Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 2x15: "Fellowship Of The Spear"

Written by Keto Shimizu & Matthew Maala
Directed by Ben Bray

Mick: "I wish things could've been different, Sara."

After watching this episode, so do I. It's like you know watching that everything was about to go spectacularly wrong but you couldn't stop it nonetheless. Maybe if the gang had given Mick a bit more credit or had gone with Amaya's plan instead, things might not have turned out to be the disaster area they did.

Except none of those things happened and instead not only do we have a pre-Waverider version of Snart alive and kicking with the Legion of Doom but Mick's also joined them and the lot of them ended the episode with the Spear of Destiny in their possession and history about to get one hell of a makeover given the trailer for next week's episode.

I know the gang haven't always taken Mick seriously or been wary of his past but it seemed like this episode really overemphasised that point just for him to switch teams at the very end. Even Snart's needling of his worth to the crew seemed like the sort of thing that he would've otherwise been able to have fought off.

That said, much as I didn't enjoy seeing Mick throw in his lot with the bad guys (especially soon after Rip being brainwashed by them), I did enjoy all of his scenes with Snart again. I've missed Snart as a character and while I'm not getting my hopes up yet that we'll have him back as a regular next season, just seeing him again was a delight to have.

As for the gang, I knew the moment that things were starting off well for them (them stealing from Thawne at the Vanishing Point) that things would sooner go wrong for them. The temptation with the history changing Spear to one side, the gang also had to pull in the services of JRR Tolkien (Jack Turner) to locate Sir Gawain's body in order to find the blood of Christ.

I did like the use of Tolkien a little more than George Lucas earlier in the season but I think it was down to the guest actor being somewhat stronger and fitting in more naturally to the WW1 background along with the references to his work being a little more subtle in their references too. Oh and some good chemistry between him and Rip too.

- I liked that Amaya talked to Sara about looking into her future. I also liked the mentions of Laurel and Mari in this one too.
- Rip likes himself some jellybeans and Jax was able to transmute some for him at the start of the episode.
- Anyone want to guess which famous writer/director we'll get next season? I wouldn't be surprised if it's George RR Martin next.
- Chronology: 1918 France for nearly all of the episode.

Fellowship Of The Spear had some good moments but it was a bit of a frustrating episode to watch as well. I knew the League had to get that spear but it felt a bit contrived how the gang somewhat alienated themselves from Mick but with two episodes to go, there's still time to save the universe from whatever the League have intended for it.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

SuperFlashMusical - A Star Crossed Duet (Spoilers)

It was eight months ago that a musical crossover episode with both Supergirl and The Flash was announced. The last two night saw the CW deliver on that promise and then some.

First of all on Supergirl and with an episode titled, Star Crossed, it was mostly a standalone episode. After months of the blindingly obvious simmering in the background, Kara (Melissa Benoist) finally found out that her boyfriend, Mon El (Chris Wood) was actually the Prince of Daxam when the latter was reunited with his parents, Rhea (Teri Hatcher) and Lan Gar (Kevin Sorbo) and needless to say, it put something of a spanner in the works. Even with Mon El somewhat evolving a little from the hedonistic party boy, Kara found this one lie to big to get past and subsequently ended things with Mon El. However by the episode's end, the Music Meister (Darren Criss) had managed to escape the DEO, put Kara under his spell and jumped dimensions in order to catch up with the fastest man alive.

And then it all continued in The Flash with an episode titled, Duet. Music Meister didn't waste time putting Barry under the same spell as Kara and both super friends found themselves caught inside a musical reminiscent of West Side Story (along with shameless and delightful references to other well known ones) as a pair of singers working for an alternative version of Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) while being pulled in by alternative versions of Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and Martin Stein (Victor Garber). Of course with this being a musical, there was a forbidden love story between Millie/Iris (Candice Patton) and Mon El/Tommy and a gang war as Barry and Kara worked together to save the day and belt out a few tunes in the mix. Oh and did I mention the alternative versions of Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Winn (Jeremy Jordan) too? Both were on fine form here.

