Friday, September 19, 2014

Batman - Top 20 Rogue Gallery Members Part 3

My penultimate look of the best rogues and we're into the Top 10 when it comes to the villains that have proven to be worthy adversaries for the Dark Knight.

6: Harley Quinn (Harleen Quinzel)

This character might be less than thirty years old having made her debut in Batman: The Animated Series first before transitioning into the comics (and popping up in shows such as Birds Of Prey and Arrow) but she's certainly turned out to be a far more interesting and endearing character and her genuine friendship with fellow Rogue member, Poison Ivy has probably been more interesting than her destructive relationship with the Joker but either way, Harley has proven to be quite a force to be reckoned with in various mediums.

7: Two-Face (Harvey Dent)

Scarred by Sal Maroni and popping up in movies such as Batman Forever and The Dark Knight, Harvey Dent might have once been a strong force in trying to get the criminals off the streets of Gotham but he soon became every bit as dangerous as many of the criminals he took on and his ongoing rivalry with Batman has kept many of us entertained for years. However outing Montoya was not one of his greatest moments.

8: Ras Al Ghul

Also known as the demon and a man who has lived for centuries. Also known as the father of Talia (and Nyssa), grandfather to Damien (ugh) and someone who original wanted the Detective (Batman) to become his natural heir. While Ras is certainly a dangerous presence and one that was nicely brought to life in Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy by Liam Neeson and will be appearing in Arrow soon, he also one of the more complex of Batman's adversaries as well.

9: The Scarecrow (Jonathan Crane)

He might not look physically threatening and I won't lie - in general scarecrow don't really generate much in the way of fear for me, but Crane is one of the nastiest and creepiest members of the Rogue Gallery and with his fear toxins, he can certainly put the frighteners on anyone unlucky to be around him.

10: Bane

The man who literally broke Batman's back and a far more interesting character than I was previously led to believe in Batman & Robin. Luckily both the comics and The Dark Knight Rises have been more than enough to showcase how much of a physical and strategic threat this particular character can be when he has gone up against Batman and because of that, he just about manages to get into my Top 10 list.

The last of this list will be up tomorrow.

London Spy - Ben Whishaw Cast In BBC2 Thriller

A couple of months ago, BBC2 announced that they were going to commission a five episode spy drama named London Spy by gay writer Tom Rob Smith and now it's leading man has been revealed ...

Ben Whishaw, best known for his role as Q in Skyfall and of course, the short lived BBC2 series The Hour will take on the role of Danny, describe as a“a gregarious, hedonistic, but ill-equipped spy”. Danny falls in love with Alex, described as “anti-social and enigmatic,” but who later goes missing forcing Danny to attempt to find him.

On the casting announcement, Smith said: “Ben Whishaw is quite simply one of the best actors in the country. It’s an extraordinary privilege, as a writer, to have him play the lead.”

While casting for the role of Alex and other characters in the upcoming series have yet to be announced, I have to admit that this does sound like it's going to be an interesting take on the genre and Whishaw is a superb casting choice for the role of Danny.

Casting News:

London Spy begins filming in October and will air on BBC2 in 2015.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gotham - Final Roundup

Okay, I swear that until the airing of the first episode that this will be the last blog I post in relation to Gotham and this one is more of a roundup of some tiny spoilers and an interesting article, courtesy of The Advocate in relation to the female characters of the upcoming series.

Fox have kindly been releasing a few more promotional banners for the upcoming series. in the last fortnight, we've had one of the city itself, another with just James Gordon (Benjamin McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), another with Carmine Falcone (John Donam), Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) and Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor). More to the point, we have titles and spoilers for the first three episodes of the series.

As for the episodes, the first three have the titles of Pilot (not exactly a shocker there), Selina Kyle and The Balloonman. At this rate, I can't really tell you anything new about the opening episode that several reviews haven't already revealed, other than it sets up what's to come for the prequel series with the death of the Waynes having quite the ripple effect on the city. The second episode however does focus on a child trafficking plot that affects Selina, will debut Oswald's mother, Gertrud Kabelput (Carol Kane) and also will feature former Six Feet Under actress Lili Taylor in the role of Patti. As for the third episode, it's titular character is a vigilante killing corrupt Gothamites via a weather balloon, will introduce former Dexter actor David Zayas as mob boss Sal Maroni and will also see Oswald working for another figure in the criminal underworld. So far, these are very basic descriptions but all of them do sound rather interesting, episode wise.

