Posted in TV Stuff

5 Series that stuck the landing

Endings are hard.

Too often TV shows are either cancelled before their time, or are victims of their own successes and go so far past the logical end point that could have been. But every now and again, a series gets the chance to go out on a high.

Destroyer: Justice League Unlimited

Aired May 13 2006

Plot summary : Darkseid and the armies of Apokolips attack the Earth and only the combined Justice League, plus some of their villains can beat back this invasion.

Shining Moment: Superman explains how he has held back his entire life, but Darkseid can take it.

How did it stick the landing? Everyone had a hero moment, the action was high octane and yet there was still somewhere they could go, but it was a love letter to DC and they went out on a high.

What We Leave Behind: Star Trek: Deep Space 9

Aired 2 June 1999

Plot Summary: The United Federation of Planets, The Klingon Empire and the Roman Star Empire head for Dominion controlled Cardassia to end the war, just as Gul Dukat is trying to release the Pai-Wraiths, both plots coming to a fiery conclusion.

Shining Moment: The tide turns as the Cardassian revolution reaches their fleet.

How did it stick the landing? Apart from resolving the Pah-Wraith and Dominion war plot, it had a gentle moving on theme. Half the crew where going on to other jobs, or other challenges and those left on the station had relationship changes that were just as jarring and it felt like a warm goodbye. There could be more stories told, but I don’t think any more was needed as so many arcs came full circle.

Episode 2.8: Life on Mars

Aired: 10 April 2007

Plot Summary: Trapped in the past/his own mind Sam Tyler is trapped in the early 1970s and is investigating a murder. Part-way through this case he comes out of his coma and returns to his original life, but he no longer sees it as a life worth living and he questions how to leave 2007 and go back to where he was.

Shining Moment: Sam chooses to go back, sacrificing his life to save people that most consider figments of his imagination.

How did it stick the landing? The character comes full circle, going from an unreal life that he feels trapped in, to one that he understands and can live in, they’re just not the ones he started the series thinking of like that. In the end, Sam feels alive and doing what he loves.

Sozin’s Comet part 3 – Into the Inferno: Avatar the Last Air Bender

Aired: 19 July 2008

Plot Summary: As Ozai, now going by the title of Phoenix King, leads the invasion of the Earth Kingdom, Ang the Avatar must stop him whilst his friends (Sokka, Katara, Toph and Zuko) try to save as many lives and help bring the Fire Nation’s war to and end and Ang has do decide how to finally deal with Ozai and whether it is finally, as everyone but him wants it to be.

Shining Moment: I was going to say Ang finally defeats Ozai. But honestly it’s Zuko facing his father telling him that they are going to talk about his mother.

How did it stick the landing? The end of the war, the beginning of a new world and the end of a saga all wrapped up. The future was set up without anyone really needing to see more. Very few series have nailed this novel on the screen approach.

Well I say that but finally we have…..

Sleeping in Light: Babylon 5

Aired: 25 November 1998

Plot Summary: It is the year 2281, 19 years after he left Babylon 5 and 20 years after his ‘death’ on Z’ha’dum John Sheridan feels his end is near and sends for his old friends to have one last party. Days later he leaves his wife and flies both to Babylon 5 and to Corianus 6, the site of the last battle of the Shadow War to finally die. We then see how everyone reacts to it and where they go from there.

Shining Moment: This is not a triumphant story, so it’s either all of them, or none of them.

How it stuck the landing: This was a 5 year novel, with introduction, rising action, complication, finale and denouement. This was the epilogue and final chapter. We saw how the main cast got on afterwards. Some vanished, others died and a few became successes. Here we say them say goodbye to an old friend as he cherishes the last few days of his second chance before saying goodbye for the last time. This episode was the intended end, with some changes because of cast changes, but the ending it was always supposed to have. It’s the benchmark for how you end a genre show and few ever go in these terms, most are cut short, others carry on a little bit too long or are retooled into being unrecognisable, but Sleeping in Light did the job, faith manages.

