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

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.
Once Upon a Time: The Tower
This felt like a glacially paced episode, though I suppose that's what happens when the focus is on the eternally-slow David.

That said, there was some really nice direction in this one: the twisty-turny "tea making" scene at Snow and Charming's apartment had some neat shots in it and did a lot to draw out the tension of Zelena's Chekhov's tea, while the wide open desolation of her farmhouse was a nice change of pace from the usual Storybrooke/random forest settings.

Nice to see that the "Rumpelstiltskin is back!" reveal wasn't kept a secret from the main characters for very long.

Seriously, how dumb is Snow? She is just completely trusting this random stranger because she knew Snow's old nanny? Regina knew her old nanny, but there was a time where she'd be the last person Snow wanted delivering her baby. What's even more maddening is that even within this episode, the contrast between Enchanted Forest Snow and Storybrooke Snow is striking - the former, even while not really doing anything, has this aura of badass warrior princessness about her, while Mary Margaret just seems like a complete sap in Storybrooke, even though they're the same person.

I love that David believes his time working at a vet hospital gives him forensic skills. My wife is a vet tech - does that means she could also be a CSI? 

David's quest to find the deadly nightshade (or whatever the hell it was that brought him in proximity of Rapunzel) is pretty much the more annoying parts of this show in microcosm: "I have feels I don't like.../ There's a magic something that can help!/ A-ha, a quest!/ Oh noes, magic has unforeseen consequences! How could I have ever known?!?" Repeat ad naseum, even though by now you'd think the characters would be less trusting of a magic root.

Also, if Robin Hood took this root to get over the death of Marian, why didn't he have to face his fears? And if he did, why didn't he give Charming a heads up?

Something that never occurred to me until now but probably should have sooner: now that Snow, Charming, et al are back in the Enchanted Forest, but still in possession of their Storybrooke identities, shouldn't they all be familiar with the fairy tales their lives inspired/paralleled (the show still hasn't been terribly clear about the relationship between the "real" characters and the stories about them in the non-magical world)? Which is to say, when Charming comes across a tower with hair spilling out of it, shouldn't he have been like, "oh, I know this. Henry and I watched Tangled together back in Storybrooke".
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Charges and Specs

A strong finish to a strong and surprisingly confident first season. I haven't been the biggest fan of the show's two "will they/won't they" romances, but I do appreciate that the end tag had Boyle waking up next to Gina instead of the far more obvious Rosa, and that Jake's interest in Amy was at least put out in the open.

We all knew Boyle wasn't going to get married to Vivian, but having them break up offscreen seems like an odd choice. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Anytime a show pulls the old "cut the music" trick to remind us that the characters on the show aren't hearing the music we are, as in the thrift shop sequence here, it cracks me up. 

As we reach the end of this show's first season, it's worth noting what a remarkable job it has done in establishing its main cast as effectively and efficiently as it has. Every character has layers and has become more than the one-off descriptors (ie the immature one, the uptight one, etc.) they initially appeared to be. Not every freshmen show accomplishes that as quickly and as deftly as this one did.  

So when the show returns next fall, will it be set six months later, or will it pick up where this episode left off and follow Jake as he infiltrates the mob? That seems a little heavy for a comedy (could The Departed work as a comedy?) but then again, you could have said the same thing about a comedy set at a police station before this show began, and it's been able to balance comedy with the grittier realities of crime pretty successfully for the most part.

Modern Family: Las Vegas
That the episode was going to build a farce involving the three connected rooms was inevitable; the extent and way in which it built, and built, and kept building, was genuinely surprising though, and the end result was pretty damn funny.

Community: Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons

I would seriously watch a regular series that was just these characters playing D&D. I love that, for all the flights of fancy this show has taken through the years, it resists the urge to "go into the game" when playing D&D, requiring the audience to use its imagination to picture what's happening, just like playing the game for real. 

Abed playing both the hobgoblins getting interrogated by Hickey absolutely killed me. Great stuff from Danny Pudi.

Arrow Season One 
Finished the first season of Arrow a couple weeks back, and now need to wait agonizingly long for the second season to finish airing and show up on Netflix so I can watch it. I remain considerably impressed with this show, and it's ability to sidestep so many of the pratfalls that befall genre shows of its ilk (seriously, it's almost beat-for-beat the anti-Smallville in the way it does right everything Smallville did wrong). Nearly every time I thought I knew where it was going (like expecting Tommy's dad to die in the finale so that Tommy could take up his mantle a la Harry Osborn) it would zig off in some other direction. One by one, in the course of the season, it addressed nearly all of my concerns (even the island narrative picked up a bit towards the end).

