Category: Reviews

With Further Ado #144: Guest Column First Runner-Up – Insecure Made Me Confident

With Further Ado #144: Guest Column First Runner-Up – Insecure Made Me Confident

As we bring you some of the highlights of the writing assignments from my Ithaca College Promoting and Managing ITHACON class, this week is the first runner-up by Maya Lewis.

Maya’s column spoke to us from the a very emotional and introspective place. Some of the things that good media can do is promote introspection and inspiration. Maya found that in the HBO show Insecure. The way that she relates to the show and how it has affected her are what we are looking to promote here at Pop Culture Squad.

Insecure Made Me Confident

by Maya Lewis

Growing up, my mother was always against me watching copious amounts of television, to the point where she had me convinced that if I watched too much TV, I would lose brain cells. And I believed her, that was until I got older.

I started to find a comfort and joy from bingeing shows and fell in love with the feeling of immersing myself into the lives of different characters and their storylines, both emotionally and mentally. It was both therapeutic and freeing, and nothing compared to the feeling I felt, when I was able to recognize parts of myself within certain characters, allowing me to form a deeper connection with both them and the show itself. Unfortunately, this feeling did not occur often, as I rarely encountered shows that starred young black women as leads, who did not play into stereotypical tropes. However, this feeling changed during the summer of 2017 when I discovered Insecure, which is a comedy-drama television series set in Los Angeles and stars Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji, who plays her best friend, Molly. The show is centered around these two women, who are both in their late 20s, navigating through different aspects of their lives. Continue reading “With Further Ado #144: Guest Column First Runner-Up – Insecure Made Me Confident”

With Further Ado #136: Look! Up in the Sky!

With Further Ado #136: Look! Up in the Sky!

As a kid in the mid-sixties, it was a big deal when there was going to be a new Superman show on TV.  Batmania had taken hold, and there was a ravenous hunger for more superhero stories. I loved the Justice League comic of the day, which had one dominant message for young readers – if you like Batman, he has a bunch of friends and you should buy their adventures too!

Filmation’s The New Adventures of Superman debuted on Saturday mornings, and it was a must-see. Never mind fellow-comic book alumni Casper on the opposite channel (although Secret Squirrel looked kinda cool). That was the show for me. Even though it was, in many ways, a retread of the old Superman radio show, we just knew these NEW adventures presented to best version of Superman ever! Continue reading “With Further Ado #136: Look! Up in the Sky!”

Review: Lego Masters Season Finale

Review: Lego Masters Season Finale

On Wednesday April 15, 2020, the final episode for the first season of Lego Masters aired on Fox at 9 pm EST. The show is hosted by Will Arnett, and the final show came down to three teams:  Sam and Jessica, Tyler and Amy, and Mark and Boone.

The final episode included a challenge for each team to build whatever they wanted in a twenty-four hour period. They had one hour to plan and design their build and then the final twenty-four to make it a reality.

Here is a little bit about each team:

Sam and Jessica are in an adult Lego group, but didn’t meet until the competition. Because of that dynamic, they struggled in the beginning, but as the competition evolved, you could see their teamwork and confidence in each other grow. Their strength comes from them both being art-focused and creative. Continue reading “Review: Lego Masters Season Finale”

LEGO Masters: A TV Show That Will Knock Your Block Off

LEGO Masters: A TV Show That Will Knock Your Block Off

Someone has figured out a reality show for adults who love to play with their favorite toy as a kid and turned it up a notch. I am talking about LEGO Masters. It is on Wednesday nights at 9 pm EST on FOX.  It is based on a British show of the same name. The best part about the show is its family-friendly feel.

There are ten teams of two and what a great group they are. The diverse teams are made up of fathers and sons, brothers, couples, friends, and even a team that met at a club for adults who love LEGO. The winners will win $100,000 and a LEGO Master’s trophy. The first week they competed for the Golden Brick, of which the winner is immune from being eliminated at a time of their choosing.

