Saturday, December 29, 2018

Christmas Cheer

My last blog for 2018 and a catch up of some of the programmes I've been watching over the last few weeks.

911: I've really enjoyed this show and it's reassuring to see that it's not fallen into the dreaded difficult second season syndrome some great shows have often become victim of. In the space of the last few episodes we've seen growing relationships between Bobby/Athena and Maddie/Chimney, a wonderful flashback episode for Hen, Buck rediscovering himself and moving on from Abby and more on Eddie's failed marriage along with the usual plethora of some rather crazy emergencies to boot. With the show due back in March and the arrival of Maddie's violent ex-husband, things certainly won't be boring in the latter half of this show's second year.

Arrow: Prior to the big crossover event, there was a mixed bag of episodes here. On one hand, this Oliver in prison storyline lasted far too long for it's own good but on the other hand, we finally saw Diaz get some just desserts, Stanley revealed himself to be a pyscho (and future problem for Oliver) and of course, Talia re-emerged as both a help and a hindrance to Oliver as well. There was also some fan service Olicity scenes for a certain segment of fans to enjoy, Diggle making a dangerous deal, more flash forwards which introduced Maya/Blackstar while the current day revealed that Oliver's half sister, Emiko is actually the new Green Arrow. The half sibling thing feels a little too late in the day for a show currently into it's seventh season but Emiko does seem promising as a character though.

Supergirl: Maybe I'm being harsh here but this is shaping up to be one of the worst seasons for the show. I don't have an issue with the show being political. It can work at times but the writing surrounding the issues it's trying to convey has been handled so poorly, it's often taking me out of the show. Agent Liberty has been one of the dullest villains going and the less said about Jimmy/Lena, the better to be honest. On the other hand, Manchester Black is a far more interesting and ruthless character, the show's handling of Nia's Dreamer future has been done rather nicely and there's still the Russian Supergirl plot in the latter half along with Lex Luthor being added into the mix to hopefully turn the season around.

The Flash: Overall, the first half of the show's fifth season has been pretty strong. Cicada is still a rather decent antagonist and the flashbacks expanding on his relationship with his niece do give him a bit of sympathy (only a bit) while the use of Rag Doll in one episode really makes me hope the character resurfaces again. The 100th episode while good, didn't feel quite as eventful as it should've done but the reveal of Nora working (unwittingly) with Reverse Flash was a decent twist and it's also nice to get more Barry/Iris scenes and Caitlin resuming her Killer Frost persona. I'm still finding Sherloque a little hit and miss and both Cisco and Ralph need a bit more to do.

The Good Place: Yeah, I'm about two seasons behind on this much discussed show but E4 finally bagged the rights to the show (currently on it's third season on NBC, renewed for a fourth year) and having watched the first three episodes, I get the hype. The show is forking brilliant with Kristen Bell giving a stellar performance as the wrongly brought to heaven, Eleanor and the supporting cast with the likes of Ted Danson and Jameela Jamil are rather good too. It's a lovely, feel good show and while I have a lot to catch up with, I'm definitely glad I finally tuned in though.

- James Mackay is the latest regular to exit the current season of Dynasty, though his character may return later in the season.
- Daredevil has also been cancelled by Netflix after three seasons. Don't be shocked when Jessica Jones and The Punisher are axed next.
- On the other hand, Netflix have renewed Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina for both third and fourth seasons. The second season will premiere in April 2019.
- The BBC's next Agatha Christie adaptation will be Death Comes As The End with Gwyneth Hughes taking over writing duties from Sarah Phelps.
- BBC3 will air a UK version of Drag Race next year. RuPaul will be a part of this version too.
- Bravo are planning a reboot of Queer As Folk with Russell T. Davies signed on as an executive producer.
- Titans second season will take the originally intended final episode from it's first season and retool as it's opening episode. The show will return in 2020.
- Beverly Hills 90210 is being revived again but this time with the original cast, though several members already appeared in the first reboot.
- Villanelle will battle with conscience in the upcoming second season of Killing Eve.
- Elementary will end with it's upcoming seventh season.

Monday, December 24, 2018

My Review of Miracle On 34th Street (1994)

Written by Valentine Davies & John Hughes
Directed by Les Mayfield

Kris Kringle: "Oh, but there is. I'm not just a whimsical figure who wears a charming suit and affects a jolly demeanor. You know, I'm a symbol. I'm a symbol of the human ability to be able to suppress the selfish and hateful tendencies that rule the major part of our lives. If you can't believe, if you can't accept anything on faith, then you're doomed for a life dominated by doubt."

There was a time when remakes were actually pretty decent. Not only that, but also a time when some of them were actually as good as the original in question. It didn't happen often enough but when it did, it was certainly worth it. This movie somewhat exemplifies that example.

If you're familiar with the original movie (which I recently watched myself), then this remake is more or less faithful to it as fictional department store Coles hires a sweet old man named Kris Kringle (Richard Attenborough) as their Santa for the Holidays and he's something of a hit with children and customers alike, much to the bewilderment of special events director Dorey Walker (Elizabeth Perkins) who is somewhat cynical about Father Christmas.

It's a cynicism similarly instilled into Dorey's six year old daughter, Susan (Mara Wilson), though the more time Susan spends with Mr Kringle, the more she finds herself believing in Santa Claus and as the movie progresses and Kringle finds himself in trouble with the law, courtesy of a disgruntled former mall Santa (Jack McGee) and rival store Shopper's Express (their representatives played by James Remar and Jane Leeves) playing dirty, the challenge of the movie then becomes to see whether or not the rest of the city truly believe in Santa Claus.

For this, it's probably where lawyer and love interest to Dorey, Bryan Bedford (Dylan McDermott) is best served. His friendship with Kringle is one of my favourite aspects of both this movie and it's original and his unwavering faith in his friend's innocence certainly proved crucial when we get to the trial scenes along with Susan's own dismantling of the opposing counsel and the state of New York showed they really did believe in Father Christmas.

