Category: TV

Brainiac On Banjo: Who Dis?

Brainiac On Banjo: Who Dis?

Who are you? Who, who, who, who? Who are you? Who, who, who, who? Who are you? Who, who, who, who? — From “Who Are You” written by Pete Townshend. Of The Who.

Truth be told, I don’t think there’s a single person who’s been cast as the lead in Doctor Who whose work in that role I have not enjoyed. Double-negative much?

The writing, howsoever, is another thing. And before you overstimulate your hackles, I am in awe of the writing on this season’s run thus far. I am also aware of the controversy that surrounds this season, but I am hardly in awe of the incredible stupidity and hatred within all too many of those in the ethersphere who pound on keyboards with anger from the safety of their internet-given anonymity.

(That by-line you see on everything I write? That’s not simply my ego shouting at you; that’s also my sense of responsibility that I’m shoving in your face.)

The previous Doctor was a woman and the little bitty incel community (if, indeed, living alone in your mother’s basement makes you part of a “community”) completely lost their minds. Their petty, hate-filled minds only can handle binary decisions: man or woman, war or peace, conservative or Communist. They cannot process anything in between. They are so black-and-white even Ayn Rand would tell them to grow up.

Some blame it on their religion, as if hatred of those who don’t smoke the same brand of cigarettes as you matters in any way. If your Supreme Being is a hater, exactly what is it about him that you find so goddamned supreme? And, yes, I said “him” specifically.

But actor Jodie Whittaker and the rest of her talented cast deserved better scripts. Sure, I’ve lived through worse writing, but many of the stories during her run seemed illogical, unhappy and unending. There were a number of good villains, but that has been the case in the most poorly written seasons as well. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Who Dis?”

With Further Ado #301: Guest Columnist – Communication in the Unknown – A Shogun Review

With Further Ado #301: Guest Columnist – Communication in the Unknown – A Shogun Review

It’s another week and time for another winning entry from our annual student competition. This one’s a great read.

Communication in the Unknown
By Sean Tierney

You’re steps away from entering an unfamiliar building, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, in an unfamiliar land; it’s your first day at a new school and the only thing you know for certain is that you don’t. Now imagine we bottle up this tense sensation of being engulfed in uncertainty and crank the dial up to eleven, that’s the feeling encountering main character John Blackthorne in FX’s Shogun. A character who is not only navigating the trials and tribulations of an unfamiliar culture and language, but one who is also coping with the understanding that his life is in another man’s hands and even the slightest false step could put him six feet under.

While Blackthorne strives to understand the foreign land he has stumbled upon, even more is hidden behind the stoic expressions of the Samurai and their culture. Blackthorne effectively serves as a tour guide through this renowned culture as both he and the audience are uncovering the many layers all at once. There’s a notion surrounding film culture that exposition is cheap and film/TV should ‘show don’t tell’. By utilizing Blackthorne as a tour guide, Shogun subverts the need for exposition allowing the audience to see Japan for the first time through a newcomer’s eyes. That is the superpower of Shogun, the show’s ability to demonstrate rather than explain, utilizing its main character for both practical and impactful purposes.

Japanese culture has always seemed to have somewhat of an aura around it; there’s a natural intrigue surrounding the uniqueness of it, yet also kind of a mysterious nature surrounding their culture. The podcast Hardcore History, hosted by Dan Carlin, did a six-part series called “Supernova in the East” centered around the Pacific Theater during World War II. This series focuses heavily on the fanaticism of Japan’s culture and the prevailing narrative surrounding them is that “The Japanese are just like everyone else, only more so”. Continue reading “With Further Ado #301: Guest Columnist – Communication in the Unknown – A Shogun Review”

Brainiac On Banjo: Mike’s To-Do List!

Brainiac On Banjo: Mike’s To-Do List!

Well, I’ve been down to the river, I washed away my sins. Well, every day’s a nice, clean slate, for me to fuck it up again. Yeah, I’ll probably fuck it up again. — from “Do It Again”, written by John Shanks and Sheryl Crow.

I decided I should make a “To Do” list. I ain’t getting any younger and I ration out my brain power, so this seems like a good idea. So I’ll do just that, you know, instead of writing a real column this week.

To do:

Reread the first nine issues of the current JSA miniseries, just in case DC decides to finish publishing it before I die.

Ask Bill Sienkiewicz if the British government contacted him about doing over King Charles’ official portrait.

Do some genetic research. I am convinced that the lunch cook at Riverdale High School, Miss Beazley, is closely related to Popeye, the Sailor Man. Possibly separated at birth.

