I must admit I was skeptical when I saw Disney Plus was offering a Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. It’s only about 45 minutes long, a quick watch, basically a well produced 45 minute TV episode.
The plot? The Guardians have purchased a town called Knowhere from the Collector and are running it, busy assisting the alien townsfolk with all of their problems. When super song Drax and creepy mind controlling bug woman Mantis (Dave Bautista and Pom Klementief) learn that their leader, Quill (Chris Pratt) didn’t have a very happy Christmas under the watchful eye of pirate Yondu, they set out to make things right by doing a lot of wrong, namely, by kidnapping Quill’s hero, actor Kevin Bacon and bringing him to space as a present.
The running joke is that Drax and Mantis are dummies. They see nothing wrong with the idea of kidnapping someone and gifting a human being as a present, so Quill must set them straight on that. Also hilarity ensues when the alien duo realize that Bacon really is not a great man who has done a lot of great things but in actuality, is an actor who has just pretended to do them.
My one complaint is “shit” is said by one of the characters and look, I’m not a wallflower. I watch movies with dirty language all the time. My complaint is the film spent 44 minutes being something that parents and kids can enjoy together only to drop an unnecessary word right at the end.
Not to give a spoiler, but the running joke is that all the aliens are disgusted by actors, the idea of someone claiming false glory, pretending to do great things instead of actually doing them. Throughout the show whenever they learn Bacon is an actor, they pretend to vomit, call him gross and disgusting and lament how they have ruined Christmas by procuring a disgusting actor. It’s funny and a good joke on the acting profession. Then right at the end when Bacon proves his worth a character says, “Wow I guess all actors aren’t a worthless piece of shit” or something liek that. They could have just had her say all actors aren’t worthless. They managed to go the whole episode without swearing yet still being enjoyable and funny without the bad language.
I worry about the direction Disney is headed in as of late. They had She Hulk talking in unnecessary detail about Steve Rogers sex life, something that still could have been done if more tact had been used. I think in the end everyone is forgetting that while adults enjoy Marvel, the kids have to come first and it has to be suitable for them. Disney’s stock and projects have been tanking as of late and I think it is largely because parents aren’t happy with what they are seeing. They need to dial it back a bit.
Beware the Watcher, 3.5 readers. He or she (or they) might be watching you!
BQB here with a review of this ultra creepy Netflix series.
If you’re looking for the perfect scary TV show this Halloween season, look no further than The Watcher. Your occult side will cringe at a plot ripe with blood drinking cults, ritual murders, and psychopaths galore. However, if you do not fear such silly stories, then surely your adult side will cringe as every homeowner’s worst nightmare comes true – i.e. when what they thought was a sound real estate investment loses its resale value and can only be sold at a substantial loss. In today’s real estate market? We’ll never be able to afford another nice home in a neighborhood with such picturesque views and good schools, access to quaint shopping centers and don’t even get me started about these beautiful countertops! EEEEK!
Such is the fate of the Brannock family, a clan of trendy Manhattanites who yearn to leave the dangers of the crime ridden big city and stretch out in the stately, beautiful home at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey. At first, Dean and Nora (Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts) believe all their dreams have come true, only to have them dashed when they start receiving a series of anonymous, threatening letters signed only by “The Watcher.”
The highlights of The Watcher’s claims? That he comes from a long line of watchers. His grandfather and father have been watching 657 Boulevard since the early 1900s and now it’s his turn. The creepy threatening letters go on to claim that the Watcher is watching the kids, that he’ll call to him when he learns their names, and that the house needs blood. Yikes. Not exactly the welcome to the neighborhood any family is looking for.
And thus, the Brannocks go down the most unsavory of rabbit holes as they attempt to unravel the mystery of who the heck this mysterious watcher is. They liquidated their 401Ks just to afford the down payment on this stinking mansion, after all, so they aren’t going to lose their equity without a fight! (You younger non-homeowners might balk at this notion but seriously, once you’ve cobbled together enough money to put a down payment on your first home, you’ll stop wondering why so many homeowners in movies and TV refuse to leave a house even after they find out it is infested with ghosts, goblins, werewolves, zombies, barracudas, sharks with laser beams on their heads, chainsaw maniacs or impolite time share salesmen. I’m sorry but we’re not going back to renting or, yeesh, living with our parents, just so murderous monsters can unleash mayhem on our dime, thank you very much.)
