Season Premiere Round-Up: 1/23/16 – 2/5/16

I only have two season premieres to discuss with you today. I ought to have three, except that I haven’t quite made myself watch The Magicians yet. I had extremely mixed feelings on the first book, and while it’s a great concept for a TV series, I’m not sure I need yet another show where I want to strangle all the characters. The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow do enough to regularly raise my blood pressure, you know?

Unfortunately, I wasn’t too wild with the season premieres I did watch, either. Be warned: SPOILERS ahead.

Lucifer

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This was . . . okay. On the plus side, Tom Ellis is charming as hell and also has a British accent, which is rarely ever a bad thing. And I’m kind of a sucker for the angel/demon mythos, even if I don’t always like where people go with it.

On the negative side, the wacky, charming guy who partners up with the straight-laced female cop is a very, very tired trope, and this is hardly the most exciting example of it. (For my money, Sleepy Hollow probably did it best because Nicole Beharie was fucking amazing. Sadly, everything else in that show went straight to hell in the second season.) Lauren German isn’t bad, necessarily, but I saw nothing particularly interesting about her, either, and I’m not sure I could possibly express to you how little interest I have in her bullshit relationship drama with her ex. (Oh, Kevin Alejandro. Why are they wasting you like this? I weep for the memory of Jesús.)

Plus–and I say this as someone who’s enjoyed a lot of detective shows–I feel like we’re really limiting the the potential here by making the whole thing a police procedural. If Lucifer was a private detective who occasionally consulted with the cops, you know, maybe that would have worked for me, but this current setup feels tired and small in scope. It also kind of bugs me that Lucifer’s “I’m So Sexy” powers only apparently work on women (except the female lead, of course). And maybe this is just me, but I find myself slightly uncomfortable with his powers anyway. Like getting someone to blurt out their secret desires, sure, no problem. Being entirely irresistible to the opposite sex, though, is . . . trickier. I know the psychologist and her Basic Instinct moment was supposed to be funny, but I mostly just felt uncomfortable. You can argue that Lucifer can’t make the doctor do anything she doesn’t secretly want to do, but you know, your inhibitions aren’t just some silly, artificial thing society has thrust upon you. Inhibitions are a part of who you are. What you choose not to do means something. So, yeah. I kind of cringed at that part.

Lucifer wasn’t terrible and I’ve definitely enjoyed shows that started with far worse pilots, but time ain’t cheap, you know, and I’m just not sure I want to waste time on one that’s so by-the-numbers. If someone decides they want to make a series about The Accountant from Drive Angry, though? I would watch the HELL out of that show.

FAVORITE PART:

You know, I’m honestly not sure. It’s been almost two weeks since I watched it, and while I’m sure Tom Ellis had a few jokes that made me laugh, nothing stands out to me now.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

B

The X-Files

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Wow. I know I was one of the few people who actually wasn’t looking forward to the show coming back, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad.

The second part of the two-part premiere was just kind of boring. I felt checked out during most of it and have very little to say, other than (a) stabbing yourself in the ear with a letter opener is always effectively creepy, and (b) the gay restroom joke felt really dated and weird to me. Oh, and I never actually watched the last X-Files movie that everybody hates, so when I found out about Mulder and Scully’s whole adoption storyline, I was pretty disappointed.

It’s the first hour, though, that is the true ungodly mess.

On the plus side, I always like seeing Gillian Anderson. (And I don’t see her as much as I’d like, because she does a lot of stuff I’m not terribly interested in.) I like Joel McHale too, and while his character is a very weird sort of hero to have (like, you go, 9/11 truther?), he might have been the only part of the story that felt updated or original in any way. At the very least, he had energy.

