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A Book is a Book is a Book

Posted on January 25th, 2022

Dave!I stayed up until midnight tonight so I could watch the latest episode of The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+. The first episode left me a little flat after the absolute joy that was two seasons of The Mandalorian, but I hung in there. And was rewarded with some fantastic episodes of Star Wars. And now that I'm invested, I've been staying up until midnight on Tuesdays so I can watch live and not have to worry about spoilers the next morning.

This was the best episode of the series yet. Which was actually a bit disappointing for reasons that I can't divulge lest I spoil the episode. Suffice to say that this one episode was better than most of the films that have come out of the Star Wars Universe.

And that's why I'm happy I stayed up to watch and am convinced that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni should just be handed everything. Television. Movies. Specials. Everything. If it's Star Wars then they should be in charge of it. Full stop.

   

Bullet Sunday 748

Posted on January 23rd, 2022

Dave!The snow's a meltin' and Spring is on the way, but don't get too excited... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Mo Betty! Thanks to Brandon from One Child Left Behind fame for this absolute gem of a video featuring a story with both President Obama and Betty White (and, no, you don't have to be a fan of Barrack Obama to enjoy this)...

It's just amazing how many amazing Betty White stories are circulating out there. She touched a lot of lives.

   
• Abbot! Who is watching Quinta Brunson in Abbott Elementary? Genius. The show shining a spotlight on what teachers are facing in the school system... but it's a comedy which has jokes that really hit perfect. Plus it has Sheryl Lee Ralph, whom I adore in absolutely everything she's ever done... and she is a frickin' star in this show. Could not be more perfect. This part had to be written for her. Or maybe it wasn't and she's just that flawless an actor...

You need to watch this on ABC, Hulu, or ABC.com.

   
• Husbands! TikTok is a 100% bizarre place because you just know that half of it isn't original. So many times I'll see something I like then find out it was lifted from somebody else and wasn't credited. Take for example this one, which I loved because it's kinda hopeful for the future (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...

@thatk1da_en #duet with @matadornetwork u never know#gay#fyp#funny#cliffjumping#wow#foryoupage ♬ original sound - scalar quantity

But then you learn that he actually copied it word-for-word from another creator (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...

@timjohns_ #duet with @matadornetwork ♬ original sound - scalar quantity

Which was addressed in (you guessed it) yet another TikTok (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...

@timjohns_ #duet with @thatk1da_en ♬ original sound - scalar quantity

It's like... on one hand... that's pretty shitty. But, on the other hand, it did lead me to the original guy's TikTok, which I now follow, so I dunno.

   
• Nightlife! I am trying my best to burn through as much Netflix as I can before I discontinue monthly service due to yet another rate increase. Right now I am binging Midnight Asia and it's absolutely wonderful...

I've experienced the nightlife in Tokyo and Seoul many times... and the show absolutely does them justice. I am not as familiar with Bangkok's nightlife, but it's a fun episode too. The other episodes are Mumbai, Taipei, and Manilla. Three cities I've never been to, but now I want to visit..

   
• Jacket! Whenever I see BOYCOTT! messages on my Facebook timeline, I usually take a pass. I just don't care. Dig deep enough and all big companies are likely trash. It's the reason for the boycott that interests me. Tucker Carlson is big mad that he's no longer sexually attracted to Green M&M because she isn't wearing high heels any more? Hilarious. The fact that people are boycotting M&Ms over Tucker Carlson wanting to fuck a piece of candy is epic. Then today I see Carhartt being boycotted and I'm like... "Their clothes are great... and they last a while because they're tough. Why are people boycotting them?" The answer? This private company is electing to have a vaccine mandate in order to keep their workforce safe. And I'm like WTF? I thought it would be because they encourage employees to kick puppies or something awful. Personally I applaud them for the move. Must make people a bit more comfortable to work there knowing a co-worker has less a chance of being a petri dish mutating a new strain of COVID. If you don't want to get vaccinated, you can just get a job somewhere else the same way you would if they started mandating a new uniform you hated. Simple. So I was like "I wonder if there's something I want to buy there? A new jacket maybe? I've been wanting a new jacket!" So I ordered one. — Sadly, they didn't have the style I liked in the Carhartt Brown color, because that would have been awesome. But even the black one has a nice-sized logo on the pocket. Looking forward to being screamed at the next time I go to the grocery store. "YOU SHOULD BURN THAT JACKET! DO YOU SUPPORT VACCINE MANDATES BY THE GUBERMINT TOO?!?" Not usually, no. But I'm so fucking tired of this COVID shit that I'm ready to change my mind, and if everybody got vaccinated so the shit would stop mutating unchecked then maybe it would finally... finally... end.

   
• LOLZ! The funniest thing I've seen all month (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...

@dr.jon.l Day in the life according to the comment section #ivermectin #doctor #funny #teamhalo #covidvaccine ♬ original sound - Doctor Jon

   
• LOLZ2! The second funniest thing (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)....

@dr.jon.l Reply to @dr.jon.l Another day in my life according to the comment section #doctor #funny #teamhalo ♬ original sound - Doctor Jon

   
And I think that's enough for my Sunday bullets.

   

Shoot for the Moon

Posted on January 19th, 2022

Dave!The only two heroes in Marvel Comics that I was invested in was Doctor Strange and Black Panther because DC Comics had nothing like them. As time went on and DC kept making bizarre creative choices, I slowly migrated some of my reading to Marvel, which had some very interesting things going on.

Enter Moon Knight.

