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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

NEXT STOP EVERYWHERE 102: "Twice Upon a Time" is Up!


"I’ve got a few things to say to you…basic stuff first.  Never be cruel, never be cowardly.  And never, ever eat pears!  Remember, hate is always foolish, and love is always wise.  Always try to be nice and never fail to be kind.  Oh!  And you mustn’t tell anyone your name.  No one would understand it anyway…except…except children.  Children can hear it.  Sometimes, if their hearts are in the right place and the stars are too.  Children can hear your name, but nobody else, nobody else…ever.  Laugh hard, run fast, be kind.  Doctor, I let you go…"
-- The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: "Twice Upon a Time"

Closing out the Twelfth Doctor era, my partner in time Jesse Jackson and I are back with a new episode of Next Stop Everywhere: The Doctor Who Podcast!  This time, we review "Twice Upon a Time", the Doctor Who 2017 Christmas Specialfeaturing the final story of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts, Mark Gatiss as Captain Archibald Hamish Lethbridge-Stewart, and David Bradley as the First Doctor!

In this episode, Jesse and I discuss things like how Jesse and I spent this year's Doctor Who Christmas, calling out BBC America for only airing episodes from the past three Doctors during marathons, two Doctor Who writers facing off against one another on screen, the First Doctor being portrayed as sexist, David Bradley reprising the First Doctor for Big Finish Productions, explaining how New Earth years work, the existential argument of whether memories make up a person more than a body, why the Twelfth Doctor was tired in his final episode, Peter Capaldi's final scene right before the regeneration, Jodie Whittaker's first scene as the Thirteenth Doctor, how to watch "The Tenth Planet" back-to-back with "Twice Upon a Time", 
my Reverse the Polarity segment, new feedback from Ken Schaefer, Devin Pike, David K. Proctor, Holly from Wisconsin, Paul from Australia, and othersadvising Doctor Who fandom not to panic, our plans for the start of 2018, 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
Stitcher -- RIGHT HERE
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 in 2018 as Jesse and I review "42", the 2007 episode from Series Three of Doctor Who, featuring David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones!  Look for more of Next Stop Everywhere on iTunes, Google Play Music, YouTube, Libsyn, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and the official Southgate Media Group website!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

DAMN Good Movies -- STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI


This is not going to go the way you think.

That's right, it's time once again for another of my movie takes, this time on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the latest in the Star Wars film series.  As always, if you haven't seen the movie yet and you don't want it 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 movie reviews with spoilers are always more interesting than the ones without them...well...May the Force be with you...

After the huge success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which resurrected the Star Wars franchise to over $2 billion in worldwide box office, expectations were understandably high for Episode VIIIRian Johnson, writer of director of the time-travel movie Looper, was brought in to do the same here, with many fans hoping Johnson would take the Skywalker Saga in a bold, unexpected turn similar to The Empire Strikes Back.  

The film opens right after the events of The Force Awakens, with Resistance fighters, led by General Leia Organa, evacuating their base as a First Order fleet arrives, similar to the escape from Hoth in EmpirePoe Dameron leads an effective but costly counterattack that costs the Resistance their bombers, but First Order is able to pursue them through hyperspace using a tracking device.  Leia's son Ben, now known as Kylo Ren, destroys the Resistance support fighters, but hesitates to fire at the lead Resistance ship after sensing his mother's presence.  I guess killing one parent was enough for Emo Ren, hunh?

Well, TIE fighters end up destroying the ship's bridge anyway, killing several Resistance leaders, including Admiral "It's a trap!" Ackbar.  It was a pretty shocking moment to see Leia sucked out into the vacuum of space, and with Carrie Fisher's real-life death, it felt really wrong to see Leia go out in such an abrupt way.  Well, credit to Rian Johnson here, who played against expectations and revealed that the Force is indeed strong in Leia as well.  Anyone who ever hoped to see Leia's game stepped up beyond being Force-sensitive had to be fist-pumping with delight as she used the Force to survive the coldness of space and propel herself back to safety aboard the Resistance command ship.

With Leia understandably sidelined, a new, purple-haired character named Vice Admiral Holdo steps up out of nowhere as next in command.  Finn, meanwhile, decides this is a good time to finally wake up from his injuries in The Force Awakens.  He takes a beacon dropped by Leia that will lead Rey back to them, and quickly attempts to board an escape pod, only to be caught by another new character, a maintenance worker named Rose Tico.  Rose, whose sister Paige was a Resistance bomber that Poe carelessly got killed, isn't exactly down with Finn's whole desertion thing right now.  She's about to turn him in, until Finn informs her about the First Order tracking device that she might be able to disable.  They run their plan by Poe, who contacts Maz Kanata for help, only to have her tell them to look for a "master code breaker" at a casino on the planet Canto Bight.  Poe then runs their plan by Holdo, who says the word is no, but Poe, Finn, Rose and BB-8 are therefore going anyway.

And hey, remember that cliffhanger from The Force Awakens on the remote planet of Ahch-To, where Rey was trying to hand Luke Skywalker his old lightsaber back?  Well, he finally takes it...and throws it away as the Price is Right fail music plays.  It turns out that Luke is very disillusioned with being a Jedi these days, ever since his former padawan Ben Solo flipped to the Dark Side, killed Luke's new Jedi order, and burned down his spiffy Jedi temple.  Surrounding himself with Porgs, Luke has zero desire to train Rey in the ways of the Force and is quickly freaked when she displays her considerable raw power that, surprise, is as powerful as Kylo Ren's.  Things that make you go hmmmm.

