Friday, September 21, 2018

Superman: The Animated Series - Episodes 41-44 Reviews

And now, a continuation of a heroine's debut, more time in Gotham and another baddies causes mayhem for two episodes.

Episode 41: Little Girl Lost, Part 2

The second part to this introduction for Supergirl shifts the focus a bit to Superman being captured by Granny Goodness and the Furies and forced to face Darkseid on Apokolips. It feels a little jarring as I don't think Darkseid was particularly needed for this story but there are some great scenes as Granny soon feels the consequences of failure. As for Supergirl, it's a good round off for her debut onto the series as she somewhat saves Metropolis from a meteorite. Also, there's Jimmy clearly falling for her like Lois has done with Superman. 7/10

Episode 42: Where There's Smoke

Like Granny Goodness and the Furies, I'm actually surprised that Volcana hasn't appeared on Supergirl yet (get on that, CW) and while I'm not hugely familiar with the latter character, this was a good opening episode for her. She could've gone the same way as Livewire but in spite of her crimes and fiery nature, I think this episode did a great balancing act between establishing how dangerous Volcana could be while giving her sympathetic backstory. I am however a little surprised that Superman did send Volcana to a nice beach instead of some kind of prison that could contain her abilities but not enough for the episode to jar though. 7/10

Episode 43: Knight Time

Not a lot of time has passed since the World's Finest three parter, so I was a little surprised that we got another venture into Batman territory but I'm not complaining though. This episode some impressive moments - the use of five Batman villains such as Roxy Rocket, the Penguin, Mad Hatter, Riddler and Bane, only for Brainiac to be the main threat of the episode, given that he took Bruce Wayne captive and was using nanites for his sinister purposes. I did like the team up of Superman and Robin and having the former impersonate Batman was pretty amusing as well. A very enjoyable episode. 8/10

Episode 44: New Kids In Town

With Brainiac being the main baddie of the previous episode, I was a little surprised that he was also the main baddie for this one but eh, whatever. This time around, he decided to back into the past and kill Clark Kent during his high school years. Only this time, he had other trouble as Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy and Chameleon Boy also went into the past to help Clark from stopping Brianiac with some pretty impressive fight scenes taking place at Kent farm. It's a nice enough episode, though there's the obvious case of wiping most of the characters memories and Lana isn't as well served here as she has been in previous appearances. 7/10

Next blog I'll delve into Obsession, Little Big Head Man, Absolute Power and In Brightest Day.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

My Review of American Horror Story: Apocalypse - The Morning After

Written by James Wong
Directed by Jennifer Lynch

Michael (to Gallant): "No need for rules anymore, chaos has won."

It's week 2 in the Outpost 3 house and things have escalated a little. Mr Gallant spent some time in this episode mulling over his nanny issues while trussed up and enjoying a good old time with Rubber Man before indulging in a bit of granny killing, though even that wasn't entirely of his own accord despite the growing tension with Gallant and Evie in this one.

With Joan Collins being a guest star, her chances of survival as Evie weren't especially high and considering her delight in ratting out her grandson's tryst with Rubber Man to Meade along with her rubbing the other chosen ones the wrong way (Coco and Mallory mainly), I wasn't too shocked to see her dispatched off this early in the game. Don't worry though, Evie might be dead but Joan Collins still has another character or two to play in the remaining episodes of the season.

As for Michael, he didn't have to do a lot here to make his presence felt. He's already marked both Gallant and Venable for death and took great pleasure in needling the both of them about their various hang ups for good measure as well. I almost felt sorry for Venable when Michael exposed her vulnerability but that quickly faded with the rest of her actions in this episode.

With Michael's presence raising more questions, I'm glad that both Timothy and Emily had the sense to try and get some answers even if they ended up in Meade's hands and were primed for execution. While I don't expect both characters to make it out of the season alive, I am hoping they do last a little longer though. However, the last scene with Meade, I genuinely did not see coming.

