Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019: TV In Review

It's been another year of highs and lows in terms of television. We had some endings, some beginnings, some premature cancellations, obvious highlights and of course, moments of frustration and things that only went and became memes.

So without further ado, here are some of those highs and lows in television 2019.

Soap Of The Year: For this year, EastEnders truly managed to bounce back after years of mediocrity. Under the watchful eye of both Kate Oates and Jon Sen, the show rediscovered it's groove and created a new ship for a fan base to obsess over with Ballum while the fallout of the Sheanu affair has been interesting to watch among other returns and character turns.

On the other hand after several years of excellent storytelling Emmerdale probably had it's worst year in quite some time while Coronation Street seemed to be largely hit and miss and Hollyoaks ventured into topical issues such as radicalization and flash forwarded to New Year's Eve 2020 with some interesting developments for next year to have fun expanding on.

Reality TV: Yeah, I watch so little of this nowadays but the likes of Love Island and The Circle have become natural successors for Big Brother while Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing On Ice provided the weekend entertainment for millions yet again. The X Factor took a break, only to give ITV audiences two underwhelming spin-off programmes that saw them abandoning the station in droves, so there's that.

US Television: Again, there were so many shows on the air, so little time to catch up with most of them. As usual, the majority of the most talked about ones were of course belonging to cable and streaming services with Netflix dominating with the likes of Stranger ThingsThe Politician, Orange Is The New Black, The Crown, Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, You, a brief return of Breaking Bad in movie form to name a few while HBO also kept people on their toes with the likes of Succession, Big Little Lies and a certain final season of a show that divided a lot of viewers. Also kudos to BBC2 for airing both seasons of Pose, which might be a niche show but damn if it's not watchable at all. Not to mention that in spite of losing both Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters, American Horror Story: 1984 turned out to be one of the show's strongest seasons yet.

Final Hits: Notably the likes of Game Of Thrones and Orange Is The New Black (but also shows such as Gotham and Mr Robot). The latter seemed to have a more satisfying ending to it's seven year run while the former unfortunately rushed through some major plot points, butchered Dany's character and put Bran of all people as ruler of Six Kingdoms. I didn't hate the final season as much as other people did but there's no denying that Benioff and Weiss dropped the ball big time here. As for Targaryen based spin-off, here's hoping the producers of that won't make similar mistakes when it goes into production next year.

UK Television: I should watch more UK dramas but admittedly, very few engage me nowadays and too many of them feel a bit too formulaic at times. The best one for me was clearly RTD's miniseries, Years & Years and I did catch up a bit with Line Of Duty, though I don't love that show anywhere near as much as Twitter seems to do. It's good though. I will give the BBC some praise in lieu of Doctor Who being only one episode this year that they made an attempt with more genre TV with the likes of His Dark Materials and The War Of The Worlds (and Good Omens will get an airing on BBC2 next month) but neither show really gripped me either. On a disappointing note, I hate how underwhelming the second season of Killing Eve turned out to be. Here's hoping the third season will be made of stronger stuff.

Iconic Character Of The Year: I'm not the biggest Star Wars fan out there but for the last eight weeks, it was hard to ignore the existence of The Child or Baby Yoda from Disney+'s The Mandalorian. It was adorable, ate frogs and messed with buttons on the lead character's ship and that's all it needed to do in order to make a positive impression on a fandom that constantly rips itself apart over everything and most recently over the likes of Rian Johnson and JJ Abrams. Long may this Child bring peace to a very, very splintered fandom.

Comedies: I'm not the biggest watcher in this genre as such but the likes of Fleabag and Derry Girls definitely put female led comedies back on the map, especially as Phoebe Waller-Bridge has become quite the powerhouse in such a short space of time. Gavin & Stacey came back after a decade off the air for a special that generated controversy over the use of a certain Christmas song. Personally though, I'm still playing catch up with The Good Place, which only has so many episodes left to go before it ends, once and for all.

Comic Book Shows Dominate: They really, really, did and especially DC. Bitch and moan about them all you want but you couldn't move for DC comic shows this year. The best of the bunch for me was actually Doom Patrol as Swamp Thing turned out to be short lived and Titans still has teething problems it needs to sort out. Gotham ended on a rather nice note while Pennyworth felt like it was scraping the barrel in terms of what should be allowed for a comic book series. Krypton ended after two seasons as did Preacher with four seasons, iZombie with five seasons while Lucifer will end after five seasons next year and Harley Quinn went all animated on us for a rather amusing, Adult Swim inspired cartoon series as Watchmen saw a career defining performance from Regina King.

As for the Arrow universe - let's see: getting rid of Felicity has done wonders for the main show's final season and I'm certainly looking forward to the return of Legends Of Tomorrow and whatever mayhem it can bring. Both The Flash and Supergirl are somewhat floundering, Batwoman is mostly underwhelming and Black Lightning is finally a part of the family, thanks to the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths. Oh and by this time next year, we'll have three new shows in the mix, including Stargirl at this rate.

Away from DC, Marvel's time in the sun has come to an end (at least until 2020 when their Disney+ shows finally get underway). Farewell to the likes of Jessica Jones, The Punisher, Daredevil, Cloak & Dagger and soon enough, Agents Of SHIELD as it's seventh season will see the show end. Also the likes of The Boys and The Umbrella Academy also proves you don't need to be either DC or Marvel to do a compelling comic book series as well.

LGBT Television: From a reality/light entertainment point of view, both Queer Eye and Drag Race continued to expand their franchises while Will & Grace's second time to shine will end next year. The L Word went for a sequel series as did Tales Of The City and you can't move for a Greg Berlanti or Ryan Murphy production that doesn't have a prominent LGBT character in the mix. I think the most important LGBT series was definitely Pose, which really came into it's own in it's second season while the short lived Now Apocalypse was a fun, hedonistic series which might have struggled with making it's apocalyptic alien themes make any sense but certainly had no problem with it's lead character, Ulysses (Avan Jogia) copping off with as many fit blokes as he could per episode. It's a shame though that Starz canned it after one season. Netflix also deserves kudos for prominent LGBT content this year with the likes of Orange Is The New Black, The Politician, Special, EastSiders and Tales Of The City while both the CW and ABC led shows seem to continue to utilise LGBT characters and themes as did the BBC, HBO and Showtime. On a negative side, Dynasty dropped the ball with losing James Mackay's Steven Carrington and American Gods also for dropping both Salim (Omid Abtahi) and the Jinn (Mousa Kraish) for it's upcoming third season but that show has generated a lot of bad PR in the last few weeks.

In terms of LGBT content, we've definitely been spoiled for choice in the last several years and going into a new decade in less than 24 hours, I have a feeling that will only continue to be honest.

Overall 2019 has been a very interesting year for mainstream television and I don't doubt that next year will be too. What were your highlights in the last twelve months?

Monday, December 30, 2019

My Review of Beauty And The Beast (2017)

Written by Stephen Chbosky & Evan Spiliotopoulos
Directed by Bill Condon

Belle:"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell... And for once it might be grand to have someone understand, I want so much more than they've got planned!"

You know the general gist with this one. I was originally going to view this live action remake to a classic Disney animated movie in the cinema, but changed my mind. The movie itself would go on to make a billion, a fate it would share with live action remakes of Aladdin and The Lion King. The obvious question, box office numbers aside - is it any good?

The answer is yes, of course it's good. It's not quite as enchanting as the animated version but there's plenty to like her. The main story is largely unchanged but there's certainly some additions as this live action take attempts to modernise the story a bit for a new generation of audiences.

Our story begins with a spoiled Prince named Adam (Dan Stevens) rejecting a beggar woman (Hattie Morahan) named Agathe. This turns out to be a rather fatal mistake as Agathe reveals herself to be an Enchantress and therefore not only turns Adam into a beast but all of his guests into household objects and if Adam can't find true love at a certain time, then he's doomed to remain a beast for eternity.

