Wednesday, May 25, 2016

DC Universe Rebirth

This was supposed to be the book of the week, the big comic book event, but Marvel Comics trumped it by making Captain America a Hydra agent. Yeah, it sounds like a headline from the Bizarro World doesn't it? I guess that clinches it. Marvel Comics hates superheroes more than Fredric Wertham. But while Marvel is stumbling backward into darkness, DC Comics is forging forward… to rebuild their broken universe, their broken characters, and reach out to readers old and new, rather than drive them away.

On point with this endeavor is writer Geoff Johns, who after fifteen pages of DC Universe Rebirth had me smiling. I don't smile at DC Comics, not in a long time now. The story follows Kid Flash, the real Kid Flash, Wally West from the old days, as he tries to find his way out of the Speed Force, and contact his old friends to warn them. Yeah, warn them of a danger that may have caused the New 52 Universe, and apparently no, it wasn't Flashpoint.

And about that, for those who haven't read it, here come the spoilers, so act appropriately. While I loved Watchmen, even the movie, the videogame, and a few of the prequels even, I have never been one of those fans that held it up as holy and untouchable. Alan Moore has written a few good comics, yes, but he is not a god. So the core thrust behind what caused the New 52 Universe and stole a decade from my favorite heroes and sliced and diced their memories is okay with me. I actually kinda dig the idea, and can't wait to see it further explored.

Now that that is out of the way, I can talk about how much I enjoyed this book. I loved seeing Wally again, and his tour of the New 52 Universe made things even better as we got to see Batman, Johnny Thunder, the Atoms, the Blue Beetles, maybe Saturn Girl, and so many others. I loved seeing Wally's origin relived through new artists' eyes, and the mystery of the three Jokers, the sadness of a Green Arrow and Black Canary who don't know each other, Aquaman's proposal to Mera, and really, who didn't cry when Wally encountered Linda Park, and then Barry Allen.

I honestly don't know which, if any, of the new DC Comics I will be picking up, but I will say this - they have my interest, and I sure as hell enjoyed this issue, and want to see what comes next! What did you folks think?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Arrow S04 E22: Lost in the Flood

In the last episode of "Arrow," the town of Havenrock was nuked in order to save the much more populous city of Monument Point. The unavoidable death toll is in the tens of thousands instead of millions. The disaster has made Damien Darhk near invincible. He's powerful enough to kill Green Arrow and Spartan, but he doesn't, so they will live long enough to die in the armageddon when Darhk gets the rest of the missile codes. Rookie James Bond villain mistake - always kill the heroes, always.

Felicity is taking it hard, and she had a hard choice, she didn't want anyone to die. They're going to need help to keep the codes from Darhk, so she enlists Curtis, who more than a little starstruck by her hacker dad, the Calculator. I loved when he said to Felicity that she now made so much more sense, and also the WarGames reference. Of course, in retaliation Darhk enlists Cooper Seldon from "The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak" to work the opposing side of the hack. I loved the Eye of Sauron on the screens when Cooper took over the Team Arrow computers.

Meanwhile Thea is being held prisoner by dear old dad Malcolm Merlin inside Darhk's Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (yeah, I went there) after Anarky killed her boyfriend, who was not Dr. Davis after all. Anarky, who's hunting Darhk, may actually be more of a monkey wrench in his plans than Team Arrow. I am so sick of deus ex machina in these superhero shows of late, Anarky better not be the one to take out Darhk.

While Felicity is called away to deal with the domestic trainwreck that is her parents, and Green Arrow and Spartan discover Darhk's underground EPCOT, Quentin Lance is alone in the Arrowcave. It's during this time that Sara Lance returns from her time journey with "DC's Legends of Tomorrow." If you watched the season finale the next evening you know what happens when she learns Laurel has been killed. Like on "Doctor Who," Laurel's death is a fixed point in time and cannot be altered. Sara returns to the time stream.

On Flashback Island, Taiana is possessed of the power of Reiter's Khushu Idol, and planning to bring it home to her village to take revenge on the warlord there, a guy named Kovar. Interesting, the only Russian named Kovar in the DC Comics Universe is the superhero Starfire/Red Star, decidedly a good guy last I checked. Unfortunately, Reiter is still alive and isn't letting anyone leave with the idol.