It's a lovely remake at it's heart with the central theme of faith playing such an integral part, more overtly than the original. You see it with the characters attitudes towards the notion of Father Christmas but you also see it with the evolving love story with Dorey and Bryan and Susan's own desire for a bigger family. The ending does pay that off in a rather sweet way too as Susan gets the most definite of proof that her faith in Kris Kringle wasn't misplaced.

- This is actually the fourth remake of the original movie but only the second one to get a cinema release. Both Coles/Shopper's Express were used as Macy's didn't want part of the movie and Gimbles were out of business by then.
- The Doorman (Alvin Greenman) also appeared in the original movie as Alfred.
- John Hughes, who also co-wrote this movie was also involved in both Home Alone movies as well.
- Chronology: I'm going to assume it was set during 1994, given it's release and unlike the original, this was released somewhat closer to Christmas as well.

As remakes go, it might not be the first one, but Miracle On 34th Street is undoubtedly one of the best. It's a lovely modern update of the original, while at the same time, mostly retaining the core essence of what made the first movie such a joy to watch. It's a shame we don't get Christmas movies as good as these ones anymore.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, December 22, 2018

My Review of Titans 1x11: "Dick Grayson"

Written by Richard Hatem
Directed by Glen Winter

Dick: "Oh Rachel, it feels so good to be home. You'll see, they'll all see."

And for those who didn't see that coming - well, how could you not, really? The trailer alone for this finale seemed to make it abundantly clear that something wasn't right with what Dick Grayson was actually seeing and this whole episode played out as a hallucination for Trigon (Seamus Dever) to corrupt Dick into the dark and it has worked for now.

The episode started off idyllic for Dick, who was living in California, retired from crime fighting and married to Dawn with a young son named Johnny and another baby on the way. If that didn't tip people off to this being a fantasy world, then everything else that followed should've done.

As the rest of the episode played out, we got to see both Rachel and Gar having fun in college before a wheelchair bound Jason Todd appeared to tell Dick that Gotham has truly descended into chaos and that Batman (Alain Moussi/Maxim Savaria) has completely lost the plot and has gone around actually killing members of his Rogues Gallery and anyone else who dares to get in his way.

While Batman is mostly restricted to very little dialogue and looking rather obscured during his sporadic moments in the episode, I do find it highly amusing that after the Arrow universe not being allowed to show him on screen last week in their Elseworlds crossover and Gotham holding him off until their last episode in 2019 that this show sort of managed to beat them to the punch.

It's obvious that Trigon used Dick's ongoing fears of turning out to be the worst version of his mentor in order to achieve his goal and given Rachel's reaction to see Dick corrupted by her father, it also looks like Trigon might have succeeded in breaking his daughter's heart to boot. After just introducing the character properly in the previous episode, I am not shocked that Trigon's story will continue into the next season.

Saying that though, it did seem like Dick's fantasy/Knightmare sequence did last a little too long in the episode. What was the moment that made Rachel realise her father was up to no good? Where was Gar during that last sequence and surely we should've seen both Kory and Donna as well, even if the former (as well as Hank) did play some role in Dick's other world. Also we shouldn't be too far off from Hank, Dawn and Jason also coming to help save the day from Trigon and Angela.

- Post credit sequence gave us both Superboy/Connor Kent and Krypto escaping a Cadmus lab in Metropolis. Filming for Season 2 starts in February so we should know casting by then.
- The next DC Universe series will be Doom Patrol, which we can all watch from February 19th. The trailer with the cast and character posters are selling the show for me.
- We briefly saw the Joker, Riddler, Two Face, Scarface/Ventriloquist among Batman's victims and I assume the guy Dick was fighting in an apartment was meant to be Zsasz.
- Chronology: From where Koriand'r essentially left off.

Dick Grayson ended on a cliffhanger and personally, it felt like the first part of a finale rather than an actual finale itself. My guess is that the original season finale has been retooled a little to serve as the opening episode for next season. I can understand people's dissatisfaction with this episode, but personally I enjoyed it.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, December 21, 2018

My Review of Aquaman (2018)

Written by Geoff Johns & James Wan & Will Beall & David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick
Directed by James Wan

Mera: "Atlantis has always had a king. Now it needs something more."
Arthur: "Well, what could be greater than a king?"
Mera: "A hero."

Sometimes going into a film with tempered expectations is the best approach. After Justice League being somewhat the sum of it's parts, things were (possible are still) looking a little shaky for the DCEU and with this movie being the only contender in 2018, I did wonder if the wait would actually be worth it.

The title character isn't one of my favourite heroes and while I don't mind Jason Momoa as an actor, I just don't think he's leading man material. It's surprising then how much I actually enjoyed him as the lead in this movie, which tackles Arthur Curry's origins in wisely spread out flashbacks while also embracing the main story in a post Steppenwolf world.

Keeping with the flashbacks first, the movie opens with the love story of Atlantis queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) washing up ashore and falling in love with lighthouse keeper, Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison) and from that union also came little Arthur Curry. The consequence of a love story between two people from different worlds obviously would be the inevitable separation as Atlanna is forced to return to her homeworld and embark on an arranged marriage, resulting in another son named Orm (Patrick Wilson) but more on that later.

In further flashbacks, we get to see a young Arthur slowly discover his abilities to talk to the fish while adviser Vulko (Willem Dafoe) trains a teenage Arthur in mastering his skills so that he can eventually inherit his rightful place in Atlantis while also telling the would be king that his mother was sent to the Trench as punishment for bearing a son outside an Atlantis marriage.

Getting back into the present day, Arthur has more or less embraced being a public figure as Aquaman, taking selfies with bikers, while having beers for breakfast with his father and also taking out pirates such as Jesse Kane (Michael Beach) while making a lifelong enemy in Kane's son, David (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) - the latter who later becomes Black Manta and teams up with Orm in a failed bid to avenge his father's death.