The plot thickens as the neighborhood harbors a seemingly endless cornucopia of yahoos, weirdos and malcontents, each with their own grudge against the Brannocks, largely over the fact that they were able to afford such a luxurious home that everyone in the hard to buy into yet highly desired neighborhood can’t afford. Possible watcher suspects include a laundry list of jealous neighbors, jilted bidders who also wanted to buy the property, greedy real estate agents, unhelpful cops, an eccentric private detective, a young alarm system installer crushing on the family’s teenage daughter, an architecture loving teacher, a historic society that believes it can dictate whatever you do in your home right down to your every sneeze, a suspected blood sucking cult believed to be operating in the area, the perpetrator of a gruesome murder long thought to be on the run but who has now returned, a mentally challenged neighbor who really like’s the house’s dumb waiter and…honestly, I forget. There are at least ten or twenty more suspects I’m missing.
Perhaps that’s the scariest element of this story. The Brannocks are the victims of a crime, yet with no smoking gun, no clue that blows the case wide open, they are left hopelessly chasing their tail between their legs, running round and around, yanking one thread after another but never quite getting anywhere. Everyone is a potential suspect, preventing them to ever feel safe making friends in their new community.
Sure, there is some unlikely silliness. The couple embarrasses themselves often when they pull an “aha!” out of their butts and public hurl accusations at random townsfolk who quickly make them feel like crap when they share a glossed over fact that proves their innocence. The Brannocks quickly agree to stop jumping to conclusions and to never again publicly confront a suspect until they have the hardcore, unvetted and undeniable proof so as to not embarrass themselves or others only to do the old, “Aha! It was you!” routine of public embarrassment again and again.
Meanwhile, forget the part above where I said a good homeowner will never leave their equity investment, psychos and monsters be damned. Eh, the silliness abounds when pets are murdered, mysterious videos emerge showing an unidentified party in the house while the family sleeps, a secret tunnel is found and a blurry figure is seen running into it yet strangely never boarded the eff up, all these and more signs of foul play afoot in the house yet the family never abandons the property. They do rent a motel to escape the creepiness, but the dad usually remains because, damn it, we must preserve equity!!!
In truth, once you get beyond all the frights and chills, the real villain might be the American real estate market. A family feels the need to keep up with the Joneses by purchasing a dream home, the down payment on takes up all their reserve funds, meaning if something goes wrong, they’ll never be able to keep up with the payments and expenses and will be ruined if forced to re-sell at a loss. Sure, they could have bought a smaller home, but they really like this one and fear they’ll never find another like it again. Meanwhile, the highly competitive real estate bidding process leaves buyers angry when they are left out in the cold. Even further meanwhile, covetous neighbors who are used to your property looking a certain way get angry when you change it.
If you think this show is creepy, feel free to read about the real-life story the series is inspired by.
I read the article and while the real-life Broadus family didn’t encounter a list of potential suspects who were anywhere near as wacky as the embellished Netflix series, they did undergo the horror of finding their dream home, only to have their dreams dashed when they received scary watcher letters. They attempted to figure out who said watcher was only for an investigation into myriad suspects to go nowhere. Alas, they never moved into their dream home and had to sell it at a substantial $400,000 loss five years later, without even ever living there.
The scariest thing of all? Lost equity. EEEEK!
Bonus points to Bobby Cannavale, he who typically plays tough guy cops and crooks but plays against type as a typical nerdy upper class suburban dad here. Naomi Watts does fine as the upper class suburban mom though one wonders just how many upper class suburban moms/struggling artists there are.
SPOILER ALERT: (Look away if you want no spoilers.)
The in-show Brannocks never definitively find out who the Watcher is, just as the real-life Broadus family never did either. The mystery was never solved and you might experience angina as the show hurls an endless supply of schmucks and weirdos, each with their own motive, only for the undeniable “gotcha, you totally did it and here’s the undeniable proof!” moment to never happen. Sadly, we’ll never know who the Watcher was, what was their grudge with the family and what was the point of all those creepy letters?
We’ve got a coup. We’ve got an impending civil war. We’ve got dragons!
GRRM and the show writers a) have a way of making things happen but not in the way you’d expect and b) good become bad and bad become good.
The king has died. Alicent shares her mistaken belief that on his deathbed, Viserys wished for Aegon to be named heir. Turns out, this never mattered, because Otto and his flunkies had long planned in secret to install Aegon as king anyway, so this news just strengthens what they were going to do no matter what. Perhaps though if Alicent had not misunderstood Viserys’ last words, she might not have gone through with the coup.
We see a mini civil war between Alicent and Otto and their respective flunkies in a race to find an undercover Aegon in King’s Landing and bring him back from a night of debauchery. Both hope to find him first and be the first one to talk him into agreeing or not agreeing to have Rhae killed. Unfortunately, Alicent doesn’t quite understand the depths of what she’s getting herself into. Otto might be wrong morally but correct in plan execution, in that if you’re going to pull a coup, you can’t try to warn Rhae or negotiate for peace or just put her in jail. You have to, sad as it is, kill her and all challengers before they and their supporters even have a chance to fight back, before they even know there is a reason to.