We head into the Second Act on Canto Bight, where Rose starts bonding with Finn as she explains the shadiness of the lavish casino city, whose inhabitants have made their fortunes selling weapons to both sides of the war.  Unfortunately, most of this sequence gets a bit frustrating to watch, especially when you realize there are more important storylines in play and "alien casino" clashes with the film's overall tone.  After being arrested by the Canto Bight police, Rose and Finn encounter DJ, a slicer (hacker) who releases them from prison.  Riding towards their ship, now destroyed by the Canto Bight Police, they again run into DJ, accompanied by BB-8, who conveniently comes to their rescue aboard a stolen vehicle.

Back on Ahch-To, Luke keeps being a dick and ignoring Rey, until R2-D2 goes right for the emotional jugular by replaying the footage of Luke's sister Leia pleading Obi-Wan Kenobi for help in the original Star Wars movie.  While Rey keeps having visions of Kylo Ren with his shirt off, Luke finally agrees to give Rey three lessons of the ways of the Force (two of which we actually see), and tells her why he believes the Jedi must end.  He eventually reveals to Rey that he had sensed Supreme Leader Snoke's corruption of Ben and considered killing Ben in his sleep to put an end to it, but the idea quickly vanished.  Ben, however, woke up to see Luke's lightsaber drawn, and became disillusioned with Luke and the Jedi (Go figure), allowing himself to become Kylo Ren.  

Rey urges Luke not to give up and return to the Resistance, not to mention try to turn Kylo back to the Light Side, but Luke merely shrugs and goes "Whatevs".  After Rey leaves Ahch-To with Chewbacca, Artoo and bunch of souvenir Porgs, Luke is visited by Yoda as a Force ghost, who uses the Force to summon a lightning bolt to burn down the first Jedi temple and with it, seemingly, the sacred Jedi texts.  Yoda assures Luke that the texts don't matter as long as the Jedi continue the teachings themselves, and urges Luke to learn from his own failings.  The more things change...

Around this point, the film begins to struggle.  Holdo reveals her big plan to evacuate the remaining Resistance members using small transports and basically hope that the First Order doesn't notice.  Not down with Holdo's "run away" masterplan, Poe goes seriously rogue and attempts a mutiny.  Finn, Rose, BB-8 and DJ infiltrate Snoke's ship, but are captured by Captain Phasma, but BB-8 manages to escape.  Rey lands on the ship, and Kylo brings her to Snoke, who reveals that (surprise!) he was responsible for the mental connection between her and Kylo as part of a plan to destroy Luke.  Ordered to kill Rey, Kylo Ren instead takes out Snoke (Wait...What?) and teams up with Rey to kill Snoke's not-so-elite guards.  Kylo invites Rey to rule the galaxy with him, but Rey refuses, just to remind you that you already saw this scene in Empire with Luke and Darth Vader.  Using the Force, they struggle for possession of Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber, which splits in two and lets Rey breathe a sigh of relief that she still has two hands.

In the third act, Leia wakes up and literally stuns Poe, allowing the evacuation to begin. Holdo decides to remain on the ship to act as a diversion while everyone else heads to a nearby old Rebel Alliance base on Crait.  DJ throws Finn and Rose under the bus and reveals the Resistance's plan to the First Order.  The evacuation transports are targeted with heavy losses, and Holdo sacrifices herself by ramming Snoke's fleet at lightspeed to stop the barrage.  It's here that you wonder why Holdo didn't just pre-program the controls and leave by escape pod, and more importantly, why no one else ever thought to take out the big First Order ships with kamikaze suicide attacks.

Rey escapes in the chaos, while Kylo declares himself new Supreme Leader and probably starts tweeting about how he's going to make the First Order great again.  BB-8 frees Finn and Rose, who escape after defeating Captain Phasma far too easily, and join the survivors of the evacuation on Crait.  When the First Order arrives, Poe, Finn, and Rose lead a charge with some junky old speeders that were left behind by the Alliance.  Just when things look even more bleak, Rey draws the TIE fighters away with the Millennium Falcon, while Rose saves Finn from a suicide run against the main enemy cannon, which blasts a hole in the Resistance fortress.  Time to start shipping "Frose", I guess. 

In the film's big climax, Luke suddenly appears on Crait and has a long-awaited reunion with Leia that's over far too soon.  He then confronts Kylo alone so that the surviving Resistance fighters can escape.  Kylo orders the First Order forces to fire everything on Luke, but is surprised when Luke is still standing like nothing happened.  Kylo Ren then battles Luke himself, striking Luke with his lightsaber, only to realize he's been fighting Luke's Force projection all along.  D'oh!  Luke defiantly tells Kylo that he will not be the last Jedi, while Rey uses the Force to help the remaining Resistance fighters escape.  Back on Ahch-To, we see that the long-distance Force projection costs Luke his life, as he disappears in another disappointing end to a classic Star Wars hero.  Leia reassures everyone that the rebellion has everything they need to rise again, because hey, we still have Episode IX to go, right?  

And then, somewhat inexplicably, the film ends on Canto Bight, with one of the children that helped Finn and Rose escape grabbing a broom with the Force and gazing hopefully up into space.  I get that Johnson was probably trying to end on more upbeat, hopeful note, but instead this ending felt a bit tacked on and unnecessary.

So what about the performances from the cast and the characters they portrayed?  Well, as you might expect, I have a few thoughts...