We've had hints of the supernatural but nothing yet aside from Michael but with Meade being some kind of cyborg, I am curious if she's the only one and what her real purpose will be. She did seem to be more sympathetic to Venable when she interrupted the latter's confrontation with Michael, though the trailer for the season seems to indicate she may be switching sides rather soon.

Other than that, very little else has happened here. I'm not sure if the remaining episodes can sustain keeping things so contained within the Outpost 3 set and the way all of them are turning on each other (except Dinah, who actually seems nice enough) - does the likes of Gallant, Coco and Mallory actually deserve saving? I guess we'll find out next week, won't we?

- The Outposts in New York, Virginia and Texas have all been destroyed and I just realised that Gallant has probably had sex with someone who looks very much like himself.
- We still haven't met Cheyenne Jackson's unnamed regular character but I think the trailer for next week might have hinted at witches maybe showing up.
- Did they just add more snakes into the opening credits scene or was that just me?
- Chronology: Seemingly from where The End left off.

An okay second episode, The Morning After had some nice Gallant moments in it and Rubber Man's return was done pretty well but like Roanoke, there's a danger of making things too claustrophobic if we don't get some more sufficient scenes with the outside world. I did like the scenes Michael had with the likes of Venable and Gallant and it'll be interesting to see how he sizes up Mallory next week.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, September 17, 2018

Batman 66 - Episodes 69-72 Reviews

In this batch of episodes, it's time for a little cowl stealing and looking to star signs to commit some dastardly crimes.

2x35: The Contaminated Cowl

Ah, a return for the Mad Hatter and for a second hit, this was a pretty good effort. The episode opened with him stealing a lot of hat boxes and then soon descended into Batman's cowl being contaminated and turning a bright pink before a scientist was forced to help the Mad Hatter steal the cowl from the Caped Crusader. The cliffhanger does end on a rather deadly note for the Dynamic Duo as their days seem to be well and truly over. 7/10

2x36: The Mad Hatter Runs Afoul

There was a good amount of time in this episode dedicated to everyone believing that Batman and Robin were definitely dead, even to the point where Aunt Harriett assigned herself as chief mourner and told another woman on the phone that she could help organise a statue. Fortunately though, the episode did quickly reveal to everyone that the Dynamic Duo were actually alive and aside from a brief moment where Batman scolded Commissioner Gordon for not taking the Mad Hatter's crimes more seriously before the latter eventually got apprehended at the water tower. 7/10

2x37: The Zodiac Crimes

The Joker and the Penguin working together and the plot gets a little bit astrological. I quite like the idea of the pairing although it seems to go a little south when the Penguin is abandoned by his new partner in crime. Still though, the idea is clever enough and you've got one of the better (or more focused on) female assistants with Terry Moore's Venus torn between her loyalty towards the Joker and growing sympathy with the Dynamic Duo in this one. 7/10

2x38: The Joker's Hard Times

Two thoughts went into my head when watching this episode. One - were we going to get a Laughing Fish moment when the Joker went to steal a valuable fish in public and two - did that cliffhanger here inspire a certain moment in the Doctor Who classic, Genesis Of The Daleks? The other big differences in this episode also included the fact that this was the middle part of a three parter (this would happen again this season and once more in Season 3) and that the Penguin himself was nowhere to be seen as the Joker trapped Batman, Robin and Venus with a deadly trap. The way this one ended, things certainly weren't looking good for poor Robin. 7/10

Next blog I'll delve into The Penguin Declines, That Darn Catwoman/Scat! Darn Catwoman and Penguin Is A Girl's Best Friend.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

My Review of American Horror Story: Apocalypse - The End

Written by Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk
Directed by Bradley Buecker

Mr Gallant: "What's happening out there?"
Timothy: "It's all gone."