Aegon is an unscrupulous pervert who even admits himself is unfit for the crown, though once he gets a taste of a cheering crowd, it’s clear he wants it. Aemond is jealous for he has trained to rule his entire life but will not get to do so.
Cole goes to the darkest of dark sides when he kills Lord Beesbury, the elderly coin master and only member of the small council to stand up for Rhae and declare and his colleagues traitors.
The White Worm uses her power to stand up for the poor, abused and exploited children of Flea Bottom.
Oh, and we learn Larys and Alicent have a deal where she lets him spank the monkey while staring at her naked feet in exchange for him giving her information about her enemies…which frankly, tons of internet memes about the creepy relationship between this duo already called that Larys was a degenerate foot sniffer.
The coup de grace final scene is when Rhaenys crashes through the coronation on dragon back, having just broken her pet and bff dragon Melys out of dragon jail. She could have stopped a civil war before it started by burning up the entire Hightower side of the royal family, but declines to do so, the theories being that a) she had a heart b) didn’t think it was her place to do so and wasn’t going to fight Rhae’s for her and frankly neither side of the fam has done her right so she’s best not taking either side c) has a soft spot for mothers and women in power and Alicent standing in front of Aegon moved her but any rate she sends them the message that she could have cooked those fools if she wanted to. Alas, all the peasants crumpled under her dragon’s feet were not so lucky. Neither side really gives a crap about the peasants.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Another episode that got me to watch it at the moment it aired.
I did something Sunday night that I haven’t done in a long time. I sat down at the time when a show aired and watched on the first airing, rather than just wait until I was ready to stream it. Such has been my growing interest in this show and I haven’t done any appointment TV viewing since its predecessor, Game of Thrones, was on the air.
SPOILERS abound, so look away if you don’t want any.
#1 – Paddy Considine really nailed this sendoff episode where his character, King Viserys dies. The king suffers from leprosy and old age, though more the former. I found out later he is only supposed to be in his 50s but being in your 50s and having leprosy were both dangerous things in ancient times. Yes, I know leprosy is bad think to have now but we’ve pretty much gotten rid of it with modern medicine and hygiene haven’t we?
The King spends his last day of life trying to protect his family and bring them together to avoid an all-out war, not to mention a family conflict that would tear the house apart. Addled by opium, he foregoes this ancient pain med to keep his mind as clear as possible. In one of the greatest underdog wins the day scenes on television in recent years, the down and out king surprises everyone when he staggers, clearly in pain, into the king’s chamber and up to the throne, thus thwarting an attempt by his hand/chief advisor and his queen to undermine his daughter, who he has named his successor, a dangerous move in olden times, for in those days, the people really preferred their leaders to have ding dongs and were willing to go to war to make that happen.
Paddy Considine deserves an Emmy for his performance. Online debate abounds as to whether Viserys was a bad king, a weak king, maybe too kind for the job, or perhaps the time period just handed him a great big lump of crap and he did the best he could with it. To be honest, I think he did the best with the info he had and made the best choices out of a series of options that weren’t the best.
Appoint your daughter the next queen and risk a civil war or name your unscrupulous, wife murdering brother who has shown signs he might be a tyrant if crowned?
#2 – In true GOT style, no one is completely wrong or right and GRRM shows us how bad people turn good and good turn bad. Ultimately, any quest for power is a dangerous game.
#3 – Vaemond lost his head! You know, Corlys just got a bad fever and suddenly, everyone starts fighting over his stuff. They didn’t even wait to see if he’d pull through. I suspect he will and will a) be pissed his bro tried to subvert his wishes but b) that was still his bro and he’s not going to take to him being beheaded lying down.
That was quite a scene, wasn’t it? Vaemond really, really leaned into shouting that Rhae’s children were “BASTARDS!” and their mother was a “WHORE.” Treasonous language that he had to have known was going to end badly for him, but in that moment, the second son of Driftmark went full on IDGAF and you could tell this was building inside him for years that it was a total catharsis for him to say it just before he lost his dome.
Note the king was only going to cut out his tongue though. Losing your tongue is apparently the remedy for slander in the GOT-verse so Corlys, if he pulls through, may likely think Daemon went way too far.
Bottomline: I think a lot of people assumed this show was going to stink. So many prequels and sequels and cinematic universe/in the same ballpark shows end up being silly fan fiction, explaining things no one cared about in the first place. This one really builds a world and characters (albeit the world was already built) but like its original, has us fans back online, spinning our wacky theories and debating the issues of the realm once more.