Cut to the village nearby and a young girl named Belle (Emma Watson)is the object of curiosity and derision by the villagers and the unwanted affection of the vain and boorish huntsman, Gaston (Luke Evans). When Belle's father, Maurice (Kevin Kline) makes the mistake of stealing a rose from the Beast's garden, Belle trades her own freedom for her father's and a fraught relationship between the title characters soon takes place.

I know there's problematic elements with this whole romance (Stockholm Syndrome, toxic masculinity, you name it, it's there) but seeing as I can separate fiction from reality and embrace the story as it is, the gradual thawing of Belle and the Beast's relationship from hostility to love is handled reasonably well with the extended time this live action version affords it.

The extended time doesn't massively expand upon some of the supporting characters as much as you'd expect but the characters aren't too short changed either. The likes of Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), Cosgworth (Ian McKellen), Mrs Potts (Emma Thompson) and Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) have some good moments in the movie as does Gaston's foolish friend, LeFou (Josh Gad).

Speaking of LeFou, the storm in a teacup (not you, Chip) over the character's homosexuality really was all for nothing. I'm not criticising as such but aside from a few moments that suggest he's in love with Gaston and a literal blink and you miss it dance moment with a male extra in the palace, it's nothing of a real note, which does seem to be an ongoing issue with Disney productions.

A little more noteworthy though was the movie's extra length to expand upon both Belle and Adam's respective childhoods with some tragic flashbacks to years before hand that informed their actions in the present day. Neither were really needed but both added a lot to the movie and while the chemistry with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens isn't as electric as it could've been, the two of them do compliment one another one.

- Originally director Bill Condon wasn't going to have music in this one. Fortunately he changed his mind.
- Alan Menken who scored the original movie returned to do music for this one along with Tim Rice.
- Standout music: The usual suspects (Belle, Be Our Guest, Beauty And The Beast, Gaston etc) but I did like the additions of Evermore and Days In The Sun. I wasn't too keen on How Does A Moment Last Forever.
- Chronology: If we're going by Gaston and LeFou's backstory, then sometime after 1763.

Beauty And The Beast doesn't quite have the magic of the 1991 classic but it's an intriguing live action of two halves - faithful remake while also adding it's own little bits. All the leading cast do a strong job in bringing the characters to the big screen and Condon certainly has some truly enchanting and gorgeously shot moments throughout the movie.

Rating: 7 out of 10

My Review of Harley Quinn's 1x05: "Being Harley Quinn"

Written by Adam Stein
Directed by Juan Meza-Leon

Harley: "You didn't make me, Joker. I made myself."
Joker: "But you can't change your memories. This isn't Eternal Sunshine rules."

Ah, for the fifth episode, let's take a trip into the murky mind of one Harleen Quinzel, shall we? If you wanted a retooling of Harley's origin story, then no better than what this episode attempts to do and pulls off rather well.

With the stress of trying to find a new lair upon Sy Borgman turfing out Ivy and company out of the apartment, Harley goes into a catatonic state and it's up to Dr Psycho and everyone else to venture into Harley's mind in order to bring her around.

The trip into Harley's mind isn't too shocking if you've read any variation of Mad Love or watched the animated episode from 1999. Throw in some New 52 and Suicide Squad movie origins and it's more of a case of subverting things around by the time we get to the moment where Harley realised that she was in charge of her destiny the whole time.

Before that though, we saw a glimpse into Harley's family life, her bratty/stalkerish beginnings, her academic career and of course meeting a certain pale faced, green haired menace who admittedly she's not quite as over as she'd like to be.

Of course, then Harley went and subverted everything by "changing" her origin, thus breaking everyone out of being trapped in her mind and nearly incinerated by Sy Borgman and his female friend. Then the episode ended with Harley getting a new lair and a new member to her every expanding crew so things continue to mostly go well for her.

- Frankie Muniz appeared in this episode as himself and the object of a younger Harleen's affections. Restraining orders be damned on that one.
- I love that Ivy struggled to come up with even one negative for King Shark when trying to motivate him to help Harley.
- Five episodes in and can we please rest the Joker for at least one episode now? I mean this episode definitely needed him but I want at least two or three in the series without him.
- Chronology: Not long from where the last one left off.

Being Harley Quinn had fun with subverting some established origin lore and while it wasn't the most original look into Harley's psyche, it was definitely a lot of fun nonetheless. Hopefully though we see more of the Legion of Doom and Harley's crew making some bigger strides in their criminal aspirations.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Simpsons - 12 Christmas Episodes To Watch Over The Holidays

A few years ago, I did a similar blog post with a rundown of the best Christmas episodes for the likes of Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. Given that The Simpsons have been around for 31 seasons, it seems only fair to do a list for them as well.

Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire (Season 1)

The opening episode that finally gave the family their own full time show. In 1989, the first episode was also the first Christmas episode we got and it did an excellent job of introducing the titular family and some of the characters around them. The plot largely centered around Homer not getting his Christmas bonus while getting a second job as a mall Santa. It also marked the debut of Santa's Little Helper.

Miracle On Evergreen Terrace (Season 9)

The one where Bart accidentally wrecks Christmas for his family and the entire neighbourhood find out his misdeed in a rather public way. This is definitely one of my favourite Christmas themed episodes from the show as for once, it's one where Bart does something bad with serious enough consequences, even if the ending sees the townsfolk forgive the Simpsons a little too quickly before clearing their house out.

Gift Of The Magi (Season 11)

The timing of this episode was interesting as it came out around the same time that Furbies were a thing and this episode exploited that idea to the max as the kids of Springfield Elementary with Funzo being the hottest toy around. There's a good commentary on commercialization as well as a great voice cameo from Gary Cole.

Skinner's Sense Of Snow (Season 12)

The last thing any student (including even Lisa and Martin Prince) want to be is trapped in the school over the festive and when Skinner exerts his authority, it didn't take long for the students to rebel and Homer and Ned to mount a rescue for the snowed in kids. Good thing there was a silo of salt to knock over or else Skinner would've gotten another terrible DVD to torture the kids with.

She Of Little Faith (Season 13)

Also known as the one where Lisa went for Buddhism and Marge resorted to various tactics including a pretend pony in order to get her daughter back to Christianity. There's some great jokes in the episode and it's definitely one of the more thought provoking Christmas episodes the show has done in it's long history.

'Tis The 15th Season (Season 15)

Think How The Grinch Stole Christmas meets A Christmas Carol and essentially this is what this episode would be in a nutshell. Homer's selfishness saw him alienated from his family so he chose to amend his ways with his niceness causing even Ned Flanders to express some jealousy for good measure. The episode has some follow up from the previous special with Lisa's Buddhism also coming into play as she advised Homer not to compete with Flanders buying everyone a present.

Simpsons Christmas D'Oh (Season 17)

Anthologies are usually the making of the Halloween episodes, but Christmas episodes have also had them and this one gave us three new takes on the likes of the Nativity, Nutcracker and seeing Santa Claus. I did love Grandpa's wrath for Santa along with learning a bit more about Abe's other family and of course this show's take on Jesus's birth was done brilliantly.

Kill Gill, Volumes I & II (Season 18)

Gill being one of life's losers has been a recurring theme throughout the show for a good few seasons but when he loses everything and winds up as a guest at the Simpsons. He soon overextends his welcome and Marge's patience by several months and when Gill finally gets on his feet, Marge's desire to her own back also puts him back to square one. There's also a subplot involving Grinches that's dealt with as an afterthought though.

