Thursday, November 30, 2017

RIP Jim Nabors

Actor and singer Jim Nabors passed away, he was 87.

This time of year has always made me think of Jim Nabors.  Yes, my very early years were filled with memories of Gomer Pyle, either on Andy Griffith or his own show, a highlight of those shows for me and my family was those occasions when Jim Nabors would sing, and sometimes in the Christmas holiday season he would sing on various variety shows and specials as well.

One particular Christmas season I remember helping my big brother put up the outside Christmas lights and decorations after he had bought our Mom Jim Nabors’ Christmas album.  I can still remember his version of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” as we put up the lights.  It’s a good memory, and one I miss very much here in Florida where we barely get a chill in December. 

I have later memories of Jim Nabors, like his slapstick robot role with Ruth Buzzi on Sid and Marty Krofft’s “The Lost Saucer” and his coming out and finally marriage to his lover of many years.  Jim Nabors will be missed. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Arrow S06 E07: Thanksgiving

In the lull between the two-part Deathstroke backdoor pilot and the big crossover this year (Barry and Iris’ wedding/Crisis on Earth-X) we’re getting a quiet little holiday episode.  And if you believe that, I bet you’ll also believe Oliver won’t be suiting up as the Green Arrow again.  Villains are on the march this Thanksgiving, and only Team Arrow can stop them. 

As we open on Oliver doing charity work and opening ground on the new police headquarters, and of course as always dodging claims that he is actually the Green Arrow.  Before the real action starts, I am stunned that reporters are still pulling at the secret identity thread.  Has no one noticed the juicier stories of the on again/off again girlfriend, the suddenly appearing son, and a sister in a coma?  Seems to me there are other stories to report. 

Regardless the ceremony is broken by the very public arrest by FBI agent Samanda Watson for his crimes as the Green Arrow. She seems to have it all worked out, including that John Diggle is now the Green Arrow and Roy Harper was The Hood, all under Oliver’s directives.  From the previews and the opening sequences, it’s all too easy to see what will happen here. Multiple attacks by villains, principally Cayden James and the Black Siren, will convince Watson that the Green Arrow is needed. 

With Oliver under heavy watch and Diggle’s drug problems blowing up in everyone’s face, this is not a good Thanksgiving.  Felicity is feeling left out as it’s Curtis that put their company’s prototype in Diggle’s system.  It would seem that Felicity only has leadership skills when the writers want her to. We do see an intriguing consistency with Oliver however, he’s a better leader out of costume than in costume.  Does the Green Arrow costume itself lower the wearer’s IQ?

We get some interesting name drops and returns this episode.  Jean Loring, who in the comics was Ray Palmer’s wife and later Eclipso, is Oliver’s lawyer once again.  The Sunderland Corporation is one of the places raided by the Black Siren.  Sunderland in the comics is a typical evil corporation with ties to Lex Luthor, Doctor Moon, and the Floronic Man that has run afoul of the Swamp Thing on several occasions, among others. 

And then there’s Billy Joel, what the hell was that about?  We also got a few moments with poor forgotten Thea who miraculously woke up in time for the ending of the episode.  The whole plan of the villains was to get a one on one conversation between Cayden James and Oliver, to let him know this vendetta was for his son Owen, and to get video footage to sway the vigilante vote. 

As always, like a tradition, the pre-crossover episode has represented a temporary tying of loose ends, a leveling of the field, and this year is no different.  I just wish it was.  This show is always better when it’s not predictable.

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode, anything else in the Arrowverse, or anything in the Marvel or DC television or cinematic universes, please join the Marvel DC Movies TV group on Facebook.

Next: Crisis on Earth-X!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

RIP David Cassidy

After a frightening few days, actor/musician/songwriter David Cassidy has passed away at the age of 67. We have lost more than a couple folks in the last few days, but this one has hit me the hardest, perhaps because he was such a part of my childhood.