The first I remember seeing him was in some reprint comic of a Spider-Man story (most likely Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #22). Or maybe it wasn't a reprint? I dunno. In any event, I bought the comic specifically because it had a very cool cover with Moon Knight on it. But I didn't become a true fan of the character until a series of backup stories by Bill Sienkiewicz. At the time I was a major fan of his art, and would buy absolutely anything he did. This series essentially turned Moon Knight into Batman (my favorite DC Comics super-hero), and I was definitely here for it.

The success of these stories led directly to Moon Knight getting his own title in 1980...

Moon Knight No. 1 Cover.

They attempted to differentiate Marc Spector and Moon Knight from Bruce Wayne and Batman by giving him multiple identities. It wasn't much of a change because Bruce Wayne adopted all kinds of identities over the years.

But then it happened.

Moon Knight was canceled and revived in a mini-series called Fist of Khonshu in 1985 (Khonshu being the Egyptian moon god that gave Marc his powers). Now Marc Spector didn't just adopt multiple identities, he literally had dissociative iodentity disorder (AKA "Multiple Personalities"). His power also grew or waned with the phases of the moon and were steeped in Khonshu mythology). With this one series, Marc Spector finally became more than "Marvel Comics Batman"... even if the way some of the material was handled ended up being a bit cringe by modern standards.

Eventually I kinda lost track of Moon Knight. He would pop up in team books I'd buy, but they last I remember buying a Moon Knight book was in the late 90's when yet another mini-series was getting some traction.

Fast-forward to today, and we're getting an Oscar Isaac Moon Knight TV series that looks to be leaning heavily into the dissociative identity disorder angle from the comics...

But boy is that "English accent" a show-stopper! Somebody on the internet compared it to Dick VanDyke's hilarious accent in Mary Poppins and now that's all I can hear!

Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in Marry Poppins.

I do very much like the way that his costume appears and wraps him like a mummy. Very apropriate, and something I don't recall seeing in the comics. But the moon symbol on the hood is weird and unnecessary given that it's huge on his chest. These kind of odd and distracting details are usually avoided by Marvel Studios (and embraced by the shittier DC Comics movies), so this is puzzling to me.

All I can say is that I am really, really looking forward to this series. It looks like a much more violent and unique take on the super-hero genre for Marvel Studios, which is probably why they moved forward with it. They try to make all the characters unique, which is quite a challenge given that they're all super-heroes from comic books. And, if nothing else, getting Oscar Issac to play Marc Spector is an interesting and talented choice.

So long as that "English accent" is used sparingly.

Really, really sparingly.

   

Bullet Sunday 747

Posted on January 16th, 2022

Dave!New year, new surge in the pandemic. But some things never change... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Tokyo! I love major cities. They have a life to them... an excitement... that you can't find in rural areas (which I also like). One of the most fascinating cities to me is Tokyo, Japan. I've been six or seven times, and every time I feel very much at home. One of the best parts of Tokyo is the public transportation system. It's phenomenal... and very hard to explain because you have to experience it to understand it. This video gives it a try...

But the best way to experience Tokyo without visiting Tokyo? Watch the movie Lost in Translation. It always takes me back. I sure would like to visit again one day.

   
• Emoji! This website shows the relative scale of a bunch of emojis. It's pretty clever. If you visit, you have to scroll down for the show to start.

   
• W_RDLE! I've been playing Wordle for a few weeks. So far I've never lost, but I've yet to win in under four guesses either. I don't know if that makes me a success or failure at the game, but it's pretty much an essential morning activity while I wait for the cats' breakfast alarm to go off.

   
• Inexplicable Success! LOL. Robert Langdon would suck at Wordle. I’m happy that people are piling on The Da Vinci Code now. It pulled from far better books with a mediocre story that was inexplicably weird and dull at the same time...

I had hoped that the movie adaptation would elevate the material given that Tom Hanks was involved, but it just sunk the material further for me.

   
• Gemstone! One of the bigger surprises to come out of 2019's televisionscape was The Righteous Gemstones. It was a fascinating and hilarious look at a televangelist family with secrets threatening to tear them down. And now Season 02 has arrived with more temptation for HBO viewers...

The Righteous Gemstones Season 2 Poster

So far it's not really taking off like the first season, but I'm hopeful it's building to something. More than a few shows can't manage to recapture what made them great out of the gate.

   
• Hookup! Don't you hate it when a once good television show just keeps collapsing into a black hole of awfulness? The first season of Plan Couer (AKA The Hook Up Plan on Netflix) was great. Second season was not so great. Now the third season is absolutely horrific. Everybody has gone stupid. Elsa and her dumbass environmentalism crap that borders on insanity. Charlotte and her idiotic ignorance when it comes to money and... like... THE WORLD. Emilie and her rambling non-stop crazy. And I don't get it. WHAT HAPPENED?!? The people writing it thought "You know what? Smart romantic comedy is dead. Let's just throw everything that made the show good out the window and focus on nothing but shit, shit, and more stupid shit!" — So disappointing that this is how they're going out. I still like Maxime though. Oh well. It's the last season, so at least we won't be suffering even more in a fourth season.

   
And that's the end of bullets for me this Sunday.

   

Peace to Die For

Posted on January 13th, 2022

Dave!Despite having some of my favorite comic book characters, DC Comics totally shit the bed with their cinematic blunders. With the exception of Wonder Woman, I haven't really liked anything since Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy wrapped up. And before that only three movies were really worth anything (Superman, Superman II, and Batman). Everything else was pretty much shit.*

Until James Gunn's The Suicide Squad. It was big, bold, bloody, funny entertainment... that was pretty faithful to the idea of the comics. I enjoyed it quite a lot. James Gunn had once again taken a D-list super-group and turned them into something fun (just like he did with Guardians of the Galaxy before this).

