Monday, June 18, 2018

Sting Channels Constantine for HELLBLAZER 30th Anniversary Announcement

Sting is sending out an S.O.S. to all of John Constantine's fans.

DC Comics/VERTIGO has posted a short video from one Gordon Sumner, better known as the legendary musician Sting, announcing that he's written the foreword to the upcoming John Constantine, Hellblazer: 30th Anniversary Celebration commemorative collection.  The foreward will feature Sting's "take on the perspective of the Golden Boy, Constantine’s alternate-universe twin, touching on his relationship with the occult detective over the years."

According to the statement from DC, Sting recorded the video while preparing for his upcoming 44/876 tour with Shaggy.  The musician’s inclusion in the Hellblazer Celebration hardcover is a nod to Sting inspiring John Constantine's look.  The character first appeared in The Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 in 1985 and was created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben.  Based physically on Sting, Constantine proved popular enough in 1988 to be spun off into his own VERTIGO series Hellblazer, which ran for an impressive 300 issues.  The replacement series Constantine immediately followed, after Constantine was brought back to the relaunched DC Universe as part of "The New 52" to lead the supernatural team Justice League Dark.  In DC's "Rebirth" era, Constantine currently appears in his latest monthly series, The Hellblazer, which will end with its twenty-fourth issue.

In the 23-second video (which you can view HERE), Sting dons Constantine's signature trenchcoat and makes the following announcement:  "Hi, my name is Sting.  I'm here to celebrate the John Constantine, Hellblazer 30th anniversary.  John and I have a long history, so I've written a forward to the edition, which goes into more detail about our relationship.  And so, I wish him well -- He's done very well for himself."

The commemorative collection will explore the complete history of the series with four one-page essays written by author Rich Handley.  It will also include a comprehensive timeline of Constantine’s life and three one-page stories featured in Hellblazer issues #1, 2 and 4. Memorable stories from writers Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Paul Jenkins, Brian Azzarello, and others reflect the best of the long-lasting series, including Constantine's first appearance in The Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 and Hellblazer issues #11, 27, 41, 63, 120, 146, 229 and 240.

The John Constantine, Hellblazer: 30th Anniversary Celebration commemorative collection will be available for purchased on October 30, 2018.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

THE FANDOM ZONE 141: "First Light" is Up!

"What's your name?"
"Tandy.  Did you know my dad named me after his first computer?"
-- Tyrone Johnson & Tandy Bowen, Cloak & Dagger: "First Light" 

You guessed it, Karen and I are back with a new episode of The Fandom Zone Podcast!  This week's reviews of comics on television include:

Legion 2x10: "Chapter 18"
Cloak & Dagger 1x01: "First Light"  (Series Premiere)
Cloak & Dagger 1x02: "Suicide Sprints"

In this episode, Karen and I talk about things like my new Death from The Sandman Funko Figure, Lucifer getting picked up by Netflix for Season 4, why we're not reviewing Supergirl this week, Brainiac 5 becoming a regular in Supergirl Season 4, Cloak & Dagger needing to cross over with Runaways, Melanie manipulating Syd, David finally getting his Legion name and hairstyle from the comics, wondering if we're finally getting David's dissociative personas, David torturing Oliver's physical body to get information out of the Shadow King, the juxtaposition of Tyrone and Tandy as kids, the Roxxon Oil rig going all particle accelerator on The Flash, the return of Bane and the darkness, Cloak & Dagger being developed as characters before the superheroics, that awkward moment when you go to retrieve your stolen money and you find that your mom has spent it all on a coke binge with some lawyer dude she just met, coaches realizing that punishing an entire team is better than punishing you, new Supergirl feedback from Justina, my Next Stop Everywhere podcast winning an award, and 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 Season 2 finale of FX's Legion along with new episodes of Freeform's Cloak & Dagger and The CW's Supergirl and FX's Legion, right here on The Fandom Zone Podcast!

Friday, June 15, 2018

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY Changes Showrunners Again as Alex Kurtzman Takes Over

Another season of Discovery, another showrunner change.

The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that the CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery has made a change of showrunners, with Season One showrunners Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts leaving and co-creator and executive producer Alex Kurtzman taking over for Season Two.  This will be the second change of showrunners for the series, after co-creator Bryan Fuller exited in October 2016 just before filming of Season One began.

