Monday, May 02, 2016

Arrow S04 E19: Canary Cry

In the aftermath of the death of the Black Canary, even in a world where death is not always the end, Team Arrow is shattered. John Diggle blames himself for her death because he believed his brother Andy had changed, and Quentin Lance is simply in denial, thinking she can come back... and seeing as he's already had another daughter come back from seeming death twice, really, who can blame him?

We open on a funeral, but not the one you might think. Laurel Lance is giving the eulogy, and it's Tommy Merlin's funeral. Oliver should have given the eulogy, but couldn't. The day of Tommy's funeral is the Flashback Island thread this episode, showing how Laurel helped Oliver through the death of his once best friend. It also gives Katie Cassidy a last chance to shine on the show.

To complicate matters, the Black Canary's sonic device is found to be missing from the hospital, and someone is out there on the streets masquerading as the Black Canary. This teenaged girl not only has a vendetta against our heroes, but she's turned up the power on the device and Team Arrow is no longer immune.

Interestingly the faux Black Canary attacks Alex Davis just as he's about to open up about his past to Thea, saying that he works for them. Our girl knows more than she's telling. I'm still betting that Alex is both related to the Davis on the list, and to Silver Age Green Arrow villain Dr. Davis. Time will tell, it's not like these DCTV shows don't do the villain-among-us thing all the time. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Caitlin and Win.

New Mayor Ruve Adams puts out warrants on Star City's vigilantes, especially the 'Black Canary' who murdered Laurel Lance. This comes after Spartan's attack on the Mayor, one in which Green Arrow calls John by his name. Between this and Barry on "The Flash" lately, I am so tired of these title heroes making really stupid mistakes.

Speaking of the Flash, Grant Gustin shows up after Laurel's funeral to bring that sequence full circle. To keep Ruve Adams' ploy at bay, Team Arrow put on the gravestone that Laurel was the Black Canary. Clever, but troubling. We end as we began the season, with Oliver vowing to kill Darhk. But how?

Friday, April 22, 2016

More Prince, and Coast to Coast AM

I was numb all day yesterday. I just couldn't believe it was true. I did my duty though. I wrote about it here, and I wrote about it on Biff Bam Pop! right here, and even did a short episode of The GAR! Podcast on it found here and here. I had to leave the South Jersey Writers' Group's Open House last night early because I was just worn out, and who knows, just maybe a bit depressed as well. When I got home, MTV was playing Prince videos, and then Purple Rain, still I was devastated, but unfeeling really. But it didn't really hit me that Prince was gone, until I was in bed listening to my nighttime nemesis Coast to Coast AM.

I had tuned in to the later half of the program, which sometimes, if we're lucky, will have some content of what Coast to Coast AM used to be known for. Otherwise it's typical radio drivel, the same old same old. Coast used to be unique, now for the most part, it's boring. But every once in a while, we old fans will get a scrap of what used to be. The guest last night was rock historian R. Gary Patterson. And of course the king of no-research, host George Noory.

Now I don't blame Patterson for saying it was Vanity was in Purple Rain instead of Apollonia, that's an easy mistake, especially for someone who admittedly had only a passing knowledge of Prince. He was a bit after the man's time, and Patterson does know his stuff when it comes to older rock stars and their mysterious deaths - I bow to him in that area.

It was George that infuriated. I can understand if he didn't do any show prep. Noory never does any show prep, no matter what he says. He comes in to interviews as empty-headed as he leaves, as if his mind was a sieve. Perhaps that's why details of Prince's life, that had to have been all over the news all freaking day, somehow eluded him. Yeah, he asked all the stupid questions that that seemingly unique person who had never heard of Prince would ask.

I was embarrassed for the guest, I was angry at Noory, and that's when it hit me, that's when the tears came. We've lost Prince, as surely as we've lost Coast to Coast AM, and David Bowie… Prince is gone. And when people stop talking, and when the radio and TV stop playing, he will still be gone. And, anger at a lousy dying radio show aside, I will still be mourning.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

RIP Prince

This is devastating. Everyone has those artists who they love, that whenever they come out with an album or any project, you simply, blindly, faithfully just buy without having heard it - because you know it's going to be great. This year, barely five months in, I have lost two of them. David Bowie, and now Prince. It's no longer a joke or a meme, 2016 has truly been a soul crusher for music.