Holidays Of Future Passed (Season 23)

Over the years we've had plenty of jumps into possible futures for the Simpson clan, so it made sense that one of them would form the basis of a Christmas episode. In this one, both Bart and Lisa struggle with their own kids while Maggie (who has become a famous rock singer) is about to have her own kid while Homer keeps Abe on ice, Marge undermines Lisa's parenting and Ralph has been cloned quite a lot but they're getting killed throughout the episode.

The Nightmare After Krustmas (Season 28)

If we can have a Christmas episode where Lisa converts to Buddhism, then an episode where Krusty considers converting to Christianity as a way to bond with his rarely seen daughter, Sophie is an interesting enough idea. There's also a rather sinister take on the Elf On The Shelf craze when Maggie makes a rather unpleasant new friend. As for whether or not Krusty actually converted though did make for an amusing debate between Gods during the end of this episode.

'Tis The 30th Season (Season 30)

Airing in 2018, this one saw the family head to the strangest theme park, following Marge being stressed by Christmas. There's a guest role from former Glee actor, Jane Lynch as the rather mean spirited Jeanie but while the episode isn't quite as festive flavoured as previous ones, the family do end up with a smart TV and a chance to watch a Christmas special of their own by the end of this one.

Bobby, It's Cold Outside (Season 31)

The latest Christmas episode which aired on FOX a little over a week ago, this one saw Sideshow Bob unable to kill Bart as it would see him breaking character as a mall Santa. There's also a plot involving a thief with the initials SB but as the episode progressed, Lisa realised there was a more heartbreaking backstory for this particular Christmas thief.

There's a round up of some the Christmas episodes to watch. What's your favourite Christmas episode of The Simpsons? Oh and Merry Christmas everyone. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

My Review of Harley Quinn's 1x04: "Finding Mr. Right"

Written by Jess Dweck
Directed by Juan Meza-Leon

Batman: "You want your first nemesis to be special. Somebody you could see being your nemesis for the rest of your life."

I guess that above has some truth to it. For nearly thirty years, Harley has evolved from being one of Batman's many enemies to being on a rare occasion something of a grudging ally. In this episode, Harley and her crew with the welcomed addition of tech savvy King Shark (Ron Funches) are looking for the right enemy.

Instead of getting someone cool to fight with, they end up with is Damien Wayne (Jacob Tremblay), who manages to be a brat in this universe with the add on of making Harley into a laughing stock when he proclaims on Tawny that she asked him to be his nemesis. A puff piece by Lois Lane (Natalie Morales) also didn't help the situation.

Needless to say, in order to regain her criminal cred, Harley kidnapped Lois with her gang but even Superman (James Wolk) couldn't be bothered with Harley, so it took kidnapping Damien and using King Shark to threaten the latest Robin's life on live television for everyone to realise that he's not Harley's enemy.

Tawny was amusing enough in the previous episode with the Dr Psycho segment and here she gets to have a lot more fun as Batman, Poison Ivy and Joker all subsequently gatecrash the TV show for varying reasons. There's a lovely commentary on Ivy putting up with Harley's antics (as well as a not remotely subtle hint of unrequited love) along with the Joker being jealous over Batman battling his ex on live television.

Needless to say, Harley managed to not get her own nemesis (and neither did Damien) but between adding to her gang roster and a new hideout waiting in the wings, things are probably a little on the up for her. Saying that though, if this episode emphasised anything it's that Ivy has the patience of a saint when it comes to Harley smashing up her televisions. I definitely would've booted Harley out after the first one.

- Nice silent cameos from Wonder Woman and Aquaman in this episode. We still need to meet a few more JL members as the season progresses.
- Ivy lost her apartment as her landlord Sy Borgman (Jason Alexander) kicked her out this week. He also a tad mean to the lovely Killer Shark too.
- Batman talking about his first nemesis being in his late 20s, so not long after he assumed the cape and cowl then.
- After this episode, I highly suspect they are going to be maybe go there and Harley and Ivy after the latter's thing with Kite Man inevitably fizzles out.

Finding Mr Right is easily the strongest episode so far this season. It's important to find the enemy that completes you and while Harley hasn't found that special someone, we all know she can do better than a bratty child and she's at least making decent strides with her crew.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Thursday, December 19, 2019

A Trip To Purgatory Again

Yup, I'll be starting some new shows in the new year and there will be an end of year blog that will bring in some shows I haven't discussed as of yet but here's a final (for 2019) TV Jumble Blog.

Arrow: Prior to the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths, the preceding two episodes saw a nice return of Quentin Lance in a Groundhog Day inspired episode while the gang all found themselves in Lian Yu, reuniting with some old friends and enemies and Roy losing an arm. While the character still is my least favourite in this final season, I will admit grudgingly that Mia has been less annoying recently but I'm still not sure that is enough to make me want to watch that upcoming Canaries spin-off beyond the pilot episode.

Batwoman: This show is still largely in the meh category but at least they decided to kill off a main character to highlight that Alice actually poses a threat and that she's not all talk. The character being Catherine and I wish I cared but given how poorly developed she was, it's a bit eh really. I do feel bad for Mary, who continues to be a delight but between boring Sophie/Tyler melodrama, fun characters like Julia being one-offs and Luke still having little in the way of character development, this show has quite a way to go. It's almost too telling that it's best episode was the one that eschewed the majority of it's cast and had several other characters from other shows in it.

Pose: Oh, I really loved this show. No, really I did. The second half of this season had so many beautiful character moments - the girls trip, Angel and Papi getting engaged, everyone rallying around Blanca, Pray Tell and Ricky, some character growth from Damon as well as Elektra being on fine form and another Candy appearance, post death. I'm really glad this wonderful series has gotten a third season as I want to see more from each of these characters and what other bits of 90s nostalgia the show can come up with too.

Supergirl: Prior to the events of the big crossover, this show is still on the meh side of things. It's nice that the Leviathan has finally picked up, but so far, it's not usually compelling as we went from Rama Khan to Gamemnae a little too quickly while Kara's passiveness towards Lena's heel turn was somewhat frustrating. The redemption plot with J'onn's brother was also done a bit quickly as well but I'm hoping that we see him again later in the season. Other than that, I'm hoping post-crossover the show steps up a big gear.

The Flash: Let's be honest - Bloodwork without a doubt is the dullest villain this show has ever done and if he never returns to the series, it would be too soon but we're likely to see more of him later in the season. The Negative Flash stuff just looked Barry had been chewing liquorice but at least we got a good team up with Iris and Cisco and there was an entertaining James Bond spoof episode prior to the mid season finale two parter, but other than this season has been plodding along too much for it's own good.

- You has been renewed for a third season while it's second season will premiere on Netflix from December 26th.
- CW have commissioned Infamous, which will focus on true stories of real life actors, models and musicians who also happened to moonlight as spies for the Allied Forces in WWII, such as Greta Garbo, Hedy Lamarr and Josephine Baker just to name a few.
- Speaking of Lamarr, Gal Gadot will play the actor in a miniseries for Showtime. Gadot will also be producing an American version of Israeli drama, Queens as well for the station.
- Janelle Monae, Joan Cusack and Mary Holland will star in the upcoming second season of Homecoming for Amazon.
- SyFy have renewed Van Helsing for a fifth and final season.
- 50 Cent is making a superhero show described as a remix rendition of your favourite superheroes. The animated show will air on Quibi and will be called Trill League.
- Stargirl will air on the CW as well as DC Universe. The character is also appeared to appear in the current Crisis On Infinite Earths event when the final two parts air next month.
- Euphoria has been renewed for a second season. Special has also gotten a second season renewal. I haven't forgotten about that show, I will get round to it.
- Several cast members have been dropped from the upcoming third season of American Gods including Orlando Jones, Crispin Glover, Mousa Kraish to name a few.
- The creators of Once Upon A Time are doing another fairytale themed show, Epic, which will be an anthology series for ABC.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Game Of Thrones - Season 8 Review

US Airdate: April 14th-May 19th 2019

And She Never Wanted To Leave: They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and having a two year gap between the seventh season and it's eighth and final season certainly tested that theory for audiences.