On the negative side . . . I mean . . . what the fuck? Seriously, did we just retcon, like, the entire show? I can’t decide what annoys me more: the giant ass retcon that the government’s been behind the abductions all along, or the fact that Mulder’s Big Revelation feels in no way earned. Like, he meets an unusual girl and sees a weird ship, and ten seconds later he knows without a doubt that everything he ever thought about aliens was a LIE? I never understood the jump in his thought process, and I’m thoroughly unimpressed with this weak ass writing. Come on, the takeover of America? Really? Really?

What’s funny, too, is that I was all about Mulder when I was younger. At 30, though, I’m like, “Whatever, Mulder, I don’t care about you and your man pain. Skinner, slap him around a little, would you? And Scully, let’s just focus on you, okay? Because you’re awesome, and because I feel that we need to discuss how you always manage to get blood on your neck during what are apparently very messy ear surgeries. Also . . . did you really never check yourself for alien DNA, like, even after all the crap you’ve been through? You’ve really never done that until now? Okay, then.”

I was only a mild Mulder/Scully shipper, so I don’t feel too invested one way or the other in their breakup. (Although I do get why the shippers are pissed.) But I was very annoyed by their big confrontation; it felt really cheap and weird and full of catchphrases instead of actual arguments. It was like the remix of a fight. It was fucking bizarre.

Considering that I wasn’t even excited about The X-Files returning, I didn’t think I could be disappointed by it. Apparently, I was wrong. If I hadn’t heard such good things about the third episode (currently living on my DVR with The Magicians pilot, the second episode of Lucifer, and half a dozen other things), I doubt I would even continue, even though I’m already 1/3 of the way through the series.

FAVORITE PART:

I’ll admit to laughing when Mulder told Tad, “My pursuit has not been so lucrative.”

TENTATIVE GRADE:

C-. And frankly, I think that’s generous.

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“I’m A Person and My Name Is Anakin!”

A side effect of falling hard for any particular fandom means that you will spend far too much of your time investigating any and all avenues of it. I fall in and out of love with fandoms the way most people fall in and out of love with, well, other people, and right now I am head over heels for anything to do with The Force Awakens. I even read a Star Wars novel, and I haven’t done that in probably 20 years.

Thus along with the Disney Princess Movie Challenge of 2016, I have also begun the great Star Wars Rewatch (that, presumably, everyone else did last year BEFORE The Force Awakens came out). That means I had to square my shoulders, face my fears, and watch a film I had not seen in a long time: Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace.

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. . . yeah, it’s not great. There are definitely things I’m going to make fun of. Like, a lot of things. So many things. That being said, I’m not entirely convinced The Phantom Menace is quite the “involuntary twitching, brains leaking from ears, weeping blood, oh God, the horror, THE HORROR” experience people say it is, either.

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And If You Were Looking For a Tale of Stinky Zombie Love . . .

. . . well, good news, people! I have the story for you!

The second issue of Mothership Zeta released today, and I’m in it with my not-at-all absurdly titled story “The Elixir of the Not-So-Disgusting Death Smell.” In this work, you will find an epic love that transcends death, a race to cure rotting body odors, mad scientists, a handful of Re-Animator references, and of course, Girl Scout cookies.

It’s a silly story to be sentimental about, but it’s also the story that (a) helped me decide I was much more interested in writing spec-fic than lit-fic, and (b) helped get me into Clarion West. (Well. A much earlier version of “Elixir” did, anyway. I’ve rewritten this little ludicrous love story a ridiculous amount of times. In fact, the CW version didn’t even have the Girl Scout cookies, so obviously it was seriously inferior and I’m lucky to have gotten in at all.)

Mothership Zeta is available to buy here. Some stories will be posted on their website throughout the week for free, but I have no idea if mine is one of them or not. If so, I’ll update this post with a link. But if you can afford $2.99, you get ALL the stories, which is kind of awesome. (Personally, I’m particularly looking forward to checking out “That Time with Bob and the Unicorn” because man, that TITLE. Also, “The Android’s Prehistoric Menagerie” because everything that A. Merc Rustad writes is awesome.)

