Friday, February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy - Live Long and Prosper

After a short hospital stay last week, Leonard Nimoy died at his home in Los Angeles this morning. The cause was heart disease, brought on by a smoking habit he left behind three decades ago, but still too late. The man was many things in his eighty-three years, an actor, director, poet, musician, singer, writer, artist, photographer, and science fiction icon, but he was also a gigantic part of my life, my childhood, my education, and my love of the genre. And now he's gone.

I was asked earlier today to contribute to a memorial of the man at Biff Bam Pop!, and I had nothing. I was so stunned and silenced by his passing.

By the time I was aware of Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock, and "Star Trek," the show had left the network airwaves and was then currently running in syndication where it was experiencing a renaissance. Out of production for years and more popular than ever, I first saw "Star Trek" on Philadelphia's channel 48, which butchered the show mercilessly to fit more commercials in. It would be more than a decade before I saw all the episodes in their entirety.

My big sister loved the show, and so I watched it too. While I dug William Shatner as the mainstream good guy hero of the piece, I was drawn more to Nimoy's Spock. I guess that the way that Spock is alien, had pseudo-super powers, and was an outsider, almost a superhero, I connected to him more. And I think still today, the character is the best, and central to the show.

The first real Trekkie, or more accurately Trekker, I ever met was the big brother of the girl who lived across the street when I was a kid. Denis knew everything about "Star Trek,' everything. His knowledge of the show and the mythos was extraordinary, the type of minutia I knew well as a comic book fanboy, but somehow "Trek" seemed more important. He had all the books, the models, the Star Fleet Technical Manual, he knew how many decks were on the Enterprise. Yeah, I really looked up to him. Sometimes he picked on me, but it was okay, because he was cool, because of "Star Trek."

Around this time that I remember sitting through a thoroughly boring half-hour on PBS where Nimoy read his poetry, but I did it because I wanted to know more about the man. He was also hosting and narrating "In Search Of…" and doing the voice of Spock in the "Star Trek" animated series. And then the Star Trek film series began. He was never not on TV in some form or another for my entire life. Leonard Nimoy was always in my life.

There were missteps of course, like his recording career, perhaps done to compete with William Shatner's equally dismal musical forays, but sometimes we can forgive. And really, the stuff wasn't that bad in an ironic humorous way. Either way, none of us will ever forget "Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" once we’ve heard it. He did stage plays, voice work, movie serials, video games, audiobooks, almost every aspect of the business and left his mark in all. He was the man.

His portrayal of Spock bridged all versions of Star Trek, and influenced those who followed in his footsteps. Star Trek, the world, all of us… has lost a legend, an icon, a role model, a part of us all. Live long and prosper, my friend.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Disney's The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book ~ I had the pleasure of seeing this one again as an in-room movie while on the TCM Classic Cruise on board the Disney Magic. The 1967 animated Disney version of The Jungle Book is probably one of my favorite Disney features, and it was probably one of my first as well. Quite honestly I can't remember if I did see it in theaters at the time or not (I have been assured that I did), but I do know that my big sister bought me the soundtrack record that came with a storybook. I knew all the songs, I knew all the corresponding scenes as well, and I loved it.

This is one of those movies that when it comes on, I just have to stop and watch it. As I said, the music was ingrained in me at an early age, and even today with the original tunes, or with covers like "Bear Necessities" by Harry Connick Jr. or "I Wanna Be Like You" by the Jonas Brothers, I still love it. The flick has a great soundtrack, probably the last full soundtrack to be so cool as a whole until the late eighties.

It is notable that The Jungle Book was the last film that Walt Disney had a hand in personally, and it was also the beginning of a new era of animation for the company. I call it the Don Bluth era myself, even though Bluth wasn't involved in every facet of that era, but his style was prevalent. Many of his tricks are evident here, such as the fake out death of Baloo, and the look of some of the characters. Some of the scenes here are even repeated in 1973's Robin Hood.

The Jungle Book stands out among other Disney animated features for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its stunning voice cast. In a
day when voice actors weren't a big deal, it was here. There was Disney regular Sterling Holloway, Phil Harris, George Sanders, Sebastian Cabot, Louie Prima, Clint Howard, English rock and roll disc jockey Lord Tim Hudson, and Chad Stuart of Chad and Jeremy. And then there's also the matter of the multiple villains - Shere Khan, Kaa, King Louie - something rarely seen in Disney films of the time.

