Thursday, October 31, 2013

Monster Fashion

I've watched a lot of horror and sci-fi movies over the years, I've come to the conclusion that the majority of monsters are actually quite snappy dressers! Sure they may be bloodthirsty supernatural killers, but they know how to rampage the countryside in style!

Take the Frankenstein Monster for instance. Not every stitched-together reanimated corpse goes around wearing a tasteful black blazer and simple t-shirt. Tres chic!

One small complaint-- he could use a bit of help with his sleeve length. Fire that tailor!

Dracula's no slouch in the fashion department either. His choice of a simple tuxedo and cape is both elegant and timeless.

He won't have to worry about stains either, because as the Count himself says, he never drinks wine!

Even the Wolfman has an eye for fashion, as he wanders the foggy moors in a crisp buttoned shirt and a nicely pressed pair of slacks. 

You might even say he's putting on the dog!

And let's not forget the Mummy! Although most of the time you'll find him dressed in rags (literally!) he can really clean up his act when he wants to pass as human. Just look at his stylish desert robe and cane, topped off by a dashing fez. 

I'd say Im-Ho-Tep is in step when it comes to fashion!

It should come as no surprise that the Phantom Of The Opera would have a refined fashion sense. Here he is dressed in a posh tuxedo accented with a luxurious opera cape.

With an ensemble like that he'll have no need to hide behind a mask!

Here's irony for you! Who'd ever have thought that the Invisible Man would have such dashing taste in clothing? Here we see him wearing a stunning ascot and smoking jacket number!

No sense trying to hide yourself, Dr. Griffin! We see you have a sense of style!

Even aliens are getting in on the act! Witness the Metaluna Mutant here, in his simple but stunning pair of slacks! 

I hope his sense of fashion doesn't give him a big head!

Even the offspring of famous monsters have style. Introducing Dracula's Daughter, wearing a breathtaking black (natch!) number with a plunging neckline (again, natch!).

Teen monsters can be chic too! Witness here teen vampire Nancy Perkins from Blood Of Dracula. Note her simple yet elegant sweater, accessorized perfectly by her scarf. I'll bet she spent hours getting that scarf to look like she tossed it nonchalantly over her shoulder!

Speaking of teens, don't forget the Wolfman from I Was A Teenage Werewolf! Not every lycanthrope can make a high school letter jacket look good, but this one can!

You get an "F," Mr. Wolfman. For Fashion!

Alternate versions of monsters can be stylish as well, as proven here by the Christopher Lee Frankenstein's Monster and his simple but stylish black pea coat.

The Christopher Lee Dracula also sported elegant taste, seen here with his stunning crimson-lined cape.

And don't forget this alternate Wolfman from Curse Of The Werewolf! Just look at the style oozing from his puffy shirt, waist sash and riding boots! Is that the Wolfman or Zorro?

Down boy! The "cat walk" is just an expression!

Even obscure monsters can have style! The Hideous Sun Demon here takes the time to dress in a nice white shirt before he disembowels his victims. You're a shining beacon of fashion, sir!

What's this? Why it's an Alligator Person, who knows the importance of a good pair of slacks when stalking a victim. I wonder if alligator shoes would be going too far?

Yes, remember folks, if these monsters can dress fashionably, then you have no excuse for wearing your pajama bottoms, slippers and bathrobe to the grocery store! See you on the runway!

They Get You On The Shipping

Back in 1987 the BBC ran a sci-fi series called Star Cops. Most people have never heard of it, but it was created by a Doctor Who writer and over the years it's attracted a small but rabid cult following.

It was released on DVD in 2004 but is long out of print, causing prices to skyrocket. As you can see above, you can order a used copy from a secondary seller on Amazon for the low, low price of only $1,375. And thirteen cents.

Rare or not, that's a lot of dough for nine measly episodes!

If that wasn't enough, look closely at the shipping info. Yes, after you pony up nearly $1,400, you're not done! You still have to pay $3.99 to have the thing shipped to you! Jesus, you'd think they might at least have thrown in free shipping to help soften the blow.

I knew I should have signed up for Amazon Prime!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This: Mezco Universal Monsters 9" Frankenstein

Hey, it's a special Halloween episode of I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This. Timely!

Today we're checking out the Universal Monsters 9" Frankenstein figure by Mezco. And yes, I know that the monster's name isn't really Frankenstein, but I don't have the energy to keep typing "Frankenstein's Monster" over and over. See? I'm already exhausted.