Out of the two main antagonists here, I will admit that personally for me, Black Manta despite having the lesser screen time was the one who worked just that bit more as a baddie. Aside from looking spectacular on the big screen, I just loved the fight scene between him and Arthur in Sicily and the ending of this movie nicely hinted that he's got some unfinished business with the aquatic hero of the piece.

As for Orm, I do think Patrick Wilson puts in a decent job between trying to make the would Ocean Master (who uses various methods of intimidation to unite the seven in declaring war on the surface) both sympathetic in some respects as well as threatening in others but villain wise, he's nothing new. What is new for a DCEU movie though, is that both Manta and Orm manage to live for another day, which seemed like a nice change of pace.

Speaking of pace changing, this definitely feels like a lighter romp compared to previous efforts but unlike Justice League, a lot of the humour is better. That said though, this doesn't stop the movie from having an octopus playing the drums, Mera chomping on roses (not the sweets) and foot soldier Murk (Ludi Lin) having to resort to sticking his head in a toilet in order to survive on land at one point. Those moments are probably more polarising but not to the point they should take you out of the main action.

The back and forth with Arthur and Mera (Amber Heard) as the two of them journey throughout the Sahara dessert, Sicily and to the much feared Trench where they're reunited with a certain someone is handled well enough as Arthur finally embraced his destiny to usurp his younger brother for the Throne. As for the love story with Arthur and Mera, it's surprisingly more subdued than expected but that probably works in this movie's favour as well.

The movie wears it's influences on it's sleeve with blatant nods to the likes of Romancing The Stone, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and in an amusing moment, even Pinocchio. Wan puts a lot of love into the depiction of the underwater world of Atlantis (along with a neat history lesson halfway through the movie) and there's a definitely level of care put into his main players and their own motivations throughout the movie along with a visually impressive underwater world.

- Djimon Hounsou who played the Fisher King here will also play the Wizard in Shazam next year. The Karathen was voiced by Julie Andrews, which is still rather mind blowing when you think about it. Patrick Wilson and Nicole Kidman have also been in previous DC movies. Watchmen and Batman Forever, anyone?
- Post Credit scene in this movie saw Black Manta being rescued by scientist Stephen Shin (Randall Park) - the latter obsessed with finding Atlantis.
- Dolph Lundgren's character, Nereus is usually a love interest for Mera in the comics but here he's her father and Mera was also briefly betrothed to Orm in this movie.
- Standout music: Mainly Skylar Grey's Everything I Need and Pitbull's Ocean To Ocean, though the score music is quite nice in parts.

Aquaman is surprisingly a better movie than you'd expect it to be. It's by no means a classic movie but it feels like a step in the right direction for the DCEU, moving away from Zack Snyder's initial approach to this particular universe but not to the extent that his previous work is glossed over either. The leads are fine, the baddies work, the visuals impressive, music a bit hit and miss in parts and the humour and respective love stories/sibling dynamics mostly a success. I don't know if it's a movie that will change perception on the DCEU but it does feel like it's a great forward step though.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, December 17, 2018

Batman 66 - Episodes 93-96 Reviews

Finishing up the final two parter of the second season sees the return of an icy customer with a new guise along with the first two episodes of the third season debuting another hero and a different format for the show.

2x59: Ice Spy

Like Catwoman by the time we get to the third season of this show and Poison Ivy on Gotham, sometimes you just need at least three actors to play your baddie. For his last appearance on the show, Mt Freeze is now played by Eli Wallach and this time around, he's got a willing female accomplice in ice skating queen Glacia Glaze along with a messenger seal (who is just adorable) in order to hold the city to ransom once again before shoving both Batman and Robin into a vaporizing pipe pump cabinet for the cliffhanger of this story. There's also a brief cameo from the Carpet King, representing the last Bat climb for the season as well. 7/10

2x60: The Duo Defy

After 60 episodes (and I'm genuinely flabbergasted this second season amount to that many episodes), it was time to bring things to an ending. This would be the last time the show would be just the Dynamic Duo and had things been a little different, this could've also been the ending to the series had a certain pitch not persuaded ABC to pick it up for a third run. While Freeze does get a brief chance to make Gotham a little colder, he is easily defeated by his own seal being used against him at one point while the last scene had Bruce, Dick and Alfred playing with cars, courtesy of Harriett. It's a decent enough ending for the second season. 7/10

3x01: Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin

For the show's third season a few noticeable changes were made here. First of all, was the massive reduction in episodes and the use of single part stories, but the latter still had lead ins to the next story as the Riddler made a brief cameo at the end to set up his return in the next episode. The biggest change however was the addition of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl (Yvonne Craig) with the character being added into the revamped opening titles while Barbara found herself the unwilling would be bride of the Penguin and Alfred mistook as the priest slated to marry them. Craig's addition to the show is a stroke of genius with Batgirl feeling like a natural inclusion into proceedings as the Dynamic Duo find themselves grateful for her help as well as a bit curious as to her real identity. The show did need a prominent female presence at this point in it's life span and no better than Batgirl. 8/10

3x02: Ring Around The Riddler

Hinted at in the opening episode, the Riddler finally came back with Frank Gorshin reprising the role for the first time since the first season/1966 Movie and it was like he was never gone from the part. This time around, the Riddler is kidnapping a prize boxer Kid Gulliver and getting him to throw the fight while also taking Batman on in the ring itself with hilarious results. There's also Batgirl popping up a few times, scuppering some of the Riddler's scheming while the Dynamic Duo also enlist Barbara Gordon's help at one point in the episode. The episode also nicely sets up Joan Collins Lorelai Circe/Siren (who vocals have no effect on women), who despite allying herself with the Riddler has her own plans for Commissioner Gordon as the ending for this episode showed. 7/10

Next blog I'll delve into The Wail Of The Siren, The Sport of Penguins/A Horse of Another Color and The Unkindest Tut Of All.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

My Review of Titans 1x10: "Koriand'r"

Written by Gabrielle Stanton
Directed by Maja Vrvilo

Trigon: "I'm finally home."