Producers CBS Television Studios said in a statement, "We’ve made some producer changes at Star Trek: Discovery.  The series continues under the creative vision and leadership of executive producer and co-creator Alex Kurtzman.  Discovery remains on course for season two in 2019 with new and continuing stories that build on its successful premiere season."

According to the article, "the decision to oust Berg and Harberts was based not on the creative but instead for leadership and operational issues.  Production on Discovery's first five episodes of season two are near completion, with Kurtzman likely taking over for episode six and beyond. Berg and Harberts, who were longtime collaborators with original showrunner Fuller, will likely still be credited on the episodes they oversaw.  Sources say the budget for the season two premiere ballooned, with the overages expected to come out of subsequent episodes from Discovery's sophomore run."

In addition, the article's sources claim "Berg and Harberts became increasingly abusive to the Discovery writing staff, with Harberts said to have leaned across the writers room table while shouting an expletive at a member of the show's staff.  Multiple writers are said to have been uncomfortable working on the series and had threatened to file a complaint with human resources or quit the series altogether before informing Kurtzman of the issues surrounding Berg and Harberts.  After hearing rumors of HR complaints, Harberts is said to have threatened the staff to keep concerns with the production an internal matter."

As if this wasn't enough Discovery drama, THR also states that Akiva Goldsman will not be returning as executive producer for Season Two.  Goldsman directed the Season One finale, "Will You Take My Hand?", but is "said to have had a management style and personality that clashed with the writing staff.  It's unclear if Goldsman will continue to receive an exec producer credit on season two."

Star Trek: Discovery is expected to return to CBS All Access for Season Two sometime in 2019.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

NEXT STOP EVERYWHERE 111: "Day One" is Up!

"Tosh was right though, she went for the ex-boyfriend.  Lucky she's young.  Work your way through my back catalog, we'll be here till the sun explodes."
-- Captain Jack Harkness, Torchwood: "Day One"

No longer lost in time and space, my partner in time Jesse Jackson and I are finally back with a new episode of the award-winning Next Stop Everywhere: The Doctor Who Podcast!  This time, we review "Day One", the second episode of the Doctor Who spinoff series Torchwood, starring John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness and Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, and written by incoming Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall!

In this episode, Jesse and I discuss things like Jesse's latest Kentucky bourbon trip with his wife Linda, my mom's recent liver cancer diagnosis, Torchwood being Jesse's gateway drug to the Doctor Who universe, Torchwood being pitched as the "adult" version of Doctor Who with more mature themes, my being cautious about Torchwood as a Doctor Who spinoff, Captain Jack Harkness bringing sexy back, Captain Jack being an enigmatic mystery to his coworkers, Gwen's horrible first day with the Torchwood team, Owen being a bit of a bully, the flirtation between Jack and Gwen, Carys being possessed by an alien that feeds off orgasmic energy, the somewhat shocking bathroom sex scene, Gwen and Carys making out in a cell as the rest of the team watches, my Reverse the Polarity segment, Paul from Australia's kind personal message, new feedback from Paul from Australia and Holly from Wisconsin, bonus audio of Jesse talking Doctor Who on his Bruce Springsteen podcast Set Lusting Bruce, 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 (hopefully) two weeks as Jesse and I continue our Chris Chibnall Torchwood retrospective and review "End of Days", the Series One finale of Torchwood, starring John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness and Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, and written by incoming Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall!  Look for more of Next Stop Everywhere on iTunes, Google Play Music, YouTube, Libsyn, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and the official Southgate Media Group website!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

THE FANDOM ZONE 140: "And He Shall Be a Good Man" is Up!

"I was doing Han Solo, I thought it would be charming."
-- Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti to Peyton Charles, iZombie: "And He Shall Be a Good Man" 

Typical.  You wait ages for a new episode of The Fandom Zone and three come along at once.  Karen and I are back once again!  This week's reviews of comics on television include:

Lucifer 3x26: "Once Upon a Time"  (Final Episode)
Supergirl 3x20: "Dark Side of the Moon"
iZombie 4x13: "And He Shall Be a Good Man"  (Season Finale)
Legion 2x09: "Chapter 17"