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“Magic Mirror On the Wall, Who Is The Fairest One of All?”

Friends, family, bored people who accidentally found their way onto this blog! The time has come for the 2016 Disney Princess Movie Challenge.

Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?

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Finding a copy of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs proved to be slightly more challenging than normal, since it’s not available on Netflix or Amazon Prime and I was deeply unwilling to shell out too much money on a movie where the happy ending is dependent on a dude making out with a dead body. (Did you know that there’s a special platinum version of Snow White that’s currently selling on Amazon for $109.95? Admittedly, it appears that Disney included a ton of bonus features, but since I haven’t seen anything stating that the DVD is literally lined with gold, I’m not terribly convinced it’s worth the cost.)

Anyway, I did find a copy, thanks to the fact that my town still has a local video store. Thus we have much to discuss, like misogynistic dwarfs, creeper princes, and how Snow White leaves children with very unrealistic expectations about the helpful attitude of forest animals, among other things.

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Season Premiere Round-Up: 1/1/16-1/22/16

Loving TV, as I do, I found myself writing mini recaps/reviews of all the season premieres I watched last fall, up until December, anyway. Then I kind of forgot about it because, really, not much premieres in December. (Other than The Expanse, of course, because the executives at Syfy are apparently contrary bastards.) And I went right on forgetting it, too, until the other day when I was watching the third episode of Teen Wolf, Season 5B, and was like, “Oh, yeah. I was doing kind of a thing, huh?”

And so. A handful of season premiere impressions: some timely, some belated, and all, rather obviously, with SPOILERS.

The 100

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Mek and I found The 100 last year on Netflix and quickly marathoned through two seasons. While the show started a bit slow for me (if I could have murdered Octavia and Bellamy in the first couple of episodes, I would’ve, and probably wouldn’t have wept for Clarke, either, if she just happened to, I don’t know, fall victim to a herd of rampaging wild deer or something), it definitely got SO much better, and I spent most of last year looking forward to a new season.

This is a pretty solid start, letting us know what all our characters have been up to for the past three months after the devastatingly brutal events of “Blood Must Have Blood, Part II.” Clarke has become everyone’s Most Wanted and, also, a redhead! (Disappointingly, it appears she’ll be going back to blonde soon.) Raven’s leg has gotten worse (which I’m happy about it because I love that it’s a continuing storyline, not just a bullshit Magic Heal). Bellamy has a girlfriend! (And I bet the Bellarke shippers are pissed.) Lincoln and especially Octavia are struggling with their identities as somewhere between Sky People and Grounders. And the gang goes on road trips and listens to the Violent Femmes! (I mock, but I actually enjoy CW’s anachronistic music for the most part, and this scene totally amused me. Also amusing: the kid who plays the piano at the end. Raven asks for a song, and I’m immediately like, “Oh, is this the infamous Montage Boy?” Turned out, it was. Also, apparently, a real musician whose stunt casting, predictably, went straight over my head.)

In fact, I only want one character to get brutally trampled upon and die in a stampede of angry rhinos now: Jasper, who has, unsurprisingly, not taken Maya’s demise very well and has become a suicidal drunk who’s mean to Monty. (He’s also shaved his head, which is obviously the second best Grooming Option for the Depressed, next to growing an Angst Beard. Surprisingly, it looks decent on him.) And the thing is, I get his trauma and I should feel sorry for him, but I’ve never particularly liked Jasper and his whiny “Only My Love Life Matters” approach to moralism, and seriously, anyone who’s mean to Monty DESERVES TO DIE. (I’m seriously hoping he gets more to do this year. Monty is the best. He deserves his own angst time, damn it.)