In terms of ratings, it's amazing that this was a show that started off with a modest 2 million upon it's debut in 2011 to ending with 13 million upon it's ending in 2019. However, there's also the shift in attitude towards audiences and critics as this final season fell into some disappointing traps. Maybe we expected too much. Maybe Benioff and Weiss were too eager to wrap things up. I'll give you a hint: it's elements of both but it's mostly the latter.

Upon the knowledge that HBO actually wanted 10 episodes each for the last two seasons but Benioff and Weiss felt that 13 episodes over two seasons would wrap things up better was clearly an error of judgement on their parts.

Coming in with six episodes, this last season managed to feel incredibly rushed with certain plots and oddly dragged out in other parts. The first two episodes are regular lengths but the remaining four are somewhat overextended with only the final probably be the more deserving of the extra time.

Things do start off well enough in season opener, Winterfell which finally saw Daenerys arrive in the North, immediately clash with Sansa and Arya while having her title for the Iron Throne threatened the moment that Sam enlightened Jon about his birthright. Then there was Jaime's offer of help in the lovely character driven A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms which boasted some beautiful character moments, especially for Brienne and the use of a lovely song that I'm currently listening to as I write this review.

Of course with the first two episodes being rather light on the action front, it was the third episode, The Long Night that finally saw the battle with White Walkers and started bumping off several characters as Jorah, Melisandre and Theon all met their maker in this one while the Night King also came to a rather sticky end at the hands of a character who probably didn't need to be the one to kill him if we're being honest here.

Then there was The Last Of The Starks where the division between Jon and Daenerys only widened as Cersei and Euron saw them getting the upper hand and also saw the death of Missandei for good measure. I have to admit that Cersei should've had a far larger role in this final season than she ended up, especially given that both Jaime and Tyrion were better utilised in the episodes they appeared in.

Penultimate episode The Bells though was the one that seemed to sap any good will from the season. On the whole, it's a dramatically engaging episode but Daenerys erodes any sympathy audiences could've had for her when she incinerates the majority of King's Landing and some of the deaths such as Cersei and Jaime's are horribly anticlimactic for their own good.

Last but not least, the series finale - The Iron Throne. There have been worse series enders than this one, but god damn it, this should've been so much better than this. I can deal with Daenerys death and even Jon not wanting the Throne, but giving it to Bran of all people with absolutely no story build up to still makes no sense to me. I did like that the Starks made it out of the series alive as well as a few other favourites like Tyrion, Brienne, Davos, Gendry and Bronn but overall and after eight seasons, this still felt a rather unsatisfying way of ending such an epic series.


As per usual the series doesn't skimp on the extras and there are commentaries for every episode, including more than one for some of them. As well as a few deleted scenes that fill in some gaps (like Sansa surviving the events of the third episode), there's The Last Watch two hour documentary that aired after the series finale along with new documentaries such as When Winter Falls, Duty Is The Death Of Love and Histories & Lore. 


8x01: Winterfell = 7/10, 8x02: A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms = 9/10,
8x03: The Long Night = 9/10, 8x04: The Last Of The Starks = 8/10,
8x05: The Bells = 7/10, 8x06: The Iron Throne = 7/10

Season 8 and The Complete Series are currently available on DVD and Blu Ray. A spin-off series, House Of The Dragon has also been commissioned by HBO.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

My Review of Harley Quinn's 1x03: "So You Need A Crew?"

Written by Jess Dweck
Directed by Cecilia Aranovich Hamilton

Harley (to Clayface/Doctor Psycho): "How do you feel about petty, personal vendettas?"

It's episode 3, so now seemed like a good time for Harley to actually get herself a crew and this episode certainly presented the challenges that any aspiring supervillain would have in this regard. Then again, Harley ain't a quitter.

After being upstaged by the Joker earlier in the episode over a heist involving a warhead, Ivy had to be the one to give Harley the truth about the last aspiring female supervillain - the Queen of Fables (Wanda Sykes) whose fairytale themed antics did not come to a Happily Ever After thanks to the Justice League meeting a rather cruel and unusual punishment on her.

Not to be deterred, even from a sleaze lifestyle guru like Maxie Zeus (Will Sasso), Harley managed to get at least two members on to her crew. First of all, there was misogynist extraordinaire, Doctor Psycho (Tony Hale) whose use of the C word to both Wonder Woman and Giganta (Vanessa Marshall) saw him getting kicked out of the Legion of Doom and grudgingly throwing his lot in with Harley.

Then there was Clayface (Alan Tudyk), who after Ivy and Frank the Plant might be my favourite character in this series. This episode seriously went overboard on Basil's theatricality and in the best way possible as his attempts to distract Zeus while Harley and Psycho stole from the latter were highly amusing as hell to watch. Of course, Harley is going to have to add a few more members to her crew but at least she's getting the desired results she wants in posing a threat to the Joker.

The first two episodes of this series did allude to the glass ceiling but this episode was overt about it throughout with both Harley's struggles to be taken seriously, Ivy's sage advice about female villains being tolerated to a point and of course, the whole backstory with the Queen of Fables. None of it was subtle, but it was done in a rather effective way nonetheless.

- I'm guessing Tawny is meant to be this show's stand in for the Wendy Williams Show.
- Psycho and Giganta dated until the events of this episode. We also got to see the likes of Cheetah and Felix Faust in this episode as well as Lex Luthor.
- Kite Man made another appearance and it seems that Ivy is interested in him after all.
- Chronology: Not long since the events of the second episode.

So You Need A Crew wasn't subtle on it's message on female bosses/villains but given the fun this episode had with making fools and deconstructing characters like Zeus and Psycho, it overall worked for me. Ivy continues to be the best and her little admission of love to Harley was rather sweet and understated. It does feel like they're marginally toning some of the swearing a bit. We never actually heard Psycho say the C word and yet it's impact was felt.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

My Review of DC TV's Crossover: "Crisis On Infinite Earths: Hours 1-3" (Supergirl/Batwoman/TheFlash)

It's time for the biggest crossover event that the Arrow universe could come up with and while in years past, I would've reviewed the whole thing together, this time around, it's an event that has five episodes, spanning two months, so here's a review of the first three hours of Crisis On Infinite Earths.

Written by Robert Rovner & Marc Guggenheim & Derek Simon & Jay Faerber & Don Whitehead & Holly Henderson & Lauren Certo & Sterling Gates & Eric Wallace
Directed by Jesse Warn & Laura Belsey & David McWhirter

Anti-Monitor: "It is time to end the age of heroes and everything you hold close."

In last year's crossover event, Elseworlds, we knew this moment was coming and it's certainly been prepared for with the latest seasons of two of the shows in question. As we kick things off in the Supergirl side of things, worlds are being destroyed and Kara herself can do nothing to save her mother, Alura (Erica Durance) as Argo City is one of the first worlds to perish but the use of Lyla/Harbinger (Audrey Marie Anderson) does however mean that most of our players are not perishing as Kara is soon reunited with Superman, Lois Lane, Green Arrow, Mia Smoak, Sara Lance, Batwoman, The Flash and The Atom and in this first part, there's a mixture of recon with some of the group, getting Jonathan Kent back from Earth 16 in 20148 where Sara briefly reunited with an older Oliver while in the present day, our Oliver ended up a casualty.