This is not an exhaustive list, nor in any way definitive, but it is a list. I stuck to sci-fi/genre stuff, since that’s what I know best, what did I miss? What other types of shows did I ignore? Please let me know.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Films

Defending the DCEU – Closing Statements

Being a fan of comics, their characters and the multi-media adaptations, it’s hard to avoid the trap of comparing the 2 biggest IP factories in this sub-industry. Comparing Marvel and DC is an easy thing to start doing and less easy to stop. Each has their merits, each has their drawbacks. DC tend to do well with animated and network TV, whist through Disney, Marvel has done great with films and streaming content.

But films is one of the biggest, both in terms of differences and in scale. The Avengers movies alone have grossed billions and the unfolding MCU has broken all kinds of records and boundaries and I suppose it was inevitable that DC would do the same, especially after the success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

It has become sort of accepted wisdom that the MCU is better than DC’s offering and whilst I can understand that idea, two things come to mind. 1 is that Marvel did the connected universe thing in a vacuum and there was no real pressure to succeed and much of the early successes have been happy accidents. 2 is simply the question if that’s true.

So I wanted to see if it was. Was the DCEU defensible against the MCU powerhouse, was it as bad as people think and you know what? It wasn’t.

Yes, the films started out ropey. Zack Snyder is a good if stylistic film-maker, but his Superman film (though excellently cast) sort of misses the point of this alien who sees Earth as his home and does good because he can, rather than some tragic back-story. But it was an enjoyable film. Batman vs Superman was a bit of a mess granted as was Suicide Squad, but once you get past those, they started to get better. The Snyder cut of Justice League felt more epic and aimed high. Aquaman and Wonder Woman were well realised action films with enough character and charm to make them worth watching and the films got better as they went along. Whilst the MCU keeps chugging along barely moving the needle, the DCEU films seemed to be taking chances and trying to give us something different. From dark humour, to family fun or slapstick violence, from the horrors of war to the majesty of the ocean there’s something different in there for everyone.

In my opinion, Marvel may have peaked with Avengers Endgame, but DC seem to keep going and have learned their lessons. These are not worthy films, but a couple of hours escapism based on characters that have been beloved for the majority of the last century and a growing portion of this one. It’s okay to like both and now that James Gunn has moved into a decision making position for the next phase of the DCEU (or now DCU) I’m excited to see what will happen next, because I’ll be honest good or bad, it’s going to be fun.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Films

Defending the DCEU – Part 10: The Suicide Squad

Finally we get to the last film. Now before we get into the whole Black Adam film and upcoming Flash feature being a thing, I have to say that I had to stop somewhere and I feel that The Suicide Squad served as a nice end point, so that’s where I stopped. Also 10 is a nice round number.

This 2021 release was written and directed by James Gunn, the man behind Slither, the Specials and both Guardians of the Galaxy films. It was released to some fanfare as the pop culture world waited for Guardians of the Galaxy vol 3.

The film had an extensive cast including:-

Joel McKinnaman as Rick Flagg, Idris Elba as Bloodsport, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, John Cena as Peacemaker, Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2, David Dastmalchian as Polka Dot Man, Pete Davidson as Blackguard, Michael Rooker as Savant, Nathan Fillion as TDK, Flula Borg as Javelin, Sean Gunn as Weasel, Mai Ling Ng as Mongal, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, Peter Capaldi as the Thinker, Juan Diego Botto as Silvio Luna and Sylvester Stallone as the voice of King Shark.

Spoilers (despite being 2 years ago)


As per the previous movie, Task Force X is a deniable US government operation using convicted super-villains as expendable covert operatives. In this case, a team is established to sneak into the nation of Corto Maltese in order to perform some act on behalf of US interests. The team led by Rick Flagg goes in and in very short order we lose Blackguard, Savant, Weasel, Mongal, Captain Boomerang, Javelin and TDK. Of this initial team, only Flagg escapes whilst Harley Quinn is arrested by the Corto Maltese authorties. We then cut to the actual team of Bloodsport, Ratcatcher 2, Peacemaker, King Shark and the Polka Dot Man, who are there to take out ‘Project Starfish’ for Amanda Waller who is holding the 10 years off their sentence card as well as blackmailing Bloodsport for his daughter’s life.