Yeah, and it only took about ten episodes to get there, Trigon. Which begs the question - are they really going to wrap his plans for world destruction in next week's finale or will this plot extend into the show's second season?

For weeks now, the show has kept Seamus Dever's role on the show a secret, so having him pop up as Trigon actually makes some sense now. Of course, due to budget constraints, we've got Trigon in a human form with Angela actively manipulating Rachel into bringing Trigon into our world while Gar's life was in serious jeopardy.

The plus side is that Trigon did actually heal Gar but on the other hand, both him and Angela are waiting for Rachel's heart to break before the shit really hits the fan. In the comics, Angela was more a victim of Trigon's plots than an actual participant in them, so the switch up isn't strictly a bad thing as such. I quite liked the moment where Angela killed well meaning neighbour Tommy in order to show her dark side.

As for Rachel, a part of me wondered why she didn't show a bit more resistance when it was clearly that Angela was using Gar's fate to bring Trigon back or any resistance when her father actually appeared, but again, she is a child and as the episode did remind us quite, she will play a role in Trigon's downfall anyways.

As for Kory - well, she's finally remembered who she was and I'll admit that this should've been done earlier in the season. I did however enjoy her scenes with Dick and Donna in the spaceship as they did some more reading on the chilling prophecy that Kory was sent to Earth to try and stop.

Of course they were too late to stop Trigon but Dick somehow managed to get into the house when Donna and Kory themselves weren't able to. I'm guessing it's because he possesses no abilities otherwise beyond his own human strengths. Going by the trailer for the finale though, Dick is in one for hell of a Knightmare time next week though.

- We briefly saw Hank and Dawn in this episode as scenes from last week's episodes were replayed from Rachel's perspective.
- Angela has been gone from Ohio for twenty years, given her conversation with Tommy out in the yard.
- Looks like this show will be beating Gotham to the punch in showing us Batman in the finale or will they? After all, that trailer does seem to be hinting that what Dick is seeing isn't real.
- Chronology: From where Donna Troy and Hank & Dawn both left off.

Koriand'r gave us answers on Kory and the arrival of Trigon, both of which were done pretty well, but it's hard to deny that both of these things should've been done a little earlier than they were. Still though, we got some great character bits and the finale certainly looks exciting enough, so hopefully whatever happens with this Trigon story next week, it'll be a strong pay off.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, December 14, 2018

My Review of DC TV's Crossover: "Elseworlds" (The Flash/Arrow/Supergirl/Batwoman)

It's that time of year when most of the Arrow shows band together for their annual crossover event (except for Legends Of Tomorrow but they had their own one to contend with this year) and after Invasion! and Crisis On Earth X, it was time to further up the ante with a little bit of an Elseworlds feel for things.

Written by Eric Wallace & Sam Chalsen & Caroline Dries & Marc Guggenheim & Derek Simon & Robert Rovner
Directed by Kevin Tancharoen & James Bamford & Jesse Warn

For the last week on Supergirl, Arrow and The Flash respectively we've had the same scene play out with Earth 90 being attacked, left in devastation and Barry Allen (John Wesley Shipp) fleeing as the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) is out to test different worlds in preparation for a much bigger crisis to come. This crossover then begins with the Monitor unwisely heading to Gotham City of all places and giving a magical book to Arkham doctor, John Deegan/Doctor Destiny (Jeremy Davies), who decides to play around destiny but only small steps at first. Even a clearly deranged guy responsible for keeping some of Batman's dangerous villains locked up isn't going to go all out on his first try with his new toy.

First we get into something of Freak Friday (but not really) moment where both Barry and Oliver have swapped lives and while there's some fun to be had with the confusion, the consequences soon become apparent when both of them are forced to take a trip to Earth 38 in order to get Kara's assistance on the matter. It's here that we get to see Clark (Tyler Hoechlin) once again and to make things even better, there's also the introduction of Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch) to this particular universe as well. Now I'll go into the Lois/Clark dynamic later in the review but needless to say, it's a highlight in this entire event along with Barry and Oliver getting a respective taster on each other's skills/lives/struggles etc within these three episodes in question. Of course as Cisco vibes the Monitor, our three main heroes find themselves going to a particular city.

Yup, for the middle segment of this episode we're in Gotham City and while it looks a tad generic compared to the Gothic beauty of er, Gotham (which is back next month), don't expect to be seeing Batman anytime soon. Apparently the city has become a chaotic shithole, he's scarpered and his cousin Kate Kane/Batwoman (Ruby Rose)  seems to be doing a half baked job trying to keep the chaos at bay. Now, while I think some of the online vitriol towards Ruby Rose's casting was harsh and while she also wasn't particularly awful here, neither was she great and a part of me does wonder if the CW give the go ahead for a Batwoman series (a pilot is being filmed next year, a series yet to be properly picked up), then I do wonder if she's strong enough to carry her own show. Here she's mostly hostile towards our heroes, except for Kara, whom she takes a liking to. As for the Arkham bits - the Easter Eggs are lovely but the inclusion of Nora Fries (Cassandra Jean Amell - Stephen's real life wife) adds very little to proceedings while Psycho Pirate (Bob Frazer) doesn't do a lot either. Still, it does give Deegan enough time to rewrite stuff once again as Oliver and Barry back to themselves become the Trigger Twins and Deegan does the black cape as the Man of Steel.

It's amazing that what Justice League could've accomplished last year on the big screen (but never did) that this crossover got to play with. Again, I'll comment on Tyler Hoechlin's excellent acting later on but it was fun to see this newly written history play out as Barry and Oliver had to work with a 'bad' Cisco in order to get Superman and Lois to rescue Kara from Star Labs, make a deal of sorts with the Monitor in order to put things right and give Deegan a one way ticket to Arkham as a patient. However as the ending of this crossover alluded to with Batwoman's grim conversation with Oliver, it seems that Deegan hasn't been so much as stopped but more halted until the shit really hits the fan next year. Given the title of next year's crossover event, what happened in this one is going to be a cakewalk by comparison.