But James Gunn wasn't finished.

As he was making The Suicide Squad, he saw potential in one of the more outlandish characters... Peacemaker. A man who wants peace so bad he's willing to fight and kill for it. And so he developed a television series for HBO Max featuring John Cena and some of the other cast from his movie.

The result is just insane. But incredibly funny and entertaining. I mean, just take a look at the opening credits...

And even that doesn't really prepare you for how off-the-wall bonkers the show is. I love it. It's deeper than you'd expect it would be. And from the first three episodes that got released, Gunn hasn't just done the Peacemaker justice... he really pulled out all the stops to make The Vigilante interesting as well. In the comics he's deadly serious with a tragic backstory. In this interpretation, he's just plain nuts.

If you have HBO Max, Peacemaker is worth a look. If you don't, it may be worth getting it for a month once all the episodes have been released. Just be warned that it's definitely Rated-R entertainment.

I hope it goes on for more than a single season.

   
*And I am not exaggerating. All too many of the DC movies have, in fact, been shitty. Or worse...

1966 — Batman: Campy fun, but shitty.
1978 — Superman: The dawn of modern super-hero movies.
1980 — Superman II: Fantastic super-hero escapism, despite being butchered.
1980 — Superman II (Richard Donner Cut): Mind-blowing followup to the original.
1982 — Swamp Thing: Bad.
1983 — Superman III: Horrible.
1984 — Supergirl: Horrible.
1987 — Superman IV: The Quest for Peace: Utter shit.
1989 — The Return of Swamp Thing: Bad.
1989 — Batman: Imaginative "Tim Burton" take on the character.
1992 — Batman Returns: Best Catwoman ever in a campy, bad script.
1995 — Batman Forever: Shitty.
1997 — Batman & Robin: More shitty.
1997 — Steel: Shitty.
2004 — Catwoman: Shitty.
2005 — Constantine: Decent, but not the Constantine from the comics.
2005 — Batman Begins: Terrific reboot and a faithful take.
2006 — Superman Returns: Sad rehash of the first Superman movie.
2008 — The Dark Knight: One of the best super-hero movies ever made.
2009 — Watchmen: Acceptable interpretation, but deviated too much from the book.
2010 — Jonah Hex: Shitty.
2011 — Green Lantern: Shitty.
2012 — The Dark Knight Rises: A good finale to the Nolan trilogy.
2013 — Man of Steel: Utter shit.
2016 — Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Beyond shitty.
2016 — Suicide Squad: Meandering mess.
2017 — Wonder Woman: Fantastic, but deviated from the mythology too much.
2017 — Justice League: Utter shit.
2018 — Aquaman: Acceptable, but not great.
2019 — Shazam!: Horrifically shitty.
2019 — Joker: Bad.
2020 — Birds of Prey: Acceptable, but not great.
2020 — Wonder Woman '84: Grotesquely shitty... one of the worst movies ever made.
2021 — The Suicide Squad: A fun-filled bloody adaptation that totally worked.

   

Bullet Sunday 746

Posted on January 9th, 2022

Dave!I'm still buried in snow, but Blogography will carry on... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Return! Okay... we already have a contender for Most Remarkable Story of 2022: Abducted son finds family by drawing map of village he last saw aged four. His hand-drawn map is remarkable considering is was made from memories of 30 years ago. And then there's another layer of remarkable coming from the fact that people were able to help him find his original village by looking at his map and remarkable because he was reunited with his mother...

Jenny waits for me to get off my Zoom call.

"Abducted in 1989, Li was sold to a family in Lankao, more than 1,100 miles away. Child abductions are common in China and Li was probably taken because the family wanted a boy."

   
• Aliens! A big surprise last television season was Alan Tudyk in Resident Alien. They really went for the jugular with the concept, which is based on a comic book series I liked. Now season two is imminent...

Looking forward to it, Dr. Vanderspeigle!

   
• Lara! I passed on the Tomb Raider reboot because it didn't get a terribly good reaction. But it was on sale a while back, so I bought it. Finally got around to watching it and I really liked the film! Some of the reviews I read said that the actor playing Lara was wooden and boring. And I'm like... did we watch the same movie? I thought she was excellent. Though... Angelina Jolie has this wry delivery with a hint of amusement that worked so well in her two Tomb Raider films. I just wish she had better stories to work with.

Tomb Raider Poster.

I hope that the sequel manages to get made! (UPDATE: Apparently it's in active development, COVID-willing, and will be titled Tomb Raider: Obsidian! Nice!

   
• Free Ride! Okay, this is pretty great...

My favorite part of visiting Costa Rica (after the natural beauty of the country) was the sloth sanctuary that we got to visit. They are such remarkable creatures.

   
• Hole of the Tiger! ZOMG! Lego made the Year of the Tiger piece anatomically correct! Kinda. Still a few things missing, but... nice! (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...

@hollyonfilm This LEGO Tiger is the best thing that will happen in 2022 don’t @ me #lego #yearofthetiger #legotiktok #newyear ♬ original sound - holly

And, yes, Survivor's Eye of the Tiger is playing through my head right now.

