Tag Archives: television

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 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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Better Call Saul Series Finale Predictions

Hey 3.5 readers.

I enjoyed this show at first but must admit I let it fall by the wayside for years. Then upon hearing it was ending this year, I went on a binge and got all caught up.

SPOILERS ABOUND.

My main criticism is after season 3, when Chuck is killed off, the show descends into wacky fan fiction territory. It’s definitely for the hard core Breaking Bad fans, with every little aspect of BB getting expounded on. I’m not sure all of it was needed. For example, did we ever care how Hector got his little bell? I had already assumed someone just gave it to him to help him communicate through dings so I’m not sure there was anything else we needed to know. And Gus’ crew constructing the underground meth lab. I mean, sure, I suppose it’s interesting but why don’t we just spend a whole season on watching Walt’s tumor grow while we’re at it?

Anyway, for those who caught the mid-season finale, it was very tragic and shocking. Longtime Jimmy nemesis Howard Hamlin was in the wrong place at the wrong time and maybe that’s all I should say about that.

Perhaps in future posts I’ll go into my thoughts about other parts of the series but for now, my predictions as to how the show will end.

#1 – “Gene” gets to be Saul again.

In black and white vignettes, we see Jimmy/Saul as Gene, a mild mannered nobody managing a Cinnabon in Omaha, Nebraska. Living the life of an average schmuck was Jimmy’s worse nightmare and now it has come true. Once boisterous and full of life, he now keeps his head down and avoids all manner of personal connection, just trying to get through the day without being noticed.

We’re never quite sure when the Gene days happen or how much time has passed. Is it years after the Heisenberg debacle? Is it right after?

If it is right after, then seeing as how Walt dies and Jesse goes on the run and all the Nazis are dead and Gus is dead and all the major cartel players are dead and all the Madrigal players are dead Hank and Gomie are to our continued shock and horror, dead and loyal Francesca will play dumb, is there anyone out there left who could testify against him? If not, is there anything stopping him from dipping into that diamond bag, coming out of hiding, opening a new law office and Sauling it up once more? Maybe in a big league market like New York or LA this time?

I’ve been checking out theories and no one has predicted this scenario so I’m going to. It would be awesome.

#2 – Walt Whacks the Guy Who Recognized Saul

Word has it that Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston will reprise their Jesse and Walt rules for guest starring roles on the end of the series. Not quite sure how that would work. If the Gene days are right after the whole mess, I can only picture it as somehow they both stop by Nebraska on their respective ways out.

Gene tells the vac salesman/professional evil-doer relocator (the late Robert Forster) he’ll take care of the problem himself. For those who don’t remember, the problem is a former ABQ resident moved to Omaha who recognizes Saul and apparently intends to make his life miserable. Could “handling it” mean a phone call to Walt telling him he owes Saul one and he’d better handle this problem for him? Maybe on his way back to ABQ to harass Gretchen and Elliot and commit mass amounts of Nazi murder, he stopped on Omaha to take that menacing cabbie out to do his old lawyer a solid.

I don’t know how Jesse would get involved though, yo. Stopping in Omaha while on the run from ABQ to Alaska seems like a detour the disappearer wouldn’t have made. Then again if it is years and years later, maybe Jesse visits Saul for…some reason. Doubt it is to kill the cabbie. Jesse as we know doesn’t like doing such things.

#3 – Reunite with Kim

From the start of the series, we assume the Jimmy and Kimmy romance doesn’t last because after all, Kim wasn’t seen at all in Breaking Bad. There is a fun fan theory that she was behind the scenes all the time, perhaps as the mastermind behind Saul’s crooked tax dodging scheme “Ice Station Zebra Associates.” After Saul visited Walt and Jesse, he’d go to his love for advice on how to help these dumb yahoo meth cooks stay out of jail and she was the real maestro behind Saul’s operation but just stayed out of the limelight to not get her hands dirty.

Eh, that seems unlikely, though anything is possible. A safe assumption, what with the Lalo mess, is Jim and Kim breakup. Whether it’s just sort of a low scale breakup where Kim says she doesn’t want to be crooked anymore and goes back to a quiet law abiding life and never sees Jimmy again, or perhaps something bad happens that she herself must enlist the disappearer’s services, we don’t know…yet. Keep in mind though according to the show, Kim grew up in the Nebraska area so perhaps she went home to live with her mom and so when Gene says he’ll take care of the cabbie, he means he’s going to call his old flame who is also in hiding to bail his ass out one last time.