There have only been two episodes so far. It premiered on Wednesday, February 5th and is hosted by Will Arnett (In case you don’t know he is the voice of LEGO Batman, but don’t worry. He will remind you.). He is the perfect host for this show. He has two expert judges with him. Amy Corbett is a senior design master at the LEGO Company. She works on the LEGO Friends line and worked on the concept team for The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. You can follow her on Instagram at @brickmasteramy or on Twitter at @BrickmasterAmy. Jamie Berard is the other judge, and he is a LEGO Brickmaster, with thirteen years of experience with LEGO. He works on LEGO products for teens and adults with a focus on the Creator Expert and Architecture lines. You can follow him on Instagram at @brickmasterjamie. Continue reading “LEGO Masters: A TV Show That Will Knock Your Block Off”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #053: Oh Schitt!

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #053: Oh Schitt!

I had consumed nearly every show I was told I’d love on Netflix as I’d contemplated transitioning to Amazon Prime — Orange is the New Black, GLOW, Living With Yourself, Big Mouth, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, The Kominsky Method, Bojack Horseman, F is for Family, Maniac, and Master of None to name a few. And in the case of all of the above (with about 8 or 9 more I decided not to list)… I did in fact love them. Some more than others, but all appropriately dynamic and enjoyable.

With everything seemingly checked off my bucket list for the time being, I was about to sign off, and one last series peaked its head around the corner. I’d been recommended to look into it several times, but something about it seemed bland. Every still shot of the show was set in some rural-ish small town, with an obvious fish-out-of-water placement of Eugene Levy or Catherine O’Hara looking befuddled. I’d told myself it wasn’t worth my time. I hovered over the preview and watched. All the tropes were there: a wealthy family no longer wealthy, Eugene Levy being… Eugene Levy, Chris Elliott being… Chris Elliott, small town vs. big city. Whatever. But, an inadvertent click popped the preview into a pilot, and I took my seat. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #053: Oh Schitt!”

Brainiac On Banjo #049: Pennyworth – Might See TV?

Brainiac On Banjo #049: Pennyworth – Might See TV?

Did you notice there are a lot of television shows based upon superheroes? Do you have a television set and an internet connection?

If you think it’s getting crowded, just wait. Disney announced a whole bunch of new Marvel shows, including Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, She-Hulk, Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel – and remember, Loki, WandaVision, What If…?, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier have yet to debut.

DC has Stargirl coming up soon, and they’re threatening to follow Arrow up with a new CW series – not counting Batwoman, which starts in a bit over a month. Watchmen starts soon (maybe it’s already on – I can’t tell anymore), and the Harley Quinn animated series is pretty much in the can. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #049: Pennyworth – Might See TV?”

Swamp Thing From DC Universe Is Dark & Enjoyable

Swamp Thing From DC Universe Is Dark & Enjoyable

DC Universe launches its third live-action series, Swamp Thing, on Friday, May 31st. This April, the originally thirteen episode order was shortened to ten, mid-production. Rumors swirled about the impending demise of the DC Universe platform, but the alarms turned out to be unfounded as more content is added to the app.

The comic version of Swamp Thing has been retconned and rebooted several times, each with very different vibes. The original Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson Swamp Thing was a Mary Shelley on the bayou, while the Alan Moore version was Faulkner on bad mushrooms. I was curious which way the new series would lean, and while it will probably evolve as the series goes on, the producers have drawn on their horror backgrounds to make a gumbo of the two.  Continue reading “Swamp Thing From DC Universe Is Dark & Enjoyable”

Working Title #017: Watching Miracle Workers

Miracle Workers, is a limited series from TBS, airs Tuesdays at 10PM EST.

SPOILER ALERT: I reveal some of the plot and a few jokes in the show so far. Read at your own risk.

So – in the second episode, Miracle Workers kill Bill Maher by blowing up his penis.

Now that’s comedy.

