Close-Up of the Millenium Falcon for Your Viewing Pleasure

As part of his ongoing Twitter duel with Zach Snyder, JJ Abrams posted this fun video on Thursday.  Entitled, “Hunka Junk”, it’s a great response to Snyder’s hilarious “Stolen Batmobile” tweet, but even more importantly, it’s a gorgeous first official look at the Millennium Falcon as rebuilt for Episode VII.

Feast your eyes on the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy, fans!!

 

My 5 Unanswered Questions for ‘SHIELD’ Season 2

For better or worse, Agents of SHIELD starts its second season in two weeks.  It’s been a rocky ride, quality-wise, and everyone is wondering if the road will be any smoother for the series in its sophomore season.

For those of us who stuck it out last year, eventually seeing it get better and go out with its best episodes, there’s a lot of trepidation about the new year.  Which is Season Two going to more resemble – the dull first half of Season One, or the intriguing second half?

ABC is currently in the middle of its marketing blitz – touting increased action, the rebuilding of SHIELD, and new mysteries.  I, though, have my own list of things I want or expect to see in the new season.   Some are familiar, and some seem to be lost in the noise of the season-ending changes.  And none of them have to do with Skye, despite ABC’s continued efforts to make me care about her.

So, in no particular order, here’s my top unanswered questions for Season Two:

blue-alien

Can We Talk About the Blue Alien?

That blue alien last seen in “TAHITI” still has me intrigued.  I’m not intrigued over its possible links to Skye or even Coulson himself (to a lesser extent), but the possible links to the larger Marvel Cosmic Universe.  With the awesome entrance into the larger universe granted by Guardians of the Galaxy, I want to see it build even more with this season’s .  I won’t spoil what my theory is regarding the alien race involved, but it would provide a fantastic link between several potential future players in the MCU.

shield-ward

Are They Planning to Redeem Ward?

Not that I particularly cared about Ward for most of the season.  I found Brett Dalton’s acting to be boring and his character dull.  Until he turned Dark Side, that is.  Dalton and his alter ego work much better as a turncoat villain.  He was finally interesting!  For this reason alone, I don’t want to see the show redeem him quickly (as it did with Skye early on) and ruin the good thing they have going.

I was hoping that the writers would be smart enough to be done with Ward’s storyline completely at the end of Season 1, but if they must keep him around, for all that’s holy, don’t turn him good and return him to the team like nothing really happened!

 

Coulson_Equation

What’s Up With Coulson’s  Writing on the Wall?

This is, of course, one of the biggest and first mysteries of the new season.  And it’s a good one.  There’s so much that this writing can mean.  Will it take us back to question number one, the unnamed blue alien?  Does it mean a link between Coulson and any of Marvel’s canon comic characters?  Is it good or bad?  Will we have to wait through an entire season to get any kind of decent resolution, as we suffered through last year?

fzzt-fitz

Fitz!  What’s Going on with Fitz?!

One of the bright points in Season 1 was always the earnest and innocent relationship between Fitz and Simmons.  Their near-death experience in the finale was a highlight, and not just because of a certain person’s surprise arrival.  Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge provide a lot of the heart and soul of the show, despite sometimes clunky writing.

When it was announced that Fitz was not quite himself after being nearly killed – and might never be again – that was really worrisome.  I hope that whatever Fitz’s story arc will be, that Iain De Caestecker gets a chance to show his acting chops as he has off-and-on over the first year.  The recently released promo shot of the cast added fuel to the speculation that things will be tricky in Fitzsimmons’ world as we start the new year.

 

shieldcartersdcclarge

Where Will Agent Carter Fit into the Narrative?

I think I’m possibly more excited about the show’s midseason replacement, Agent Carter, than I am about Season 2 itself.  Seeing Peggy Carter in the field with the Howling Commandos gave me all kinds of nerd goosebumps.  How will they fit into the season opener?  Will there be a cohesive arc to both shows?  How will this affect the rebuilding of SHIELD in the modern day?

 

So, those are what I’m most looking forward to seeing in the season premiere and beyond.  I hope that the writers have learned a valuable lesson from last year’s issues and can keep turning out an interesting show.  Whether my hopes are grounded or baseless will start to be evident on the 23rd.  Will you be tuning in?  Tuning out?  Or just watching The Flash a second time on the DVR?

TV Review – Forever, “Pilot”

abc_forever.jpg

ABC brings a little Highlander home with its new series, Forever. Does it deserve to survive or be given a quick and merciful death?

The first episode introduces us to Dr. Henry Morgan.  Henry is handsome and brilliant and has a bit of a problem… he can’t seem to die.  Well, technically, he himself points out in the pilot, he can die.  It just doesn’t stick. 

So, Henry has lived a couple hundred years and still doesn’t understand why he is the way he is.  He’s currently living in New York and working in the city morgue, hoping to learn more about his dilemma through the study of folks who didn’t have a problem staying dead.  In the meantime, he’s developed a keenly observant eye, a few lifetimes’ worth of knowledge, and a habit of staying out of the limelight. 