Back at Darhk's Noah's Ark/EPCOT Thea been drugged and wants to kill Oliver. Merlyn steps in and says the most truthful thing that's ever been said in four seasons of this series. Oliver has always had an inability to do what is necessary. What's he going to do? It's already been established he's not going to kill Merlyn. Only John Barrowman. Cold hard truth. And right there, with those words, Merlyn takes the crown as Green Arrow's archenemy.

Inside the Ark, things have gone to hell, for exactly the reasons I had feared. Team Arrow has nothing to do with actively defeating the bad guy, again. While they stopped Darhk from getting the missile codes and foiling his plan, it's Anarky who makes the crushing blow. While the whole ark city is going up in white dwarf star alloy powered flames, little Lonnie Machin kills Ruve Adams.

As you can imagine, Darhk is at the end of his rope. And why he didn't kill Merlyn for his continued failures is beyond me. Malcolm and Oliver are just different sides of the same coin. As Darhk visits Felicity, Curtis, and Donna he promises to bring hell to them.

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode and anything else in the Arrowverse, please join the Arrow Discussion Group on Facebook.

Next: Schism, the season finale!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Jessica Jones S01 E08: AKA WWJD?

Here's the problem, and it's a most disturbing one. David Tennant, who plays Kilgrave here, and played The Doctor for several years on "Doctor Who," is so damned charismatic. As one of the most diabolical and immoral villains of the Marvel Universe, when he's trying to be nice, trying to get into Jessica Jones' good graces, we almost believe him, as if we too have been influenced by his powers...

In a bit of stalker-ish sociopathology Kilgrave has purchased Jessica's childhood home, refurnished it just as it was, invited her to live there with him, all done without the benefit (?) of his powers. To say this is effed up is an understatement. Mutual consent, her choice, and her love, is all that he wants.

The edge is thick in the air as Jess tours the home of her past surrounded by ghosts, as well as Kilgrave, and his paid bodyguard Hank, plus a chef and a maid. Through dinner, breakfast, conversation with a neighbor, Kilgrave tries desperately for domestic bliss, all with the undercurrent of sociopathic house arrest.

Trish calls, worried about Jess, and worried about her new beau Will Simpson. He's gone AWOL. We find he's in the house, has planted a bomb to finish off Kilgrave once and for all. Jessica disarms it and sends Will packing. When Trish does catch up to him, he still doesn't tell her the truth - what else would one expect of a future super-villain? Instead he tries to convince Trish to forget about Kilgrave, and that Jessica can take care of herself.

All of it however pales in comparison to the heated discussion at the heart of the episode. Kilgrave raped Jessica. He raped her physically, mentally, and emotionally. He is a true monster. He may have given her everything she wanted, pampered her with fancy clothes and hotels and restaurants - but she wanted none of it. Not to make light of the situation, but bottom line, no means no.

Just when the writing veers into something real, it slingshots back to supermax idiocy. Jessica tries to make the Purple Man a force for good. It's a fun idea, it's a comic book idea, and not one fitting to the psychological crime noir that is "Jessica Jones." Somewhere along the way, and especially in this talky flip-floppy episode, the show has run off the path.

As much as I worried early on about the chemistry between Jessica and Luke Cage, perhaps I should have been more worried about it between her and Kilgrave. Their scenes together are not as tense as they should be. Separately and reacting to each other they are great, but together on the same side, no. It's just one of the flaws of the show, like the Jeri Hogarth divorce that I just don't give a crap about.

But it always comes back to Kilgrave. As earnest and charismatic as the monster is, he always defaults to evil, from having knives at the throats of the paid help to the humiliation of Jessica's neighbor to the brutal final ending of this episode, Kilgrave is ever the villain. Thankfully Jessica remains true to herself as well... even if I never expected her to fly...

Next: Sin Bin

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Monsters Are Back

In this season of "Penny Dreadful," we have moved beyond the world of the penny dreadful and into the one of its American counterpart, the figuratively more expensive dime novel. As the protagonists have all gone their separate ways and formed new alliances - Lily and Dorian, Hecate and Ethan, Victor and Henry, Malcolm and Kaetenay - and spread to different corners of the world, it gives the show an HBO vibe with quick cutting to display the many characters. This tact also builds anticipation for when our 'heroes' once again meet and merge subplots.