Now personal bits to one side - the commentaries on WestAllen and Olicity relationships and Kara trying to find her place out of the DEO, this crossover felt like it was also setting up two potential shows on the CW. The Batwoman series, which will likely happen but could go either way is one thing but a Superman series is the more tempting prospect here. Without sounding like a killjoy towards DCEU fans (and I am one of them), I think it's safe to assume that Henry Cavill won't be donning the cape anytime in the near future and with Hoechlin's version a nod to Christopher Reeve's take on the role but adding enough of his own self into the role, the CW would be nuts not to consider doing a Superman series if we're being candid here. As for Elizabeth Tulloch, I really liked her take on Lois Lane and thought both her and Hoechlin worked extremely well together, so I want to see more of them and I don't just mean in next year's crossover event. Go on, CW, you know you want to. You already have your own Lex Luthor about to appear on Supergirl in 2019. Now is the perfect time to do it before somewhere else beats you to the punch.

- Alternative Alex had longer hair and was also in the closet while Gary Green managed to sneak a cameo in here as a bartender. James made for an unconvincing biker gang leader. Lois is also pregnant and both her and Superman are going to Argo for a long while.
- There were nods to Bane, Mr Freeze, Poison Ivy, Clayface, Penguin, Riddler and Scarecrow during the Arkham bits of this crossover. We also briefly got Amazo and Deathstroke Jr (Liam Hall).
- Smallville got some love here with the use of Remy Zero's Save Me during the Kent farm scene and their Green Arrow being among the dead on Earth 90 during the start of this event.
- The next crossover event will be Crisis On Infinite Earths, coming Fall 2019.

Elseworlds might not beat Crisis On Earth X in terms of favourite crossovers for me but it was bloody great from start to finish and the fact that we've got an even bigger one to look forward is all the confirmation I need to know that most of these shows are coming back next year. Great Easter Eggs, character bits, meta humour at the whole annual event lark and yeah, this was a lot of fun. This time next year, yeah?

Rating: 9 out of 10

Thursday, December 13, 2018

My Review of Titans 1x09: "Hank & Dawn"

Written by Geoff Johns
Directed by Akiva Goldsman

Hank: "What you're suggesting. You're not like me, Donny. This would be us looking for trouble. You never liked trouble."
Don: "So teach me how to like it."

To be fair, this episode really should've been titled Hank & Don & Dawn as we got the original Dove's backstory and he was a wonderful character to watch but after an underwhelming first episode that debuted this aviary themed pairing, I was a little apprehensive about another spotlight episode for them.

Fortunately, this was an episode that was far better than Hawk & Dove (still this season's dud episode for now) but like that episode, this was another rather dark, somber and violent affair. I did wonder why Hank had some clear anger issues in his previous appearance. This one cleared that up with a rather predictable but still handled well storyline of child abuse at the hands of an evil football coach.

Hank was able to spare his younger brother from being abused by the coach but lied that he himself wasn't a victim, which lead to his hedonist and violent behaviour, resulting in both brothers eventually getting expelled from college and becoming the vigilante pairing and getting their names out there and surprisingly, in a correct fashion.

It's a shame that this pairing was clearly a short lived one as Hank's first meeting with Dawn in the street resulted in the deaths of Don and Dawn's own mother. Still though, their shared grief found the pairing connecting with each other and when Dawn discovered the truth about Hank's vigilante origins and past trauma, she took matters into her own hands.

I'm not going to criticise either Hank and Dawn for killing that coach, even if it initially put a dent in their romantic and working relationship. Despite still having some issues with Hank's characterisation in parts, this episode did largely succeed due to the strong chemistry between Alan Ritchson, Minka Kelly and Elliot Knight, all of whom did an excellent job as our main heroes this week.

It's because of the strong performances I could deal with the lack of continuity from the cliffhanger of the previous episode. Saying that, we did have Raven at various points trying to communicate with Hank and Dawn, resulting in the latter waking from her coma and telling Hank that they needed to find Jason Todd. Given that we got clips from him in the previously on bit, I'm almost surprised the episode didn't end with him appearing to be honest.

- Aside from Raven, none of the other regulars appeared this week. The title sequence even featured Hank, Don, Dawn and the football coach.
- Dawn's mother was played by Star Trek: The Next Generation's Marina Sirtis, who couldn't break out of an abusive relationship prior to her death. We also got to see Dawn's ballet skills and we had that nice moment with her and Hank enjoying afternoon tea. The second Hawk, Holly (Dawn's sister) also got a mention here.
- Nice little bit of fanboy stuff with Don wearing a Superman t-shirt at one point in this episode.
- Chronology: I guess from where Donna Troy somewhat left off, though next week's episode is picking up on that and giving us Starfire's backstory.

Hawk & Dawn is probably the kind of episode that could've been left until the show's second season as it did take away from the cliffhanger of the previous episode but as a diversion, it worked a lot better than expected. It's a shame that Don was killed off, instead of having him just outgrow his Dove persona but he was definitely one of my favourite guest stars we've had in this season so far.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Batman 66 - Episodes 89-92 Reviews

Getting close to the end of the second season, we've got another origin female baddie and a rather artistic turn from a familiar baddie to enjoy here.

