TV Review – She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022)

It ain’t easy bein’ green, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of the super silly She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.

I have to admit I waited a week or two before diving into this, largely because of the social media tomfoolery over it. Various memes and posts suggested the primary focus was going to be an assertion that every woman secretly has an angry green rage monster brewing inside them that they keep at bay at all times because society treats them so harshly, the flip side being that all men live on easy street and la dee da through life with nary a problem.

Though I know women have it rough in many respects, I always thought social media is a place where nuanced arguments go to die. It is very much an either/or place. Post that you love cookies and everyone will accuse you of despising muffins. No, you just happened to really love cookies at a particular moment in time and wanted to share your love of it, but that doesn’t mean you hate muffins or gasp, even cupcakes. Mmm cupcakes.

At any rate, the world is a harsh place like Sisyphus of Ancient Greek legend fame, we all have our own comically massive boulder to push up our own neverending hill forever and ever. Me complaining about my boulder was never meant to imply you don’t have your own boulder or that my boulder is bigger than your boulder or what have you. Sometimes we just need to complain about our boulders and have people listen. Other times if we complain about our boulders, people might, just might either get out of the way or even help give our boulders a little push in the right direction.

Ultimately, we have to stop talking past each other and too each other and social media is a place where that rarely if ever happens.

Bottomline: She-Hulk is a lot of fun in my book. It’s a comedy. It’s light yet mixes in the action and it recognizes and arguably even fixes one of Marvel’s longest running problems, namely that The Incredible Hulk (and other variants by proxy) is an awesome, fan favorite character when part of an ensemble, but when heading up a stand-alone film, he’s box office poison.

Much of the problem, at least with the first two attempts at a Hulk flick in 2003 and 2008 is that said films usually focus heavily on the science (gasp I know, right?) and Banner running around avoiding the law and government agents who want to catch him and study him and avoiding getting angry for fear of losing control and going into Hulk smash mode and then when Hulk is the Hulk he is a big dummy so it’s hard to direct him toward productive activities.

Long story short, She-Hulk embraces the “women have it way tougher than men” narrative to, well, make the long story short. We know how Batman became Batman, we know how Spidey became Spidey and we know how hulks become hulks, so thankfully the show didn’t spend an entire season on an origin story, or rather, at least one in which She-Hulk comes to grips with being a lady hulk.

Instead, the show is a parody, lampooning the superhero genre.

The plot? SPOILER ALERT. Overworked attorney Jessica Walters (Tatiana Maslany) goes on vacation with her cousin, the one and only Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). When a frigging spaceship cuts them off in traffic because that’s life in a world where superheroes exist, Bruce cuts his arm, his hulk infected blood accidentally squirts onto Jessica, and now she’s infected with hulkism and has to live her life as a goddamn frigging hulk.

Sounds like a pain in the ass, right? Bruce whisks his cousin away to a secret island facility, advising her that her life as she knew it is over. Apologetic and solemn, he councils her that as he once did, she too will go on a multi-year journey where she learns to control her rage and learn to use her hulkism for good. Daily training and exercises and…yeah, blah, blah, blah, not so much. Turns out like all women, Jessica was always great at controlling her rage and only male hulks have to sit around and do yoga to learn how to keep from going into unbridled hulk smash mode.

I mean, yeah, it openly embraces the women rule and men drool motif but come on, it’s funny. It’s done in a humorous way and I don’t know about you, but I really didn’t want to watch five seasons where Jessica lives in a cave, outcast from society until she finally learns to control her anger and channel her hulk and neither did you.

Turns out, she doesn’t want to be a superhero either. Yeah, she has a special power now. She can turn into a super strong and enormous lady hulk at will, but she has no interest in running around with the Avengers. They don’t even get paid, she opines, and she has a career as a lawyer to get back to as well as law school loans to pay off.

And so, she returns to her practice, content to hide her hulkism until she learns that old adage “with great power comes great responsibility.” When a supervillain breaks into court one day, hellbent on murdering the entire jury box, Jessica realizes she can’t in good conscience not hulk out and save the day and so She-Hulk she comes to be.

Given the shaft by the legal industry (the bastards don’t want the liability of a She-Hulk on the payroll), she is hired by a major law firm to head up their new superhero law division, because you know, people with super powers tend to destroy a lot of shit so someone needs to handle the legal fallout of that. Her first case? Handle the parole hearing of Abomination (Tim Roth reprising his role as the villain from the 2008 film), a real conflict of interest as the dude tried to kill her cousin, but he swears he’s better now.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. This is an example of a show trusting the fans to already know what they need to do and delving right into the nitty gritty, rather than boring us with hours upon hours of origin. It dives right in and comes out swinging. It’s funny. It’s got a lot of action. At a half hour per episode, it’s even short and sweet. It’s your own personal Rorschach test. If you think the “women have it tougher than men” narrative is right, then it’s reinforced. If you think it’s wrong, then it’s poked fun at. Ultimately, it is all handled with good humor.

Bonus sidenote: I really enjoyed the scenes with Jessica’s family. Who hasn’t gone to a family dinner only to be peppered with nonsensical questions, to be heavily criticized and talked over and yeah if you had hulk powers, your family would be constantly demanding that you lift their heavy stuff and fix things for them all the time.

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TV Review – House of the Dragon – Episode 1 – The Heirs of the Dragon (2022)

Quiet in the realm, 3.5 readers.

GOT is back, albeit in prequel form.

BQB here with a review.

Ah, Game of Thrones. What a wonderful show it was, full of Tolkien-esque fantasy, as well as murder, betrayal, deception and titties. So many titties. Honestly, 90 percent of the reason I watched was the titties.

When GOT came on the scene in 2011, it was like nothing we viewers had seen before and we were instantly hooked. For most of the past decade, I know every spring Sunday night I’d be glued to my TV at 9:00 PM sharp, woe unto whoever disturbed me and those who did really needed a good excuse, like a fully severed limb. If it was hanging by a thread, then they’d have to wait till after the show for me to drive them to the hospital. I kid, I kid. Or do I? All I know is this was the nerd superbowl.