Mezco's releasing a whole series of these figures, which is a good thing. Frankenstein here is the first in the line, to be followed by The Creature From The Black Lagoon and The Mummy later in the year. 

I like this figure quite a bit, although it is a bit odd, what with it's mix of sculpted and cloth clothing and its strange articulation. More on that in a bit.

I've nothing to say about this shot, other than, "Hey, here's the back of the figure."

This is obviously a more stylized, even cartoonish version of Frankenstein, which is an interesting choice on Mezco's part. I like the face sculpt; it's not all that Karloff-like, but it's definitely Frankenstein. What the heck's going on with his neck muscles though? Why are they so much more detailed than his face? 

As stated earlier, this figure features a mix of molded plastic and cloth clothing. He's wearing a cloth shirt (which is actually sleeveless if you look closely) and a cloth jacket. Again, a strange choice, but I'm OK with it.

Bob's Pointless Trivia Time: Did you know that the Frankenstein Monster isn't really supposed to have green skin? They colored him green because it gave him a pale, undead pallor on black and white film. But then people saw color behind-the-scenes photos of the Monster with green skin, and the notion just kind of stuck.

He's got some odd articulation too. He's got a ball jointed neck, which is always a plus, and then a waist joint that only turns a few degrees, plus an ab crunch joint so he can bend over. He's got ball jointed shoulders (good) and pin wrist joints (good). His elbows are quite strange though. They're not normal joints, but rather some sort of swivels. You have to rotate his elbows to get them to change position, rather than just bending them. Very odd.

His lower body isn't articulated at all. On the one hand that's too bad, but on the other it makes him much more stable than he'd normally be, meaning he can stand well under his own power. If you're a regular reader of my blog (as millions are) you know that action figures that can't stand up by themselves is one of my biggest pet peeves in life.

All in all it's a pretty cool little figure in spite of its oddities. Highly recommended! Bring on the Creature and the Mummy!-

Overheard At Work: Tiles

I work in a typical office, surrounded by many other workers in cubicles. Although I'm grateful to have a job I like, sometimes the vocal din from the surrounding coworkers is a bit overwhelming. Not to mention odd. Thank the gods old and new for headphones and Pandora.

The following is a 100% true actual conversation I Overheard At Work:
Woman (shopping online for floor tiles): I really like these tiles here. Oh no, they're $4 each! That's way too much. Oh wait, here's a package of seven tiles for $31. That's more like it.
Math is hard!

Great Caesar's Salad!

Here's a photo of the Hawaiian Hala Fruit, or as I call it, the "Exploding Planet Krypton Fruit," because that's exactly what it looks like.

Don't believe me? I figured as much. 

How about now? Tell me that doesn't look exactly like the planet Krypton exploding as Baby Kal-El speeds away in his rocket ship!

Hopefully it doesn't taste like an exploding planet.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 3: Isolation

Wow, another good episode! They're three for three so far! Let's hope the new production team can keep up the good work!


• Something tells me Team Prison is going to have to open up an annex to their makeshift cemetary.

Huzzah! Someone on the writing staff finally remembered that Herschel was a veterinarian! I've been reminding everyone of that fact for two weeks now.

Herschel then torpedoes any medical credibility he may have had by suggesting Daryl take a team to a distant veterinarian school and bring back some antibiotics for the flu victims. As we all know (I hope!), antibiotics are absolutely worthless against a viral infection like the flu.

I suppose it's possible Herschel wants the antibiotics to help treat the secondary symptoms of the flu, like high fever and pneumonia.

• Yikes! Glenn has the flu, as well as Sasha. Hopefully they're not going to be written out in the next couple of episodes. Glenn deserves a better fate than, as he himself put it, "to go out due to a glorified cold." Hopefully Sasha will recover as well, as she's not yet had much of a chance to shine yet on the show, and it would be a shame to off her so soon after she was introduced. This is The Waking Dead though, so no character (save Rick and maybe Carl) is safe.

• Loved the moss covered zombie (pictured above). Never seen anything like that before! The bear trap zombie was pretty cool as well.

In previous seasons many fans complained that there seemed to be a "black quota" on the show. It was as if the series could handle one and only one black character, and another could only be added if one was killed off.

I poo-pooed the notion as internet nonsense until the Season 3 episode in which T-Dog was killed off and Oscar immediately became a regular character, which seemed to, if not prove the quota theory, at least lend it some credence.

But all that's out the window now. Witness Daryl going on a run with 3, count 'em three genuine black characters. I honestly think the writing staff really is listening to fan complaints and is trying their best to address them.