In this episode, Karen and I talk about things like my Sean Connery James Bond Funko figure, our upcoming 150th episode, the Preacher Season 3 teaser trailer, the two episodes of Lucifer held over for the fourth season that isn't happening, Detective Douche becoming Director Douche, the Julee Cruise Twin Peaks version of the Psych theme, Lucifer the comic book character's father Neil Gaiman as Lucifer's father on Lucifer, Chloe Decker becoming an actress instead of a cop, Mazikeen as a creepy cult leader, Argo City surviving the explosion of Krypton, the Superman comic storyline "New Krypton," Supergirl and Mon-El's horrible poncho disguises, Alex's really slow rooftop chase, Winn being a dick to Ruby, Alex not bothering to check her bike even though she knows someone is trying to kill her, our very brief iZombie Season 4 recap, Ravi doing the Han Solo "I know" move,  iZombie ending Season 4 as if it could've been their series finale, Major not being good for Liv, Melanie baking her brain, more of David's plan, Kerry not grasping idioms and the concept of loneliness, The Flash taking one or two liberties with Iris West's family, new feedback from Justina, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s neverending torture Fitz & Simmons getting old, and 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 first two episodes of Freeform's Cloak & Dagger, along with new episodes of The CW's Supergirl and FX's Legion, right here on The Fandom Zone Podcast!

THE FANDOM ZONE 139: "The Phantom Zone" is Up!

"We will seek out civilizations beyond our system, and we will conquer them!  If they submit peacefully, they will fall under my protection, and shall never know fear again.  But if they do not, then like the recalcitrant leaders of Krypton's other city-states we see before us, eventually they will all KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!"
-- General Zod, Krypton: "The Phantom Zone" 

As we continue playing catchup on posting, Karen and I are back with another episode of The Fandom Zone Podcast!  This week's reviews of comics on television include:

Supergirl 3x19: "The Fanatical"
The Flash 4x23: "We Are The Flash"  (Season Finale)
Legion 2x08: "Chapter 16"
Krypton 1x10: "The Phantom Zone"  (Season Finale)

In this episode, Karen and I talk about things like the Sean Phillips cover of The Hellblazer #22, "The Fanatical" being a really bad title, the Community foosball episode, wondering how Supergirl doesn't burn off someone's hand when using her heat vision, James Olsen using a smokebomb to escape the police, Supergirl shoehorning soapbox issues into stories instead of allowing them to flow naturally, the unexpected pairing of Ruby and J'onn's father M'yrnn, the silliness of Mon-El and Supergirl's grappling capes, The Flash saving Central City from a crashing satellite, the comics storyline "Chain Lightning", Mystery Girl being revealed as Barry & Iris' daughter, Barry saving the Elongated Man, wondering if we've seen the last of Harrison Wells, the Plato's Cave allegory, the origin of Admiral Fukuyama, Karen being really bothered by all the wasted cafeteria boat food on Legion, the importance of keeping David Haller happy, Melanie being taken over by the Shadow King, The Fandom Zone vs. The Phantom Zone, Brainiac's hentai tentacles, General Zod seizing power, Nyssa-Vex joining Clone Club, new feedback from Justina, Justina being good people, Karen joining Xan and me on Ghostwood: The Twin Peaks Podcastand 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 later today as Karen and I review the final episode of Fox's Lucifer, the Season 4 finale of The CW's iZombie, and new episodes of The CW's Supergirl and FX's Legion, right here on The Fandom Zone Podcast!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

GHOSTWOOD 034: "Twin Peaks in Pop Culture" is Up!

"That's right!  I'm the one."
"I'm talking to Audrey."
"I've got pictures, see?  Here's me about to kill her.  Here's me killing her.  Here's me wrapping her in plastic."
-- Leo "The Murderer of Laura Palmer" Johnson (Chris Farley) and Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), Saturday Night Live: "Twin Peaks" 

It is happening again...My co-host with the most Xan Sprouse and I are back with a new episode of Ghostwood: The Twin Peaks Podcast!  This time, we discuss the 1990 Saturday Night Live sketch parody of Twin Peaks featuring host Kyle MacLachlan, along with the various Twin Peaks parody sketches, homages and references from pop culture!