But then again it’s possible she just stayed in ABQ and went back to a normal life and just kept Jimmy out of it.

There’s always the possibility that something horrible happens. Maybe Kim dies by the end of the series. That would truly be awful but BCS and BB have never shied away from embracing the fact that a life of crime comes with truly disastrous and horrifying consequences.

However, if Gene and Kim could reunite in hiding that would be awesome. Maybe even come out of hiding. Didn’t she call herself Giselle when she and Jimmy did their scams? Maybe Jimmy and Giselle ride again. Maybe Saul gets to be Saul again and Kimmy is his co-counsel Better Call Giselle. Better Tell Giselle?

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Breaking Bad Binge

Let’s party like it’s 2013, 3.5 readers.

I recently went down the rabbit hole of a Breaking Bad binge. I haven’t watched it in years, so much of it was fresh. It’s also funny how when I first watched it when I was younger, I identified more with Jesse and all the angst that comes with growing up and realizing you’re on your own because the adults don’t know as much as you thought they did. Now I’m old and I identify more with Walt, i.e. the older you get, the less shits you have to give because the bitterness grows as you realize with age comes wisdom but also with more doors slamming in your face.

Of course, the whole moral of the story was just when you think it can’t get any worse so you might as well give up on all semblance of morality and engage in any evil deed you desire, you will discover that there always is something else to lose. Walt comes to the meth business with a suburban Karen-esque mentality i.e. “I need to speak with the meth biz’s manager because the meth gangs aren’t playing fair.” As he learns, dealing meth isn’t like being a teacher. You can’t complain to the union when things go wrong. Various baddies threaten Walt, his kids, his loved ones. Crime doesn’t pay and there’s always something more to lose.

At any rate, this is one of those shows that benefitted from the early days of streaming. It’s premise, a man with a cancer death sentence decides to embrace a life of crime because screw it, if he gets arrested he’ll be dead soon anyway, sounded kind of sad. And truly, it is. Writer and producer Vince Gilligan doesn’t let his characters off the hook with happy endings. He explains how they got into this terrible life and adheres to a rule of those who do bad things get bad consequences.

I could talk about this show from a writing standpoint forever, but instead, let’s watch Walt Jr. rap about breakfast:

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TV Review – Obi-Wan Kenobi- Parts 1 and 2 (2022)

May the force be with you, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of the new Disney Plus series, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Failure. It’s a stink that’s difficult, if not impossible to wash out and sometimes it can be so heavy that it burdens us down, crushing us underneath it’s smelly weight. What do you do when you tried, literally tried to do your best and yet somehow, due to unforeseen circumstances, your world came crashing down? Do you try to rebuild it or do you just learn to live with the disappointment?

Here, we see Obi-Wan Kenobi, one of a handful of Jedi and the last remaining Jedi Master, eeking out a meager existence on Tantooine, sticking to the shadows, living in a cave while keeping an eye on young Luke Skywalker from afar. Ten years have passed since the fall of the republic and he has given up all hope of defeating the empire. He keeps his force abilities hidden, refusing to practice them for fear that he will be revealed.

For being a Jedi is dangerous in this new age. “The Jedi hunts himself” is the motto of the inquisitors, force wielding agents of the empire assigned to hunt down the last remaining Jedi. They do so by putting the innocent in harm’s way, and alas, hidden Jedi feel naturally compelled to use their power to come to the aid of those in peril. In so doing, they expose themselves and are taken out by the inquistors.

But there’s no honor among thieves or inquisitors as they war among themselves to be the one who captures the prize that is Obi-Wan Kenobi, the last known legendary Jedi Knight in existence. A power struggle erupts between the Grand Inquisitor (an unrecognizable Rupert Friend of Homeland fame), Fifth Brother (an unrecognizable Sung Kang of Fast and Furious fame) and Third Sister (Moses Ingram who is recognizable as the only one who didn’t get caked on with prosthetics and makeup.)

Downtrodden and defeated, Obi-wan is asked by an old friend to come out of exile to take on a dangerous mission of great importance. Can he do it? Should he do it? He’s been out of training for a decade so the overall question is can he do it?

So far, the series is off to a great start. I’ve read some bad reviews but I really feel the show captures the overall feeling of dread that Obi-Wan must have felt at this dark time with some parallels for real life, i.e. how does one move on when life worked out so badly? No, none of us ever trusted a Jedi apprentice only to realize we were fools who gave them the training they needed to become Space Hitler, but surely we all have done something that we thought was a good idea, only to suffer financial loss, emotional loss, we ended up less than whole and realized we have no choice but to go on rather than waste time on trying to fix something that is irretrievably broken. Somehow, Obi-Wan must find a way to save the day as only he can but continue to live during a time when days saved are bleak at best.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Step aside, Baby Yoda. It’s Baby Leia’s time to shine.