Now this early in the game seemed a little too quick to have Oliver killed off and needless to say once we move into the Batwoman segment of things, this was something that wasn't going to stick. I did like Sara voicing concerns about bringing Oliver back from the dead even Mia wasn't so keen on listening to then. Then again, the second part did give us an interesting team up of Sara, Mia, Barry and Constantine as they managed to bring Oliver back from the dead but it took striking a deal with a certain someone in The Flash side of things and Diggle reaching out to his "brother" in order to get Oliver back on side. Of course the biggest highlight in the second part of this installment was Iris, Lois and Clark trying to stop Lex Luthor's (Jon Cryer) one man mission to kill as many versions of Superman as he could by setting the Earth 96 version of the character (Brandon Routh) onto our Clark before Iris and Lois managed to get one over on Lex. Having Routh get to play a role he played over a decade ago was great for the second and third parts of this crossover event. It's like he never left the role to begin with.

However while I was happy to see another Superman in the mix, the only Batman we got was in Earth 99 and had become a homicidal maniac that died a rather anticlimactic death to boot. On the plus side, he was played by Kevin Conroy who made the most of his limited screentime and aside from Ruby Rose, at least Cadmus Johnson was the only other member of Batwoman to appear in this episode, albeit as a more nihilistic and somewhat off putting version of Luke Fox. I did like the scenes that Kate had in these episodes with both Bruce and Kara and the fact that the she was getting her head around the bigger universal threats beyond Gotham.

An ongoing theme in the episodes was the fact that they are seven Paragons out there that are able to stop the Anti-Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) and throughout the episodes we learned that Supergirl represented hope, Batwoman courage, Sara destiny, Earth 96 Superman truth, Martian Manhunter honor, The Flash love while newly added into the mix, pre second Atom Ryan Choi (Osiric Chau) of course would represent humanity. Of course as a new father/husband, Ryan was somewhat reluctant to embrace his destiny until Iris was able to reach out to him and Ryan jumped onto the Waverider along with everyone else as the Anti-Monitor and Pariah (Tom Cavanagh) brought things to a rather interesting standstill.

By the end of this episode, it seemed that Oliver was about to become the new Spectre after the previous one, Jim Corrigan (Stephen Lobo) while Earth 90 Flash (JohnWesley Shipp) made a noble sacrifice to help save this Earth, along the arrival of Black Lightning in the third hour also helped matters to boot. It might have taken three seasons but it seems that Jefferson is now a part of this universe, even if he has lost his wife and daughters in the mix. I do get the feeling though that in the next two hours, both Jefferson and Kara are going to find their Earths merged in with Earth 1, assuming that all the deaths on the Waverider are of course reversed and can we talk about Lex Luthor replacing Earth 96 Superman so he could be a Paragon? Damn, that fella will do anything for attention.

- Okay cameos and there were a lot of them in these three hours, so let's break them down.
- Earth 9: Titans with both Curran Walters and Alan Ritchson appearing as Robin II and Hawk, then Earth 66 had Burt Ward as himself while Earth 89 had Robert Wuhl as a Gotham City citizen.
- Earth X saw a brief appearance of The Ray while Earth 75 showed us Lois grieving over a dead Superman.
- Earth 76 only gave us Mick but also a voice cameo from Wentworth Miller as the Waverider's Leo Snart.
- Earth 167 gave us Tom Welling as a retired/non powered Clark Kent and Erica Durance's Lois Lane as they both have daughters, live on the farm and Lex was not impressed with Clark being normal now.
- Earth 203 briefly gave Huntress (Ashley Scott) with a voice cameo from Dina Meyer's Oracle while Earth 666 also gave us Lucifer (Tom Ellis), who flirted with Constantine and Earth 18 also gave us a more sleazier version of Jonah Hex (Johnathon Schaech). We also got an appearance from Wil Wheaton on Earth 38 and Griffin Newman on Earth 1. I think that covers everything.
- Basically shows/movies such as Batman (1989), Smallville, Birds Of Prey, Lucifer, Superman Returns and Titans are now sort of a part of this universe.

Crisis On Infinite Earths has gotten off to a flying start and while this is the most ambitious and fan service driven event yet, there's definitely a sense of things being set up for the future (Mia's spin-off for a start) and the end of an era for other things. I loved so many moments, it's impossible to highlight them all and I certainly gasped at certain parts too. It's going to be a long wait for the remaining two parts of this event but I don't doubt it will be worth it though.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

CCXP 2019 - Birds Of Prey & Wonder Woman 1984 Soar (and other DC Movies spoilers)

Yeah, there's kind of a lot to cover here with both Birds Of Prey and Wonder Woman 1984 dominating big time at Brazil Comic Con (known as CCXP) last week, but there's also some other DC movie related stuff I haven't covered in a while, so this blog is going to touch on nearly all of it as best as possible.

My life probably hasn't been what you think it has. We all have our struggles. 

On Sunday, both Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins took to the stage at CCXP and to say the panel for Wonder Woman 1984 (June 5th 2020) was a success would be underselling it but damn, it really was. The anticipation for this movie has been brewing for months and after eighteen months since it began filming, we finally got a trailer for the film and it damn well nearly broke the internet and gave us enough strong hints of the plot for Diana Prince's second solo outing. While we didn't see our villain Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig) fully transform as Cheetah we certainly got hints of the main plot surrounding other baddie, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and the return of one Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) is definitely not what it seems. Embracing the 80's vibe with the styling and colour palette, we got to see some great stunts, touching reunions, hints of darkness, our titular heroine put through her paces and a flashback to Themyscira. Tonally this is definitely different from the first movie but not in a bad way whatsoever. I seriously cannot wait to see this movie and I love the tagline of A New Era Of Wonder Begins.

WW84 Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfM7_JLk-84

Now three days prior, the Birds Of Prey (February 7th 2020) themselves took to the stage with all our main female cast and director Cathy Yan and the audience went wild for them. Back in October a trailer for this movie was released to general audiences and it was excellent. However CCXP got an exclusive second trailer, which will be released early next year as well as the opening scene to the movie. There's no denying that this movie has generated a certain degree of division and controversy as it's definitely playing around with usual canons but the general consensus was that the audiences loved what they saw and it seems like we're going to get an even amount of screen time for our characters, even Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn will be an unreliable narrator and a certain plot involving Ewan McGregor's Black Mask has been changed. As the tagline says though - Mind Over Mayhem. 

Birds Of Prey Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGM4uYZzfu0

Outside of the events of CCXP, there's also been the several news items over the last few months ....

Back in September and to coincide with filming, writer/director James Gunn announced the cast for The Suicide Squad (August 6th 2021), which will serve as a sequel and kind of reboot to the 2016 movie. The movie will see Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman and Jai Courtney reprise their roles from the first film but they will be joined by a lot of cast members, whose actual roles have yet to be properly disclosed, though Idris Elba is rumoured to be playing Vigilante. Gunn also pointed out not to get attached to a lot of these characters and we'll see both him and Matt Reeves at CCXP next year as they promote The Suicide Squad and The Batman (June 25th 2021) respectively.

Last month it was announced that for the first time in 2021, the DCEU will have three movies instead of the usual one or two from previous year. The third movie in question with a December 22nd 2021 release penciled in will be Black Adam, starring Dwayne Johnson/The Rock as the title villain turned antihero. Johnson wrote up a pretty passionate post on the character when announcing the movie, which will be directed by Jaume Collet-Serra from a script written by Adam Sztykiel and will also feature characters such as the Justice Society of America. Filming for the movie will commence in July 2020. I have to admit to having mixed feelings on this one.As a character, I would've preferred Black Adam had debuted in a Shazam! sequel but there's no doubting that The Rock's mass appeal will ensure that this movie is a big hit for the DCEU.