As a fan of the original stories I was excited to see Caliban/John Clare, our Frankenstein monster, in the Arctic. I was yet equally excited to see him searching for his lost past in Chinatown. Might it be too much to wish for an appearance by another Victorian villain, Fu Manchu? Or might the legal rights be too difficult to navigate?

The concept of Victor Frankenstein and Henry Jekyll (a black man in this continuity) being old school chums and fellow outcasts is a charming and imaginative one. I like it quite a bit. Their clashing and contrasting philosophies of science and the evil of man make their partnership one of both madness and wonder, and I love that they are currently quartered in Bedlam, the prime place to conjure horror of that age. Think how they could anger God together.

I applaud the addition of Patti Lupone to the cast, though not in the part she had been playing (and should have gotten a Emmy for, the Cut-Wife), but as Dr. Seward, a gender-switched version of the character from Dracula. Notably she is a distant relative of her former role, and is not the only new addition from that book. We also have Renfield, complete with fly obsession, as her secretary and the titular monster himself in the guise of Alexander Sweet currently romancing Seward's patient Vanessa Ives.

Dracula is of course not the only big bad waiting in the wings, as Lily and Dorian Gray are still plotting a domination of the human race and are teaching a young girl, Justine, their evil ways. Reeve Carney and Billie Piper are deliciously evil and have certainly come a long way from Spider-Man and Rose Tyler, Defender of the Universe.

Patti Lupone is not the only new cast member this season, there's also award-winning Native American actor Wes Studi. Unfortunately he is filling the role of the magical Negro that Danny Sapani's Sembene thankfully avoided in the first two seasons. Hopefully there is more than meets the eye with his Kaetenay character in the dime novel sequences of this season.

I am unsure where the subplots in the American West are going, even though I am enjoying them the most, but I do hope the London stories end with that old kaiju eiga trick of turning the monsters against each other. That would be awesome. Either way, I'll be watching this season.

For a different point of view on "Penny Dreadful," please check out friend and author Marie Gilbert's reviews of the series here at Biff Bam Pop!.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Jessica Jones S01 E07: AKA Top Shelf Perverts

We had a short reprieve in the last episode, but just like that, the horror is back. We open on Kilgrave rooting through Jessica's office in the dark, taking a leak (something I never imagined I'd see a "Doctor Who" title actor do), and then greet one of her creepy twin neighbors at the door. It's Ruben, one half of the couple that makes Cersei and Jaime Lannister seem normal. When Ruben admits to Kilgrave that he loves Jessica Jones, the Purple Man leaves his corpse in her bed as a gift.

David Tennant's Kilgrave is surely the most terrifying super-villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yeah, and I'm counting Thanos the space God who worships death. Tennant, through simple facial expressions, gestures, posture, and a modicum of dialogue, is simply chilling. While the tone of "Jessica Jones" has been primarily that of modern film noir, there have been moments of pure horror, and they belong solely to Kilgrave.

The Purple Man, or Zebidiah Killgrave as he's known in the comics, was at first a rather silly villain, created by Stan Lee and Joe Orlando. A Croatian mutant who actually had purple skin and hair, he was chiefly a Daredevil villain. I was aware of him years before I ever actually read a story with him in it. I first saw him in the Emperor Doom graphic novel where Doctor Doom used him as a weapon against the Avengers and the Champions, and eventually enabled the armored monarch to rule world temporarily.

Largely considered a joke or one-note villain, he vanished from the comics for years. He fathered a daughter, the Purple Girl, who appeared with Alpha Flight briefly. Killgrave would reemerge triumphantly and horrifically in the pages of Alias, under the creative power of Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, as a major force in the backstory of Jessica Jones.

David Tennant, most well known as The Doctor in his tenth incarnation, brings the villain to life here on "Jessica Jones." He's not purple but wears it, has a strange supernatural glow of the color, and all of his lighting has that weird hue. A vastly better and moodier effect, I must say, than actual purple skin. The showrunners also altered the spelling of his name, and have yet to call him 'the Purple Man,' all of which I'm fine with. But I'm never going to look at The Tenth Doctor the same way again, Tennant is that scary.

