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TV

How The Inhumans Should’ve Started

The first three episodes of The Inhumans have aired (the fourth is tonight), and they are…not great.  I’m no pessimist, and I’ll probably keep watching, but I have a LOT of thoughts on what went wrong, and how it could’ve been fixed.

Why Inhumans couldn’t be a movie

I actually agree with Marvel that The Inhumans shouldn’t be a movie.  They already caught lightning in a bottle with Guardians of the Galaxy.  Taking a group nobody knows and making them a huge hit may not have worked again.  Plus, you’ve already introduced the idea of Inhumans on TV via Agents of SHIELD.  Why give up that synergy?  It’s one place where Marvel could look to DC for inspiration.  A lot of the fun with the DC TV universe right now is how they can intermingle at will.  Wally West can pop in on Legends of Tomorrow, Felicity can slide into The Flash.  Use that.

Rushed it

“…”  -Black Bolt’s best line of the series

It seems clear to me that the background strive between Marvel’s TV and movie arm had a huge negative effect on The Inhumans.  What we ended up with was a movie-length story stretched to fit 8 TV episodes.  We have no reason to care about the Royal Family.  You can’t even tell whether or not Maximus is in the wrong.  That might work as an action movie where you just keep up a breakneck pace, but for 8 TV hours, nope.

Should’ve been SHIELD

If it were me, I would’ve gone ahead and made this part of Agents of SHIELD.  They had some great success with story arcs last season, and that could’ve worked well here.  You can even start building things the same way.  Triton comes to Earth to rescue an Inhuman, but instead of finding some babe in the woods, it’s Daisy.  I mean, it’s unclear how many times Black Bolt has sent people to Earth to rescue Nuhumans.  Has he really never encountered someone aware of the whole Inhuman society that happened?  How did he find out about Nuhumans, period? Those things break down the more you think about them.  If you bring SHIELD into the mix, you can build from a stronger base.  Maybe the Royal Family team with Coulson/Daisy to help the Nuhumans escape from a shadowy organization that’s hunting them.  You can then build Maximus’s betrayal out over the whole episode arc.  It would also give you time to show just WHY Black Bolt’s rule is a good one.  Because brutal caste systems aren’t usually something we’re supposed to root for.

Marvel missed big with The Inhumans.  On the plus side, the characters exist now in the MCU (albeit the TV branch).  Even if their show is cancelled, there’s no reason they can’t appear further.  In the mean time, read Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward’s Black Bolt series.

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Review TV

TV Review – Amazon’s The Tick Season One

I mentioned this when I talked about the pilot episode, that it amazes me that The Tick keeps getting chances.  The latest show, on Amazon, is the third time the hero has appeared on our screens.  Not bad for a hero that was created a mascot for a comic book shop.  The comics that came from that, and the original 3 seasons of cartoons on Fox helped launch creator Ben Edlund’s career.  He’s written, produced and directed some of nerd-dom’s favorite projects, including Supernatural, Angel, Firefly, the Venture Brothers and more.

Branding is power.  – The Terror

This version of The Tick is a bit darker and dare I say grittier than the previous televised versions, while at the same time skewering dark and gritty comic shows.  The Tick himself doesn’t know who exactly he is, other than being The Tick.  Arthur, too, has some mental issues stemming from a traumatic childhood.  He saw The Terror kill both his father and his favorite heroes.  So yeah, pretty dark, but don’t worry – there’s plenty of the trademark humor to be had.  They even manage to make product placement funny, with the The Terror intoning “Alexa, play ominous music!” at one point.  They parody Superman and the Punisher (who’s been a frequent target of Edlund’s in the previous Tick incarnations), and there’s even a giant naked guy just wandering around.  Ms. Lint, one of the primary villains, still lives with her ex and the relationship definitely recalls the American Maid/Die Fledermaus interplay.

