We reach 1975 on this week’s episode of popGeezer Radio’s “These Were The Seventies, Version 2.0“!
|Pink Floyd||Have A Cigar|
|Roxy Music||Love Is The Drug|
|David Bowie||Golden Years|
|Lynyrd Skynyrd||Saturday Night Special|
|Paul McCartney & Wings||Listen To What The Man Said|
|John Lennon||#9 Dream|
|The Rolling Stones||Out of Time|
|Sweet||Fox On The Run|
|The Eagles||One Of These Nights|
|Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons||Who Loves You|
|Van McCoy||The Hustle|
|Pink Floyd||Wish You Were Here|
|Bee Gees||Jive Talkin’|
|Linda Ronstadt||You?re No Good|
|America||Sister Golden Hair|
|Neil Sedaka||Bad Blood (ft. Elton John)|
|Simon & Garfunkel||My Little Town|
|James Taylor||How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)|
|Bob Dylan||Tangled Up In Blue|
|Minnie Ripperton||Lovin’ You|
|Steely Dan||Black Friday|
|Todd Rundgren||Real Man|
|Aerosmith||Walk This Way|
|KISS||Rock & Roll All Nite (Live)|
|David Bowie||Young Americans|
|Queen||You’re My Best Friend|
|War||Why Can’t We Be Friends|
|The Rocky Horror Picture Show||Time Warp|
|Glen Campbell||Rhinestone Cowboy|
|Alice Cooper||Only Women Bleed|
|Bruce Springsteen||Born To Run|
Hear this updated version of the show:
Sunday 9/28 at 5 PM CT on JDX1029.com
Tuesday 9/30 at 7 PM CT on TCR1100.com
Most of the tracks on our ‘7″ of Ecstasy’ playlist so far are, for lack of a better term, “one-hit wonders”. Obviously, this only adds to the mystique of these singles. For one brief moment, these artists, writers, players and producers captured pop magic. For many, long years would then be spent in frustration trying to recapture that one moment in time, that sound of pure perfection.
For Gregg Alexander, the main musicial entity behind the “New Radicals” pseudo-group, he caught this lightning once. And that was all he needed. He withdrew from the business of music as an artist, but has continued to work as a writer and producer for other artists, recently contributing to the music in the film Begin Again. If a one-hit wonder needs to go big, or go home, to make an impact, then Alexander launched one into orbit with “You Get What You Give“.
“Give”, the featured centerpiece of the Radicals’ only album “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too”, is just five minutes of pure power pop dopamine, just an overwhelming sonic pleasure. A tacked piano leads us to Alexander’s yowling count-off. John Pierce’s bass and Gary Fergusson’s drums kick into lock-step and drive this happy sound forward. Co-writer Richard Knowles’ driving acoustic piano is really prominent in the mix and makes a big contribution to both the rhythm and how melodic the song is. Alexander’s “dime-store Jagger” vocals could be seen as the record’s weakest point, but his vocal enthusiasm and quirky, clever, positive lyrics are actually what take the song to the “next level”. An exhortation to the kids to live life to the fullest, despite the repression of the adult world, Alexander urges them to “pull through”. “You’ve got the music in you. Don’t give up.” The theme of the song is made especially clear by the video for the record, as Alexander and a mass of kids run rampant over a local mall.
The track is also best know for its hip-hoppish set of closing couplets, the final warning to the banal pop world that trouble is coming:
“Fashion shows with Beck and Hanson, Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson. You’re all fakes, run to your mansions. Come around, we’ll kick your ass in!”
Stern warning, indeed. Then we’re back to the chorus and a quick fade out. 5 minutes have passed, there’s a smile on your face, and you’ve just had another rousing encounter with ‘7″ of Ecstasy“!
It was a year of a total pop explosion, with R&B starting its turn to Disco, hard rock tracks charting sky high on the Top 40, the singer/songwriters dominating album charts, and acts from the U.K., Europe and even Sweden making big inroads into the U.S.
Our revised 2.0 version airs today at 5 PM CT on JDX1029.com, Tuesday at 7 PM CT on TCR1100.com and 9/27 and 9/28 on NRNRadio.Net.
The playlist for this week…
|Paper Lace||The Night Chicago Died|
|10cc||The Wall Street Shuffle|
|Elton John||The Bitch Is Back|
|Billy Joel||The Entertainer|
|Steely Dan||Rikki Don’t Lose That Number|
|The Hues Corporation||Rock The Boat|
|Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes||The Love I Lost|
|The Three Degrees||When Will I See You Again|
|Elton John||Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me|
|David Bowie||Rebel, Rebel|
|John Lennon||Whatever Gets You Thru The Night|
|Ringo Starr||No, No Song|
|George Harrison||So Sad|
|Paul McCartney & Wings||Band On The Run|
|Robert Palmer||Sneakin’ Sally/Hey Julia/Sailin’ Shoes|
|Stevie Wonder||Boogie On Reggae Woman|
|Fleetwood Mac||Heroes Are Hard To Find|
|The Rolling Stones||It’s Only Rock n’Roll|
|Bad Company||Can’t Get Enough|
|Lynyrd Skynyrd||Sweet Home Alabama|
|Eric Clapton||I Shot The Sheriff|
|Joni Mitchell||Help Me|
|James Taylor||Walking Man|
|Carly Simon & James Taylor||Mockingbird|
|First Class||Beach Baby|
|Golden Earring||Radar Love|
|The Hollies||Air That I Breathe|
|Rufus||Tell Me Something Good|
|BTO||Let It Ride|
|Paul McCartney & Wings||Jet|
|Reunion||Life Is A Rock|
You can hear an encore of this show all this week on popGeezer Radio!