REY -- No, we still don't know her last name.  Despite being one of the central characters, Daisy Ridley is somewhat sidelined this time out.  This is Rey's big "training in the ways of the Force" movie, although she spends more time actually training herself rather than learning anything from Luke.  We get more of Rey's strong connection to her brother/cousin/whatever Kylo Ren, who tries to convince Rey (and us) that her nobody parents simply sold her off for booze, but is anyone seriously buying that load of poodoo?

LUKE SKYWALKER -- Mark Hamill officially returns to Star Wars after three decades, saving his best performance as Luke for last...or is it?  Unfortunately, Johnson's script completely fails to understand the character, something Hamill himself has stated publicly, and I tend to agree.  It's pretty much impossible to reconcile the Jedi who fought so hard to stay alive after having his right hand hacked off by his Sith Lord father, then came back and turned his father from the Dark Side so he could take out the Emperor, with the hopeless, self-pitying recluse that turned away from the Force because he was temped to murder his corrupted nephew that murdered his new Jedi order.  We can only hope that Luke's casual "See you around, kid" to Kylo was a tease that we'll get a more satsifying ending for Luke in Episode IX.

GENERAL LEIA ORGANA -- Does anyone else think it's odd that Leia, who passed away in real life as Carrie Fisher, actually outlived both Han and Luke?  I imagine Leia will be killed off screen by the time Episode IX is released, but at least Carrie Fisher's final performance as Leia was more substantive than in The Force Awakens.  The sequence where Leia awakens in space, revealing her full strength in the Force, absolutely floored me and I was happy we finally got a taste of Leia being a true Skywalker before Fisher's end.  Rest In Peace, your worshipfulness.

KYLO REN/BEN SOLO -- Thanks to Snoke's not-so-subtle hint, Adam Driver ditches his black bucket helmet and finally realizes that he's supposed to be the bad guy.  Sure, he feels this connection to Rey, but this time, Kylo reveals that being Snoke's henchman is getting seriously old.  The scene where Kylo suddenly takes out Snoke, hinting at a possible flip to the Light Side, was a good twist, especially when he surprises Rey by declaring himself Supreme Leader and the actual villain of this trilogy.  

POE DAMERON -- After getting only a couple of solid sequences in The Force Awakens, Oscar Isaac returns as Poe, only to find his character is just all over the place.  Johnson's script has Poe being careless with the lives of the Resistance bombers, which gets him demoted, then he gets pissy with Holdo just because she's not proactive enough, which makes him stage a mutiny that ends up failing when Leia wakes up from her coma to stun him.  Yeesh.  I'm not even going to get into his completely pointless strike against the First Order on Crait using some junky leftover speeders.  Poe, you deserved better.

FINN/FN-2187 -- John Boyega finally wakes up from his coma as Finn, and to the surprise of no one, the very first thing he thinks about is Rey.  Well, at least until Rose Tico catches him trying to run away (again) and the two are partnered up during their side trip to the casino on Canto Bight.  All we want to see, though, is Finn in another grudge with Captain Phasma, but that's over far too quickly to be satisfying.  Finn's biggest and most heroic moment comes in the Third Act, when he shows he's willing to sacrifice himself to defeat the First Order's cannon, only to have Rose deliberately ram his speeder to save him.

ROSE TICO -- New to the Star Wars saga, Kelly Marie Tran makes her debut as Rose, the likeable maintenance worker who turns out to be quite the crusader.  Rose is definitely one of the bright spots of The Last Jedi, quickly made sympathetic when we see her crying over the dead sister Paige, who was killed during Poe's reckless Battle of D'Qar.  Instead of dwelling on her sister's death, however, Rose steps up from her traditional supportive role for the Resistance and shows her distaste for oppression and injustice, both on Canto Bight and on Crait.  Rose seems to show her affection for Finn, sneaking a kiss just before she collapsed unconscious from injuries after ramming his speeder, so we'll have to wait and see what becomes of this next time.

VICE ADMIRAL AMILYN HOLDO -- Laura Dern also makes her Star Wars debut as Vice Admiral Holdo, who takes over for General Leia Organa after she's sucked out into space and needs to recuperate.  She ends up butting heads with Poe Dameron, forcing him to stage a mutiny, but her big moment comes when she takes out Snoke's ship, Supremacy, by jumping to lightspeed right through it.  It still makes no sense why she just didn't pre-program the jump and then bail out using an escape pod, but whatever.

GENERAL ARMITAGE HUX -- With his unfortunate spitting habit seemingly under control this time, Domhnall Gleeson returns as Hux, mostly as comic relief.  He gets a couple of decent scenes, one where Poe pretends to not hear him during a transmission between the two, and another just after Kylo kills Snoke and takes over as Supreme Leader, requiring a Force choke-hold to "encourage" Hux's approval.

SUPREME LEADER SNOKE -- Andy Serkis reprises the role of Snoke, whom we actually get to see in person this time instead of a ginormous hologram.  Snoke was the subject of a lot of speculation from fans after The Force Awakens, so it was very surprising that Johnson chose to womp-womp those expectations by having Kylo take Snoke off the board so he could seize power for himself.  Maybe that whole "let's create a psychic bond between Kylo and Rey" thing wasn't Snoke's best idea...?

CAPTAIN PHASMA -- Back from Westeros once again, Gwendoline Christie gets a second outing as Phasma, who obviously survived being left in a trash compactor by Finn and Han Solo in the previous film.  In Round Two of Phasma's grudge match with Finn, she gets to taunt Finn and Rose after they're captured, then faces off in a duel with Finn.  Finn manages to crack her chrome dome, exposing part of her face around the left eye just before she plummets into an inferno below.  But hey, you don't really think we've seen the last of Phasma, do you?  I didn't think so.