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A Self-Publishing Milestone – Johnny B. Truant’s Fat Vampire Becomes a TV Show

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

You know who really got me into self-publishing? A trio of super cool dudes by the names of Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright. Johnny, Sean and Dave of “The Self-Publishing Podcast.”

I started blogging in 2014 with the idea that I’d try to write a novel and submit it to traditional publishers. Then I started seeing a lot of bloggers talking about self-publishing. Before I knew it, I was down the rabbit hole and found this podcast that was very funny, all about three friends following their dream of self-publishing success, sharing the lessons they learned, the mistakes they made and interviewing others who had done great things all without assistance from the gatekeepers of the publishing industry.

Their best-known non-fiction work, which doubles as their mantra, is “Write, Publish, Repeat” in which they make the case for writers to put in the work. You need to publish…a lot. Readers are hungry but they have access to so much free material that you have to put a lot out there before they start parting with the moolah.

Over the years (I think they began in earnest in 2012) they have published a ton of books. So many that I always wondered, given the sheer volume of their catalog, how the heck hasn’t one of their books been Hollywood-ized yet?

Well…their big day in the sun is here. Johnny B. wrote a comedy horror series called “Fat Vampire.” I believe this was one of his first books. It follows the plight of Reginald, an overweight man named Reginald who in life, really wanted to lose weight but couldn’t and thus suffered all the indignities that come with being plus sized.

And then he gets a vamp bite. Now a vampire, he falls in with a league of typically sexy brooding vamps. Alas, as those who know vamp lore will tell you, how you were as a human when you were bitten will be how you always are as a vamp. Poor Reginald will live forever but he can never lose weight. He is forever trapped as a fat vampire. Even though he rises through the ranks and proves himself worthy, he will forever be poked fun of by the other vamps for his fatness.

I noticed the book got a new title. “Reginald the Vampire” will be played by Spiderman’s BFF actor Jacob Batalon on SyFy. It seems the whole crux of the series is a chubby dude who wants to change but is forever locked into his chubbyness and the lack of respect from his peers that comes with it no matter what great victories he achieves so I hope they will at least grasp that.

But anyway, this is a victory for the SPP dudes, one a long time in the making. Very well deserved and proof to the rest of you self-publishers out there that you can do it.

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TV Review – Moon Knight (2022) – Episode 1

Grab your mummy bandages, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Disney/Marvel’s latest Disney Plus show.

OK, let me get this straight. For some reason, the Hollywood suits think we need to see Bruce Wayne’s parents get shot outside the theater a hundred times, that we need to see baby Superman crash land his baby spaceship in the Kents’ backyard a hundred times, and that we need to see Spiderman’s Uncle Ben get shot by the crook he let get away a hundred times.

Yet, for some strange reason, Moon Knight, perhaps one of the most obscure, known mainly to hard corps, straight up gangsta comic book nerds, needs no introduction. Here, we just jump into the action where Oscar Isaac plays Steven Grant, a wimpy museum gift shop clerk who, for some inexplicable reason, has been exhibiting strange, bizarre behavior. His body seems to have a literal mind of its own, for one minute he’s fine and the next, he finds himself in dangerous situations – gun fights, car chases, running away from monsters. A mysterious voice keeps telling him to hand his body over to some dude named Marc and somehow its all tied in to Egyptian lore with Ethan Hawke serving as a villain who, guided by an ancient goddess, doles out death as punishment for alleged crimes people have yet to even commit.

Wow. That was a mouthful.

I have a hunch that this season is going to be an origin story in and of itself. We see a brief sequence with the titular Moon Knight at the end of this episode but apparently, the writers decided to start with the action already underway and I assume they will Tarantino their way back to the beginning where we learn why Steven keeps losing control of his body, who is Marc, and who is the voice speaking to him.

It’s just…I don’t get it. Even in the most recent caped crusader flick, “The Batman,” Bruce Waynes’ parents deaths was heavily alluded to. While never shown, their demise was a central plot point so it’s just like, it seems that there must be always a Hollywood suit somewhere who is very concerned there might be one schmuck in the movie theater who was frozen in a block of ice 100 years ago, then thawed out by scientists, and then he left the lab and went straight to the theater and there’s a great concern that this thawed former ice man will have no idea how Batman’s parents died so we better mention it.