I couldn't make out the faint voice on the radio, but according to the interwebs the voice was saying, "Those who arrive, survive."

Obviously they're setting up the fact that there's another camp of survivors out there somewhere. Whether that's good news or bad news remains to be seen. Knowing this show, I'm sure it means bad news.

Some have suggested the radio message might be setting up the recently announced sequel series. I suppose it's possible, but I'd think they'd want such a show to be set a bit more than fifty miles away from the action going on in the original series.

Loved the zombie pig pile under the car! Lots of fun zombie gore. 

You know guys, from now on when you go on such a long mission it might be a good idea to take two cars, so if something like this happens you'll still have a set of wheels and a way to get back home.

We finally get to see Tyreese wielding his mighty hammer! Awesome! He and his hammer were staples of the comic for many years.

That said, Tyreese's escaping unscathed from the overwhelming zombie horde was a bit unrealistic. But hey, we're talking about a show featuring walking corpses, so I guess I can give them the occasional silly moment.

I wonder if this massive zombie horde will turn up at the prison later in the season?

• The major revelation in this episode was that Carol's the one who killed Karen and the other sick guy last week, in an effort to keep the flu from spreading. I knew it was her as soon as she freaked out and kicked over the water barrel, 

Kudos to the Season 4 writing staff for moving this subplot along at a brisk pace. If this was Season 2 they'd have dragged out the identity of the killer for all sixteen episodes.

So what happens next? Is Carol a murderer? Is it murder to kill someone who was going to die anyway, in order to save the group? Does it make sense to imprison someone when you need all the able-bodied help you can get? Will they execute her?

It's an interesting moral dilemma and I'm glad I don't have to sit on their council and decide.

This Church Marquee Confuses Me

I don't understand this local church marquee. "GODS AT WAR?" What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Do they mean the old saw that God's mad at all the corruption and debauchery going on here on Earth and is going to war against all us sinners, yadda yadda yadda? If so, yawn. Heard that song before.

Or is it referring to actual gods at war, like Zeus and Thor beating the crap out of one another? If so, then they've got something there. That would be awesome!

Punctuation, people! It's important!

It Came From The Cineplex: Machete Kills

Machete Kills is the sequel to 2010's Machete, and was directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Kyle Ward (after a story idea by Rodriguez).

While the first film was an homage to action and grindhouse films, this one has a James Bond-ian flavor to it, reminiscent of Moonraker.

As in the first film, the off beat casting is the real star here.In addition to Danny Trejo as Machete the film stars Michelle Roriguez, Sofia Vergara, Antonio Banderas, Lady Gaga (!), Cuba Gooding Jr., William Sadler, Charlie Sheen (!!) and Mel Gibson (!!!).

Robert Rodriguez seems to enjoy hiring "troubled" actors (such as Sheen and Gibson) for his films-- up to a point. The previous film starred Lindsay Lohan, whose character Rodriguez liked, but didn't include in this film because she, "Didn't fit into the story." That's another way of saying, "Aw hell no, she ain't gonna be in any more of MY films."

By the way, Charlie Sheen plays the President (!) and is billed here under his real name "Carlos Estevez."

The film begins with an old school beat up trailer for the third film in the series, Machete Kills Again... In Space. It looks very over the top and absolutely ridiculous in a fun way, and I'm hopefull it'll get made and complete the trilogy.

The Plot:
During a raid to destroy a Mexican drug cartel, Machete is captured by a corrupt Texas sheriff. As the sheriff is about to execute Machete, he's whisked away to Washington to meet with President Rathcock,

The President is concerned that an insane Mexican warlord has a nuclear missile aimed at Washington and wants Machete to diffuse the situation in exchange for full citizenship and a clean criminal record.

Machete accepts the mission and eventually stops the bomb aimed at Washington, but is then captured by eccentric billionaire Luther Voz, who's secretly instigating global nuclear war while building a space ark in which to escape Earth.

It's probably futile to point out flaws in such a silly movie. I will give it my best shot though.

• Can you believe Danny Trejo is almost 70 years old? I had no idea he was that old. I'd have guessed late 50s.

Charlie Sheen, er, I mean Carlos Estevez turns in a decent and surprisingly restrained performance as President Rathcock. Also Mel Gibson plays a villain here for the first time and seems to be enjoying himself immensely. Why, he was perilously close to being likable here!

• I don't know why, but I find it funny that Machete has a last name. Several times throughout the film he's called "Machete Cortez." I just assumed "Machete" was his nickname or code name, like "Wolverine." So Machete is his real first name?

