Monday, May 22, 2017

DAMN Good Television -- TWIN PEAKS: "The Return, Parts 1 & 2"

It is happening again.

At long last, Twin Peaks is back in all its surreal glory, but are you ready?  If you haven't seen the show's first two episodes yet and you don't want them spoiled for you, then please step back from your computer or whatever electronic device you're reading this on and stop reading now.  If, however, you're wise enough to know that reviews with spoilers are always more interesting than the ones without them...well...LET'S ROCK.

As foretold by Laura Palmer in the original Twin Peaks series finale, David Lynch and Mark Frost's saga of sex, murder and the supernatural returned to television last night, 25 years (and change) since we last saw FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper smashing his forehead into his hotel room bathroom mirror and revealing that he had been possessed by the dark, otherworldly entity known as BOB.  This unresolved cliffhanger (among others) has haunted the souls of many Twin Peaks fans (including myself) for over two and a half decades, and we have a chance for some answers.

Or, as it turns out, a whole bunch of new questions.  

Showtime's revival of the 1990-91 cult classic is pure Lynch, embracing his dark and twisted Eraserhead roots and not anywhere close to phoning it in.  If you expected a standard TV reunion where you get to see your favorite characters again in a simple nostalgia fest, you're in for a rude awakening.  A ton of new characters are introduced, new WTF mysteries are in play, and most importantly, Lynch and Frost don't care if you're a Peaks Noob that needs to be caught up on what happened before.

"The Return" begins with brief flashback teaser where Laura Palmer told Cooper he would see her again in 25 years, and then get the new opening credits.  Because this is 2017, the original two minute, thirty second opening has been chopped in half to one minute fifteen, but the new overhead shot of Snoqualmie Falls looks glorious in HD and Angelo Badalamenti's theme remains untouched.  We see the billowing red curtains from the Black Lodge, followed by a dizzying CGI pan across the zigzag Black Lodge floor that sums up "The Return" perfectly -- familiar, yet different from what you remember, and very disorienting at times.

The tone of the new series is distinctly more serious, along the lines of the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, but there are moments of quirky, offbeat humor that remind you of what made the original series so endearing.  Classic characters Dale Cooper, The Giant, and Dr. Lawrence Jacoby reassure us this is still the same series, and then we get our first new subplot, a strange glass box hooked up to machinery in a top secret facility located in New York.  New character Sam Colby is tasked with constantly watching the box, simply to see if anything appears, which he does until a young woman named Tracy turns up with coffee.  With the security guard missing, Sam invites Tracy in to keep him company which ultimately leads to the two having sex.  The box begins to turn black, however, and a terrifying creature appears inside before breaking free and hacking them to ribbons in a moment of pure, unbridled horror.  Once again, sex leads to terrible violence on Twin Peaks.

More horrible images follow, as a woman named Ruth is found dead in her apartment, her head completely severed and left on the bed pillow, but with a headless man's body placed underneath the covers.  The fingerprints of a local high school principal named Bill Hastings are found all over the room, which leads to his quick arrest.  Placed in a holding cell, Hastings tells his wife he had a dream he killed Ruth, but swears up and down he didn’t do it.  His wife doesn’t believe him, and Bill has the same shaken look Laura Palmer's father Leland had in the original series, so we know how that turned out.

We then catch up with BOB, still joyriding in Dale Cooper's body 25 years later.  BOB, it turns out, has remade Cooper's body in his image -- long hair, tanned skin, etc. -- and has made a life in South Dakota doing all kinds of seedy activities of pain and sorrow.  It turns out that BOB is expected to return to the Black Lodge, but of course, BOB isn't ready to go back just yet and has other plans.

We also catch up with more old friends at the Twin Peaks Sheriff Department, as we learn Andy and Lucy Brennan now have a 24-year-old son named Wally.  Deputy Chief Hawk gets some foreboding warnings about Cooper from the Log Lady, who is heartbreaking as we see actress Catherine Coulson looking frail with an oxygen tube shortly before she passed away in real life.  Hawk goes to Glastonbury Grove, seeing that unsettling circle of sycamore trees and hinting that he may be the one that pieces together what happened to Cooper all those years ago.

Laura makes good on her 25-year promise and sees Cooper once again in the Black Lodge, kissing him and whispering something into his ear in a recreation of the famous dream sequence from Episode 3 of the original series.  Laura tells Cooper it's finally time for him to leave the Black Lodge, then we see Mike the one-armed man introduce Cooper to what I can only described as an electrified tree that Mike calls "the evolution of the Arm", the Man from Another Place from the original series.  Hey, The Man from Another Place did say "When you see me again, it won't be me," right?