Check and see if Trump died yet.

Write a hopefully not-too-long piece about what an unbelievably great cartoonist Dick Briefer had been.

Order our Deadpool & Wolverine tickets.

Offer to comp Marty Scorsese on the Deadpool & Wolverine tickets. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Mike’s To-Do List!”

With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Kenobi Gets Too Much Hate

With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Kenobi Gets Too Much Hate

Following up on the theme from last week’s entry, here’s another winning entry from our annual student competition:

Kenobi Gets Too Much Hate
By Oliver Rucker

So, I am super late to the party. Being the Star Wars fan that I am, I’m frankly embarrassed, but I finally got around to watching Obi-Wan Kenobi, the series diving in on the beloved Jedi’s life in between the fall of the Republic at the end of Revenge of the Sith, and our introduction to Luke Skywalker and the gang in A New Hope.

For starters, I’d like to attempt to explain myself. I was coming off of The Bad Batch and The Book of Boba Fett, both of which I did not care for. I can go on and on, but to keep it brief, if I was twelve, I’d love Bad Batch, and I simply found Boba Fett to be remarkably boring. So as excited as I was to see what Obi-Wan was getting up to on Tatooine, my spirits were down, expectations low, I was dejected, and honestly just a little but Star Wars’d out.

Before going any further, I’d like to explain that I am not like every other Star Wars fan in existence, who just has a fiery hate for everything new that is put out into the cosmos. In fact, I find myself to be in the strong minority that really enjoyed Attack of the Clones. Sure, the dialogue is just awful, but the story is incredibly strong and it evokes emotions like sadness, anger, jubilation, memorization, and the anticipation of imminent disaster. All things I love in a movie. Continue reading “With Further Ado #297: Guest Columnist – Kenobi Gets Too Much Hate”

Brainiac On Banjo: Let’s Stumble In The Jungle

Brainiac On Banjo: Let’s Stumble In The Jungle

“Walking through forests of palm tree apartments. Scoff at the monkeys who live in their dark tents. Down by the waterhole, drunk every Friday, eating their nuts, saving their raisins for Sunday. Lions and tigers who wait in the shadows; they’re fast but they’re lazy, and sleep in green meadows.” From “Bungle in the Jungle,” written by Chip Taylor, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, Trevor Smith, Stig Anderson, Kamaal Fareed, Malik Taylor, Pras Michel, Forte, Benny Andersson, and Bjoern K Ulvaeus.

Let me start this week’s disquisition with an apology. A friend of mine sent me the above piece of art which he copped off the internet. He did not know who the artist was, but it so directly relates to my experiences as a comic book fan that I’m using it anyway, with sincere apologizes to its creator. It’s fantastic, it’s right on the money, and it directly addresses one of my major four-color bugaboos.

Outside of the obvious, which is clearly seen in the above purloined artwork, I never understood the massive appeal of jungle girl comics. By and large, these stories were exquisitely drawn but horribly overwritten. Of course, there wasn’t a lot of room to do brilliant heroic jungle action stories, and usually there was a male companion/savior involved. The late 40s / early 50s were like that. I guess women in four-color or full color needed saviors back then.

Only a handful of jungle heroes had “legs” — that is, the ability to successfully endure in their own title for a long period of time. There were a lot jungle women, mostly white, all in terrific shape and clothed in barnstorming costumes. Mind you, they all wore more than, say, Tarzan, but they wore it better.

These women were immortalized by a plethora of terrific artists such as Matt Baker, Frank Frazetta, Bill Everett, Bob Powell, George Evans, Lou Fine, Mort Meskin, Ralph Mayo, and Maurice Whitman… to name but a few. Clearly, these casting decisions made everybody quite happy. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Let’s Stumble In The Jungle”

Super Bowl LVIII Reaction – Commercials and Trailers

Super Bowl LVIII Reaction – Commercials and Trailers

Well, the latest season of NFL football is over. It has been quite the spectacle and veered closer into the Pop Culture atmosphere than it has in recent years. With the Kansas City Chiefs defeating the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime, there is no way you can say this season was not filled with drama.

Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift. PHOTO: EZRA SHAW/GETTY

Much of the added attention had to do with the intersection of music and sports with the very public romantic relationship between Kansas City Chiefs tight-end Travis Kelce and mega pop star Taylor Swift. Swift’s presence anywhere generates buzz, and this season, her travels to support her boyfriend and the camera time that she received on NFL broadcasts were the cause of a buzz that rivaled the rumble of a 747 on takeoff. A lot of the noise was generated by those same folks who were upset that a quarterback had an opinion and kneeled to protesting police brutality. For many of us, the apoplectic reaction to a woman attending a football game to support her romantic partner was gloriously rewarding karma.