If there’s a negative, it’s that the humor may not be for everyone.  The show definitely leans into the absurdist nature of universes populated by talking super-dogs and hundred year old villains.  It’s also a bit jarring to see the level of violence in a show about The Tick.  The suit looks terrible in the pilot episode, but that was fixed for the rest of the series (and doesn’t pass uncommented).

I had some trepidation about this but by the end I was fully on board.  Peter Serafinowicz is a great Tick, Griffin Newman and Valorie Curry work well as Arthur and Dot, and the rest of the ensemble do their part.

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TV

Legend of Korra, Five Years Later

Five years ago, The Legend of Korra first aired on Nickelodeon in the US, as a sequel series to the much-beloved Avatar: The Last Airbender.  While not the critical smash that A:TLA was, for me Korra stands up well as an amazing piece of storytelling, with gorgeous visuals to boot.

In case you’re not familiar with either series, the world of Avatar takes cues from ancient Indian, Asian and various indigenous cultures around the world.  The twist is, some people are born with the ability to ‘bend’ earth, fire, air or water, and there is always one Avatar that can learn to bend all four.  When the Avatar dies, their spirit is reincarnated to the next nation in a cycle (in the same order of elements above).  As you might guess, A:TLA follow an airbender Avatar (Aang), and The Legend of Korra follows his immediate successor, Korra who is a waterbender.

Right away, the new series made sure to show us how different Korra herself would be from Aang.  Aang had started out as a reluctant hero – he had run away from the Avatar responsibility, she dove in head-first.  Aang had been contemplative and looked to solve problems peacefully first.  Korra would often punch first and ask questions later.  In fact, it’s one of Korra’s central issues she has to overcome, as that sort of personality is diametrically opposed to airbending principles.  Throughout the first season (Book One: Air), Korra struggles to connect with her spiritual self, butting heads with Aang’s son Tenzin as he tries to teach her to airbend.  It’s very parental, and it’s something most tweens and teens can relate to.  In fact, if there’s one thing that seemed to bother some fans that grew up with Aang, it’s that the new show definitely skewed older with the issues that were tackled.

One of my favorite things Legend of Korra did was realistically advance the world from the previous show.  On Avatar: The Last Airbender, we saw the beginnings of industrialization.  There were rudimentary mechanized vehicles and ships, and it would’ve been easy for the show to just stick with that, but they went full industrial revolution in Republic City.  The problems facing the world also matured.  Book One’s villain, Amon, made you take a hard look at how you treat the ‘others’ in your life, especially when you have more power than they do.  Book Three and Four swung the pendulum between chaos and order, showing how bad things can be at both ends of the spectrum.

I am the solution – Amon

Another aspect I love about Legend of Korra is how the relationships grow over time.  Sure, it starts out with typical teen angsty love triangles, but it ends with a some amazing friendships and even a same-sex couple that goes about as far as Nickelodeon would let them.  And that develops over years, by overturning the media tendency to have women be rivals for the affections of whatever men happen to be around.  Korra and Asami have every reason to dislike each other, but end up close friends, and finally more.

Legend of Korra does what any sequel or continuation should do – it deepens the lore, pays homage to the past but isn’t beholden to it, and only serves to improve the Avatar legend.  If you never gave Korra a shot, you owe it to yourself to try it now.  The first three books (seasons) are available on Amazon Prime for free though you do need to buy Book Four (which is totally worth it).

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Review TV

TV Review – Iron Fist

I finished Marvel’s latest Netflix series, Iron Fist over the weekend, and I have a lot of mixed feelings.  I became a fan of Danny Rand fairly late, having read the Brubaker/Fraction/Swierczynski/Foreman Immortal Iron Fist series after loving Fraction/Aja’s Hawkeye and Brubaker’s Cap run.  That series pushed a lot of my buttons, since I loved the old Kung Fu TV show (and even the sequel series), martial arts TV and movies in general, and the greater Marvel universe as a whole.