2x55: Black Widow Strikes Again

I love this show for it's original baddies and while Black Widow (no, not that one!) isn't one of my favourite, this two parter does have a delightful performance from Tallulah Bankhead as the titular baddie of the piece. Black Widow has a talent for using her cerebral controlling devices to rob from as many banks as she can and soon enough, she attracted the attention of the Dynamic Duo. They also fell into her little web trap with some of the dodgiest spiders to precede a certain Doctor Who serial as well. 7/10

2x56: Caught In The Spider's Den

Well, the oddest moment in this episode is either seeing Black Widow trying and spectacularly failing to pass off as Robin with a glorified corpse as Batman during one of her robberies or having Robin break Batman out of Black Widow's thrall by getting him to sing a bit of Gilbert and Sullivan. They're both strange moments in an episode where the Black Widow ended up becoming a victim of her own device. Two parter wise, it's not my favourite but it has some decent moments. 7/10

2x57: Pop Goes The Joker

With so many stories for the Joker in the series, it's been amusing to see what the show would do with him next and for this one, they decided to go down the route of him being an artist to the elite of Gotham. He even got himself a rather dimwitted sponsor with heiress Lisa, who seemed a bit too quick to declare him a winner of an international competition before holding a few rich people (including Bruce Wayne, who easily antagonises the Clown Prince) hostage and ending the episode with Robin about to become a bloody masterpiece to boot. 8/10

2x58: Flop Goes The Joker

The highlights for the second half of this two parter all stem from Alfred. Whether it's his paintings being used to undo the Joker's latest schemes, actually seeing him dual with the Clown Prince and take pleasure in making the latter suffer a little with the Bat Poles - this is definitely one of Alfred's best episodes. Heck, we even get him managing to get O'Hara to take home one of his paintings at the end. I am surprised however that the Joker didn't suss out that he was about to head down to the Batcave though and Lisa is easily one of the worst female accomplices (unwitting as she was) we've had on the show. Other than that, a great second half though. 8/10

Next blog I'll delve into Ice Spy/The Duo Defy, Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin and Ring Around The Riddler.

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 4x08: "Legends Of To-Meow-Meow"

Written by James Eagan & Ray Utarnachitt
Directed by Ben Bray

Constantine: "What the Fraggle Rock is going on here?"

Good question. Simple answer though: John - you and Charlie royally fucked up the timelines and ignored Zari's sensible advice by leaving her a cat a little too long before realising what needed to be done. Essentially put, these two really are part of the team now.

As for the botched up timelines, there was a lot of fun to be had here. First of all, we had Custodians Of The Chronology which had Ray, Mick, Garima and Nate banding together in order to wipe out supernatural threats, so a Leprechaun friend of Charlie barely makes it two minutes on screen before he's taken out and hiding out at the Time Bureau doesn't pan out that well for Charlie either.

However when Charlie and Constantine go back in time to take out the unicorn that killed Sara (and to spare us Indigo Girls influenced Ava), this only lead to Sirens Of Spacetime. A daft, hair flicking mash up of Charlie's Angels and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, it's up to White Canary (Sara), Roundhouse (Ava) and Hard Drive (Gideon) to take out the magical creatures and Charlie's attempts to pass herself off as Amaya is something of a dud.

It's at this point in the episode where it becomes obvious that along with John having to go back and letting Desmond be dragged to hell with Neron that Charlie's influence on the team is what curbed their kill happy stance on magical creatures. However, we still have to get a team up with Mick and the Fairy Godmother and DC's Puppets Of Tomorrow before Charlie clocks on to that lesson though. It also wouldn't be remiss that there's some singing involved in this particular part of this 'crossover' event.

Last but not least, there's Constantine actually doing the right thing and going back to fix his mistake with Desmond (nice kiss there, guys) as Charlie and Sara come to a rather violent showdown on the Waverider. Now that John and Charlie have fixed their mess, had Zari call them out on their recklessness and informed Sara about Neron, it led to the most obvious part of the episode.

I knew that Neron was going to get out of hell looking like Desmond and align himself with Hank. It was the most predictable thing the show could've done and it makes sense to have the Project Hades and Neron plots merge together as we head into the second half of the season. It also ties in with Constantine warning Sara that Neron likes to play as cruelly as possible.

- We got some shade thrown at the current Elseworlds crossover (I'll be reviewing that later this week) with the Waverider turning down calls from Oliver, Barry and Kara.
- With the Kaupe still on the loose, I'm assuming Mona is with him. It was nice to see her interact with more characters this week. Nora on the other hand was a no show here.
- The Mike the Spike plot from last week was briefly resolved at the end of this one. I wonder will we see him again later in the season.
- Chronology: A brief dip into 1962 Las Vegas but mostly 2018 based again.

Legends Of To-Meow-Meow might not have Batwoman, Superman and Lois Lane but it certainly had enough time bending, mind bending and absolute batshit crazy moments that having our Waverider crew sit out that other crossover was probably for the best here. It's annoying that we have to wait four months to see the remainder of this season play out but I'm sure it'll be worth it though.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, December 10, 2018

My Review of Doctor Who's 11x10: "The Battle Of Ranskoor Av Kolos"

Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Jamie Childs

The Doctor (to Graham/Yasmin/Ryan): "None of us for sure know what's out there. That's why we keep looking. Keep your faith. Travel hopefully. The universe will surprise you, constantly."

Sadly this final episode to an overall good but lacking first run for Jodie Whittaker's Doctor wasn't surprising in the way that it could've been if we're being candid here. I really wanted to like this episode and there were parts that did make an impression but overall, it was so underwhelming.

Now maybe it's that we're used to familiar foes or companion departures or regenerations in other finales but even with weaker series enders in the past such as The Wedding Of River Song or Hell Bent, there was a sense of momentum. This episode felt somewhat devoid of any of that.

I think we all knew that from the moment he made it out of The Woman Who Fell To Earth alive, Tim Shaw/Tzim-Sha would be an ongoing problem, so having him take over the title planet of this episode with the help of the powerful and faith drive Ux lot - Andinio (Phyllis Logan) and Delph (Percelle Ascott) wasn't too big a shocker to be honest.

I wasn't really that impressed with Tzim-Sha in the opening episode and despite some of his huffing and puffing and Chibnall shamelessly stealing a plot from one of RTD's great finales on the show, he still didn't make a great second impression here. I mean we got the obligatory face off scene with the Doctor that really didn't go anywhere along with his gloating and yet this episode still didn't put him out of his misery.