Here’s the rundown for this week’s “These Were The Seventies, Version 2.0: 1973“!!
|Joe Walsh||Rocky Mountain Way|
|The Doobie Brothers||Long Train Runnin’|
|The Moody Blues||I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)|
|George Harrison||Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)|
|John Lennon||Mind Games|
|Paul McCartney & Wings||Helen Wheels|
|Stealers Wheel||Stuck In The Middle With You|
|Deep Purple||Smoke on The Water|
|Chicago||Feelin’ Stronger Everyday|
|Steely Dan||Reelin’ in the Years|
|Dr. John||Right Place, Wrong Time|
|Bruce Springsteen||Blinded By The Light|
|The Steve Miller Band||The Joker|
|The Spinners||Could It Be I’m Falling In Love|
|Pink Floyd||Us And Them|
|David Bowie||Life On Mars?|
|Stevie Wonder||Higher Ground|
|Carly Simon||You’re So Vain|
|Jim Croce||Bad, Bad,Leroy Brown|
|The Rolling Stones||Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)|
|Led Zeppelin||D’Yer Mak’er|
|Elton John||Goodbye Yellow Brick Road|
|Paul McCartney & Wings||My Love|
|Chicago||Just You ‘N’ Me|
|The Raspberries||I Wanna Be With You|
|Jim Croce||I Got A Name|
|ZZ Top||La Grange|
|Thin Lizzy||Whisky In The Jar|
|Alice Cooper||No More Mr Nice Guy|
|Beach Boys||Sail On Sailor|
|Bee Gees||I Saw A New Morning|
|Pink Floyd||The Great Gig In The Sky|
Hear it on JDX1029.com, TCR1100.com & NRNRadio.Net this week!!!
We get to the beginning of the meat of the Seventies with 1972, this Saturday/Sunday (9/13-14) on popGeezer Radio. Starting with this week’s show, we’ll also add a look at the social and political events which shaped the Seventies.
Join us Sunday at 10 PM EDT, for “These Were the Seventies, Version 2.0” on popGeezer Radio on NRNRadio.Net.
|Todd Rundgren||I Saw The Light|
|The Raspberries||Go All The Way|
|Hollies||Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)|
|Jackson Browne||Doctor My Eyes|
|The Doobie Brothers||Jesus Is Just Alrightÿ|
|Steely Dan||Do It Again|
|Arlo Guthrie||City of New Orleans|
|Neil Young||Heart Of Gold|
|Jim Croce||You Don?t Mess Around With Jim|
|Paul McCartney / Wings||Hi Hi Hi [Single]|
|Elvis Presley||Burning Love|
|Bee Gees||Run To Me|
|The Who||Join Together|
|Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway||Where Is The Love|
|Derek And The Dominoes||Layla|
|Mott The Hoople||All The Young Dudes|
|Fleetwood Mac||Sentimental Lady|
|The Eagles||Take It Easy|
|Chicago||Saturday In The Park|
|Seals & Crofts||Summer Breeze|
|Argent||Hold Your Head Up|
|Leon Russell||This Masquerade|
|The Rolling Stones||Tumbling Dice|
|Elton John||Honky Cat|
|Rod Stewart||You Wear It Well|
|Al Green||Let?s Stay Together|
|Paul Simon||Me & Julio (Down By The Schoolyard)|
|Bill Withers||Lean On Me|
|The Temptations||Papa Was A Rollin? Stone|
|Harry Nilsson||Without You|
|Badfinger||Baby Blue (U.S. Single Mix)|
|Alice Cooper||School?s Out|
|Big Star||Thirteen (Alternate Mix)|
|Elton John||Rocket Man|
|Don McLean||American Pie|
“For Your Consideration”: With Those 2014 Emmys Still Gleaming On The Shelf, Our Man Cadillac Jack “Suits” Up To Put Forth An Argument For 2015
You have to admit, while premium channels like HBO and Showtime and Starz and prestige cable nets like FX and A&E have made the bigger splash in recent years with shows like Game of Thrones, Masters of Sex, Outlander, Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad, the USA Network has been quietly putting together an excellent stable of wonderfully crafted comedies and dramas, all carefully designed to entertain and amuse. From Burn Notice to Psyche to White Collar and beyond, these USA shows have brought us endless hours of quality entertainment, filled with first-class writing, acting and directing, all wrapped up in stories that defy the norm and side-step the complacency of the major nets. Oh sure, they’re not bringing us Arrested Development or Mad Men or Fargo, but then again, they’re not bringing us Whitney, Lucky 7 or The Millers either. Face it, if The CW had the roster that USA has, I wouldn’t be calling them a “half network” anymore.
Yet for all the quality, for all the journeyman precision of their shows, USA almost never gets the awards love come Emmy or Critics Choice or SAG Award time. And maybe they don’t deserve it; USA’s shows are solid and workman-like, well-made with no missing parts, but are any of them-or the people in them-really all that exceptional? The answer to that question I recently discovered, is a resounding yes; once in a while, yes indeed.
Not long ago, several days prior in fact, to the True Blood finale, which had to be one of the weakest and least satisfying series finales I have ever seen, I caught the summer finale of one of my current faves on USA, Suits. Now, Suits is an interesting show. A legal drama that’s not really about the law, it seemed like a one trick pony when it debuted in 2011, that one trick being the fact that newbie legal associate Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams-the recent Rosemary’s Baby remake) is not really a lawyer after all, but a brilliant and talented fraud, blessed with a photographic memory and a cute smile, who bulled his way into the law firm of Pearson/Hardman, while on the run from the cops with a brief case full of pot.
My fear at the time, I remember thinking, was that Mike’s fraud was such a big macguffin for the show that it would loom over everything it tried to do and would prevent the fledgling series from ever being about anything else. For the first season, I seemed to be right, as that issue was exactly what every episode seemed to be about. Sure, the cast of Adams and series lead Gabriel Macht (The Spirit) as legal eagle Harvey Specter were fun to watch, and in the persons of Gina Torres (Firefly) as Big Boss Jessica, Sarah Rafferty as Harvey’s so-much-more-than-a-Girl Friday Donna and Meghan Markle as Mike’s paralegal/law school student girl friend Rachel, the show had some of the best-looking and most talented women on television, but could it find a way to get out from under its premise and learn to breathe on its own?