In many ways, despite my love for this film, I kinda dig the 1942 Sabu version more, but still this is one of my favorite Disney features, and an important piece of my childhood. Five stars all around.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Arrow S03 E14: "The Return"

We have a very interesting switch in the storytelling dynamic in this episode. As Oliver and Thea go to Lian Yu, which I've called Flashback Island for the last three years of reviews, Oliver and Maseo from Flashback Hong Kong, along with Amanda Waller, pay a secret visit to Starling City during the time it is believed Oliver is dead. Like I said, interesting.

Oliver had asked Malcolm to train him so he could beat R'as al Ghul, and apparently the island is his idea of training. As if we didn't already know Malcolm was a bit twisted, right? I loved the camera pan approach to Flashback Island, with the shipwrecked Amazo near the shore, nice touch.

How crazy is Merlyn? Very. He released Deathstroke on the island so that Oliver can get his killing edge back. But wait, wasn't Captain Boomerang also imprisoned on the island? Where was he? It was a bit of a cop out to say he was elsewhere in the prison.

In the past, Oliver and Maseo are still tracking China White and her bio-weapon. Being in Starling past gives us a chance to not only see cast members in a variety of bad "Undercover Boss" hairstyles but also see dead folks like Colin Donnell returning as Tommy Merlin. We also see the past addictions of Thea, Quentin, and Laurel in more revealing light.

What's fun about the past is watching Oliver sneak around in disguise dodging anyone who might recognize him. It reminded me of Marty dodging his past self, mom and dad, and Biff, when he returned to the 1950s in Back to the Future Part II. Quentin's possibly drunken outburst at Tommy's party echoed what I was thinking earlier in the episode - Oliver had destroyed everyone's life.

I loved when Oliver, trying to say he was good at hiding from his family and friends, said he pulled his hoodie down to cover his face - and Maseo countered with "that disguise wouldn't work even if you smeared grease paint over your face." Beautiful. It is also a testament to Stephen Amell's acting skills that he can pull off both naive and spoiled, and then brave and resourceful - in the same character years apart and make it believable. He's damn good.

Past, present, Deathstroke, Merlyn, Waller... but none of it matters more than the real boogeyman in this episode. The truth. Oliver tells Thea the truth, the real truth, that she killed Sara. It nearly pushes her over the edge. That said, watching Oliver and Thea, Green Arrow and Speedy, fight Slade, Deathstroke, could only have been better with costumes.

And then there's Deathstroke's line to Oliver about Thea, how she's been touched by darkness and that Merlyn must be an interesting man to do that to his own daughter. Although we've seen a character in the show called Ravager, in the comics Slade did do something very similar to his own daughter who then called herself Ravager. And let's not even discuss her brother, his son, who was the original Ravager.

There are other connections and separations made in this episode. Thea will cooperate but no longer have family ties with Malcolm. Quentin and Laurel are at odds, but for the first time the name 'Black Canary' is uttered. Again I worry for Quentin as this would be tragic if he was to die now, and because he's the TV version of Larry Lance, we know he's doomed sooner or later.

Colin Donnell isn't the only actor to return from the dead this time out. There's also Jamey Sheridan as Robert Queen as seen in a recording for Oliver, solving another minor mystery of the series. This is neat tie-up of a small but missing piece of Arrow's origins.

The final closer however is the appearance of General Matthew Shrieve as played by a rather worn and aged looking Marc Singer. This is a surprising addition to a TV series based on Green Arrow. In the comics, Shrieve is the human leader of Project M, better known as the Creature Commandos, sort of a war/horror hybrid comic. They are a squad of soldiers made up of classic monsters - a werewolf, a vampire, a gorgon, and Frankenstein monster-like creature. Who knows where this plot point will go...

Next: "Nanda Parbat!"

And if you'd like to discuss this episode and anything else in the Arrowverse, please join the Arrow discussion group on Facebook.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Quiet Riot Movie

Quiet Riot: Well Now You're Here, There's No Way Back ~ At first glance one might think this is just another rock documentary, but it's not. This is a very personal story of friendship and loss, and heavy metal. Yes, it does serve well as a history of the band Quiet Riot and the heavy metal scene of the 1980s and beyond, but it's also about friendship of lead singer Kevin DuBrow and drummer Frankie Banali.

Some of us purists don't like to believe it, because they had such a huge, if momentary, pop success, but Quiet Riot opened the floodgates for metal in the 1980s. Without "Cum On Feel the Noize" and "Metal Health (Bang Your Head)" one might go so far as to say it might have been longer before the mainstream public heard bands like Motley Crue, Whitesnake, and Guns N' Roses. They opened the doors, like it or not, by having the first American metal album on the pop charts.

