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 #026: The Doom Patrol – For Misfits Who Rock

Brainiac On Banjo #026: 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 #026: 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?”

“Young Justice: Outsiders” Is Now Available on DC Universe

“Young Justice: Outsiders” Is Now Available on DC Universe

Today is the day!

For longtime fans of the Young Justice animated series, that phrase brings back good memories. It was the way the youthful heroes anticipated their graduation from sidekick status to full heroes.

Over the two previous seasons of this series, the group of four has changed, grown, and suffered loss. This series has been inarguably one of the best animated action series ever. The quality of the story telling and characterization has always been extremely high. When it was cancelled for spurious reasons, fans were devastated. However, it is back.

Continue reading ““Young Justice: Outsiders” Is Now Available on DC Universe”

Brainiac on Banjo #017: Post-Reality Credits

Brainiac on Banjo #017: Post-Reality Credits

This might sound kind of bitchy, but then again regular readers of Brainiac On Banjo will note that my default writing style is set to “bitchy.” Hey, it’s a living.

If you watch superhero movies, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the plethora of post-credits teaser scenes. Don’t get me wrong: I love these post-credits teaser scenes. They were pioneered by Marvel Studios over a decade ago. I enjoy the fact that, recently, Marvel added a mid-credits sequence to most of their releases as well. I understand why those Marvel character movies that aren’t produced by Marvel Studios now have them as well – most of the current Spider-Man movies, the ever-widening X-Men cluster and, brilliantly, the Deadpool movies.

I like how Warner Bros imitates this in many of their DC movies, as have other franchises. To be fair, Marvel Studios “borrowed” the stunt from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, released 22 years prior to Iron Man I.I think there should be a law passed that each and every movie produced today and in the future – including documentaries – be compelled to have a post-credits sequence, preferably featuring Samuel L. Jackson and/or Robert Downey Jr. To lighten the budget, Sam can push a few credit cards if he so desires. But the last episode if the first season of DC’s Titans, lawfully available only on DC’s DC Universe streaming site, has an end-credits teaser that will most definitely screw you up.  Continue reading “Brainiac on Banjo #017: Post-Reality Credits”

Star Wars Rebels Season 4 BluRay Review

Star Wars Rebels Season 4 BluRay Review

Premiering in May of 2014, Star Wars Rebels was the first post-buyout Disney production we saw, and my grumpy inner Star Wars nerd was skeptical. The Expanded Universe had been dropped from official cannon, Clone Wars had been cancelled while the sixth season was under production, and Disney was going to give us a Jedi voiced by Freddy Prinze, Jr? FREDDIE PRINZE, JR?

Four years later, I owe all concerned an apology. Kanan Jarrus is in my Top 5 Jedi list, Chopper is my number one droid, Sabine is the hero Mandalore deserves, Ezra has gone from Space Aladdin to Jedi Whale Rider, Hera is a hero general of the Rebellion, and Zeb is… well, Zeb’s still a Wookie with a haircut. The series managed to tell its own tale while bringing back abandoned favorites from Clone Wars and reintroducing the EU’s best villain, the genius tactician Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Beginning immediately prior to Rogue One, Star Wars Rebels Season Four spends its first few episodes on Mandalore and Yavin IV, but mostly delivers a satisfying conclusion to Ezra Bridger’s story by bringing the action back to his home planet of Lothal. The crew of the Ghost attempt to stop the Empire from building an advanced new TIE Defender and stripping Lothal of its resources. By focusing on a smaller conflict in the greater rebellion, Rebels is able to tell an engaging story of its own without ignoring or rehashing the original trilogy.

The Blu-ray contains all sixteen episodes, episode recaps, several behind the scenes features with cast and crew including a discussion with series composer Kevin Kiner, and an exploration of the Force with Executive Producer (and voice of my number one droid) Dave Filoni. Filoni also contributes six commentary tracks.

If you have watched Rebels, you will want this Blu-ray. If you’re a Star Wars fan and you haven’t watched Rebels, shame on you. Go get this Blu-ray.

Season 4 stars Taylor Gray, Vanessa Marshall, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Tiya Sircar, Steve Blum, Dee Bradley Baker, David Oyelowo, Lars Mikkelsen, and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn.

Beat JENeration #002: Washing down OITNB 6 with Mamma Mia 2

Beat JENeration #002: Washing down OITNB 6 with Mamma Mia 2

*** I tried not to be spoiler-y, but I don’t know how sensitive you are. So beware if you care.***

I started watching Orange Is The New Black Season 6 last Friday afternoon and made it through about nine episodes before falling asleep and then returned to finish the final four on Saturday. But I wasn’t happy about it. It wasn’t more than a  chore, and when I finished, I was mad at Jenji Kohan.

Continue reading “Beat JENeration #002: Washing down OITNB 6 with Mamma Mia 2”

Brainiac on Banjo #003: Luke Cage – Patience and Super Virtues

Brainiac on Banjo #003: Luke Cage – Patience and Super Virtues

Now that we’ve got so many of them, I think it is time we expanded our definition of the super-hero television show. It ain’t all Biff Pow Bam and Kellogg’s Pep any longer.

We also need to expand our definition of the dramatic television show. With seasons now structured around story arcs and streaming and binging, storytellers have an entirely different landscape than they had even a decade ago. We have opportunities to see character development on a much deeper level. We have stories with real beginnings, middles and ends that are told over the course of about 13 hours, give or take. Storytellers are relieved of the burden of reminding viewers of everything they need to know about the characters and the storyline each and every episode. All this, in turn, creates an ensemble-view of the cast and characters.

Continue reading “Brainiac on Banjo #003: Luke Cage – Patience and Super Virtues”