From there we get an action adventure with twists turns and more than a small amount of over the top violence and dark humour as the team has to put an end to the threat that is posed by Starro the Conqueror, the authoritarian government of Corto Maltese and all this whilst dealing with Amanda Waller, who has her own agenda and no desire to see any of this Suicide Squad survive.

A positive thing about this movie is that the things you may not like about are subjective. There is no small amount of off-colour jokes or gross out moments where people are killed in quite horrific ways and to be honest, you’re being asked to root for characters who would be villains anywhere else and you know what? It works. The dark subject matter matches the twisted humour and the film doesn’t take itself seriously, so that the more bizarre elements fit quite well. There are moments of pathos and also balls to the wall action and I honestly don’t know what else you can want from this.

It eventually becomes proof of the idea that you can redeem any story/IP. All you need is a creator that can make the concept work and a studio to not interfere as much. I enjoyed this film quite a lot of my second viewing and it feels like I have ended on a high.

Next Time: But what does it all mean?

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Films

Defending the DCEU part 9 – Wonder Woman 1984

As we approach the end of this little journey, we get to the one film that I did not actually see at the cinema. Wonder Woman 1984 was something of a covid baby, coming out in that year where we all got stuck at home, baking and arguing over toilet roll and seemingly quadrupling the profits of Just Eat and Uber Eats. The cinema wasn’t something to think about and even when the lockdown(s) eased, I still had no interest in being around that many people.

But did I miss anything?

Wonder Woman 1984 was directed by Patty Jenkins, returning for the sequel, also there was Gal Gadot as Diana, Chris Pine as Steve, Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta and Robin Wright as Antiope. New addtions to the cast were Kristen Wiig as Dr. Barbara Minerva/Cheetah and current internet darling Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord.

I don’t know if two/three years is enough to avoid spoilers, so just to be on the safe side.




The plot is that back in a very stereotypically 80’s 1984, wishes start to come true and at the centre of this is failing oil magnate Maxwell Lord, whose fortunes change just as everyone else starts getting what they want. One of the wishes is Diana’s who replays the last words of Steve Trevor “I wish we had more time.” his mind/soul returns and possesses the body of a local engineer. Barbara Minerva wishes to be more like Diana, not realising that Diana is more than she presents herself as. As people start getting what they want and Lord becomes more powerful, Diana must choose between the good of the world and her own desires, between truth and desire.

Ok, we’ll get the first bit out of the way, the film makes full use of the 1980’s setting and the oddities of the era, first for the audience as we look back and laugh, then on Steve who looks at all the things he missed out on since 1918. If it had to be set before Batman v Superman, then using a more distinctive look makes a degree of sense, but it adds a weird flavour to everything. The addition of Cheetah as a physical threat is another makes sense thing, but the actual transformation is rushed towards the end and never quite lives up to what it needs to be. The adding of backstory to Maxwell Lord in the third act also feels tacked on and disjointed and I really do not want to get into the Asteria/golden armour thing that just seems to be there for a bizarre aesthetic reason.

That said, there’s a lot of good here too. Pedro Pascal is so beloved because he’s good. He brings charm and pathos to Lord and you can see the value he adds, where another actor would miss some of the nuance. The descent is understandable, you can see that from each point he makes an understandable choice, even if you can see straight away, it’s not a good one.

We get more Themiscyra and it’s nice to revisit that world and even Chris Pine, who is at best tedious normally does well with a minor love interest role that seems well written and competently acted. But we all know why we’re here and it’s Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. She’s charming, capable in action scenes and despite playing a mythical character offers a real warmth to the role. The action scenes are well put together and the emotional moment in the third act does land for something of a mid-tier action flick.