Hesitant to waste my time on a show that had effectively hobbled itself with its own good ideas, I returned to the second season with no small amount of trepidation. I was delighted to see the show begin moving away from the issue of Mike’s status in the legal community and into the fertile territory of a corporate take-over by Jessica’s not-so-silent partner Daniel Hardman (David Costabile-Lincoln). Then, with season three’s merger mess with another firm, and Mike’s intention to leave the firm (now called Pearson/Specter) to become an investment banker, I thought the show had managed to dodge the bullet completely and evolve from one thing into something else, doing so well, logically and realistically. So, when Mikes’ investment banking gig blew up in his face this season, and Mike returned to the firm, I was, to put it mildly, disappointed. But I was also encouraged as well, since during the entire storyline with the SEC investigation into Mike and Harvey for collusion, not one mention was made of Mike’s dubious credentials. Imagine then, my surprise when the Suits’ house of cards (no plug intended) gets blown down, not from an outside enemy, but from within, by the one character always marginalized and taken for granted by everyone around him, the enfant terrible’, the bane of the Associates’ Pool, the brilliant but woefully socially inept Louis Litt.
Litt, played with wonderful aplomb by veteran actor Rick Hoffman (Samantha Who? The Bernie Mac Show) has always been the best thing about Suits. While Harvey would bluster and Mike and Rachel would bill and coo and Donna would simply be Donna (which is astounding in its own right), Louis Litt was always the underdog. Balding, with an overbite and the physique of the Pillsbury Doughboy, people constantly discounted Louis, mainly because he wasn’t as good looking as Harvey or as smart as Mike or as ruthless as Jessica, but also because he was a good, compassionate man in a profession that eats good men for breakfast and never thinks of them again as they get put out with the milk bottles and the used pizza boxes. Louis is Cyrano; he is Don Quixote; he is a poor man’s Pagliacchi; who only wants to be loved and accepted by the only family he’s ever known; a family that may not despise him outright, but one that certainly doesn’t respect him and belittles him at every opportunity. Among the ensemble of actors on Suits, Hoffman is far and away, the most fun to watch. He always manages to wrest every ounce of pathos from poor Louis; every measure of self-destructive self-loathing, a wonderfully nuanced portrait of a ticking time bomb of a man, daily planting the seeds of his own destruction. He doesn’t deserve it and his tragic flaw is that he’ll never see it coming and never understand that he brought it on himself when it gets here.
Which brings us to this season’s summer finale.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!
This season was built around the three-ring circus of Mike’s investment banker trying to beat Harvey, and Harvey trying to beat Mike in a situation that quickly escalated well beyond the well-being of their clients. Things moved into the frat-boy realm of one-upsmanship and counting coup that this show knows so well. Like putting a frog in a pot of water and slowly bringing it to a boil, Mike and Harvey up the ante on one another, time and time again, until finally, the only way Mike can get any leverage over his former mentor is to make a deal with the devil. Satan is, in this case, an unscrupulous business man named Charles Forstman, played with scene-stealing glee by the always phenomenal Eric Roberts (Heroes, Less Than Perfect), whose list of work for 2014 alone makes his IMDb profile longer than most actors twice his age. Forstman’s deal? Well, he really wants to stick it to Harvey, but he’ll only give Mike the money he needs to invest if Mike will cut out his new boss. Mike flirts with this suicidal idea for a while, but in the end won’t do it, and he and Harvey come up with an end-run around all the other players that saves the day for the clients, but costs Mike his new job.
Where does Louis fit into all this? After spending most of the season on the periphery of the main action, Louis is instrumental to two major plot points. One, he comes up with a way to get Forstman to play for Team Harvey (of course, it also includes one of Forstman’s Faustian deals, but we’ll get to that later). Two, Louis steps up and cashes in a reward Jessica had promised him for making the Forstman deal (a reward that he was intending to use to get his girlfriend Sheila back), getting Jessica to take Mike back so that Ross wouldn’t have to go to work for Forstman himself. Louis is now a hero, right? Mike and Harvey love him, Jessica respects his team-player attitude and Louis is now a real boy. Right? Well, not exactly…
First of all, it was illegal as hell. Forstman wanted Louis under his thumb, the same way he wanted Mike, so he tells Louis that either he illegally funnels money to him through an account in the Caymans. He then forces Louis to take a million himself for his trouble, or the deal is off. Louis can’t go back to Jessica and Harvey and tell them that he’s failed. Again. So he takes the deal, knowing it will destroy him in the end.
And destroy him it does. When Harvey and Jessica find out what Louis has done in the midst of the SEC investigation, they explode and Jessica fires him. Mike and Donna get Harvey to see reason pretty quickly, and Harvey tries to get Jessica to, if not hire Louis back, then to at least let him take a few old clients with him so that he can get another job. But Jessica ain’t having any of that. Of all the characters on this show, she is the one who has always despised Louis’ various weaknesses and shortcomings the most, and now that she has the chance to get rid of him, she’s not taking it back or making it any easier.
Having seen Harvey fail, Mike steps up for one of Suits’ patented end-runs around fate. He goes to his future father-in-law, Rachel’s dad and famed attorney Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce, The Wire) and asks him to hire Louis without bringing any business with him. Zane agrees. But when Louis shows up for the interview, Zane turns the tables and shows he’s not all that different from anyone else on this show. He tells Louis that if he’ll bring just one client from Pearson/Specter to Zane and Associates, he’ll make Louis a partner on the spot. Louis, God love him, does his darnedest and almost succeeds too; however, Harvey and Mike step in at the last minute and do what Harvey and Mike do best. Louis goes down.
To his credit, Mike feels bad about this. We can tell because just for a moment, he stops smirking. If he hadn’t had to secure his place with Jessica (who doesn’t like him much better than she likes Louis), he’d have never kept Louis from getting hired by Zane. As an excuse to talk to him and make amends, he even goes over to Louis’ house, ostensibly to take Louis some personal items he left in his office. As they unpack the box, Mike notices a beautiful certificate Louis has for Harvard’s Order of the Coif and, despite the fact that every time Louis has almost figured out Mike’s secret it has been because of Mike’s lack of knowledge about Harvard and its environs, he comments on the plaque and creates a link between them in Louis’ capacious mind. Then, right after that, he finds an old brass key and asks Louis what it’s for. Louis brushes it off, not wanting to think about such things while his life is such a shamble. Mike agrees and trundles off to practice his smugness in a mirror somewhere.