• Alexa Vega has a small part as a prostitute assassin called Killjoy. Ga ga ga Googy! Believe it or not she the same Alexa Vega who played Carmen Cortez in the Spy Kids films. I have a hard time believing these are photos of the same person. And I feel more than a little dirty looking at her now...

• Somebody on the production staff is a Star Wars fan. In one scene Voz drives a replica of Luke's land speeder around his compound. Then after Luz is blinded, Voz has her frozen in what appears to be a block of carbonite, Han Solo-style. After Voz's face is burned, he takes to wearing a Darth Vader-like getup. He also has what appears to be a light saber battle with Machete in the Machete Kills Again… In Space trailer. 

• At one point Machete dispatches a bad guy by grabbing him by the neck with one hand, then shoving his namesake weapon into a fusebox. This causes the electricity to pass harmlessly through Machete's body and into the bad guy, electrocuting him. I guess that's how it would work, but it still seems a bit dubious. 

Even if it would really work that way though, Machete lets go of the now-fried bad guy before pulling his blade out of the fusebox. Whoops!

• They must have used some kind of special lens or high contrast film on this film. Every closeup magnifies and accentuates every pore on Trejo's craggy, granite-like face.

• Everyone in this film seems to be nigh-indestructable. Machete gets shot several dozen times at point blank range (!) and somehow lives. Yes, he wakes up in Luther Voz's high tech healing pool, but still…

And Michelle Rodriguez's Luz character gets her eye shot out and somehow shakes it off.

• Speaking of Luz,  I just knew she was going to get her other eye shot out. Robert Rodriguez is repeating himself here; the same thing happened in Johnny Depp's character in Once Upon A Time In Mexico.

• Machete aims a jet pack at Voz which burns his face and horribly disfigures him. Voz then dons a very Doctor Doom-like metallic mask to hide his face. But once the mask is on his face, his voice suddenly sounds like it's being electronically processed, much like Darth Vader's. 

Um… why would that be? It's just a metal mask, and there's a fairly large mouth opening in it. I don't see any reason why his voice would take on an electronic tone, other than because it sounded cool.

Machete Kills is a silly but fun follow-up to the original film. I give it a B-.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

R.I.P. Edna Krabappel

I've been trying to get away from posting news of celebrity deaths on my blog, lest it become the obituaries page, but occasionally I'll make an exception. Like today.

Marcia Wallace, of The Bob Newhart Show fame and long-time voice of Bart's teacher Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons, has died. She would have turned 71 on November 1.

I always enjoyed Wallace's work on The Bob Newhart Show and watched her on the Match Game and $25,000 Pyramid. She's been on television in one form or another pretty much my entire life.

Simpsons producer Al Jean responded to Wallace's death, saying they intend to retire the character from the show. I think that's probably for the best. They did the same thing with the many characters voiced by Phil Harman after his death.

At the risk of being morbid, The Simpsons has been on for so long that we're now in danger of the voice talent dying off!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

This Week In Bizarre Home Lighting Technology

This Week In Bizarre Home Lighting Technology, we have this lovely and attractive lamp based on AMC's The Walking Dead

Resembling the withered and rotting severed hand of a shambling zombie, this lamp would make a tasteful addition to the decor of any non-married fan of the series.

Please, please tell me you turn it on by pulling its finger.

Weirdo and bizarre licensed lamps are apparently a thing now.

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 5: Girl In The Flower Dress

Not a bad episode this week. For the first time since the pilot we actually got a character with honest to goodness superpowers, which is a good thing, seeing as this is a show set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It feels like they're finally starting to find the tone of the show. If the quality continues to improve as it's done the past couple of weeks, we may end up with a good show here.

This week we get a Chinese man who called Scorch who can generate flames from his body, a mysterious woman who kidnaps him and injects him with Extremis so he can blow people up real good, and Skye's cover is blown and she's almost kicked off the team, but Coulson settles on probation.

One thing this show really needs to do: stop making up generic characters like Scorch and start using actual Marvel super villains from the various comics. Obviously they're not going to waste a major villain like Taskmaster on the TV show, but they've got plenty of second and third tier characters (that have no chance in hell of ever making it into a movie) that they could use.

This is a Marvel show after all, so it only makes sense that they ought to be using Marvel characters.

Thoughts (SPOILERS!)

• All season I've been marveling (HAW!) over the way May can fly the Bus, an enormous C4 type of plane, all by herself. No copilot or navigator needed.

