to farmland. Meanwhile, Steve Rogers, the Captain, former Captain America, and his allies are flying aboard their private plane when they receive word of Famine's attack, and Captain tells the pilot to plot a course for Kansas. At Ft. Meade, John Walker, the current Captain America, runs into Freedom Force and learns of the death of the X-Men as well as Famine's attack. He is tasked with stopping her. In Kansas, the Captain, Falcon, Nomad and D-Man attack Famine. She is able to take out Nomad and Falcon, but with D-Man subduing her mount, the Captain defeats Famine. However, she is teleported away before he can take her into custody. Later, Captain America arrives on the scene, well after the battle has completed. Two weeks later, the Captain meets with Tony Stark, who provides him with a new shield to use in his new identity.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How I Met Your Mother 9x22: The End of the Aisle


What's worse: a narrative blithely ignoring a flaw in its structure, trundling along, refusing to give voice to the problem, or a narrative which at least acknowledges an issue, but then attempts to resolve it in a relatively slapdash way?

The main thrust of this episode, which returns us to the "Robin freak out" part of the wedding weekend to which we flashforwarded last season (which prompted Ted to tell us the tale of breaking Victoria out of the same church at her wedding), has Robin finally putting to words what anyone watching the show realized long ago: Barney lies a lot, and even his biggest romantic gestures to Robin were built around hideously elaborate lies. It's good to know that Robin has realized this, and it's good to see the show's writers acknowledge it as well.

This prompts Robin to run off, right into the Mother. To her (and the show's credit), the Mother doesn't miraculously talk Robin out of fleeing her wedding: she just tells her to at least stop and take some deep breaths before making a big decision (it's the kind of advice you could plausibly get from a stranger at your wedding whom you just ran into, and not the kind of advice you get from your best friend's future wife, so I appreciate the restraint). This allows Barney the time to catch up with her and and unknowingly tell her exactly what she needs to hear: that he will never lie to her again.

The Walking Dead 4x15: Us

This episode began with Sergeant Abraham and his crew, Tara and Glenn walking the railroad tracks. Glenn, not having said anything, sees a message from Maggie to go to Terminus and then breaks into a dead sprint. I believe I've made this point before but that scene really crystallized for me how Glenn and Maggie’s characters are solely defined by their relationship.

Glenn’s lone motivation is to be with Maggie. Maggie’s lone motivation is to be with Glenn. Other than that all I can say is…they’re relatively nice people? I guess?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Last Week in Pop Culture #23

Around the Web

This week, I've got a slightly revised and updated version of my To Better Know a Hero post on Black Widow up on Sound on Sight. Check it out before you see Captain America: Winter Solider.

The Simpsons: The Winter of His Discontent


This felt like the warmed up leftovers of two plots (Homer embraces the lifestyle of the elderly, Bart is befriend by Nelson after helping him out) from two previous episodes ("The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons" and "The Haw-Hawed Couple"), with an extended parody of The Warriors tagged onto the end.

Friday, March 21, 2014

X-amining X-Factor #26

"Casualties"
March 1988

In a Nutshell 
X-Factor cleans up after their battle with Apocalypse. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Walt Simonson
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Petra Scotese
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Outside Apocalypse's ship, police arrive and attempt to arrest X-Factor, but when they hear an explosion nearby, the cops allow X-Factor to investigate. Elsewhere, Apocalypse watches from his new base as he recalls Famine from Kansas. In Manhattan, X-Factor arrives at the site of the explosion, and helps rescue people trapped inside the burning building. As they finish, one of the cops tips them off to a collapsed building nearby, and they rush off to help, rescuing more people. At the police's suggestion, Marvel Girl telekinetically takes the wounded to Roosevelt Hospital. At the hospital, Beast runs into Trish Tilby, and she learns about his condition. X-Factor continues to help at the hospital throughout the night, until they're told things are under control. As they leave, they're approached once again by the police, but are told they're no longer under arrest. Thanks to all the reporters covering their acts of heroism, the city is now considering them heroes.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #61

"Our Way!"
March 1988

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants deal with Doug's death. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Bret Blevins
Inker: Terry Austin 
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Bill Wray
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
On the Animates' island, Rahne is hysterical over the death of Doug as Illyana teleports the remaining Right soldiers to Limbo. When she returns to the island, the New Mutants say goodbye to Bird-Brain and the Animates, then teleport home with Doug's body. Meanwhile, Magneto arrives at the Hellfire Club amidst the devastation caused by Apocalypse and his Horsemen, and learns of the X-Men's battle in Dallas. Back at the mansion, the New Mutants all react to Doug's death in their own way before calling Magneto at the Hellfire Club. As they wait for him to return, they watch the footage of the X-Men seemingly dying in Dallas. Just then, Magneto arrives and learns of Doug's death. His sadness quickly gives way to anger, as he suspends the New Mutants in midair, asking if that's the only way he can keep them safe.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #227