The show is set in a heaven that’s a corporate entity. Steve Buscemi plays God with longish lank gray hair, puttering around in a bathrobe, drinking beer, and more interested in Lazy Susans than the planet Earth. Bill Maher annoys him (hell, he sometimes annoys me) so God orders that Maher be killed off. The method devised is to blow up his penis which pleases God.

Also, because God has been challenged to exert himself and do something about the terrible state of Earth, announces that he is going to blow it up in two weeks.

You see? Wacky.  Continue reading “Working Title #017: Watching Miracle Workers”

Brainiac On Banjo #024: The Doom Patrol – For Misfits Who Rock

Brainiac On Banjo #024: The Doom Patrol – For Misfits Who Rock

“Embargo.” That sounds like an old person’s muscular issue.

It’s also a word imposed upon us overwrought critics that means “here’s something really cool but you can’t tell anybody about it for a couple weeks.” Most of the people who have access to this stuff want to shout to all those within reading distance, particularly if the material either really impresses us or really pisses us off. But a deal is a deal. The embargo on coverage of the new Doom Patrol series premiering later this week on DC Universe was lifted at 9 AM Pacific this morning, so it’s off to the races for those of us who had been professionally tongue-tied.

I appreciated one of the first lines uttered in the first episode: “More teevee superheroes. Just what the world needs.” I can dig it. But the Doom Patrol wasn’t a typical superhero comic book in any of its various incarnations since its launch by DC Comics in the spring of 1963. And several of its more recent incarnations raised the bar on weird. The question is, how to you port all of that over to the small screen?

Perhaps a better question is “since the DC Universe service really upped the ante with Robin screaming ‘Fuck Batman!’ in the first episode of their Titans series, does The Doom Patrol continue this trend?”

Yup. It sure does. Nudity ­– slightly more than that which Janet Jackson offered us some time ago that blinded hordes of small children forevermore – enters the show a mere five minutes into the first episode. The first fuck (I’m referring to the word used in dialog and not the act) comes in around the 15-minute mark. The tone for the show is set rather dark and very weird.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #024: The Doom Patrol – For Misfits Who Rock”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #022: Runaway with me?

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #022: Runaway with me?

Hulu’s answer to Netflix’s recent run of freshly canceled Marvel Knights series — from the potent Daredevil to the barely passable Iron Fist — is the teen drama Runaways. Based loosely on the Brian K. Vaughn series penned alongside artist Adrian Alphona in 2003, it’s essentially Riverdale-level drama playing lightly on the edge of the Marvel universe. Is this series related to the aforementioned adventures of Matt Murdock, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, or (barf) Danny Rand? Well, your guess is as good as mine after 2 solid seasons. But that’s neither here nor there. With 23 episodes come and gone… the question I’m still trying to answer remains: Is it any good?

Admittedly while I was a big fan of the original digest-sized graphic novel series, by the time I clicked on the show, my knowledge was limited only to broad strokes. I remember the characters and their powers… albeit vaguely. Above all else, I’d remembered so much of the series banked on a very quick cold open scenario — of a group of friends coming to discover their parents were a super-villain cabal, and shortly thereafter being on the lamb. Hilarity, teen angst, and super-powers followed in a delightful romp.

Upon booting up the pilot, everything I’d recalled began to click into place. The cult meeting. The friendly banter. The — gasp! — evil machinations. Powers are discovered. A dinosaur. Aliens. The whole kit-and-caboodle. As the episodes starting ticking off, I noticed how any semblance to the source material seemed to fade off into the Los Angeles smog. What I was left with was a show that seemingly had an amazing budget, a writers room familiar with the original treatment, but an awkward fear to leave their comfort zone. As if, perhaps, the show was being thought of as a broadcast serial versus a binge-worthy show-for-the-millennials. As such, as often as I’d find myself enthralled at various plot points and character moments… I’d find an equal number of times where my eye-rolls were audible.  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #022: Runaway with me?”