The songs themselves were a mixture of cover versions and originals. Seeing Kara belt out a sultry version of Moon River at the start, coupled with Barry's soulful Runnin' Home To You (penned by La La Land songwriters Benji Pasek and Justin Paul) certainly were high points of the episode but to be honest, I think every song struck a chord. The duet of Superfriends (written by the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Rachel Bloom) was unashamedly cheesy and I loved every second of it along with the fathers rendition of More I Cannot Wish You and the Meister himself trying to get our heroes to Put A Little Love In Your Heart which was also rather charming.

As for the Music Meister himself, Darren Criss definitely seemed to have blast in the role and seeing him, Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin in various scenes together did give me flashbacks to their days on Glee. I did find it slightly odd that Meister's main purpose was mostly to help reunite Kara/Mon El and Barry/Iris but I do think in the context of the episode and it's not so subtle themes that it does work and was satisfying enough. I'm not sure if he's a character who should return though but thanks to him, we got some gorgeous musical numbers, a nice mixture of character team ups (the Cisco/Kid Flash/J'onn pairing was great) and a world where Joe West and Martin Stein are gangster husbands so for those reasons alone, I certainly wouldn't object to an encore to be honest.

As musical episodes go, it's not quite Once More With Feeling but it's definitely one of the more enjoyable ones and easily one of the best episodes The Flash has currently done this season. I do think though that maybe we could've had a few more characters in song (no Caitlin or HR numbers) but other than that, this was a delight to watch.

Running Home To You:

If you want more of the Music Meister though, you should check out Batman: The Brave And The Bold's Mayhem Of The Music Meister episode.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Review of Feud: Bette And Joan's: "Mommie Dearest"

Written by Tim Minear
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Joan (to Aldrich): "She did that on purpose!"
Bette: "I barely touched her."

And that's a wrap. Not for the series mind because there's five episodes left to go but for Whatever Happened To Baby Jane as Bette and Joan up their game in more ways than one for their final days of shooting their only movie together.

Before all that though, there's a moment in the episode where both women go out for drinks and reveal some of their childhood memories to each other. It's a striking moment in an episode full of them as both women get a further understanding of the other. I have to admit seeing the way Joan talked about her stepfather particularly shocked me even though I already some of the details. I think Bette's reaction summed it up pretty well.

Along with the drinks revelation, the other thing I liked about this episode was the exploration on the women's mothering skills. Joan found herself signing a card for Christina while also keep a firm grip on her twins and despairing when she was denied the right to adopt another kid. The dynamic between her and maid Mamacita was also given some nice focus on too.

Then there was Bette. She tried her hardest to shield BD from some of the criticisms of the latter's performance as the neighbour on the movie while also opening up to Victor Buono about her other child, Margo. whom we later saw Bette trying to reconnect with during a phone call. Another surprise moment was the maternal streak she showed towards Buono, which also included her getting him out of a very sticky situation with the police.

However back to the rivalry stuff and once again, any moment of civility between Crawford and Davis got put to one side as the two upped their game in antagonising one another, with the likes of Hedda shit stirring on the side. The look both women gave each other though as production wrapped up on the film was rather telling.

- Along with the sexual abuse Joan suffered at the hands of her stepfather, this episode only made the smallest allusions to her own relationship with adopted daughter, Christina.
- Loved seeing Bette calling Hedda out on her role in the feud that she was having with Joan in this episode.
- No Joan Blondell or Oliva de Havilland this week. Hopefully they're back soon though.
- Chronology: During the final few days of filming Whatever Happened To Baby Jane.

Easily the best episode of the bunch so far. Mommie Dearest might not have given us the biggest details on that particular aspect of Crawford's life but the episode succeeded in covering both Joan and Bette's style of parenting as well as showing us that both women really could've been friends had things been different for them too.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Prometheus Unveiled

Yup, it's been an interesting few episodes of some of the shows I've watched over the last few weeks.