Meanwhile, influential LGBT magazine, The Advocate recently posted an interesting article on the diversity of Gotham's female cast - with particular focus on mob boss/nightclub owner Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), Captain of GCPD's Homicide Squad, Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara) and lesbian detective, Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartegena). In the article, both Pinkett Smith and Cartegena voiced their delight in getting to play prominent female characters in power while co–executive producer Danny Cannon went on to state “There’s no way we on Earth we would have a show like this limit itself with out-of-date values.” There have been several reasons why I've been looking forward to Gotham for the last year but the show's inclusion of prominent LGBT and POC characters has definitely been one of them and I personally cannot wait to see what Fish, Sarah and Renee get to bring to the series during the next few months.

Gotham Spoilers/Trailers/Sneak Peeks:
The Advocate Article:

Gotham airs Mondays 8pm on FOX from September 22nd and is rumoured to air on Channel 5 in October. Netflix have also acquired the rights to the series and will stream it after transmission of it's first season.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

First Look: MTV's Faking It

I have to admit when I read about MTV's new teen drama, Faking It earlier this year, I wasn't best pleased with the general premise. In fact, I actually found it pretty offensive and thought the music channel was hitting a new low.

With the show about to start on the UK viewing next week on MTV (which makes you wonder why the UK version of that station can't air Teen Wolf), the series, created by Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov focuses on two girls - Amy Raudenfeld (Rita Volk) and Karma Ashcroft (Katie Stevens) who decide that in order to gain some notice at their local high school they'll pretend to be a lesbian couple, which certain has the desired result - except for the fact that out of the two of them, it seems that Amy isn't faking it after all, which at least makes sure that the premise of this show isn't as bad as it seems. Not to mention that rival popular girl Lauren (Bailey De Young) isn't particularly convinced by the girls relationship either and seems determined to out their fake romance. De Young's character also represents one of MTV's first intersex characters as well.

Another major focus in the series is the dynamic between best friends - straight Liam Booker (Gregg Sulkin) and gay Shane Harvey (Michael Willett), both of whom seem to have quite the tactile and affection friendship as well as playing instrumental roles in both Amy and Karma's ongoing arcs. Liam himself gets romantically involved in Karma throughout the eight episode first season while Shane, the guy responsible for outing Amy and Karma's 'relationship' ends up becoming a support system for the former when he isn't getting a love interest of his own with celibate character, Pablo (Anthony Palacios) for the show's upcoming second season.

I know I haven't actually watched anything yet aside from the ads but it looks like I really (and possibly severely) misjudged this show. The more I've read up about it, the better it actually sounds.

Seasons 1 & 2 Trailers/Recaps/Links:

Faking It's first season airs Wednesdays 9pm on MTV (UK version) from September 24th but it's second season will air Tuesdays at 10.30pm on MTV (US version) from September 23rd. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

American Horror Story: Freak Show - Ryan Murphy Interview/New Spoilers

I know it's not been exactly long since my last post for the upcoming season of American Horror Story, but the spoilers are coming a little thick and fast and it's kind of hard not to want to share them. Especially now that Ryan Murphy has revealed so much more in an interview with Entertainment Weekly ...

First of all, we can thank Jessica Lange herself for this season being set in a Freak Show. The actress, who is a keen photographer in her spare time suggested the idea to Murphy and after looking at her albums, he decided to run with it. Murphy discussed about having to build an entire city for the upcoming series as well, which means this is going to be a massive show. As for Lange's character - ex-pat Elsa Mars, well it seems that she will be more benevolent compared to past characters. We also learned in the interview that Mars is a chanteuse and has spent the last twenty years rescuing fellow freaks from society and protecting them with Kathy Bates's Ethel Darling as her right hand woman. Viewers can also expect both 1920s and 1930s flashbacks focusing on both Elsa and Ethel in the season.

Another interesting aspect about Freak Show is that it will be the first season in which a character from a previous season will appear. Pepper, played by Naomi Grossman from Asylum will be appearing in the upcoming season and her time here will serve as a prequel to the events of the second season. Pepper was an immensely popular and interesting character, so I'm delighted that Murphy is breaking his usual rules and that we're getting another chance to get to know the character once again. I also get the feeling I might not be alone here as well.

With the last week revealing much more about the cast and the characters they're playing this season, we finally have a name to Frances Conroy's character - Gloria Mott. Conroy will be playing the mother of Finn Wittrock's character - Dandy Mott. Dandy is a handsome fella who seems at odds with the world and wants to join the freak show while Gloria seems to be doing everything in her power to keep her son away from them. Gloria will also be a co-worker and friend of Patti LaBelle's character, who goes missing. The disappearance of LaBelle's character will also introduce Gabourey Sidibe's socialite character into the mix as well, given that this season's main villain is also John Carroll Lynch's Twisty the Clown.

