Tag: HBO

Brainiac On Banjo #091: DC Universe … From Streaming To Sinking

Brainiac On Banjo #091: DC Universe … From Streaming To Sinking

As of this writing, which is 9 PM EDT Sunday July 12, the DC Universe streaming service is still alive. It’s home to some of the most entertaining superhero teevee programing around, in my opinion. I can’t speak for yours. But that thing coughing up blood all over your Wi-Fi is, sadly, the DC Universe streaming service. And it’s the fault of their own artistic success.

Aside from hospitals, the only place that has had a worse month than the DCU has been the White House. In fairly quick order, the service lost future first-run episodes of Stargirl to the CW, saw The Doom Patrol multicast on the pathetic HBO Max sinkhole, Harley Quinn also airing on Syfy and Canada’s Adult Swim, and is thought to be migrating to HBO Max as well. Titans remains, but might be severely undermined by DC’s new Gotham City Police show (not necessarily the final title) spinning out of The Batman movie the now filming in Europe.

Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #091: DC Universe … From Streaming To Sinking”

Brainiac On Banjo #068: Award-Winning Awards

Brainiac On Banjo #068: Award-Winning Awards

I can’t say I’m a fan of teevee awards shows. Overlooking their propensity for vapidity and fecklessness while acknowledging their complete commitment to style over substance, I agree with those who say that it is truly stupid to pit masterpieces against each other strictly because they were released within the same period of time.

Case in point: the nominees for Best Picture of 1939 – I’m talking the Academy Awards here – were Gone With The Wind, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The Wizard of Oz, Of Mice and Men, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Wuthering Heights, Ninotchka, Dark Victory and Love Affair. One’s own personal predilections aside, it’s hard to parse out a qualitative analysis of these films in order to determine a clear “best.” At least eight of these movies are among the very best Hollywood has had to offer, and the other two are no slouches.

(For the record, I would have voted for Stagecoach – and then shot myself for passing over Ninotchka and Of Mice and Men.)

However, I do enjoy a fun live teevee show. I enjoy watching the Oscars with my daughter because she keeps me in stitches with her faux-catty commentary. I love watching the Golden Globes because it’s more relaxed, it is largely bereft of stupid song-and-dance routines, it is comparatively un-overproduced… but, mostly, because Ricky Gervais may be the most honest and one of the most fearless comedians to ever walk the red carpet on the way to work. If I’m watching an awards show and the only person I’m cheering on is the host, I’m still having a good time. Gervais did not disappoint. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #068: Award-Winning Awards”

With Further Ado #065: It’s 1986 All Over Again

With Further Ado #065: It’s 1986 All Over Again

As I recall, 1986 was a great year. I was in Boston at that time and had just started a career in advertising. Boston was a glorious place; I enjoyed every minute of my time there. I especially enjoyed the town’s many comic shops – including Million Year Picnic, New England Comics and Newbury Comics- they were all in Harvard Square (if you can believe that) near where I lived.

It was good to have so many shops nearby because it was also a great year for comics. But in some ways, 1986 seems to echo through today with the resounding and triumphant evolution of Geek Culture.

I thought a lot about that as I was reading the big Sunday NYTimes article(s) on the new HBO Watchmen series.  The show looks interesting, but I couldn’t help but think how wonderfully odd it is, even today, to see Dave Gibbons’ panels in a major newspaper.

Watchmen debuted in 1986. We tend to forget, but right when we were all hooked, the twelve issue comic series started shipping late. It was a drag, but so worth the wait. And of course, those intricate Alan Moore stories could be read and re-read, and new meaning could be found each time while we were awaiting the conclusion.

One of the most satisfying parts of Watchmen used to be that it was finite. The comic series was a cohesive and comprehensive story. Like Casablanca, you kinda wanted to know what happened to those characters afterwards, but it was all so perfect that there was a “let’s just let it be” attitude. 

Buuuut… we’ve had a lot of new Watchmen adventures over the years. The series has been reprinted in many formats many times. (And that’s a whole ‘nuther story right there.)  And the Zach Snyder movie brought Watchmen to the big screen in 2009.

There have been new adventures in the comics too. I just rescued a few random Before Watchmen issues from the bargain box in Oswego’s A Comic Shop on Saturday. I was that guy who went into the store five minutes before their official closing (hey, I happened to be in the area). I wanted to be respectful to the owner (more likely than not it had been a long day for her) so I quickly grabbed those comics. Plus, my wife was waiting in the car.


DC Comics is currently publishing The Doomsday Clock series by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. It’s a gorgeous-looking book that weaves the Watchmen characters into the modern DC mythology.  Frank’s artwork is stellar, and kudo’s to Johns for his characterizations of Don McGregor’s Nathaniel Dusk and the new heroes/villains, Marionette and Mime.