In our latest episode, Xan and I discuss things like creating bonus content for our Patreon subscribers, the third great age of Saturday Night Live, Leo being the Chad of his day, Kyle MacLachlan's SNL host monologue, Xan finally becoming a Princess Bride fan, the various home video releases of Twin Peaks and Star Wars, Xan's crush on Chris Farley, Victoria Jackson's homage to Sherilyn Fenn's cherry stem knot, Mike Myers as the Little Man from Another Place, Northern Exposure's "Russian Flu" and the show as a quirky TV replacement for Twin Peaks, Xan's crush on Chris-in-the-Morning, Cookie Monster and Sesame Street's "Twin Beaks", Darkwing Duck's "Twin Beaks", The Simpsons episodes "Who Shot Mr. Burns (Part Two)" and "Lisa's Sax", the Fringe episodes "Northwest Passage", "The Firefly" and "Immortality", Fringe and Twin Peaks sharing the same TV universe, the Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated episodes "Stand and Deliver" and "Nightmare in Red", the movie Living in Oblivion, Peter Dinklage, Kyle MacLachlan on Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Late, Late Show with James Corden, the Simpsons "Steamed Hams" parody, 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 two weeks as Xan and I attempt our first commentary episode as we watch "Traces to Nowhere", the second episode from Twin Peaks Season One!  Look for more of Ghostwood: The Twin Peaks Podcast on iTunes, YouTube, Libsyn, and the official Southgate Media Group website!

THE GIFTED Casts Grace Byers as The Hellfire Club's Reeva Payge

The Hellfire Club's Inner Circle is growing.

Marvel has announced that the Fox series The Gifted, based on Marvel Comics' X-Men properties, has cast Grace Byers as Reeva Payge, a mutant who becomes the Black Queen of The Hellfire Club's Inner Circle.

According to the announcement, Reeva is described as "a smart, charming, authoritative, elegant, beautiful woman who is ruthless in her efforts to fight for her people.  She leads an elite band of followers and has a soft spot for her new recruits, but is still capable of extreme violence in defense of her vision."

In addition, Reeva "will be teaming up with Polaris (Emma Dumont), Andy Strucker (Percy Hynes White) and the Frost sisters (Skyler Samuels) in the Inner Circle, following the huge turn of events that occurred at the end of Season 1."

Byers, 33, is best known as Anika Calhoun on the Fox music industry drama Empire.  She also appeared as Kate in the 2018 movie Bent.

Created in 1994 by Ian Edginton and Gene Ha, Reeva Payge first appeared in X-Men (vol.2) Annual #3 as a mutant with the ability to generate a high note from her vocal cords that directly affects the brain's neurochemistry, painfully distorting perceptions of reality, causing them to experience dizziness and hallucinations.  The note is beyond a normal human's ability to detect sound.

When Shinobi Shaw, son of Hellfire Club founding member Sebastian Shaw, took over the New York chapter of The Hellfire Club, he formed his own Inner Circle after Archangel and Sunspot declined.  Reeva was designated as the Inner Circle's Black Queen, along with Shaw as Black King, Benazir Kaur as White Queen, and Benedict Kine as White King.

This Inner Circle was presented to Ororo Monroe, better known as Storm, when Shinobi Shaw attempted to recruit her as well.  When Storm tried to resist Shaw, she was drugged and kidnapped.  The X-Men arrived as Shaw attempted to inject her with more drugs, and fought Reeva and the new Hellfire Club until Storm cornered Shaw.  She asked him if he was willing to die for his beliefs, but he wasn't and let her leave.  Shinobi Shaw's actions as Black King were limited to failed attempts at extending his influence and monitoring the London branch of the Club, leading to Sebastian Shaw retaking control.

The Gifted is expected to return to Fox for Season 2 sometime in Fall 2018.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

THE FANDOM ZONE 138: "A Devil of My Word" is Up!

"It's all true."
-- Chloe Decker to Lucifer Morningstar, Lucifer: "A Devil of My Word" 

After a successful liberation attempt, Karen and I are back with another HUGE episode of The Fandom Zone Podcast!  This week's reviews of comics on television include:

Lucifer 3x24: "A Devil of My Word"  (Season Finale)
Legion 2x07: "Chapter 15"
Gotham 4x22: "No Man's Land"  (Season Finale)
Arrow 6x23: "Life Sentence"  (Season Finale)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5x22: "The End"  (Season Finale)

