Black Friday Spirit

We’ve posted before that we don’t really like Black Friday.  Too much craziness, too many people compelled to work on a holiday.  I noted a few stores were actually advertising that they would not be open at ridiculous hours – good for them.

You can learn a lot about the spirit of Black Friday by watching the excellent Teen Titans Go!  This show is a staple in our house – the kids love it, and it consistently makes me and the wife chuckle.  The show’s writers are obviously from our peer group, often referencing semi-obscure 80’s and 90’s lore in full Seth MacFarlane mode.


The episode rifs on ‘A Christmas Carol’ as so many fine holiday toons have done before, and really put me in the proper frame of mind to go out and do battle within the halls of retail Friday afternoon.

If you have pre-teen kids, you probably already know about Teen Titans Go!, but if not give it a look.  The Black Friday episode aired last week and will certainly be on again.

One Last Report

Unless you are completely deaf to the media, you know that last night was the final Colbert Report on Comedy Central.  Yes, Nation, Stephen Colbert will take his talents to CBS soon, where he will backfill for the retiring David Letterman.  So some people are probably thinking, no big deal, we’ll just see him on the network in a couple of months in Dave’s spot.  But wait – many viewers don’t realize (or don’t fully accept) that the Stephen Colbert on the Report is a caricature, a character, an ironic construct.  And that’s because he’s kept up this persona in front of the camera for nine + years, almost without fail.  He hasn’t done many interviews or public appearances out of this character at all.

So what’s he going to do on late night – that’s the question.  It will be different; enough hints have dropped that we know he’s doing interviews and jokes as more of himself.  How much will this confuse the Nation?  How will the viewers adjust? Continue reading

Walking Dead is back

One of the few episodic shows we continue to watch returns for its fourth season this Sunday:  The Walking Dead on AMC.  Not since we watched The Wire have we been so enamored with a show that can just be so damned depressing.  If you’re behind on episodes or looking to catch up with the plot again, AMC is currently running through all the prior seasons leading up to this Sunday.

I still remember picking up the very first trade of Robert Kirkman’s series back in the day, when the buzz about the comic book was starting to increase, and thinking the central premise was a pretty blatant rip-off of 28 Days Later (guy wakes up form coma and zombie apocalypse has ensued).  But the way he set up the characters and paid them such careful attention, the focus on the human element in the midst of such a horrible situation – these really stood out.  I still want to back and check out his book, Invincible, a character-driven take on the familiar teen and family superhero story.

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Switching ain’t easy

Over the holiday weekend, we switched media providers from AT&T to a combination of DirecTV and Comcast-Xfinity.  The reasoning was simple:  a savings of about 40% per month off the combined monthly bill for TV and Internet, along with expanded options and quicker net speeds.

Of course they offer to do it all for you; they offer lots of nice perks (which you’ll get charged for later if you don’t remember to go in and cancel the services).  Sounds easy.

You also better be sure you’ve done your research.  Comcast is happy to lease you a combo cable-modem/router, which you could have paid for in a year had you bought the equipment on your own.  So have that ready.  DirecTV now requires their techs to ground the service to your meter box, so that means extra holes and wires.

And then there’s the scheduling…

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TV Picks Return

Quick programming alert: two Beemsville TV picks return for each of their second seasons this week.

On AMC, Hell on Wheels kicks off at 8:00 CST.  You can watch trailers and plot-line lead-in from last season if you want to get on board or missed some episodes.  AMC is also doing a Season 1 Marathon all day today (Sunday) as is their custom.  We like this show because it’s a well-made Western with strong performances and interesting characters.

Tomorrow night at 9:00 CST, Grimm starts up again on NBC.  Move on from your Olympic hangover with supernatural style.  NBC’s site also has plenty of media and content to initiate or reintroduce you to Detective Nick, Monroe, and the Grimm-iverse.  This show has old-school X-Files appeal, a well-conceived urban fantasy setting (easier said than done – just look at all the crap fantasy spin-off attempts), and interesting characters.

You gotta have interesting characters.  Check them out.

Picking and Grimming

Last fall we picked the NBC series Grimm as one to try out, and one we initially enjoyed.  While the idea of police drama and fantasy stories from Grimm’s Fairy Tales isn’t all that novel – cops and monsters have been around in some fashion for decades – the effective creation of such a show has proven more elusive.  In earlier posts we’ve referred to the Twilight Effect, wherein a high percentage of new drama shows have included some element of the fantastic of a science fiction aside.  You might think that as proponents of sci-fi and fantasy, we would appreciate this trend.  But here’s the thing:  many of these shows are just bad.

Not so with Grimm.  Although I had initial concerns about ‘monster-of-the-week’ issues and whether the basic formula of giving Detective Nick Burkhardt a new fairy tale inspired creature and mystery to confront each week would grow stale, the series’ producers and writers have mostly avoided this by adding elements of a larger hidden-world struggle.  This struggle involves the power structure and traditions of the various creatures, a hidden multi-layered history (which Nick can discover along with the viewers), and how these elements intersect for Detective Nick. Continue reading

Random Friday

A couple of random quick thoughts on a beautiful Friday.  Stuff that you might mention on the social media if you were so inclined, in the way of observations, musings, and what not.