If only it had ended there.
Later, after he and Harvey upset Louis’ play to steal a client, Mike returns to Louis’ house and idiot that he is, mentions the key again, adding it to the link Louis had already made between Mike and the certificate. And quicker than you can say, “Detective powers activate,” a light bulb goes off in Louis’ turtle-shaped skull. He knows.
After a fairly useless dinner scene that shows Harvey and Mike engaging in bromance-related banter, we return to Pearson/Specter as Donna discovers Louis sitting in the dark in Harvey’s office. Now, Donna has always been Louis’ favorite person. She has always seemed to like him and believe in him (she even got him onstage in her Shakespeare play to over-come his stage fright!) and truthfully, like the lion and the mouse who removed the thorn from his paw, he’s probably a little bit in love with her.
None of that feeling is on display here. Starting softly and then exploding and snapping shut like a bear trap, Louis erupts and tells Donna what he’s discovered. He mentions the Order of the Coif certificate and the key. He mentions Mike asking about it. At the time, he thought it was strange, but figured Mike was just trying to distract him, because Mike has a key just like it, right? Mike graduated from Harvard, Magna Cum Laude, and was inducted into the Order of the Coif, just as Louis was, right (though to be fair, Louis graduated Summa Cum Laude)? And every member of the Order gets a certificate and a key, right? Why would he ask Louis not once, but twice, to tell him what it was? The answer? Mike doesn’t know what the key is because he doesn’t have one. He doesn’t have one because he was never inducted into the Order, because he never went to Harvard and never graduated from there. Ergo, Mike is a fake.
Now, all Louis likely knows is that Mike didn’t go to Harvard and probably figures he just went somewhere else. It’s still a serious charge, even without knowing that Mike has no legal degree from anywhere. But that’s not what’s important here. The important thing is the performance.
In what could have been, in lesser hands, a mustache-twirling moment of melodramatic proportions or simply an explosion of well-deserved righteous anger, Hoffman instead brings the entire palette of his gift into play, going from angry to disappointed to frustrated to heart-broken to betrayed to triumphant all in one miraculous Emmy-worthy moment that lays bare Louis Litt’s soul in an eviscerating display of the acting art. Donna falls away from him, cowed by the power of his outburst and her complicity in what caused it. For once, she is speechless. Granted, Louis could be chastised for not realizing that Donna’s loyalty is first and foremost to Harvey and only to Harvey, but it’s a weak argument, especially in the face of Louis’ electrifying tirade. Donna wisely keeps her mouth shut until he leaves, and she picks up the phone for a quick “Louis knows,” into the mouth piece.
And what happens then? After a tour-de-force performance that is easily the finest acting I have seen in a weekly television show in I-don’t-know-how-long, what does Louis/Hoffman do?
He does it again.
We switch to Jessica’s office just as she is hanging up from Donna’s warning phone call. She tries to take control and dominate Louis upon his arrival, just as she always has. She attempts to take advantage of the fact that he is both attracted to and terrified of strong, independent women, but he doesn’t let her. Louis pushes Jessica’s defense aside as if it were tissue paper. He proceeds to destroy her (if they were in court she’d be going away for life), hammering his points home as if they were nails in her coffin, and again, Hoffman brings to bear a symphony of emotions. We see his feelings for the law, for the firm as a home and family, his feelings for Jessica and Harvey, the longing he has always had for their friendship and approval, the betrayal he feels in the fact that Jessica covered up Harvey’s crime of hiring Mike in the first place. Now he realizes Jessica won’t help cover up Louis’ deal with Forstman, even though Harvey’s crime was purely selfish and Louis’ was perpetrated solely for the sake of the firm. If acting can be compared to music, then in this scene Rick Hoffman is playing a Stradivarius, and we are in the presence of a master. It is the bravura type of performance one doesn’t expect from Suits, doesn’t expect to see on USA, and is one I doubt I will see again any time soon.
Bravo, Mr. Hoffman, bravo.
Now, we all know the stuffy old suits (no pun intended) that make up the Emmy voters don’t really watch TV. They have people who tell them who the hot shows and actors of the moment are and they vote accordingly, [Ed. Note: You're welcome]. This is why it takes forever for a new show to win and the same old shows are still taking home awards long after their creative energy is spent. And Suits and Rick Hoffman are probably so far below their collective radar that it would take an earthquake for them to get noticed, but I’m putting it out there right now. If you agree with me, tell someone. And get them to tell someone and maybe, eventually, someone with the ear of an Emmy voter will hear about it and the scales will begin to balance. In a perfect world, Hoffman would win the Emmy. In a less perfect world, he would at least be nominated. In the sad world in which we actually live, I’ll honestly be happy if he gets some well-deserved buzz, and if his show gets some of the attention it has worked so hard to earn.
The USA Network has recently announced, by the way, that in addition to the second half of Suits’ fourth season, which will air in early 2015, the show will return for a 16 episode fifth season beginning in the summer of 2015 for the first eight episodes, with the second eight to run in early 2016.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH…
Better Late Than Never: No sooner do we get our Fall TV Premiere Schedule up and posted than those Johnny-come-lately’s at the SYFY Channel come along with their list of premiere dates. Here they are with a little explanation (and/or snark) about the new shows: By the way, all times listed are EST.
Haven Sept. 11 at 10 p.m. “Nobody knows the Troubles I’ve seen…” As Haven returns for its fifth season (seriously, this show gets to be on longer than Farscape?), this show, oh-so loosely based on Stephen King’s novel, The Colorado Kid will become even more convoluted and hard to follow than ever.
Z Nation Sept. 10 at 10 p.m. In Z Nation, three years have passed since the zombie virus has gutted the country, and a team of everyday heroes must transport the only known survivor of the plague from New York to California, where the last functioning viral lab waits for his blood. Although the antibodies he carries are the world’s last, best hope for a vaccine, he hides a dark secret that threatens them all. Didn’t The Walking Dead already do this storyline? Aren’t they in the middle of it right-freaking-now? I won’t call foul yet, but if the survivor has a mullet, somebody’s in big trouble!