Let’s admit it, GOT fans. We all thought House of the Dragon was going to be a stinkburger.
So many of these sequels and prequels are absurd fan fiction. The Many Saints of Newark gave us the life story of Tony’s uncle, as if we were clamoring for it. Disney is going all out, telling us the tale of an obscure Rebel spy in Andor, a character in a prequel that itself was based entirely off a brief line in the first Star Wars film about a bunch of rebels who stole the Death Star plans. In short, Hollywood couldn’t finish these series properly so they hire new writers to take little details and spin them into, well, something.
But this House of the Dragon has been great thus far. I believe this is largely due to it being based on just one book by George RR Martin. Unfortunately, the original GOT started to suffer when the plot expanded past the last book in GRRM’s unfinished book series.
The time jumps are difficult and often leave plot holes. However, HBO is learning from past mistakes. They don’t have the time, money or patience to tell the story forever, so they need to make time leaps and at least give us some semblance of a complete story from beginning to end rather than focus on the beginning in great detail and then shrug off the end in true, “Meh, I guess Bran can be king” style.
HotD takes us 172 years before GOT, in super woke times for a medieval age. Irony is where the wokeness is often heavy handed in most shows, this one works it into the plot well. King Viserys (Paddy Constantine) lacks a male heir, so to quell bickering amongst the various scheming lords, names his daughter, Rhaenyra, his heir. Alas, things get complicated when he marries Rhae’s BFF, Alicent and has a son, Aegon. Double alas, the show is set in a time when men would rather burn the country down then bend the knee to a queen.
Civil war looms when, after a long time jump, we see that Rhae is popping out kids a plenty, none of which look like her half-black husband (I’d say half African American but Africa and America don’t exist in this fictional world). BTW, while this world is unwoke when it comes to women being in charge, it is hella woke when it comes to interracial marriage and people of color being in charge. It’s nice to think that maybe, when you look up at the sky and see the perhaps infinite number of other worlds that could exist, maybe one of them had people who, at the beginning of their world, shrugged and said, “Eh, what does color matter? Let’s all just be friends.”
Ultimately, former friends Alicent and Rhae become bitter enemies. While Rhae is boldly indiscrete about her out of marriage dalliances (a move that can cause civil war in a country where the monarchy’s secession depends on parentage), one wonders if Alicent’s challenge is motivated by her simply trying to protect her children or if she sees her former friend defying convention and rules and is angry she didn’t. (She was pretty much forced to become the king’s second wife and what young girl wants to be married off to an old geezer?)
Disgust abounds on this show. Lords and ladies openly talk of betrothing (making a marriage engagement) between adults and children, cousins with cousins, uncles with nieces, brothers with sisters and so on. Perhaps the most fictional part of a show (where people ride dragons) is that the children that are the product of these incestuous and gross relationships end up beautiful and healthy. See the paintings of outlandishly deformed European royals who were the products of inbreeding for the non fictional version.
Anyway, never has there been a fictional drawing of battle lines like this since the 2000s Team Jacob vs. Team Edward. Which side are you on, 3.5 readers?
I have noticed the internet seems largely pro-Rhae. I have been Team Alicent because I felt Rhae was very indiscrete, practically begging the world to challenge the legitimacy of her kids, but then again it seems as of late that Alicent is the only one making that challenge publicly. Everyone else seems to be going along with it, at least for now.
Murder! Cannibalism! BQB here with a review of Netflix’s latest true crime series.
If you were alive in the early 1990s, then you may recall a time when the news was all Dahmer all the time. You couldn’t turn on the TV without learning something new about the prolific, psychotic serial killer who was caught when one of his victims escaped and led police back to his Milwaukee, Wisconsin apartment which contained bones, skulls, heads, photos of dead bodies and body parts, some preserved and some left to dissolve in a barrel of acid. Yup, Old Jeffy was doing that long before Jesse botched it in his bathtub on Breaking Bad.
Speaking of botching things, Netflix tends to do that with a lot of its movies and shows, but they handle a very gruesome story here and they do it well, such that if you have a sensitive stomach or just ate lunch, you might not want to watch. Otherwise, they bring the viewer in and provide a lot of history, parts of the story that either weren’t well publicized or maybe I just missed it at the time because I was just a kid.
It’s weird how certain things happen that affect a person’s life. But for a certain incident or even several strung together, someone might have been an entirely different person and lived an entirely different life. At any rate, the chain of events in Jeffrey Dahmer’s young life were such that it’s almost as if he were given a master class on how to become a serial killer at a young age and could not have become anything else.