The Rock's Black Adam Announcement: https://www.instagram.com/p/B42odCrFF42/?hl=en

As for the future of the DCEU - well, we've had some more casting announcements for The Batman (due to begin filming early next year) but that will get another blog dedicated to it later in the month. Aquaman's second movie will be coming out on December 16th 2022. However recently revealed was that a Shazam! sequel will now be released on April 1st 2022 while The Flash will also be released on July 1st 2022. There was also an announcement of sorts of a potential movie centering on the Amazons with Patty Jenkins producing and a third Wonder Woman may come out in 2023 or 2024. Currently Superman is still up in the air even though Henry Cavill clearly wants to play the role yet again while there might be a DC movie coming to HBO Max. Oh and there's another topic I've been avoiding but now seems the time to give it some attention, so let's power through this next bit, shall we?

Ah yes, the Zack Snyder Cut of Justice League. The thing that of course exists (that's not a debate, we've seen enough Vero stuff to know it actually exists) and has generated some of the worst (and occasionally best) examples of fan behavior. In the last few months, it's been a campaign that's intensified with some cast members (Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa and Ray Fisher) voicing their support on the matter and even the likes of Subway giving away 15,000 sandwiches to the homeless but whether or not the film will get a release is still very much up in the air. No one can say for certainty that it will or it won't but if it does, then HBO Max would seem the obvious place to release it before eventually giving it a digital and physical release. Either way, regardless of this Cut seeing the light of day, it's ever clear the WB and DC want to move on from Zack Snyder's era. Releasing Snyder's intended version would help with that for some fans but for everyone else, there's eight movies coming out in the next three years and several more in various stages of development, so in spite of a rocky start, the end result is the same: the DCEU is going nowhere.

Oh and #ReleaseTheSnyderCut so we really can move the hell on already. Which upcoming DCEU movie are you looking forward to and which one would you like to see in the future?

My Review of Harley Quinn's 1x02: "A High Bar"

Written by Jane Becker
Directed by Matt Garofalo & Ben Jones & Frank Marino

Harley (to everyone, re Joker): "In fact, why are any of you letting him talk to you like that? He doesn't even have powers. His only power is bullying you into doing what he wants. I should know. He did it to me for years."

We're onto the second episode of this sweary series and this seemed to be setting up the beginning of Harley getting what she wants with getting a place within the Legion of Doom. So far the only members that are prominent are of the Bat Rogue Gallery as Penguin (Wayne Knight), Scarecrow (Rahul Kohli), Bane (James Adomian) and Two Face (Andy Daly) all appear in bigger roles this week.

Initially they're not taken in by the idea of Harley wanting to join their seemingly male only club but after one abusive too many from the Joker at the Bar Mitzvah of the Penguin's son Joshua, it seems that Harley's luck might have turned a corner when it comes to assembling her own criminal empire.

During the episode, Harley mostly makes a fool of herself at the party, even going as far as ruining the surprise that Oswald intended for his son but Joshua's lack of experience is then used to Harley's advantage as the latter managed to save herself (just about) from being shot by a teenager. Oh and of course, Ivy somewhat helped to save the day.

Let's speak of Ivy - she's brilliant in this series, her put downs are delightful, I can't get enough of Frank the house plant and while there are certain fangirls seething at the fact that the show is pairing Ivy with Kite Man (Matt Oberg), I actually found their scenes rather entertaining to watch throughout the episode.

Mainly due to the fact that Kite Man's oafishness wasn't too overplayed and also because while I do like the Harley/Ivy pairing, I'm a little tired of certain fans acting as though it's the ultimate queer hill to die on when it comes to the DC universe. If the show plans to go there with Harley/Ivy that's great but it doesn't need to in order for this show to be a must see. Two episodes in and it's already entertainingly daft enough on it's own merits.

- Joker blew up a nice chef on live television, Bane's previous stadium blowing up from The Dark Knight Rises was revised for laughs too.
- Kite Man in his worst moment caused Ivy's pheromones to turn some teenage boys into trees. You'll never guess how that was resolved. Oh wait, you really will.
- No Batman in this episode, which was nice. I don't think the character needs to be in every episode but it's time to meet some non Bat related characters if Harley really wants to be a member of a certain group so badly.
- Chronology: A while since the events of the first episode.

A High Bar didn't raise the bar too high but neither did it lower it either. Actually the swearing seemed a little less from the first episode and I thought Kite Man's introduction was handled rather well. I do hope though that we are in for some Joker less episodes as the show goes on though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, December 05, 2019

My Review of Wonder Woman: Bloodlines (2019)

Written by Mairghread Scott
Directed by Sam Liu & Justin Copeland

Veronica: "You think I'm intimidated, I've won. I'm coming for you, Wonder Woman. Do you hear me, Wonder Woman, I am coming for you."

A common complaint sometimes with superheroes can be the use of too many villains. Sometimes, it's a valid argument but other times, it really does depend on how such and such a villain are used in these movies.

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines is a film with a lot of villains. Too many of them, perhaps but most of them are utilised well enough. The main baddie of the piece is really Veronica Cale (Constance Zimmer) who hid in plain sight, posing as an ally to Diana Prince (Rosario Dawson), Steve Trevor (Jeffrey Donovan) and Etta Candy (Adrienne C. Moore) before her treachery was revealed in a mid credit sequence of the movie.

Veronica admitted to getting the last word in upon confessing of her murder of Julia Kapatelis (Nia Vardalos) and funding the Villainy Inc storyline but her actions also led to Diana incurring her own wrath against Cale as well as reuniting with her mother, Hippolyta (Cree Summer) after departing from Themyscira on bad terms at the start of this movie.

The obvious flaw with this movie was opening again with an origin story of sorts as I expected this to be a more direct sequel to the 2009 movie but once the action takes place in Washington, we see Diana's growing bond with Julia which also created tension with the latter's daughter, Vanessa (Marie Avgeropoulos) as her resentment towards Diana boiled over and allowed her to be used by Villainy Inc in order to become Silver Swan and as an antagonist, she was interesting enough.

Of course Silver Swan was more of a henchwoman for the likes of Doctor Poison (Courtenay Taylor) and Doctor Cyber (Mozhan Marnò) and while all three of them gave Diana and Steve plenty of headaches, it was actually a revived Medusa (Cree Summer) who provided the biggest obstacle for our Amazon Princess as she was brought back to Themyscira and nearly wrecked the place.

While I wasn't a fan of that serum used to enhance some of the baddies, Medusa did make for a formidable foe but her defeat came at the hands of Diana blinding herself and Silver Swan having a last minute change of heart as the two teamed together to take on the big snake lady and ultimately save Paradise Island, even if Veronica Cale now has the means to invade the place whenever she wants to.

As a movie, it's not perfect or not as good as the 2017 live action movie or 2009 animated movie but it's definitely has it's moments. The rapport with Diana and Steve is particularly great and I certainly like this movie's depiction of Etta Candy as a lesbian woman of colour. I did find Vanessa's turnaround somewhat predictable but in terms of characters, Veronica could've been more interesting, two other baddies needed more screen time and this version of Hippolyta mostly left me cold.  Dawson did good as Diana though.

- The two other villains to appear in this movie were Giganta and Cheetah (both voiced by Kimberly Brooks). I noticed that no male villain appeared in this one.
- It seems that Vanessa will be staying on Themyscira for the time being, having played her role in saving it from Medusa.
- Nice mentions of the likes of Batman, Superman, Justice League and Darkseid here.
- Chronology: I'm gonna assume present day 2019. I know there was a five year gap from when Diana left Themiscyra to when Cale's plan with Villainy Inc went into motion.