31 Days of Halloween Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. and running through Oct. 31, 31 Days of Halloween will unleash nearly 600 hours of bloodcurdling programming featuring the tenth anniversary Ghost Hunters special, the Original Movies Dark Haul and Finders Keepers, and a wide array of spine-tingling theatricals including Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003 remake) and The Reaping. Anybody know where Count Floyd is hanging out these days? Sounds like a Creature Feature to me!
Town of the Living Dead Oct. 7 at 10 p.m. The colorful folks of Jasper, Alabama are determined, once and for all, to complete their zombie movie, “Thr33 Days Dead,” now six long years in the making. Based on a town urban legend, their film centers on a group of friends trying to survive a zombie apocalypse in rural Alabama. The series will follow the intrepid and motley crew of amateur filmmakers as they struggle against every obstacle imaginable to get to a final cut of their film, which could someday become a SYFY movie. Really? Six years and the best you can hope for is to be a SYFY movie? No wonder they’re dragging their feet.
Ghost Hunters Oct. 8 at 9 p.m. This October, SYFY’s longest-running unscripted series, Ghost Hunters, celebrates two landmark events: Its tenth anniversary and its 200th episode. Well, it could be worse. These plumbers turned Ghostbusters could be trying to fix my toilet.
Dark Haul Oct. A team of secretive guardians transport a deadly creature and its half-human sister to a secure location, but the beast escapes and threatens to fulfill a prophecy – by destroying the world. This movie is Tom Sizemore’s return to film after years of drug abuse and addiction. It’s also his punishment for the same thing.
Finders Keepers Oct. A child becomes obsessed with an evil doll left behind by the previous occupants of her new home. Must be a Cabbage Patch doll. Those were all evil, weren’t they?
Ascension Nov. 24 at 9 p.m. Ascension is an ambitious original drama following a covert U.S. space mission launched in the 1960’s that sent hundreds of men, women and children on a century-long voyage aboard the starship Ascension to populate a new world. Half way into their journey, as they approach the point of no return, the mysterious murder of a young woman causes the ship’s population to question the true nature of their mission. Until, that is, they discover that old Doc Leary has been growing some really bitchin’ Mowie Wowie in the Hydroponics bay and get really mellow, man.
Mutant World Nov. A group of ‘Doomsday Preppers’ emerge from their bunker 10 years after an apocalyptic meteor strike, only to discover the world is overrun with crazed mutants. Imagine their chagrin when they realize that it’s only Comic-Con.
And in other SYFY news:
There’s been some more casting for the SYFY show. Lyriq Bent (Rookie Blue) will play Dr. Henri and Todd Stashwick (The Originals) will play Deacon, Also joining the cast is Demore Barnes (Hemlock Grove) as Whitley, who guards the facility housing Project Splinter and Romina D’Ugo (Nikita) will play Max.
Also the Canadian werewolf import Bitten will be going the way of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals by bringing in a group of witches to keep things interesting. Joining the cast is Tammy Isbell as Ruth Winterborne, Tommie Amber Pirie as Winterbourne’s daughter, Paige and Kiara Glascow as Savannah Levine.
Old Man’s War
Those who have been anxiously waiting for John Scalzi’s best-selling military Sci-Fi novel Old Man’s War to get a live-action adaptation won’t have to be waiting much longer. SYFY and Academy Award-nominated director Wolfgang Petersen will adapt the books for television as a series titled Ghost Brigades, after the second novel in the series.
Paramount had originally purchased the rights to the Old Man’s War novel to make a movie a while back, but those plans fell through. But this adaptation won’t skip the events of the first novel; as the author himself explains in a tongue-in-cheek self-Q&A on his website, “The series will pull elements from various books in the OMW universe in any event.” He goes on to explain that the title Ghost Brigades was used for the show instead of Old Man’s War simply because it sounded sexier. And Scalzi’s OK with that? Somebody please tell me how this news is supposed to make me feel better?
Anyhoo, here’s how SYFY sums up the series:
Ghost Brigades follows John Perry, who at age seventy-five, enlists into the Colonial Defense Force to fight a centuries-long war for man’s expansion into the cosmos. Technology allows experiences and consciousness to be transplanted into younger bodies that are outfitted to endure the harsher rigors of war in space. However, soon after John arrives, he finds himself involved with a mysterious woman, and at the same time, at the center of an unraveling conspiracy involving an elite fighting force known as The Ghost Brigades.
This could be the best news we’ve heard all year. It could also be the worst. We’ll see.
In SYFY’s Hands, This Show Could Have the Truest Title Ever Written. Man, those guys are SYFY are busy these days! And the good news is, they really seem dedicated to putting the science fiction back into the net’s brand. Seriously, it looks like SYFY’s version of Arthur C. Clarke’s classic novel Childhood’s End is actually going to happen. Because there are some very familiar names running this project.
According to Deadline, SYFY’s ordering Childhood’s End to production as a six hour miniseries. Producing the project are Michael De Luca (The Social Network) and Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind). Writing the script is Matthew Graham (Life on Mars and Doctor Who) and hired to direct is Nick Hurran (Doctor Who and Sherlock). If nothing else, this line-up certainly suggests that SYFY is serious about doing this and doing it right.
I have loved this book ever since I first read it in high school, and along with Old Man’s War, I really hope they don’t screw it up.
Me and My Arrow. Meanwhile, over at The CW, they are busy unpacking what has got to be one of the largest casts in CW history on Arrow. More character additions/casting announcements are being made on an almost daily basis. The latest: Manhunter. No, not the Martian Manhunter, and not the Green Lantern’s robot Manhunters. Not even Paul Kirk from Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson’s excellent series, Manhunter (does this name get used a lot by DC or what?) This Manhunter is Mark Shaw, a disillusioned public defender who brings criminals who have escaped the system to justice, and will be played by Medium’s David Cubitt.
This particular Manhunter was also once part of the Suicide Squad (really, is there a current DC villain who wasn’t, at one point or another?), so it’s entirely possible he’ll be joining their ranks in season 3.
Oh, and in news I find particularly disappointing, they have changed the name of the all-Felicity episode (#5) from Oracle (which lent itself to so much speculation!) to The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak, which is cuter, but I really want Felicity to be Arrow’s version of Oracle. Really.