With the murder of Ruben, Jessica is at her wit's end, and has come up with an insane plan. A ridiculous plan, if I may, one more fitting an episode of "I Love Lucy" than a 2015 entry in the Marvel/Netflix Television Universe. She's going to get herself arrested and put in a supermax prison, and when Kilgrave comes after her, they'll trap him there. I'm waiting for Ethel Mertz to join Team Jones any second now.

The rest of the cast revolves around her as she finalizes plans. Pre-Hellcat and Proto-Nuke are still going at it like high school kids, but Trish does know where to find Kilgrave's bodyguards. They're helping him move in. To the house that he bought last episode. Jessica's childhood home. And for some effed up reason Simpson isn't telling Trish what he sees, he lies to her. He even sees what happens at the end of this episode before the credits roll... is he still in Kilgrave's thrall?

Jessica moves through the episode preparing her goodbyes, like stopping by Luke's bar, making sure Jeri can be her lawyer, and threatening Trish's mom (Jessica's foster mom) to leave her daughter alone. Both Trish and Malcolm try to talk Jessica out of her plan to no effect. And Robyn, now told by Malcolm that her brother was involved with Jessica, is weirder than ever. Wait 'till she finds out what really happened to Ruben.

Malcolm, now that he's straight, is a great character. If the rumors are true and he will also be in "The Defenders" on Netflix, I wouldn't mind at all. Eka Darville is very good. And as long as Trish is there as Hellcat, I'll be happy.

When Jessica turns herself in to the police with the severed head of Ruben in tow, we get a return of Clarke Peters from "The Wire" as Clemons but he's sadly given little to do. Kilgrave has invaded the police station and made everyone pull guns on each other. He wants her released, and for her to come home - but it has to be of her own choice.

In the end, with nothing else to do to stop him, and no other way to save others from him, Jessica goes home, to Kilgrave...

Next: WWJD?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The 2016 Eurovision Song Contest - Grand Final

If you've been following my reviews of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, Semi-Final 1 and Semi-Final 2, and you're looking for my thoughts on The Grand Final, check out the article at Biff Bam Pop! right here. Enjoy!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Arrow S04 E21: Monument Point

The city of Monument Point has been mentioned once or twice in the "Arrow" series, and here, it's the title of this episode. In the comics however it's not just another DC Comics fictional city. I've mentioned that it was once a home base for the Justice Society of America, but there's a reason it is and why it was so important to them.

Monument Point was a city, near Washington DC, that had been repeatedly devastated by super-villains. After one such battle involving the JSA, the team sought to help the city rebuild and set up base there. The city council even made the Golden Age Flash their mayor. Monument Point became a symbol of heroes not just punching baddies, but also helping people.

Damien Darhk's plan is to burn the world with something called Rubicon that will launch and detonate all of Earth's nuclear warheads. DC Comics' fictional places (as well as in the Arrowverse) Corto Maltese and Markovia get shout outs as nations with nuclear armaments. As we open the episode, we watch as a Russian missile silo arms without permission. Felicity estimates there's only twenty or so hours before Darhk's Genesis takes effect.

Felicity suggests that Team Arrow needs the help of her father, the Calculator. So the hunt is on to find him, but Darhk is after him too, and he's got many of Iron Heights' former inmates helping him. Arrow and company have to go through Brick and Murmur to get to him. It's the end of the world, and the end of the season, so yeah, everyone is coming out of the woodwork, including Anarky who's against everyone else.

And yet, the end of the world doesn't stop soap opera from ruling the subplots, nor does it push Oliver to ask for help from Vixen or Curtis or Constantine or Wildcat or Fortuna or the Flash, even when they're name dropped. Darhk is pulling in all the villains, can't Oliver take a hint? Seriously, you can bring in A.R.G.U.S., but you can't call the Flash?

As you might have figured, between Felicity and the Calculator they manage to keep all the nukes from launching, except one, the one targeting Monument Point. Felicity is able to move the target to a smaller town. A lesser loss of life, but it's still devastating to her... In the meantime, death comes on a smaller scale to Thea, with Alex Davis dead at the hands of Anarky. I guess he wasn't Dr. Davis

Next: The Season Finale...