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines is a solid second animated movie with some good performances, even if there was maybe too much of an overuse of baddies. I think Villainy Inc could've been set up a little better but there's plenty of stuff here I hope we get to see continued into another animated movie and surely we're not too far off from an introduction to Circe in the animated movie universe.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, November 30, 2019

My Review of Harley Quinn's 1x01: "Til Death Do Us Part"

Written by Dean Lorey & Justin Halpern & Patrick Schumacker
Directed by Juan Meza-Leon

Joker: "Just say the word and I'll call it off."
Harley: "Til death do us part."
Joker: "Fine, kill her."

I can't believe it's been an entire year since this actual show was announced but between two seasons of Titans and a season each of Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing (RIP), it's time for animated Harley Quinn to come up and seriously fuck up the place and I promise the swearing will not be a regular thing in these reviews.

However the swearing and cartoonish violence will absolutely be a thing with this 13 part series from DC Universe as our titular and aspiring criminal mastermind Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) tired of being the Joker's (Alan Tudyk) sidepiece wants to join the Legion of Doom. Unfortunately for her, she just ends up getting arrested by Batman (Diedrich Bader), berated by Commissioner Gordon (Christopher Meloni) and sent to Arkham for a year.

Waiting for the Joker to break her out of the joint, it's up to both Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) and the Riddler (Jim Rash) to come up with a wonderfully OTT way of proving to Harley that the Joker doesn't love her and will always choose Batman over her to boot.

On the plus side, their plan is a massive success and Harley properly breaks up with her Puddin' by trashing his place, killing most of his lackeys and leaving him alive so he can be around to witness her taking over Gotham during the course of the series.

Now we've had deconstructions of the toxicity of the Joker/Harley pairing for years that it doesn't feel like you can really say anything new on the matter. It's usually come from Poison Ivy and while the show doesn't seem to be going down the romantic path with her and Harley just yet (maybe in Season 2 perhaps?), this episode did it in such a fun way along with the gentle reminder that Ivy really does care about her maniacal best friend/sometimes girlfriend to boot.

Cuoco is on great form as Harley Quinn throughout this episode as Harley slowly came to the realisation of having to get away from the Joker but I absolutely loved Lake Bell's portrayal of Poison Ivy. The sardonic, pithy comments from Ivy are going to be a delight to watch while the likes of Rash, Tudyk, Bader and Meloni all pulled in some decent performances as well.

With Harley aspiring to join the Legion of Doom, there's a solid story arc for the season and with the slew of characters we're going to be meeting over the next few weeks, her mission is definitely going to be highly amusing as the Joker severely underestimated her. He might wish he killed her after all by the end of this one.

- Love the change of music for the opening sequence with the usual DC Universe characters for this episode.
- Another noteworthy character was Frank the Plant (J.B. Smoove). We also saw the likes of Killer Croc, Man Bat and Calender Man in Arkham and was that newsguy meant to be Jack Ryder?
- Ivy mused about a former ex-boyfriend of her own in Arkham. The show has also confirmed that she'll be paired with Kite Man later on in the series.
- Chronology: Let's assume it's 2019, shall we? Unless the show later specifies a time date.

Til Death Do Us Part is a pretty fun opening episode. This show definitely seems to be drawing a lot from some of the recent Harley comics and with Birds Of Prey around the corner, fans of Miss Quinzel are definitely eating well at the moment. While the swearing and excess violence might not be for everyone (I could've done without Harley implying that Batman fucks bats), I'll be sticking with this show for the whole season.

Rating: 8 out of 10

My Review of Titans 2x13: "Nightwing"

Written by Richard Hatem & Greg Walker
Directed by Carol Banker

Dick: "What's next for us all, I don't know. It's a million dollar question. Anyway, to Donna Troy. Thanks for giving me a second chance at family and thanks to you guys for taking me back in."

Like I said in my previous review, I had not heard good things about this episode but I was expecting a lot worse than what I saw in this one. Still though, let's talk about the things that clearly generated a lot of disappointment from fans.

First of all, Deathstroke. He started off a brilliant villain with Esai Morales providing a great foil to the team themselves and then when the group split up, the character just petered a bit. Now that the team have reformed, Deathstroke decided to kill the lot of them, only for Dick, Rose and Jericho to team up and take him out in the least exciting way possible.

For a guy that was so instrumental in keeping our gang apart for too long in the season, he just got such a rubbish and rushed exit. As for Rose, she's now hosting her brother and has been taken in by the reformed again Titans, so it's somewhat worked out well for her.

Then there was the second problem of the episode - Donna Troy. The character lost her groove this season after being a fantastic recurring character last year and here she got electrocuted while saving Dawn. If the show was going to kill off Donna, couldn't they have found a more dramatically interesting way to do it? Then again, Rachel did leave with Donna's body back to Themyscira so there's a good chance that Donna might not remain dead next season.

As for the Cadmus end of things, well that also came to a brief ending. Clearly deciding to try (and not really succeed) in outdoing Shazam! the big-ish battle with Conner and Gar and the team took place at a funfair where both Rachel and Dick managed to undo Mercy's brainwashing on them while Bruce found a novel way to deal with some bidders for Conner.

Again, it wasn't the most satisfying way of resolving the Cadmus arc but at the same time, I guess Mercy could come back again next season. However she'll have some stiff competition as Blackfire has now made her way to Earth and seems a little keen on a reunion with her powerless sister, Kory. Given that Blackfire has her own planet to rule and Kory poses no threat to her, this seems a bit stupid on her part.

- Jason has abandoned the Titans and seemingly Bruce as well, but the actor will be back next season, so I'm sure him and Rose will patch things up then.
- Walter was the only other casualty of the episode where Mercy got Conner to kill him at the beginning.
- Really glad the show went with the blue bird look for Dick's Nightwing suit as opposed to the red one, which I've never really been too keen on.
- Chronology: From where Faux-Hawk left off.

For a finale, Nightwing wasn't that bad but it was undeniably a letdown in it's resolution of the main baddies and Donna's overall death. Now that the team have reformed for about the fourth time, it's time for some stability on that front and I do hope they can pull off Blackfire as an ongoing threat and that Koty gets her powers back earlier next season.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, November 28, 2019

My Review of Titans 2x12: "Faux Hawk"

Written by Tom Pabst
Directed by Larnell Stovall

Dick: "I'm sorry I burned your suit. I need your help, Stu. I need another one. Something different."
Stu: "Well, Master Wayne said you'd be coming."
Dick: "Of course he did."

It's the penultimate episode and still our main players have not all reached one another. I could go on about this show's serious lack of focus and massive cons of keeping our heroes apart and I will when I get to the finale but for now, let's concentrate on the main pointers from this episode.

The title itself derives from Hank when off his face decided to sell his Hawk costume to a moronic teenager (Drew Scheid) who completely seemed to miss the point of being a Titan. It's okay though as the show has done that itself too often in it's two season run. On the plus side, Hank managed to get his costume, develop some self awareness and the naff Fight Club esque stuff was largely relegated to one actual scene and another dream sequence. Still though, it was the weaker part of the episode but nowhere near as dreadful as I was expecting it to be.

As for Dawn - doesn't she work a lot better away from Hank? The answer to that would be a resounding yes as both her and Donna delivered sushi to Walter, used the lasso on him to get information about Gar (they're seemingly not that bothered about Conner) and because of this, Mercy decided to up the ante on her already deadly experiments with Gar, which has seen the poor guy mauling innocent people for her amusement.

I do like Mercy but I'm not entirely getting the point of this plot, unless it's to show how evil she's capable of being or whatever. Also, what the hell is going on with Conner because having him absent for several episodes in a row after only introducing him in the second half of the season seems a bit off, right?

As for Rachel and Kory, they briefly argued over what to do with Dick and Gar, kind of said some harsh things to one another before making up and deciding to look for Gar first. It's a good job that Dick did manage to free himself then given that no one seems to be bothered to actually seek him out. Like Donna and Dawn though, Rachel and Kory do make for a good team.