DJ -- Benicio del Toro appears as a "slicer", which is just the Star Wars term for "hacker".  We're introduced to him when Finn and Rose are thrown in the slammer and can't find the Master Codebreaker they're looking for.  But since Finn and Rose never watched del Toro as the Controller in Guardians of the Galaxy, they end up trusting DJ way too much and are shocked when he has no problem throwing them under the bus for the First Order.  

CHEWBACCA -- Joonas Suotamo fully assumes the role of Chewie, who remains a fixture aboard the Millennium Falcon.  Chewie gets a few good scenes, mostly dealing with the Porg infestation on the ship.  One highlight is the scene where Chewie attempts to eat two Porgs he caught and roasted over a campfire, only to be guilted out of doing so by a bunch of other Porgs looking at him with big, sad eyes.

BB-8 -- Despite being a significant addition in The Force Awakens, BB-8 gets a downgraded role this time out.  Still, he gets to fix Poe's x-wing weapon system just in the nick of time, takes out several guards on Canto Bight, and he hijacks an AT-ST to rescue Finn and Rose after DJ's inevitable betrayal.

C-3PO -- Once again, Anthony Daniels reprises Threepio, who mostly serves as an assistant for Leia and Poe, while Leia is unconscious.  He gets a really brief reunion with Master Luke, who winks at him before confronting Kylo Ren, but Johnson once again wastes a good opportunity to have the characters really interact.

R2-D2 -- Jimmy "Bannakaffalatta" Vee takes over for the late Kenny Baker, although Artoo doesn't get to do much.  His biggest moment is obviously the scene where he replays Princess Leia's message to Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars movie, which finally shakes Luke out of his apathy to start training Rey.

ADMIRAL GIAL ACKBAR CAMEO -- Timothy D. Rose Ackbar returns in his final appearance as Admiral Ackbar, who aids the rest of the Resistance in evacuating their base.  Unfortunately, The First Order initiates an attack on the bridge of their main cruiser, causing all occupants, including Ackbar, to be blown out into space and killed.  Here's hoping Ackbar says "It's a trap!" when he arrives in Star Wars Heaven.

YODA CAMEO -- The legendary Frank Oz returns to the Skywalker Saga as a Force ghost while Luke debates whether to burn down the tree storing the only remaining copies of the Sacred Texts of the Jedi.  When Luke decides against burning down the tree and destroying the texts, Yoda trolls his former Padawan hard by summoning a lightning bolt down upon the tree, setting it ablaze while Luke watches in horror at the texts being lost forever.  It was nice to see Yoda back to his mischevious, giggling self again, but where was he all that time while Luke was languishing in his depression and apathy?  Watching Netflix?

MAZ KANATA CAMEO -- I was disappointed that Lupita Nyong'o only turns up in one scene as Maz, where she tells Poe, Finn and Rose to find the master codebreaker on Canto Bight, while in the middle of a firefight that she calls a union dispute.  

All in all, Star Wars: The Last Jedi tries hard to do something different with the Star Wars saga but it doesn't always work.  Rian Johnson seems to enjoy playing against fan expectations, taking his characters in unexpected directions that often come off as puzzling, or in Luke's case, completely out of character.  J.J. Abrams made a solid effort setting up the board in The Force Awakens, only to have Johnson come along and kick the board over, making you wonder what the hell was the point of the previous film.  Some might find that refreshing, but considering the overall narrative for this trilogy, I find myself concerned that the final film of the Skywalker Saga isn't going to have enough of a payoff.  Help us, J.J. Abrams, you're our only hope.

And for those who may be wondering, here's my personal ranking of the Star Wars films:

1. Star Wars (1977)
2. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
4. Return of the Jedi (1983)
5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
7. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
8. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
9. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Your friendly neighborhood movie reviewer,

Charles

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

NEXT STOP EVERYWHERE 101: "The Tenth Planet" is Up!


"What did you say, my boy?  It's all over, it's all over, that's what you said.  No, but it isn't all over.  It's far from being all over."
-- The First Doctor to Ben Jackson, Doctor Who: "The Tenth Planet"

Starting our next 100 episodes, my partner in time Jesse Jackson and I are back with a new episode of Next Stop Everywhere: The Doctor Who Podcast!  This time, we review "The Tenth Planet", the classic 1966 story from the original series of Doctor Who, featuring the final story of William Hartnell as the First Doctor, Michael Craze as Ben Jackson, Anneke Wills as Polly Wright, and the first appearance of the Cybermen! 

In this episode, Jesse and I discuss things like "The Tenth Planet" tying in to "Twice Upon a Time", Jesse watching the story via YouTube, Jesse not being impressed with Ben & Polly, the debut of the Cybermen, preferring the origin of the Mondasian Cybermen compared to the modern alternate Earth Cybermen, the Cybermen's fur coat disguise, my attempt to defend Ben & Polly, General Cutler being like J. Jonah Jameson, Original Gangsta science fiction writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the importance of the TARDIS in regenerations, wondering how much of "Twice Upon a Time" will enhance the story of "The Tenth Planet", making this story a First Doctor Christmas special, my Reverse the Reverse the Polarity segment
, new feedback from David K. Proctor, Holly from Wisconsin, Fred Firestine, and Paul from Australia, DC Comics characters Hawk & Dove, 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
Stitcher -- RIGHT HERE
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 "Twice Upon a Time", the 2017 Doctor Who Christmas special, featuring the final story of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, David Bradley as the First Doctor, Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts, Jared Garfield as Ben Jackson, and Lily Travers as Polly Wright!  Look for more of Next Stop Everywhere on iTunes, Google Play Music, YouTube, Libsyn, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and the official Southgate Media Group website!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

THE BOYS Casts Erin Moriarty as Starlight


The Seven just got their first member.