Having said that, as an adult I now know that the set up for Kung Fu and similar media is problematic.  There was talk that Iron Fist might subvert the source material’s issues by casting an Asian man as Danny, but Marvel played it safe.  Having seen the guy they were considering (Lewis Tan), I wish they’d taken the chance but here we are.  I’m not going to hammer them on this point (as many other reviewers and pundits have done so eloquently) but for a company that has led the way in so many other ways with the explosion of comic book media, it’s perplexing that they are going to lag behind on something like this.

Let’s move on to the show itself.  The story revolves around Danny Rand, long thought dead after his parents’ plane went down en route to China.  Secretly raised by warrior monks, Danny is trained to be a living weapon, able to channel his Chi into his fists (or fist, singular, so far) to become…well, I’ll let Roy Thomas tell you:

Iron Fist badassery

Comics!  Anyway, Danny returns to New York City and attempts to restart his life there – trying to get Rand Enterprise back, reintroducing himself to Ward and Joy Meachum (childhood friends/frenemies and the children of his father’s business partner, Harold), pestering dojo leader Colleen Wing, and generally making a nuisance of himself.  The earliest episodes felt the weakest to me.  I don’t think Finn Jones as Danny Rand was all that strong at the emotional aspects, though perhaps those directors were not pulling in a strong performance from him.  The action is weakest in these episodes as well, though Jessica Henwick as Colleen shows a bit of skill.  Still, I found myself most interested in Harold Meachum (yeah, he’s not dead) and his manipulation of events.

And make no mistake, Danny is very easily manipulated.  Despite numerous times this causes him trouble, he repeatedly trusts someone right after they do something somewhat nice for him, or just because it’s a person he knew in the past.  This despite the fact that one of the reasons he left his post – he’s supposed to be guarding the entrance to his mystical adopted home of K’un-Lun while it’s open – was he didn’t want to be a tool used by others.  I think they wanted to show how naive Danny is, with half of his youth spent apart from our society, but he seems to integrate himself back in fairly easily otherwise so it doesn’t quite work.

I know a lot of this sounds negative, but the show does pick up in the back half.  The action improves quite a bit.  I wasn’t surprised at all to see that the episode with one of my favorite fights (drunken boxing!) was directed by Kevin Tancharoen.  We get our requisite Claire Temple appearance, big reveals about the Hand, Madame Gao, Colleen Wing and Davos.  It DOES end on a pretty enormous cliffhanger, but Iron Fist perhaps suffers more than the previous Netflix/Marvel shows because it’s also pulling duty as the lead-in to the Defenders.

In the end, Iron Fist is probably a 3 out of 5.  Luke Cage (which I should probably re-watch and talk about here) is a notch above, and Jessica Jones and both seasons of Daredevil above that.  My next post will be a look ahead, at what the future should hold for Danny if there’s another Iron Fist season.

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Comics Review TV

Batman: The Animated Series – Robin’s Reckoning

Batman: The Animated Series was an amazing show, and there are a bunch of episodes that frequently adorn “Top x B:TAS Episodes” lists.  Robin’s Reckoning (in two parts) often rates highly on those lists, and on the 24th anniversary of the primetime premier of part 1, I’d like to take a deeper look.

Viewing the series now, as an adult, one of my favorite things is how they dealt with Robin.  Rather than show him as a kid, he’s a young man, college age, who is beginning to grow out of the ‘sidekick’ role.  Dick has his own opinions and life on B:TAS, and it provides a complexity and depth to the Bruce/Dick relationship you hadn’t seen in the non-comic book Batman adaptations to that point.

This was never more apparent than with the two-part episode Robin’s Reckoning, which premiered in prime time on February 7th and 14th, 1993.  Batman and Robin are busting up an extortion ring, but things get weird when Batman gets the boss’s name and quickly sidelines Robin.  Alfred and Dick search the name (Billy Marin) and discover that it’s an alias for Tony Zucco, the man who killed Dick’s parents.  From here on, the remainder of the episodes intersperse scenes from the past showing Robin’s origin (adapted from Detective Comics 38) and both Bruce and an enraged Dick hunting Zucco separately.

