Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Two of the advanced screeners that aired last night at San Diego Comic Con during Preview Night included FOX’s upcoming psychological drama Prodigal Son and the latest DC Universe series Batwoman.

Here is the synopsis of Prodigal Son:

Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne from The Walking Dead) is a gifted criminal psychologist, using his twisted genius to help the NYPD solve crimes and stop killers, all while dealing with a manipulative mother (Bellamy Young from Scandal), a serial killer father (the one and only Michael Sheen) still looking to bond with his prodigal son and his own constantly evolving neuroses. Bright’s only ally is his sister, Ainsley (Halston Sage from The Orville), a TV journalist who wishes her brother would take a break from murder and have a normal life. Unfortunately for his sister, the only way Bright feels normal is by solving cases with the help of his longtime mentor, NYPD Detective Gil Arroyo (Lou Diamond Phillips). Arroyo’s one of the best detectives around, and he expects no less from his team, which includes Detective JT Tarmel (Frank Harts from The Path), a born-and-bred New Yorker who questions whether Bright is a psychopath himself.

Prodigal Son is set to debut on FOX on September 23, 2019.

Special correspondent NiceGirl Lisa provided us with this review:

I missed the first 15 minutes of The Prodigal Son pilot, but from what I saw it was a strong pilot. Michael Sheen gives an incredible performance in the episode. Lou Diamond Phillips also shines. It gave me Lucifer vibe a little bit, but I think it’s a strong pilot and will be a good show.

Here is a trailer for Prodigal Son:

Here is the synopsis of Batwoman:

Three years after Batman mysteriously disappeared, Gotham is a city in despair, and it’s under the watch of Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott) and his military-grade Crows Private Security, which now protects the city with omnipresent firepower and militia. When the Alice in Wonderland gang targets the firm, Kane’s daughter Kate (Ruby Rose from Orange Is the New Black) returns home, deciding that if she wants to help her family and her city, she’ll have to become the one thing her father loathes — a dark knight vigilante. With the help of her stepsister Mary and the crafty Luke Fox, the son of Wayne Enterprises’ tech guru Lucius Fox, Kate Kane continues the legacy of her missing cousin, Bruce Wayne. Armed with a passion for social justice and a flair for speaking her mind, Kate soars through the shadowed streets of Gotham as Batwoman.

Batwoman will debut on The CW on October 6, 2019

Again, special correspondent NiceGirl Lisa provided us with this review:

Batwoman was really good. I am a huge fan of Ruby Rose, and she did a great job of carrying the pilot as well as stepping into the Batwoman character. It was really interesting to see the background of how she becomes Batwoman, why she becomes Batwoman and those questions are answered in the pilot. I also liked that they touched on homosexual issues because she is a lesbian, and I really liked that they have that aspect on the show. The cast is diverse and great support system for Ruby Rose to shine.

Here is a trailer for Batwoman:

LATER TODAY: Day One, San Diego Comic Con

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At the start of San Diego Comic Con for the last five years, Her Universe, the company that is bringing more fannish fashion to the masses, puts on a show for Haute Couture designs with flare and plenty of effort.

This year, 24 designs walked down the runway, full of whim and flare. Feathers, sequins, transformative reveals and more than one gender-bend interpretation filled the evening that saw fans of all genres voting on one winner with two others chosen by a team of talented judges. Winners are set to design fashions for the line based on the next Avengers film.

What’s great about this show – besides looking at how well designers are able to render something high concept with a geek spin – is that the audience can watch as people passionate about fandom make inspired costumes without being cosplay. The reveals and dramatic turns make for a great few hours, and the models (who are sometimes the designers themselves) have a great time walking the runway.

Each designer is truly inspired by a film or TV show to create a look that speaks to the show without looking like it was made for the movie.

The winners, especially, are able to capture the spirit of their fandom in a way that makes you go, “Oh yes! I get that reference.