   
• Paid! Yesterday I needed to make bread because my sourdough starter hadn't been used in almost two weeks. But I forgot that I had used the last of my yeast last time. And while I could make sourdough bread without it, I didn't want this to be an all-day affair. Then something weird happens. I didn't think "I better make sure that I grab my wallet so I can pay"... instead I think "I better make sure that I grab my iPhone so I can pay with Apple Watch." And since Washington State hasn't done a damn thing to start implementing digital driver's licenses, THEN I think "I better make sure that I grab my wallet in case I get pulled over." I truly long for the day that I don't have to carry a wallet at all. But I'll probably have to move to a more forward-thinking state than mine so that's actually possible. Because knowing how utterly incompetent Washington State legislators are at moving anything forward except higher taxes... digital driver's licenses ain't happening here any time soon.

   
• COVID? Last Friday I was going to take a third COVID test just to make sure I wasn't carrying 'rona to Christmas (my previous two were negative)... but then I woke up that morning and smelled the horrendous dump that Jake took and figured I'm probably good. Though the smell was so bad that I'm guessing it could break through even COVID loss of smell! If anybody else wants tests, I've been ordering directly from iHealth Labs... which has a CDC-recommended antigen test available. They are running behind on orders right now (not surprising) but they do eventually come. Omicron may be "less bad" than Delta (except for young kids, apparently), but it is still causing hospitals to fill up (even in my local hospital, they're recording a rise in admissions), so it's nice to know if you should isolate. Fortunately data suggests that the vaxed adult population has been able to avoid hospitalization (for the most part) even though the current vaccine wasn't designed for it. Really, really hope that they offer up an Omicron Booster soon. That will better prepare our bodily defenses against what gets mutated into next (Lord help us).

   
And that's all the bullets I can muster this fine Sunday.

   

Hallmarkification

Posted on January 3rd, 2022

Dave!I am way behind on my Hallmark Christmas movies. And will only get further behind because I've got so many work projects on my plate and now Hallmark has Winter movies starting to run.

I keep telling myself that maybe this is the year I finally give up on Hallmark since all the movies are essentially the same at this point. Something made hilariously clear by the many, many parody videos that have been released...


Oh well. It's something to listen to while I work, isn't it? Though at this rate I'll still be watching Christmas movies in July.

JUST IN TIME FOR HALLMARK CHANNEL'S CHRISTMAS IN JULY MARATHON! WOOO!

   

Good Bye Betty

Posted on December 31st, 2021

Dave!It was announce the Betty White died and I am devastated.

It would be easy to dismiss the above sentence as hyperbole. "How could you be devastated over somebody you never knew?" And I'm sure many people would say I'm a "psycho" or a "baby" or whatever put-downs are currently in vogue to describe people who have emotions.

Betty White 1922-2021

But I did know Betty White. I've been getting to know her most of my life.

And, as I'm fond of saying, "I loved Betty White before it was cool."

I first became aware of Betty White on game shows (something I watched a lot of in my early years). Whether it was Match Game or Password or Hollywood Squares, Betty would show up and be the funniest person in the room. And the smartest. And the sweetest. I was captivated immediately.

Then our town got cable television.

This brought about dozens of channels made up of nothing but reruns, which is how I started watching Betty's character "Sue Ann Niven" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which was about as delicious role for a supporting character there could be, and Betty went for it with gusto. Eventually I struck gold with reruns of The Betty White Show. Suddenly it was all Betty all the time for me. Because in addition to the reruns, she was also popping up on The Love Boat or Mama's Family or talk shows or game shows or celebrity roasts. And so many guest appearances on dozens of shows (she was on Who's the Boss, for heavens sake). She never went away. She was always somewhere on my television.

Then 1985 happened...

If I didn't already love Betty White, the debut of the mega-hit The Golden Girls would have sealed the deal. As it did for most of the country, I'm guessing. Rose Nylund was one of the most unforgettable characters to ever appear on television, and Betty knew exactly how to play it. Her monologues about life growing up St. Olaf were hilarious and delivered as only she could do it.

Betty's renewed popularity was not wasted. She was in constant rotation on the late night talk shows being her hysterical charming self (Craig Ferguson must have been a favorite because she was one of his most popular guests, and she was joyous when she'd drop by). She was in commercials, naturally, (her most famous being that classic Snickers Super Bowl commercial). And, as people found out about my love for all things Betty, they'd send me videos and tapes and DVDs and magazine articles and such. My life was a constant parade of everything Betty, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

But her celebrity was also used to advance human rights... including her staunch support of the LGBTQ community and equality for all persons. But she was likely most famous for her charity work on behalf of animals, and her surge in popularity was a big opportunity for her to become even more visible in supporting them. Plus she started appearing in even more TV shows (like Bob and Boston Legal) and movies (like her expectation-crushing turn on Lake Placid which cemented her legendary status). She never stopped. Her Saturday Night Live guest hosting gig is widely viewed as one of the best to ever appear on the show. And even when it was too difficult for her to act, she was still charming us with her voice, showing up animated shows that culminated in Toy Story 4 where she played "Bitey White." And of course I've read her books. Her memoir If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't) is essential reading for any Betty fan.

So, yeah... unless she had a secret life of kicking puppies (which, let's be honest, is something Betty White would never, ever, do)... I know the woman. And she's so worth knowing, as this small sampling of her best moments will attest...

That's a mere 20 moments. But let's face it... ALL of her moments were best moments.

I am not one for celebrity culture (unless I'm mocking it) or hero worship (with the exception of Steve Jobs, who will always be my hero and left us ten years ago). I see famous people as just people. People who do things that benefit or harm us. People who entertain or annoy us. People who have a voice that's louder than most of us, but likely less important because of the bubble in which they live.

But all that went out the window with Betty White. I adored her as much as any other important person in my life. She was a constant source of light and laughter, and will continue to be with me every time I pass by the infinite loop of Golden Girls reruns while channel surfing... or something she said pops into my head... or one of her many hilarious performances flashes across my brain... or any other time her legacy is remembered by the world.

