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

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.

Family Guy: 3 Acts of God
This episode would have worked a lot better if the characters were fans of literally any other football team except for the Patriots. No city in the last decade or so has been more blessed in the realm of the four major professional sports than Boston, so having your characters decide to complain to God about the Patriots having bad luck just seems ridiculous. They even reference the three Super Bowls the Patriots have won (which is three more than my team has won, ever). If anything, Peter and the gang should be seeking out God to thank him for all the Patriots success.

It makes me wonder if the writers just weren't aware of the Patriots recent history, or if they were just backed into a corner by having previously established the characters as Patriots fans.

I liked the way Brian's atheism was addressed in light of Peter meeting God.

Once Upon a Time: Witch Hunt

The reveal that the Wicked Witch is Regina's sister was predictable but a pleasant development. Ditto the return of Rumpelstiltskin, who seems far more Rumpel than Gold in Storybrooke.

Having people in Storybrooke who weren't there last time, like Robin Hood and such (are Aurora and Phillip there as well?), is a nice way to shake up the usual status quo beyond the whole "we don't remember last year or how we got here" business. 

So glad that the whole "town turns against Regina" thing was a setup created by Regina and Emma. Not only is the "Regina is good, Regina is evil" merry-go-round ridiculously tired, it keeps Emma from looking like too much of an idiot.

Hey, Red's back! I guess Intelligence didn't work out. 

I was surprised at how much I laughed at some of the bits in this episode (like Grumpy being the one to spring Emma and Regina's trap, or Emma being surprised Oz is real too - though, really, she should stop being surprised by this stuff by now). Also nice to see Emma using her bounty hunter skills.

Glee: City of Angels

Competition episodes usually bring out the best in Glee, because they provide a great backdrop for the show's ability to mix the optimism of youth (and song) with the crushing reality of life - for all the ridiculously quick post-high school success of Rachel, Kurt, Santana and Mercedes, the fact is this Nationals championship probably will be the highlight of, say, Sam's musical career (but not Blaine's, of course). And as much as you may want to win something in someone's honor, sometimes you don't, no matter how well-intentioned and deserving that desire is. It's the optimistic and the realistic at once, and Glee is always at its best when it pits those two things against one another.  

Kudos to the show as well for resisting the urge to give New Directions the win, especially after milking all the pathos it could out of Finn's absence. With the show slated to shift it's focus entirely to the New Yorkers after the next episode, having Sue not back down on her ultimatum, as she'd done in the past, actually feels like it could lead to an actual end to the glee club as we know it.

In fact, that scene between Sue and Will at the end, in which Sue was allowed to be an antagonistic but realistic character again for a brief moment, was pretty great. I appreciated that she made a point to list off the other clubs that would also be getting the axe. Thus, this end-of-the-glee-club-du-jour was less about Sue's personal vendetta and more the harsh economic reality of public schools, even if "win championships or you're out" isn't the best method of making those cuts (I somehow doubt any school board would support the cutting of a football team, no matter how badly they performed).

Maybe it's because this was a last hurrah not only for the seniors, but probably also the juniors (hey, remember Marley, Ryder and Jake? They had lines!), or maybe it was the affecting tribute to Finn, or just the fact that I know and generally like all of New Directions' Nationals songs, but the performances in this one seemed particularly powerful and emotive. 

Remember when Unique won MVP at the last Nationals even though her team lost? Maybe she could have helped New Directions win this year if they had her on their team...

Other Shows I Watched
American Dad "Introducing the Naught Stewardesses", The Goldbergs "For Your Own Good", Trophy Wife "The Wedding Part Two", Brooklyn Nine-Nine "Unsolvable", Community "VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing", Parks and Recreation "New Slogan"

Quotable Quotes
Once Upon a Time
Hook: A bird landed on my ship’s wheel with a note instructing me to retrieve Emma and bring her back here; there was a small vial of memory potion tied to its leg.
Charming (to Snow): Message via bird: That does sound like you.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Terry: Yeah, that’s why I started by saying ‘Bad news.’ Terry believes in having a clear topic sentence.


  1. Brooklyn Nine Nine is still one of our favorite shows to watch. We always laugh so hard at at least one line. This week, we LOVED when Captain Holt told Peralta that he actually injured his wrist hula-hooping and only told Peralta because no one would ever believe him

  2. @Sarah: This week, we LOVED when Captain Holt told Peralta that he actually injured his wrist hula-hooping and only told Peralta because no one would ever believe him

    That cracked me the hell up. I love it when Holt dicks Peralta around.

  3. I didn't see Family Guy, but 2 things to keep in mind:

    1) Quahog is in Rhode Island;
    2) We Boston sprorts fans are a spoiled, entitled bunch. You people in lesser towns may be content with one championship every 15-30 years, but not us. We have to be the best and win the most because otherwise New York is the best and wins the most and our massive inferiority complex in regards to the Big Apple will not allow that.

    - Mike Loughlin

    P.S. The word to prove I'm not a robot is "divine."

  4. @Mike: We Boston sprorts fans are a spoiled, entitled bunch ... We have to be the best and win the most because otherwise New York is the best and wins the most and our massive inferiority complex in regards to the Big Apple will not allow that.

    Yeah, that about fits my understanding of New England sports fans. :)


  5. Once Upon a Time: Witch Hunt

    I agree with pretty much every point you raised in your writeup, as usual.

    The part of this episode that concerned me is how it seems to cement a new (if, per the show's history, transitory) status quo that's very similar to where Lost began to go off the rails — not so much in how it shook things up and moved forward, which at the time were fascinating developments, but how those developments failed to pay off. "We have to go back!" anybody? Everyone, more or less if not more and less, has returned to Storybrooke after finally getting home to the Enchanted Forest, as parallel storylines play out what's currently happening alongside what happened during the missing year. Storybrooke is very much the Island. At least there's no Feral Crazy Jungle Belle... yet.

    I'm writing this without having seen the latest episode.

    Glee: City of Angels

    New Directions losing was probably the best way to close the door on the Lima/McKinley stuff come next season. It's also, like you say, just realistic.

    Community: VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing

    Anthony: "What do you think happens after you die?"
    Rachel: [considers] "I don't know."
    Anthony: "You're lucky."

    I'd read that Vince Gilligan, creator of Breaking Bad, was going to pop up on the show, but thankfully didn't remember it was this episode because seeing him on the game tape was a great surprise.

    So was seeing Paul Williams as the book dealer. You may not have recognized him, as he doesn't act much and the heyday of his best-known work is before your time, but he had a moment as a songwriter and character actor in the '70s; he also voiced The Penguin in the '90s on Batman: The Animated Series, just one of the perfect choices that show made.


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