Things take an even darker turn when Laura tells Cooper "I am dead...and yet I live" then removes her face briefly to reveal blinding white light.  Suddenly, the Black Lodge begins to shake and tremble, Laura in particular, and it appears as though something came through the roof/ceiling and ripped Laura away.  Leland appears, tasking Cooper to "Find Laura", and then all hell breaks loose when the Electric Tree's doppelganger opens up the Lodge's zigzag floor and flushes Cooper downward into water, ultimately spitting him out in, yes, the mysterious glass box from earlier.  And presumably, this means the creature that hacked Sam and Tracy to bits was the Electric Tree's doppelganger.

As Cooper ends up resuming his descent into wherever on the way out of the Black Lodge, the second episode starts wrapping up with Laura's mother Sarah watching a seriously violent nature show at home, perhaps leading to another of her visions.  This is followed by a return to the Bang Bang Bar, a.k.a. the Roadhouse, where we learn that the bar is now a place where Twin Peaks hipster millennials hang out with their Generation X parents to listen to bands like the Chromatics.  The sole purpose of this scene seems to be to reintroduce classic characters Shelly Johnson and James Hurley, and close out the second episode on a more upbeat note.

But...yeah, all kinds of questions abound.  Who's financing the scientific research into the Black Lodge?  What's happening with Dale Cooper?  What happened to Laura?  What the F#@% were the Electric Tree and its doppelganger?  What's the deal with Bill Hastings? When will the FBI become involved again?  Where's Audrey, Bobby, Big Ed and Norma?  Is Invitation to Love still on?  And when are we finally going to see the White Lodge?  

Sixteen more hours to go.  I can't wait to enjoy the ride.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

THE FANDOM ZONE 103: "The Primal Riddle" is Up!

"I'll allow you to call me Ed because we have a history, but my name is...The Riddler."
– The Riddler, Gotham: "The Primal Riddle"

With Karen back in The Fandom Zone, it's time for a HUGE new episode of The Fandom Zone Podcast!  So huge, in fact, we're splitting it up into two parts!

This week's reviews of comics on television include:

Supergirl 2x20: "City of Lost Children"
Gotham 3x17: "The Primal Riddle"
Lucifer 2x15: "Deceptive Little Parasite"
The Flash 3x21: "Cause and Effect"

iZombie 3x06: "Some Like It Hot Mess"
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4x21: "The Return"
Arrow 5x21: "Honor Thy Fathers"
Iron Fist 1x07: "Felling Tree with Roots"

This week, Karen and I talk about things like dueling Guardians of the Galaxy publications, The Princess Bride, Rhea wanting Lena Luthor as her daughter-in-law, James ("Don't call me Jimmy") Olsen scaring people with his Guardian mask, why the Court of Owls didn't kill Bruce Wayne when replacing him with Five, Selina's big Batman Returns homage, Firefly's big Johnny Paycheck moment, the Riddler loving to put on a show, wondering why Gotham City made Aubrey James mayor again, the Riddler being a pawn in the game of life, the Rutger Hauer movie Wedlock, Trixie introducing herself as "Trixie Morningstar", Lucifer using Trixie to learn how to use his emotions, Lucifer's Triple Decker, Karen's weird multiple sclerosis research, the return of King Shark, why wacky comedy episodes don't help build tension toward a season finale, Julian's out-of-character fondness for emojis, Liv being on scatter brain, Rose McIver as Tinkerbell, the truth about Blaine's memory loss, Blaine getting the zombie cure recipe, the awkwardness of Coulson getting romantic with May's LMD, AIDA as Sylar from Heroes, AIDA flipping out over Fitz, wondering why Oliver can't kill one more bad guy, the big Deathstroke mask on Lian Yu fakeout, the welcome return of Karen's Thea impression, Wild Dog missing his court date, Harold chopping his own finger off, Harold asking his son Ward to dump bodies in a river for him, Ward finally getting tired of his dad's bullshit, Madame Gao revealing that she knew Danny's dad, Harold's finger vs. Iron Fist, some feedback from Justinaand more!

You can now check out episodes of The Fandom Zone using...

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And if that isn't enough for you, you can also check us out on YouTube, Libsyn, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and the official Southgate Media Group website!  Oh, and if you're interested in an officially official Fandom Zone Podcast t-shirt that all the cool kids are wearing, you can get those on TeePublic HERE as well!  Feel free to post a picture on our Facebook page of you or some other cool person you know wearing the shirt!