But Moon Knight? The character that only the prom dateless knew about up until Disney Plus put the show into production? A tale that seems very complicated with Egyptian gods and magic and body sharing and so on…yeah, we’ll just jump right in and let the viewers figure it out. No need to start at the beginning and move in a straight line at all.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Oscar Isaac becomes an entirely different person, although this takes place in England and not to goof on our friends across the pond but sometimes with the accents I feel like I need an English to English translator. Worth a watch and I’ll tune in for episode two.

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TV REVIEW – The Thing About Pam (2022)

Gotta watch out for those soda slurping middle aged moms, 3.5 readers.

Usually I wait until the end of a season before I opine on a series, but this is a true crime drama based on real, well publicized events that I’ve already looked up and self spoilered for myself, so I’m not worried about spoilers. If you are, you might want to look away.

The show is about the actual case where midwestern mom Pam Hupp stabbed her cancer stricken BFF Betsy Faria some 50 odd times with a knife, then framed Betsy’s husband Russ so she could collect the insurance money.

The third episode, which aired this week, gave us a look at the horribly conducted trial and IMO, is enraging because it gives a clear view into the horrors of confirmation bias, i.e. once the powers that be decide something is X, they put on blinders and refuse to consider any and all evidence that it might be Y.

In this case, Russ Faria has a room full of fellow dungeons and dragons nerds who all testify they were pretending to be elves and orcs with Russ until 9. A late night stop at Arby’s provides a time stamped receipt indicating that Russ would have to have driven like Mario Andretti on steroids to have returned home and stabbed his wife all in time for the 911 call.

Other evidence against Russ’ involvement abounds, while evidence against Pam emerges. I mean, holy crap, Betsy switched her insurance beneficiary from Russ to Pam, ostensibly because she trusted Pam would give the money to her daughters upon her death…but no one in law enforcement thinks to look more into this.

The DA’s office, the police, they all agree – Russ fits the profile. He kinda looks like a mean guy, he and his wife argued a lot (because no other couple ever argued before) and so obviously he must have done it. Big city attorney Joel Schwartz is astounded as he comes down to the close knit community where all the police and DA lawyers know each other, went to school with each other, have each others’ backs and form a wall against any and all common sense i.e. why will no one even consider Pam as a suspect?

Meanwhile, Pam plays the role of sweet, middle aged and caring Betsy friend well.

We haven’t gotten there yet, but my understanding is Russ does go to jail for a crime he didn’t commit while Pam gets emboldened by her first murder that she got away with that she kills again, first her elderly mother for more insurance money and then some random guy who she tried to pose as a hitman in a sad attempt to try to frame Russ again.

Rene Zellwigger is heavily made up to look like a frumpy old lady, yet another role where someone beautiful plays someone ugly. Oh well. That’s hollywood for you.

The show goes by quick and has some typical network TV formulaic stuff. But ultimately, it really is scary how so called professionals in the legal system can get so convinced of x’s guilt that they refuse to look at y evidence staring directly at them.

STATUS: Shelfworthy.

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Movie Review – The Tinder Swindler (2022)

Beware the Tinder Swindler, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of this Netflix documentary. SPOILERS ABOUND!!!

Stories abound of men doing dumb, stupid, even horrible things for a beautiful woman. Smitten men have lost their lives, their fortunes, their reputations, careers, livelihoods, even committed crimes and gone to jail, all in the name of a pretty face.

As my 3.5 readers know, I am absurdly ugly, such that I could describe myself as a bad DNA mix of Ron Pearlman, Steve Buscemi, Willem Defoe and a bulldog and still not begin to describe the depths of my hideousness. While this has led to many crappy aspects of life, I can tell you the one and only good thing is it has prevented me from being hoodwinked by women. A beautiful woman tells me she’ll love me forever if I do X stupid thing? “Ha!” I cry. “That’ll be the day!” I already know no woman could ever love my gargoylish Quasimodo self and thus it would be pointless to jump through her hoops.

Long story short, this documentary posits the hypothesis that rich men are to women what beautiful women are to men. While we should never get bogged down in absolutes as I’m sure there are many women who wouldn’t be foolish enough to lose their wits at the sight of a dude with a big bankroll, there are some members of the fairer sex who throw common sense out the window in the name of a man with a fat bank account.