HBO pulled off this trick in the 2000s with The Sopranos, launching what TV aficionados might call a golden age of TV where cable companies suddenly realized they could get away with airing a lot of depraved violence, sex, murder, crime, people cutting tags off mattresses, you name it, as long as it was on cable and people actually had to choose to put channels with such debauchery on their TV. Good old staples like network TV could hardly compete.

Alas, while HBO gave us one era defining show per decade, they also gave us one shitty ending to said shows per decade. Once HBO sucked as much money out of Sopranos viewers as possible, they rushed it to an absurdly fast and unsatisfying conclusion. Same with Game of Thrones.

And we dopes took it. There we were, collectively the long-suffering wife, standing at the front door in our bathrobe and curlers, begging our cheating hubby to stay, for surely we had more good years left together. Nope, off that hubby went, driving away in his mid-life crisis sports car with a bimbo on his arm.

Long story short, HBO is back, not unlike the old hubby who realizes his days of carousing are over, and he’d like to remarry us so we can cook his dinner and rub his feet and take care of him in his old age.

Sigh. And we dopes are going to do it.

At least, we’ll try. The Many Saints of Newark, the prequel movie to the Sopranos was red-hot garbage, largely fan fiction nonsense.

However, my initial assessment of the new GOT prequel, based on watching the first episode:

#1 – It’s worth watching episode 2 and likely, more.

#2 – I didn’t really see anything so far that made me say, “OMG I must binge immediately!” Rather, it’ll be an I’ll get to it when I get to it thing.

#3 – Fans are familiar with the world, the customs, the culture, and are able to dive-in. I know there was some criticism of a cast of relative unknowns but don’t forget, many of GOT’s original cast were unknown until the show made them stars (though Sean Bean did lead the first season.)

All in all, it’s good so far. I don’t know anything could meet GOT’s initial WOW factor. Sometimes, you just have to be that new, original thing that people didn’t know they wanted until you gave it to them. HBO is trying to give us more albeit with a cheaper cast. The good news is they have time to possibly WOW us again while the players aren’t household names. The bad news is given HBO’s track record, they’ll likely pull the rug out from under house and rush yet another series to a silly, unsatisfying halt when it gets too expensive as per their usual modus operandi.

The plot? What this series does best. A bunch of spoiled royals who have a lot fighting over who gets to have more, namely, ye olde Iron Throne.

Nearly 200 years before GOT, the Targaryen family, everyone’s favorite bleach blonde ultra-perfectionist dragon riders from across the sea, rule over a peaceful and prosperous Westeros. War hasn’t occurred for 70 years because all opponents to the Targaryens have a strange habit of being burned up into extra crispy dragon chow.

King Viserys (Paddy Constantine) reigns but largely serves as a rubber stamp to his council of treacherous lackeys. When Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke) tragically dies giving birth to King’s long awaited male heir (who SPOILER ALERT) also dies in birth, it becomes clear that all-out war amongst these platinum blonde goofballs is on the way.

While the King appears to be in otherwise good in health, kings in this world rarely last long without getting ye olde hot sword injection, typically in the back, and yes I am talking about an actual sword, pervert. Hurt feelings abound when Viserys names his daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) as his heir, forcing all lords to bend the knee and swear their allegiance to her in the event of his passing.

Alas, as foretold in the show, the Targaryens were so strong that theirs was a house that could only crumble from within. Potential heir A unhappy at his lack of being named heir is the king’s younger brother, Prince Daemon, Commander of the Kingsguard who loves whores but hates crime, thus providing the most lurid scenes of the episode when he patronizes ladies of the evening and beheads hapless reprobates with equal parts gusto.

Potential heir B is the King’s sister, Princess Rhaenys Velaryon (Eve Best.) We haven’t seen much of her yet other than an introduction where the king (and her) father, Old King Aerys, declines to name her heir to the throne due to her lack of a penis, opting to name Viserys instead, due to his lack of a vagina. She is given the nickname “The Queen Who Never Was” as a result, having come so close yet so far.

Both parties have their strengths. Daemon commands a loyal army of brutes who love him because he purchases them whores on the regular (talk about a great boss, wait, what’s that itch?). Rhaenys’ husband Corlys (Steve Toussaint) is a member of the council who has the king’s ear.

Meanwhile, Daemon is likely displeased with King’s hand Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans, he of Spiderman Lizard fame), who lives to talk trash about the prince into the king’s ear thus leading to the king’s rare move of appointing his non-penis having daughter rather than his penis having brother so some type of battle between those two is likely a-brewing.

Complications? Rhaenys is young, possibly a lesbian getting jiggy with Hightower’s daughter who I suspect Hightower wants to see married to the king for his own duplicitous power grabbing ends despite quite an age difference between the two and if this happens, Rhaenys would be getting lezzy with her stepmother. (This is a theory at this point but it looks like where the show is going to me.)

Daemon is a wildcard, a villainous reprobate who loves whores, possibly more than Tyrion ever did, who really loved whores. He’s an all-around D-bag, though formidable. Having lived in his older brother’s shadow as younger brothers tend to do, especially in royal families or families with big money, he has gone out of his weigh to prove himself in battle whereas Viserys just seems to go along with whatever the council wants. Ironically, there are signs that despite Daemon’s d-baggery, he likely would have been a lifelong loyal defender of his older brother had he not been declined as heir.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. You know, if you are one of my original fans from back when I started his blog a whole 8 years ago, you’ll know GOT was pretty much all I blogged about non-stop in the beginning so it will be nice to get back to blogging about it again, though likely not with as much gusto as the original.

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Better Call Saul – A Great Show with a Stinky Ending

BQB here.

So, obligatory SPOILER WARNING. If you don’t want to know how BCS ends, look away now. No one else reads this blog anyway so feel free to join the club.

OK.

If you saw it, here’s my list of reasons why the ending stinks:

#1 – While the last few Gene-centric episodes were fun, they aren’t really fitting with the character. Saul was always a contradiction. Very loud, flamboyant and obnoxious but also very devious in his planning and careful in carrying out his plans. TBH, it’s hard to believe a guy on the run with a bag of diamonds and a recognizable face/highly wanted man wouldn’t just lay low in a hole in the wall apartment for a few years before going out into the world as a Cinnabon manager, but they wanted to turn that line from BB about him managing a Cinnabon into something real so, OK.