The documentary, a long time in coming, was produced and directed by Banali's fiancée, and not only tells the story of the band, its ups and downs, but also the drummer's journey after the loss of his best friend. This is much better than a Quiet Riot doc deserves to be, check it out.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Bionic Nostalgia - The Six Million Dollar Man

Esquire TV (formerly the much missed G4 channel) has been showing old reruns of "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "The Bionic Woman," shows that while I haven't seen since the 1970s, were huge parts of my childhood, like Evel Knievel, Planet of the Apes, or SSP Racers.

Begun as three made for TV movies of the week, "The Six Million Dollar Man" was very loosely based on the book Cyborg by Martin Caidin. The book and its three sequels were much more serious, adult, and more science fiction-oriented. Much had been changed, but when I read the book sometime in the mid-seventies as a pre-teen I still enjoyed it. The telemovies were wildly successful leading almost immediately into the TV series, which ran for five years, with one spin-off, "The Bionic Woman," and at least three other attempted spin-offs. There were toys, lunchboxes, and all the other paraphernalia one might expect a phenomenon.

The premise was pretty simple. Lee Majors played Colonel Steve Austin, an astronaut and test pilot who was involved in a body crushing accident that left him without the use of an eye, an arm and both legs. Secret government organization OSI offered to rebuild him, "make him better than he was before," with bionics. Now, it's real and is something that happens (although sans super strength and telescopic vision), but then this kind of technology was pure science fiction. In exchange for saving his life, Steve agrees to go on missions for the ominous Office of Scientific Intelligence. It was average spy fare for the most part, and invariably you waited through the boring stuff to see Austin kick some butt at the end, just like "Kung Fu."

Looking back, I remember Kenneth Johnson's ("Incredible Hulk," "V," "Alien Nation") name on the series, but I had forgotten that Glen A. Larsen ("Battlestar Galactica") and Harve Bennett (responsible for the best of the "Star Trek" films Wrath of Khan) were involved as well. The show had a very small cast, usually only Majors, Richard Anderson as Oscar Goldman, sometimes Dr. Rudy Wells (played by various actors), and dozens of nameless bad guys who Austin would throw around during fight scenes. Yep, keep it simple.

In hindsight, it is only just okay television, with only the big event episodes standing out. When Steve faced the Robot, played by John Saxon, made by the scientist who would later create the Fembots who pestered the Bionic Woman, was one big event. Or when it was discovered there was another bionic man, a Seven Million Dollar Man, who turned out to be not just a jerk, but later a criminal. Or, at the height of 1970s Bigfoot and Alien fever, the appearance of Sasquatch, played by wrestler Andre the Giant, and later Ted Cassidy. There was even a renegade Venus Probe that fought our hero more than once.

The Robot (weirdly called Maskatron), Sasquatch, and the Venus Probe from above all got action figures in the playsets, it should be noted. Both the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman had action figures from Kenner. There also had the Fembots, Oscar Goldman, vehicles, and lots of mission or fashion outfits. Like Evel Knievel, these were toys that kids of a certain age had to have. I never did though. Evel was my jam.

The episodes I've seen on Esquire are, as I said, only ordinary, but full of nostalgia. I remember "The Six Million Dollar Man" fondly though, despite the season Majors sported a bad mustache. It was the first thing I watched on my first TV, a tiny black and white set, and watching the show that Sunday night was just the best. Simple things are good. More to come.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Transcendence ~ The idea of uploading a human consciousness into a computer is an old idea. It's a retro idea, a cyberpunk idea, and therefore like rayguns and rocketships, a science fiction future that's just not going to happen. It's a potential future that's become outdated. If you're going to make a movie about that, you'd better have a new spin, you'd better do something different, something that's never been done before.

I must say I was impressed with the brief opening on an internet-less future, where keyboards are used as doorstops and even phones are back to the drawing board. We flashback five years to Johnny Depp pioneering artificial intelligence. I don't need to tell you the predictable outcome - man to AI to god - and Depp goes all Lawnmower Man until he's stopped. Now I said it had to be different, and it is, Johnny Depp's indecipherable accent of unknown origin that changes constantly for almost two hours is certainly different.