"The Belly of the Beast!"
March 1988

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men die in order to defeat the Adversary. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Marc Silvestri
Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Bill Wray
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Inside the lobby of Eagle Plaza, the X-Men find themselves beset by both demons and Viet Cong soldiers. As Neal Conan records and broadcasts their actions, Madelyne comes across an image from the past: a young Forge casting a spell, powered by the souls of the dead soldiers around him, which calls forth demons to destroy the Viet Cong. High above in Roma's Starlight Citadel, the Adversary gloats to the captive Roma, Forge and Storm. Psylocke senses the real Forge in the citadel and Rogue tries to fly to it, but is rebuffed by fierce winds. However, trusting to his hollow bones and luck, the X-Men use Longshot as a kite, and he manages to sail over the winds, dragging the rest of the X-Men and Neal behind him. Reaching the citadel, Rogue absorbs a measure of the Adversary's power and sorcerous abilities. Just then, Colossus, who as Roma's ringer was not accounted for by the Adversary, flies into the Adversary, his organic steel body shredding the Adversary's outer form, severely weakening him. Rogue then opens a portal, and the X-Men combine their powers to force the Adversary through it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How I Met Your Mother 9x21: Gary Blauman


In a testament to not judging an episode by its DVR description, this turned out to be much better than I was expecting when the episode synopsis had me questioning the logic of shoehorning in another "heretofore unseen but he's been there all along" friend of the gang three episodes from the end, as if there aren't more important things to be covering. In execution, however, the idea worked better, as Gary Blauman (who has made brief appearances before) was merely a vehicle to tell the story of Ted's first date with the Mother as well as an excuse to give us a series wrap on a bunch of supporting players from the past.

Now, I wasn't exactly dying to know what the future holds for Carl the Bartender or that Blah-Blah's name was actually Carol, but the montage at the end of the episode was exactly the kind of thing I like to see from a show as it nears the end, especially a show constructed like this one, when the ending is planned out with plenty of advance knowledge and in which the futures of various characters can be revealed without breaking the model of the show. We know the broad strokes, at least, of what the future holds for the main characters; only fitting then that we learn a little bit about the futures of the various supporting players in their lives as well. That it came in a mostly funny episode that sidestepped most of the season's biggest problems, all the better.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Walking Dead 4x14: The Grove

The Good: This episode was an interesting character study. It featured some significant character moments and dirty laundry was aired. This episode also brought up an interesting moral dilemma without an easy answer.

The Bad: More wheel spinning; nobody is closer to Terminus. This episode heavily featured Carol. Their seemed to be an acceptance that Carol’s decision to kill the two people at the prison was right one.

The Ugly: Need I even say?

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.

Friday, March 14, 2014

X-amining X-Factor #25

"Judgment Day!"
February 1988

In a Nutshell 
X-Factor battles Apocalypse. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Walt Simonson
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Petra Scotese
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Apocalypse and the captive X-Factor watch as the Horsemen attack Manhattan. As Apocalypse gloats, Beast is able to deactivate Iceman's inhibitor belt, enabling him to ice up and free his teammates. They attack Apocalypse, damaging a transformer that causes the ship to suck light and energy from the city, plunging it into darkness. After Apocalypse ejects Marvel Girl and Cyclops from the ship, they decide to try and stop the Horsemen. As Pestilence heads into the subway tunnels, Marvel Girl and Cyclops split up to face Famine and War. Famine seemingly defeats Marvel Girl, at which point Apocalypse teleports her to Kansas, to smash American's bread basket. Meanwhile, Cyclops beats War by targeting his mount, and reunites with Marvel Girl. Aboard the ship, Beast accidentally destroys the ship's cloaking mechanism and stabilizers, causing it to appear in the sky above the city and then to smash into buildings, causing panic in the streets.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #60

"Suspended Ani-mation!"
February 1987

In a Nutshell
The death of Doug Ramsey 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Bret Blevins
Inker: Terry Austin 
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
The Animator brings the captured New Mutants deeper into his complex, where he imprisons them before ordering his Animates to destroy a failed batch of fellow creatures. Back in New York, Magneto flies off to the Hellfire Club to use their equipment to search for the missing New Mutants. Meanwhile, Roberto and Warlock discover the maps their friends had been studying and deduce their relative location. Leaving a note for Magneto, they fly off to find their teammates. Meanwhile, the Animator is contacted by Cameron Hodge, seeking reassurance that the Animator is still working to find a way to stop mutations. Though he insists he is, Hodge decides to visit the island himself. Worried the Right will usurp his work, the Animator decides to flee. But when the New Mutants convince the Animates guarding them that the Animator intends to kill the Animates, they break free and overpower the Animates. Believing they've won, the New Mutants prepare to take an elevator to the island's surface, but when it opens, Hodge and a group of Right soldiers emerge.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #226