And in our last bit of Arrow news and gossip, Amy Gumenick (Supernatural) has been cast as Carrie Cutter/Cupid, a character who, as in the comics, will be a lethal villainess with an obsessive crush on our hero. Executive producer Andrew Kreisberg, who created the character in his run on the comics, told Entertainment Weekly:
I always loved the idea of Green Arrow having a crazed fan. When I was writing the comic book, my big goal was to create a villain who would last. Cupid has since appeared in the DC Nation shorts on Cartoon Network, and to have her fight our TV Arrow is so much more than I ever could have hoped for the character.
Back in a Flash. Not much new to report here, but just to be thorough, TV Line is reporting that Tony Woodward/Girder is being added to The Flash as a recurring villain for Barry. Producers refer to Tony as a former bully of young Barry’s and “a grinning lunkhead who loves destruction, an “unstoppable force… who can transmute any part of his body into solid steel.” He’ll first show up in episode six.
S.H.I.E.L.D. to Maximum. As ABC/Marvel tries to keep the momentum going on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the wake of last season’s finale and huge uptick in quality (and to make sure their new Agent Carter show has a decent berth), many people have been added to the second season cast:
- E! News has confirmed that former Friday Nights Lights star, Adrianne Palicki (pictured) will appear as Marvel super spy Bobbi Morse, a.k.a. Mockingbird. As first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Palicki will appear in episode five of the new season of S.H.I.E.L.D., and could return in later episodes. Palicki knows how to kick @$$ onscreen, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed and just keep telling ourselves that at least it’s not Wonder Woman.Palicki is not the only new face on S.H.I.E.L.D. this season.
- Kyle MacLachlan has been cast as Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) mysterious father.
- Lucy Lawless will play S.H.I.E.L.D. veteran Isabelle Hartley.
- Whedonverse veteran Reed Diamond joins as Hydra villain Daniel Whitehall/Kraken.
- Nick Blood has been cast as a mercenary that Coulson (Clark Gregg) reaches out to for help.
- Henry Simmons (NYPD Blue) will play agent Alphonso “Mac” Mackenzie.
- Simon Kassianides joins as Bakshi.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns this fall on Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. on ABC.
IT’S NOT ROBOTS. IT’S HBO. A bit of casting news from HBO’s Westworld re-boot starring Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood. James Marsters is joining the cast in the role of Teddy Flood and Eddie Rouse is signing on as Kisecawchuck, a Native American grifter and gambler. This is the third time someone has tried to make a TV show from Michael Crichton’s amazing novel (not counting the Yul Brynner film). Hopefully, the third time’s the charm.
You’ll Believe a Boy Can Fly. After last year’s mystifying success of their live telecast of The Sound of Music, NBC has announced another trip to the Broadway vaults with Peter Pan Live! The event will star Girls’ actress (and daughter of NBC news anchor Brian Williams) Allison Williams as Peter, Christopher Walken as Captain Hook and Smash’s Christian Borle in the dual roles of Mr. Schmee and Mr. Darling.
The only hope in the world I have for this thing is Christopher Walken. The man can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, just by showing up. The show is scheduled to air LIVE on December 4.
THE SHERWOOD HITS THE FAN. Somebody shoot me now! NBC’s got more musicals coming: According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Peacock is planning a 10-episode musical series called Robin Hood & Marian. This is it, everyone. NBC is apparently going all in on being the place to go for musical television. WHY??
More Renewals Than a Logan’s Run Convention. A few new shows have already been renewed for new seasons. They are:
Outlander: renewed for a second season by Starz,
The Leftovers: surprisingly renewed for a second season by HBO,
Orphan Black: renewed for a third season by BBCA,
The Strain: renewed for a second season by FX,
Masters of Sex and Ray Donovan: both shows renewed for third seasons by Showtime.
Lori Petty (Tank Girl, A League of Their Own) is coming back to Netflix’s Orange is the New Black for season three as Lolly, the character she played briefly in season one.
HBO and Paramount are working on a Shutter Island TV show with Martin Scorsese. The show will be a prequel to the film and will possibly be called Ashecliff. The show will center on the creation of the hospital and its strange approach to mental health. Rumor has it Scorsese will direct the pilot and Dennis Lehane (who wrote the book) will write the script.
Deadline is reporting that Lifetime has ordered six episodes of a TV take on The Omen, called Damien. The show is being developed by Glen Mazarra of The Walking Dead, so I’m feeling better about this already.
David Hyde-Pierce is making his return to television for the first time since Frasier, with a guest spot this fall on The Good Wife as a TV anchor who wants to run for office and clean up this town.
One Tree Hill alum Chad Michael Murray just joined Marvel’s Agent Carter, in the role of Strategic Scientific Reserve Agent Jack Thompson, who meets Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) when she takes on a new role at the SSR in New York City. Marvel also announced that Dollhouse fan-favorite alum Enver Gjokaj has signed on as well. Gjokaj will play Agent Daniel Sousa, another suit that Agent Carter meets at the SSR.
SPOOOON! The Tick is Coming Back! The Tick is Coming Back! [Very Possibly] Saving the very best news for last, I am proud to announce that the much-loved TV version of The Tick, which was axed by FOX in its first season, after just nine episodes is coming back! According to People, the show is being considered as a pilot for Amazon Prime – and Patrick Warburton is rumoured to have signed to star again, as has creator Ben Edlund to write and produce! This is fantastic news, and I can’t wait to see what we get.
According to The Wrap, Warburton worked out a deal with Sony Television, who has held the rights since the show’s 2001 cancellation, to bring back the beloved character as an Amazon pilot. Amazon’s latest batch of pilots are currently available for free viewing on the streaming network. The company has established a tradition of producing its pilots and then offering them for free so viewers can watch and vote on them. Based in part on this feedback, the company then decides which shows to move forward with.
I will definitely keep you posted on this one. In the meantime, if you want to catch up on The Tick’s original FOX run, I have been seeing it quite a bit lately in Wal-Mart’s $5 remainder bin. Check it out.