In this episode, Karen and I talk about things like my copy of Domino #2 by Gail Simone, why Lucifer's showrunner is a bonehead, how Lucifer's series finale cliffhanger actually works as an ending, Lucifer throwing down with his wings out, being relieved that Ella wasn't completely Team Pierce, Lucifer's second season being its best, Karen's Star Wars geek cred fail, crying over Fry's dog, the subject of moral panic, Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent creating fear and panic over comic books in the 1950s, John Hammeos, Present Day Syd being jealous of Future Syd, the Shadow King being the hero and David Haller being the villain, Kerry not wanting to eat and poop, the Vermillion being quantum locked like Weeping Angels, David confronting the icky delusion bug, Ra's al Ghul wanting to bring down Gotham in order to make Bruce the "Dark Knight the city needs", Stabby Babs failing to stab Ra's al Ghul, the Penguin finally settling a long grudge against Tabitha, that awkward moment when Lee catches the Riddler torturing Jim Gordon with an industrial press, Stabby Babs going all "men suck" and establishing female-only turf, the first appearance of Man-Bat, Cassandra Cain as Orphan, the debut of the Bruce Signal, Beth Schwartz taking over as Arrow's showrunner, Laurel or Yanni, Oliver Queen's apology tour, the F.B.I. not giving Oliver two minutes to cope with Quentin's death before arresting him, Oliver going all Tony Stark, Mike Grell's Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, another rant by Karen about not being able to hack a pacemaker, Quentin taking a bullet to save Black Siren, the decision to kill Quentin off camera, Yo-Yo being the only one willing to make the hard call of killing Coulson to save the Earth, Daisy throwing down with Graviton in Chicago, Fitz being Whedoned, Coulson getting a "Spy's Goodbye", the return of Justina's feedback, Lena Luthor not being able to figure out that Kara is Supergirl, and 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 tomorrow as Karen and I review the big season finales of The CW's The Flash and Syfy's Krypton, along with new episodes of The CW's Supergirl and FX's Legion, right here on The Fandom Zone Podcast!

Friday, June 1, 2018

PREACHER Season 3 Trailer Teases Jesse's Gran'ma & Tulip's Resurrection

Welcome home, Jesse.

AMC has released the first teaser trailer for the third season of Preacher, based on the DC Comics/VERTIGO series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon.  The one-minute trailer features the Season 3 Big Bad, Gran’ma Marie L’Angelle (Betty Buckley) and also spoils the resurrection of Tulip O'Hare (Ruth Negga), who was killed at the end of Season 2 but obviously gets better.

The trailer begins with Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) and Irish vampire Proinsias Cassidy (Joseph Guilgun) abruptly showing up with Tulip's dead body, hoping that Gran'ma will bring her back from the dead.  "Welcome home, Jesse," says Gran'ma.

"Please," begs Jesse, left with no alternative.  "Bring her back.  I'll do anything."

"Anything?" asks Gran'ma.

We see some glimpses of Jesse reuniting with Jody (Jeremy Childs) as he skins an animal, Cassidy sitting in a kitchen with T.C. (Colin Cunningham) and inhaling something from an oxygen mask, a wanted poster of Tulip, Jody and T.C., and Jesse and Gran'ma at Tulip's grave.

"Soon as I get my power back from Starr, we kill 'em all," says Jesse to someone.  "The Grail, Gran'ma..."

Next, we see Cassidy in bed, reading a comic book while wearing just a silky nightshirt and underwear.  "I'm a bloody vampire at a Voodoo Disneyland, I should be their main attraction."

We then see Jody asking the resurrected Tulip, "What was it like?"

"Why does everybody keep askin' me that?" she groans.

"You died and you came back.  What else did they ask about?"

Some more fleeting glimpses, this time of Jonny Coyne as Allfather D'Aronique and Adam Crosadell as Eccarius, a 350-year-old vampire, followed by the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) giving Arseface (Ian Colletti) the business.

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

returns to AMC for Season 3 on Sunday, June 24th.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Andrew Lincoln to Leave THE WALKING DEAD in Season 9

Is it finally time for The Walking Dead to die?

Collider shocked fans of AMC's zombie apocalypse drama The Walking Dead earlier today by revealing that star Andrew Lincoln, who has played the show's protagonist Rick Grimes since its inception, will be leaving six episodes into Season 9.

Rick's replacement as the group's leader?  None other than everyone's favorite bad boy with a crossbow, Daryl Dixon.  The article states that "AMC has offered substantial compensation to long-running series star Norman Reedus to not only stay on board, but to take over the show’s leading role."

As a zombie drama, the show regularly has characters replaced with new ones, typically by killing them off in some shocking way, so change isn't unheard of.  However, following the recent death of Chandler Riggs' character Carl Grimes, and Lennie James' character Morgan Jones moving over to the spinoff series Fear the Walking Dead, fans of TWD may be reluctant to accept the loss of another longtime favorite.