Deadline has revealed that the upcoming Amazon series The Boys, based on the Dynamite Entertainment comic series by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, has cast Erin Moriarty as Annie January, better known to fans of the comic as the superhero Starlight.

According to the article, Starlight is described as "a young woman with superhero powers who can make lightning bolts flash from her eyes. Her dream is to be a real superhero like the famous Seven."

In a world where superheroes embrace the darker side of their massive celebrity and fame, The Boys revolves around a group of vigilantes known informally as 'the boys,' who set out to take down corrupt superheroes with no more than blue-collar grit and a willingness to fight dirty.

Moriarty, 23, is probably best known as Hope Shlottman on the Netflix series Jessica Jones.  Her other television appearances include episodes of True Detective, Red Widow, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and One Life to Live.

Created in 2006 by Ennis and Robertson, Starlight first appeared in The Boys #3 as Annie January, an active superhero that possessed the ability to fly and emit a powerful blinding light.  Starlight served on the conservative teenage superhero team the Young Americans in her early years, where she also dated the leader of the team, Drummer Boy.  Anne was very religious and conservative, appealing to the good in people and with a sincere wish to do good.

After the death of the Seven member the Lamplighter, Starlight got her big opportunity, when she was called upon to serve in the world's premiere superhero team, the Seven.  Reality would shatter Starlight unfortunately as after a fairly routine tour, the Homelander presented a very different side to himself, demanding that Starlight engage in oral sex with him.  A shocked and horrified Starlight was in a state of disbelief, as more members of the Seven, A-Train and Black Noir, entered the room, removing their pants with sinister grins on their faces.  Homelander explained that no one was going to force themselves on her, but this was simply a matter of how much she wanted to be on the world's biggest superhero team.  After that horrible ordeal, Annie attempted to find solace in the women's bathroom, experiencing physical illness at the events that occurred prior.

A-Train mocked her constantly, making crude gestures at her, even in team meetings.  She quickly discovered that almost all the Seven were egomaniacal, greedy, insensitive jerks.  Team meetings seem designed around matters of finance and self promotion rather than any actual heroic work.  Initially accepting her teammates abuse, she began to defend herself against their actions, refusing changes that corporate sponsor Vought-American tried to force upon her, such as a smaller costume, a breast augmentation, and a back story involving rape to give her a greater "dark and more sexual" appeal.  However, standing up for herself came with the cost of changing her previously innocent character, making her prone to expletives, drinking, and violence like the other members of the Seven.  Some time later, A-Train attempted to rape Starlight and during the fight, she used her powers to blind one of his eyes.

Eventually, while out of costume, Starlight met the Boys member Wee Hughie.  The two happened to sit in the same park bench in Central Park, and Starlight was amused by Wee Hughie's thick Scottish accent.  The two strangers talked and they both experienced a positive lift in mood, although they chose not to tell the other about their real jobs.  The two soon began dating, with Annie believing her relationship with Hughie was "more precious than gold".  She intended to quit the Seven and move out, but was terrified Hughie would reject her if he found out what she did to get into the Seven.  This unfortunately proved to be true, with Hughie leaving their relationship after she revealed her true identity.  By the end of the series, Annie left New York and Hughie behind, due to the events following an attempted insurrection in Washington, as well as Hughie's continued discomfort around her.  She returned in the final issue, with the characters once again together, having decided to give their relationship another chance after both the Boys and the Seven were ended.

The Boys is expected to debut on Amazon sometime in 2019.

Monday, December 18, 2017

GHOSTWOOD 024: "Criterion Walk with Me" is Up!


"God damn, these people are confusing."
-- Carl Rodd, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

It is finally happening again...My co-host with the most Xan Sprouse and I are back at last with a new episode of Ghostwood: The Twin Peaks Podcast!  This time, we review the new Criterion Collection blu-ray edition of David Lynch's 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, released on October 17, 2017!

LET'S ROCK!

In our latest episode, Xan and I discuss things like how to introduce yourself in Norwegian, my cat Keiko loving KFC, Amazon backordering the Twin Peaks: The Limited Event series blu-rays the day they're supposed to arrive, Xan being a Criterion geek, trying to fill the Twin Peaks void with The X-Files and Northern Exposure, running down the Missing Pieces, Doc Heyward being cool with motorcycle rebel wannabe James, the Chet Desmond vs. Sheriff Cable fight, the (sort of) first appearance of Diane Evans, connecting Gordon Cole's MAYDAY with Major Briggs' MAYDAY, wondering if it's future or is it past, Laura's creepy-ass grin as she stares up at the ceiling fan, Bobby losing his shit when he realizes the bag of cocaine he bought was actually baby laxative, not wanting to see anyone replace Grace Zabriskie as Sarah Palmer, wondering why James didn't park his bike and walk to pick up Laura to avoid Leland's attention, Fire Walk with Me making a lot more sense after watching "The Return", Angelo Badalamenti name-dropping Paul McCartney and Queen Elizabeth II being Twin Peaks fans, our mutual love of Ralph Wiggum from The Simpsons, some email feedback, taunting Xan with my Season 3 blu-ray set, Xan's appreciation for James Marstersand 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
YouTube -- RIGHT HERE
Ghostwood's Facebook page
Ghostwood's Twitter account

Be sure to come back soon as Xan and I review Twin Peaks: The Final Dossierthe second Twin Peaks novel from co-creator Mark Frost!  Look for more of Ghostwood: The Twin Peaks Podcast on iTunes, YouTube, Libsyn, and the official Southgate Media Group website!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

THE FANDOM ZONE 125: "Queen Takes Knight" is Up!