Nope, in spite of Graham taking something of a vengeful turn and getting close to actually avenging Grace's death, the worst that happened to Tzim-Sha was getting shot in the foot and being put into stasis thanks to Graham and Ryan showing leniency on the alien. It's like Chibnall wanted to hint at some potentially juicy drama before reverting everything back to safety.

Speaking of drama free, Yasmin might have largely interacted with Mark Addy's Paltraki and helped the Doctor with the stolen planets/getting the Ux to see reason but she still felt like something of a spare part in this episode. Given that all of the main cast are coming back for next series (which I have mixed feelings on tbh), I really do hope Yasmin is afforded a bit more character development.

As for the Doctor - she had some moments discussing the ever changing rules with her companions, there was a threat of her and Graham falling out and she met with an old enemy but all of that lacked a certain punch. I've really enjoyed Jodie's take on the Doctor but it feels like Chibnall really needs to challenge her Doctor at this point and put her against a certain threat. After this episode, I have no desire to see Tzim-Sha ever again and yet, I get the feeling he'll appear once again before Chibnall and Whittaker exit the series.

- Series 12 won't air until early 2020 but we do have the New Year's Day special, titled Resolution to somewhat tide us over until then.
- Nice references to Boom Town and The Stolen Earth/Journey's End in this episode.
- Not to sound old and grumpy but can we please stop having the Doctor refer to her companions as "fam"? It doesn't work at all.
- We also got the Sniper Bots from The Ghost Monument in this one as well, not that they were of much consequence.
- I did like seeing Ryan admit how much he actually cares for Graham. I do think their scenes were some of the strongest in this episode.
- Chronology: It's been 3407 years since Tzim-Sha last encountered the Doctor. Not that he's been counting or anything.

This didn't feel like a finale. I mean we did have a returning baddie and a threat to the Earth, but even with all of that, The Battle Of Ranskoor Av Kolos felt very much like an average mid-series episode and ultimately felt like an underwhelming way to end Jodie Whittaker's first year as the Doctor. With the gaps between this series and the next one, I really do hope Chibnall steps out of his comfort zone and ups the ante next time because he's going to need to.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Thursday, December 06, 2018

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 4x07: "Hell No, Dolly!"

Written by Grainne Godfree & Morgan Faust
Directed by April Mullen

Constantine: "You should go."
Desmond: "Yeah, you're right, I should but this thing between us? This was real, Johnny."

Wait, haven't we seen this before with John Constantine? He meets a cute guy, they fall in love, there's a horrible demon out with a score to settle and cute guy becomes a casualty and winds up in hell, leaving Johnny feeling rather guilty and willing to do something reckless. Yup, we have but not onscreen until now.

The cute guy in question happens to be Desmond Laveau (Christian Keyes) and the man that we've seen in visions at least twice this season and as importantly, one of Desmond's ancestors happened to be Marie Laveau (Joyce Guy), who thanks to another screw up was apparently framed as a serial killer due to a Dybbuk (Paul Reubens) running amok in 19th century New Orleans.

Now, New Orleans isn't new for Constantine even without the baggage of Desmond. We saw him go there at least twice in his own short lived show and here, he was kidnapped by Marie's henchmen before she forced his hand into saving her kin while the rest of the gang (and Ava) looked out for a serial killer in a doll's body.

Before I get onto the killer doll bit, I have to give this show massive props for actually committing to depicting Constantine's bisexuality. I don't doubt had his own show at least gotten a second season that David Goyer and Daniel Cerone would've covered it but quite possibly nowhere near as well as this show is currently doing with the character.

The chemistry with Matt Ryan and Christian Keyes was certainly electric enough and despite his posturing otherwise, Constantine showed a vulnerable side to him when telling Charlie and Zari about his relationship with Desmond. Even without Marie's insistence on the matter, Constantine was more than a little willing to save Desmond by being a bastard to him so that Neron wouldn't be able to use him as leverage.

The mention of Neron does answer another question though - that's the demon who John has been running from and it's clear the second half of the season will set Neron along with Project Hades as the main antagonists for Constantine, the Legends and other members of the Time Bureau to go up against. Right now, though, Constantine's recklessness seems to have fucked with time in a big way and I'm guessing more than just Zari being changed into a cat.

Speaking of Zari, it was amusing that she was somewhat on babysitting duty with both Constantine and Charlie but not entirely shocking that she was unable to keep both of them out of trouble. Given that she was something of a loose cannon herself last season, it's a nice commentary on how Sara trusts her to keep others in line. As for Charlie, we know why she was desperate to get her shape shifting powers back but will she have to sacrifice them again in order to help clean up Constantine's massive mess here? I'm going to assume yes to that one.

As for the serial killer doll - that was a lot of fun. Paul Reubens did a brilliant job voicing the role and damn this show for finding a way to bring back the Stein puppet from last season. Another strength of this plot was the tension between Mick and Ava and Sara trying to get the two of them to be friends. Mick went too far with the clone comment but Ava made some pretty snide comments too, so neither of them were at their best until they had to work together against the monster of the week.

Last but not least - the Time Bureau stuff. With Project Hades looming in the background, it's hardly surprising there are agents out there abusing some of the prisoners. It's cliched as hell but the budding romance between Mona and the Kaupe (yeah, Gary got friend zoned again, despite Nate reluctantly signing up as a wing man for him) is oddly sweet and I think given a certain altercation that went down, we can all predict what will be happening to Mona next.

- Ray and his god awful tush tickler was a source of amusement this week. Seriously man, I don't think you're going to win Nora over with the facial fuzz to be honest.
- Corny but amusing shout out to Angela Bassett's take on Marie Laveau on American Horror Story. I wonder what Gideon's thoughts were on the latest season. Ava also seems to be an expert on serial killers as well.
- I was actually surprised to see that Garima was actually still around, until Ava took her into Time Bureau custody. I assumed she had faded after the plot for Tagumo Attacks!!! had been resolved.
- Chronology: Both 1856 and 2018 New Orleans.