Overall, this is a good film, but wasn’t in any way shape or form needed. The characterisation is good, but doesn’t make any difference to her other films. All this is another adventure and in that regard, it’s all it needs to be. Was it worth going to the cinema for? I doubt it, but is it worth checking out, I would say so.

Next Time: Proof that DC can learn from it’s mistake as we meet The Suicide Squad

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Films

Defending the DCEU part 8 – Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation ofone Harley Quinn

After stealing any scene or any thing of value in Suicide Squad, it was only a matter of time before Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was given another crack at the big time.

Giving her a central starring role makes sense, but in case it’s not enough to flesh out a whole film, we get the introduction of the Birds of Prey in a movie that is part heist, part crime and part bonkers super hero movie.

Harley narrates the story in her own inimitable style, tying all the main characters together. So after taking a breath ……… Roman ‘Black Mask’ Sionis (played by Ewan McGregor) is making a play for control of the underworld of Gotham City, working for him is personal assassin Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) and singer/driver Dina ‘Black Canary II’ Lance (Jurnee Smollett) and they are trying to get hold of the Bertinelli diamond years after a gangland massacre that had one survivor Helena ‘Huntress’ Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who, after years of training, is out for revenge. The diamond is stolen by teen pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) and the trail of bodies and other crimes is being investigated by embattled detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) and Harley gets pulled in by Roman to retrieve Cassandra to keep her safe from her vast number of enemies she now faces after splitting from the Joker. All of the characters end up connecting at the end of the film and the 5 female leads join up to face the wrath of Black Mask.

There are two things we see here that we don’t often see in this kind of movie. One is the larger female cast of characters, varied in both portrayal and ethnicity.  The other is Gotham City in daylight.

There’s good, there’s bad and then the head scaratching stuff.

The bad is that the film is titled Birds of Prey and the group is mostly an afterthought until the third act and for a villain called Black Mask,  Roman Sionis isn’t masked very much at all.

The head-scratching stuff is mostly Roman and Zsasz’s relationship which seems to be scripted as a boss/sycophant thing, but the actors play it as something very much else. Then we have McGregor’s take on Black Mask. I mean, what was the direction supposed to be? I like McGregor as an actor and he very rarely makes a large misstep, but he’s bizarre in this film. I mean it works, but there’s many scenes were his actions are just sort of bizarre.

But weird choices and odd pacing besides there’s a lot of good. Winstead plays an obsessed orphan seeking vengeance in a more believable manner. There’s no quips or charm, this is a driven woman full of rage who spent so much time learning how to kill people, she’s not really sure how to talk with them. Smollett is charming as Black Canary, certainly the best non-comics iteration of this character seen so far, showing that tragedy informs many elements of your life, even if you’re not obsessed over it. She grieves for her mother and her senseless death, but wants to live her own life apart from it. Perez plays the stereotypical grizzled detective as well a stereotype, but with real world elements to it. Her drinking costs her a relationship or two, her hardnosed attitude costs her friends and respect and her professional life suffers as credit is stole from her. It’s a hard job to make such a cookie-cutter character into something worth paying attention to and Perez does that. Even the teenage character is less irritating than I usually find them. But lets be honest here, we’re here to see Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and she does not disappoint.

The film charts her post-breakup depression and drinking all the way through to her eventual rise to being her own person and you’re here for it completely. It never lets you forget that this is a clinically trained mental health professional whose life took some strange and dangerous turns. There’s a scene where she’s at the mercy of Roman, but her analysis of him is swift and cutting. She’s violent, unstable and in places self-destructive, but you are one hundred percent on her side and above all, she’s fun.

And that’s the gift of this film, it’s fun. The violence flits between brutal and slapstick, without a severe tonal shift and the film moves along between brisk and breakneck and you’re not bored at any point. How much of the film happened the way you see it, that’s debatable, but it’s Harley’s story and I for one am glad it got told.