This week she goes one better-- Coulson orders her to set a course for Hong Kong and without making any apparent moves or gestures she says, "Already done."

Did she mean she'd already set the course on her own before he gave the order? Is her brain somehow connected to the plane? Is she flying it with her mind?

• We learn of The Index, a list S.H.I.E.L.D. keeps of known super powered people it has under surveillance. Hey, just like our government!

• Coulson tells May he has a lot of energy lately and has to burn it off in the gym. I'm assuming this is another clue pertaining to his resurrection.

• During the showdown in the lab, May and Scorch yell at one another in Cantonese. It sounded to my admittedly amateur ears like they were both speaking it very awkwardly, almost like they'd learned the lines phonetically. 

Maybe their Cantonese is rusty after years of living in America?

• So it's starting to look like the Extremis formula (from Iron Man 3) is being used the way the kryptonite meteors were used on Smallville. In nearly every episode of Smallville some teen would get powers from exposure to kryptonite. It looks like Extremis is in danger of becoming a similar catch-all origin story generator here.

• So Skye reveals the real reason she joined S.H.I.E.L.D. is because she's looking for her parents. Apparently the only record of them she can find in all the world is a heavily censored S.H.I.E.L.D. document.

Are her parents dead? Or did they both have superpowers and S.H.I.E.L.D. made them disappear? 

• At the end of the episode Coulson puts a tracking bracelet on Miles The Hacker and tells him not to get near any high-tech equipment for a while. It's implied that this means the electronic bracelet will interfere with computers and wifi and the like, preventing him from further hacking.

Then he hands one to Skye, who sighs and reluctantly puts it on her wrist. Is her bracelet the same type as they gave Miles? If so I hope S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't need her to do any hackery for them next week.

• The new Thor movie comes out in a couple of weeks. Wouldn't now be a great time to have Chris Hemsworth make a little cameo appearance to drum up interest in both properties? Get on that right away, would you ABC?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Overheard At Work: Colors

I work in a typical office, surrounded by many other workers in cubicles. Although I'm grateful to have a job I like, sometimes the vocal din from the surrounding coworkers is a bit overwhelming. Not to mention odd. Thank the gods old and new for headphones and Pandora.

The following is a 100% true actual conversation I Overheard At Work:
Woman (to other woman): "Do you know how jealous I am of you that you can wear chartreuse and I can't?"
I have to assume the person who said this meant that they can't wear that particular color because it doesn't go well with their skin tone or hair color or some such hooey, and not that chartreuse is outlawed by their church, synagogue or Home Owner's Association.

I can say with absolute surety that at no point in my life have I ever once given a second's thought as to whether or not I could "wear" a particular color. I ain't got time to worry about my personal color palette. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 2: Infected

Wow, another really good episode this week! At the risk of jinxing it, they're two for two so far this season. Let's hope they keep up the quality.

It almost seems like new show runner Scott Gimple listened to the fans and is doing his best to address the show's various problems. Suddenly the characters are being written much better (Michonne even laughed!) and are making fewer stupid decisions. Kudos to Gimple and the writing staff.

Thoughts (SPOILERS!):

• As I figured last week, the "new threat from within" is some form of flu. Possibly swine flu, considering all the pigs hanging around? Hopefully it's not something like the Spanish Flu, which killed three to five percent of the world's population in 1918 (!).

• Lots of intense gore this week. Walker Nerd Boy feasting on a snoring victim, said Victim rising up and spilling his guts (literally!) all over the floor, and best (or maybe worst) of all, the walker whose face gets Play Doh Fun Factoried through the chain link fence!

• The kids' drawings of the prison, complete with walkers outside the fence, was a nice touch. It makes sense-- the zombie apocalypse has probably been going on for four years now and these kids are probably five or six, so as far as they're concerned this is how the world has always been.

• So who's feeding rats to the walkers? The obvious answer would Lizzy and Mika, the two girls who were seen last week naming fence walkers like they were pets. Mika even tells Carol that Lizzy is "messed up."

I suppose it could also be the Governor feeding them, but that seems a bit too subtle for him.

• At the end of last season Rick invited the Woodbury refugees to live in the prison after they were abandoned by the Governor. I wondered why he'd do that-- how could he trust people who'd willingly followed the Governor? Why would he endanger his friends and family by bringing in so many unknowns? Now I know why. Then needed the Woodburyians to serve as redshirts!

• Silly Tyreese, trying to build a new life with Karen! Don't you know you can't have anything nice in this world?