Fun as the last few episodes were, it’s hard to believe that Saul, when being harassed by a dude from ABQ who recognizes him wouldn’t just call the vacuum cleaner repairman and relocate again.

But OK, I’ll buy that “Gene” was bored, restless, got a taste for scamming, went back to his old ways, got greedy, and got caught.

#2 – One of the central themes of the show is that the legal profession is a very rich and very pedigreed club. If you want a job at a prestigious big city law firm, you might be one of the lucky few who gets there on their own, but more likely you a) need a rich family who can bankroll you through a prestigious undergrad and a prestigious law school as well as the connections to get you in and all the coaching on how to get in i.e. entrance exams, applications, interviews and so on, not to mention all the internships and experiences you’ll need to get to the big time. Ultimately, if you’re a slug like Jimmy McGill, you need not apply and thus, that was the heart of the show. The slug runs circles around the fancy lawyers all the time.

Jimmy’s brother Chuck is the rare top firm lawyer/self-made man so it is tragic when Jimmy bests him. The rest of the fancy lawyers are all country club dimwits who would be working at a drive-thru burger joint without family connections and money. Admittedly though, smarmy pantload that he was, it was still horrible what Jim and Kim did to Howard Hamlin.

Ultimately though, when Saul talks the big time fancy hot shot US attorneys from like, a bazillion years in prison all the way down to 7 in Club Fed, this is like Saul’s masterwork. His entire joy in life was bamboozling top shelf lawyers who view him as pond scum because of his American Samoa degree.

So, I have a very hard time believing that Saul, as in the character who has been built up over the past 14 years, would ever crap on his greatest legal wrangling achievement by copping to the whole enchilada thereby opening the door for him to get slammed with 86 years. I just don’t buy it.

I sort of get what the show was going for. There’s an argument that Saul was such a slippery weasel that the only lawyer who could successfully prosecute Saul was Saul. He wasn’t going to give it to the prosecution. He needed to make them know that he had the power to get up, do a song and dance about how Walt made him afraid and yeah, Walt’s reputation for murdering those who disobeyed him was so well known it is believable that one juror would have bought it and he only needed one.

So he let the fancy lawyers know he could have beat them, and essentially he did, then copped to it. Essentially, he prosecuted himself and put himself away for far longer than a whole slew of fancy US attorneys could have.

This is something that would have only happened on TV. Frankly, the 7 year deal was a stretch. I debate that. He did still make a boatload of money and surely there are money crimes but I suppose he could always argue Walt made him do it.

It’s just very unbelievable that the world’s most slippery weasel would have bailed on such a fabulous deal.

#3 – I do get it is the BB-verse and here, this is a place where crime never pays. Everyone who so much as bites a slice of the forbidden fruit that is the rotten apple of crime pays and pays dearly. So it would not have fit that theme if Saul had won. I think we all wanted to see Saul end with a big legal showdown where he walks scot free and maybe even goes back to practicing but ok. In the end, Jimmy felt bad about how he lived his life, wanted to atone, and saw the only path to pay for his evil deeds was to go to jail forever. In real life, I don’t buy it. Jail is a horrible place. If you can get off in 7 in a quasi resort style jail with golf and ice cream, literally no one will say no please send me to the supermax. Yes, the show was clear to point out that all the inmates love Saul for his defense of crooks everywhere but yeah, not all are going to love and protect him forever. Again, jail is a horrible place.

All in all, if they wanted a Jimmy redeems himself or pays for his crimes ending, another route might have been plausible.

#4 – A lot is left on the table and unanswered or at least I don’t understand it. Is Kim still on the hook for Howard? I feel like Jimmy copping to it only makes her situation worse, not better. Think about it. Kim admitted to a lot of bad stuff in her affidavit. They won’t prosecute because there is no body and neither Jim or Kim know where it is? OK. Not sure but I believe that is true. If there is no body then they could never 100 percent know for sure that a murder took place.

Even so, she did admit to fraudulently painting a prominent attorney as a drug addict, going so far as to even drug him so it looked like he was on drugs, for the purpose of damaging a law firm’s reputation so as to convince its clients to take a settlement offer early rather than continue with the case just so she and Jim could get their pay days early…come on. That’s a prosecutable crime, isn’t it? Doesn’t Jimmy’s confirmation hurt her?

Again, all crooks pay in this universe, so Kim will face a big time civil lawsuit. Still, eh…even without a body I’m pretty sure there’s some stuff that as long as she said she did it, she can be prosecuted for it. Jimmy could be prosecuted too.

Oh, that and they kinda sloughed off the whole forgetting to prosecute Jimmy for drugging and robbing a bunch of rich guys then threatening to strangle an old lady with a telephone cord to keep her from calling the police.

#5- There is a lot of good writing here. The time travel thing comes up again. The first time, Mike says if he could time travel, he’d go back to the first time he took a bribe and not take it, presumably to ensure that he lives a decent, law-abiding life. He regrets the path he took and understands the money isn’t worth all the evil he has done and a life as a regular, middle-class Joe would have been better. He also says he’d go to the future to check on his family. A laudable goal.

Saul says he’d go back in time to when Warren Buffet took over Berkshire Hathaway and invest 1 million so that it would be worth multi-billions today. Jerk. All about the money.

Time travel comes up again with Walt. Walt is his usual dickish self and as usual, blames Gretchen and Elliot rather than conceding he might have been a dick about that whole friendship breakup. Still, he brings himself to admit he should have stuck with the duo for he’d have big legal and legit bucks today. He at least sort of admits that he is a prideful dick.

Saul would go back to a time when he broke his knee in a slip and fall and not slip and fall so hard. Nothing about, oh I don’t know, not slipping and falling altogether.

