If you’ve been following my reviews of indie YA author Anthea Sharp’s Feyland and Feyguard books, you might remember this aside from my review of Royal:
Marny continues to be everything. I really hope she gets her own Feyguard book complete with a worthy love interest, because she’s one of my favorite things about this series. Although one of the best things about her is that she’s happy and confident without a boyfriend, I want to see someone love Marny as much as she loves herself.
Well, dreams do come true! Now that the holiday madness has died down, I am happy to bring you a review of the third Feyguard book, Marny. (Disclosure: Anthea sent me a free advance review copy, which I was not able to follow up on nearly as soon as I’d hoped.)
I totally didn’t mean to take the summer off from blogging. Life got busy, and when I did have time to write, I picked novel-drafting over blogging. But, the comedy gods have summoned me back to my blog with a cheesy TV movie about a cheesy TV show from my childhood.
I’ll be doing a “first impressions” style post like the one I did on Jem and the Holograms. Unlike with Jem, I am quite familiar with Full House. I watched it regularly back when the TGIF lineup was a new thing. I was young enough then (the same age as Stephanie Tanner) to find it legitimately entertaining. Nearly twenty years later, I binge-watched the whole series on TV Land while I was sick in bed. It brought back happy memories and gave me a lot of good laughs (at what my grade-school self had found legitimately entertaining). Today, I find myself looking forward to the Netflix release of Fuller House, half because I hope it’ll have as much unintentional comedy as its predecessor, and half because I’m sincerely looking forward to the nostalgia of predictability, the milkman, the paperboy, and evening TV.
Warning: This post contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Age of Ultron. Proceed at your own risk.
So, there’s been some controversy about Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff’s backstory, specifically that her Brainwashed Soviet-Ish Killing Machine training was concluded with a routine sterilization and she feels un-good about this. As for the scene itself, I don’t see how it’s being framed as a gendered issue. Bruce Banner has already told Natasha about his own infertility, and they’re having the discussion in the first place because they’re seeing the family life that their male friend has deliberately created and likely gone through an insane amount of effort to keep.
Like the rest of the internet, I have now seen the trailer for the new Jem and the Holograms movie. It looks like a painfully cliched made-for-TV band flick written to reassure its young audience that they’d hate being rich and famous. As to how it compares to the original cartoon, I can’t say.
I’ve never watched it.
I KNOW, RIGHT??? I love 80’s pop culture, 80’s pop music, cartoons, and over-the-top pink girly glitter, and my name is a gem, so Jem and the Holograms seems like it should be an obvious win for me. I don’t remember ever being aware of it when it was on originally. I saw commercials for the dolls, but I thought they were knockoffs of Barbie and the Rockers. I’ve known for awhile that Jem is on Netflix and that there’s a new movie in the works, but haven’t taken the time to check it out.
I want to preface this review by saying I know virtually nothing about Daredevil lore. I know there’s Daredevil and he’s blind and lives in Hell’s Kitchen and his girlfriend is Sydney Bristow whose alias is Elektra and that’s pretty much it. I never saw the Ben Affleck movie. All my knowledge thereof comes from riff reviews like this one.
But, like billions of other nerdy pop culture consumers, I’m loving the new Marvel era, and I’ve enjoyed several of Netflix’s original series, so I had high hopes for this one. My hopes have been rewarded.
Our hero, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), is indeed a blind man headquartered in Hell’s Kitchen. He protects his innocent neighbors as a defense lawyer by day, and masked vigilante by night. He’s the son of a boxer who supported his family by taking falls in the ring. It’s every bit as noir as it sounds, and yet the show still injects just the right amount of optimism and levity to keep from feeling overwhelmingly bleak.
Murdock’s blindness is handled pretty well, imo. The same accident that took away his sight heightened his other senses, which is how he’s able to pull off his vigilante stunts. The scenes highlighting his superpowers do a great job of showing that he’s relying on senses other than sight. The staging and effects let us inside Murdock’s head where we feel him focus on the sound of a faraway cry for help, or the vibration of an attacker’s footfalls. Yet his lack of sight still comes across as a legitimate handicap; something that, as a disabled viewer, I feel is important to acknowledge in-story.
As of the second episode, Team Daredevil includes Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), Murdock’s pragmatically materialistic law partner; Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), Murdock’s former client and current office manager who I’ve since learned is a canon love interest; and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), a Night Nurse who saves Murdock when he’s injured in a vigilante mission. Everyone in the cast inhabits their roles perfectly, and there’s a strong chemistry between the characters.