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The 2016 Eurovision Song Contest - The Second Semi-Final

It's Eurovision week and we're in the midst of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest from Stockholm Sweden (last year's winner). The First Semi-Final was Tuesday, The Grand Final is on Saturday, and today was The Second Semi-Final.

By the way, this edition of the Contest had an introductory explanation song of what Eurovision was all about

Eighteen nations competed in The Second Semi-Final with only ten going through to The Grand Final. The links below are to the song's video, and not their Eurovision performance, and I'll give you my impressions as they performed…

Latvia - "Heartbeat" by Justs - Cute boy in a leather jacket always equals points in this contest. He's so earnest, and rules the stage as he sings. Tis one is a good opener and has good chances.

Poland - "Color of Your Life" by Michal Szpak - Johnny Depp as a Redcoat? Though, this might be weird enough to go through… just based on his jacket…

Switzerland - "The Last of Our Kind" by Rykka - She's smoking… on my, is she on fire? No, but let's face it, it wouldn't be the first time at Eurovision. Not a bad song, very hopeful, and anti-war songs always do well in the Contest, but the performance is a bit lacking.

Israel - "Made of Stars" by Hovi Star - I like the retro-hair, but not the song so much until it kicks in, but I do kinda dig the spinning acrobats in the big Hula-Hoop. This is definitely one where the performance is better than the song.

Belarus - "Help You Fly" by IVAN - Naked guys and wolves, always a winner. Wow, he got dressed quick. Great use of effects and illusions, Belarus is always good at that, even though it looks like they cribbed some of Russia's act, but that might be reversed, depending on the order of performance. Lots of charisma, I liked it.

Serbia - "Goodbye (Shelter)" by Sanja Vučić ZAA - There was a lot of buzz about this one, but really the song and Sanja don't do much for me. A lot of leather on that stage.

Ireland - "Sunlight" by Nicky Byrne - This was one of my early favorites before the Contest, very catchy and fun, but it’s Ireland, which doesn't usually get many votes, ever.

FYR Macedonia - "Dona" by Kaliopi - This was actually another early favorite, but after a while it began to grate on my nerves, much like her waving her arms has in this performance. If she keeps flapping her arms, she's going to take off… On a serious note, this is one of the few songs not in English, so I have no idea what it's really about. It could be quite important.

Lithuania - "I've Been Waiting for This Night" by Donny Montell - Another pretty boy trying to own the stage, but unlike Latvia's Justs, he has more energy, hotter dance moves, and better effects… he's just not as cute.

Just a word about the song intros, this year they are very simple, just the artist(s) chilling and posing in Sweden. Usually the intros are very arty, so much so that they leave you scratching your head more than the performances themselves. These are pretty basic, almost disappointing from what we've come to expect from Eurovision.

Australia - "Sound of Silence" by Dami Im - This is Australia's second year in Eurovision, but like Ireland and the UK, its chances of winning are slim. I like the sparkly dress, the levitation effect, and the holograms, and she's got quite a voice. She is very Eurovision.

Slovenia - "Blue and Red" by ManuElla - This has a interesting country music vibe underneath, and that's quite a dress. She's even yodeling, always welcome at Eurovision.

Bulgaria - "If Love Was a Crime" by Poli Genova - Oooh, is she from the future? Kidding aside, this is actually pretty good and catchy, and it ends with a choir, she might qualify for The Grand Final.

Denmark - "Soldiers of Love" by Lighthouse X - Is it just me or could these guys be David Tennant's kids? Just average Eurovision boy band garbage.

Ukraine - "1944" by Jamala - As I mentioned above, anti-war songs always do well, and seeing as Russia invaded Ukraine recently causing much Eurovision controversy, this tune definitely raises some eyebrows. She's not playing around, this one is definitely going through.

Norway - "Icebreaker" by Agnete - Is this Frozen? This one has its moments but it's a bit schizophrenic as a song with its stops and starts.