By the way, you may remember Karen as the sole survivor of the Governor's army after he gunned them all down in a fit of rage at the end of last season.

• We get to see the Council this week. Probably not for the last time.

• Rick and Carl are outside in their garden when they hear what sound like explosions coming from inside the prison (which turns out to be Walker Nerd Boy attacking Cell Block D). 

What the heck was making those noises? Obviously it was supposed to be gunfire coming from within the prison, but it sounded more like distant mortar fire. 

• Carol seems to be becoming the character that Andrea should have been. The series really botched TV Andrea, so I'm glad to see she's sort of getting a second chance through Carol.

• Speaking of Carol, I don't get all the tsuris over her story time/weapons class. This is the end of civilization after all. Kids are gonna need to know how to fight and defend themselves. The age of overprotective soccer moms, helicopter parents and "think of the children!" is long gone. If she doesn't teach them how to survive, who will?

• So it looks like they have a doctor in the group now. Since Herschel apparently forgot he's a veterinarian, maybe Rick should have asked the Doc to take a look at the sick pigs last week. He might have been able to prevent the epidemic.

• Herschel seems to be getting around really well on his homemade bionic leg. I didn't even see him limp! I wonder who built that? Did they carve it out of wood? Or did Michonne pick up a leg for him from a prosthetics store while she was out hunting for the Governor?

• Last week I marveled at Carl's transformation; how he went from tween psychopath at the end of Season 3 to fairly normal at the beginning of Season 4.

It appears Rick accomplished this change by taking away Carl's gun and doing his best to involve him in "quiet" activities. You know, things like farming rather stabbing walkers in the brain. I guess it must be working.

• When Beth hands Baby Judith to Michonne, she holds the infant at arm's length like a bag of maggots before finally embracing her and breaking down in tears. It was a nicely written scene that spoke volumes about Michonne's past without nary a word of dialog.

Obviously at one point Michonne had a child who died. But did it die before or after The Fall?

By the way, Michonne's injury is obviously the writers' way to interrupt her search for the Governor and keep her in the prison for a few episodes.

• Babe, we hardly knew ye! 

As a result of someone feeding the walkers, a large mass of them begin pressing against one spot on the prison fence, threatening to collapse it. Thinking fast, Rick has Daryl drive him out of the prison as he hobbles his pigs (which probably had the flu and couldn't be eaten anyway) and throws them to the walkers to lure them away from the fence.

Again, it's a very well written scene. Without a single word of dialog we can see that Rick is genuinely disturbed by the whole pig thing, as his hopes for a peaceful life behind the prison fence have just been flushed down the crapper. He realizes, to his bitter disappointment, that there's no chance for a peaceful life in this brutal world.

• Tyreese goes to visit Karen and finds that someone has "taken care of the problem" by incinerating her and another flu sufferer. Were they burned before or after they turned? And who did it? The same person who's feeding the walkers? Or someone else? 

• I noticed an extra-prominent "No animals were harmed during the filming of this episode" disclaimer at the end. A preemptive strike no doubt, to head off complaints from boneheads who think the film crew really killed those pigs.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Not So Angry Birds

This week mobile gaming company Rovio announced yet another game in their preposterously popular Angry Birds franchise, called Angry Birds Go! Because god knows Rovio needs the money, dontcha know. They only made around $200 million last year, the pour souls. 

One thing I noticed right off the bat-- these birds do not look the least bit angry. They're not Peeved Birds. They're not even Vexed Birds. I'd even go so far as to say they're not even Irritable Birds.

It's false advertising if you ask me. These birds look positively cheerful. I guess Contented Birds just didn't have the same ring to it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 4: Eye Spy

I don't have a lot to say about this episode-- to be honest I actually dozed off toward the end! I'm not sure it was the show's fault or I was just really sleepy. Either way I hope things pick up soon in this series or I'm gonna drop it.

This week S.H.I.E.L.D. investigates a woman with x-ray vision who's committed numerous high profile heists. She turns out to be Akela Amadour, a former protege of Coulson. He summons the team to capture her, believing she deserves another chance.

• Directed by Roxanne Dawson, who played B'Elanna Torres on Star Trek: Voyager. Torres directed several episodes of Voyager and has become quite a prolific TV director since.

• I've been saying for several weeks now that if this show can't be The Avengers every week, then it needs to try and be more like Fringe. Looks like they took my advice! This week's episode felt very much like a first season Fringe episode. Maybe it was a rejected script the Fringe reject pile?