So, of course, he should help the beautiful Detective Jo Martinez solve crimes. 

The first episode wastes no time with subtlety about its title character.  Henry spends a few moments wowing a pretty woman with his trained detective’s eye and then is promptly rendered dead in a terrible crash.  The good news is that in jumping out of the starting gate, the pilot leads with its strengths – Henry’s great mystery, his strange resurrections, the embarrassments of being constantly reborn (naked!), and his best friend, Abe (Judd Hirsch).  A new mystery is added during the course of the episode as well. 

I was intrigued by Henry’s immortality.  Yes, comparisons will be made to Highlander, but you can’t make a series about a lonely, immortal guy without causing people to compare.  The idea is still a good one, and it’s set up with just the right amount of humor and pathos. 

Ioan Griffudd (pronounced Yo-wahn Griffith, for newbies) is a charming and handsome lead actor.  Even though he’s stuck with some clunky ‘observation’ dialogue and an occasionally-raging case of Know-It-All-Itis, he manages to make Henry not insufferable.  Hirsch also really helps ground this fantasy story nicely.  His character adds a really fascinating touch to the story.  Alana de La Garza provides a lively New York force opposite Griffudd’s calm British-ness. 

Overall, I thought the pilot was promising.  You could certainly do worse than spend an hour a week with Ioan Griffudd and Judd Hirsch, who are a fun odd couple with a unique bond of friendship.  Even if the case of the week formula is a little been-there-done-that, the overarching mystery is interesting enough to see where it goes.  If you’re a fan of lighthearted detective shows like Castle or Elementary, you might just enjoy Forever for the earnest fantasy that it is. 

Whether ratings keep it breathing or not, time will tell. 

Review – Doctor Who, “Listen”

 

image courtesy:  bbcamerica.com

image courtesy: bbcamerica.com

This week on Doctor Who:  Sleeping tonight is overrated.

Doctor Who returns to its creepy roots this week after a week off dancing about Sherwood Forest.  So, how is the result?

The Doctor interrupts what’s turned out to be a not-so-great date for Clara and Danny Pink.  The Doctor has got it into his head that he needs to prove his latest hypothesis:  that there really is something under your bed and you’re not dreaming the idea.  His theory is that somewhere out there is a creature perfectly evolved to do nothing but hide.

To prove his theory, the Doctor takes Clara back to her childhood to see what was under her bed.  However, she accidentally diverts them to Danny’s childhood.  The Doctor then proceeds to follow the thread forward in time to Danny’s descendant, a time-traveller who has reached the end of the universe.

After possibly having some kind of encounter – or perhaps just experiencing a huge malfunction – they escape the end of the universe in the TARDIS.  But the TARDIS accidentally travels back along the Doctor’s life path to his own childhood.

Clara tries to hide from the child Doctor – under his bed – but really only succeeds in convincing the boy that he’s experiencing a dream.  In doing so, her words and actions give birth to the very idea buried in the Doctor’s subconscious of the monster under the bed.

And in the end, Clara and Danny have a successful date.

What Was a Dream

The circular nature of this story was very intriguing.  We harken back to the idea of the Impossible Girl affecting the Doctor’s time stream.  That it ends up referencing the War Doctor was a nice added bonus.

The episode may have its storytelling flaws, but it was mesmerizing to watch.  All the various techniques created a unique story that surely led to some kids hiding behind sofas this week!

I’m very intrigued by the snippet of information about the Doctor’s childhood on Gallifrey now!

If your audience needs to get to know a new character like Danny, and you’re a show like Doctor Who, what do you do?  Why, you travel to his past and his future, of course!  We learned a lot about Danny without him actually being in the room, which was a nice way to get us to feel attached to his character.

Douglas Mackinnon has an interesting Who resume.  He’s directed such diverse stories as the fairly mundane “The Poison Sky/Sontaran Strategem” combo and the 11th Doctor’s excellent story, “Cold War”.  This episode felt much more influenced by his skill with shadows, suggestion, and the unseen in “Cold War”.  I loved the atmosphere of this story and it use of story flashes and great patience.

 

What Was More of a Nightmare

The bit about Orson traveling to the end of the universe was a bit out of left field.  While I liked that the story revisited Danny’s time stream, I found this part to be too far-fetched and forced.

On first viewing, this episode really seemed to jump around without making a lot of sense.  I will admit that it improves upon viewing the entire story and pondering on it for a bit.  But on its surface, it seemed to be all atmosphere with no cohesive storytelling.  As a caveat, I watched the BBC America aired version, which was probably edited differently than the intended version.  Perhaps the plot will be more coherent upon viewing of the original cut.

 

The Final Body Count

This is, for me, an improvement on last week’s story.  However, it’s heavy on mood but light on plot and narrative.  If you like your Doctor Who creepy and philosophical, this is your story.  There’s something of a nice circular timey-wimey resolution, but it may not be enough to redeem a hit-or-miss plot.  So far, this season’s overall story continues to be closer to a dart board than an outlined plan.