Arrow: I have to say the last few episodes have been rather enjoyable. I quite liked the bad girl trinity of China White, Cupid and Lady Cop for one episode while at the same time, the show actually revealing to us that Adrian is Prometheus after all and that Talia is backing him to make Oliver suffer. Predictable as the outcome might have been, it does make sense and it's played out rather well with some nice scene chewing menace from Josh Segarra as Chase too. On the other hand, the Helix storyline remains dull as ditch water and there's too much Rene and not enough Thea for the show's good.

Once Upon A Time: It's been over three months since the mid-season finale but the show is now back and the first two episodes were decent enough. Revelation wise, we now know that Hook killed David's father and Rumple/Belle are somewhat conflicted about their grown up son wanting to kill Emma while Regina has figured out that she might not love the Robin she yanked away from another world. Aside from one of those bits, nothing too earth shattering so far but there are ten episodes left to go and it's been nice to see a little more of August too.

Santa Clarita Diet: I've blitzed through more episodes of this delightfully offbeat show and with two more to go, I've certainly been enjoying it so far. Sheila and Joel working together to maintain the former's diet and learn more about her status has been fun to watch along with Loki also resurfacing as one of the undead. Another plus side was the show bumping off Dan, who had just become too annoying to be kept on for much longer as well as the teenagers on the series getting some decent B-plot material to work with.

Supergirl: A bit of a lull in the show with an arc centred on a returned Jeremiah working for Cadmus. I have to admit, it's not been the strongest arc and much as I love Alex, the show might want to dial the angst factor with her a tiny bit. As for Kara and Mon El's relationship, it's not super compelling but not objectionable either though the Winn/Lyra hook up has been slightly more effective. The show though is struggling to give Jimmy anything meaningful to do and with Kara being fired by Snapper, I do wonder if CatCo is slowly being phased out of the show. On the other hand, Lena lights up the screen every time she appears and the show could do with more appearances from her to be honest.

The Flash: Also suffering a little bit of a lull has been this show. The Grodd two parter was excellent, if a little rushed in it's resolution to Grodd's general attack but the last two episodes have seen both Barry and Wally becoming increasingly reckless and giving the returning Savitar too many advantages.. I did like seeing a few familiar faces (Eddie, Ronnie, Snart, Jay etc) via the Speed Force episode but the way Barry/Iris have been written in the last few episodes hasn't been good. Thankfully though there's an upcoming musical episode to look forward to and not too long before Savitar can finally be taken out for good.

- Andrew J. West and Alison Fernandez will be appearing in the finale in mysterious roles for Once Upon A Time. Both characters will appear in the seventh season if the show is renewed.
- Ryan Murphy will be doing a series focusing on 80's LGBT and ball culture called Pose for FX, due to air in 2018. Does the guy ever sleep?
- Feud's second season will focus on Charles and Diana's estrangement.
- Alexander Siddig has been cast as Ras Al Ghul for the third season finale of Gotham.
- Game Of Thrones eighth and final season will be six episodes. Season 7 will air on HBO from July 16th.
- Riverdale has been renewed for a second season by the CW.
- The CW will also be air Black Lightning instead of FOX. Cress Williams will be playing the title role.
- MTV will rebooting Scream after it's six episode third season airs.
- Midnight Texas will now air during the summer for NBC.
- Jason Isaacs has joined Star Trek: Discovery in the captain's role.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 2x14: "Moonshot"

Written by Grainne Godfree
Directed by Kevin Mock

Henry (to Nate, re Hank): "Give him a message for me. Tell him. I'm sorry for leaving."

And another bites the dust. With the exceptions of Amaya, Courtney and Obsidian, it seems like we're getting to the point where half the JSA members are being routinely bumped off and this week, it was the turn of Commander Steel or Henry himself.

But unlike Mid Nite who was given a brief reintroduction before being killed, this episode decided to spend the most amount of time with the character and I can't help but think - couldn't we have had him instead of Nate this season? I don't want to rag on Nate too but Henry is actually the better character if we had to have to have a Steel this season.