Well, this is a season earlier than expected. Mixing the much clamoured for crossover of Murder House and Coven with an end of the world theme, I get the impression these were meant to be separate seasons but combined with certain actor availability and maybe an overlap in outcome, both ideas got merged into one. So far, that's fine by me.

It's not that far into the future where the world has begun to end. We first meet a vapid billionaire named Coco St Pierre Vanderbilt (Leslie Grossman) who along with her henpicked assistant Mallory (Billie Lourd), gay hairdresser Mr Gallant (Evan Peters) and the latter's wealthy grandmother, Evie (Joan Collins) are soon aboard a pilot-less plane heading for the only place that keep anyone safe from the apocalypse but of course, they are not the only ones headed to Outpost 3.

Among the group, there's a bright young man named Timothy Campbell (Kyle Allen) taken from his family due to his gene pool being top quality and a political protester named Emily (Ashley Santos) also inducted into a place for survival from prison. Right now, both Timothy and Emily seem more like our viewpoint characters than the other main players are for the moment. It also helps that so far they're also the most sympathetic of the bunch too along with a growing love for each other that will clearly violate Outpost 3's strict rules on intimacy.

Then there's Outpost 3 itself - a survival camp of sorts for the elite. It's a strict place where the worthy are decked out in purple and the servants gets to be dressed in grey as poor Mallory finds herself becoming unlike everyone else. Running the joint is Sarah Paulson's Wilhemina Venable, whom along with Kathy Bates's Miriam Meade seems to derive an enjoyment in abusing her own rules so she can sadistically torture her guests.

Keeping with the show's penchant for the shocking and because this episode needed an opening death, we got to see poor Stu (Chad James Buchanan) accused of being contaminated along with Mr Gallant and then shot/served as dinner, much to the disgust of his boyfriend, Andre (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman). Oddly enough though, Evie seemed to be the only one unfazed by the fact that she dined on a young man but given that the only other food option was those horrible gelatin looking cubes, it's a surprise none of the Outpost lot started eating each other to be honest.

With the episode greatly hinting about the outside world being unsafe and both Wilhemina and Miriam using that knowledge to infringe their harsh rules upon the survivors, there was surprisingly little of the actual crossover bits that the recent promotional material had been going to town with. Of course, the arrival of a grown up Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) at the Outpost at the end though did nicely signal that things were about to get very interesting.

- Opening credits has Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Billie Lourd, Kathy Bates, Leslie Grossman, Adina Porter, Cody Fern. Both Emma Roberts and Cheyenne Jackson are credited but neither appeared while Billy Eichner was Coco's now assumed dead husband, Brock and Adina's character, Dinah seemed to be a former TV personality.
- The credit sequence has a nice mixture of the music and images from both Murder House and Coven.
- Anyone else get an Interview With The Vampire vibe off Michael's general look? I think that was the intention more than the sparkly look from another vampire themed series.
- Chronology: It's in the future but when has yet to be specified. Standout music also included You Belong To Me.

I can definitely say without a doubt that The End was probably the strongest opening episode we've had since the fifth season and while I can understand some fans being disappointed that certain fan favourites haven't shown up yet, there are nine more episodes to go. This one did a great job with introducing our main players and the post apocalyptic stuff certainly looked effective enough. A great start for a very promising season.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Celebrity Big Brother - Overview On 2018 Autumn Series

Earlier this year, Channel 5 decided with the Year Of The Woman theme for Celebrity Big Brother. The result was Courtney Act winning, so for their second theme, it was more a presidential/Stormy theme, which didn't quite take off to be honest.