OK, that’s all we have room for this time, kiddies. I’ll see you soon, after the new season debuts and we’ll cheer and laugh at all the hits and misses together. It’ll be fun. Ciao.
Recently, In A Galaxy Right Over There, Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Took Us To “THE FINAL FUNTIER”!!
… Which Begs the Question, Since They’re Owned by the Same Company Anyway, Why Don’t We Just Let Marvel Make the New STAR WARS Movie?
When I saw the first footage for the Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel’s new summer juggernaut that’s single-handedly saving the summer movie season and taking fandom by storm, in the after-credit scene for Thor: The Dark World, I was underwhelmed to say the least. The lighting was garish and far too-bright, the production design seemed odd and ill-suited (if not to the subject matter than certainly to Sif and Volstagg, the two members of the Thor cast who appeared in it) and Benecio Del Toro’s mannerisms as the Collector (mannerisms we saw very little of in the actual film) seemed odd and stilted; a barrier to communication rather than an aid. Even Alan Taylor, the Game of Thrones auteur who had directed The Dark World hated the scene and came out publically to say so, putting his Marvel cred in serious jeopardy. I remember telling your popGeezer at the time that perhaps this was the time Marvel would stumble. Perhaps this was the time they misjudged their property. Perhaps. Perhaps…not.
Please believe me when I say that I’m not one of those doomsayers who want Marvel to fail. I’m not. I want every one of their movies…and Warner’s DC movies…and any other comic book movies to win and win big every time, if for no other reason than because it means they’ll make more of them, but I also know that nothing goes on forever. Aside from Pixar (and we could use the last couple of Cars and Planes sequels to point out that even they aren’t immune), no movie studio has ever gotten it right, every time and my thinking was, that after nine amazing films, this might be the time Marvel got one wrong.
Silly human. Imagine how I felt then, as the trailers for GofG began rolling out and it all looked amazing! The tone and atmosphere, which had been so lacking in the after-credits scene was fixed, the action looked phenomenal and fun, the soundtrack was retro and ridiculous and Chris Pratt was a movie star just waiting for his close-up, Mr. Deville. Surely, the actual film couldn’t deliver on all this goodness, Surely the entire film couldn’t be this wonderful. Surely, it couldn’t…surely it could.
It’s not going out on a limb to say that Guardians is the best movie of the summer. But it’s now cleanly out-earned the craptastic Trans4mers and TMNT, and it will be heralded as the breath of fresh air 2014 needed, the Summer tentpole we all deserved. In fact, and this might be going a little ways out on a limb but I’ll say it anyway, I think Guardians is, along with The Avengers and April’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, easily in the three best movies Marvel has ever made. Rather than growing stale and bringing about a bad case of audience fatigue, the Marvel formula, which began with Iron Man back in the day and doesn’t include any of the FOX or Sony offerings, is just now finding its groove and if anything, the films should only get better from here. So much so, that if Warner Brothers (and its Dream Team of Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder and David Goyer) don’t get their $#!+ together and quick, they’re never going to catch up.
So, enough foreplay. What makes Guardians of the Galaxy such a great movie? I can answer that in two words: James Gunn. Marvel’s decision to hire the quirky little indie director of the incredibly smart and witty horror film Slither and the equally smart and funny and phenomenally dark deconstruction of the super hero myth, Super, as the director of its quirky huge blockbuster sci-fi flick was the smartest idea I’ve seen come out of Hollywood since the invention of popcorn. Gunn’s indie sensibilities of putting story first and flash/bang second and of finding short cuts to the emotional truth of his story (Ooga-Chucka, anyone?) created a film that was almost immediately accessible to audiences, even if you’d never read the comics on which the film was based (and let’s face it, GotG was never a big Marvel title-did you read it?). The idea that poor Peter Quill has been flying around the galaxy since the 80’s without his trusty Sony Walkman and his mix tape of 70’s and 80’s pop standards is a crying damned shame and is also the best logical use of product placement I’ve seen in a movie since Elliot dropped his first Reese’s Pieces in ET.
And speaking of Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord, the other MVP of Guardians is its star, Chris Pratt. Not being a fan of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, I didn’t even know who Pratt was prior to his casting, but now that I know, I’ll never forget. Pratt is phenomenal as Quill, wild and wounded, dumb but snarky, he’s the fish out of water who’s been out of the water for so long, he sort of has a handle on how things work. And that was one of Gunn’s better decisions in writing the script for GotG (along with Nicole Perlman). By making GotG the origin story of the team and not the origin of every character in the team and then the team itself (which is what I’m afraid DC is going to do with their JLA movie), Gunn has an opportunity to explain things for the audience without having to over-explain them which gets us past the interminable first act set-up and on to the good stuff in short order. I know in the second film we’re going to get the story of Quill’s alien dad, but come on, we all know who Peter Quill’s father was…Han Solo, on a sabbatical from Leia and the rebel alliance, sowing a few wild oats in a little-used unpopular corner of the galaxy before going home to the wife and Wookie. Like Solo (and Harrison Ford, the phenomenal actor who portrays him), Pratt’s Quill is a wounded warrior with a brave face and his heart on his sleeve, playing the arrogant douche-bag, but only barely concealing the truly compassionate heart beating within. Moreso than Gunn, moreso than Rocket and Groot, Chris Pratt is the real break-out star of GotG and we should all be thankful we got him.
And the rest of the cast? An A-Team of a B-team, to be sure. Zoe Saldana, the current “IT Girl” of sci-fi filmmaking (Avatar, the Star Trek films) is dead-on as Gamorra, the Assassin With a Heart of Gold, giving the character a warmth and vulnerability that only serves to underscore her indescribable ability to kick ass and take names. Dave Bautista, the former WWE wrestling star in the almost stereotypical role of the professional athlete playing the muscle that previously would have gone to Goldberg or Stone Cold Steve Austin (or not too long ago, The Rock), channels his inner softie as well, mourning (usually in destructive, bloody form) about his dead wife and child. And in another lightning stroke of inspiration, Gunn took his two name actors, Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) and Vin Diesel (the Fast and Furious franchise) and used them only as voices, as Rocket and Groot respectively. Both characters, in between bouts of extreme violence and destructive tendencies, show great heart for CGI’d critters and I see many plush toys and action figures in their futures.