So far I only have one nitpick with the show. In a scene in the pilot where Murdock and Foggy are interrogating Karen Page, Murdock concludes that Karen’s improbable story is true because he hears her heart rate remain slow and steady while she’s telling it. In this scene, she’s also traumatized, stressed, crying, and in emotional and physical pain. It strikes me as totally reasonable for a person under those circumstances to have an elevated or irregular heart rate even if they were telling the truth, especially if they were stressed about being accused of lying. In real life, lie detection technology isn’t considered 100% reliable for exactly these reasons.
However, one problem with one scene isn’t enough to keep me from enjoying this show. If you’re a fan of the Daredevil comics, I don’t know what to tell you, but if you’re a fan of film noir, TV crime dramas, and the new Marvel cinematic universe, you should definitely check this out. All 13 episodes are currently streaming on Netflix. Here’s hoping life and my internet connection will finally let me binge-watch the rest of them.
Hey, did you know Syfy has a new drama set in mythological Greece? No? Me neither, until my parents texted me while they were watching WWE on Thursday night and said I’d probably like this Olympus show that’s coming on afterward. I’m glad they did, because I had a great time watching the pilot, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.
This post’s title is an accurate description of the show’s production value. (As an indie author, I know all too well how much people LOVE sinking money into weird Greek mythology adaptations.) It’s tempting to throw Olympus into the “so bad it’s good” category, where I lovingly store many of my favorites, but the female lead and the villainess make this show unironically fun to watch. The Oracle of Gaia, played by Sonya Cassidy (whom BBC fans may recognize as Clara from The Paradise), has divine visions that don’t always come when she needs them to, so she’s learned to appease her petitioners by becoming a master of deduction. This, imo, should be the entire premise of the show. I have dubbed The Oracle #GreekSherlock. She’s resourceful, rational, dramatic, and prone to complicated schemes that can snowball into something way more complicated than she foresaw (damn uncontrollable visions).
And somehow, #GreekSherlock is not our designated hero. That role falls to our male lead known only as Hero – or Mercenary, or You There, or whatever the other characters decide to call him, since saying his name aloud will turn the speaker to stone. He has an intricate backstory that literally makes him the MacGuffin. He gets his feet painted blue for reasons that still aren’t entirely clear to me. He’s a valiant warrior who can kill people with rope. Ultimately, though, he’s there to be eye candy (a role newcomer Tom York fills quite well) while #GreekSherlock steals the show. So basically he’s a Moffat woman.
But the biggest show-stealer of them all is Olympus‘ Big Bad, Medea (played by Sonita Henry). She’s resourceful, rational, dramatic, and prone to complicated schemes that she’s usually completely on top of unless Fate throws her for a loop. As the evil personality counterpoint to #GreekSherlock, I have dubbed her #GreekMoriarty. (Except Hero is her ostensible nemesis, so I have no idea if she and #GreekSherlock will ever officially acknowledge each other.) Medea’s portrayal goes beyond pure camp, although there’s plenty of that. She comes across as clever, in control, and legitimately dangerous. And (SPOILER?) it looks like she has designs on goddesshood. I sort of want to see that.
I think there were a bunch of other people, too. But as far as I was concerned, it was all about #GreekSherlock and #GreekMoriarty.
So, anyway, if you’re looking for Game of Greek Thrones, you’re not going to find it here, but if you miss Xena and Hercules, you’ll have as much fun with Olympus as I did. Check it out on Syfy on Thursday nights at 10/9 Central, or stream full episodes here.
I saw Into the Woods last night. It was incredible. I was already a huge fan of the original musical, and while there were a few incidental changes, the movie did an excellent job of portraying the characters and exploring the complex, abstract themes in Sondheim’s original.
I could write a whole book on those themes and the way Into the Woods explores them. Maybe this’ll turn into a series of posts, or maybe I’ll get distracted by the weekend and never touch the subject again. Who knows. But anyway, the aspect of Into the Woods that I want to talk about in this post is how Into the Woods compares and contrasts to another Disney favorite of mine, Tangled. SPOILERS for both are ahead.
Into the Woods‘ Rapunzel arc and Tangled both tell the story of a young woman who’s spent her life hidden away from the world by a singing witch inspired by Bernadette Peters. Continue reading “Tangled Woods”→
You remember Agent Peggy Carter from the Captain America movies, right? And you know ABC gave her her own miniseries and scheduled it during Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s winter break, right? And you saw its two-episode premiere last Tuesday because all of my readers live in the US and structure their lives around TV schedules, right? What??? OMG you aren’t hooked on Agent Carter yet??? Well, read on! I promise this won’t be too spoilery.