I’m kind of interested in the weird Jaha story because I want to know where it goes (presumably, he and ALIE will become the show’s Big Bad?), but anytime The 100 cuts away to him, I’m immediately like, “No, no, go back to the characters I actually care about!” But it’s great how much I’ve 180-ed on Murphy, who started life as a totally boring antagonist and now I’m very much rooting for. “I’m so out of here,” Murphy says, and yes, YES, Murphy. This is the proper reaction to Crazypants Jaha, the psychotic AI, and Johannes Brahms. (Of course, then he changes his mind because of a girl. Oh, Murphy. I am disappointed in you, buddy.)

FAVORITE PART:

I did love Murphy’s line, “Pain. Hate. Envy. Those are the ABC’s of me.” Still, my favorite part was probably when Monty unsympathetically threw the bucket of cold water at Jasper’s face. Here’s to hoping he upgrades that to a punch across the kisser next.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

A-

Agent Carter

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Yay, Agent Carter is back! “The Lady in the Lake” and “A View in the Dark” was a solid two-hour premiere, although honestly, I’m not sure how much I really have to say about it. Nothing about it seemed particularly ZOMG AMAZEBALLS, but I had a good time watching it regardless. It was nice to see Peggy Carter back in action, crisp and kickass and fashionable as ever. Punching everyone in LA seems like a fabulous hobby, and I would happily watch her take it up.

Also nice to see Souza (whose new, adorable GF, I’m desperately hoping, is not secretly evil), two strong female antagonists (especially Dottie! Hi Dottie!), and the return of Jarvis, bored out of his mind and occasionally chasing flamingos. I also quite enjoy Jarvis’s wife, Ana, although I am a little disappointed that Angie’s disappeared into the television void. And Rose, the SSR telephone operator/receptionist, has come to play! I’m super jazzed about that.

Wilkes, Peggy’s new love interest, has supposedly been killed, although I don’t buy it for a second. (Although, to be fair, I’ve been wrong about that kind of thing before. Still. An explosion that’s evaporated his body? Yeah, okay, guys.) And I’m kind of waiting to see where Jack’s storyline goes (though I’m not nearly as interested in him as I am in Peggy, Jarvis, and Souza). Is he going to become a bad guy, do we think? Or is he going to realize he’s joining Hydra and eventually get murdered for it?

FAVORITE PART:

Hm, I’m not sure. I couldn’t help but adore Peggy and Jarvis looking at the flamingo in the car. They’re just so charmingly . . .British together. I don’t know. Also, Rose telling Souza that he should tell Peggy about his girlfriend, and then offering him a snarky cookie when it ends up being too late. (And this exchange too: “Daniel, you’re a nice guy.”/”Oh, that’s just mean.”)

TENTATIVE GRADE:

A-

Teen Wolf

parrish

Oh, Teen Wolf, how I have missed you!!! It’s lovely to have you back.

This is a solid season opener, although–like many of the season premieres–it spends most of its time setting things up, so you know the really exciting things are coming later. Scott has started the uneasy quest of getting the band back together after Theo so easily and thoroughly divided them last fall, and it’s not off to the best start, since his Super Angst is (likely) what’s preventing him from healing properly. (Like in Season 3A, when Derek was supposedly but obviously not actually dead. Can’t Heal With a Broken Heart was incredibly silly then, but it’s pretty much just canon now.)

I like a good deal about this episode: Scott and Stiles being forced to work together again (especially after Stiles throws Scott against a wall and slams him to the ground, which, not gonna lie, I kind of enjoyed watched), Scott offering to listen to Malia if she needs it, Mason’s reaction to Liam tearing a page out of a library book instead of using the copier like a civilized werewolf, and, obviously, all of Stiles’s stuff with his dad. (The repeated head injury/blackouts made me laugh a little–it’s really just a matter of time before this kid ends up with brain damage–but I totally adored the moment when the Sheriff woke up, so. I let it slide.) I was less impressed with the fact that all you need to do to find the Nemeton, apparently, is use your Werewolf Eyes, cause, seriously, nobody thought of that before? And I still think it’s weird that Stiles and Malia apparently broke up last season because that’s really not what I got from that scene, but all in all, I was pretty into the premiere.