But what made this show different from the one I attended last year was a surprise guest. Her Universe had copies of some of their new Doctor Who fashions at the con (the feature is the Thirteenth Doctor’s first costume – trench, tee and pants). Jodie Whittacker, after being part of the panel for the show that morning came out to walk the runway in her signature trench, before talking about being the first female doctor and how there are ways to look at the role as being universal.

The trench and opening outfit can be worn by both genders without question. (At Gallifrey One this February there were already a number of men and women in outfits like the Thirteenth’s new one.)

Jodie took time to tease a few things of the new season, even as her showrunner, Chris Chibnall, looked on and recorded her.

Check out the winning looks below as well as Jodie with Her Universe founder Ashley Eckhart.

[Photo Credit: Roz]

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So at the end of the first season of The Good Place, I made some speculative guesses for the second season of the hit NBC comedy, and I’m happy to report that I failed miserably with most of them.

You can see my previous article about featuring my speculations here.

Of the four that I suggested, really only one came true and it’s not hard to see why.

Supernatural did something great in their episode entitled “Mystery Spot” where it replayed a day again and again; and in the first few episodes of the new season on The Good Place, there were just a few changes as Michael kept trying to work on manipulating Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason into Hell.

Everything else I guessed was a fail, but it was nice to see a few more scenes with Eleanor’s first shirtless soulmate. Why did we have to see him go so soon?

Well, maybe not as much a fail on this point: Janet is still a key to watching the show develop and grow. Only I do worry about her glitching and hope there’s an answer to that soon.

If you were a fan of The Good Place, how are you liking the way the show has tackled the biggest reveal of last season?

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Comic books are an easy place these days to get stories from – part of the appeal of a comic book is that there is a fanbase already out there – but depending on how a show is executed, one can soar while another fails.

It’s especially difficult with Marvel titles – and this season there are multiple shows based around Marvel titles that have had different success levels.

(We’ll leave aside Marvel’s Runaways, which will air on Hulu, because it won’t debut until November 21.)

So far in this season, Fox’s The Gifted – a show that features some well known and new mutants struggling in the US – has been well received by fans and critics. The show plays with the right amount of fun (in the pilot, one character has the 90s animated theme as his ringtone) while still telling a compelling and complicated story.

Where The Gifted uses some smaller X-Men (Lorna Dane is the best known mutant to comics fans in the show), the show makes the world seem real and dangerous where mutants are hunted for real reasons. Even if you don’t know the comics, the show establishes clear ways to see into that world and helps to keep you there each week as a small group of mutants try to escape government prisons (or worse).

While The Gifted has been a hit, ABC’s Marvel’s Inhumans (using a term from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) has been less successful. The show was panned by many critics, and has made it difficult to find a good way for fans to get into the show.

For a show that focuses on people with extra powers (Inhumans) the villain of the story is a human who is out for power in a world where he has none. For Inhumans who live on the moon – away from injustice that the same Inhumans face on Earth in S.H.I.E.L.D. – there is still stratification based on the level of power each Inhuman has – but the whole premise seems forced. S.H.I.E.L.D. is already dealing with prejudice between humans and Inhumans, but this show is pushing it too far.

I’m all for shows that use other source material well, but comics can be tricky because so many people know so much before they have even watched the series. Perhaps if I were less of a comic fan (and even I know I’m new), I’d care less about the ways that Marvel’s Inhumans  frustrates me while The Gifted does not.

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Every year after I return from San Diego Comic Con, I have friends (or anyone I talk to about the con) ask about cosplay. I reply that I don’t cosplay (or dress up in costume), but I do appreciate the time and energy it takes for people to cosplay.

It’s easy to see all of those photos on social media, or to know someone else who goes to cosplay, but there’s so much more to cons than the cosplay.

However, cosplay is at the heart of many cons and SDCC makes a point to highlight all of the wonderful creations with the help of Her Universe, and a haute couture fashion show.