The third time, Chuck tells Jimmy it’s not too late for Jimmy to change careers. Jimmy scoffs, telling Chuck that Chuck never changes so why should he? Jimmy leaves and Chuck picks up a copy of HG Wells’ Time Machine. Presumably, this is a sign that both brothers dream about time travel and the ability to go back and right their wrongs and fix their mistakes. If only their relationship was better, they could talk to rather than past one another and figure out how to help each other be happier.

So in the end, Jimmy does finally learn that it was wrong for him to be a scumbag and he sets forth in a very unlikely way to pay for his scumbaggery.

There is also great symmetry when Jimmy and Kimmy share a smoke in the end, as they did in the first episode where they first became co-conspirators/love interests. I think here, if they ended it with Kim saying with a smirk, “OK how do we get you out of here?” that would have landed the dismount. In other words, Saul copped to his wrongdoing, went to jail, now can these two tricksters figure out a way to get him out? But I suppose that wouldn’t be Jimmy paying for his crimes.

SIDENOTE: I have a hard time believing that Kim would still have a New Mexico bar card after that affidavit she signed.

IN CLOSING: Thanks Vince Gilligan and co. and cast and crew for the 14 years you spent on creating a very riveting TV show universe. BB had a great ending. This one, I really expected it would but was disappointed. I’m not sure how it could have been better. I suppose we all wanted to see Saul outwit everyone and I suppose an argument can be made that he did, but I just didn’t buy it.

I will give it credit. This is one of those shows that was hard to quantify. It was a legal procedural, but also a comedy about a scumbag who took pride in his scum-baggery and his absurdly humorous scummy methods, a saga about cartel gangsters at war (where many of such episodes rarely even involved Saul), and a show that was part prequel and part sequel, going back and forth to points in time before and after Breaking Bad yet somehow it did it well.

I just don’t buy Saul giving up a 7 year deal. Crime doesn’t pay and that’s one of the things this show gets right, but if they wanted Jimmy to take responsibility for his crimes, they might have found a more believable way. What that way would have been, I’ll admit, I don’t know.

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Better Call Saul Ends Tonight!

Hey 3.5 readers.

Better Call Saul ends tonight. I assume it ends. If it ends on a cliffhanger that introduces yet another variation of the Breaking Badaverse that is explored in another sequel show down the road, all us fans will be irate.

In Vince Gilligan’s defense though, he does know how to give us an ending. Other shows leave us hanging but he usually does bring us to some kind of a conclusion.

Thoughts:

#1 – I gave up on this show midway through Season 3. It’s not that I gave up on it so much as I said I’d stream the rest of it later only for years to go by and I was like, “Is that still on? I’ll get to it later.” With the last season in the news this year, I re-binged Breaking Bad, then re-binged the first few seasons of BCS then finally got caught up.

#2- TBH, this might be the way to do it. BCS is by and large, the longest, most expensive exercise in fan fiction ever produced. Especially when you get to season 4, I mean, did we need to spend all that time on the Germans who built Gus’ underground meth lab? There are so many little homages and callbacks to Breaking Bad that if you haven’t seen it in a while, you’ll miss them. Whether that matters, up to you.

#3 – Maybe I misunderstand the Jimmy/Saul/Gene character but I felt like in later seasons, they really made him meaner and unforgiveable than usual. I admit over the years I glazed over Saul from BB as a sleasy lawyer who gilded the lilly a bit only to be sucked down the rabbit hole by Walt. When I rebinged I remembered, oh yeah, he really was a criminal in and of himself, introducing Walt and Jesse to various criminals and committing crimes himself to keep Walt and Jesse out of jail. Hiring bad guys to take a rap, openly advising money laundering, intro’ing your meth dealing client to a meth kingpin via a third party, these are all things no legit lawyer would do.

But I always thought Saul was about the money and somewhat practical about the crimes that lead to money. He often counseled Walt against revenge and rocking the money boat. Ergo, all the nasty stuff he and Kim do to Howard – while hookers showing up at his lunch to demand money was funny, framing him as a coke head was not. Yes, in the end it was about money, getting HHM to look bad so the clients would settle the Sandpiper case and Jimmy and Kim would get their paydays but surely there was a way to do that that didn’t lead to Howard’s total destruction. Howard hits the nail on the head in his final confrontation with the pair, that their lives were hard so they must have felt a man who came from a wealthy background and had an easier life was a target that deserved all manner of nasty punishment. However, Howard is still a person and didn’t deserve what he got and ironically, was the only one who stood up for Jim and Kim multiple times.

#4 – The show also let Jimmy off the hook for Chuck. Chuck was painted as a bad guy for getting Jimmy disbarred but come on. Chuck was a self-made man who rose to be one of New Mexico’s greatest attorneys and his stupid little brother screwed with some document forgery to make him look like a fool and ruin his reputation. Chuck saved Jimmy from criminal charges and got him down to just a temporary law license suspension. Chuck had a right to be pissed.

I would have liked to know more about Chuck’s aversion to electricity. The show waned back and forth from it was real, to it was in his head, to it was in his head so bad that it was real. At times you wonder if he really did suffer from a very rare allergy so rare that modern medicine science has never studied and therefore never cured it. At other times it seems obvious he made it all up in his head but why? My only guess is he was getting older, probably had a harder time keeping up with the fast pace of the law profession but being a prominent lawyer was all he had so mentally, he cooked up a fake illness that gave him an excuse to slow down and do less work from home. It’s clear when Chuck is pushed out of the firm that he kills himself because being a lawyer was his entire identity and that was gone so he felt like he had nothing.

At any rate, the show moved on from Chuck’s death pretty quick. If Jimmy ever felt bad about it we didn’t see much of it, though maybe the point is Jimmy is a sociopath that is just about what he needs and wants.

#5 – The show is almost two shows in one. Especially in later seasons, it veers almost entirely to Mike, Ignacio and the cartel wars. There almost could have been two shows – Better Call Saul and I Like Mike. The Ignacio storyline has to be the longest fan fiction exercise ever, all designed to bring us to the point of that throwaway line in Breaking Bad where Walt and Jesse in ski masks try to intimidate Saul at gunpoint only for Saul to say something about he thought Ignacio said they were cool. At the time it just seemed that the purpose of this line was to show us Saul was so crooked that when someone kidnapped him and put a gun to his head, he had so many scumbags in his life that he assumed it was another scumbag entirely and thus, dear audience, this man is so crooked.