Much like how Heart of Ice redefined Mr. Freeze for the modern era, Robin’s Reckoning brings a then-40 year old origin up to date.  Bruce takes in this damaged kid, but doesn’t just start training him to fight.  It only happens when Bruce, who had been distant from his young ward while hunting Zucco as Batman, realizes that Dick Grayson has the same drive to do SOMETHING about the injustices life has dealt him.  It’s less “hey, kid sidekicks sell, amirite?” and more “here’s a young man who needs to channel these feelings in a better direction”.  You could actually imagine a kid sidekick working like this (though I hope Robin got a few years of training in before hitting the streets).

The episode finishes with one of Robin’s best moments in the whole series.  Batman is hurting, but just before Zucco can finish him off, Dick bursts onto the scene on his motorcycle, grabs Zucco and drags him to the harbor, ready to drop him to his death.  Bruce tries to talk him down:

Batman:  Robin! That’s enough, Robin!  You can’t allow your personal feelings to guide your actions.
Robin:  Stuff you, Batman!  You and your stone-cold heart!  You don’t know how I feel!  How could you…?

In one of the best moments in the series, Bruce doesn’t answer.  Dick realizes what he’s said and let’s the police take Zucco.  It’s a surprisingly emotional moment for a “kid’s cartoon”, one of many that elevated Batman: The Animated Series above its contemporaries.  Which says a LOT considering there were quite a few good cartoons in the early 90s.  Strong direction from Dick Sebast, great writing from Randy Rogel (who also contributed heavily to the Animaniacs, including many of the memorable songs), and of course outstanding voicework from Kevin Conroy, Loren Lester and the rest of the cast.  If you haven’t seen B:TAS in a while, today’s a great day to revisit it by watching it on Amazon Prime.  If you need a 30-day trial for Prime, click here.

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Comics TV

Help Me Fix Agents of SHIELD

This is mostly in response to the article over at Heroic Hollywood, Is Marvel’s ‘Agents of SHIELD’ Really Any Good? so maybe check that first.

There was no one more excited by the concept of Agents of SHIELD than me, when it was first announced.  A Whedon-adjacent look at the more mundane aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, led by everyone’s favorite dead SHIELD agent?  Let’s roll!  The reality of the show has been, at times, middling however.  As Jon Negroni points out in the article above, rather than the show being must-see TV for Marvel movie fans, it’s mostly an afterthought.  The episode that tied in to Thor: The Dark World is the perfect metaphor for AoS, as the team were literally picking up the scraps left behind by one of the MCU’s movies.

Not that there hasn’t been some great stuff to enjoy along the way, but beyond the direct link to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, all that’s great about Agents of SHIELD is of their own making.  Brett Dalton’s Grant Ward bored us all to tears as generic SHIELD agent guy…until the HYDRA twist turned our understanding of him on it’s head.  The action directing has been a highlight also.  Really, the only thing that holds AoS back from being spoken of in the same breath as The Flash is the MCU.  The focus (more from the fans than anyone at ABC/Disney/Marvel) is on just how the show will tie-in to the upcoming movies.  “Hey look, Inhumans!” which is particularly rough since the Inhumans movie is now off the schedule, or Lorelei/Sif which is fun but not exactly something that’s going to grab the attention of the movie-goers or the casual TV viewer who sees the promos.