Just outside of the con on Thursday evening (on July 20), Her Universe highlights over twenty fashion designers and their works that match high fashion with fandom.

What I saw during this show was awe-inspiring and breathtaking in equal measure.

As someone who has a passing interest in high fashion (I do love Project Runway, but don’t normally follow too much from the inner workings of fashion houses), the show is a perfect way to think about the art of creating clothes and someone’s love of fandom.

Each artist creates one piece of high fashion based off one fandom and the audience helps to determine a winner (or winners) who will help design some ready-to-wear fashion for Her Universe next year.

Beyond just the idea of this high fashion show, Her Universe is working hard to make it possible for fandom to be fashionable and wearable. I remember as a kid that the only way to wear your fandom was in t-shirts, but now it’s possible to have a dress with Princess Mononoke inspired forests, just as it’s possible to wear an Outlander wrap jacket.

Fashionable ways to show your love for fandom has increased and between the Her Universe Fashion Show and their work to make fandom cute, there are more ways to show your love for fandom at a con. Cosplay is one way, cute shirts, skirts and dresses are another.

To see more fashionable fandom wear, check out Her Universe.

Photo Credit: rozofla

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On Tuesday, WGN America announced that sophomore show, Underground, would not return for a third season. Already the cast and creative team are trying to get the show on another network (or streaming service), but generally fans are sad and frustrated that the show was cancelled.

However, the show is not the only WGN America show to be cancelled this week – Outsiders was also cancelled by the new CEO in an effort to rebrand the station. Just a few years ago, the idea of original programs (Salem, Manhattan, Underground and Outsiders) was seen as a way to branch the network away from its roots as a local Tribune station.

Winds change – as does management – but the end of all of these show (but Underground most of all) changes what types of shows are available on TV. What stood out for all of these WGN America shows was a strong sense of different narratives – all of the shows were ground in some real history but took different spins and turns on the same facts that most people know.

Underground was difficult to watch – rightly so – but it raised awareness of issues of race and class that are still relevant to all of us today. The show’s themes hit the right moment in the zeitgeist but each of the shows that are no longer on the air were important to thinking about larger issues.

Regardless of why Underground has left the air (for now), the show made many fans realize more of the cruelties of slavery while also celebrating triumphs in difficult times.

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Just last week FOX announced that it had cancelled the new drama Pitch after just one season. As the start of the baseball season is heating up, it feels wrong – on a personal level – to cancel the drama that made a professional baseball team into a real group of people seems ill-timed.

Actually, the whole way in which Pitch was marketed didn’t do the show justice. Of course, FOX was able to put the show on right as Major League Baseball’s Post-Season occurred, but in having the show on while there was plenty of compelling baseball on in real life made it awkward.

As a fan, would I want to watch fictional baseball with a female in the game or would I want to watch the games that count and matter for ten teams down to two teams?

For me, as a female fan, I wanted to root for Ginny and watch her team do well, and even though I did, there were parts of her narrative that probably did it few favors.

Setting Ginny’s rise to the Majors with a team that has only been in two World Series (and who have never won) along with the team being a smaller market make it hard for general baseball fans to want to root for The Padres. Amongst fans in southern California, the Padres aren’t even the popular team (except around San Diego), whereas a team like The Cubs, The Yankees or even The Braves could have drawn more fans.

Regardless of the fanbase of the team depicted in the show, the show had a difficult job of trying to tread the line between being too much about baseball and too much about Ginny’s personal life and the difficulties of being a woman in baseball.

For all the aspects of the show that didn’t succeed this year, there are still plenty of fans of the show around. As another friend (or was it a friend of a friend), I’d love to see more Pitch – especially on MLB Network.

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Left to Right: Matt Lanter, Abigail Spencer, Malcolm Barrett, Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan

This last week, in conjunction with the well-known entertainment news site Deadline and their Awardsline screening series, NBC’s freshman drama Timeless was presented to members of various Guilds and fans.