"Go Tell the Spartans"
February 1988

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men and Freedom Force team-up in the face of the Adversary's attack in Dallas. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Marc Silvestri & Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Oliver & Wray
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Dallas, the X-Men, along with a captive Mystique, are gathered inside Eagle Plaza when Longshot notes that sunlight is pouring in through the hole in the night sky. Outside, the captured X-Men attempt to escape, but their battle stops short when Dallas is suddenly transformed into a chaotic landscape of different eras, from the prehistoric to the futuristic. Meanwhile, Forge and Storm find themselves on a parallel Earth created by the Adversary to be their prison, and Storm cares for the injured Forge. In Dallas, the X-Men and Freedom Force call a truce in order to help defend the city as reporters Neal Conan and Manoli Wetherell broadcast to the world their efforts to save civilians from various extratemporal menaces.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How I Met Your Mother 9x20: Daisy


Well, at least this episode didn't foreshadow the death of a major character...

Aside from that though, this wasn't a half bad episode. Certainly, as has been the case all season, the wedding-centric storyline was pretty lame. Tracey Ullman was fine as Robin's mother, but all the "I'm marrying a man just like my father" panic was not only cliche, but incredibly forced and not at all funny (one line aside). And, of course, the ending ominously sets up yet another ride on the Ted/Robin merry-go-round (this time begun by Robin), which we at least all knew was coming based on previous flashforwards.

But not only did the main plot of the episode circle back around to a plot point we'd all groused about previously (the abrupt way Lily conceded the argument to Marshall, and where she went in the middle of the night), but it also relied less on obvious callbacks to past gags on the show (Boats Boats Boats aside). Most importantly, it was funny. Granted, I'm a sucker for the Captain, even though he's always been more of a cartoon than an actual character, but I can't deny laughing at his forced attempts to work boats into everything. And Ted's Hercule Poirot-esque drawing room whodunit breakdown may just be the comedic highlight of Josh Radnor's season (though just like the Captain, I'm a complete sucker for any gags built around The Mosby Boys. Blame my love of The Three Investigators).

Then again, maybe for the first time ever this season, perhaps I'm just glad the Mother wasn't in this one. It's amazing what a difference ending on the reveal of Marshall and Lily's future daughter rather than a grim portent of death does for one's enjoyment of an episode.

The Walking Dead 4x13: Alone

Survival. That’s the name of the game in a zombie apocalypse. Luckily, humans are hard wired for survival. We naturally seek out food, water, shelter. We naturally avoid pain and look for safety. We naturally try to keep ourselves alive. (Well, for the most part. The brain can be confused by modern technology. Oh, and drugs. Drugs can confuse the brain in a variety of different ways.)

At the lowest level these survival instincts are regulated by neurotransmitters. They tell us when to eat, sleep and everything else we need to survive. Of course, there’s another survival instinct that often gets overlooked. It’s the instinct primarily controlled by the neurotransmitter oxytocin. It’s the instinct to do the nasty.

No, this isn't your weekly installment of “Dramatically Oversimplifying Neuroscience.” It’s just readily apparent that the characters showcased in the appropriately name Walking Dead episode “Alone” are all being governed by oxytocin.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Saturday Night Live: Lena Dunham & The National


Though by no means one of the season's standout episodes, this was a marked improvement over last week's limp Jim Parsons-hosted affair. Lena Dunham wasn't exactly asked to stretch, mostly just playing it straight (though she did get in a decent Liza Minelli impression towards the end), and was occasionally overshadowed by a surprising bevy of guests, but she handled herself well, even recovering nicely from a flubbed line at one point. It might just be the timing of it, but this seemed like a pretty strong episode, continuing the season-long up-and-down streak.

Other Thoughts
Liam Neeson popping up in the cold open made for a decent joke in and of itself (I'm a sucker for "actors are really their characters" bits), but the payoff (Obama starring in an action film parody) wasn't all that great.

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!

Friday, March 7, 2014

X-amining X-Factor #24

"Masks"
January 1988

In a Nutshell 
The first appearance of Archangel.