No, the biggest thing Agents of SHIELD could do to increase its quality is…stop worrying about the MCU!  There are signs of that this year, with the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider being a focus, but they need to really lean in to it.  There are plenty of characters that will never get a movie or a TV show, and you already HAVE a show that needs to fill 20+ hours a year.  And has a tendency to have some filler episodes of questionable quality.  Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of sifting through the rubble of the next MCU movie, Coulson and May went on an adventure with Jimmy Woo and Ken Hale?  Or, instead of holding out hope we see another Kree, we see Fitz and Simmons have to figure out how to help defeat the Wrecking Crew?  The Hood.  Shang-Chi.  Moon Knight.  Tombstone.  The Grim Reaper.  Taskmaster.  Most of these characters wouldn’t carry a series on their own (okay, maaaybe Moon Knight) but would work great as a 3-8 episode arc on AoS.

There are signs that AoS may be going down this path this year, with Ghost Rider and some of the other mystical stuff.  The real trick is getting the audience back that may have lost interest.  Is there anyone you’d like to see on the show, or any TV-friendly storylines you’d like them to tackle?

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Review TV

New Amazon Pilot: The Tick

The Tick is both blessed and cursed by TV.  Blessed because very few comics from such an obscure source would get not one, not two, but three tries at a series.  Cursed, because the first two attempts were both on Fox and had plenty of network interference/mismanagment.  The third try may just be the charm, though, as as Amazon has produced a new pilot for The Tick as part of their current ‘Pilot Season’.

The specifics behind The Tick vary from the various comic books and shows, but in general he is a dimwitted but nigh invulnerable superhero who ends up protecting a city named “The City” from various silly supervillains from a Man-Eating Cow, a million-billion ninjas, to the Terror – an elderly villain most famous for punching out Teddy Roosevelt.

thumbsupforevil

The new Amazon pilot focuses, at least to start, on Arthur.  Arthur is usually portrayed as the sidekick/straight man to The Tick but he’s the driving force here.  He’s had a terrible childhood – the non-Quinjet of the not-the-Avengers superteam the ‘Flag Five’ crashes on and kills Arthur’s dad, and young Arthur comes face to face with The Terror, who eats his ice cream (seriously).  An iconic, Time Magazine-ish photo is taken of the moment.  Fast forward to adult Arthur, and he’s obviously still suffering from that moment.  He’s obsessed with The Terror, who everyone else thinks is dead, but Arthur is convinced is still running the criminal underworld.  His investigations are what brings him into contact with The Tick.  They try to set up a “is The Tick even real?” question, but I think it’s pretty clear he is – but Arthur, with his mental illness isn’t sure he’s not imagining the whole thing while off his meds.

I won’t say the pilot is perfect, as the tone shifts suddenly, but Peter Serafinowicz is actually really good at delivering The Tick’s weird monologues and quips.  Griffin Newman has some real depth as Arthur, too.  I’d complain about the strange over-textured suit but I’m fairly certain that’s a parody of every recent Superman suit where the filmmakers can’t stop themselves from putting some wacky design on it.  I guess the best thing I can say after 30 minutes of the new series is, I want to see more.  If you do too, go to this link and vote.

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Books Comics Movies TV

Happy Birthday Star Trek

50 years ago today yesterday, the first episode of Star Trek (now known as ‘The Original Series’) aired.  Sci-fi fandom hasn’t been the same since.  Hundreds of episodes of TV across five decades, scores of books and comics, big budget movies, video games, copycats and parodies, Trek holds a special place in our pop culture.  Star Wars may have the cool laser swords and planet-exploding superweapons, Star Trek – for all the added fistfights – made you a better person.

The Original Series was the first show I ever watched that dealt with real social issues which despite the show’s 1960’s roots, were still relevant.  Star Trek made you think about the consequences of the action, even as they had to shoehorn in a ridiculous fight with papier-mâché rocks to try and stay on the air.  Sure, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” may have been heavy handed, but for ten year old me this was the first show that dealt with racism in a way I understood.  I came for the Frank Gorshin, but left asking my parents why those two men thought they were so different.