As everyone knew before the series was to air, the intention behind Channel 5's misguided initial theme (which got scrapped a few days into the house) was to have Stormy Daniels be a cast member for this series, only for Stormy to (sensibly) bail on proceedings. That said with former Cheers actress Kirstie Alley and reality star Natalie Nunn, that side of the pond was represented fairly well enough, even if the latter grated pretty fast and became the first to be evicted from the house. The rest of the housemates then comprised of soap actors Ryan Thomas and Roxanne Pallett, former footballer Jermaine Pennant, radio host, Hardeep Singh Kohli, "psychic" Sally Morgan, former derivatives broker, Nick Leeson and various other reality people including Daniel Osbourne, Gabby Dawn Allen, Rodrigo Alves, Ben Jardine and model Chloe Ayling. In some respects, not too much recognisable faces.

For the first couple of days and because Channel 5 clearly didn't want to admit defeat over Stormy heading back to the US, the ill conceived presidential/Stormy theme went ahead with Kirstie assuming the commander in chief role with Ryan as her right hand man. To be fair to both of them, they did a brilliant job overall but between Natalie's incessant moaning and trying to create conflict with Kirstie over her own views regarding Trump and the fact that this idea felt like two series too late, I think we all could've done without this particular theme. Luckily for us (and probably due to Stormy being a no show), the theme was dropped after a few days, so the actual storm stuff come come into affect with the housemates being stuck with each other.

The biggest storm occurred halfway through the house when Roxanne Pallett falsely accused Ryan Thomas of assaulting her during a bit of play fighting. It was lucky for Ryan that due to this being on the air, audiences quickly spotted that Roxanne was lying but the fact that the show let it manifest to the level that they did before Roxanne left the house was absolutely shocking. The show has been pretty irresponsible in the past over tensions with the housemates but their actions (along with Roxanne's) contributed to Ryan even doubting himself, which was despicable of them to do. In the end, the right thing was done with Roxanne facing consequences for her actions as even Emma Willis could barely contain her disgust towards Roxanne during that awkward interview while Ryan went on to win the latest series and deservedly so, considering what he had been subjected to while in the house. Of course, Roxanne wasn't the only person who left the house in controversy as a "further incident" also saw the departure of Rodrigo Alves as well. We still don't seem to entirely know what went down there, do we?

As for the rest of the housemates - I think this show helped both Dan and Gabby with general public perception while people like Nick, Sally and Hardeep seemed to fare pretty well too, considering that "bigger" or "younger" people left before any of them did. I'll admit Chloe came across as a bit dull to watch and Jermaine and Ben weren't the most exciting of housemates either (even if the latter was extremely loud). I'm going to go against the grain by saying I didn't much care for Nick but I did find the Sally and Hardeep rivalry interesting, even when it led to a pretty heated discussion on the nature of race, in which I could see both sides (though I sympathise a little more with Hardeep). For me though, while Ryan was a deserving winner, my favourite housemate was Kirstie Alley. Endlessly entertaining, funny, a little mad and an overall a good person, she was a worthy second place and in another series, she definitely would've won the show. While I preferred the earlier version this year, this series after a dull start and some bad behind the scenes decisions did thankfully pick up pace though.

The regular Big Brother starts Friday at 9pm on Channel 5. The show may be taking a break in 2019 though.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Superman: The Animated Series - Episodes 37-40 Reviews

In this batch of episodes, a warrior queen makes her affections known, Darkseid shows he means business and Kara Zor El makes her debut.

Episode 37: Warrior Queen

We've been here before with a powerful female character wanting Superman as a mate and him not being so keen on the prospect but enough about Blast From The Past already. This time around, it's the rather bored ruler, Maxima who is keen on making the Man of Steel her husband and while she's busy making this happen, her handmaiden Sazu plotted with De'Cine to take over Maxima's home planet until everyone worked together to overthrow De'Cine with Superman's more merciful influence rubbing off Maxima a little bit. The final scene with Lobo showing up though was an unexpected delight. 7/10