PREDICTIONS:

Funny thing is I let this show go a long time, but then the past half-season I have been glued to my seat. I have never had appointment watching like this since Game of Thrones. Sidenote: I have to watch it Tuesday nights so please don’t post any last episode spoilers in the comments. I’ll have to get through Monday night and all day Tuesday without reading any.

#1 – As Gene tells Kim in the last episode, Mike’s dead. Lalo’s dead. Gus Fring is dead. Add to that Walter White is dead. Jesse Pinkman is presumed on the run. There’s no one alive who can testify against them so who’s to say Gene can’t come out of hiding, beat any cases against him and become Saul again? Gene did do criminal stuff as Gene, but are there any witnesses willing to testify?

#2 – Jimmy loves Kim to the point where he comes out of hiding to cop to everything and get Kim off the hook.

#3 – Jimmy goes into hiding somewhere else with the help of the vacuum cleaner salesman. Or he doesn’t because Robert Forster died so maybe the vacuum man/relocator died too. If only Forster had lived, wouldn’t a relocator series have been fun? Younger actor in a prequel relocator series, Vince. Look into it.

#4 – Gene gets arrested for his Gene crimes and is ID’d as Saul and pays for Saul’s crimes.

#5 – A fun theory going around is the story ends with Saul being locked up next to Walter White who as it turns out, survived his gunshot wound. BCS indicates Walt is dead though, but perhaps only dead to the public. Maybe the relocator relocates Saul and a recovered Walt together in a 2 for 1 deal. They live out their golden years as an Oscar and Felix odd couple. Cue new series.

ULTIMATE PREDICTION: The show is adept at defying prediction so the outcome will be something we won’t predict.

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TV Review – The Orville (2017- )

Space. It’s big, huge, and a never-ending source of comedic fodder.

BQB here with a review.

I have been meaning to check this show out for a long time and finally have, after noticing it was available through Disney Plus.

I’m six episodes in. My first impressions:

#1 – Critics call it a Star Trek rip-off but it’s an obvious Star Trek parody. Seth MacFarlane, the man behind the raunchy, constantly pop culture lampooning Family Guy, is obviously a big Trekkie, and relishes the chance to cosplay a spaceship captain. If you take Star Trek, then add in the ability to make crude jokes, you’d get this show.

#2 – I get why some might call it a rip-off in that it goes beyond the humor to build adventure of its own. If you stay for the funny, you’ll get plenty of serious. In my binge session thus far, I’ve seen Captain Ed Mercer (MacFarlane) and crew rescue an agrarian society living (unbeknownst to them) in an ecosystem built into a massive spaceship, a historic ship dealer who travels back in time to steal spaceships of the past and sell them to collectors of the future, and a battle to prevent a hostile alien species from getting their hands on an aging device. All of these sound like they could be straight out of Trek, so when you see the Trek like uniforms, the Trek like military organization, the Trek like set up of the ship, it’s hard to not feel like MacFarlane didn’t just hijack Trek, change a few things around, then add in plenty of dirty sex jokes.

#3 – Speaking of sex jokes, while I enjoy it, Disney Plus really isn’t the place for it. I get Fox and Disney are part of the same company now and apparently Disney Plus is breathing new life into the series by offering a sequel New Horizons, which is basically just a continuation of the show. However, young kids shouldn’t be watching it. It’s probably fine for teenagers, but if you’re one of those parents who subscribed to Disney Plus so you could park the kids in front of it while you do housework, eh, take another look.

All in all, Trek is the granddaddy of all space opera. Many would say Star Wars, but SW just changed the game by introducing badass special effects. Trek was the first who challenged us to go where no man has gone before. (There are probably others who would say Lost in Space or other 1950s offerings beat them all.)

At any rate, Trek is a 20th century view of what military style space travel would be like. The Trek ships are set up more or less like a large ocean going vessel, so one might argue that Trek doesn’t really “own” that concept. Then again, when you watch The Orville, when you see the captain, you think Kirk, the science officer, you think Spock, the engineer, you think Scotty. Then again, does Trek own the concept of a captain, a science officer, an engineer and so on?

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Enjoyable. In the end, I don’t think this takes anything away from Trek, and if anything, it’s a humorous love-letter to Trek. Maybe if Trek had been more open minded about captains finding their wives in bed, messing around with blue goo spurting aliens, MacFarlane might have made a deal to create Funny Trek. Ultimately, he did, with just the names changed to protect the innocent. Come for the funny, but stay for the space drama.

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I’m the Funniest (Free) Writer on Amazon!

Greetings, 3.5 readers.

Yup. Yup. Yup. It’s official. I have achieved my dream of becoming a great humor writer. With the assistance of a Freebooksy promotion, I gave away 2500 free copies of my new novel, Shop Buddy, and the results are as follows:

Hmm. Alas, someone needed to poop on it with a one-star rating, but that’s ok. You can’t please everyone.

The point is, look at those rankings!

#1 in General Humor (FREE) – I have been a humor blogger since 2014 and finally, I have some recognition for my humor chops.

#2 in Teen/Young Adult e-books (FREE) – I didn’t really set out to write a young adult book. The protagonists are 23, a year out of college, unable to find work in their chosen majors so they sling grocery bags for a shopping app. Meh, I guess it counts. It was up to #1 in this category yesterday.

#10 in Mysteries (FREE) – Agatha Christie, eat your heart out!

And #38 out of all the FREE books offered at the moment on Amazon. I made the top 100 here.

Growing up, I was one of those kids who snuck downstairs to watch Saturday Night Live. I quoted lines from In Living Color, The Simpsons and Married with Children on the playground every Monday. And my Mad Magazine collection? Forget about it.

I have had other books get some decent rankings during free book promos, but humor will always hold a special place near and dear to my heart, so this is great.

BTW, it’s not too late to get your FREE copy.

Now I just need to put more work into becoming one of those writers who make it high onto the PAID charts because if I’m being honest, I like money.