Especially that last flash-forward, where Theo and His Evil Chimera Pack slow-mo walked into Eichen House to get Lydia, and a seriously pissed off hellhound came to meet them. Hot damn, Parrish. (Sorry for the pun. Heh, no I’m not.)

FAVORITE PART:

Oh, probably when the Sheriff wakes up. Sue me; I’m a sucker for Stilinski Family Feels.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

B+

The Shannara Chronicles

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This isn’t bad, so far. Some things I like; other things, not so much. Shall we good/meh/blarg it?

THE GOOD:

Amberle. Of the three main characters, Amberle’s easily my favorite so far. I question some of her decision making skills (like, maybe we should talk to someone about these visions before immediately running away?), but I buy her badass moments, and I adore her silver elf-ear jewelry. (Seriously, I want these.)

Amberle’s handmaiden. Is she coming back? She oughta come back.

The cinematography/special effects. MTV shows don’t usually have a gigantic budget (hence the shitty green screens and often laughable CGI on Teen Wolf), but this show looks pretty damn great, especially given its network.

Ander. I like this guy, and I really hope he doesn’t end up dying or turning out to be a Big Twist Bad Guy.

Manu Bennett. Allanon is gruff and enjoyable, and it’s nice to see Slade as a good guy this time around.

The surprising amount of bloody violence. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I wasn’t expecting Teen Wolf levels of violence from YA high fantasy. I’m happy to have been wrong and hope the gory fun continues.

John Rhys-Davies. Less because he does anything worthwhile (I’m basically just waiting for him to get horribly murdered) but because I like the actor.

THE MEH:

Will. When he’s going for comedic, I’m generally amused. When he’s going for emotional . . . yeah, I’m not quite there yet.

All the characters are . . . pretty damn trope-y. (Especially naive country boy Will and Ander’s annoying, I-Don’t-Trust-Druids-And-I-Wanna-Be-King-NOW brother.) Now, obviously, it’s extremely early, so maybe everyone’s going to end up subverting their tropes and end up in interesting places . . . but so far I’m not seeing much evidence to suggest that.

THE BLARG:

Eretria. I want to like her. I really do. Morally ambiguous thief girls? Totally my thing. But she didn’t strike me as tough or cutthroat or awesome; mostly, she just struck me as annoying and trying way too hard to seem badass. Perhaps the actress will settle into the character? I mean, there is definitely potential for growth. (Plus, she was Ofelia in Pan’s Labyrinth! Damn it, I want to like you SO MUCH.) It also probably doesn’t help that she and Will, who seem destined for one another, have about as much chemistry as a rock and bag of low-fat pretzels. (Eretria has far, far more chemistry with Amberle, so I could maybe be okay seeing them get together. Unlikely, perhaps, because I doubt that’s in the source material, but then again, this is MTV. The network gets a lot of shit from a lot of people, but they’ve done a pretty good job with gay and lesbian representation in their other shows, and I don’t think they’ll abandon that here.)

The annoying I-Wanna-Be-King Now prince. He’s not as serious of a problem for me as Eretria because I’m obviously supposed to actually like Eretria. But at present, he’s a one-note tool, and I have little interest in watching him snipe at his father and brother or betray his family and try to take the throne.

FAVORITE PART:

Hm, I’m not sure. Maybe the whole opener when Amberle wins the race? I enjoyed that. Also, whenever Allanon mocks Will. That’s obviously good, too.

Legends of Tomorrow

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You know how some pilots just scream PILOT? Yeah, that’s how watching this episode felt. It wasn’t terrible or anything, but it just felt so compressed, so basic. They had to spend a lot of time going over the character backstories for anybody who doesn’t regularly watch Arrow and The Flash, which makes sense, but I couldn’t help but feel that new viewers would still be like . . . wait, who in the what now? Meanwhile, the rest of us, presumably, just tuned out Hawkgirl and Hawkman’s reincarnation story because it was kind of boring and unconvincing the first time around.. (Yes, I remain bitter that we didn’t get JLU Shayera Hol. You’re my favorite, Shayera!)