Well we’re in the home stretch now, only two more to go and we stay with the female lead and go retro with Wonder Woman 84.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Films

Defending the DCEU part 7 – Shazam

This was a 2019 that I will be honest, was not really looking forward to watching the first time. Truth is, I’m not much of a fan of this character over the last dozen years or so. The original character as created by CC Beck back in the 1940s (then called Captain Marvel) was a preteen kid who became a hero when calling the name of the wizard SHAZAM. Imbued with the wisdom of Solomon, strength of Hercules, stamina of Atlas, power of Zeus, courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury. The idea was simple, a young boy becomes a hero (classic power fantasy) and acts as young boy thinks a hero would. It’s retro fun, harkening back to an older time whilst being fun fantasy adventures.

Post 2011 and in DC’s Nu52, we have a more cynical and teenage boy being transformed into the hero Shazam, who can’t now use his name. His introductory story did nothing for me and told me that this wasn’t the character I liked anymore. I’m okay with that and just walked away.

I expected the film to follow this current version as current adaptations have want to do, but whilst I was right, I was also pleasantly surprised.

Headlined by Zachary Levi and Mark Strong as the heroic Shazam and Dr Sivana with a large ensemble cast it followed the plot of the 2011+ version quite similarly….

Abandoned teen Billy Batson is put in a home of foster kids run by a kind and well meaning couple Victor and Rosa Vasquez. He meets Mary, Darla, Eugene and Pedro and becomes sort of antagonistic friend with Freddy Freeman. After saving Freddy from bullies, Billy runs onto a train which is taken to the Rock of Eternity and the wizard Shazam imbues him with his power to act as champion. Billy uses this power to act the way teenagers act and him and Freddy try to learn all the things Billy can do. Also in the Rock are personifications of the 7 deadly sins (Wrath, Pride, Sloth, Gluttony, Lust, Greed and Envy) who are freed by Dr Sivana and Billy (who is not ready to actually be a hero) is forced to open his heart to this found family and in so doing share the power he’s been given and create a whole family of super heroes to defeat the sins and bring Sivana to justicec.

But here’s the thing, I liked this. This was well told, had great action sequences, plenty of heart and had a really strong cast, but mostly it was FUN.

Do you remember that? Fun comic book movies? But this was and when it entered it CGI heavy 3rd act, it maintained that fun and was highly enjoyable. It doesn’t outstay its welcome and whilst it does have it’s stinger, it doesn’t feel like it’s trying to launch a franchise. Ahh the halcyon days when movies just ended. But it is fun and a genuine breath of fresh air. It can be seen as proof that there are no bad stories, all they need is to be written well or placed in a different context.

Heartened by yet another good film, this DCEU rewatch continues…

Next Time: S**t gets crazy as Harley Quinn returns

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Films

Defending the DCEU Part 6: Aquaman

After the chaos and ultimate disappointment of Justice League, the DCEU split back into smaller films focusing on the next stage on these characters journeys. The first step was Jason Momoa’s interpretation of Aquaman.

Aquaman was directed by James Wan and open in late 2018 and this film does hold a special place in my heart because the day I saw this with the MIGHTY Rosie, we left to go and get out dog, so this film is indelibly linked to Loopy Lottie the wtf dog.

The film itself is similar in basic plot to Black Panther, the difference being that the bad guy with designs on mass slaughter is already the King and the challenger to the throne is the good guy.

Child of lighthouse keeper Tom Curry (played by Temuera Morrison) and Queen Atlanna of Atlantis (a frankly wasted Nicole Kidman) Arthur Curry is a man who doesn’t fit in anywhere, certainly not Atlantis, the place that killed his mother. Mera, a princess of Atlantis’ neighbour Xebel (Amber Heard before she got all controversial) seeks Arthur’s help to prevent the undersea kingdoms from aligning and waging war on the surface world. We then get a race across the Earth for a magical McGuffin whilst Orm, King of Atlantis (played by Patrick Wilson) prepares to start his war by either allying with, or conquering the other undersea kingdoms.