Georgia - "Midnight Gold" by Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz - This was another of my favorites, mostly because it's one of the rare rockers. Pearl Jam meets Bush with none of the balls, and a retro sound that doesn't quite fit their image or Eurovision. I like it, but I'd be surprised if it goes through.

Albania - "Fairytale" by Eneda Tarifa - Another song called "Fairytale"? I guess they want history to repeat itself. I didn't like it, and in a way, I was happy my streaming went out during the song.

Belgium - "What's the Pressure" by Laura Tesoro - This tune is a great closer, even with its derivative disco rifts. It has great dancing, energy, and performance. If there's anything that unifies Eurovision fans more than an anti-war song it's mindless fun. This one is a score.

Those going through to the Grand Final on Saturday are Latvia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Australia, Ukraine, Serbia, Poland, Israel, Lithuania, and Belgium.

Ukraine versus Russia on stage will be fun… or interesting at least. See you on Saturday for The Grand Final, which will be broadcast live for the first time in the United States on Logo, details are here. And did I mention the guest appearance by Justin Timberlake? Yeah, be there!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Jessica Jones S01 E06: AKA You're a Winner!

Almost on cue, as if knowing Jessica Jones needed a breather from the intensity of trying to capture the Purple Man, Luke Cage steps back into her life. Except she doesn't want him to. And Luke's not the only invader from the past in this episode. Everyone ignored and forgotten while Jess was concentrating on Kilgrave and Malcolm is back. Life catches up, even when you're trying to do the right thing.

We actually open on Kilgrave, obviously feeling a bit better and in the midst of a high roller card game. It's as funny as it is sinister when he's dealt a two and a seven, tells everyone all in, and then tells them all to fold. I need a mutant sociopath at my side the next time I visit Atlantic City... or maybe not, Kilgrave doesn't always treat others well, as seen in this game. We are reminded quite simply and strongly that the Purple Man is not just a villain, but a monster.

As Jess and the now straight Malcolm are pooling their knowledge on that monster, Luke Cage arrives on her doorstep, beaten, and with a case for her. He wants her to find someone for him, the son of a female friend, and he leaves out a lot of details, if you get my drift. Despite all that, when they silently shake on taking the case, the sexual electricity is live again.

Luke isn't the only one begging to be let back into the story. Lawyer and client Jeri Hogarth gets in touch, and not about the case she had already hired Jess for, but because of Hope. Yeah, remember her. The poor girl is still chilling in prison, but apparently with a death wish.

Another inmate, straight outta "Orange Is the New Black," beat Hope and put her in the infirmary. Jess pays her a visit, threatens to put her there too, and learns the painful truth. Hope paid for her own beat down. She's pregnant, with his child, and wanted to lose it. This is truly the stuff of nightmare. Hope wants to live, she wants to have children, but she refuses to give life to this... thing.

Throughout the episode, Jessica juggles her two cases, for Hogarth and for Luke, as well as Hope, and makes sure to send her daily blackmail photo to Kilgrave. She still remains on task. Even when Malcolm, out of concern for her, confronts Luke - and spills all the beans. Once on even ground, Luke and Jessica end up doing what they were doing before. Their chemistry is more solid here than ever before.

Here's where it gets messy, because if you're going to do noir, the rules indicate that nothing ever goes right for the protagonist. If Jessica finds this young man for Luke, his female friend will give him possible evidence of what happened to his wife - and we all know Jessica, even though she was under Kilgrave's influence, killed Luke's wife.

And here's where it gets silly. When Luke and Jessica finally find their quarry, so do the loan sharks who were looking for him too. The main loan shark is a guy named Lenny Sirkes... who in the comics is a guy named... the Lone Shark. He's a typical super-villain on the rampage with a dumb name and a shark battle suit. It's really embarrassing when something like this comes up, especially when this series is so well done.

The fight between Jessica and Luke and the lone sharks is a good one. We haven't had much superhuman activity of late, and this was fun. What wasn't fun was what came next. The evidence wasn't what Jessica thought it was, but proof that the bus driver that hit Luke's wife was drunk and that it was covered up. Luke takes off, presumedly to kill the bus driver.