Be sure to come back next week as Karen returns to help me review the Season 4 finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Episode 8 of Iron Fist, and new episodes of Supergirl, Gotham, Lucifer, The Flash, iZombie, and Arrowright here on The Fandom Zone Podcast!

BLACK LIGHTNING Debuts Electrifying First Trailer

Bad Guys, prepare to get lit up.

The CW has released the first trailer and a new synopsis for the upcoming drama series Black Lightning, based on the DC Comics superhero.  The 2 minute, 50 second trailer gives us our first look at the new series, and here's the updated synopsis... 

Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is a man wrestling with a secret. As the father of two daughters and principal of a charter high school that also serves as a safe haven for young people in a New Orleans neighborhood overrun by gang violence, he is a hero to his community. Nine years ago, Pierce was a hero of a different sort. Gifted with the superhuman power to harness and control electricity, he used those powers to keep his hometown streets safe as the masked vigilante Black Lightning. However, after too many nights with his life on the line, and seeing the effects of the damage and loss that his alter ego was inflicting on his family, he left his superhero days behind and settled into being a principal and a dad.

Choosing to help his city without using his superpowers, he watched his daughters Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain) grow into strong young women, even though his marriage to their mother, Lynn (Christine Adams), suffered. Almost a decade later, Pierce’s crime-fighting days are long behind him…or so he thought. But with crime and corruption spreading like wildfire, and those he cares about in the crosshairs of the menacing local gang The One Hundred, Black Lightning returns — to save not only his family, but also the soul of his community.

The trailer begins in 2005, with Black Lightning wearing a look similar to when he was a member of the Justice League of America in the comics.  We hear a voiceover from Annisa, who says "Black Lightning was a savior who kept our streets and our schools safe.  He was hope personified.  But he was also Jefferson Pierce, my father."

We see Lynn talking to Jefferson, as he recovers in their bathtub, presumably after fighting members of The One Hundred.  "You've been on the streets fighting the One Hundred for years.  Let someone else do it.  The girls need a father."

"Baby," replies an exhausted Jefferson, "I promise.  No more."

We jump ahead to 2017, as we hear more of Annisa's voiceover.  "He tried to keep his promise to my mother.  Said that he saved more lives as the principal of Garfield High than he ever did as Black Lightning.  But without Black Lightning, violence in the streets by the One Hundred gang multiplied.  The anger was just under the surface for all of us.  The whole city was ready to explode.  He could only bury who he was for so long."

Next, we see Jefferson working on a new prototype Black Lightning suit, as we hear him in a voiceover say "The city is getting more and more dangerous every moment.  I'm just trying to keep you safe."

We see Black Lightning beating up some of the One Hundred gang at a motel and also see a brief glimpse of Anissa developing her own powers, possibly hinting at her becoming Thunder at some point.

Annisa's voiceover continues, "If you mess with me, my sister, my mother, or the innocent in this city, you're gonna get lit up."

In the final scene, we see Jefferson chatting with his daughters, admitting "Sometimes...I can come off a little overprotective."

Annisa and Jennifer quickly agree, making Jefferson smile.

If you'd like to check out the new trailer, you can view it below thanks to the official CW account on YouTube...

Black Lightning is expected to debut sometime in early 2018 on The CW as a midseason replacement.

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY Debuts First Full Trailer

At last, Discovery has been discovered.

During the CBS Upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall in New York City, the CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery debuted the show's first full trailer.  The 2 minute, 25 second trailer gives us our first good look at the Discovery cast, along with an interesting new look for the Klingons.

The trailer opens on a strange new world that appears to be a barren desert planet, ten years before the events of the original Star Trek series.  We see the Discovery's First Officer, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) following Captain Phillipa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) across a sand dune.

"Captain, where are we going?" Burnham asks.  "We have no map, and you can't set a course without a star."

"It's hard to imagine you've served under me for seven years," replies Captain Georgiou. "Commander Burnham, I think it is time we talked about you having your own command." She uses her communicator to call up to the Discovery for both of them to be beamed up.

We then see Burnham on the Discovery bridge, as a voiceover from a hologram of Sarek (James Frain) remarks, "Great unifiers are few and far between, but they do come.  Often such leaders will need a profound cause for their followers to rally around."

As we glimpse some members of the bridge crew, Captain Georgiou asks Science Officer Saru (Doug Jones), "What am I looking at?"

"Object of unknown origin," replies Saru.