As for the rest of the cast, Michael Rooker as Yondu, Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, John C. Riley as Corpsman Dey (and I know he has a first name, but I can’t think of it right now and this is how IMDb lists the character, so what can I do?), Karen Gillan as Nebula, Josh Brolin as Thanos, Benecio Del Toro as the Collector and Djimon Hounsou as Korath, all are well-cast and shine in their own way. Brolin, Gillian and Del Toro get too little screen time in this outing to really get a feel for their characters and motivations, but I’m sure that’s all to come in the inevitable sequels, especially for Thanos, since its been made very clear that he is The Big Bad of the Marvel U and that he is on a collision course, not only with the Guardians, but The Avengers as well. Even Oscar winner Glenn Close, as Nova Prime, seemed to be enjoying herself, especially when she called the Kree ambassador a prick. Good times.
In fact, if Guardians of the Galaxy stumbles at all, it’s in over-selling its major theme of family and friendship. Not that these are bad themes or that GotG suffers for them, but we got it already, kids! Having Gamorra soulfully intone that she’d rather die with the family she chose rather than the one she was born to (or adopted into) right before marching once more into hell for a heavenly cause was over-kill. [Ed. Note: "Take My Hand." No, Jack, they nailed it to infinity and BEYOND!]
Technically-speaking, the film is a bright, colorful Easter egg of hidden treasures for comic and pop culture fans alike. From the name of Quill’s ship (The Milano, named after his first love, child star Alyssa Milano) or the delightfully oddball (and totally unnecessary) after credit scene at the end (NOTE TO MARVEL: After sitting through ten to fifteen minutes of mind-numbing credits, STILL wearing my 3D specs, I’d appreciate more in the extra scene than a one-off joke. Thanks), there is so much to love here and so much to see that you’ll be discovering new things to marvel at (pun intended) on the fifth and sixth viewings and beyond.
All of this returns us to our headline, when I asked why Disney just doesn’t have the Marvel guys make the new Star Wars movies. I’m serious. Star Wars is a major touchstone for the Mouse House and they need to get it right the first time. Who better to shepherd the franchise forward than the arm of the company that just revitalized the space opera genre for a new generation in the first place? Can you imagine that the movie JJ Abrams is making (or anyone else for that matter, I’m not knocking JJ) will be a better Star Wars than Guardians of the Galaxy? I can’t, and as I slowly lift the cheap sponge pads of my headphones to my ears and crank up the volume on Cherry Bomb by The Runaways, I don’t even want to try.
Owing to some fault of biology, I especially like beautiful women, which is a blissfully subjective thing.
On occasion, and likely near this very article, on this very website – there are images of a lovely woman being lovely, and possibly visually provocative, but she is doing so – hopefully – in a manner of her own choosing and in an image released with her approval.
Which takes us to August 31, 2014, a day which will – you’ll pardon the expression – live in infamy. On that day, the subject of the summer box-office flop comedy Sex Tape became a real, live thing.
If the information we have at this hour is accurate, a hacker lifted from the iCloud a massive amount of pictures and video, all originally from the iPhones (or Apple-y devices) of female celebrities or their current and/or former significant others. Many of these images are colloquially known as “selfies”, though a goodly number of the images were taken by someone else, or were triggered while the camera was on a table or tripod. These images show the young women in various states of dress/undress, and a very limited number of them show the subject or subjects engaged in some form of sexual activity.
The list of pop-culture figures involved is astonishingly long, with just a few joyfully disqualified by the fact their images have been judged (by the internet at large) as fakes. The most famous victim is three-time Oscar nominee, and Oscar winner, Jennifer Lawrence. Worshiped by many – myself included – for being the most seemingly down-to-earth and charmingly goofy ingenue of her generation, the existence and illegal release of these private photos elicit gasps of shock. At least it did for an older coot like myself, who viewed this radiant actress with a rather paternal set of eyes – the same way I’ve always viewed some young women like Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus or (on most days) my precious Katy Perry. But those eyes are not blind. As I mentioned earlier, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I can see that all of my imaginary daughters are very lovely.
That pseudo-father in my head is furious at the demon or demons responsible for this affront to privacy and decency. But even though that old coot will always love his girls… there’s no way to deny that he is disappointed. To clarify, as of this hour, only Jennifer Lawrence has been swept up and victimized by both this criminal act and digital “shaming”. But, as I attempt to face this new digital reality, and the narcissism it seems to require, I cannot endorse any kind of shaming. All aspects of the human sexual condition, as long as carried out by two consenting humans of an age that can fully comprehend that consent (dear lord don’t ask me what that age is…), are fair and free to be explored. If some form of digital imagery comes into play, especially if one partner wishes to capture their other partner’s striking beauty in privacy, then so be it.
I’m never going to get the selfie. While I can understand sending your sweetie a racy tidbit, I don’t understand why one takes this risk in the current hyper-digital environment. You don’t really think those SnapChat images disappear forever after a few minutes, do you? Ask that boy-band idiot what he thinks. The millennial generation’s compulsion to share everything escapes me….. said the man who has a blog and loves to hear his own voice on the radio. But, dear me, I’ve never felt as old as I do right now.
The first victim to confirm her images were real was the actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who pointed out her husband took the photos in their home and they were later deleted. But the Cloud is a hungry beast, is it not? I know, from my own experience with taking phone snaps of my adorable dogs, if you take one good picture and two bad ones, the Cloud absorbs those out of focus shots quicker than you can delete them. You have to go to the cloud and zap them again.
I’ve seen the lion’s share of these stolen images tonight, and I’m not proud of that. In the case of one actress sending a disrobed video mash-note to her lover, I actually teared-up at the indecency of the theft and of my witnessing such an intimate moment defiled. This is a bad, bad thing, and I’m trying to be part of the solution, not the problem. I can’t tell you I’ll never post another provocative picture of a beautiful woman. I will say that paparazzi images are gone from here in future, as will be anything where it is clear that consent wasn’t given for an image’s release.
And – if you do run into Jennifer – let her know I’m still as proud of her as I ever was….