SIDENOTE: What’s it about, you ask? Picture it. You work for an online shopping service. One of your customers orders all kinds of weird, dangerous stuff. Rope. Axes. Knives. Chainsaws. Power tools. Do you assume he’s just remodeling his house or do you fear something more sinister is afoot? Grab your free copy today, then use the money you saved to get some extra cheese on your taco.

Oh, and whatever you do, please don’t buy any of the other books I have on Amazon. Writers should never make money at any time. It dilutes the artistic chemistry.

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BQB Reviews Star Trek – Star Trek – The Motion Picture (1979)

Woo hoo! Star Trek on the big screen! Good for you for following this blog. When you do, you get news like this over 40 years late.

BQB here with a review.

I saved the first Shatner-centric Star Trek movie review for last for a simple reason. I literally have never seen it before.

I know. Gasp! Gasps all around. A man who professes to be a nerd having never seen this movie before. What can I say? It came out before my time while I saw the others either in the theater as a little kid (The whole trio of Spock dies, is reborn and gets delivered home arc) or on VHS (the last two.)

At any rate, I’d seen bits and pieces of it but never the entire thing at once.

So let’s dive in.

At the outset, you can tell that this film was released at a time when Star Wars unleashed a wave of space flicks, all the studios thinking there is gold in them thar space movie hills. I don’t think any of these space flicks matched up to Star Wars, though the Star Trek films were at least profitable and memorable.

You can tell though that the producers, writers, special effects team, etc. are all trying to do things with the franchise that would have never been possible in the original 1960s TV show.

It all begins with now Admiral James T. Kirk arriving at the Enterprise, where it is being worked on in space dock. In an early scene, Scotty pilots a shuttle craft, bringing Kirk to the ship and the scene is dragged out, going out of its way to show the sheer size and magnitude of The Enterprise in all its glory, whereas the best they could do in the old TV show was show a teensy model that we were supposed to pretend was big.

The special effects are amateurish compared to today’s CGI, but at the time surely wowed audiences. Smaller craft fly by the Enterprise. There are dudes in astronaut gear flying around it, though they don’t seem to serve any purpose other than some technician wanted to prove he could put a little astronaut guy out there flying around the ship. If you can forgive the bad effects, you do get a sense of awe as you picture what it might be like for a person in the 2300s seeing an enormous spaceship.

And now to the story. A bizarre entity, some sort of large energy field is headed on a path to Earth. Dum-dum Klingons try to intercept it only to be instantly vaporized. Kirk arrives to take control of the Enterprise from Captain Decker (Stephen Collins who would join the actress who plays the lady whale scientist in ST5 to play the other half of a couple with a lot of kids in 7th Heaven.)

A pissing match between Decker and Kirk ensues. The old Enterprise is no more. This is an all new Enterprise, complete with computers and bells and whistles that Kirk has never trained on. Decker knows all the changes. Kirk doesn’t. Decker presumes Kirk is just using the crisis to take over the Enterprise because that’s what he really wants. There is truth to this as Kirk hates being behind a desk and wants to be out on the open space road, living a life of adventure, punching out alien d-bags and getting jiggy with fine ass green space hotties.

It’s the late 70s, so Kirk and the original cast aren’t as old but they are all in middle age range. Shatner is actually kinda buff and studly in this one, so they go out of their way to put him in a muscle shirt. The film’s overall tone is quite serious, perhaps a bit more serious than we are used to in ST films. In Khan and later films, we really see the storyline embrace equal parts humor and seriousness. Kirk, Bones and McCoy find their niche as a quasi-Marx brothers routine as space explorers who get on each others’ nerves but at the end of the day, love each other.

Here, the trio comes out of mothballs. Kirk has been riding a desk. Spock and Bones, to my shock, have quit Starfleet only to reenlist (be drafted?) for this flick. McCoy returns with a bushy beard, greatly offended to have been forced back into service. Spock was on Vulcan, learning a process that would truly rid him of the little emotion he had so he can be a full blown logical mofo and not have to deal with emotions from his human side when he senses the entity’s presence and leaves to help his old Starfleet homies. Alas, he’ll never be considered 100 hundred percent logical by Vulcan’s exacting logic standards, though his human friends will always consider him absurdly logical. Dude just can’t win.

Long story short, the crew investigates, even flying through the entity, unraveling the mystery of what this presence is. All that is revealed early is that it calls itself V’Ger. Sadly, and in a rather creepy move, it kills then takes control of the body of Ilia, a Deltan navigator played by the late, great Persis Khambatta. We never see Deltans before or after this movie and all we know is that Ilia is a bald lady who blurts out to Kirk that she has taken an oath of celibacy upon her arrival on deck. The line seems strangely timed and I can’t tell if it is just a fact the writers wanted us to know or if Kirk is such a notorious space-poon hound that she felt she had to launch a preeemptive strike to let him know her lady parts are closed for bidness.

The Ilia-bot scenes are scary indeed. The late 70s/early 80s saw a lot of movies where humans end up controlled by machines and this might be the most disturbing. Her computerized voice, the way she stares coldly at the crew as they realize she is recording info and sending it back to V-Ger, all strange indeed. Decker, who once had a romance with Ilyia, is crushed.

Sidenote: If you look her up online, Persis Khambatta’s story is inspiring yet sad. She was somewhat of a Cinderella story. Born and raised in India, her father abandoned the family at a young age but her mother and siblings scraped by. She gets model work in her teens, gains national Indian notoriety in soap commercials. Becomes a Bollywood star. Gets recognized by U.S. Hollywood. Lands this role. Gets steady work in US movies in the 1980s. Sadly, develops heart problems in the 90s and dies young at 49 in 1999. I always hate to see people die young but at least her star was able to burn bright in her youth.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. The colors are drab and it is definitely trying hard, perhaps too hard, to be very serious. One might argue that when a giant, strange entity is on approach to destroy earth, there is no time for humor, but then again, something is always trying to destroy earth in the other films yet the writers manage to strike a balance between humor and high stakes. There is a scene where the transporter malfunctions and you get to see the horrifying dark side of what happens to people when the transporter shits the bed, making you wonder why anyone would get into the transporter beam field at all. It is a bit of a plot hole that there are no safety protocols, i.e. no one calls and asks ahead like “Hey is your transporter working?” before they start beaming people aboard but oh well. It’s all part of the film’s attempt to say, “Hey, this is grown up adult Star Trek” before someone at the studio apparently advised to make things a little lighter, which I’m glad they did so little kids like me back in the day could have fun watching these flicks.