I did quite like Nate and Henry's scenes together and adding Hank as a kid into the mix towards the end of the episode gave things a nice little emotional sting. Henry's sacrifice to save the Waverider and others seemed telegraphed from a mile away but ultimately it worked, even if during Nate's family angst he opened a massive can of worms for Amaya and her own personal future. Nice going, Nate.

Of course, getting back to the main plot point itself. I liked the idea of Henry hiding his bit of the Spear of Destiny on the US flag on the moon and seeing the gang and Eobard going after it was great. I also liked the temporary truce we saw between Eobard and Ray in this one as well, especially as the former picked up on the latter's true motives for being the Atom while the latter realised what Thawne's true mission was all along. Their scenes on the Apollo 13 were a joy to watch.

This season has certainly shaped Eobard into a far compelling villain than he was on The Flash and while I've enjoyed him with his Legion of Doom, he's just as effective by himself as his scenes with Ray proved this week. I did like that Ray was able to outsmart him after Thawne predictably managed to make his escape though.

In other plot developments, the episode also nicely explored Rip seeking his place on the Waverider. It took him a while to get used to the gang following Sara's lead as captain and I loved the moment where Sara referred to him as a Legend. I'm sure the remaining episodes will reaffirm whatever place Rip has on the current team set up though.

- Jax got to use a British accent this week and Stein broke into song. The latter will be doing more of that next week.
-  Amaya is now aware of her own future and Mari's existence thanks to Nate.
- Snart is back in next week's episode and so is Damien Darkh.
- Chronology: Mostly 1969 but also Manhattan 1965 when Rip originally dropped Henry off with his bit of the spear.

Moonshot was a lot of fun. Although Nate did annoy me in parts of the episode, the scenes with his grandfather and father were nicely done along with the Sara/Rip captain dynamic and Thawne forced into playing nice for a bit.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

My Review of Feud: Bette And Joan's: "The Other Woman"

Written by Jaffe Cohen & Michael Zam & Tim Minear
Directed by Ryan Murphy

Joan Blondell: "No matter how liberated. Women will what they always do when cornered: eat their own."

And as this episode proves, that also happens with said women also being pitted against one another too. Yes, the hatred that Bette and Joan might have been chemical but as we saw for a brief moment in this episode, they were also banding together as professionals with this movie as well. Then we had Jack Warner and Robert Aldrich dramatically change that.

Along with Hedda Hopper (great performance from Judy Davis, but Hedda is irritating), whatever little truce that Bette and Joan might have had came to a swift end this week. Aldrich had Hopper print a "quote" from Davis about Crawford's cleavage while Joan herself retaliated by going to a rival gossip rag and commenting on Bette being old enough to be her mother.

As horrible as it was to see both Warner and Aldrich (the former with glee, the latter with some reluctance) pit both Bette and Joan against one another, there was a joy seeing both Sarandon and Lange really going at it with this episode though. The dig at Pepsi being pure vodka being the icing on the cake along with Joan's manipulation of both Aldrich and Hedda at different points in the episode.

However two episodes in and I have to admit, it's Sarandon who's pulling me in a lot more. Okay the rehearsal scene during Bette's "Letter To Daddy" song wasn't her strongest performance but the rest of the episode, especially when given some home truths by BD and that last scene with Robert should certainly give Joan more venom in the next one.

Speaking of Joan though, I do think Lange is doing a good job in highlighting her insecurities well enough. We saw in the first episode how she was able to get Bette on side to help manipulate Robert into firing the young actress who would've played the neighbour's daughter and she definitely seemed stung when Aldrich didn't succumb to her advances either. The moment though where she decided to "recast" her husband however was pretty priceless.

Like last week (and I assume for a few more episodes), we saw some more filming for Whatever Happened To Baby Jane along with Joan completely ruining one of Bette's scenes with her outbursts as well. Whatever your stance is about who was the best performer for that movie, seeing the way both actresses try to get into their characters has been a strong point of this series so far.

