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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Last Week in Pop Culture #28

Around the Web
This week, I review 24 Underground #1, the first issue of a new series intended to bridge the gap between the previous final season of 24 and the new "limited event series" debuting in early May. Unfortunately, it's all very routine.

Later this week, I'll also have a couple Spider-Man posts on Sound on Sight to tie-in with the release of Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Once Upon a Time: Bleeding Through

I'm not sure how the reveal of this backstory gels with the events of Cora's big backstory episode "The Miller's Daughter", from last season, but I'm finding it hard to care.

I'm also not sure how Zelena could have learned all this from the Wizard, either. Like, the broad strokes, sure, but not some of these details.

So who created the tornado that carried Zelena to Oz? Are are supposed to infer that she did it herself, unintentionally, as a baby?

It's kinda gross that Cora, having lost out on the opportunity to marry Prince Leopold, never gave up and later threw her daughter at the now-king Leopold.

I should have realized that Gold would be the brains in Zelena's Oz-inspired spell. He's the only one on the show using one regularly.

Emma's glee at getting better at magic was genuinely amusing, as was Hook calling it bad form to mess with a man's hook.
Agents of SHIELD: The Only Light in the Darkness
Dropping Ward back in amongst the group is an easy way to ramp up tension, but the episode did an effective job of generating that tension on multiple levels, creating several different instances where it was possible that Ward would either be discovered or forced to kill to protect his secret (the super lie detector test, his conversation with Fitz, Skye's combing of the NSA security footage, Skye trying to dupe him after she's realized he's Hydra, etc).

Skye learning the truth about Ward was nicely handled. At first I was worried she was just going to devolve into a crying mess. Instead she eventually pulled it together (and did...something that will presumably come up next week) before getting shanghaied by Ward. Ultimately, it was a believable reaction (fall apart, then pull it together) that didn't betray the character.

I wouldn't be surprised if Blackout returns some day - seemingly dying then returning from the Darkforce is kinda his thing.

So it turns out Triplett is the grandson of one of the Howling Commandos. That's interesting, and (hopefully) a further indication that he's not Hydra.

Then again, we saw Ward beat the super-duper lie detector, so who knows?

Speaking of the super-duper lie detector, while it predictably turned out to be not so different from a regular lie detector in its ability to actually, you know, detect lies, the montage of everyone being interrogated was a nice excuse to delve into their characterization a bit. 

It was inevitable (Patton Oswalt has plenty of other things on his schedule) but I was still bummed to see Koenig killed off. He brought a unique energy to the show. 

Parks and Recreation: Moving Up

Once again, we have a season finale that plays very much like a series finale, with Leslie taking the job with the national Parks department, Tom successfully opening his restaurant, Ron stepping out of the shadows as Duke Silver and the Unity Concert providing an opportunity for some of Pawnee's favorite supporting characters and recurring jokes to pop up one last time, and if this was the end of the show, it would be a pretty damn good ending.

Though I believe the bulk of the episode was conceived as a possible series finale should the show not be renewed, from an interview I read with Mike Schur, the "three year jump" was actually conceived after they learned the show would return for a seventh (and likely final) season, as a way to open up some additional storytelling possibilities (and to avoid doing the kind of pregnancy stories with Leslie they'd already done with Ann).

I'm not sure how I feel about Leslie successfully moving the regional office of the National Parks service to Pawnee. On the one hand, Leslie's indomitable will in the pursuit of getting what she wants, even if it seems impossible, is a deep and important element of her character, and the show certainly setup the move well enough, with the minor subplot running throughout the season of Ron discovering, then refurbishing, the third floor. On the other hand, there has always been a push/pull on the series between Leslie's deep, abiding love for her hometown and her personal ambitions. This is a women who has spoken about becoming President someday, yet remains unwilling to leave her hometown. She won this battle, but it's not like she'll believably be able to eventually move the entire National Parks department to Pawnee, not to mention any future, higher positions, so all she's really done is delay the inevitable. 

The Cones of Dunshire! Love it. And part of me kinda hopes that whatever Ben and Leslie are celebrating three years in the future turns out to be some kind of award Ben is receiving from the accounting firm, because I feel bad he keeps having to break their poor, awkward hearts...

Leslie's reaction to meeting Michelle Obama was just a fantastic bit of physical comedy.

A great little detail: when Dr. Saperstein is listing off his successful investments, one of them is a dry cleaning transactional holding company, which is what Ben tried to convince Tom to create before Tom decided to pursue Tom's Bistro.

According to that Mike Schur interview, there was a whole subplot in the episode involving Ron and Diane trying to hook up Jamm and Tammy Two that was ultimately cut for time, which is why those two appeared in the episode but didn't really do anything.

Other Shows I Watched
Bob's Burgers, Veep "Alicia", Silicon Valley "Articles of Incorporation", Suburgatory "No, You Can't Sit With Us", Modern Family "Australia" 

Quotable Quotes
Once Upon a Time
Zelena: Envy’s just another word for ambition.
Regina: Well… that’s just not true.

Silicon Valley
Gavin: If we can make your audio and video files smaller, we can make cancer smaller. And hunger. And... AIDS.

Dinesh: You know who else is Canadian? Justin Bieber. The Hitler of music.
Jared: Hitler played bassoon. So technically Hitler was the Hitler of music.

Richard: Since when do we have an intern program?
Erlich: We don’t. And when Keith finds that out, it’s going to be a very valuable business lesson for him.

Agents of SHIELD
Coulson: Nothing bad ever happens when you work with something called Darkforce.

Parks and Recreation
Ron: It was too perfect. It looked machine made.


  1. god, the tension in AOS was almost unbearable. And we also commented that Skye's reaction to Ward was handled really well. We also very much like Oswalt not even hesitating to pick that gun up as soon as there was even a hint that Ward was lying.

    Parks and Rec was hilarious on so many levels. Any time they bring up L'il Sebastian and Ben just looks at the camera and shakes his head is comedy gold. Craig's shout of "I want to go horseback riding" and Jean-Raphael's immediate acquiescence cracked us up probably more than it should have

  2. @Sarah: We also very much like Oswalt not even hesitating to pick that gun up as soon as there was even a hint that Ward was lying.

    Yeah, I just wish he'd been smarter about it. How awesome would it have been if he was just like "sorry, you're Hydra" and shot him. End of Ward.

    Craig's shout of "I want to go horseback riding" and Jean-Raphael's immediate acquiescence cracked us up probably more than it should have

    I like Jean-Ralphio in very small doses, but his interactions with Craig were fantastic. I would not mind seeing more of them together.

  3. No comment on the fact that Skye's real name is "Mary Sue?" Seems to me like the writers are giving a wink and a nod to fans that they've overhyped Skye here.


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