More 1986 in 2019

  • Just last month, Art Spiegelman charmed a full house at the Rockwell Museum event hosted in Corning, NY.  Spiegelman, still best known for his ground-breaking work on 1986’s MAUS, was fascinating and intriguing. It was hard to even think that all years had passed since 1986, except for the fact that Spiegelman has produced such an impressive body of work since then.
    • And as an aside, boy does that guy know his old comics. We had a ball at the after party talking about artists like Bob Powell and Dick Briefer!
  • The Mike Gold-edited Green Arrow series, debuting in 1987, actually started with a graphic novel called Green Arrow: The Long Bow Hunters. Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance’s adventures then continued in the first of many long-running Green Arrow monthly series. One can argue that without that series, there would be no CW superhero shows like Arrow or The Flash.
  • I tend not to keep up with all the CW shows, but the many ads/coming attractions I’ve seen teasing the crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline again reinforces the 1986-ish-iness of modern pop culture.
  • And one could argue that new Batwoman TV show owes quite a bit to the 1986 thriller by Frank Miller, The Dark Knight Returns.  This gritty reimaging of the Batman legend is a nice adaptation of those luscious Greg Rucka/J.H. Williams comics, but it does owe quite a bit to Miller’s Dark Knight series. I guess so many comics today do.
  • Of course, some ‘ground-breaking’ series from that time aren’t remembered as vividly.  When Howard Chaykin reimagined The Shadow in his 1986 mini-series, it was deliciously subversive. Even to a longtime fan of the traditional Shadow adventures, like me, it was an urgent must-read.  For the world-at-large of today, it somehow just doesn’t quite enjoy the long-running traction of Watchmen or MAUS.  But at that time running with the big dogs.

Comic fans, by their nature, are always glancing over their shoulders to the past, while paradoxically always looking to the future – anxious to find out “what’s next”. We didn’t know 1986 would be a big deal then. We certainly didn’t think it would still be a big deal in so many ways.

Brainiac On Banjo #040: Stream On, Big Media, Stream On…

Brainiac On Banjo #040: Stream On, Big Media, Stream On…

Frequent readers of Brainiac On Banjo (seriously; there must be something better for you to do) have been absorbing my incessant prattle about streaming media for a while now. Yeah, I think it’s important. Streaming is bringing about the biggest sea-change to the entertainment world since we dropped the atom bomb.

“Really?” you might ask. “Bigger than television? Bigger than VCRs/DVRs? Even bigger than microwave popcorn? Why?” Well, that’s a fair question, and thank you for asking.

It took television a while to become big. In constant dollars, tiny TV sets cost a lot of money, the image was low-resolution and often full of “ghost” images, and the youngest person in the room had to stand by the set holding the antenna in the proper position in order to watch anything. The sundry video recorders, mechanical and virtual, freed the viewer from a strict allegiance to the clock, and microwave popcorn saved Indiana from certain economic doom.

Steaming has taken time-control one step further: content creators no longer have to fight for a Donald Trump-sized handful of open slots on the broadcast networks. Cable television no longer is a monopoly unless it is your only source of wi-fi. It’s launched an employment boon for actors, producers, writers and other such entertainment reprobates. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #040: Stream On, Big Media, Stream On…”

Lions, Dragons & Wolves #004:GoT S8E3 recap: The Battle of Winterfell

Lions, Dragons & Wolves #004:GoT S8E3 recap: The Battle of Winterfell

Warning: This recap contains nothing but spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones. If you are reading this before seeing the episode “The Battle of Winterfell”, you are doing it wrong.

Continue reading “Lions, Dragons & Wolves #004:GoT S8E3 recap: The Battle of Winterfell”

Lions, Dragons & Wolves #003: GoT S8E2 recap: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

Lions, Dragons & Wolves #003: GoT S8E2 recap: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

Warning: This recap contains nothing but spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones. If you are reading this before seeing the episode “Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”, you are doing it wrong.

Continue reading “Lions, Dragons & Wolves #003: GoT S8E2 recap: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”

Lions Dragons & Wolves: Pregame of Thrones

Lions Dragons & Wolves: Pregame of Thrones

Are you ready for Game of Thrones: Endgame?

After a brief break of 595 days, HBO’s pop culture juggernaut is airing its final six episodes starting this Sunday. While author George RR Martin was hunt-and-pecking his way through the eternally upcoming Winds of Winter, the television series lapped the published books late in season 5, leaving readers no wiser than their fellow viewers as to their favorite characters’ fates. HBO has been marathoning the entire series to get you prepared, but you squandered that time working. You could have watched an episode a week since Presidents’ Day 2018, but you didn’t and now you have mere hours to catch up. We got you. We’ve picked one episode from each season for you to get you ready. You’ll still need to pay attention to every “previously on…” segment, but you’ll have the raw emotional wounds required to properly appreciate the last six episodes.

So, run out to the store for the GoT branded Oreos, wine, and whisky. Stop by the blood drive to donate your GoT branded blood (seriously, the American Red Cross is giving away an Iron Throne replica and free posters). Bake up a batch of lemon cakes and direwolf scones. Settle in. Continue reading “Lions Dragons & Wolves: Pregame of Thrones”