Mel Tillis was more of someone I heard about than heard from, most as a joke on "The Tonight Show;" Della Reese was a great talent, but other than "Touched by an Angel," I was for the most part unfamiliar with her; Charles Manson haunted the recesses of my formative years, was legend if nothing else, and if I'm being honest, Steve Railsback's portrayal of him in the TV movie Helter Skelter was far more frightening than the real thing I saw cavorting in his cell on Tom Snyder's "Tomorrow;" and Malcolm Young of AC/DC was a great loss, but let's be honest, the band's golden age was decades ago, and that's coming from a fan. But David Cassidy, this one resounded with me.

David Cassidy was Friday night after "The Brady Bunch." And although I preferred the Bradys over "The Partridge Family," the latter was much cooler, much hipper, and more real to me. Perhaps I remember hearing somewhere that they were real, or based on real people (I know now it was the Cowsills), but the Family, their bus, and especially David Cassidy's Keith Partridge, were all way cooler than the Bradys. When David's little brother came along later, I liked him, but still remember thinking David was cooler.

One of my favorite underrated and lost TV series featured David Cassidy as an undercover cop in high school and was a backdoor pilot and spin-off from "Police Story." The premise of cop in high school worked better the first few episodes then fizzled out, but I still remember the oddly titled "David Cassidy: Man Undercover" fondly. It was the godfather of "21 Jump Street," and to this day I think it was better.

Later I discovered his music, both solo and with what passed for the Partridge Family on vinyl, the nerd in me loved his role of Mirror Master in the original 1990 "The Flash" TV series, and I still enjoy his daughter Katie on "Arrow" as both the Black Canary, and now the Black Siren.

David Cassidy was a star of TV, stage, and music, and will be missed.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Torso, Justice League, and the Russian Avengers

Confession time.  I hadn’t thought about this in years, decades really, but it came up recently in a Twitter conversation with friend and fellow Biff Bam Popper Tim Murr.  He’d just seen the 1973 pre-slasher era horror classic Torso and I’d mentioned I’d seen it in its initial run, when I was ten.  I wasn’t a bad kid really I wasn’t, but let’s face it, I was that night.

On what might seem like a dare, but was more like a don’t be a body part Trump thinks he can grab without permission, three other boys in my class and I sneaked out after nine during the summer and watched Torso at the drive-in with no sound from the woods near the screen.  My siblings are probably shocked right now, and my parents both passed would have kicked my butt majorly if they’d known, but yeah, I did it.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Arrow S06 E06: Promises Kept

This episode continues the presumed Deathstroke back door pilot, a character whose sudden popularity can thank the Justice League movie.  Of course one has to wonder if a pilot is really in the offing as the Suicide Squad movie also killed similar plans here on “Arrow” leading to the death of Deadshot and scrapping of more than a subtle cameo by Harley Quinn.  All that said, I can’t imagine anyone but Manu Bennett in the role of Deathstroke the Terminator.

Previously we had seen Deathstroke recruit Oliver Queen to help him rescue his son Joe from terrorists in Kasnia called the Jackals.  We were left with an intriguing cliffhanger when Joe turns out not to be the metahuman Jericho as in the comics but instead a chip off the treacherous block, one of, if not leading, the Jackals.  Father and son make nice while Oliver hides in the shadows.  Slade tries to send Oliver home, but we all know that ain't happening.

Meanwhile back in Star City, Team Arrow is up against a criminal known as the Dragon.  There’s a bit of trickery and playing fast and loose with the source material here.  Ricardo Diaz Sr., played by great heavy actor Kirk Acevedo, is not only the Dragon, but also the guy supplying John with his enhancement drugs.  Not only that he’s stealing tech for a 3-D printer to make designer drugs.  A good student of Oliver’s, John of course says nothing. 

There is another comics connection here with another Ricardo Diaz AKA Richard Dragon.  Co-created by Denny O’Neil in one of his long-lost novels, martial artist Richard Dragon was brought to DC Comics and utilized as first a super martial arts hero with his own comic, and then later, like Wildcat, as one of those heroes who trained other heroes.  Among his students in the comics are The Question, Black Canary, the Huntress, Batman, Robin, and Green Arrow.  In the New 52 however, the character has become a Green Arrow villain, son of the original Richard Dragon, and claiming to have killed that man after being trained by him. 