• I was hoping Akela might turn out to be a character from the Marvel Universe, but instead she's just some woman with a bionic eye and x-ray vision. Marvel has hundreds of characters they could easily use on this show. I wonder if they're hesitant to do so because they don't want to waste a villain on the TV show and then not be able to use them in a movie?

• At the beginning of the episode a squadron of men wearing creepy red masks and briefcases handcuffed to them walk purposefully through a city in Switzerland (I think). Are they minions of the Red Skull? Members of the Red Tide? No, they're diamond mules.

This I don't get. Someone wanted to transport millions in diamonds and decided the best way to do so was to utilize dozens of lookalikes as decoys, only one of which was really carrying the diamonds. That way the odds of a thief stealing the right briefcase were slim at best. But then why dress all the decoys in creepy red masks? Wouldn't it have been better if they'd just worn hats and dark glasses so they'd blend in with the crowd a bit more? Why make them stand out so much and practically beg a crook to attack them?

The only reason I can come up with is that the red masks made it more comic booky, and this is a comic book universe.

• So Aleka had x-ray vision and could tell which briefcase contained the diamonds. Did she have super strength as well? She beat up a subway car full of soldiers and even ripped the hand off of one to get his briefcase. Quite a feat for a 120 pound woman.

• Once again, May is flying a gigantic airplane all by herself. No copilot, no navigator, no nothing. She even comments that she likes flying because of the solitude in the cabin. Nope!

I realize this is a comic book show, but I don't think you can fly an enormous plane like that with a crew of six.

Now that I think about it, is there any kind of crew on the "Bus?" A grounds crew? Technicians? Maintenance men? Who vacuums the carpets and cleans the bathrooms? Couslon? 

• Akela is being controlled by someone else who can see her every move through her bionic eye. If she disobeys or tries to betray this mystery man, he'll throw a kill switch and explode her head.

S.H.I.E.L.D. captures her and sends Ward to complete her mission. They rig up some technobabble glasses so that the mystery man will see what Ward sees and he's watching Akela's point of view. 

The mystery man must be really unobservant. Did Ward never once look down at his hands or feet, allowing the mystery man to see that he's not a black woman? Did he never look into his car's rear or side view mirrors? Did the mystery man not notice that his video feed is suddenly coming from six feet off the ground instead of five?

• At the end of the episode Akela asks May what happened to Coulson, then quickly drops the subject. Obviously she saw something odd about him with her x-ray vision. We can't be told what she saw though because it's only the fourth episode and they've got to drag out the mystery, LOST-style.

• In the tag scene Ward and Fitz are playing poker. Fitz wants Skye to use the backscatter x-ray feature of the technobabble glasses to see Ward's cards. Skye warns Fitz that if she turns them on, she'll be able to see his naked body under his clothes. He blushes and folds, hurriedly scampering away before she can get a peep at him.

It's supposed to be a cutesy moment, but it's just plain dumb. Have you seen what those backscatter images look like? They're about as erotic as your grandma's nightgown. We even saw a backscatter image of May earlier in the episode and she looked like an amorphous blob, so this whole little tag scene made zero sense.

I guess I had a lot to say about it after all.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Overheard At Work: Harry Potter

I work in a typical office, surrounded by many other workers in cubicles. Although I'm grateful to have a job I like, sometimes the vocal din from the surrounding coworkers is a bit overwhelming. Not to mention odd. Thank the gods old and new for headphones and Pandora.

The following is a 100% true actual conversation I Overheard At Work:
Woman: Last night I bought a DVD that stars that girl who plays Hymen in the Harry Potter movies.
Ahem. From the Hogwarts After Dark collection, no doubt.

The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 1: 30 Days Without An Accident

Huzzah! The Walking Dead's back after a seven month absence. That's better than the SIXTEEN month gap between Season 7 and 8 of Doctor Who, but I still think it's too long.


• 16 million viewers watched this episode! Wow! That's a new record for cable TV. It even beat the Breaking Bad series finale! Not bad for our little zombie show.

I'm betting the ratings would be even higher if they counted people who watched it online, as I did.

• Another season, another new show runner. Scott Gimple takes over for Glen Mazzara, who took over for Frank Darabont. Geez guys, get a revolving door, wouldja? 

Gimple wrote this premiere episode and did a pretty darned good job of it. If he can keep up the quality of the premiere then the show's in good hands.

• Looks like there's been another time jump since the end of Season 3. I think that's a good idea. It makes the show feel like it's happening in real time (it's been seven months since we've seen our friends at the prison) and it helps explain Carl's rapid growth, neatly avoiding the "Walt Problem" that plagued LOST.