Which I'm guessing will be a lot.

Because the only thing that can fill the void left by Betty White is Betty White.

Fortunately there's plenty of that to be had. She was in the business for 76 years and, with so many people loving her work, it ain't going away any time soon.

   

Tube21

Posted on December 30th, 2021

Dave!And it's time once again for my annual wrap-up of my favorite TV shows that came out this year.

Or, more accurately, a "wrap-up of TV shows that I saw which came out this year." As always, there's a bunch of shows I never got around to watching that might have ended up on my list... and (more likely) shows I loved but have forgotten about. And here we go...

Favorite TV Shows 2021

   
#1 Hawkeye (Disney+)
If you had walked up to me and told me that my number one show of 2021 would not be Ted Lasso just last month, I would have slapped you across the face. Mostly because you aren't wearing a mask, but partly because it's just so inconceivable. But here we are. After getting off to a slow start, Hawkeye managed to go out with a bang and seal that top spot. The series takes so many of the things that I love from the original Matt Fraction and David Aja comic book series then blends them seamlessly into the Marvel Cinematic Universe we know and love. Though pretty much flawless, I maintain that had the first two episodes been merged into a single episode... and they split the final episode into two parts with more Yelena in them... we would have got more of what made everything so darn good. Like that cast! Jeremy Renner is at his best yet as Clint Barton. Hailee Steinfeld is sublimely perfect as Kate Bishop. Alaqua Cox nailed it as Maya Lopez. Florence Pugh is hilariously great as Елена Белова. And we also get some new characters that are all perfectly cast... along with the return of a character that was better than could have been hoped for. The best Disney+ series from Marvel Studios yet and my favorite show of 2021.

   
#2 Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
Following up one of the most flawless seasons of a show ever created had to be a daunting task. There was literally nowhere to go but down. But darned if the people behind Ted Lasso didn't manage to come darn close. Even if they had to utterly destroy one of my favorite characters to get there. And speaking of favorites? Roy Kent... my favorite television character ever... had a run for his money thanks to Sarah Niles playing Dr. Sharon Fieldstone. If I have a criticism it's that the season was all build-up to the endgame coming next season. The conflict came very late and it was just feel-good moments piled on top of each other. But they were such good moments, weren't they?

   
#3 The Mandalorian (Disney+)
If anything, Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, and Crew elevated their game to give us something that may be better than even the first season. Partly because they worked hard to push things into new directions... partly because we got a mix of terrific new characters and a return of old favorites... and partly because they know exactly what the fans want to see, then they 100% deliver on it. One has to wonder if they had been in charge of the movie prequels and sequels... would they have ended up as shitty as they were? I'm willing to bet not. Though Book of Boba Fett just started and is not exactly blowing my socks off, so perhaps. Oh well. So long as Disney keeps pumping out amazing content like Mando Season 02, Star Wars will be just fine. And just think... Obi-Wan, Andor, Ahsoka, Lando, and more are coming. Oh happy day.

   
#4 Resident Alien (SyFy)
I knew I was going to like this show the minute I saw the trailer. Any time you wind up Alan Tudyk and let him run wild you're guaranteed terrific entertainment... and this time they put him in the wacky world of a comic book series that he actually elevated to something even better. Tasked with destroying the Earth, but then crashing into it instead, an alien has to assume the identity of a doctor who died while attempting to repair his ship, avoid being spotted by a boy who can see his true identity, and burying his growing affection for earthlings. The result is hilarious television that has me eagerly anticipating what we're going to get in the second season.

   
#5 What We Do In the Shadows (FX)
I honestly anticipated that this show would burn through whatever good ideas they had after two seasons then deteriorate into something that's a shadow of what we started with. Well, thank heavens that's not the case, because the third season was every bit as great and sets things up for yet another spectacular season. Or maybe I'm just in love with Nandor. But who isn't in love with Nandor? Consistently one of the funniest shows on television and they haven't had a bad episode yet.

   
#6 The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (Disney+)
This show was badly hampered with having to deal with the ramifications of half the planet being blipped into existence after five years dead from Thanos snapping his fingers. Had they been able to just work towards Sam taking up the mantle of Captain America without spending so much time being distracted, we would have gotten a better show. But it is what it is, and there was enough on-screen magic in the Sam/Bucky love/hate relationship to make this series far more entertaining than it had a right to be. The Flag Smashers weren't great as a threat. Counterfeit Captain America was just a way to set-up future shows (and did not deserve the hate he got online). And the arc for Sharon Carter is something that's likely going to either be forgotten... or hung around the neck of a future Marvel Studios series.

Favorite TV Shows 2021

   
#7 Acapulco (Apple TV+)
I have quickly become a major fan of Eugenio Derbez. His performance in the Overboard remake was classic... he had a fantastic bit part in one of my favorite 2021 films, CODA... and he's done a load of fantastic voice work for various animation. So when I heard that they were building a series around his character from How to Be a Latin Lover AND he would be reprising the role? I had no idea what to expect. But it wasn't the sweet, charming, funny, and wholly entertaining show. There's no word on if we're getting a second season, but I sure hope so.

   
#8 The Other Two (HBO Max)
In their first season this show was so horribly demented and wrong... but all the more hilarious because of it. This time around they did not back down, going to even worse places to mine for laughs, and striking gold more often than not. A part of me is embarrassed that I like this show so much, but it just can't be helped. It's so very, very funny. But also so very, very wrong.