Our flashbacks are to the ASIS, the Australian Secret Intelligence Agency, where Joe and his father are training after Deathstroke is found off the Philippine coast after his season ending clash with Oliver a few years back, seven in show time.  We see Shado, or more accurately the mirakuru ghost of Shado, goading Slade into destroying Oliver Queen, in a nice connect-the-dots sequence filling in his backstory. 

As with last time, I am unimpressed by Deathstroke’s story, and if he does get a series, if it’s anything like this, Manu Bennett or not, I’ll probably watch it as I hate-watched “Marvel’s The Inhumans,” with one eye open and a finger on the Fast Forward button. 

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode, anything else in the Arrowverse, or anything in the Marvel or DC television or cinematic universes, please join the Marvel DC Movies TV group on Facebook.

Next: Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Arrow S06 E05: Deathstroke Returns

When Deathstroke returned last season I wondered aloud if a spin-off was in the wind.  Certainly there’s been more effort to spotlight the character on “Arrow” than the other two spin-offs, one successful (“The Flash”) and one aborted (“Suicide Squad”) in favor of a movie.  Here again in this episode, it seems they’re trying again. 

Thematically this season with Oliver abandoning his Green Arrow identity to make more time for his son William, he has much in common with Slade Wilson who is searching for his lost son.  In the comics, Slade’s son Joseph was the New Teen Titan known as Jericho, a deaf hero who not only had the ability to possess people by eye contact, but also frequently fought against his father with the Titans.  With a Teen Titans TV series in production, one wonders how much, if any, of that will translate to “Arrow.”

Considering that Joe has changed his name to Kane Wolfman (Nice homage to his co-creator Marv Wolfman) and Slade has been tracking him around the world, I’m guessing it won’t.  Kane has also gone into the ‘intelligence’ business and has wound up a prisoner in Kasnia, a fictional nation of tumultuous leadership that has turned up time and again in the DC Animated Universe, once even being ruled over by Vandal Savage.  Slade needs Oliver’s help to save his son. 

If this is a backdoor pilot for a Deathstroke, it’s a poor one.  Despite the title of this episode I was bored.  The B-plot back in Star City was far more interesting and compelling, if predictable, even with the dark matter twist.  Anyway, we get some bad espionage that reminded me of some of the more boring Bratva episodes of last season, followed by Deathstroke going all Punisher on the generic bad guys before being confronted by his son, the new leader of the Jackals.  Slade will get another chance to prove himself show worthy next episode. 

We actually open however on the councilwoman, who is pushing for vigilante legislation, being targeted by a sniper.  Based on the ‘previously on Arrow’ catch-up showing Vigilante, and realizing, hey, he’s still at large, it’s obviously him.  Prometheus made us forget all about this weak subplot that by all intentions should have been Adrian Chase. 

In a clash with Black Canary, where her sonic cry shattered Vigilante’s visor, he took off his mask and she got a good look at him.  He’s Vincent Sobol, her old partner, whose face looks like he somehow survived that gunshot to the head.  That of course is his metahuman ability, some sort of regeneration, possibly coupled with brain damage or derangement.  Either way it looks like he’ll be hanging around a bit, forgotten subplot or not. 

Samanda Watson continues to question and investigate.  She is either playing dumb of she’s figured out exactly who everyone on Team Arrow is.  If nothing else, shouldn’t have found that all these folks all hang out at the same abandoned warehouse at all hours of the day?  And how is it the FBI can’t cooperate with say, the DEO or ARGUS on this investigation?  She’d have all the answers, and a cease and desist as well by now. 

Our ‘flashback island’ this episode is thirteen years ago, in New Zealand, as Slade tries to balance his secret life with a camping trip with son Joe.  The analogy to Oliver and William painfully obvious and my back hurts from being hammered only moments in.  I did find it intriguing that Slade calls his son ‘kid’ just like he does Oliver.  Too bad he probably also traumatized his son for life, but we’ll see for sure next time.