It’s not high art, it’s an action adventure movie with a sprinkle of super heroics with a heavy reliance on CGI and the charisma of Jason Momoa.

But here’s the thing, the CGI is well realised and the undersea world looks unique and fascinating, from the technology making a degree of sense to silly moments like a giant squid playing the bongos. And Momoa does carry a lot of the film on his back, playing a blunt instrument being forced to step up and be a leader. It doesn’t all work all of the time and the orange and green suit looks just as stupid on the big screen as it did in comics and cartoons for the last 80 years, but you have to respect the attempt here. As for the reliance on CGI, well it’s mostly set underwater and it’d be hard not to. So a lot of the negatives are either understandable or small enough to ignore.

The positives are that this is a fun action adventure film. It mines the idea of legacy, with Arthur hating Atlantis over the loss of his mother and Black Manta (played with gusto by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) seeks revenge on Aquaman either for killing his father or not saving his father and this is set alongside Mera’s opposition to her father Nereus (Dolph Lungren doing his best with a paper thin role) adding layers of depth to this film that it did need. Ultimately it redeems the promise of the DCEU because it lacks the dour tone and miserable visuals of the last couple of films and gives you a bit of a Bank Holiday movie extravaganza. Which was well timed, for that’s when I watched it.

Overall, its a nice bit of popcorn fodder that made me feel that this re-watch was a good idea after all and I am closing in on the home stretch.

Next Time: Captain Marvel (well okay he can’t be called that anymore, but that is who he is)

Posted in Uncategorized

Defending the DCEU part 5 – Zack Snyder’s Justice League

I decided to cheat a little here. In release order, the next film was Justice League. That film had a troubled history. Zack Snyder started making the film and directed quite a lot of it, then he suffered a personal tragedy and had to understandingly bow out. The studio then turned to Joss Whedon who was riding high on two successful Avengers films and his stable of TV hits that in some cases 20 years later still stand up. With some editing, additional scenes and reshoots a film was cobbled together. Cobbled together was right, the tone moved one side to the other and the end result wasn’t the success that Avengers was, or what the studio had hoped it’d be.

Added to that was the stories that came out of the production about Joss Whedon’s behaviour on set with many of the actors. This led to a lot of other stories about previous productions and that began his fall from grace. I’m not going to comment more than that to be honest, it’s not my tale to tell and I don’t want to discuss him more than that. But it did highlight the missed opportunity that this film represented.

Then came the fanboys. So many vocal individuals wanted to see what Zack Snyder would have done with the film. They wanted to see something whole and complete rather than the cinematic equivalent of a cut’n’shut with two half films welded together like a dangerous second hand car. Release the Snyder cut became a common hashtag in certain online corners. The idea that this could make money occurred to the studio and it started to gain traction. New scenes were shot, new edits made, new CGI sequences made and so on. These alterations had a 8 figure price-tag and it ended up being a sprawling 4 hour cut that moved from movie to almost mini-series scale. I picked it up on Blu-Ray and decided this was the version to add to this rewatch.

Returning for this film was Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck, reprising their roles as Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane and Amy Adams returned as Alfred Pennyworth, Martha Kent and Lois Lane and the cameos by Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher and Ezra Miller were expanded into the full roles of Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash. The plot is a simple one, after the death of Superman, the 4th World villain Steppenwolf had come to Earth to find 3 Mother Boxes, which could join into the world-ending Unity. Batman knew an attack was coming and so gathers a reluctant team to face this dire threat. When beaten to a standstill by Steppenwolf and his army of parademons, this nascent group use one of the Mother Boxes to resurrect Superman in the hopes he will join them to prevent the world’s end.