Some tense moments on the bus lead to a scary confrontation between Cage and the bus driver. Before Luke can finish him off, Jessica intervenes, and must confess what really happened. It's truly heartbreaking, you can feel the pain of both characters, a momentary triumph for both Krysten Ritter and Mike Colter. Do Netflix shows get Emmys? Then why didn't it? This was the moment.

And all the while, Kilgrave is still out there, planning something even more sinister. He's bought a home, almost legitimately and above board... the house where Jessica grew up...

Next: Top Shelf Perverts

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The 2016 Eurovision Song Contest - The First Semi-Final

The really big news this year is that the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest (the Grand Final at least) will be broadcast live on American television, on Logo, this coming Saturday at 3:00 PM EST. More details can be found here.

The event will be hosted, as it was today, by Mans Zelmerlow and Petra Mede from the Globe Arena in Stockholm. The voting is quite a bit different this year, but still more complicated than it needs to be. An explanation can be found here. Oh, that wacky Eurovision. Also new this year is the app that you can use anywhere.

There were eighteen nations participating in the first Semi-Final, ten will qualify for the Grand Final, the links below are to the song's video, and not their Eurovision performance, and I'll give you my impressions as they performed…

Finland - "Sing It Away" by Sandhja - Very old school disco, but entertaining.

Greece - "Utopian Land" by Argo - I'm surprised Greece could afford to enter this year, it's a very traditional tune with a bit of hip-hop rap, not a bad song, but the performers seemed more than a bit sedated.

Moldova - "Falling Stars" by Lidia Isac - Alone on stage, she had more energy than Greece… and hey, what’s up with that creepy astronaut?

Hungary - "Pioneer" by Freddie - Hot guys and a big drum, what more do you need?

Croatia - "Lighthouse" by Nina Kraljic - It's just not Eurovision without some yodeling and an insane dress, and backing vocals by druids…

The Netherlands - "Slow Down" by Douwe Bob - This is seventies American country music, really not bad, and it grows on me more each time I hear it. The tune sorta has a England Dan and John Ford Coley vibe, I like it.

Armenia - "LoveWave" by Iveta Mukuchyan - Is she a superhero? Nice cape. Sexy, the performance is better than the song, as so often happens at Eurovision.

San Marino - "I Didn't Know" by Serhat - I love this song, for all the wrong reasons. It's so bad, and yet it has everything it needs to win this.

Russia - "You Are the Only One" by Sergey Lazarev - Great song, great effects, wings and lightning, definitely a qualifier despite the country's recent actions. With these effects, the song could have been awful and it would have qualified.

Czech Republic - "I Stand" by Gabriela Gunčíková - Zzzzzzzz, she's just standing there… zzzzzzzzz…

Cyprus - "Alter Ego" by Minus One - Strong pop rocker, a rarity in this contest, will definitely be in the Grand Final, as good as Russia, its best contender even if it does remind me far too much of "Somebody Told Me" by The Killers.

Austria - "Loin d'ici" by ZOË - She has more energy than Greece (but most of the acts do), her smile and movements are contagious, the performance better than the song.

Estonia - "Play" by Jeri Pootsmann - Once again, a better performance and effects than song, I like it, but is he twelve? He definitely is giving off a serial killer vibe no matter how old he is… like someone on Twitter said, he's definitely a Slytherin.

Azerbaijan - "Miracle" by Samra - Okay song, nice effects, but 'it's gonna take a miracle' to beat the other effects-heavy entries this year.

Montenegro - "The Real Thing" by Highway - This one is harder than one might expect, somebody got guitars for their birthday… so not the real thing.

Iceland - "Hear Them Calling" by Greta Salóme - I like the outfit, definitely more superhero than Armenia.

Bosnia & Herzegovina - "Ljubav Je" by Dalal & Deen featuring Ana Rucner and Jala - Gold and silver foil outfits with fishnet accents? Anti-war, anti-Russia song? Great presentation …ummm, did he have to rap? Still, better rap than Greece.

Malta - "Walk on Water" by Ira Losco - Nice song, better performance than song, Ira kicks it, but that guy crawling around on the floor has got to go.