- Bette's reaction to meeting her "love interest" Victor Buono (Dominic Burgess) was priceless. He's always going to be King Tut from Batman 66 to me though.
- Delving into Bette and Joan's past works we saw bits from Above Suspicion, The Little Foxes, Mildred Pierce and Beyond The Forest.
- Joan Blondell and Olivia de Havilland certainly had similar and differing viewpoints on how women treat each other in the industry.
- Chronology: Not long from where the Pilot episode left off.

Not as strong as the opening episode but saying that, I do think The Other Woman kept things moving along nicely. I suppose watching this show is a good reminder than in some respects things haven't completely changed as Bette and Joan's rivalry was exploited by the studio and media alike.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Buffy The Vampire Slayer - The Legacy Of 20 Years

Yesterday saw the celebration of 20 years of former WB and UPN supernatural hit series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Over the past few days there have been various articles and posts all over social media about the show's enduring appeal and legacy (including ones from Sarah Michelle Gellar and Anthony Stewart Head), so a day later, I decide to join in as well.

What The Show Meant To Me: I discovered the show briefly around 1998 having watched an episode of it on Sky1 but it wasn't until 1999 when Irish channel TV3 started airing the series that I really got into it. Around the second half of Season 2, I went from enjoying the show casually to becoming fully obsessed with it and the finale of that particular season sealed it for me. This was my go to show and the one that I had to watch every Thursday (usually on TV3, later on Sky1 properly, though VHS releases also filled in some episode gaps). Like The X Files and Twin Peaks before it, there was something about this show that would go on to leave a lasting impression. Despite the concept sounding silly, this was a series that delivered in scares, laughs, romance, heartbreaks, shocking moments and beautiful characterisation with aplomb. Granted, like every great show out there, it wasn't immune from the odd stinker of an episode but the good for me always outweighed the bad and let's be honest, how many shows can pull off episodes The Wish, Hush, The Body, Once More With Feeling and Conversations With Dead People in the same manner that this show did for seven seasons? Not to mention the absolutely amazing finales (even if they all featured an apocalypse or two) as well. This wasn't some nice little show in the background. It was a series that made you pay attention in a big way and had a crossover appeal that not many seemingly teenage shows do. Of course, I discovered this show in my teens and as a result, it massively changed my outlook on television forever.

Heroes & Villains: This show not had plenty of them but more importantly, the richest tapesty of them too. Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) herself initially started off a vapid teenage girl in flashbacks before her destiny in LA saw her having to grow up and move to Sunnydale, which had it's own Hellmouth. It also had a variety of allies for Buffy though, including her watcher, Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), friends such as Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon), Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) and other allies/frenemies include Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), Daniel 'Oz' Osbourne (Seth Green), Faith Lehane (Eliza Dushku), Anya Jenkins (Emma Caulfield), Tara McClay (Amber Benson), later introduced sister Dawn Summers (Michelle Tratchenberg) and Robin Wood (DB Woodside) to name a few. In the space of seven seasons, Buffy had three significant love interests with vampires such as Angel (David Boreanaz) and Spike (James Marsters) as well as Initiative soldier, Riley Finn (Marc Blucas). Xander had also dated both Cordelia and Anya, had a one night stand with Faith and a brief affair with Willow while the latter herself had also dated both Oz and Tara as well as potential slayer Kennedy (Iyari Limon) in the show's final season. Giles had also dated both Jenny Calender (Robia LaMorte) and Olivia Williams (Phina Oruche) as well as briefly hooking up with Buffy's own mother, Joyce (Kristine Sutherland). The villains in question were also a similarly colourful bunch. The first two seasons had vampires as the main antagonists with the likes of the Master (Mark Metcalf), Darla (Julie Benz), Drusilla (Juliet Landau), Spike and Angelus all providing problems for Buffy and the gang. However, later seasons would up the ante with the likes of the Mayor (Harry Groener), Faith, Adam (George Hertzberg), Glory (Clare Kramer), nerd trio Warren (Adam Busch), Jonathan (Danny Strong), Andrew (Tom Lenk) along with Dark Willow and as well as the First Evil and misogynistic priest Caleb (Nathan Fillion) creating even more problems for the gang. Some were more successful than others but along with the various minor vampires and guest monsters of the week (Sweet, the musical demon and the creepy voice stealing Gentlemen), the show knew how to deliver a great menace, including the odd human one such as the charismatic Ethan Rayne (Robin Sachs) to boot. Yup, this show did good.