The room was treated to a first (or second) viewing of the show’s fourth episode entitled “Party at Castle Varlar,” that featured Nazis and Ian Fleming (as played by Once Upon a Time alum Sean Maguire). It was also one of the first episodes to dig deeply into Flynn Garcia’s (series regular Goran Visnijc) motives. After the episode, Dominic Patten from Deadline led a short question and answer session with Executive Producers Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan as well as stars Matt Lanter (Wyatt Logan), Abigail Spencer (Lucy Preston) and Malcolm Barrett (Rufus Carlin).

While nothing about the show’s future was discussed, much was asked about how some stories were broken (usually the room focuses on a style of episode – Western, Mystery, etc. – and then finds a historical time to match) while also allowing the cast to share their favorite episodes and costumes.

Left to Right: Matt Lanter, Abigail Spencer, Malcolm Barrett, Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan

Overall, for a show that generated some buzz during the year, but could always use more if there’s another season, this event allowed existing fans a shot at seeing the cast up close while also teasing some of the behind the scenes stories that made the show fun and captivating each week.

NBC will announce their 2017-2018 TV schedule at the network’s annual upfront presentation in New York City on Monday, May 15. It is possible that the fate of Timeless could be revealed shortly before the official announcement is made.

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Gifted Program

The Black List, a collection of Hollywood’s best screenplays that have yet to be produced or picked up by a production company or studio [not to be confused with the NBC TV series of the same name], conducts at least a few staged readings a year. The goal of those readings is to get the screenplays (aka scripts) made into features (aka box office films).

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a staged table reading of Gifted with Armie Hammer (from the box office movies The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Social Network) and Gina Rodriguez (from Jane the Virgin) as the leads. Just this year, that screenplay was finally released in the theatres, starring Chris Evans (Captain America himself) and Saturday Night Live alum Jenny Slate.

Left to Right: Cooper Thornton as Narrator; Gina Torres, Gina Rodriguez, Armie Hammer, Mckenna Grace, Frances Fisher and Michael Beach

What’s most interesting about a film that comes out of The Black List is how a virtual table read can still feel intimate, but once the film is made, emotions come out in different ways.

With Gifted, the story is about a young girl with a mathematical mind who is pushed into a normal elementary school to learn to socialize. The movie has an emotional punch without action, but with the action, it’s more haunting.

When I first “saw” Gifted at that table read, I don’t remember crying, but as I watched the film the other week, it was a waterworks from beginning to end.

Gifted was released in theatres on April 12 and was written by Tom Flynn. The film also stars young actress Mckenna Grace (she plays the daughter of President Tom Kirkman on Designated Survivor), Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and Lindsay Duncan (Sherlock and Under the Tuscan Sun).

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In WGN America’s Underground, death and hard times are par for the course. However, for a show that tackles the struggles of slavery in the US, it also has no qualms in killing characters regularly and without mercy.

Last season, one more than half of the Macon Seven survived, and beyond the three dead of that seven, other characters met cruel ends. However, in those episodes no death was as shocking as the one that ended the premiere of the show this season.

In “Contraband,” John Hawkes (Marc Blucas) was violently shot in the head after deciding to run for office in Ohio. Until then, the episode had been rather hopeful, meeting new characters and discovering new obstacles, but in that last moment, all of the hope faded.

Killing John was different from the death of his brother, Tom (Reed Diamond), who was hung by his mistress and leader of the house slaves, Ernestine. However, after watching that season I had come to dislike Tom’s actions and choices while admiring what John choose to do (that they were each on one side of the slavery battle helped), John’s hopeful attitude and his desire to help free his brother’s slaves made him one way for the audience to enter the show.

With John’s death, though, one emotional center died. The show’s focus now allows for the pain of his death to drive other characters forward, but this time, the push forward feels different.

The next new episode of Underground will air this Wednesday, March 29 at 10/9c on WGN America.

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