However while we don't have a name for Denis O'Hare's character as of yet (no doubt that will change soon), we do know that both him and Emma Roberts fake fortune teller, Maggie will be in collusion with each other though. Murphy also revealed that things will go wrong in the carny camp pretty soon when Maggie shows up. Then there's also Wes Bentley's two faced (literally) Eddie Mondrake causing chaos and the possibility that conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tatler (Sarah Paulson) might not be all they seem as well. There's also a romance between certain characters to look out for, a rivalry between Jimmy (Evan Peters) and Wendell (Michael Chiklis) amongst the many crazy events of the upcoming season. The more and more I read up about this, the more exciting it sounds.

Ryan Murphy Interview:

American Horror Story: Freak Show will air Wednesdays 10pm on FX from October 8th and Tuesdays at 10pm on FOXUK from October 21st.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My Review of Doctor Who's 8x04: "Listen"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Douglas Mackinnon

The Doctor: “I don’t take orders, Clara.”
Clara: “Do as you’re told.”

Well, maybe it’s me but did this episode cause more of a shit storm on the internet over the last few days than the 50th anniversary episode did in a week? It certainly felt like it as Steven Moffat seemingly ‘broke’ a cardinal rule by further embedding Clara into the Doctor’s past.

If certain audience members weren’t already pissed off by having her enter his time stream in the previous series, then having Clara speak to the Doctor as a child in a certain barn on Gallifrey certainly incensed a lot of viewers. Was I one of them? Er, no actually – I actually loved the scene.

While I do think this probably should be the last time that Clara Oswald is embedded into the Doctor’s history, pre An Unearthly Child, I can’t help but love the scene for what it was and that someone comforting a child and giving them hope by allaying all their primal fears about things being under the bed and being afraid to fight and so on. As a scene alone, it was beautifully written and acted and almost hard not to fault as a result.

This episode was something though of a three/four hander with the Doctor, Clara, Danny and Orson (the latter two played by Samuel Anderson extremely well) all getting a fair amount of scope. The Doctor mainly was obsessed with the idea that even when you’re alone, you’re not really and this episode went out of it’s way to see the Doctor try and prove that point through his companion.

It’s how we ended up in a children’s home where Clara met the frightened Rupert Pink, who would later change his name and have a history with war as well as a stance on what it means to be a soldier as well. I quite liked the scenes where both the Doctor and Clara were trying to get Rupert to look away from the creature under his bed covers. Who exactly was that creature though? It’s one thing this episode didn’t provide an answer for but perhaps it might have been another child playing a prank or something far more sinister. Perhaps we’ll never get an answer for this one.

Speaking of Rupert – well, he grew up to become Danny Pink and Danny certainly had something of a disastrous first date/drink with Clara in this episode as well. While the scenes did feel like they were trying to echo Moffat’s previous series Coupling too much at times, I did like the awkwardness between Danny and Clara as they both managed to embarrass themselves and inadvertently offend each other from time to time. Of course, the episode also didn’t waste time in pointing out that they do somehow end up together in the long run.

It’s how Orson Pink factored into the part where the Doctor and Clara ended up at the end of the universe. He was clinging onto the gun-less toy soldier that Clara had given his great grandfather (and later the Doctor) and it was a way of the Doctor getting a taster of that private life that Clara seems to be eager to keep him out of as well. Then again, enjoyable as Orson was, I didn’t really need to see him to realise that things would work out with Clara and Danny though. The end scene where they made up more or less did the same thing.

Also in “Listen”

The opening shot of the Doctor sitting on top of the TARDIS in a meditative position was pretty cool. I even liked the bit where he went underwear and there was a fair use of the chalkboard this week.

Danny: “Sometimes people like you get the wrong end of the stick.”
Clara: “People like me?”

Danny mentioned quite a lot that he dug 23 wells during his soldier days. I actually think he might be suffering from some PTSD as well.

Clara: “How long have you been travelling alone?”
The Doctor: “Perhaps I never have.”

Clara: “Do you know why they’re called dreams?”
Rupert: “Why?”
Clara: “Because they’re not real?”

I just realised that Danny is the second companion from Moffat's era with a history in a children’s home. We did see Melody/River in one during the sixth series as well.

Rupert: “He took my bedspread.”
The Doctor: “Oh, the human race. You’re never happy, are you?”

The Doctor (to Orson): “There are only three people in the universe and you’re lying to the other two.”

We got some reused footage of the War Doctor from The Day Of The Doctor in this episode. Still, that’s two former Doctor appearances in the first four episodes.

Clara (to the Doctor): “Do you have your own mood lighting now because frankly the accent is enough.”

I don’t think we got anything in this episode that alluded or mentioned the Promised Land and we didn’t see Missy again either. I don’t doubt we’ll get another appearance from her before the finale though.