We cut to a private meeting between Captain Georgiou and Commander Burnham, with Burnham saying, "We've come all this way, Captain.  It would be irresponsible to leave whatever that is unknown."

The Sarek hologram asks Burnham "What have you done out there on the edge of Federation space?" just before we see Burnham activate a thruster suit similar to what Spock wore in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

We then glimpse the Klingons, now with a new makeup design, as the Discovery engages them.

Next, we flash back to Burnham as a human child being raised on Vulcan.  Sarek tells her "You will never learn Vulcan.  Your tongue is too human."

In a different scene, Burnham remarks "I'm trying to save you.  I'm trying to save all of you." This is followed by a quick conflict between Burnham and Georgiou, as Georgiou insists Starfleet doesn't fire weapons first while Burnham says they have to.

The last scene shows Saru speaking with Burnham, informing her rather ominously, "My people were biologically determined for one purpose alone, to sense the coming of death.  I sense it coming now."  Well, since the Captain of the Discovery is supposed to be Jason Isaacs as Lorca, it seems like Captain Georgiou isn't going to be around very long.

If you'd like to view the trailer, you can check it out below thanks to the official Star Trek account on YouTube...

Star Trek: Discovery is currently scheduled to debut on CBS sometime in Fall 2017, possibly later, with the remainder of the episodes airing on CBS All Access.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

NEXT STOP EVERYWHERE 082: "Oxygen" is Up!

"Space, the final frontier.  'Final,' because it wants to kill us."
-- The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: "Oxygen"

That's right, my partner in time Jesse Jackson are back with a new episode of Next Stop Everywhere: The Doctor Who Podcast!  In this episode, Jesse and I review "Oxygen", the fifth episode from Series Ten, starring Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts, and Matt Lucas as Nardole!

This time, Jesse and I discuss things like episode writer Jamie Mathieson, Bruce Springsteen writing for Manfred Mann, the Doctor surviving the vacuum of space, paying homage to Star Trek, the Doctor being blinded, more on the Doctor thumbing his nose at authority, Bill getting adjusted to being in space, Bill being called out for racism against blue aliens, teasing more of Bill's dead mom, Nardole just wanting to go back to the TARDIS, the Doctor taking on capitalist greed, the TARDIS fluid link as a plot device, some feedback from Holly from Wisconsinmy Reverse the Polarity segment, and more!

If you'd like to check out our latest episode, you can find us on...

Google Play Music -- RIGHT HERE
iTunes -- RIGHT HERE
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Direct MP3 downloads/Libsyn --  RIGHT HERE
Next Stop Everywhere's Facebook page
Next Stop Everywhere's Twitter account

And hey, if you'd like to pick up the officially official Next Stop Everywhere t-shirt, you can find it on TeePublic right HERE!  Help support the show and feel free to post pictures on our Facebook page of you or some other cool person you know wearing the shirt!

Be sure to come back next week as Jesse and I review "Extremis", the sixth episode from Series Ten, starring Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts, and Matt Lucas as Nardole!  Look for more of Next Stop Everywhere on iTunes, Google Play Music, YouTube, Libsyn, Soundcloud, Sticher, and the official Southgate Media Group website!

GHOSTWOOD 005: "Beyond Life and Death" is Up!

"I'll see you again in 25 years.  Meanwhile..."
-- Laura Palmer, Twin Peaks: "Beyond Life and Death"

It is happening co-host with the most Xan Sprouse and I are back once again with a new episode of Ghostwood: The Twin Peaks Podcast!  This time, we review "Beyond Life and Death", a.k.a. the 1991 series finale of the original ABC television series Twin Peaks!


In our fifth HUGE episode, Xan and I discuss things like surviving the last ten days before new Twin Peaks, remembering the late Michael Parks who played Jean Renault, hoping our podcast isn't causing Twin Peaks cast members to die, some background on Windom Earle, the Miss Twin Peaks contest, the awkwardness of Nadine being hit on the head by a sandbag, our love of Jimmy Scott's "Under the Sycamore Tree", the Twin Peaks Savings & Loan explosion cliffhanger, the Sarah Palmer delivers a cryptic message to Major Briggs cliffhanger, wondering what the White Lodge is like, that weird coffee sequence in the Waiting Room, the Giant messing with wounded Dale Cooper in the Season 2 premiere, Sheryl Lee's unearthly scream, BOB not letting Windom Earle play him in his house, the final scene cliffhanger that has haunted my soul for the past 26 years, Xan's reaction to the first time she saw the cliffhanger back in 1991, what we're looking forward to with the new Showtime episodes, Starlog magazine, how Twin Peaks changed television, Twin Peaks filling the Stranger Things void, the two of us watching the new Twin Peaks premiere together, a review of Ghostwood, accepting that new Twin Peaks is actually happening, and more!