Think back to all those Disney movies. Does the Princess ever go for a commoner, or does she long to be rescued by…yes, a Prince with a lot of dough? Take away The Beast’s big bottomline and that movie is just a horrid tale about an ugly dog monster man who kidnaps French beauty Belle and holds her hostage. Take away Christian Gray’s fat stacks and 50 Shades of Gray is just a horror show about a weirdo who likes to spank female fannies.

Ultimately, for…not all women but some women…a man with money is their kryptonite. Perhaps this brings us back to our primal caveman days when prehistoric cavewomen would flock to the strongest caveman who could protect them from saber tooth tigers and wooly mammoths. Today, strength and protection take the form of cold, hard cash.

And thus, here is a tale about women who met a man claiming to be the son of a fabulously wealthy Israeli diamond merchant. Simon, as he calls himself, pops up on the Tinder apps of many a lonely lady and when they see his wealth, his fancy clothes, his expensive cars, his personal private jet, his cadre of servants, bodyguards and flunkies, and his globetrotting lifestyle that lets him go from one swanky hotel to the next, they truly believe they have become modern day Cinderellas who have met their Prince Charmings.

Alas, if only these women had consulted a human gargoyle like me, for like the person who sits in the back of a theater showing a horror movie shouting out warnings to the victim about what the baddie is about to do, I found myself shouting at the TV, “No girl! Don’t do that! He’s going to….ugh!”

First, so many of these women get on this dude’s private jet and fly away with him on the first date. My initial reaction is why are these women so dumb to not realize that getting on a stranger’s plane after a first meeting a bad idea? Don’t they know he could very easily fly them to a shitty country where laws don’t apply and they could end up being drugged up, internationally trafficked sex slaves for the rest of their lives? Have these women never seen Taken? Egads.

Luckily, none of them are turned into sex slaves. But they are taken for big bucks. Once Simon woos them, he bombards his lady marks with tales of peril, various reasons why he has lost access to his cash and great dangers that will befall him if the women don’t fork over their dough. These ladies end up not only handing over their life savings, they also take out massive loans, racking up insane credit card debt that they have no hope of repaying, all in the name of…well they think they are saving Simon from peril but in reality, are funding his lavish lifestyle.

The key lie in Simon’s repertoire is to claim that he has “enemies” i.e. he is a rich diamond merchant and various evildoers want to do him in because…I don’t know, he has a lot of money and they want it I guess? At any rate, the S man simply tells his befuddled babes that very bad, naughty men are tracking him through his credit cards, so he has to use theirs but don’t worry…he’ll pay them back.

So, don’t get me wrong. I get that at the end of the day, the con man is responsible for the con. No matter how dumb you think the conned might be, the conner is the one in the wrong who has done a terrible thing.

Even so…yeah, as an ugly gargoyle whose only credit as an ugly gargoyle is an immunity to being conned by a pretty face, I found myself shouting at the TV. “Really, girl? A man that rich claims bad guys are tracking him through his credit cards and so…he needs YOUR credit card? That doesn’t set off a red flag for you? There’s no other alternative for a man that rich? There isn’t like a secure banking service or a security expert or some sort of banking method a man with that much money can use in this type of situation? Borrowing his girlfriend’s credit card and racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt is the only thing he can do? Give me a break.”

I will say part of me gets why the women are duped. Simon appears to have so much freaking money that it seems like it would be easy enough for him to pay the loans back to the ladies. Still, the cynic in me wonders why these women never asked why a man that rich doesn’t have say, the resources necessary to access secure, untrackable credit and ultimately, if that money is a lot to these women, enough to cripple them financially for life, why take the risk? The documentary’s answer is that they do it for love, that they genuinely care for Simon and worry about his safety but…there’s a part of me that wonders if these women saw Simon as their Prince Charming, their lifelong meal ticket who could give them a fabulous lifestyle, so they’d best not question it and do whatever he says, throwing all common sense out of the window.

In other words, if Simon looked like gargoyle old me and had my shitty lifestyle, they probably wouldn’t let me borrow five bucks if I gave them a promissory note signed by the Pope, let alone throw me a life preserver if I were drowning, but they’ll be duped into committing credit card fraud and get stuck with the bill for a handsome man posing as a wealthy adventurer.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. You know, the strongest among us has their kryptonite, the chink in their armor, their Achilles heel, so I am sympathetic to what happened to these ladies. I just…I don’t know. It was hard not to watch this movie and think if I only had like, a tenth of Simon’s looks, if I had a tenth of his fast talking abilities, if I had just a bit of money…I could have some hotties in my life and wouldn’t be so lonely . I would use those powers for good and treat the hotties right but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Que sera, sera.

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