My biggest question about Agent Carter was whether it would feel more like a spin-off of the Captain America movies or the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series. The answer is both and neither. Like any of the individual series under the Avengers umbrella, Agent Carter draws from the franchise as a whole, but maintains its own distinct feel. And if you like a 1940’s aesthetic with a James Bond storyline, that feel is pretty freakin’ awesome.
One of my favorite things about Agent Carter is how it lets Peggy fill the Bond role while looking like a Bond girl. There are times when Peggy switches out her skirt suit for a pair of slacks, but she’s always got her perfectly-coiffed curls and her signature red lipstick. Do I think any of this should be a social requirement for real women in the real world like it was in days of yore? No and no. Is it how my fantasy self would be attired in my self-insert pulp fanfic? So very much yes.
Peggy’s aesthetic suits her character, imo, because it’s one that requires a lot of effort, skill, and control; all traits we see her display in the field. Peggy is always in charge of whatever situation she’s in, whether her superiors realize it or not. Tell her to bring coffee, and she’ll gather all the intel from your top-secret meeting. Give her a sick day for “ladies’ problems” and she’ll work that case and find the MacGuffin in a disguise that has all her spy colleagues fooled.
Every good comic book hero needs a sidekick, and Peggy’s will be familiar to Iron Man fans: Howard Stark’s butler, Jarvis (not to be confused with Tony Stark’s computer system). There’s no will-they-or-won’t-they tension between this dynamic duo, as Peggy isn’t over Steve Rogers, and Jarvis is steadfastly devoted to his unseen wife. Clearly he knows Mrs. Jarvis is the greatest good he’s ever going to get. Jarvis’ deadpan insistence on providing hero support is a perfect foil to Peggy’s obligatory insistence that she doesn’t need it.
Well, “obligatory” isn’t quite fair, since Peggy’s adamant independence is more than justified in-universe. She works in an environment where she has to prove herself twice as good as her male colleagues to earn half the respect. Jarvis recognizes this, and when he informs Peggy that he’s there to stay, he makes a point of saying that all heroes, whether male or female, need support, just like Captain America did when Peggy and Stark were providing it for him.
Which, imo, sums up the best thing about Agent Carter. In the first Captain America movie, I really wanted to love Peggy, but I mostly felt like she was an under-utilized character with great potential. For all her informed awesomeness, she was essentially just The Love Interest. The faded photograph that the real hero looked to for inspiration. In Agent Carter, their roles are reversed. Now Steve Rogers is the faded photograph, and Agent Peggy Carter is the lone hero in red, white, and blue.
And pumps, nylons, and red lipstick.
Agent Carter airs on ABC on Tuesday night at 9pm/8pm Central. You can watch full episodes online at ABC.com.
Okay, so. If you’ve been anywhere near Tumblr this weekend, you know that the infamous Korra/Mako/Asami triangle was resolved with Korra being on friendly terms with her ex-boyfriend Mako and…going off on a romantic vacation with his ex-girlfriend, Asami. #Korrasami is canon. The Legend of Korra ended the same way as The Last Airbender – the Avatar gets the girl. Or the girl gets the Avatar. Or something. However you want to put it, The Legend of Korra began with teenage Korra in love with a boy and ended with adult Korra in love with a woman.
There are enough bloggers talking about what a great thing this is for bi representation. All I’ll say on that is ZOMG THIS IS AWESOME FOR BI REPRESENTATION!!!! But beyond that, what really struck me about the way The Legend of Korra ended is that it gave us the story that How I Met Your Mother promised and didn’t deliver. Korra finds True Love, loses True Love for completely legitimate reasons, regains a genuine friendship with her ex-True Love, and finds True Love again in the end. Like I said in my review of the How I Met Your Mother finale, you almost never see this in television. Either the first love turns out to not really be love, or the first love is the only possible TRUE love and you can never really get over them or be as in love with someone else.
The Legend of Korra didn’t go either of these predictable routes. Korra was undeniably in love with Mako in the first season. In her own words, she felt like they were meant for each other. And, because I dearly love Korra and want her to have everything she wants, I was completely on-board the Good Ship Makorra. (Seriously, after the Season 2 finale, I was playing “Set Fire To The Rain” on a loop.)