Those going through to the Grand Final on Saturday are Azerbaijan, Russia, The Netherlands, Hungary, Croatia, Austria, Armenia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, and Malta. That should give you an idea as to how they vote, and how good I am at picking winners. See you in a couple days for the Second Semi-Final.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Arrow S04 E20: Genesis

In the aftermath of the funeral that started this season and Oliver's vow to kill Damien Darhk, the villain returns to H.I.V.E. and promptly kills his former associates, longtime Arrow foe Milo Armitage among them. The plan Darhk and H.I.V.E. have been readying for far too long, Genesis, is now in motion.

Apparently Oliver has been in touch with John Constantine (I wonder what the cell charges are like from literal Hell) and he referred him to a 'magic tutor' in Hub City. Notably Hub City IL is the home of superheroes the Question and at one time, the Blue Beetle. The showrunners are fond of Blue Beetle, so much so that when they couldn't use the character for whatever reason they turned the Atom into a version of him. Let's face it, Ray Palmer is more Blue Beetle than Atom.

Anyway, with Oliver training in magic, the rest of the team take some downtime as well. Felicity insists on going with Oliver, Diggle goes on the hunt for his brother, and Thea has a weekend away with Alex Davis. All the while, Darhk is prepping Genesis, nice time for a vacay, guys...

John tracks his brother Andy down only to be involved in a shootout and eventually captured. While torturing John it becomes quite clear that Andy's not just a jerk and a liar, he's completely insane. Darhk is his savior and H.I.V.E. is his family. Yeah, Andy's gone bye-bye. If A.R.G.U.S. hadn't intervened, John would be a meatbag. Nothing was as it seems as usual, this was all a ploy for Darhk to get to Lyla and Sara... although it begs the question, why didn't John just take Andy into custody when he the chance?

Alex Davis takes Thea away to a place that seems too perfect. It's almost as if she's been hypnotized or dreaming. Yep, did we all forget that Davis works for Mayor Ruve Adams now? He's kidnapped Thea to a domed biosphere, where she'll be safe from/for Genesis, but more on that later.

Oliver and Felicity visit an underground casino where they end up playing cards with an exotic woman named Esrin Fortuna, another refuge from the Batman mythos. Mama Fortuna was the female Fagan to the Alleytown Kids, until the Black Mask put her out of business. Catwoman as a young girl was one of her kids. I didn't know that Fortuna knew anything about magic, at least not in the comics, that I know of.

This obsession with Batman has long ago gotten old. If the showrunners wanted to do Batman, why do they start a show about Green Arrow? And it's not that Green Arrow doesn't have history, he has lots of it, obscure, but lots, and all of it just waiting to be updated with new spins. Rather than yet another recycled Bat-villain, how about giving us new contemporary versions of Bull's Eye, Professor Merlin, the Rainbow Archer, Greenface, Skylark, even Red Dart, or, ahem, Dr. Davis?

Fortuna, another immortal, explains that Darhk's power is channeled through the idol, and it is fueled by fear and death. Oliver needs to equally channel light and hope or he'll just be making Darhk stronger. Oh boy, Oliver is going to need more than a lesson or two, he's going to need therapy! After two attempts to teach, Fortuna gives up, saying Oliver can't be taught - the darkness in him outweighs the light.

Nevertheless Oliver and Felicity show up just in time to save Lyla from Darhk. Again with the logistics. In the comics Star City is in California by most accounts with Hub City in Illinois... how long is that trip? At least it's not on another continent like Nanda Parbat. Green Arrow manages to repel Darhk's magic, but not before he steals Rubicon from Lyla.

Meanwhile John finally grows a pair and shoots Andy, something we viewers have wanted to do forever. The bad part is he lies to Lyla about it. Some men never learn. I guess they're headed back to divorce court sooner than later.

Now for, and finally, Darhk's master plan... Rubicon was the Maguffin from the Shadowspire episode, and it's a failsafe for all of the world's nuclear missiles, which of course can be manipulated to launch all those missiles. Yes, someone was dumb enough to build such a thing. Genesis has Darhk burning the Earth and starting over. And it looks as if Thea is a prisoner inside his hive...

The world is at stake. Who wants to take bets that Oliver never thinks to ask Arsenal or Vixen or the Flash or even Constantine for help? What's the point of a shared universe if you don't make use of it?

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?