The Super Bowl is the ultimate showcase for new advertisements and film trailer releases, and this year despite prices around seven million dollars for thirty second ads, plenty of companies and organizations plunked down their cash to try to ride the Taylor wave of football viewership. Let’s breakdown what we saw.

PSAs – Hit or Miss

There were a bunch of spots during the game that were not trying to sell anything at all. Some Public Service Announcements were well done, and some were head scratching to say the least. On the positive side, there was a body positivity ad sponsored by Dove and a couple of anti-bullying promos staring NFL players as well as a PSA calling attention to homelessness and another calling for people to stand up to hate. Continue reading “Super Bowl LVIII Reaction – Commercials and Trailers”

With Further Ado #283: Calling a Spade a Spade…, or Bonjour, Monsieur Spade

With Further Ado #283: Calling a Spade a Spade…, or Bonjour, Monsieur Spade

The Maltese Falcon (1941) is one of my favorite movies and, in some ways, it led the way for an entire genre. Or two. Film noir and hard-boiled detective novels owe a lot to this picture’s enduring charm.

It is, if I were to oversimply, private eye Sam Spade’s greatest adventure. So much so that the public has been enthralled with similar characters and mystery stories for 80 plus years. Hollywood had tried to make this movie, based on the 1930 pulp novel, twice before, but the third time was a charm. John Houston was the director and Humphrey Bogart, as Spade, was surrounded by top-notch actors.

(The villain was played by Sidney Greenstreet – in his very first film role at age 61!)

Spade was one of those early wisecracking detectives who were clever, relentless and followed his own moral compass.

Here’s how creator/author Dashiell Hammett described the enduring character:

Spade has no original. He is a dream man in the sense that he is what most of the private detectives I worked with would like to have been and in their cockier moments thought they approached. For your private detective does not — or did not ten years ago when he was my colleague — want to be an erudite solver of riddles in the Sherlock Holmes manner; he wants to be a hard and shifty fellow, able to take care of himself in any situation, able to get the best of anybody he comes in contact with, whether criminal, innocent by-stander or client.

Continue reading “With Further Ado #283: Calling a Spade a Spade…, or Bonjour, Monsieur Spade”

Brainiac On Banjo: What Goes Around…

I kicked the blankets on the floor. Turned my pillow upside down. I never never did before, ‘bause I was tossin’ and turnin’, turnin’ and tossin’,a-tossin’ and turnin’ all night. “Tossin’ and Turnin'” written by Malou Rene, Richard A Ziegler, and Ritchie Adams.

Back in 1961, John Kennedy was President, Wagon Train, Bonanza and Gunsmoke were America’s top three television shows, the year’s top three tunes were “Tossin’ and Turnin'” by Bobby Lewis, “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline, and “Michael” (no relation) by The Highwaymen, and Don Martin was covering Mad Magazine with a tale of its time and ours. Ahhh, great days.

Please have yourself a very aspirational 2024. Work hard at it. Save the world.

It’s the only place we’ve got.

Brainiac On Banjo: A Million Pounds of Bond

Brainiac On Banjo: A Million Pounds of Bond

Diamonds are forever. Hold one up and then caress it, touch it, stroke it and undress it. I can see every part. Nothing hides in the heart to hurt me. “Diamonds Are Forever,” written by John Barry and Don Black.

Generally speaking, I’m not interested in “reality” television. It’s not really reality, and when I want reality from my ol’ cathode ray tube I’ll watch the news until I decide what I really should be doing is updating my will.

There are exceptions. A thousand years ago, I watched Ice Road Truckers because the contestants were as ludicrous as the concept of hauling many tons of stuff across frozen-over lakes that, under the weight of same, could kill the aspirants and — more important — destroy their swag. Much more recently, I’ve been enjoying the challenges of James May, of car wrecking fame, as he ridicules modern manhood by attempting even more ludicrous but somewhat more useful DIY projects. However, these shows (Man Lab is the best, Toy Stories and The Reassembler are almost as entertaining) are built, by James May, to revolve around James May, who is clever, honest, committed and wonderfully sardonic. He’s a mere 60 years old, but probably looks a bit older because he’s spent decades working next to Jeremy Clarkson. He’s also done a number of food-oriented shows and has lunched with Gordon Ramsay, consuming bull penis and rotten shark. Funny stuff. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: A Million Pounds of Bond”