   
#9 Reservation Dogs (FX/Hulu)
All I had to hear was "Taika Waititi is producing" and I was in. But in for what I had no idea. A comedy about indigenous teens who want to move from Oklahoma to California, but have to commit petty crimes in order to ear the money they need to do it? Okay then. The result is a lot of subtle, deadpan humor that always seems to land perfectly. The show is funny and painfully relevant, making it must-see television for anybody who appreciates shows like that.

   
#10 Modern Love (Amazon Prime)
You know how I found this show? I heard a song, liked it, then found out that it was the theme song for this show which is now in its second season. Based on a popular column from The New York Times by the same name, each episode is a stand-alone story which talks about love in all its forms (BONUS: in the first season all the episodes end up tying together at the end). Charming, funny, awkward, heartbreaking, uplifting, painful, and wonderful... this series is all the things that love can be.

   
#12 Lupin (Netflix)
Netflix really hurt the show by splitting the first season into two parts because the second half was not as good as the first. And yet it's hard to get too caught up in all that when Omar Sy's gentleman thief is so compelling a character. Revenge stories are as old as time, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one done as stylish as this. At the end of the season Lupin is essentially forced to cut off some dead weight that was dragging the show a bit. What I hope that the writers do is have the guts to leave it be so they can focus on Lupin alone, which is when the show absolutely shines. Of course I have no idea if it will even get a second season, but given how it was Netflix's most-watched non-English program before Squid Game came along, it's likely pretty likely.

Favorite TV Shows 2021

   
#13 Loki (Disney+)
I'm just going to get this out of the way... the Loki variants like Gator Loki and Thor Loki and Female Loki were not something I thought worked very well. What did work exceedingly well was everything else. The writers wisely decided to snap Loki out of his element and comfort zone so he has to evolve past the merry prankster he was before he "died" in Avengers: Endgame. And it was handled so beautiful. After getting apprehended by the TVA (Time Variance Authority) AKA "The Time Police," Loki thinks that all his problems will be solved if he can just get The Tesseract and its Infinity Stone back after the TVA took it from him. Then he will have the power to do whatever he wants. Again. But very quickly he finds out that the Infinity Stones which Thanos used to eliminate half of all life in the universe are mere trinkets to everybody working at the TVA. That "The Power" he's been chasing since Avengers was never what he thought it was. And at that moment when you can see it dawn on him (holy shit is Tom Hiddleston an amazing actor) is when you realize that this series is not going to be what you thought it was. And the story was darn good... if not a bit meandering.

   
#14 The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime)
Historical fiction is a tricky business. When you stray too far from the real events, you might very well diminish the things you are trying to tell your story around. And here we have a series where the Underground Railroad is made into a literal railroad?!? It's like... why would you do that? And I very nearly skipped out until people started telling me how good it was. And while I'm ultimately glad that I saw it, I'm the first to admit that it's difficult to watch at times... a boring slog at times... and challenging to the viewer always. It ain't going to be for everybody. But what makes it so worth it is how beautifully the series is crafted. When you get to those bright spots, the show's epic scope unfolds and reveals itself. This show is the very definition of "powerful television." If you think you can handle it, you really should.

   
#15 For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
There's something to be said for how this series coasts on the sheer quality of it all. It's not the best thing on television. But everybody working on it treats it as if it is, and that goes a long, long way. In my opinion, For All Mankind is often times as good as it was the first season, but there are still issues that pop up which have me scratching my head. They're 100% invested in this being an alternative history series one minute... then it feels as if they're scrambling to fill in the gaps the next, and it makes for an uneven ride. Like they come up with really great ideas in the broad-strokes, but don't know where to go with the details from time to time to get there. But it's still a very good ride. Thrilling even. And one that I'm happy to keep taking.

   
#11 Magnum, PI (CBS)
This series started so brilliantly, but then kinda lost its way after the first two seasons. The chemistry was there. The cast was still amazing. And Higgins was so great that she could carry her own show. But it just wasn't working as well as it once was. Then they kinda earned something back in this, their fourth season. I still find myself hoping for more Rick & T.C. because they are woefully underutilized too much of the time, but am glad that they're still around at all. Their job is to ground the show more often than not, and they excel at that.

   
#16 WandaVision (Disney+)
For a Marvel Studios fan like myself, WandaVision was a tough sell. Because it was The Vision and the Scarlet Witch from the Avengers... but not really. Told through the lens of old television shows and exploring Wanda's trauma over losing The Vision, I understand why the show was so critically acclaimed. Honestly I do. I'm just not one of the people who was able to buy into it. I wanted to see the characters have some cool super-hero stuff to do, but we didn't really get that.

   
#17 Hacks (HBO Max)
Jean Smart completely caught me off guard with her performance in HBO's Watchmen series. She was absolutely glorious and pushed that role in a direction that not many other actors could. I can't even say if she knew the material she was a part of... but she knew her character. She had a handle on that much from her first moment. And now she's done it again with Hacks. As an aging comedian in Vegas who is forced to take a look at herself and her world after taking on an assistant (who has problems of her own, let me tell you). I don't think that every episode is a home run. But overall as a series I was digging it. And that was mostly thanks to Jean Smart, who I am paying very close attention to for whatever she decides to do next.

   
#18 Mythic Quest (Apple TV+)
The first season was exceptional. I loved every minute of it. And their COVID special was one of the better ones. But this second season, while still pretty darn good, is no longer must-see television for me. It's more of a "I like it... but when I get around to watching" kind of show. Maybe it's because the whole "behind the scenes of a video game company" blew through so much funny in the first season that it's running out of gas? Maybe I've grown tired of it already? That very well could be, because I know people who think that the second season is better than the first. So I dunno. I still love the characters and what they're trying to do... I'm just not as hyped for the result as I once was. Still made my list though.