Hell No, Dolly! was the kind of episode with Constantine that I was hoping the show would do and not only did it meet my expectation, but it bloody exceeded them as well. Not only that but with the Legends sitting out the Elseworlds crossover next week, it nicely set up what clearly looks like will be one hell of a bonkers mid season finale.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Monday, December 03, 2018

My Review of Titans 1x08: "Donna Troy"

Written by Richard Hatem & Marisha Mukerjee
Directed by David Frazee

Donna (to Dick): "Don't be Batman or Robin, be something else. Someone else."

Two weeks ago we had Jason Todd rock up and it wasn't the most positive of experiences for Dick Grayson, even if it was one of the show's strongest episodes to date. This time around and following his separation from the gang, Dick finds himself reuniting with former Wonder Girl herself, Donna Troy (Conor Leslie) and the outcome is certainly more pleasant.

While Donna brags about being older, smarter and prettier than Dick, she also has some rather sage advice about what he should do next and even managed to figure out what Kory's mission involving Rachel might be after all and that one, did lead to a rather good cliffhanger that might not be resolved immediately if we're going by the trailer for next week's episode.

It was nice to see Dick and Donna reunite in this episode and I quite liked the opening flashback to them as kids as Donna in the present day talked about how both Diana and Bruce have influenced them as crime fighters. Donna's approach right now seems to be more honed than Dick's, who managed to nearly ruin an undercover mission that Donna was doing with a band of animal poachers. Needless to say though, Dick really could learn a lot more from hanging out with his friend.

It might have been one episode so far, but I'm already in the camp of wanting to see Donna a lot more next season. While it's obvious that there's probably some kind of romantic or unresolved sexual tension past between her and Dick, she made for a great foil for him here and next season does need to expand the Titans beyond the current four we have so far.

Speaking of which, I quite liked seeing Rachel and Angela connect in this episode along with Kory prodding Gar about his clear attraction to Rachel as well as trying to get him to open up about killing that evil doctor from the previous episode.

As for Kory having to kill Rachel, I don't think that'll be happening any time soon and Donna did mention about certain things being open for interpretation as well. Even if Kory's mission really is to kill Rachel, there's no way the show will go through with it.

- Mentions of the Justice League, the Joker and the Penguin. I know we won't see any of them on the show but nice nods nonetheless.
- Dick got himself a male admirer until his poor attempts of small talk put the guy off him. Dick's bad small talk (and Donna's commentary on it) was adorable.
- Nice use of AC/DC in this episode. Kory seemed to be a bit of a fan of them.
- Chronology: Not long from where Asylum left off.

Donna Troy might be my new favourite episode of the season, but there's still four to go. Conor Leslie was a great guest performer, the Dick and Donna dynamic was fantastic and now that Kory's memories are slowly coming back, things are progressing rather nicely.

Rating: 8 out of 10

My Review of Doctor Who's 11x09: "It Takes You Away"

Written by Ed Hime
Directed by Jamie Childs

The Doctor (to the Solitract): "I've lived longer, seen more, loved more and lost more."

In an alternative universe this episode could have been to the 13th Doctor what the likes of Midnight, The Doctor's Wife and Heaven Sent were to her three previous selves. It started well, had the right element of creepiness and came up with a novel way to factor the recently dead Grace into things and then it fell apart. And all because of a talking frog.

One bad element shouldn't undermine the good work set out by an episode but not unlike having the moon being an egg, it was one of those moments that really sank the episode. The bad CGI with the frog using Grace's voice undid the unique creepiness that the episode was capturing with the Solitract and that much speculated bit as to whom the Doctor was sadly kissing farewell to was wasted on something as naff as this. Not the best way to make a first impression, Ed Hime.

The Solitract themselves seemed like an interesting concept. It didn't want to be lonely and manipulated the gang through Graham by assuming Grace's form and playing on his lingering grief for his dead wife. It did the same feat with the episode's guest cast as grief stricken widower, Erik (Christian Rubeck) wanted to believe that he had found his dead wife, Trine (Lisa Stokke) while his daughter, Hanne (Eleanor Wallwork) knew that it wasn't her mother.

Performance wise, I do think both Jodie Whittaker and Bradley Walsh deserve plaudits for as both of them pulled in one of their best performances of the series and I did like the internal struggle that Graham seemed to have while the Doctor was pulling out the stops to break the Solitract's hold on both Graham and Erik but even that doesn't make up for the poor writing choices on display here.

For an episode that could've excelled, it really fell apart with the mirror universe stuff not really being that compelling and even monsters like the odious Ribbons (Kevin Eldon) and those killer moths amounting to very little in the grand scheme of things. Again after the previous two episodes doing better with monsters, this episode felt like another step backwards in that regard.

As for Ryan and Yasmin - the episode wasn't really great for them if I'm being honest. Ryan spent a good time projecting his own father abandonment issues onto Hanne, which I found annoying if understandable while Yasmin essentially felt like a spare part, which has been an ongoing problem with her throughout the series. On the other hand, the episode did end with Ryan calling Graham "granddad" so that was a nice little emotional beat.

- The Zygons got a mention in this episode and I really wish they had been used instead of the Solitract/that bleeding frog.
- The Doctor apparently has seven grandmothers, which Yasmin found rather amusing.
- Graham, if you're gonna carry sandwiches with you, you might want to wrap them up when you're not eating them.
- Yasmin mentioned being a fan of the Arctic Monkeys and even got to use a certain Third Doctor phrase as well.
- Grace has a thing for frogs, hence that bit in the episode we got that we really could've done without.
- Chronology: Norway in 2018.

I really wanted to love It Takes You Away but despite the surprising critical acclaim, I honestly felt this episode was something of a series low (and rating wise too, it's now the lowest viewed one this series). A great idea on paper, poorly executed on screen and undermined by one very bad writing choice despite some great moments from the Doctor and Graham here.

Rating: 5 out of 10