And if that wasn't enough transition for the show, the upcoming exit of Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee probably won't make things any easier.  After a public stand for a better contract to appear in Season 9, Cohan will only appear in six episodes as well after her new series Whiskey Cavalier was picked up by ABC.

As a result, only Daryl and Melissa McBride's character Carol Peletier will be the only remaining characters from The Walking Dead's first season.

The Walking Dead is expected to return to AMC for Season 9 sometime in October 2018.

Monday, May 28, 2018


I thought we were in trouble there for a second, but it's fine.  We're fine.

That's right, it's time once again for another of my movie takes, this time on Solo: A Star Wars Story, the latest in the Star Wars film series exploring the origin of Han Solo.  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...I've got a good feeling about this.

With the first Star Wars Story anthology film Rogue One making over $1 billion worldwide, Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm were understandably ready to go forward with a second.  Before selling the Star Wars franchise to Disney, George Lucas was developing his "Young Han Solo Chronicles" project and hired veteran Star Wars screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan for the screenplay.  While Kasdan left to help finish up the Star Wars: The Force Awakens script, his son Jonathan Kasdan took over until he was able to get back to it.  The LEGO Movie's Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were tapped to direct, and after finding new Han Solo Alden Ehrenreich after a reported search of over 3,000 people, the project was off and running.  All good, right?  Right?

In June 2017, Lucasfilm cited the old "creative differences" and parted ways with Lord and Miller, following reports of them encouraging too much improvisation from Kasdan's script and Lucasfilm not exactly feeling the footage they reviewed.  Ron Howard, who was directed by George Lucas in the 1973 movie American Graffiti, was brought in to take the reins and get things back on track.  The rumor of an acting coach being brought in for Aldenreich was later debunked, but Michael K. Williams, who had already been filmed as the movie's villain Dryden Vos, was replaced with Paul Bettany when Williams became unavailable for reshoots and the character being reworked from a motion-capture alien.  Star Wars fans and critics already skeptical about the need for a Han Solo movie trolled the production pretty hard by this point, leaving a big question about what Howard's end result would be.

The second Star Wars Story film begins missing the classic crawl once again, but this time,  it's replaced with some opening text that helps establish the setting better than in the start of Rogue One.  We're told that the galaxy is in a state of disorder (Thanks a lot,  @realEmperorPalpatine), with criminal syndicates competing for valuable resources such as hyperfuel.  We open on the shipbuilding world of Corellia, finally getting to see Han Solo's homeworld, where orphaned children are made to steal in order to survive.  

Our introduction to young Han (just Han at this point) and his girlfriend Qi'ra sets the movie's fast pace, with a landspeeder chase that ultimately leads them back into the clutches of a local criminal gang led by a snakelike alien named Lady Proxima.  Tramps like them, baby, they're born to run from Corellia, so they successfully bribe an Imperial officer who grants them passage on an outgoing transport.  Han makes it through the checkpoint gate, but Qi'ra is snagged by their pursuers before she can join him.  Now separated, Han vows to return for her, and with no means of income, he joins the Imperial Navy as a flight cadet, with the Imperial recruiting officer dubbing him "Han Solo" as a surname.

Three years later, we find out that Han was expelled from the Imperial Flight Academy for insubordination, and now serves as an infantryman during a battle on the planet Mimban. Seeing the senselessness of war, he's drawn to a gang of criminals posing as Imperial soldiers, led by Tobias Beckett and conisting of his wife Val and an annoying four-armed alien named Rio Durant.  He tries to blackmail the gang into allowing him to join, but Beckett instead has him arrested as a deserter and condemned to battle a "beast" held in captivity. The beast, of course, turns out to be the mighty Chewbacca and a friendship is born.  Thanks to Han's ability to speak enough Shyriiwook to communicate, the two stage a fight for the benefit of their captors and escape after collapsing their cell.  Strangely sympathetic, Beckett decides to rescue Han and Chewie, and enlists them for a planned train heist to steal a shipment of the hyperfuel coaxium on the planet Vandor.