   
MUST SEE TELEVISION SPECIALS AND DOCUMENTARIES...
This year was a weird one in comedy because one of my all-time favorite comedians was cancelled... or is getting cancelled... or is somebody people want canceled... or whatever. In an effort to clarify the material he used in a previous special about the trans community, Dave Chappelle actually dug himself into an even deeper hole. And it's pretty cringe because he devoted so much time to it. But even worse? It wasn't very funny. The ultimate comedy sin. He would have been better of saying nothing, but instead we get a huge chunk of an entire special prefaced with "I can't be transphobic because I have a trans friend who died." A horrible take to be sure. I don't think the actual material was as bad as its been blown up to be, but it's my least favorite of his specials, so there's that. What were my favorites this year though? Glad you asked...

  • Nate Bargatze: The Greatest Average American. It's not up to the level of The Tennessee Kid, but its still observational humor that's very funny done very well. The fact that Bargatze can manage all this while performing clean? That takes quite a lot of talent.
  • Bo Burnham: Inside. A good chunk of this lockdown experiment was disturbingly funny... but in a way that's different from the Bo Burnham material he's given us so far. And it's great fun. But the best part? He's got some seriously good songs in here. One in particular, Content, is so good that I wish he'd flesh it out to a full song. I'd buy that single.
  • Tig Notaro: Drawn. Tig is already one of the funniest people on the planet, but that wasn't good enough so she decided to kick it up a notch and animate a special. And the result is even more hilarious than I expected.
  • Jimmy Carr: His Dark Material. I always hesitate before saying that I like anything Jimmy Carr does because he's so terrible that I'm almost afraid of getting "canceled" by osmosis. If you're a Carr fan, this is more of what you love... horrible takes on things made hilarious.
  • Phil Wang: Philly Philly Wang Wang. I actually watched this twice. The first time I was only kinda paying attention. But then the ending had me wanting to sit through it all over again to see what I missed. This is terrible, but I actually think it gave me a better appreciation for the show.

   
TELEVISION HONORABLE MENTION...

  • Schmigadoon! I'm not a "musicals" guy, but this was incredibly entertaining with a cast that's perfect.
  • The Expanse As of this writing, we're only half-way through the final season of the show, and I'm honestly not sure what to make of it. The first episode was 100% wasted. They got six... SIX!... episodes and just threw away 1/6 of it. Then things picked up. Whether or not they can manage to land this plane without shitting the bed is anybody's guess. But Im willing to give them the benefit of doubt that they can. But after that first episode? Well... we won't know until next year's list, will we?
  • Squid Game. I'm a big fan of South Korean films and television, and this was the one that really broke the genre wide open for the US... becoming one of Netflix's most popular shows. And while I liked it (and liked it a lot) there were some leaps of logic that were just too far for me to make and kept it from breaking into my list.
  • Love, Victor. The first season of the show was very well done, expanding on the show in a way that felt fresh while giving fans more of what they liked about the movie Love, Simon. The second season really took a bizarre turn, adding unnecessary drama where it didn't really need to exist. Victor's life would be interesting enough without it. Hopefully they'll figure this out in the next season, if we're getting one.
  • Pen15. The final season was as good as it ever was and I was sad to see it end. Though maybe going out on top was the smart move when it comes to a show like this? Probably.
  • CSI Vegas. Was the revival anything exceptional? Not really. Were the murder mysteries the best you'll find on television? Not even close. But it was a chance to see Gil Grissom, Sara Sidle, and Jim Brass return to our television screens, and I was all for that. The overall mystery arc of who framed David Hodges was actually solved fairly early... but they didn't take it home until the very last episode. At which point it was almost moot. But it was all good. I'm guessing it will get renewed without William Petersen and Jorja Fox, at which point the only reason to watch will be gone. But I'm might give it a go.
  • LuLaRich. I was on a real documentary tear for a while there, and this one was pretty crazy from a "how in the heck did this actually happen?" kind of way. But there's a lot of that going around, so... yeah.
  • Superman & Lois. This is not the best Superman television show. That would be Superman: The Animated Series. But it's likely the closest thing to being the best live action version of the character since the first two Christopher Reeve movies. Part of it is just how good Tyler Hoechlin is in the role. But Henry Cavill was a good Superman, and his movies suck. So I think it comes down to the version of Superman that we're getting. This is a more hopeful, measured take, and one that you actually want to watch. Doesn't hurt that this show is taking big swings with the stories and everything looks so fantastic on top of that.

   
ANIMATION TO WATCH

  • Invincible. This was an animated comic book series which I seriously expected to be dulled down to the nib. And I was oh so wrong. If anything, they took the source material to the next level and gave us a violent, bloody, take-no-prisoners approach to super-heroes that even puts The Boys to shame. Very well done adaptation that's not for the faint-at-heart.
  • Rick and Morty. The fifth season is more a mixed bag than ever before and there were episodes that I thought were pretty bad. But when the show is good, it's one of the best things ever made, so I kind of end up in the middle somewhere.
  • What If.... I gotta say, the thing that I will forever take away from this series is that it was the last time we got to have Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. Otherwise I was kinda underwhelmed. Individual episodes were often short-changed in service of the bigger narrative being built, and I don't think the payoff was worth it. Still... nice animation, great talent, and a few really good episodes made this something I was happy to see in 2021.
  • Inside Job. Inappropriately funny. But in a good way! Actually more consistent an animated series than Rick and Morty right now! Never thought I'd be saying that!