Despite excellent performances by Cillian Murphy, future Avenger Vision Paul Bettany, and as always Morgan Freeman (pretty much everyone except Depp), I really disliked this flick, and I'm a cyberpunk fan. It had very little new take to offer, a good but old idea done badly - avoid this one.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Quickies 2-18-2015

Gone Girl ~ The book by Gillian Flynn, besides being one of the biggest books of the year, was one that so many friends of mine urged me to read. I ripped through it in just a few sittings, and looked forward to the film. Ben Affleck is on point here, and when he is, he is sooo good, as is Carrie Coon, and Neil Patrick Harris in a rather sinister role. The score by NIN's Trent Reznor is another pleasant surprise. While slightly different from the book, the film is engaging and well worth seeing.

The Way, Way Back ~ Terrific performances and writing highlight this little award-winning coming of age film that many folks didn't see until it got to cable. Written and directed by the Academy Award winning team of Nat Faxon and Jim Nash, who won praise for The Descendants, this movie is one of the best I've seen this year, a throwback to a simpler time when films about kids didn't have to be silly or stupid. Well worth seeing.

London By Night ~ Not to be confused with the lost Lon Chaney horror classic London After Midnight, this is a backlot mystery supposedly set in London. It wants to be a screwball comedy but never arrives. A
reporter, a wacky socialite, and his dog get wrapped up in the pursuit of a murderer called the Umbrella Man. The best actors in this are the dog and Virginia Field as the cockney barmaid. Even Leo G. Carroll disappoints. Still, it's not a bad seventy-odd minute distraction.

Chef ~ Fun comedy written and directed by Jon Favreau, with cameos by Avengers alumni Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson. Oliver Platt and especially John Leguizamo are excellent as well in this tale of an overburdened chef who finds happiness in his heart and with his family in a food truck. This is a really great film, uplifting and fun.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Dumpsta Players Present... Sucky 70s 2

The Dumpsta Players Present "SUCKY 70S 2!"

The Date: Wednesday, FEBRUARY 19, 2015
The Time: Doors open at 10 PM, showtime is 11 PM sharp! 21+ $1.99 cover!
The Place: Bob and Barbara's, 1509 South Street, Philadelphia PA, For info: 215-545-4511


Featuring guest sets from DJs Cosmonaut & ChattyCathy **ALL 70S DISCO, FUNK, GLAM, COCK ROCK, BUBBLEGUM POP**

Sexual revolution. No ATMs. No smart phones and plentiful cheap pot. Just some of the lovely details of the decade known as The 70's. Sleaze to the 8-track soundtrack of ten years of UFO sightings, terrariums, Music For Your Plants, polyester, pet rocks, chia pets and progressive thinking. It's the worst of the worst-rock, country, pop & disco music with goofy stories, bad singing and no rap. See the Guitar Gods of Rock and get high in the Chevy Van!

Shake your booty, blow your funky horn, love the one you're with, but don't miss - "SUCKY 70’S 2"!

A portion of proceeds from this event benefit Philly AIDS Thrift, whose goal is to sell the lovely, useful, interesting, amusing, and sometimes mysterious stuff generous people donate to their thrift store and then distribute the proceeds to local organizations involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Check out The Dumpsta Players on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and on their own website.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title

Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title ~ I talked about this one briefly once before.  This is another one of those lost films that inexplicably hasn't made it to home video yet. Filmed just before the last year "The Dick Van Dyke Show" was in the air, the movie features three of its cast members - Morey Amsterdam, Rose Marie, and Richard Deacon - and was written and produced by Amsterdam. Morey Amsterdam is old school, old time comedy writer, from Vaudeville to New York to old Hollywood to radio to even the forgotten DuMont Network. He was the real deal when it came to the comedy writer. He was even known as 'The Human Joke Machine.'

After all that, he is still known for his role of Buddy on "The Dick Van Dyke Show," which is a-okay, because he was essentially playing himself, despite the character actually being based on Mel Brooks. And he's pretty much doing the same thing here in Don't Worry, sometimes twice.

The premise is that of a spy spoof, not that there weren't enough of them around at the time, and Amsterdam loads this one down with as many old jokes and gags as possible. It's almost as if he raided Henny Youngman's reject pile for some of these. There's lots of fourth wall breaking and a
madcap score, funny at first, but getting old quickly. Remember the unfunny Three Stooges shorts with Joe? Imagine one two hours long. And Moe is even one of the guest stars here, there are lots of cameos, but very little pay off.

This really had a lot of potential, but in the end, it's just hard to watch. I can't even recommend this for hardcore fans of "The Dick Van Dyke Show."