In the movie's Second Act, an impressive train heist sequence continues the film's hyperpace (See what I did there?), with Han and Chewie getting some on-the-job training as they fend off Imperial guards protecting the shipment and a gang of marauders led by the masked Enfys Nest.  Tobias' pilot Rio is predictably killed off in the process, giving Han a chance to step up in the role, but rather disappointingly, so is Val.  The heist ends up going south, when Han, on the ship, gets into a tug of war with Enfys Nest and is forced to ditch the shipment.  Having lost his wife and his pilot, all for nothing, Beckett is understandably piiiiiiiissed.  He reveals he was ordered to steal the shipment for Dryden Vos, leader of the Crimson Dawn criminal syndicate, and now he's worried that Vos willing be coming for him.  Han and Chewie volunteer to help him steal another shipment as repayment, then travel to Vos' yacht where Han is stunned to find Qi'ra there as Vos' arm candy.  Oh, and it turns out she's a member of Crimson Dawn as well.  Han scrambles a bit, but comes up with a plan to steal unrefined coaxium from the mines on Kessel (Yes, the famous "Kessel Run" Kessel).  Vos, meanwhile, insists on Qi'ra accompanying them.

Looking for a fast ship to pull the heist, Qi'ra introduces Han and Chewie to Lando Calrissian, who is as egocentric in his youth as Han is impulsive.  Han challenges Lando to a game of sabacc, with the wager being Lando's ship, reputed to be the fastest in the galaxy.  Diehard Star Wars fans expect the game to end a certain way, but Lando actually wins by cheating.  Regardless, he still ends up joining the mission in exchange for a share of the profits.  The team boards his ship—you guessed it, the Millennium Falcon—and head for Kessel.  After reaching the planet and infiltrating the mine, Lando's equal rights crusader/co-pilot droid L3-37 gives them a small distraction by causing a mass revolt from other droids and enslaved Wookiees.  They use the chaos to steal a consignment of unprocessed, volatile coaxium, but L3 gets severely damaged and Lando is injured during the escape.  At long last, Han gets to pilot the Falcon, knowing that they need to make a "Kessel Run" in less than twenty parsecs to reach a processing station before the coaxium explodes.  Things naturally go sideways when an Imperial blockade shows up to complicate things, but Han proves he's a hell of a pilot that would make Poe Dameron proud.  They rendezvous with Vos on the planet Savareen, although the Falcon ends up considerably dinged during the run.

As we head into the Third Act, things take on more of a space Western vibe.  Vos surprises the team by announcing that the coaxium is fake and that Beckett betrayed them, to the surprise of no one actually paying attention.   Beckett ratted to Vos about Han's plan to give the real shipment to the Cloud Riders, the group led by Enfys Nest who turn out to be rebels.  However, in a nice turnaround, Han mentions he anticipated Beckett's shady move and the coaxium they're holding is real.  Beckett takes Chewbacca hostage (somehow) and takes off with the coaxium, leading to a gunfight between Han, Qi'ra and Vos that ends up with Qi'ra killing Vos.  She urges Han to help the Cloud Riders and tells him she'll join him shortly, only to seal the room and look all ominous after Han leaves.

Han catches up with Beckett and Chewbacca and in welcome moment, he shoots first and kills Beckett.  Han and Chewbacca turn over the coaxium to Enfys Nest, who reveals her plans to use the fuel to aid the rebellion against the Empire.  She offers Han the chance to join her but he passes, leaving Enfys Nest to suggest that some day he might feel more sympathetic to the rebels because foreshadowing.  

The movie's one real surprise moment happens when Qi'ra contacts her superior, who unexpectedly turns out to be Darth Maul, with the presumption that everyone watched the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series.  She informs Maul of the mission's failure and assumes Vos' position, because apparently, being a Khaleesi isn't enough.  Meanwhile, to check off one last important box, Han and Chewie track down Lando at another sabacc game and Han challenges him once again or ownership of the Falcon.  Now hip to Lando's tricksy ways, though, Han relieves Lando of the cards hidden in his sleeve and wins the second game.  As the new captain of the Millennium Falcon, Han tells Chewie his plan is to go to Tatooine, where Beckett mentioned a "gangster" who's putting an organization together.  Hope you like having a price on your head, Han...

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

HAN SOLO -- Let's face it, Alden Ehrenreich was in a no-win scenario taking over for Harrison Ford.  Either he doesn't act enough like Ford to satisfy fans of the character or he doesn't make the role his own, like Roger Moore did taking over from Sean Connery as James Bond.  He does well enough here, bringing Han's cocky attitude in all the right moments, but he doesn't seem as confident in the role as Ford did.