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Walt Simonson
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Petra Scotese
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
After their battle with the Right, X-Factor finds themselves inside a strange ship. Apocalypse appears and welcomes them to his home. Cyclops orders an attack, but Apocalypse easily bests them, telling them of his long life and taunting them about their actions as mutant hunters. Apocalypse offers them a place at his side as he prepares to unleash his Horsemen on Manhattan. X-Factor refuses and attacks the Horsemen as Apocalypse watches. Though Caliban is quickly forgotten, X-Factor manages to best the Horsemen until Death appears.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #59

"Fang and Claw!"
January 1988

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants are captured by the Animator. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Bret Blevins
Inker: Terry Austin 
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Landing on the island from which Bird-Brain came, the New Mutants find themselves surrounded by angry human-like animals, animates, similar to Bird-Brain. Below, a scientist working for the Right who calls himself the Animator, and who is responsible for the creation of the animates, detects the arrival of the New Mutants. Not wanting to draw the attention of Cameron Hodge, he calls the Right and tells them to stay away from the island while he deals with the mutants. Above, Bird-Brain is able to calm the animates with the food he brought, but then they turn on him, saying Bird-Brain has become too much like man, who is the enemy. In New York, Roberto and Warlock return to the mansion after their adventures with the Beat Street Club. They are reunited with an equally overjoyed and angry Magneto, but quickly discover the rest of the New Mutants are gone.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #225

"False Dawn!"
January 1988

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men battle Freedom Force in Dallas. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Marc Silvestri
Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Edinburgh, a recovering Colossus sketches the X-Men, to the amusement of a group of local kids, though a fight quickly breaks out amongst the children regarding whether or not mutants are dangerous. As they run off, Colossus is approached by a mysterious woman who offers to read his palm in exchange for a sketch. When he looks up from his sketch pad, the woman is gone, in her place of a small statute of himself, and when he looks at his drawing, it's of another woman entirely. Elsewhere, the Adversary, still in the form of Naze, arrives in Roma's otherdimensional citadel, where he's imprisoned Roma, the guardian of the Omniverse and the woman whom appeared on Colossus' drawing. With Storm and Forge removed from the board, the Adversary gloats that chaos will finally reign in the universe, though Roma thinks to herself that the game isn't over, and that players exist of whom the Adversary is unaware.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How I Met Your Mother 9x19: Vesuvius

WTF?!?

Seriously.

W...T....F. 

If we are to take the implication of the final scene of this episode at face value, it seems that at some point between that scene, set in 2024, and 2030 (the year of SagetTed's narration), the Mother is going to die (presumably of a terminal illness, since they seem aware of her impending death in this episode). Now, the idea that the Mother's death is what prompts SagetTed to tell his kids this ridiculously long story has long been a theory proposed by some fans (along with a corollary that this would allow him to be with Robin in the future, hence explaining the show's seemingly odd fascination with that relationship in spite of its titular premise), but I've always assumed that was just a whacky fan theory (akin to how fans theorized that all the plot threads on Lost would eventually pay off).

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Walking Dead 4x12: Still

The more things change the more things stay the same. You can have society collapse, the dead rise and the average life expectancy cut down to an eighth of what it was. No matter what happens, though, certain constants remain. One those constants, apparently, is that underage teens will always seek out alcohol.

This is the first episode, I believe, that focused on only one piece of the fractured group. It simply stayed with Daryl and Beth as they search for and then drink the aforementioned booze. Once they reach the end of their journey they realize they've learned something about each other and themselves. It’s just your typical teenage comedy film…with zombies.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Saturday Night Live: Jim Parsons & Beck


Boy, this show did not come out of the Olympics break strong. That Peter Pan sketch wasn't awful, but when it led off the night, I wasn't exactly filled with enthusiasm for the rest of the show, and that mostly panned out. Parsons was mainly a non-entity, showing up in a fair number of sketches but rarely asked to play anything other than comically put upon or lovably goofy, two beats he reliably hits as Sheldon. He seemed to be having a good time; it just would have been nice if the sketches had been better.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

And The Oscar Goes To...

No "Last Week in Pop Culture" this week. Instead, here are my picks for the "big six" Oscar categories. The winners will be announced Sunday at the 86th Annual Academy Awards ceremony.

Best Supporting Actress

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)

In the first really tight race of the night, it's a dead heat between pop culture darling Jennifer Lawrence and newcomer Lupita Nyong'o. The pair have shared the pre-Oscar hardware (including a Globe and BAFTA win for Lawrence). History tends to favor Nyong'o: she's in the more traditionally-Academy-friendly film, while back-to-back Oscar wins are rare indeed for actors (Lawrence, who won Best Actress last year for Silver Linings Playbook, would in fact be the first actor to run the lead/supporting table in consecutive years).

That said, recent Oscar history suggests we shouldn't put too much stock in Oscar history, and while 12 Years a Slave is in the thick of the Best Picture race, it doesn't seem to have the same widespread support as, say, Gravity or American Hustle. I...I just don't know, guys. I'm going to go with Nyong'o for now (if you believe 12 Years a Slave has a shot at Best Picture, and I do, then it's going to need to pickup some additional wins), but I'll be going back and forth right up to the ceremony, and it may come down to a coin flip.