The story moves around a lot, starting when Dahmer gets caught. He openly confesses to police and from there the story shifts back and forth in time, from Dahmer’s childhood, teen years, early twenties back to the height of his murder spree in his late twenties and early thirties up until his arrest.
As a child, Little Jeff saw a lot of things that kids just shouldn’t see. His mother Shari (an almost unrecognizable Penelope Ann Miller) has mental problems, such that she attempts suicide often and Lil’ Jeff sees her in a drugged up state of near death. She constantly screams and hollers at husband Lionel (Richard Jenkins), pulling a knife on him at one point for Lil Jeff to see. Also, she’s obsessed with UFOs. She really believes little green men are after her, to the point that she’s ready to cut you if you disagree.
In turn, Lionel’s response to the situation isn’t great. Though it’s understandable he doesn’t want to stick around his crazy, alien obsessed wife while she’s yelling at him and pulling sharp cutlery on him, the solution wasn’t to just run away, leaving the kids with her alone for days at a time. The solution was to get her some help and get the kids out of the house.
Overall, I’m confused on what happened with his parents. On one hand, the series treats Shari as a woman who late in life, it is revealed by more modern medicine that she suffered from postpartum depression, and perhaps if 1960s doctors had been more up to snuff, they would have been able to help her and not just treat her as a wacko lady suffering from lady delusions. On the other hand, she does pull knives on her hubby and I doubt if the situation were reversed, we’d have much sympathy for a man who pulls a knife on his wife, bats in his belfry be damned.
At any rate, the couple divorces but a lack of communication leads to each assuming the other is taking care of Jeff during his senior year. Mom leaves the house with younger son David, telling 17 year old Jeff to go live with his father. Dad runs off with a new love interest and assumes Jeff was staying with his ex-wife. In a total not-parents of the year move, neither bothers to check on the lad until Dad finally does and realizes the kid has been living by himself for three months (who the eff was paying all the house bills?)
During this unsupervised time, the Jeffster makes his first kill and its a road to horror from there. Then again, the boy was always obsessed with death. Watching his father remove a dead possum from under the house catches his interest. Lionel, a scientist, mistakenly assumes this means his young son has an interest in anatomy, so the duo develop a hobby of collecting roadkill and dissecting dead animals in the garage together.
I could go on and on, but overall, it’s a story of how a kid can grow up to be messed up if a) he’s exposed to messed up things and b) there isn’t an adult who gives the kid the proper guidance as well as c) the police, government, teachers and other members of the system miss the warning signs.
One wonders how many lives might have been saved if Lionel had told his son, “No son. Dissecting roadkill is creepy and everyone will think you’re a creepy little shit if you do it. Stop doing creepy shit.”
What if Shari’s doctors had caught her problem early so she wasn’t always being mental in front of Lil Jeff? What if the police had arrested him at 18 when he had human remains in the back seat? What if the police had listened to good samaritans who found a drugged up boy with a head injury and pleaded with police to look into this rather than just assume it was a lover’s spat gone wrong?
To be certain, there is much non-wokeness in Jeff’s life and Netflix doesn’t ignore it or try to spin it for modern times. It takes places from the 1960s to the 1990s, not exactly a good time for wokeness. Rather than sugarcoat it, Netflix lets things that were considered fine in that day happen on screen for us to cringe at with modern eyes. Lionel and Shari’s doctor talking about Shari as if she wasn’t there, scolding her for interrupting. Cops who couldn’t get out of Dahmer’s apartment fast enough, concerned they might catch gay germs. Grandma who urges the young man to come to church and pray the gay away. (Although I don’t want to knock Granny too much as she seems like the only relative the kid had who had any patience for him.) A socially isolated Jeff who makes fun of kids with cerebal palsy for laughs, just because he’s starved for any kind of attention.
Context is largely dead in modern TV, but Netflix trusts us to look at these olden times, warts and all, that we won’t think the bad things that were acceptable in that era were cool but rather, that we can see how they led someone like Dahmer to do bad things.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Great acting from Miller and Jenkins (Molly Ringwald also as Lionel’s second wife Shari) as well as Evan Peters, he of X-Men Quicksilver fame who plays Dahmer. Don’t forget Niecy Nash who plays Dahmer’s long suffering next door neighbor Glenda. Speaking of what ifs, one wonders how many lives might have been saved if police had taken her calls about her neighbor’s smelly apartment, scary sounds coming from her neighbor’s apartment, holy shit will you guys come check out my neighbor’s freak show apartment already?
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.
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.
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.
#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.
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.
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.
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?