   
HAVEN'T SEEN, MIGHT HAVE MADE MY LIST

  • Only Murders in the Building. I have never found Martin Short funny. Ever. Not once. I might have cracked a smile or two when he was on SNL, but his other roles have all rubbed me the wrong way. So I was going to take a big ol' pass on this show. Until the rave reviews started pouring in.

   
OVERRATED BUT OKAY

  • The White Lotus. The premise of this show was alright. Horrible wealthy white people doing what horrible wealthy white people do... exploit everything and everybody without giving it another thought. And while there were some fascinating characters, interesting scenarios, and an idea that worked, the implementation fell flat for me. Trivial situations are taken too far, which was great... until they went more than too far. At which point the show faltered for me.
  • Mare of Easttown. You will get absolutely no argument from me that this was a well-written show with a cast to die for. But there's a point when you can just look at this as one of those British police dramas being stretched to tedium and so mired in drama that it can't breathe. We've seen this show a million times before. Not always done this well, but enough that I was hoping for something more.
  • Succession I honest-to-God don't get it. For all the hype, I expected to find Jesus while tuning in to this show... but instead I found writing that wasn't great, acting that wasn't great (with a few exceptions), and stories that were outright boring. None of the devious intrigue I was counting on was present... the episodes unfolding more like a bad comedy than a dark comedy done well. After a hugely disappointing first season, I started powering through... despising how Nothing. Ever. Changes. No. Matter. What. Happens. and that the status quo would always be preserved. Then things started improving a bit. Season 03 was the best of the lot, but that's not saying much from my perspective. The series is "just okay" and, in my humble opinion, grossly overrated.
  • Maid. The show is dark and depressing. And I don't know that the "happy-ish" ending makes up for sitting through it all. Because while you are definitely given reason to cheer for the protagonist as she does whatever she can to make the best life possible for her daughter and herself while also maintaining her honesty and integrity... there are times that she just doesn't earn it. At which point you're supposed to be all "but at least she owns up to it." And it's like... yeah... but by then I've stopped caring. The message of the show is how some people just can't get a break in a system designed to oppress them. And we know it's true because we see the result of it every day. But when you stack crap on top of that which makes you not care about the hero of the story, you risk losing the viewer. And this show lost me like that too many times, even while it was okay as a whole.

   
DISAPPOINTING

  • Lucifer. Most definitely didn't stick the landing. Not terrible, it's just that this season didn't live up to what came before. And I kinda get it. It was supposed to end on the fifth season, but then Netflix changed their mind, so the writers had to undo what they did and find a compelling way to keep things going. It didn't work for me.
  • Star Trek: Discovery. The last season was so phenomenally bad that I decided I was done with it. But then I figured I might as well give it another try since they were kinda rebooting it, and immediately wish I hadn't bothered. How can a show which was so frickin' incredible in its first season... fall to something quite mediocre in the second... fall even further to total weepy, whiny shit in the third... and then hit rock bottom by completely dying a horrible death in its fourth? How? It's almost as if the writers were trying to kill it.
  • The Wheel of Time. I've never been a huge fan of the books, as they feel so bloated, but I thought that they might streamline things enough to make a good TV show. AND it's got Rosamund Pike in it. Well, despite some decent special effects, I was bored to tears through the first two episodes and couldn't go any further than that.
  • Masters of the Universe: Revelation With Kevin Smith runnning the show, I was anxiously awaiting the series to debut. And when it did I was in for crushing disappointment because I didn't like any of it. Well, maybe the voice cast. But not the stories or anything else that matters. What kills me here is that the second take on the material in 2021, He-Man and the Masters of the Univers, which was meant to be more kid-freiendly was actually the far superior show.

   
TOTALLY SHIT THE BED

  • Foundation. I don't get it. I honestly don't. This critically acclaimed show is horrendously shitty. It brings new definition to the word "shitty." Boring, plodding, meandering, senseless drama that totally fucked over the source material by dragging it out so they can keep the actors around for longer. God. I would hate this pile of shit even if I wasn't a fan of the books.
  • Jupiter's Legacy. Jesus. Here we go again. Take source material that CANNOT FAIL but then adapt it so badly by folding in prequel shit that NOBODY cares about and watch it fail spectacularly. And so it went.
  • Kevin Can Fuck Himself. I was highly enthusiastic to see what Annie Murphy was going to do after her turn on Schitt's Creek. And the concept for this show seemed original and interesting. Until I watched it. Holy crap what a joyless, boring, awful show. Which can totally work... but not like this. Not even remotely like this. In the end I was saying This Show Can Fuck Itself.

   

Hawkeye Finale

Posted on December 21st, 2021

Dave!And so the finale of Hawkeye aired at midnight tonight. And because I wanted nothing spoiled, of course I stayed up to watch it.

Suffice to say that this was everything I could possibly hope for. The finale was fantastic stuff, filled with all the action you've been dying for all along. Yeah, things seemed a little rushed... I remain convinced that had they combined the first two episodes and split this one into two parts it would have made for a much better series overall.

Not that there was much room for improvement. In a shocking move that I never saw coming, Hawkeye will undoubtedly take the top spot in my annual list of favorite television shows. It was just that good. It took liberally from the Matt Fraction and David Aja comic book series I love so much... but was firmly rooted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a way that neither WandaVision nor The Falcon and The Winter Soldier really managed...

If we could just get more series like this, I would be ever so happy.

In discussing the finale (in an extended entry) of course there's going to be loads of spoilers. If you haven't watched the series yet, then you should do that right away and look no further.

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

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