It's Influence & Impact: While Joss Whedon was clearly influenced by shows such as The X Files, Twin Peaks and Xena: Warrior Princess, along with a vocal desire to subvert the horror trope of having the blonde girl getting killed by the monster, it's hard to deny the lasting impact the series has had within the land of television itself. With Buffy's influence, would we have had the likes of Alias, Orphan Black, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood and even shows like Smallville and the revived Doctor Who along with the current DC and Marvel TV shows can attribute some of their success to what Whedon accomplished with Buffy. The show might never have been a ratings juggernaut but it's influence in pop culture and post 2000's television is easy to spot.  While Whedon himself has had mixed success outside the show, he definitely created something that has left an impact, one I feel that will still be felt for decades to come.

The Spin-Off: With Buffy's success, a spin-off seemed destined to be but as other genre shows that are not Star Trek related have shown us, they can be tricky beasts to pull off. However, Whedon and company had an ace in the hole as the rising popularity of reformed vampire, Angel (David Boreanaz) meant he was the perfect choice to go it alone in LA, setting up a detective agency and solving cases. Of course, he wasn't alone as the series soon paired him up with Cordelia, vision guy Doyle (Glenn Quinn) while subsequent seasons also added the likes of Wesley Wyndham Price (Alexis Denisof), Charles Gunn (J. August Richards), Lorne (Andy Hallett), Winifred 'Fred' Burkle (Amy Acker) and Angel's own son, Connor (Vincent Kartheiser), following a tryst with Darla back in the second season. In terms of spin-offs, Angel was easily one of the best ones we've had in the last few years and running between 1999 and 2004 (ending a year after it's parent show), it managed to be every bit as impact as Buffy while at the same time adding it's own unique flavour to proceedings.

Five Years Earlier: Of course before the series itself made it's March 10th 1997 debut on the WB as that mid-season replacement no-one anticipated for success, it was also a movie back in 1992 with Kristy Swanson as Buffy Summers and Luke Perry as slightly bad boy/love interest Oliver Pike. The movie also included the likes of Donald Sutherland as Watcher Merrick and Rutger Hauer as the main villain, Lothos. The movie would also be noteworthy for featuring the likes of Ben Affleck, Hilary Swank and David Arquette in minor roles. Unfortunately the movie's campy tone didn't exactly help to sell the movie and it was something of a flop, which makes the series success even more of a surprise. I have to admit to only seeing the movie properly a few years after the series ended, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected it to. I can see why it didn't succeed upon it's original release but if you're a fan of the show who still hasn't seen this movie, do yourself a favour and rectify that as soon as possible.

Living On In Other Mediums: The series might have ended back in May 2003 with it's spin-off following suit a year later but both shows have also found new life through the medium of comics since 2007, courtesy of Dark Horse and IDW. I have to admit, I bailed on them after a while but their continued existence does highlight that the appetite for the show hasn't died down despite being off the air longer than it was ever on the air. At some point and because we're in a current era of everything getting rebooted, there's no doubt that Buffy herself will return to either the television or movie fold (most likely the former) probably sooner than later, it does beg the question - can lightning strike twice or is this one franchise best left in the past? Arguments can be made for both but despite some failed attempts in recent years to set up a movie franchise, I wouldn't rule out the series getting another lease of life in the immediate future.

So there it is. The show was a major turning point for me and I imagine a lot of other people too. I sat down late last night and watched Welcome To The Hellmouth and everything about the show that I fell in love with was there in those 45 minutes. To the next twenty years.

She saved the world. A lot.