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Yeah, so I have a new Kindle Fire, and instead of doing something useful like reading books, I've been binge-watching Amazon Prime with my free 30 days that came with it. I watched "Transparent," and "The Man in the High Castle," and most recently "Betas."

At first glance, less than ten minutes in, "Betas" appears to be a poor man's version of HBO's "Silicon Valley," just without the laughs. That just goes to show you how wrong first impressions can be. This show is great, and funny, and has as much in common with "Silicon Valley" as "Breaking Bad" has with "Weeds," yeah, two completely different shows.

The premise has a quirky group of young app developers trying to get their start-up off the ground. Unlike "Silicon," you not only get to know the characters, you feel for them and root for them. Subtle difference, but an important one. I really dig this series, but unfortunately Amazon has chosen not to grant a second season - a mistake as far as I'm concerned. I think I'd rather see this than some of the other shows up for this Pilot Season. Check it out, and decide for yourself.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Arrow S03 E13: "Canaries"

The state of the Arrow when last we met was a bit mangled and different than usual. Oliver is back from the dead, and proposing that Merlyn train him to defeat R'as Al Ghul. Felicity is on the outs with Oliver and pretty much stands with everyone else regarding Merlyn. Laurel has joined Team Arrow as the new Canary, and her dimwitted dad doesn't seem to know she's not the late Sara. That's just the basics, got it? You can catch up on the rest of this season so far here, and the entire series here.

We open on, believe it or not, both Canaries engaged in combat with each other. Welcome back, Sara. Good to see that "The Sopranos" and "Breaking Bad" aren't the only shows where a character's death doesn't mean the actor us out of work. I still think Sara makes a better Black Canary, more believable, and closer to the comics. Canary is curvy, not Cassidy.

Werner Zytle, Vertigo, or the second Vertigo (although neither is even close to the comics version of the character) has escaped prison, so the cat is out of the bag as to why Laurel believes she's fighting her dead sister. But that's not the big deal that happened early in the episode. Oliver came clean with Thea, showed her the Arrowcave, and told her that he's the Arrow. Surprise, she's happy, with Oliver. Malcolm, not so much.

Speaking of the kinder gentler post-resurrection Arrow, he seems to be back to his old self inexplicably when it comes to Laurel. Weirdly he's more welcoming to Merlyn and Thea than he is to Laurel. One would think with R'as on his way to Starling, Oliver would want as much help as possible. And it's a shame that Oliver is more concerned with babysitting her than stopping Vertigo's pointless homicidal super-villainy, but then again in this episode, he's more plot device than plot, or even character.

Flashback Hong Kong has become something interesting, at least temporarily. At best the flashback sequences run hot and cold. Now it's not Oliver I'm thinking about in the recent ones, but Tatsu and Maseo. What is wrong with both of them? In the present they are under the thumb of the evil R'as and in the past, Amanda Waller. Why have they allowed themselves into these situations with such people?

I started this review talking about the status quo of Team Arrow. Now we are looking at a whole new dynamic - Laurel part of the team, Thea in on Team Arrow, and also Quentin finally aware of the doings of his daughters. I did however keep waiting for Thea to express surprise that everyone she knows is in on the secret but her.

Nice but obscure shout out with Daggett Pharmaceuticals - in "Batman The Animated Series," Roland Daggett and his chemical company Daggett Industries caused much chaos such as turning Catwoman into a real cat-woman, and creating the shape-shifting super-villain Clayface. Just like "The Flash" keeps referencing Firestorm, it seems "Arrow" just can't get enough Batman.

I'm glad the hipster deejay from the League of Assassins subplot is done with. It was getting old, but did move things forward to the next level. The training begins next time with Oliver and Thea on Flashback Island, and Flashback Oliver and Maseo in Starling City. That should be interesting.

Next: "The Return!"

And if you want to discuss this episode or anything about "Arrow," please join the discussion group on Facebook.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fresh Off the Boat

When I first started seeing ads for this new ABC sitcom I groaned. The stereotypes conjured by the title alone - "Fresh Off the Boat" - were enough to steer most sensible folks away from this one. Me? I had to see this train wreck, and I was glad I did, and not for the reasons I thought I would be.

I thought I'd see a nightmare mash-up of bad stereotypes but instead I got a rather smart sitcom about growing up ethnic in the 1990s, with a surprisingly fresh hip hop sensibility. In that period memoir of the same name by chef Eddie Huang.
piece vibe, "Fresh Off the Boat" is also comparable to "The Goldbergs," and that's a good thing. And thankfully its origins are not in a boardroom but the blog and

The bad news is this is still a network sitcom and only occasionally funny, and it's difficult to get past the father's role as Kim Jung-Un in The Interview. Still, I dug it, and it's much better than it has any right to be. If the network would let it get just a bit more edgy, this could awesome.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Man in the High Castle

Based on the 1960s novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick, this is the pilot for an Amazon Prime series that happens on an alternate world where the Axis powers won World War II.