CHEWBACCA -- After fully assuming the role of Chewie in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Joonas Suotamo finally gets to do something more with the character than just being annoyed by Porgs.  He gets to throw down with Han in a mud pit during their first encounter, helps Han during the train heist, and even gets to liberate some of his fellow Wookiees.  As always, Chewie steals every scene he's in and it was great to see him get so much screen time here.

TOBIAS BECKETT -- Woody Harrelson takes on the role of Han's mentor in crime, showing us what Han probably would've turned out like had he never met Leia and joined the Rebellion.  We get a small taste of his relationship with Val, but she's killed off far too soon for it to matter.  It was a little disappointing to see him turn on Han at the end so easily, but unlike George Lucas, at least Beckett respects Han for shooting first.

QI'RA -- Fresh from Westeros, Emilia Clarke plays Han's lover from Corellia, whose life diverges considerably from his.  She's essentially the femme fatale here, the character you know is nothing but bad news for the hero, who can't help but be romantically attracted to her.  We learn Qi'ra is under Dryden Vos' thumb, so we're glad to see her take him out until we quickly find out she did it as a power move to work more closely with Darth Maul.

LANDO CALRISSIAN -- Taking over from Billy Dee Williams, Donald Glover also had to live up to portraying a classic Star Wars character.  Unlike Ehrenreich, though, Glover seems far more comfortable doing so and comes off enjoying himself as Lando.  Glover doesn't have Williams' natural smooth charm, but he definitely depicts Lando's egocentrism and occasional shallowness.  Regardless, Lando's strong desire to rescue L3-37 was surprising, and now I want to know more of why Lando felt so much over a droid.

DRYDEN VOS -- As mentioned above, Paul Bettany took over from Michael K. Williams as the film's villain and I think the decision to make Vos humanoid was a good one.  Bettany is solid at this type of role, and displays his power over Qi'ra while also being quietly menacing in social settings as if he were a James Bond villain.  Ultimately, he ends up underestimating Qi'ra's ambition, or overestimating his power over her, which leads to his downfall.

L3-37 -- Phoebe Waller-Bridge is Star Wars' first major female droid character, a self-made droid that given the personality of an equal rights crusader.  L3 gets a strange but fun scene with Qi'ra talking about the ability of droids to have physical relationships with humans, but her big moment is obviously when she creates a "distraction" in the coaxium mines on Kessel that quickly turns into a full-fledged uprising.  And even though L3 is destroyed, it's somehow comforting to know she lives on as the Falcon's navigational system.

VAL -- Taking a break from HBO's Westworld, Thandie Newton turns up as Val, Beckett's lover and fellow scoundrel.  We don't really learn that much about Val, apart from her being a no-nonsense type that's great with a blaster rifle.  And because Val is such a underdeveloped character, her death scene during the train heist only causes the barest of shrugs.  

RIO DURANT -- Jon Favreau voices a four-armed Ardennian pilot named Rio, who was so obviously expendable you expected him to have the word "expendable" tattooed onto his forehead.  As Beckett's first pilot, Rio's character tries way too hard to be funny and comes off more annoying than anything else.

DARTH MAUL CAMEO -- Ray Park (with Sam Witwer providing the voice) returns as Maul, who's revealed to be the Big Bad that Dryden Vos, the public leader of the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn, answers to.  We don't get an explanation of how Maul survived the end of The Phantom Menace or how he's suddenly rocking a replacement bottom half, so you'll have to research that on your own.  In this cameo scene, Maul commands Qi'ra to meet with him on Dathomir and warns her they'll work more closely from now on, igniting his lightsaber.  To be continued...?

All in all, Solo: A Star Wars Story is better than a lot of us were dreading.  It's a fun, fast-paced ride that often feels more like a space Western than a heist movie, revealing the promised backstory of Han Solo with some old friends and new characters along the way.  It's a credit to Ron Howard that he could step in over two-thirds into production and pull things together into a decent, entertaining movie, but I have to think there was some lost potential here.  Solo ends in a such a way to hint at more with Han Solo, Qi'ra and Darth Maul, and Ehrenreich was reportedly signed for three films should they choose to do a sequel, but with an underperforming opening weekend, I honestly don't know if that's going to happen.  But hey, never tell Han Solo the odds.

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. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
8. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
9. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
10. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)