Getting to Dick though, he visited a guy named Stu, got his Nightwing costume (which we'll see in the finale but promo pics have shown the full article and it looks great) and had another confrontation with Jericho's mother, who just wants her son. Deathstroke on the other hand is aware that the Titans are (slowly) getting back together and we had Rose and Jason break up when the former confessed everything to the latter. Why do I get the feeling if we get Jericho back in the finale, we'll end up losing Rose instead?

- Given the heavy flashbacks for Rose in this episode, this one should've been called Ravager (she got her costume there) as the Faux Hawk in question had less screen time.
- Loved the opening sequence with Jericho and Slade in the latter's head. Please let Jericho make it out of alive of the season.
- Bruce knowing exactly the costume that Dick would want. We better get a good scene with them in the finale.
- Chronology: From where the previous one left off.

Faux Hawk is a pretty solid penultimate episode though the focus on everything else but Hank was what made the episode a lot better than I expected it to be. I've not heard good things about the finale but I am going to go into it with an open mind and hope it won't be that bad.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 6x09: "Are You The Mole?"

Written by Maisha Closson
Directed by Stephen Cragg

Mourner: "And now we invite all those who would like to come up and share their own thoughts, memories and prayers for Annalise."

Oh boy. This was a doozy and a half, wasn't it? I have to admit that I have not been as focused on this mole stuff as I should've been because to be brutally honest, it should've been obvious that it was going to be Asher and this episode certainly revealed it all in glorious detail before Asher ended up being dead.

I'm not surprised that Connor and Michaela reacted the way they did and I'm not surprised that the FBI used Asher's family to get him to betray the gang but Oliver hitting him with a fire poker did throw me off. Oliver has been acting erratic all season long and this was a way to make him look guilty as we'd later discover that Asher would be murdered by someone else with a fire poker and left outside Gabriel's.

Right now, the obvious suspects are Frank and Bonnie and given that Asher essentially blamed Annalise for everything, it would make sense for either one of them to do the deed. Then there's also Nate, but he was mostly too mad at Annalise and even tried to attack before relenting and hoping that he would there when Annalise got sent down. There's six episodes left, so can we please get rid of him, show?

With Nate being a general pest this week and both Bonnie and Frank on damage control duties with the kids and Gabriel, this episode also saw Annalise making the tentative moves to get out of the mess that is her life, which included a nice emotional moment with her mother on the phone and a faculty party scene with Tegan before giving her students a rather on the nose speech about being better people.

Annalise might have left this episode on a plane but the damage is pretty big in her wake. Asher's dead, both Connor and Michaela are suspects, Oliver is feeling guilty, Gabriel could be framed for a crime he didn't commit by Frank and Bonnie and Nate's off being angry somewhere. Oh, what else happened then because surely the above mentioned isn't enough, yeah?

Let's see - we opened the episode with our mostly strung out Keating 4 getting some Facetime from Laurel, who managed to reveal that Tegan helped her escape and in flash forwards, we saw a mysterious man at Annalise's "funeral", played by Alfred Enoch. Either Wes didn't die, has a twin or clone or we're really ahead in the future and it's a grown up Christophe (the likeliest option) but we're going to waiting for the remaining six episodes before we get solid answers to that one.

- I kind of thought both Robert and Solomon would've factored into this episode but I guess both will likely reappear in the latter half of the season.
- Lot of interesting flashbacks to previous episodes during the final sequence this week. Also a pity we didn't get to see Ophelia on screen but the phone message was a nice moment nonetheless.
- Standout music: Les Friction's Dark Matter.
- Chronology: The night before Graduation for the Keating 4. The show will return for it's final six episodes in April 2020.

Are You The Mole is easily the strongest episode of the season and certainly upped the ante. I really do hope when the show returns in the Spring, it will end the series on a satisfying note. Asher's death certainly provides great drama for the remaining six episodes and I'm curious whether we're seeing an alive Wes (???) or an older Christophe.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, November 25, 2019

Doctor Who - Series 12 Trailer & Spoilers/Speculation

Again, it's been a while since I've done anything Doctor Who related and working through my frustration with Chris Chibnall's overall approach to things, at least we finally have an actual trailer to the next series, due to air early next year.

Around October 31st, the BBC released a cryptic poster with the phrase "Watch This Space" and then in early November, fans were warned of a trailer for the twelfth series due to be released on the 23rd November to mark the show's anniversary. Days building towards that, we were given some casting announcements for guest actors as well as the above promo picture featuring the 13th Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her companions, Graham O'Brien (Bradley Walsh), Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill) and Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole). After months of nothing, promotion was finally coming and to give some credit, some of the stuff we've gotten over the last few days have been interesting to see unfold.

So let's break things down a bit as to what people can expect to see in the next series.

The Monsters: Series 11 was shockingly bad on this front with very few of the new ones making any real impression, though the Dalek return in Resolution was a decent enough effort. Series 12 seems to have a few tricks up it's sleeve there with a rustic look for the Cybermen, the return of the Judoon, a race of Scorpion like monsters led by Queen Skithra (Anjli Mohindra), aliens with gas masks and strange guns. Oh and the Daleks themselves will be reappearing in the Christmas 2020 special, the last thing filmed for the current series. There's also been some rumblings that a certain renegade might be appearing yet again, albeit in a different form this time around.

The Guest Stars: Last series certainly boasted an impressive guest cast, even if some players were better utilised than others. This series will be no exception as both Stephen Fry and Lenny Henry will be appearing in the opening episode. Throughout the series though, audiences can expect the likes of Aurora Marion, Goran Višnjić, Robert Glenister, Anjli Mohindra, Maxim Baldry, James Buckley, Jo Martin, Neil Stuke, Nicholas Briggs, Michael Begley and Julia Harris to name but a few. Sacha Dhawan has also been rumoured for a prominent recurring role and it's one character I will be more than glad to see return as they haven't been on screen since 2017. A rumour has also emerged that Jemma Redgrave might be reprising her role of Kate Stewart for the opening episode but it's not been confirmed yet.

The Stories Themselves: Even now, not a great deal has been revealed on this front but the details that have slipped out are interesting enough. The opening episode will be something a spy thriller while episode 2 will be set in 1943 Paris. An episode will feature Noor Inayat Khan (Aurora Marion) and Nikola Tesla (Goran Višnjić). Other historical figures rumoured for the series include Florence Nightingale and Mary Shelley (her episode will factor in the new-ish Cybermen) with Maxim Baldry alleged to be playing writer John Polidari. There will also be visits to alien worlds, contemporary Earth and that Timeless Child mention from last series might actually be relevant this series as the Doctor cryptically mused about something coming for her in the trailer.

The Writers, Directors And The Future: Easy to break down here. On the writer front, Chris Chibnall will be writing four episodes of the new series. Returning from the previous series are Vinay Patel, Pete McTighe and Ed Hime and joining the series are Maxine Alderton, Charlene James and Nina Métivier. Alderton has also been confirmed as a core writer for the series after this one. In terms of directors we have Jamie Magnus Stone (episodes 1,5, 9 &10), Lee Haven Jones (episodes 2, 3 & Christmas 2020), Nida Manzoor (episodes 4 & 6) and Emma Sullivan (episodes 7 & 8). As for the show's future, a recent deal with HBO Max has ensured it's going nowhere but Chris Chibnall confirmed that both himself and Jodie Whittaker will be back for Series 13, which is being mapped out and will go into production next year. After months of nothing, it's nice to finally have some solid information to work with and hopefully this upcoming series will be a marked improvement on what we had in 2018.

Series 12 Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkEB0ysv7sM

Series 12 of Doctor Who will air on BBC1 and BBCAmerica in early 2020.