In this world, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was assassinated in the 1930s before pulling the United States out of the Depression. Presidents that followed pursued an isolationist stance in world events, and the US was therefore unprepared for the crippling blow at Pearl Harbor. At the end of a prolonged war, the once powerful US is now divided into three puppet nations under the control of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. In this new timeline these two empires engage in a familiar yet more dangerous nuclear Cold War.

As the Fuhrer is dying and the power struggle to fill the void promises an oncoming American war between Germany and Japan, the pilot follows a handful of characters as they navigate this alternate political landscape. Complicating matters is a film called "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy," which depicts a World War II occurring as we know it, whether it's trick photography or an actual newsreel is left up in the air in this pilot.

"The Man in the High Castle" is a streamlined version of a very complicated book, with a few subtle twists not present in the source material. It sets itself up as an enthralling political thriller albeit taking place in a sinister yet fascinating parallel world. I hope it does well in Amazon's pilot season because I'd like to see more.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Arrow S03 E12: "Uprising"

Brick is now in control of The Glades, which is no longer under police surveillance. We open on Arsenal trying to rescue a diner from paying protection to the crime boss. We have two great references here as a baddie mistakes Roy for the red blur seen over in "The Flash," then we have the oh so rare use of the word 'superhero' in this series. The spandex set is catching on in the Arrowverse.

The baddies get the better of Arsenal and Laurel as the Black Canary/Canary comes to the rescue. She's fighting considerably better than she was in the last episode, and Ted Grant is even given props. It's nice to see Bex Taylor-Klaus as Sin again, but unbelievable that she mistakes Laurel for Sara. And Quentin knows Roy immediately but can't tell his daughters apart?? Seriously I know I ranted about this before, but this is getting ridiculous.

Sara and Laurel are two completely different body types, one short and curvy with believable blonde hair, and the other tall and lean with a bad wig. No one, unless at a major distance, would mistake one for the other, especially family and friends. If this situation of the two Canaries was always intended to happen, which it's been indicated it was, the two actresses cast in the sisters' roles should have resembled each other more. This confusion of the two is stretching my suspension of belief a bit. And yes, I see the irony. I'm okay with a man who can run at the speed of sound, but this is too much. Sue me.

I know that John Barrowman has signed on as a cast regular but more and more it feels like the writers are having a hard time finding things for him to do. Having Brick be the murderer of his wife seems like a stretch to have him team up with Team Arrow in Oliver's absence. And when is Felicity going to beef up security so Merlyn can't keep walking into the Arrowcave? Maybe she could find his bug as well. Too much Atom and not enough Arrow in her life I suspect.

In line with giving Barrowman more of a spotlight, we get the secret origin of Merlyn the Magician, Flashback Island style. I'm sorry, I love Captain Jack as much as the next fanboy, but I'm not sympathizing. Keep the villains villains, and Merlyn works much better as a super-villain adversary than a sympathetic anti-hero. I love him, but it might be time for my favorite Time Agent to take a powder.

The street fight revolution suggested by the episode's title is just absurd. Team Arrow rallies the citizens of The Glades, including Sin and Wildcat (!), to rise up and take back their neighborhood from Brick. First, why would Team Arrow do something as irresponsible as endanger the lives of innocents? And we see people on both sides of the fight with guns, so why is no one shooting? It's all brawling. I could swear some on Brick's side had machine guns - why aren't they mowing people down?

Things have been sloppy on this show for a while, and they don't seem to be getting better. The back and forth state of Ollicity is only a symptom of the real problem. The powers that be are being sloppy with the characters, the stories, and the details. I really hope it gets better before it gets worse.

Questions brought up by this episode - When is Thea going to just stop believing everyone at face value? Why don't both Roy and Thea question the knowledge that they know the other really shouldn't have? Wouldn't Felicity already have everything the police have on Brick, and more? And as much as I love Vinnie Jones, why wasn't an African-American actor chosen to play African-American super-villain Brick?

Next: Vertigo, and Canary vs. Canary.

And if you'd like to discuss this episode and anything else in the Arrowverse, please join the Arrow discussion group on Facebook.