But the best part of Star Trek was how it brought my family together.  My dad, I think, was the driving force, he loved TOS due to the “Wagon Train to the stars” aspect.  I can still remember us gathering to watch Encounter at Farpoint together.  Looking back, it wasn’t the greatest premiere episode, but it still had a sense of wonder about it that captured my attention.  It didn’t hurt that it had John de Lancie mugging for the camera as Q.  Most likely I hit The Next Generation at exactly the right time – young enough to forgive the inconsistency of the first few seasons, but then maturing with the show as it truly hit its stride a few years in.  That led into Deep Space Nine, which remains one of my all-time favorite shows, and the one that best continued the Trek legacy of examining real-world issues through a sci-fi lens.

I am looking forward to the new Star Trek: Discovery show, as it looks like it may be a return to form for Star Trek after the uneven, action-oriented ‘Kelvin-verse’ movies.  And if it doesn’t, there’s always “The Squire of Gothos”, “The Trouble with Tribbles”, “Inner Light”, “The Visitor”, “In The Pale Moonlight”…

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Review TV

TV Review – Voltron: Legendary Defender Season One

I know for a fact that I watched the original Lion Force Voltron when I was a kid.  I’m fairly certain I had the toys, too.  But I wasn’t a Voltron obsessive, and I’m hard-pressed to remember much more than the barest bits of the show now.  You know, five lion bots, “and I’ll form the head”, a few of the names, that’s about it.  So for a long time I wasn’t falling all over myself to watch this new Netflix series Voltron: Legendary Defender.  The initial trailer, though…

…that was enough for me to notice, and start doing a bit more digging.  Two things cemented my interest:  the animation studio, and the names of the folks work on this.  Lauren Montgomery, Joaquim Dos Santos, and Tim Hedrick were all deeply involved in Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, and wrote or directed some of the best episodes (Hedrick with The Puppetmaster, for instance).  Studio Mir is animating Voltron, and their work on ATLA and especially Korra is amazing.  Their use of color and lighting are first-rate, and fits well here.

As for the story, I don’t want to spoil it, but it does involve a group of misfits discovering the Voltron lions, and having to learn to work together to fight back against the evil empire that is conquering the universe.  It sounds basic, but what elevates it is the relationships between the characters.  The season one story focuses mostly on Shiro (Sven in the 80s Americanized Voltron), who had been captured by Zarkon and the Galra (the bad guys) and escaped, Pidge, whose father and brother were with Shiro when he was captured, and who will do anything to find out what happened to them, and Princess Allura, who along with her right-hand man Coran are the last surviving Alteans.  Her father built Voltron but then hid it away, which is one mystery explored this season.  The other is how Shiro escaped captivity – he doesn’t remember despite being gone for a year.  Some of the others (Keith, Lance, Hunk, even Coran himself) can shade into comic relief territory – but much like Sokka developed from a dope to an effective fighter and teammate, you get the feeling there’s depth to everyone that’s going to be revealed in time.  The main villains (Zarkon, the witch Haggar, and Commander Sendak) are suitably scary, and Zarkon in particular has secrets of his own sure to be explored in future seasons.

The voice cast is very solid, I’m especially attached to Kimberly Brooks as Allura.  Steven Yeun, Tyler Labine, Josh Keaton, Jeremy Shada and Bex Taylor-Klaus voice the Voltron Paladins, while Rhys Darby performs as Coran.  Neil Kaplan, Cree Summer and Jake Eberle are your villains.

All in all I enjoyed the heck out of the first season (all on Netflix as of June 10) a ton, and am dying to know what’s coming next.  Worth watching even if you don’t have kids who are interested.

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Review TV

Agent Carter – A Missed Opportunity

note: spoilers abound for Agent Carter season 2

Agent Carter’s second season just ended, and I’m sad.  There was a lot of fun to be had – Howard’s always good for a laugh, Jarvis is perfect, and their take on Whitney Frost as a villainous Hedy Lamarr was interesting.  One thing that didn’t help was the finale just being one hour, especially after following a two-hour episode the week before.  The ending felt rushed.  Also, in general you never got a sense that the stakes were super-high.  It may have been a TV budget restriction but the fix for some of the various hurdles (Dr. Wilkes disappearing, getting the ‘zero matter’ back into the Darkforce dimension) seemed fairly pat.  Whitney just…walks into the trap?  She has power, right, so why not have her show it?