I first discovered Prince waaay back in late 1981 or early 1982, the first time I heard the song "Controversy," on WYSP in Philadelphia, a mainstream rock station. That's one of the things I loved about Prince, he crossed genres. To look at him, an African-American male with R&B airplay in his past getting time on a station that regularly pumped out AC/DC and Yes made an impression on me. Prince was something special.

I further explored his work by buying that album, loving it, and Dirty Mind, the one before it, and the two lesser liked ones that preceded them. Just because I didn't dig them as much, doesn't mean there weren't gems in there, or that I didn't respect the genius there. Anyway, by the time everyone else caught up when 1999 came out, I was already a life long fan. It may be hard for kids today to appreciate, but I played those cassettes so much, I wore them out, and had to buy new ones.

With each album, each fashion, each incarnation, and transformation (something else that Prince had in common with Bowie) I followed. I loved the man, I loved his music, his videos, his movies, his smirk, his sense of humor, his defiance. The man was fierce, and a fiery performer.

I'm still numb. I don't know what else to say. I love you, man. And I miss you already.

A slightly different version of this appears at Biff Bam Pop!. Please pop over there for more remembrances of Prince by the staff there.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Man Who Fell to Earth 1987

The Man Who Fell to Earth ~ I haven't seen the David Bowie version of this film in decades, so when I saw it on the schedule, I immediately DVRed it. At the time I didn't know there was any other version of The Man Who Fell to Earth, at least until I sat down to watch it. This is a 1987 television adaptation with Lewis Smith in the title role.

There are changes to the story, including oddly the characters' names, and of course the ugly updating that happens with any remake. Smith lacks the charisma of Bowie, yet brings it off well and is adequately believable. Look for Annie Potts and Beverly D'Angelo, as well as then-future "Star Trek" cast Wil Wheaton and Robert Picardo. I love Wheaton, but he's not good in this at all.

Once the memory of Bowie, and the original movie, can be removed, this flick isn't bad. It's not good either, mind you, but it's harmless viewing, a sometimes painful, sometimes amusing 1980s time capsule. All things considered, it's probably better than it should have been.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Million Ways to Die in the West

A Million Ways to Die in the West ~ Steven Spielberg once predicted the death of the superhero movie, saying it would soon go the way of the Western. This comes from the man who co-created Indiana Jones, a character that is essentially a superhero, lacking only a mask. It wasn't that he said it that bothered me, it was the derision with which he said it. Bad form, Mr. Spielberg.

I think it's a matter of quality not genre. Bad superhero movies may well go the way of bad Westerns, but good movies, no matter the genre, will last. When it comes to bad movies, only the really, really bad ones are remembered. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, anyone? And we shall not even speak of Batman v Superman

They still make good Westerns, just sometimes they're in disguise. They wear the trappings of the South like Django Unchained, Japanese theatre like Bunraku, the post-apocalypse like Mad Max, or simple covered in dirt like "Deadwood." I left the remakes of True Grit and 3:10 to Yuma out because I didn't particularly like them, no matter how critically acclaimed they were.

And sometimes a good Western, like in the case of Seth MacFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West, it's shrouded in shameless inappropriate humor. I would never have thought it before seeing it, but I loved this flick. Co-written, produced, and directed by MacFarlane, this movie has that old time Western feel, but with that raunchy fall down funny vibe of Blazing Saddles, and even has the dirty authenticity of "Deadwood."

From the start with the opening credits sequence, MacFarlane sets the stage for this film as a classic Western. Old fashioned titles matched with sweeping colorful scenery of the Old West, overlaid with the beautiful score of Joel McNeely, made for an opening that could have been swiped from a sixties John Ford epic. I watched it twice. That good.

Once it's over though, the trademark MacFarlane humor kicks in almost immediately. This is no Blazing Saddles but it's real close, and if you liked Ted or "Family Guy," you will love this. This movie is a gift for Western fans, and piss-your-pants funny for comedy fans. Recommended.