  • Parks and Recreation – probably my favorite pure sitcom to watch these days.  It makes me laugh out loud a couple times each week.  Great ensemble and just plain funny.  Check it out.
  • Who’s FIFA-ing?  Enjoying playing FIFA 12 on the PS3 (probably too much).  Particularly glad they made defending and passing a little more difficult.  A good sports game should always be about more than just pressing buttons quickly.  If it involves strategy and technique – that’s a good thing.
  • Book challenge – several times the past couple of weeks, my daughter has complained that she’s read all the books in her room.  That’s a lot of books.  She has informed me she needs more books.  I am very proud.  Luckily, we have a fine library in town.
  • Hermanator X –  Watching Herman Cain, you can’t help but be a little intrigued by the man and his ideas.  His 9-9-9 plan would really level the playing field.  Of course a lot of powerful interests on both sides of the political spectrum would see this as a major challenge to the status quo.  Wonder who Hermanator spooks more:  ultra-Liberals or arch-Conservatives?
  • Hoosier Road Trip – Ron Zook and the Illini hit the road for the first time in search of a 6-0 start and bowl eligibility.  Their objectives:  run the ball, hard and avoid injuries and stupid plays.  If they do this, IU can’t hang.
  • Not my X-Men – Reading the Ultimate X-Men Collection Trades, which compile the first four years of that title.  Written by Mark Millar, conceived as a more contemporary reboot of the X-Men to sort of go with the movies and current sensibilities, I’ve enjoyed some of the stories and new takes on the characters.  But the Post 911 allegory is weak sauce, and Millar’s portrayal of key characters (especially Wolverine and Magneto) is just not effective.  I have enjoyed his take on the Professor X, however.
  • Soccer Season Ends – in Beemsville for the kids.  Another fun season, with the kids improving and learning more about the game.  The boy’s control and coordination are much better, while the girl continues to improve her passing and overall awareness on the field.  And they really enjoy themselves out there.
  • Time for win, Klinsi – The USA Soccer team take on Honduras tomorrow in Miami.  If Coach Klinsmann and Company don’t play well and get a win tomorrow, alarm bells will start to ring.

Watching the Tube

No, not the inter-tubes, but the original boob-tube, as the Fall TV schedule begins.  One aspect of the programming that’s been apparent for years:  sci-fi is so mainstream these days, it’s hard to separate it from the rest.  In fact find me an angsty teen drama that doesn’t have a ghost, vampire, or paranormal twist…  Please.

And while we don’t spend as much time watching these days, there are a number of sci-fi flavored TV shows we’re looking forward to or will at least give a chance.  Some returning, some new.  The will go on the DVR, and some will make our cut while others won’t be able to command our short attention span.  Here they are:

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500 miles

500th post…  500?  Yes, 500. A fair amount of blogging.  Mostly twice a week, sometimes three times.  And yes, I would walk 500 miles (theme music below).  So on this, the occasion of the 500th, how about a round of Q&A to sort of capture the zeitgeist.  Or Something. Because a blog ain’t nothing more than an outlet for ideas after all…

-How cool will The Avengers be next summer?  It looks awesome from the teaser footage.  The two Marvel movies/Avengers prequels I saw this summer, Thor and Captain America, were solid but not spectacular. Expectations for The Avengers are much higher, and here’s hoping they can deliver.

-Will DC take the cue from Marvel’s big screen wins and start combining their franchise characters?  Batman and Superman – the JLA…  There are some pretty great stories there to mine, if Warner/DC only had the vision and talent to make it happen.

-Why does Hollywood subject us to so many formulaic bad, bad films?  Can’t they literally flip the script once in awhile?  I’d like to see a few less sequels and remakes (which are easy to market) and a few more well-made original concepts.  Everytime a studio greenlights another Transformers flick, another Donnie Darko-esque film fails to get made or publicized.

-What’s with all the cheesy teen neo-fantasy horror TV shows?  Watched a little of MTV’s Teen Wolf last week and must have seen adds for half-a-dozen other similarly-themed show.

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Ready for Walking Dead

Tomorrow night, AMC’s television version of The Walking Dead, based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, receives a Halloween debut.  For fans of horror, zombies, and comic books, this is a much-anticipated and promising development.  AMC has an excellent resume for developing intelligent TV drama, including Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Rubicon (the latter is currently a Beemsville favorite show).  High expectations are certainly in order.

We can tell you the graphic novels provide ample source material.  Kirkman’s series is character driven, first and foremost.  The tension of the survivors on the run from the planet’s newest alpha predators drives the interactions and speculation on the strength of the human psyche.  It’s not about the blood and gore (though there’s plenty of that); it’s about adapting to an impossible situation – the good and the bad of people under extreme duress. Continue reading