"The sun never shines here."
-- Carmine Falcone, Gotham: "Queen Takes Knight"

You guessed it, Karen and I are  back with another HUGE new episode of The Fandom Zone Podcast!  So huge, in fact, we're splitting it up in two parts!  This week's reviews of comics on television include:
 
The Walking Dead 8x07: "Time for After"
Lucifer 3x09: "The Sinnerman"
The Gifted 1x09: "OutfoX"
Supergirl 3x09: "Reign"  (Midseason Finale)
The Flash 4x09: "Don't Run"  (Midseason Finale)

Legends of Tomorrow 3x09: "Beebo the God of War"  (Midseason Finale)
Gotham 4x11: "Queen Takes Knight"   (Midseason Finale)
Arrow 6x09: "Irreconcilable Differences"  (Midseason Finale)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5x03: "A Life Spent"
 
In this episode, Karen and I talk about things like the return of our old Dangerous Habits: The Constantine Podcast theme music, Karen and I spending quality time together, finally giving up on Eugene being redeemed, Daryl being on a suicide mission, speculating on how Morgan will fit into Fear the Walking Dead, Rick being a Briefs Guy, Rick vs. another Road Warrior Walker, what John Constantine would think of Jadis and the Scavengers, speculating on whether Pierce is the real Sinnerman, Mazikeen finally getting Lucifer to listen to her, Fenris 2: The ReFenrising, wondering if Reed always knew that his Lauren and Andy could be mutants someday, more of Amy Acker being wasted on The Gifted, wondering what the point is of a non-dairy cheese omelette, my Christmas gift for my nephew Kaleb, Reign's Fortress of Sanctuary, Reign's epic beatdown of Supergirl, the Martian Manhunter's favorite Star Wars movie, being concerned about Legends of Tomorrow replacing Supergirl on The CW's schedule, the return of Katee Sackhoff as Amunet, The Thinker's big bodyswapping twist, Ralph realizing that he's coming off as a jerk, Iris throwing shade on Felicity stepping all over her and Barry's "I do" moment, Martin Stein using physics to get himself a Beebo doll, Agent Sharpe flirting with White Canary, Citizen Cold getting to know Heat Wave, Karen's awkward chess metaphor, Sofia Falcone's overly complicated plan, Grayson not being the only Dick in Wayne Manor, that awkward moment when Wild Dog sells out Team Arrow, the return of Mama Smoak, the return of Karen's Thea impression, Matthew McConaughey as Lando Calrissian, explaining "616" of the Marvel Universe, Daisy being sick of "Quake, Destroyer of Worldsand more!

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

Google Play Music
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iTunes -- HERE
Direct Download MP3s/Libsyn -- HERE
The Fandom Zone on Facebook -- HERE
The Fandom Zone on Twitter -- @FandomZoneCast

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 and I review Episodes 2 and 3 of Netflix's The Punisher, the midseason finales of AMC's The Walking Dead and Fox's Lucifer and The Gifted, and a new episode of ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., right here on The Fandom Zone Podcast!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Disney Acquires 21st Century Fox, FANTASTIC FOUR & X-MEN Returning to Marvel


The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to get a lot bigger.

After recent acquisitions of Marvel Comics and Lucasfilm Ltd., The Walt Disney Company has officially announced they have agreed to acquire 21st Century Fox, including the Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with cable and international businesses, for the sum of $52.4 billion in stock.

This means that Disney will now control the movie and TV rights to the Fantastic Four and X-Men properties, allowing them to be brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and interact with other MCU characters.  This deal includes other Fox franchises such as The Simpsons and Alien.

Oh, look...Here's a press release from Disney!

The Walt Disney Company To Acquire Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc., After Spinoff Of Certain Businesses, For $52.4 Billion In Stock

21st Century Fox to spin off Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News, Fox Business, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network to its shareholders
  • Acquisition complements andThe Walt Disney Company To Acquire Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc., After Spinoff Of Certain Businesses, For $52.4 Billion In Stock enhances The Walt Disney Company’s ability to provide consumers around the world with more appealing content and entertainment options
  • Transaction to include 21st Century Fox’s film and television studios, cable entertainment networks and international TV businesses
  • Popular entertainment properties including X-Men, Avatar, The Simpsons, FX Networks and National Geographic to join Disney’s portfolio
  • Expands Disney’s direct-to-consumer offerings with addition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment content, capabilities in the Americas, Europe and Asia; Hulu stake becomes a controlling interest
  • Addition of extensive international properties, including Star in India and Fox’s 39% ownership of Sky across Europe, enhances Disney’s position as a truly global entertainment company with world-class offerings in key regions
  • Robert A. Iger to remain Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company through 2021
The Walt Disney Company and Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. (21st Century Fox) today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Disney to acquire 21st Century Fox, including the Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with cable and international TV businesses, for approximately $52.4 billion in stock (subject to adjustment). Building on Disney’s commitment to deliver the highest quality branded entertainment, the acquisition of these complementary assets would allow Disney to create more appealing content, build more direct relationships with consumers around the world and deliver a more compelling entertainment experience to consumers wherever and however they choose. Immediately prior to the acquisition, 21st Century Fox will separate the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a newly listed company that will be spun off to its shareholders.