Then Season 3 started. Cue post-breakup awkwardness with Mako. But through the awkwardness, it never went into “I never want to see you again” territory on one hand or “I’m secretly trying to get back together with you because I could never possibly love anyone else” territory on the other. And meanwhile, here’s Asami displaying no lingering feelings for Mako whatsoever and flirting up a storm with Korra, and Korra seeming remarkably okay with that. Season 3 ended with all three points of this forgotten triangle totally single and in no hurry (or condition, in Korra’s case) to change that.
Season 4 revealed that Korra, Mako, and Asami had all been single for the three years between seasons. Mako and Korra affirm to other people that, by the end of Season 3, they’d come to think of each other as friends. In the finale, they affirm this to each other. They share a beautiful scene near the end as two people who sincerely respect and care for each other. But neither one moves toward making their relationship more than that, and I, a die-hard Makorra shipper for the first two seasons, didn’t sense regret on either side.
Then, in a scene mirroring Avatar Aang’s happy ending with his future wife Katara, Avatar Korra gets her happy ending taking the hands and gazing into the eyes of her second True Love. Balance has been restored. A children’s show has given us one of the most mature, adult romantic storylines in modern television. That beauteous rarity known as an emotionally satisfying series finale has been achieved. All is right with the world.
In my opinion, The Legend of Korra succeeded where How I Met Your Mother failed because Korra‘s showrunners could acknowledge that their characters had evolved beyond their original vision. The first season of The Legend of Korra was supposed to be a stand-alone miniseries, so obviously Korra and Mako were originally meant to be together. But, like Ted and Robin, Korra and Mako evolved. Barney Stinson and Asami Sato evolved, too (man, I never thought I would name those characters in the same sentence). I applaud the Avatar creators for letting Korra’s new relationship with Asami follow this path. Seeing these two walk off into the sunset together was, in Korra’s words, “perfect.”
But, hey, who the hell is Su Jin Beifong’s father?
The Librarians premiered on TNT last night. It’s a spin-off of The Librarian, a series of TV movies that TNT launched ten years ago. I’ve seen and enjoyed all the movies, and I think I may like the new show even better. Whether or not you should watch this series depends entirely on your psychological response to the following phrase:
Ninjas in Oklahoma.
Okay, still reading? Do you miss Warehouse 13? Then you should watch The Librarians, because The Library is pretty much exactly The Warehouse. Seriously. It’s a mystical archive run by a secret organization tasked with housing magical artifacts that can’t fall into the hands of the general public. Do you miss Leverage? Then you should watch The Librarians, because it’s executively produced by Dean Devlin and it features Christian Kane as part of a quirky ensemble cast of adventurers.
The comparisons don’t end there. The Librarians is every bit as fun, light-hearted, and imaginative as the aforementioned dearly departed dramas. It requires as much suspension of disbelief and tolerance of cheesy special effects and props. As with its feature-length predecessors, The Librarians knows exactly what it is and makes the most of it. It doesn’t try to be dark and edgy, nor does it go far enough in the other direction to become a self-parody. It’s dumb in a smart way.
The cast is likable and fun to watch. Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn), aka The Guardian, is a great foil for recurring Librarian Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle). She’s also believable as the group’s designated muscle, a role not falling to Christian Kane this time around. As Jake Stone, he’s more of the brain, a humanities scholar with an encyclopedic knowledge of art history and world literature. Well, Stone is half the brain. He’s the right hemisphere to Cassandra Cillian’s (Lindy Booth) left. Cassandra’s synesthesia gifts her with almost superhuman mathematical and spatial abilities. The ensemble is completed by Ezekiel Jones (John Kim), a snarky Brit who can breach any security system and evade any trap.
If I have any complaint about The Librarians, it’s Cassandra’s inoperable brain tumor. It’s the explanation for her synesthesia, but it’s an unnecessary one. I know people who were born with synesthesia in real life. I’m hoping this arc doesn’t become a source of needless drama and tragedy in an otherwise feel-good show.
I can’t end this post without mentioning the appearance of TV comedy legends Bob Newhart, Jane Curtin, and John Larroquette. Newhart and Curtin’s roles were brief reprises from the Librarian movies. Laroquette, a series regular, plays Jenkins, the caretaker who’ll be mentoring the Librarians In Training (LITs) in Carsen’s absence.
The Librarians airs Sunday nights on TNT at 8pm/7pm Central. Check it out if you like quirky ensemble dramedies, myth and magic, and ninjas in Oklahoma.