I found it interesting that Felicity mentioned attending Iris West’s bachelorette party over on “The Flash,” but there’s no reason given why Oliver didn’t attend Barry’s bachelor party, nor is it even acknowledged.  I know Oliver can be a real stick in the mud and funless at times, but could it be he wasn’t invited?  Would Barry choose party crasher Ralph Dibny over Oliver? 

Another nice bit was Nylander calling Slade the Terminator.  Interesting sidenote, Deathstroke the Terminator was originally the villain’s full name until some James Cameron flick called The Terminator came out and DC Comics toned down its use of that term.  We also get another piece of the puzzle of what happened on Lian Yu in last season’s cliffhanger.  John says to Felicity that Slade left them in the island. 

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode, anything else in the Arrowverse, or anything in the Marvel or DC television or cinematic universes, please join the Marvel DC Movies TV group on Facebook.

Next: Promises Kept!

Friday, November 03, 2017

Arrow S06 E04: Reversal

With the help of performance enhancing drugs John Diggle is in the Green Arrow gear while Oliver spends time with his son and hides from the FBI investigating the possibility that he is Green Arrow.  How long can this ruse be kept up as the Black Siren attacks again, and the looming threat of the return of Cayden James?  We’ll see in this episode of “Arrow.”

I have to wonder what the endgame is with Black Siren.  What did the showrunners really have in mind when they killed Katie Cassidy’s version of the Black Canary?  Was it always planned she would come back as a villain?  Did the actress herself want this?  This is episode four of the sixth season and I think Black Siren has had as much screen time if not more than some of the regulars.  Is she the new Malcolm Merlyn?  The bad guy who’s always there in the background? 

We open on a date night with Oliver and Felicity, the former really taking advantage of his free time to spend with his son.  The date feels like at best foreplay and at worst to show the role reversal (like the episode title) between Oliver and Felicity when she gets called to Team Arrow and he doesn’t.  One wonders how long Oliver can put up with this.  Will it take John crashing and burning?  I hope not. 

Here’s the gist, the guy who’s ordering the Black Siren around is Cayden James, the super hacker I predicted would be this season’s big bad, and he’s now in the villain game.  Enter Alena, the hacktivist from Helix who groomed Felicity last season.  She of course shows up in Felicity’s apartment looking for help against James.  Apparently his time in ARGUS’ custody turns him into a master villain and he’s planning on wiping out 4% of the world’s population.  And in case you think that’s not a lot - it’s 300 million people.  What else can Felicity do?

Reversal is indeed the name of the game.  Oliver interferes with Felicity and Alena’s mission to find a tech dealer named Amnesiac, just like old times, but in this case Felicity is the hero and Oliver the one who needs to stay safe, of course on the other hand, if Felicity, playing very much the Oliver role, had shared resources and knowledge with Team Arrow, neither would be flying blind against their foes. 

Arclight seems to be the name of Cayden James’ plan to take down the internet.  The conceit is that there’s a vault that physically holds the internet.  No, seriously.  That’s where the final fight, physical and cyberspatial, takes place, with surprisingly Oliver in the Overwatch position.  I wonder if the FBI is watching.  With the internet saved, James’ plan, still vague, seems a bit clearer.  He only wanted Felicity to take down the firewall so he could upload something sinister.  Riiiight. 

I love that Curtis is an Olicity shipper, and also the Corto Maltese name drop.  I have to say that John looks very awkward carrying the crossbow weapon, but it’s a little better on his back.  We saw neither William nor Samanda this episode despite their presence leaning heavily on events here.  We also get a name a mission statement for Felicity and Curtis’ startup - Helix Dynamics.  How long before they start creating metahumans

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode, anything else in the Arrowverse, or anything in the Marvel or DC television or cinematic universes, please join the Marvel DC Movies TV group on Facebook.

Next: Deathstroke returns in the aptly titled “Deathstroke Returns!”