Under the terms of the agreement, shareholders of 21st Century Fox will receive 0.2745 Disney shares for each 21st Century Fox share they hold (subject to adjustment for certain tax liabilities as described below). The exchange ratio was set based on a 30-day volume weighted average price of Disney stock. Disney will also assume approximately $13.7 billion of net debt of 21st Century Fox. The acquisition price implies a total equity value of approximately $52.4 billion and a total transaction value of approximately $66.1 billion (in each case based on the stated exchange ratio assuming no adjustment) for the business to be acquired by Disney, which includes consolidated assets along with a number of equity investments. 

Popular Entertainment Properties to Join Disney Family

Combining with Disney are 21st Century Fox’s critically acclaimed film production businesses, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000, which together offer diverse and compelling storytelling businesses and are the homes of Avatar, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool, as well as The Grand Budapest Hotel, Hidden Figures, Gone Girl, The Shape of Water and The Martian—and its storied television creative units, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Fox21, which have brought The Americans, This Is Us, Modern Family, The Simpsons and so many more hit TV series to viewers across the globe. Disney will also acquire FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox Networks Group International, Star India and Fox’s interests in Hulu, Sky plc, Tata Sky and Endemol Shine Group.

“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “We’re honored and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building, and we’re excited about this extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings. The deal will also substantially expand our international reach, allowing us to offer world-class storytelling and innovative distribution platforms to more consumers in key markets around the world.”

“We are extremely proud of all that we have built at 21st Century Fox, and I firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace in what is an exciting and dynamic industry,” said Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman of 21st Century Fox. “Furthermore, I’m convinced that this combination, under Bob Iger’s leadership, will be one of the greatest companies in the world. I’m grateful and encouraged that Bob has agreed to stay on, and is committed to succeeding with a combined team that is second to none.”

At the request of both 21st Century Fox and the Disney Board of Directors, Mr. Iger has agreed to continue as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company through the end of calendar year 2021.

“When considering this strategic acquisition, it was important to the Board that Bob remain as Chairman and CEO through 2021 to provide the vision and proven leadership required to successfully complete and integrate such a massive, complex undertaking,” said Orin C. Smith, Lead Independent Director of the Disney Board. “We share the belief of our counterparts at 21st Century Fox that extending his tenure is in the best interests of our company and our shareholders, and will be critical to Disney’s ability to effectively drive long-term value from this extraordinary acquisition.”

Benefits to Consumers

The acquisition will enable Disney to accelerate its use of innovative technologies, including its BAMTECH platform, to create more ways for its storytellers to entertain and connect directly with audiences while providing more choices for how they consume content. The complementary offerings of each company enhance Disney’s development of films, television programming and related products to provide consumers with a more enjoyable and immersive entertainment experience.

Bringing on board 21st Century Fox’s entertainment content and capabilities, along with its broad international footprint and a world-class team of managers and storytellers, will allow Disney to further its efforts to provide a more compelling entertainment experience through its direct-to-consumer (DTC) offerings. This transaction will enable Disney’s recently announced Disney and ESPN-branded DTC offerings, as well as Hulu, to create more appealing and engaging experiences, delivering content, entertainment and sports to consumers around the world wherever and however they want to enjoy it.

The agreement also provides Disney with the opportunity to reunite the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool with the Marvel family under one roof and create richer, more complex worlds of inter-related characters and stories that audiences have shown they love. The addition of Avatar to its family of films also promises expanded opportunities for consumers to watch and experience storytelling within these extraordinary fantasy worlds. Already, guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort can experience the magic of Pandora—The World of Avatar, a new land inspired by the Fox film franchise that opened earlier this year. And through the incredible storytelling of National Geographic—whose mission is to explore and protect our planet and inspire new generations through education initiatives and resources—Disney will be able to offer more ways than ever before to bring kids and families the world and all that is in it.

Friday, December 8, 2017

THE FANDOM ZONE 124: "Crisis on Earth-X" is Up!


"My entire life has been marked by two things.  The first one is change.  From when I was a kid to when I was an adult, things were always changing.  But no matter how different things became or what new challenges I had to face, I always had the other thing in my life was marked by, and that's you.  You've always been there. As a friend, as a partner. As the love of my life. You're my home, Iris.  And that's one thing that will never change."

"That was really nice.  When I was nine years old, I wanted to be a ballerina, remember? Even though I was not a very good dancer.  And the day of the recital, I froze.  I couldn't move, and I wanted to die.  Then I looked in the audience and I saw you.  And you got up and you climbed on the stage and you did that whole routine with me.  We killed it.  I mean, we bought the house...down.  And from that moment, I knew that, with you by my side, anything was possible.  The Flash may be the city's hero, but you, Barry Allen...you're my hero.  And I am happy, excited, and honored to be your wife."
 – Barry Allen and Iris West, Legends of Tomorrow: "Crisis on Earth-X, Part 4"

Karen returns to join me for another HUGE new episode of The Fandom Zone Podcast!  So huge, in fact, we're splitting it up in two parts!  This week's reviews of comics on television include:
 
Supergirl 3x08: "Crisis on Earth-X, Part 1"
Arrow 6x08: "Crisis on Earth-X, Part 2"
The Flash 4x08: "Crisis on Earth-X, Part 3"
Legends of Tomorrow 3x08: "Crisis on Earth-X, Part 4"
 