Episode 38: Apokolips .... Now!, Part 1

Darkseid has had enough minor appearances that the next time he showed up, it needed to be something that actually demonstrated how much of a real threat he could be. This two parter certainly was aware of that and here, we saw him actually make an attack on Metropolis while also getting some interesting flashbacks to Orion being swapped at birth (who comes across as an ally to Superman here) via Granny Goodness. The episode's biggest strength is also Dan Turpin who takes on a bigger role when Maggie is taken out during the earlier attacks. There's also the arrival of Toby as well, which is another point for this impressive two parter. 9/10

Episode 39: Apokolips .... Now!, Part 2

If Darkseid wasn't enough for Superman to go up against, the addition of Steppenwolf was a good way to add to the tension of this story. This show hasn't always dipped into the darkness compared to it's Dark Knight couterpart but this episode really was one of the darkest we've had though. We got to see Superman somewhat subdued before he was able to drive off Darkseid with Orion's help but not before Darkseid went ahead and actually killed Dan Turpin in front of everyone. I genuinely didn't see that one coming and it was a masterstroke, although somewhat signposted given Turpin's larger role in this story as a whole. A brilliant two parter, possibly the best story from the series aside from the World's Finest three parter of course. 9/10

Episode 40: Little Girl Lost, Part 1

I think it makes a lot of sense that before debuting Kara Zor El/Supergirl (Nicholle Tom) that this show had made sure a lot of time had passed before adding her into the mix. Into the final story of it's second season was the right place to do it and while I wish they had gone for a costume that we've seen in the comics and Helen Slater's 1984 movie, the series does seem to get the character right so far. Kara's got a great rapport with Clark and seeing her and Jimmy work together to go up against the Intergang, Granny Goodness (who gets some shocking lines) and the Furies was pretty entertaining. A promising start for the Maid of Might. 7/10

Next blog I'll delve into Little Girl Lost Part 2, Where There's Smoke, Knight Time and New Kids In Town.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Superman: The Animated Series - Episodes 33-36 Reviews

An interesting enough selection of episodes with some returns, an attempt to recreate an important piece of history, a fake out death and of course, a new hero added into the mix.

Episode 33: Bizarro's World

Following his debut, I was hoping for another shot of Bizarro. With this episode, there a daft and misguided plot on Bizarro's end to recreate and destroy Krypton but I do like that Superman was able to get through to him by using his concern for Lois's safety. Then there was also that creature Bizarro mistook for a dog who provided a source of comedy. Basically, Bizarro ended up with his own planet and pet to protect in this charming enough episode. 7/10

Episode 34: Prototype

Eh, not a favourite episode of mine. It gains points for the introduction of John Henry Irons, who will be Steel in about two episodes from now but other than that, it's rather formulaic. You've got Lex Luthor building a super suit and having cop Corey Mills putting it on and quickly becoming corrupted by the power his new suit gives him. In fact, Corey got corrupted a little too fast for my liking but there were some effective moments like Corey shaving his head to indicate turning evil and of course blinding Superman, so points for those I guess. 6/10

Episode 35: The Late Mr Kent

I actually thought with this title, it was actually going to be Jonathan Kent that passed away rather than everyone else (except the Kents) believing that Clark had died in an accident, following an investigation gone wrong. Having Clark actually be the focus of his other job was interesting for a change, even if it ended up being Lois who figured out that Bowman was a corrupt cop. The episode did have an interesting end scene as Bowman realised that Clark and Superman were the same person before being executed in prison and there was a nice welcome cameo from Lana as well as the renewed and amusing rivalry with her and Lois. 8/10

Episode 36: Heavy Metal

Given his brief introduction two episodes prior, this was a solid debut for John Henry Irons as Steel and along with his wonderfully snarky niece, they were an enjoyable double act to have here, along with being helpful as Superman and Metallo went at it for a third time. Metallo being back for the same episode to debut Steel in hero mode seemed appropriate and it was fun watching the two battle each other as well. I've enjoyed these team up episodes we've been having throughout this season. 8/10

Next blog I'll delve into Warrior Queen, Apokolips ...Now! Parts 1 and 2 and Little Girl Lost Part 1.