Even with those complaints, I enjoyed this season.  I love Peggy Carter, Sousa, Jarvis and Anna Jarvis (adorable!).  No, the missed opportunity actually involves Jack Thompson.  HE was the one Peggy really needed to win over to her side, to come around and view her as an equal.  I honestly thought they were building to something like that, a moment where Jack would be truly humbled by Peggy, and start to view her and other women in a new light.  I come back to Sokka getting schooled by the Kyoshi warriors, and learning that the way he was treating them (and his sister) was not okay.  Imagine Thompson going to Peggy, apologizing for the shit he’s put her through, and them partnering up.  But we won’t get to see that growth, after he gets shot and killed for the redacted file.  It’s a shame we won’t get to him become Carter’s ally.

Speaking of that redacted file…I thought it had been faked up by Vernon’s people, buuuuuut someone (maybe at IO9) pointed out “M. Carter” could’ve been her brother.

Unfortunately, Agent Carter’s ratings were not exactly explosive, so these dangling threads (which also include Dottie Underwood) may never be resolved.  If they DO get another season, I wouldn’t mind them shifting away from the 40s.  We see Peg still active with SHIELD all the way to the 80s in Ant-Man, so why not some swingin’ 60s missions?  Maybe even snag Michael Douglas for an Ant-Man cameo for a ratings boost?  Just a thought, but I want more Peggy Carter and hey, more Jarvis too.  Give ’em one more season, Marvel

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TV

Things I Want from the New Bryan Fuller Star Trek Series

The news dropped today that Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Hannibal) will be the showrunner for the new Star Trek series set to premiere on CBS next year, before moving to the CBS All Access paid subscription.  My enthusiasm for the new show had been stifled by the mostly mediocre movies and the fact that I’d need yet another subscription to see it, but they just got my full attention.  My wife and I both enjoyed Pushing Daisies a ton, and Fuller has a previous Trek pedigree, credited for story or writing on two dozen Deep Space Nine and Voyager episodes.  I’m not sure where he’s going to find the time (he’s also running the adaptation of Gaiman’s American Gods and is attached to the Amazing Stories reboot) but they’ve got my eyeballs for the pilot at least.

Fuller’s been talking about Trek for years – the EW article here has some details – and I like what I’m hearing.  Here’s my wish list for what I want from the new series:

  1. Get back to exploring – One disappointing thing about the most recent movies is they rarely deal with exploration.  I don’t totally fault them for that, as you can’t really do an ‘alien culture of the week’ as a blockbuster movie, but shifting back to TV should allow them the creativity and flexibility to go deeper than fist fights and phaser blasts.
  2. No wars – Anyone who has read my stuff before knows I LOVE Deep Space Nine.  It’s up there with my favorite shows of all time.  Having said that, it may be tempting to replicate the very excellent Dominion War arc that show had…but it would be a mistake.  Let’s base this one on a science vessel, do diplomatic missions, rescues.  Some of my favorite Trek episodes dealt with content that was not your usual weekly sci-fi show fare (The Measure of a Man, Far Beyond the Stars, The Visitor, The Inner Light), and many went straight into goofball humor (Doctor Bashir, I Presume?).  We need that introduced back into Trek.
  3. Cast some new people – Star Trek has always connected back to previous shows, and one of the ways that’s been done is by bringing on actors from the past to cameo.  While I love the actors of Trek past, I’d like them to not try this, at least at first.  Let the new show grow into it’s own and develop the new characters.  Since the show isn’t going to link directly to the movies or the older shows (at least based on what we know now), that will work the best.  We don’t need Brent Spiner popping up as another Soong to bring us in.
  4. Be positive – One of the things that’s shifted over the years is the idea that the Federation was this vision of what the future should be.  I thought DS9 masterfully deconstructed that with the Bajorans and Sisko as the Emissary.  The Federation wasn’t always right, and the conflict of interest there made for some good TV.  But it got taken too far at times, with Section 31 and Insurrection and the like.  Let’s have Starfleet/the Federation trying to be a force for good and running into the moral dilemmas and struggles they’ve encountered since the Original Series.
  5. Be diverse – Others can speak more eloquently than me on this, but whether it’s another female captain, an alien captain, LGBTQ captain (or some or all of the above) you can do better than the JJ Abrams movies have.  These shows are ensembles, and can represent ALL of Earth and hey, remember that it’s a Federation of Planets, plural.  Cast your net wide, jack up the alien makeup budget and represent some folks that aren’t often portrayed in a genre show.