My random thoughts:

A. Oh man, Stein is a DICK. Drugging someone so they’re forced to travel through time with you on an almost certainly doomed quest to try and defeat an immortal super villain, all so you can have a little adventure and meaning in your life? Wow, no. I mean, I forgive it because I like Victor Garber, but no. He owed SO MUCH more of an apology to Jax at the end of this episode.

B. I do like that not everyone is initially eager to jump on board because, like, dying isn’t fun. I also like that Captain Cold and Heat Wave tag along primarily to steal shit.

C. Much to my shock, Heat Wave actually made me laugh intentionally a few times. Could he indeed be turning down the TOTAL CRAZY just a little? Because if he does, I could potentially actually like him.

D. I was convinced that Rip secretly wanted Captain Cold, Heat Wave, and White Canary to leave the ship because, otherwise, it seemed like a monumentally stupid plan to leave them alone. Apparently, it was just a monumentally stupid plan. Worked for me, though: I love the scene with the three of them at the bar. How long do you figure before CaptainCanary becomes canon? (ColdCanary? WhiteCold? I’m not the best at shipper names.)

E: Finally, and unfortunately, Vandal Savage continues to underwhelm me as a Big Bad.

FAVORITE PART:

Probably that bar scene. Otherwise, one of these two Heat Wave lines:

“Deafness wasn’t one of the side effects.”

“Why did we become criminals?”
“Because we hate working and love money.”

TENTATIVE GRADE:

B

TENTATIVE GRADE:

B

Galavant

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Honestly, I was shocked that this show didn’t get cancelled, and I wasn’t sure I was going to pick it up again. But a season premiere titled “A New Season aka Suck It, Cancellation Bear” was too hilarious to pass up.

Mostly, I’m in the same place I was last season. Some stuff cracks me up. I absolutely loved the opening song. And Galavant and Richard are fun to watch together. On the other hand, some of the humor feels tired and gets on my nerves. And my inner feminist sighed pretty heavily when Isabella, after mistakenly coming to believe that Galavant doesn’t love her anymore, decided to give up escaping her imprisonment/arranged marriage to her 12-year-old cousin because nothing matters if Galavant doesn’t love her. Like, really, Isabella? Really? It’s a fun enough show, and I will always be happy that Timothy Omundson has work, but even it miraculously makes a Season Three . . . I’m not sure I’m sticking around this time.

FAVORITE PART:

We didn’t actually see it, but apparently four pirates willingly walked the plank rather than hear the Galavant theme song one more time. Love it.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

B-

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In Which I Become a Columnist and Chat (At Some Length) About Mary Sues

So, good news! Well, for me, anyway, and for any of you who enjoy listening to me yak for extended periods of time about pop culture: I now have a column at The Book Smugglers! It’s called Trope Anatomy 101, and I suspect that the most clever among you will manage to divine what I’ll be discussing there. Specifically, I’m going to pick one trope per month and, in the near-but-not-quite words of Matt Damon, overanalyze the shit out of it.

If that sounds like your kind of thing, check out the first column: Trope Anatomy 101: Learn to Love Your Mary Sue.

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“And Secondly, I Don’t Need People to Help Me Grow Up. I Drink MILK.”

So, last year (especially the tail-end) was pretty busy for me. I watched all kinds of movies and television shows that I fully intended to review, but somehow I never quite got there. One of those shows was an American anime called RWBY (pronounced Ruby) that my friend Cory recommended. RWBY is about a group of friends with magical abilities and ridiculously awesome signature weapons who fight monsters while training at what’s essentially an elite warrior academy high school.

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It is, without question, entirely my jam.

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