Clara (to the Doctor): “Fear makes companions of us all.”

Chronology: Mostly 2014 London, early or mid 1990s Gloucester and of course, the end of the universe. Orson’s also from the 22nd century.

This was certainly a polarising episode and while it did try to evoke the same chills, use of sensory perception and eeriness that past episodes have done, I also think that “Listen” in spite of it’s polarising moments might be the first classic episode from Capaldi’s era. It’s certainly for the time being going to be the most heavily debated one. Essentially, a beautiful character piece nonetheless.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Batman - Top 20 Rogue Gallery Members Part 2

Continuing on from where I started yesterday with this countdown, here is the second part of my Top 20 Rogue Gallery Members when it comes to Batman villains ...

11: Mr Freeze (Victor Fries)

If ever there was a chilly customer in Gotham, it would certainly be this tragic scientist. Narrowly missing the Top 10, I've always found that Freeze is one of a few Rogue Gallery members who despite the crimes he's committed has something of a sympathetic side, mainly due to his determination to cure ailing wife Nora. Still though, he's not someone you'd want to go up against, unless you fancy being on ice.

12: Man-Bat (Kirk Langstrom)

Another somewhat sympathetic member of the gallery, like Freeze, there's something about Man-Bat thats both monstrous and sympathetic at the same time. A character who has yet to make any kind of big screen translation, both the comics and cartoons have managed to give a balanced portrayal of the character, making him both a powerful adversary for Batman and a tragic figure at the same time.

13: Talia Al Ghul

One of two serious love interests for Bruce Wayne/Batman to make the list and also the mother of the annoying Damien Wayne (sorry but he's irritating folks), Talia has certainly been an interesting character to read and watch over the years with the comics intensifying her relationships between her father Ras Al Ghul, as well as Bane and Batman and mainstream viewers got a taste for the character with various cartoons and recently Marion Cottilard's take on the character in The Dark Knight Rises. Talia is certainly a force to be reckoned with.

14: Mad Hatter (Jervis Tetch)

And here I thought this fella only existed in the world of Lewis Carroll. Blatantly inspired and more or less the same iteration, Tetch's Hatter is a great villain in the Batman universe, using all kind of bizarre mind control and theatricality that both Hugo Strange and the Joker themselves would be proud of.

15: Clayface (Matt Hagan)

While there are various versions of the shape shifting criminal that is known as Clayface, my favourite take on the character and probably the most appropriate one has been the Matt Hagan version. The idea of a vain, fading actor becoming this monstrous creature is pretty inspired and it's by far the most interesting version of the character out there.

Part 3 of this rundown will be next Friday.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Batman - Top 20 Rogue Gallery Members Part 1

Now that I've completed Batman: The Animated Series, done reviews for the Burton/Schumacher/Nolan movies and am waiting for the arrival of Gotham, I thought I would do something of a rundown of twenty of the most influential (and interesting) members of the Rogue Gallery. So without further ado, here we go ...

16: Killer Croc (Waylon Jones)

One of the more mutated of Batman's rogue collection, I have to admit that while Croc might be one of a few villains that could be a little hard to translate on the big screen (if other future movies continue down Nolan's grittier path), I do find Croc fascinating enough as a character. He's certainly an imposing presence, which is fitting considering that he's also a former professional wrestler as well.

17: Professor Hugo Strange

If there were at least one other rogue member who had a fixation for Batman besides the Joker and Catwoman, it would be Hugo Strange, The mad professor seems a little desperate to literally want Batman's crime fighting lifestyle as well as being aware of who exactly was behind the cape and cowl as well. Certainly one of the most deranged and genius of the villains out there.

18: Carmine Falcone

Not every villain in Batman's universe needs a costume in order to make a presence and one of two of them to feature on here would be the Roman himself. Falcone himself is certainly a brutal enough mob boss with his own particular reign of terror and hold on Gotham as well as his rivalries with fellow mobsters and other rogue members, along with a possible connection to a certain jewel thief if other comics are anything to go by.

19: Ventriloquist/Scarface

Initially, when I first saw this double act, it did seem a little like it was parodying a mobster act, rather than being the real deal itself but the combination of mild manner/multiple personalities Arnold Wesker and his psychotic puppet Scarface (or it is the other way) meant that these two made for an interesting team.

20: Sal Maroni

Another gangster on the list but certainly a prominent. Like Falcone, Maroni certainly has something of an influence over Gotham City, including his own moniker - the slightly less inspiring the boss. Of course, there was another reason why Maroni just about managed to make my Top 20 list - he is after all responsible for the creation of another rogue member.

Next blog will be tomorrow.