So that’s what I want.  What else do YOU want?

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Agents of SHIELD Recap – S03E03 A Wanted (Inhu)man

Agents of SHIELD continues to spin multiple plates each episode, but all of the storylines are still interesting.  This time around, the ATCU outs Lincoln as an alien threat on TV, and Daisy and Mack try to go to the rescue.  Lincoln reaches out to his AA sponsor for help, and it seems to go okay until the guy turns on his TV.  Oops.  Lincoln gives him a little zap to knock him out…but it gives his buddy a heart attack.  He’s unable to save him, and it leaves our blandest Inhuman standing over a dead body when the ATCU and SHIELD arrive.  While this is happening, Coulson meets up with Rosalind, and after a humorous moment where Phil’s caught ogling…her car (get your mind out of the gutter), they get down to brass tacks – Rosalind has pictures of Daisy at the hospital too, but hasn’t released them yet.  This leads to some tense moments where Lincoln almost gets handed over to the ATCU, and when that fails, they nearly take off with Daisy.  In the end, Coulson trades away something potentially more valuable to Rosalind – his knowledge.  This morally gray dealing is a solid build-up to Civil War, and very reminiscent of the SHIELD from the comics.

The next spinning plate is the May and Hunter show.  Hunter’s got a buddy with an in to HYDRA, but Lance has to fight in a no-holds-barred fighting tournament.  All well and good until his opponent is revealed to be that buddy.  Hunter and ‘Spud’ beat each other to a bloody pulp, and Lance is about to lose until he slips on some brass knuckles and unloads on Spud.  In a parallel to Lincoln’s story, Spud ends up dead.  This apparently is enough to get Hunter an audience with Ward’s second in command.  And don’t worry about May, she got to beat the snot out of three guys who tried to corner her to assault her.

The final spinning plate is the Fitz/Simmons saga.  Simmons is back but is still jumpy as hell, every bright light and noise setting her on edge.  Six months on an alien planet being hunted will do that to you.  Fitz tries to get her back to work – after all, that helped him – but comes to realize after a chat with Mockingbird that maybe Simmons needs something different.  They go to a nice dinner, and bond over a good cry.  So it’s a surprise when Bobbi finds Simmons in the lab, poking and prodding the remnants of the monolith.  But Simmons doesn’t want to hear it’s inert – she WANTS to go back!

  • Obviously the big questions is, why does Simmons want to go back to the alien world?  Is someone else there?  Some other discovery?  An important artifact?  BRUCE BANNER?
  • Lincoln still being in the wind is a surprise too – I think most of us assumed he’d be the first ‘Secret Warrior’ recruited.
  • I definitely get an Abigail Brand vibe from Rosalind – I’m not sure if she’s available to the MCU since she was created in an X-comic but that’s who I think of when she’s on screen (or the comic version of Maria Hill).

Next week brings back Lash, and sees at least one more new Inhuman appearing.