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BQB Reviews Star Trek – Star Trek 6 – The Undiscovered Country (1991)

“The undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.”

BQB here with a review of the final Star Trek film featuring the OG Shatner and Friends Crew.

Star Trek 5 faced heavy criticism, ultimately with many wondering whether a philosophical sci-fi series where characters spend a lot of time debating and contemplating would survive in an era of blockbusters where moviegoers expected characters to kick ass first, second and third and maybe think about it later, four or more steps down the line.

This film closes out the voyages of Capt. Kirk’s Enterprise well, providing a decent mix of action and ass kickery.

Everyone’s least favorite warmongering species the Klingons have suffered a terrible disaster. A mining explosion on Praxis destroys the Klingon moon as well as the ozone layer of their home world, Kronos. If you can cite these intricate details of the Klingon Empire as well as I can then fear not, for one day you can be like me and spend all of your time blogging about Star Trek and not tapping any pussy whatsoever.

Moving on.

Reeling from disaster, Klingon Emperor and total peace-nik Gorkon proposes to turn a crisis into an opportunity – namely, since the Klingon Empire can no longer afford to fund its warmongering expansionist ways throughout the galaxy, they must make peace with their dreaded enemy, The Federation of Planets, i.e. those who gave us Starfleet.

Kirk is not a fan. He is pretty vocal in his hatred of Klingons. Ever since they killed his son in The Search for Spock, Kirk becomes a rabid species-ist and if some sort of KKK-like organization existed in space for the purposes of shitting on, destroying and defiling Klingons, then Kirk would totally volunteer to be its grandmaster. OK, maybe he isn’t that bad but even so, the dude really despises Klingons.

Klingons feel the same way about humans and tensions are high when Kirk is voluntold by Starfleet to escort Gorkon and his contingent to a peace summit where negotiations with the Federation will ensue. A state dinner between the humans and the klingons is fraught with strife, though not without occasional moments of common ground and lots of Romulan ale, which according to the film is the quickest way to get mad drunk in space.

Alas, treachery ensues. The Enterprise fires upon Gorkon’s ship, taking out much of his crew, as well as the ship’s gravity. Left defenseless as they float around, two mysterious humans in unidentifiable helmets and magnetic boots beam aboard and bat cleanup, zapping the shit out Klingons in a bloody mess that a) seems a bit much for a Star Trek film and b) I can only assume this scene inspired a young Quentin Tarantino.

Kirk and Bones beam aboard the Klingon ship to offer assistance, but no good dead goes unpunished as they are quickly taken prisoner by the film’s villain, General Chang (Christopher Plummer.) Yeah, it was 1991 so some writer somewhere thought it would be cool to make an alien sound exotic by giving him a Chinese name but whatever. It was a different time, right? No, that’s not cool? OK fine. Build a time machine and travel back to 1991 and protest the movie then.

Fun sidenote: Shatner and Plummer are both Canadian Shakespearean actors. Shatner served as Plummer’s understudy in a production of Henry V in the 1950s. Flash forward to the 1990s and Plummer is decked out in heavy alien makeup, hamming it up and chewing on scenery as he convinces a Klingon judge to find Kirk and Bones guilty.

Blah, blah, blah. Kirk and Bones must escape the space prison work camp they have been transported to while Spock and crew, working with she-vulcan Lt. Valeris, scour the Enterprise for clues that will absolve their captain and doctor and point to the true traitors.

Another fun sidenote: Before she became a total Samantha on Sex in the City, Kim Cattrall was a staple in many of your fave 1980s flicks. Mahoney’s love interest in Police Academy. Kurt Russell’s love interest in Big Trouble in Little China. A hot lady vulcan in this film.

Overall, the film is a political thriller, one might call it a Tom Clancy-esque flick of espionage, sedition and intrigue but with dudes in alien makeup grabbing their knees when Kirk discovers that sometimes when you kick an alien in the knee, you are kicking an entirely different and sensitive body part altogether. Whoops!

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Shatner and Plummer’s love of Shakespeare shows in this film. Gorkon is a fan of the bard and quips to his human colleagues that they simply “must read Shakespeare in the original Klingon” one day. While Hamlet referred to “the undiscovered country” as the afterlife, the place humans go after they die, i.e. the last place to explore, this film sees it as a state of peace, i.e. a state long sought after yet never achieved…until now?

Bonus points to the movie for being woke in a time when woke wasn’t really a word, at least not one used in the sense that it is today. Gorkon and Shatner discuss how for peace to be achieved, their elder generation will have to be the ones who suffer the most, learning how to move on and work together while setting longstanding grudges and memories of the other side’s bad acts aside. Younger generations who never saw war and conflict will find it easier to embrace the other. This film came out in 1991, just after the Berlin Wall fell, so one wonders if there aren’t some undertones about America and Russia working together in the wake of the Cold War.

NOTE TO 1990s STAR TREK WRITERS: RUSSIA’S OLDER GENERATION BOSS CONTINUES TO BE AN A-HOLE.

Double Bonus Points – Kirk does grow in this film in that he eventually learns that holding a grudge against an entire species because one of its members killed his son is not cool. We also gain some insight into why Klingons aren’t fans of humans. Throughout the series, Klingons are treated as vile scum for Kirk to fight but we learn that Klingons see the Federation as an organization that is racist against all non-humans and that while the Federation claims to represent many different lifeforms, only humans seem to grab the highest ranks of the organization.

A fitting ending to the 6 film series featuring Shatner and the original crew. Kirk and his crew retire, having played their parts in negotiating what will hopefully be a longstanding peace between two feuding factions of the galaxy.

Even so, Scotty still can’t get the damn warp drive to work.

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FREE BOOK!