Other changes during the jump: Herschel's got a brand new homemade bionic leg, Michonne's hunting for the Governor and there's now some kind of ruling council making decisions. Hopefully they'll do a better job of running things than our government, amirite? Eh? Eh? Is this thing on?

Oh, and Daryl and Carol may be a couple. Or maybe not. It's tough to tell.

• Rick wears earbuds and listens to music as he tends to his garden. You know, his garden that's a mere twenty feet away from a mob of hungry walkers on the other side of the fence. Does that seem like a good idea? I can't speak for Rick, but I know I'd want to be able to hear anytime I was outside in this world.

• So Team Prison is raising pigs for food now. Seems odd to see animals on the show. That's something we've not seen much in the series so far. Daryl's killed a few animals now and then, but for the most part we've seen very little evidence that animals even exist after The Fall. Maybe the walkers eat them when they can't find human food?

• Earlier this summer the promos ominously hinted that there'd be a "new evil attacking from within." When I heard that my first thought was that it had to be some kind of disease. What else could it be? Looks like I was right. Not sure how a disease can be "evil" though, but there you go.

I'm guessing since pigs played such an inexplicably prominent role in this episode that the disease is some kind of mutated swine flu? And if you get the flu and then die, you come back as some kind of new, souped-up walker? Like the weird-eyed one that Rick kept seeing through the fence?

• At one point Rick and Carl observe the pigs in the pen. Carl worries that his pig Violet looks sick. Rick admits he doesn't know what's wrong with her and says it might be nothing.

Whoops! I guess the writers forgot that Herschel was a veterinarian and ran a farm before the apocalypse. Apparently no one thought to have him take a look at Violet and maybe even treat her. 

• Foreshadowing 101: Among the newcomers to the prison is Nerd Boy, a young and overeager teen who reminds me a lot of Harold Lauder from The Stand. He's seen cooking breakfast for everyone and even shakes Daryl's hand. 

Unfortunately he's infected with the mystery disease. And he just unknowlingly infected the entire prison as well.

By the way, we see Daryl lick his fingers right before he shakes Nerd Boy's hand. Does that mean Daryl's the flu carrier?

• At the end of last season, Carl had seemingly become a tween psychopath who callously killed a Woodbury resident just for looking at him funny. This harsh new world had robbed him of his childhood and threatened to turn him into a soulless killing machine. Herschel ominously warned Rick that his son was becoming dangerous.

Then suddenly in this episode Carl seems to be his old self again. He's got a pet pig, he's getting along with his dad and he even checks out story time with the other kids!

So what the hell happened? The "innocent kid who's turned into a killer by his brutal world" plot thread was interesting and one I don't think I've ever seen on TV before. I was looking forward to seeing how it would play out, but I guess it was none of our business. Carl's psychological problems were seemingly resolved offscreen. Boo! Way to take the easy way out, writers. That must have been one hell of a lecture Rick gave him!

• Newcomer Bob Stoovey goes on a supply run with Daryl, Tyreese, Sasha and a few redshirts. Inside a warehouse store, Bob sees a wine display and takes a bottle off the shelf, looking at it longingly. He then summons up his strength and puts it back (just before all hell breaks loose).

It's a very well done scene. With nary a word spoken we instantly know that Bob has a bit of a drinking problem and is doing his best to overcome it (and it'll no doubt come up again later to bite everyone in the ass). Well done, writers!

• It's raining men! Hallelujah! Well, it's raining zombies anyway.

Somehow the warehouse store's roof was crawling with walkers (and a crashed helicopter yet!) who came crashing through the rotting ceiling at the worst possible time.

Lots of cool gore and makeup effects on display in this scene, as the walkers splashed to the floor like bags of rotten meat.

• Rick goes into the woods to check the animal traps and meets a cuckoo crazy Irish (!) woman named Clara. She begs him to help her and her unseen husband Eddie. 

Did anyone not think that Eddie was a walker and she just couldn't bear to let him go?

We never actually get a look at what's left of Eddie; all we see is something wriggling inside a burlap bag. Somehow that made it even worse. 

• At the end of the episode Daryl tells Beth that her pal Zach The Redshirt died in their supply run. She calmly and dispassionately walks over to her "It's Been 30 Days Without An Accident" sign and removes the 30, which perfectly illustrates her deadened emotional state as well as explaining the episode's title.

• Nerd Boy is sick enough to die, but not sick enough to walk to the shower room. Got it. I'm betting he'll be infecting even more people next week.

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