While some of the CW-ness of it can still be distracting at times (if Roy and Thea didn't have the combined potential to become Speedy in some way, I'd be bored to tears by their romance, and I rolled my eyes pretty hard at the whole "Tommy shows up to woo Laurel only to see her and Ollie getting it on through the window" schtick in the penultimate episode), I'm hard pressed to think of a better live-action TV adaptation of a comic book character. And from what I hear, it gets even better in season two.

Other Stuff I Watched
American Dad "I Ain't No Holodeck Boy", Bob's Burgers "Mazel Tina", "Uncle Teddy", Family Guy "Fresh Heir", New Girl "Mars Landing", Suburgatory "Catch and Release", Parks and Recreation "Galentines Day"

Quoteable Quotes
The Simpsons
Homer: Kettle corn—the heroin of the farmers’ market.

Claus Sigler: Forger is such an ugly word—I’m an art forger

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Amy: We’re both off-roading it here, Sir. My internal GPS has been recalculating for weeks!

Drug Dealer: Dude, drugs don’t need pushing. They push themselves. People love drugs.

Gina: The fact that you have him on trial is Home Alone face. I’ve known him forever. Our friends is little boy holding little girl’s hand.


  1. we laughed so, so hard on B99 when Captain Holt "wooed" that chick. It was just so frickin hilarious and out of character.

    And yessssss on Arrow. As we've been discussing. I feel like the Roy/Thea thing in season two is still a bit bumpy at times, but evens out some.

    on AD we really loved Snot's "I know he's a monster but i do love babies" in regards to baby hitler being born in their game


  2. Once Upon a Time: The Tower

    Yeah, I have to agree that Snow's too dumb.

    // David's quest to find the deadly nightshade //

    Ha! Points for making me picture this scene from one of my earliest comics. Now that would have cast ol' Charming in a new light.

    // if Robin Hood took this root to get over the death of Marian, why didn't he have to face his fears //

    Maybe this isn't the real Robin Hood, but rather the fear doppelganger who took over his identity because he lost the battle. (No, I don't really think that, but it'd be one hell of a plot twist.)

    // shouldn't they all be familiar with the fairy tales their lives inspired/paralleled //

    They 100% should, and it's been bugging me ever since the midseason return, just as a lack of them referencing the way their stories have been adapted, twisted, and marketed has bugged me for the entire series. Charming should totally have recognized the whole Rapunzel deal — from Henry's book if nothing else.

    Modern Family: Las Vegas

    It really was impressive how all the threads collided in a Rube Goldberg fashion at the climax, but for me, as material on the show often is, more the kind of thing I appreciate intellectually than really laugh at.

    Arrow: Season One

    Season Two definitely gets better.

    The first season was for sure a bit too reminiscent of Smallville for me — due to that kind of CW young-romance melodrama feel you mention and, inescapably, because the Luthor mansion has been repurposed as the Queen house thanks, I guess, to lack of fitting exteriors in Vancouver. My biggest issue was Stephen Amell being a robot, which might've been a performance choice given all that Oliver's been through but is really distracting. All the Canadian accents take me out of it too.

    Honestly, I still have gripes about the show, both as judged on its own merits and in terms of its liberties with the source material, but overall it's turned out to be fun.

  3. @Sarah: It was just so frickin hilarious and out of character.

    It was definitely the highlight of the episode.

    @Blam: No, I don't really think that, but it'd be one hell of a plot twist.

    It would indeed.

    My biggest issue was Stephen Amell being a robot

    Spoiler alert! Oh, I get it. Fair point. :)

    All the Canadian accents take me out of it too.

    I don't doubt they are there, but listening/reading critics complaining about accents so often has led me to realize I am really awful and noticing/recognizing all but the most obvious ones.

    Which is to say, unless they're doing a HIMYM-style Canadian accent, I probably won't notice. It also probably helps that being from MN, we're not too far off in our own accents. :)

    Honestly, I still have gripes about the show, both as judged on its own merits and in terms of its liberties with the source material, but overall it's turned out to be fun.

    I think I land in just the right place for this one: familiar enough with the source material to appreciate the nods and references and whatnot, but not so familiar that all the liberties they do take are as obvious.


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