The Walking Dead 8x06: "The King, The Widow, and Rick"
Gotham 4x10: "Things That Go Boom"
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5x01: "Orientation (Part 1)"  (Season Premiere)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5x02: "Orientation (Part 2)"
 
In this episode, Karen and I talk about things like the Funko figure of Henry Cavill's Superman having his receding hairline, "Crisis on Earth-X" feeling like one big movie, our Earth-Prime desperately needing superheroes right now, Earth-X now being Earth-10 in DC Comics, William Katt from The Greatest American Hero, Jax as the amazing Sticky-Man, Sara and Alex's one-night stand, Heat Wave crashing at Professor Stein's house, the mystery of Barry Allen's daughter Dawn Allen or his granddaughter XS from the Legion of Super-Heroes, the return of Tommy Merlyn as Prometheus-X, Heat Wave flirting with Killer Frost, wanting to trade Earth-38 Winn for Earth-X Winn, the debut of Russell Tovey as The Ray, Wentworth Miller as Citizen Cold, Reverse-Flash coming so close to killing Felicity, Harry Wells trolling Cisco, Felicity stepping all over Barry and Iris' big "I do" moment to make it all about Olicity, wondering if Oliver killing his alternate self is homicide or suicide, The Flash letting the Reverse-Flash just leave instead of imprisoning him or killing him, Professor Stein's funeral, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Doomsday Clock, Rick trying to get Jadis and the Scavengers to flip on Negan, why Maggie put Gregory in with the captured Saviors, Siddiq's really specific walker kill count, Daryl swiping left, Lee as the leader of the Narrows, distinguishing between the Latin and German versions of "Ave Maria", Gordon playing mind games with Professor Pyg, wanting to see TV shows based on Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol and The Invisibles, Sofia's complicated plan worthy of John Crichton from Farscape, the disappointment of not getting S.W.O.R.D., Deke as a Han Solo wannabe, really obscure Marvel aliens the Vrellnexians, that awkward moment when you learn the Earth got blowed up real good, FitzSimmons being separated and messed with yet again, some new feedback from Justinaand more!

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

Google Play Music
 -- HERE 
iTunes -- HERE
Direct Download MP3s/Libsyn -- HERE
The Fandom Zone on Facebook -- HERE
The Fandom Zone on Twitter -- @FandomZoneCast

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 and I review the midseason finales of Fox's Gotham, and The CW's The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow, along with new episodes of ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., AMC's The Walking Dead, and Fox's Lucifer and The Gifted, right here on The Fandom Zone Podcast!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

JUSTICE LEAGUE Fallout Results in DC Films Overhaul


Another year, another restructuring of DC Films.

Variety is reporting that Warner Bros. is planning to shake up and restructure its DC Films division following the box office disappointment of Zack Snyder's Justice League.  The overhaul is expected to happen by January.

Back in May 2016, Warner Bros. made similar changes following the box office disappointment of Snyder's previous DC Extended Universe film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  In an attempt to replicate the way Marvel Studios has produced its films under the supervision of Kevin Feige, Warner Bros. decided to team executive vice president Jon Berg with Geoff Johns, DC's chief creative officer, to co-run the newly created DC Films and oversee the DCEU.

But now, the article claims that Berg will be "leaving his current job running the comic book’s film production division, according to several sources with knowledge of the studio’s plans.  A search is underway for his replacement.  Berg will instead become a production partner with Roy Lee, the producer of The Lego Movie and It, who has a deal on the lot."  Warner Bros. is expected to name someone else to oversee DC Films.

As for Johns, the article states he's "expected to continue serving as DC Entertainment’s chief creative officer.  Johns, who reports to DC president Diane Nelson, works in areas such as television (and has written various episodes for DC-inspired shows), publishing, and consumer products, in addition to his contributions to the films.  Going forward, his work on the films may evolve, and could be more advisory in nature."

In addition, Variety's sources claim that Warner Bros. Picture Group President Toby Emmerich is reportedly considering integrating DC’s film operations into the studio’s main movie purview, which would mean putting the divisions under the same roof rather than having DC remain in a separate building on the lot.

Variety claims that Warner Bros.' overlords at Time Warner support the moves and are not happy with how Justice League has performed.  The film reportedly had a production budget of around $300 million, but after three and a half weeks, has only made over $201 million domestically and over $573 million worldwide.  This pales in comparison to Marvel's The Avengers, which made over $623 million domestically and over $1.5 billion worldwide.

Thankfully, there aren't any plans for Snyder to direct another DCEU movie, although he's producing or executive producing Wonder Woman 2 and Aquaman.  The article mentions that Warner Bros. still has a production deal with Snyder, so it’s possible he could direct additional films for the studio.  Variety states that Time Warner is "frustrated that Warner Bros. leaders continue to bring the director back, especially after Batman v Superman was excoriated by critics even though it made money.  They are also upset that each new DC film seems to be making less money than its predecessor.  Only Wonder Woman, with its optimistic heroine, managed to be both a critical and commercial success."

The current DCEU slate has James Wan's Aquaman up next on December 21, 2018, followed by David F. Sandberg's Shazam! from Warner Bros' New Line Cinema on April 5, 2019, and Wonder Woman 2 on November 1, 2019.   Other unscheduled films include Matt Reeves' The Batman, which will now star someone other than Ben Affleck as Batman, and Flashpoint, which is currently expected to have Ezra Miller reprise his Justice League role as The Flash.