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

You know what’s expensive? Gas.

You know what’s free? My book.

Buy my book. Entertain yourself. Use that money you saved to buy 2.99 worth of gas and take a nice drive to, I don’t know, the end of the street?

Anyway, here it is, my first novel, totally FREE:

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BQB Reviews Star Trek – Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier (1989)

Space! The Final Frontier!

Ha! They made a movie about the line, you know, from the show. Get it?

BQB here with a review.

Star Trek 5 has the dubious honor of being considered the worst of the 6 Shatner-centric OG Enterprise crew films. I haven’t seen this flick since I was a kid, but as I watched it, it’s funny how a lot of the scenes come back to me and I can remember where the movie is going.

Ultimately, I think it’s a good film that just got a bad rap for a few reasons:

#1 – It was the first film outside of the “find Spock and bring him home arc” that occupied 2, 3 and 4. Those 3 films all tie together so now the producers/writers/director had the difficult task of beginning a new tale.

#2 – It came out in 1989 and if we consider Star Wars of the late 1970s as bringing kick ass special effects to the forefront, the late 1980s and 1990s saw a whole slew of action films that brought the genre to the next level. The film came out in a summer filled with blockbusters and sequels. So many freaking sequels. Lethal Weapon 2. Ghostbusters 2. A few more I can’t think of. Also Batman. How do you compete against Batman 89? You can’t.

#3 – Because moviegoers were demanding action, I think it was a hard sell for a movie where the three main protagonists – Kirk, Bones and Spock, were getting up there. After rewatching it – on one hand, yeah I can’t think of another modern movie with so many oldsters running around fighting bad guys. On the other hand, they make so many movies today where we are expected to believe that 20 year olds are geniuses and super intelligent and know exactly what to do. I think Star Trek handles the age of their stars well, namely, that these are people who have been around the block, have seen some shit, and as they get closer to the end, they have less shits to give. How many times do Kirk and crew tell Starfleet to stick it as they go do their own thing? This isn’t something a young person can do easily but an old person? If you’ve got the skills and experience of a 50 something Capt Kirk, you too would probably find it easier to tell your boss to stick it in the name of doing what is right vs. what is politically expedient.

Alright. Now that we settled that hash.

Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill), the black sheep of Spock’s family, rejects his Vulcan ways, embracing emotion and encouraging his followers to do the same. Vulcans once held emotions like any other species, but they developed a quasi-religion around logic itself, embracing only what is practical.

The mad vulcan kidnaps three ambassadors – a Klingon, a Romulan and a Terran (human), each representing their species on the desolate planet of Nimbus III. Said planet was supposed to be a profit sharing business as all three races were supposed to join forces in building up the world and reaping the rewards but alas, it sucked so bad no one bought in.

Capt. Kirk and crew charge in and save the day in a daring raid. Alas, they’ve fallen into Sybok’s trap. He wanted them to come so he could hijack the Enterprise (they really should put a lojack on that ship because someone is always stealing it) and fly it to Sha Ka Ree, the fabled planet where all life supposedly began and is said to be where God Almighty himself lives.

The humorous relationship between Kirk, Bones and Spock save the film. They are taken prisoner and must break free. As usual, Bones is a pain in the ass naysayer. Spock is a genius who points out options but rarely sees the the emotional toll those options will take on others, much to Bones’ ire. In the end, Kirk is Mr. Let’s Kick Ass, Take Names, and Think About What We Did Later.

As if this weren’t enough, Kirk is once again being hunted by rogue Klingons. Apparently, there isn’t a lot of order in the Klingon military. Klingon ship captains just hear that Kirk is milling about and decide it would be a fun opportunity to built their space street cred and blow him the heck up. There’s never any radioing in to HQ to ask if this would be cool or anything.

Long story short, there’s a lot of suspense as the Enterprise crosses a so-called forbidden barrier and the crew touches down on the planet. Critics argue the ending is a bit of a let down. I won’t spoil it by revealing what they find but I mean, come on. The premise of the film is that space travelers are trying to find God in space. If they do find God, do you think his greatness could be expressed well on film? If they don’t, isn’t that a let down? Then again, if they did, is that blasphemous? If God wanted to be found, he’d invite us all over for tea and cookies, after all.

There is a scene at the end that is often considered silly. The Enterprise crew, Klingons, and even Sybok’s dumb followers join together in peace in a cocktail party. I mean, yeah, that kind of sounds stupid but the message seems to be they were all thrown together by one idiot’s treachery and in the end they all figured out how they did wrong and made amends. If only enemies becomes friends like that in real life.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Ultimately, I think the Star Trek OG Crew just struggled to find a place in a newer era where action reigned supreme, blockbuster flicks demanded a younger cast, and Star Trek tends to be more of a thinking sci-fi fan’s choice, so it became harder to mix the philosophy with all of the ass kicking.

Sidenote: Spock’s rocket boots are cool.

Double sidenote: I doubt you’ll believe this story but I’ll tell you anyway. I was on a ST binge last week, culminating in me watching this movie last Sunday. There is a scene where Sybok’s dimwitted henchmen are lured into abandoning their posts when they spot a voluptuous hot babe doing a scantily clad song and dance routine on the horizon. The pervs run to the babe, only to find Uhura. As she removes her veil, Kirk and crew whip out their phasers and take the bad guys prisoner.

“I always wanted to play for a captive audience,” Uhura quips. She must have been in her 50s at that point but damn, if she still didn’t have all the right moves.

At any rate, I paused the film. I wondered if Nichelle Nichols was still alive. Then I started wondering who else was alive and who had shuffled off this mortal coil. I knew DeForest Kelley and James Doohan had passed. I knew Shatner and Takei are still alive. I knew Nimoy had passed.

I saw Koenig (Chekov) was alive and then I was pleased to see Nichols was still alive. For some reason, I thought she had passed so I was happy to see she was still here.

Then literally an hour later the news popped up on my phone that groundbreaking actress Nichelle Nichols who played Uhura had died.

I don’t know if there is any point to that story other than I got to be happy that Nichols was still alive but then my happiness only lasted an hour.

RIP Nichelle Nichols

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