If you'd like to check out our latest episode, you can find us on...

iTunes -- RIGHT HERE
Direct MP3 downloads/Libsyn --  RIGHT HERE
Ghostwood's Facebook page
Ghostwood's Twitter account

Be sure to come back in just two weeks as Xan and I review "The Return Parts 1 & 2", the first two episodes of the Showtime revival of Twin Peaks!  Look for more of Ghostwood: The Twin Peaks Podcast on iTunes, YouTube, Libsyn, and the official Southgate Media Group website!

Monday, May 15, 2017

X-Men Series THE GIFTED Debuts First Full Trailer

Save the cheerleader mutants, save the world?

Fox has released the first full trailer for The Gifted, their new drama series based on Marvel Comics' X-Men characters.  The new 2 minute, 50-second trailer gives us our best look at the series so far, which tells a story of survival, a story of mutants coming to terms with who they are, and a story of parents accepting the fact that their kids aren’t who they thought they were and loving them just the same – even if all of their lives are at risk because of it.

According to the updated series description from Fox, The Gifted tells "the story of a suburban couple whose ordinary lives are rocked by the sudden discovery that their children possess mutant powers.  Reed (Stephen Moyer) and Caitlin (Amy Acker) Strucker are typical middle-class parents dealing with the realities of raising a family.  However, when their teenage kids, Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and Andy (Percy Hynes White), are involved in an incident at their high school which reveals they are mutants, Reed and Caitlin do all in their power to protect their children.  Forced to go on the run, the Struckers must leave behind their old lives to flee from a relentless government agency that tracks down mutants, the Sentinel Services, which includes Agent Jace Turner (Coby Bell).  Complicating matters further is the fact that Reed is a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office tasked with going after mutants.  Desperate and running low on options, the family’s only choice is to contact an underground network that helps mutants in trouble.  The mutants in the network – Eclipse/Marcos Diaz (Sean Teale), Blink/Clarice Fong (Jamie Chung), Polaris/Lorna Dane (Emma Dumont) and Thunderbird/John Proudstar (Blair Redford) – are dealing with their own issues.  With one of their members in prison and their team possibly compromised, they face an uncertain future in a world that looks increasingly dangerous for mutants."

The trailer opens with Reed visiting a government facility where Polaris is being held captive in some sort of tank.  "I read your file," he begins.  "You're a very troubled young woman. Believe it or not, I'm here to help you."  It's not clear what happens after that, but we see Reed walking away from the Polaris' tank, which is sparking.

We then cut to the Strucker kids, Lauren and her brother Andy, at some sort of motel.  "You know when you put your hand out of the window of a moving car?" Lauren asks Andy.  "You can feel the air and guide it?  I can...push the air together, water too, other stuff.  Who taught you how to swim?"

"You," replies Andy.

"I can teach you this," Lauren says reassuringly as she proceeds to push a bag of microwave popcorn out from its vending machine slot.  Andy is suitably impressed.

We see Andy being bullied at school, dragged into the boy's locker room and doused with water during some sort of school dance.  The incident presumably triggers Andy's mutant telekinetic powers to manifest.

Next, we see Reed calling Eclipse to ask for help with his mutant children.  "You hear about the mutant incident?" he says.  "Those are my kids."

After Caitlin asks her kids why they didn't tell her they have mutant powers, Lauren tearfully replies, "Dad puts people like us in jail!"

As we see glimpses of Polaris and Thunderbird, we get a brief tidbit from Eclipse, who says "The X-Men, the Brotherhood...We don't even know if they even exist anymore."

Agent Turner and the Sentinel Services close in on the family, revealing some spider-like robot Sentinels in the process.  Various fleeting images of the family being hunted and running for their lives follow.

"This is a burden, yes," Caitlin says to her kids, "but it's also a gift."

After we see Andy raging against the Spider-Sentinels with telekinetic force, we see Eclipse talking with Reed.  "Tell me about Lorna," he asks as we glimpse Polaris being captured by police.

"Any information I have is yours," replied Reed, "but only if my family is safe."

If you'd like to view the trailer, you can see it below thanks to the official Fox account on YouTube...

The Gifted will air on Fox Monday nights at 9:00 p.m. EST sometime this fall.