There’s a lot to poke at. The film abuses slow-motion to such a ridiculous degree. It’s overlong in places and the over stylised look does grate a little. Pacing is a bit of a problem and there’s a few moments that stretch the limited amount of credulity you need to enjoy this film, but honestly these are minor quibbles. The film continues Zack Snyder’s take on the DC pantheon and if you have a real problem with that, why watch his 3rd time playing with them? You either are good with it, or you’re not and this film isn’t going to change your mind about that.

I also question what the point of the Martian Manhunter showing up a couple of times and concede that the nightmare future stuff was perhaps a direction the films could have gone in had these films carried on. But this isn’t the case for the prosecution, it’s the defence.

Here it is…Everyone is trying. No one is phoning this in. Ben Affleck tries to shift Batman from a tired and bitter man to someone trying to redeem not just himself, but the world around him. Superman’s loss made him want to try and leave the world better than he found it, or at least safer. It’s a hard thing to pull off, an optimistic Batman. Whether it works or not, I still appreciate he went for it. Jason Momoa doesn’t get a lot to do, but he does it well, mixing his gruff cynicism with a genuine heart. Ezra Miller plays an off-model Barry Allen, but he does it with charm and most of the fun moments in this film are from him. Ray Fisher tries to infuse some life into Cyborg and it’s not in the script, but he’s giving it his all to this 3rd tier character that just happens to be the McGuffin that the 3rd act is based on. Gal Gadot doesn’t do anything too different, nor does Jeremy Irons, but what they were doing was working so well, don’t fix what isn’t broke.

But the film does bring us what will sadly now be the final full film with Henry Cavill’s Superman. From the action scene when he is woken up, to the moments on the farm to his battle with Steppenwolf. He plays it all with a sincerity that hasn’t been there since Superman II. He sells the idea that he’s had a second chance and he’s made the mistakes he’s going to make and we get the fully realised Superman that we were waiting for.

Overall, it’s overlong and a bit of a mess and suffers tremendous Avengers envy but… I enjoyed it. It gave us a sort of finale to the DCEU rather than open it up the way the MCU did, but some of the characters and actors were able to spin off into their own successes and ultimately made this movie/mini-series a worthwhile endeavour.

I disagree with Snyder’s choices in regards to Superman and the directions he wanted to take, but honestly he made a stylised, but highly entertaining product and I was glad to get to enjoy it once more.

Next Time: We go under the sea with Aquaman.

Posted in TV Stuff

5 TV Episodes about Episodes

There’s a trend at the moment of being Meta. TV shows and films about TV and films, it’s all very clever and self aware and I get what you’re doing, but there are ways to do that whilst still remaining part of the fictional narrative.

One of these ways is to do the TV show within the TV show. This is where the cast of characters on the show are featured in a show within their own universe. It’s not a new idea and certainly not limited to TV. In a 1970’s comic Spider-Man teamed up with the cast of Saturday Night Live to battle the Silver Samurai and less than a decade later, David Letterman interviewed the Avengers in their own title. Entire TV shows are now made in a similar meta manner with the Office and Parks & Recreation being set as a TV show filming ‘real’ people. But this is more of a one off thing with characters from one show being involved in a TV show in their particular fictional universe and it can run the gamut of quality between okay and great and I wanted to have a look at some of them.


A Movie in the Making, Season 11 Episode 18, first aired 2 June 2016

This is the most common of this type. The primary plot is as it usually would be, in this case a police procedural with a focus on forensics, but this is intercut with talking heads of the characters fleshing things out. It doesn’t particularly add anything to the story, but it does shake things up for the audience and allow the actors to do something a little different. This episode is here because I needed 5 and beyond that isn’t really worth much beyond that.

Grey’s Anatomy

These arms of mine, Season 7, Episode 6, first aired 28 October 2010

This is a more emotional episode which looks at Seattle Grace Hospital six months after a mass shooting event. The staff and patients are interviewed about their experiences and how it has changed them and how that isn’t always in the ways you expect. It feeds more into the story than in the Bones episode and as a result fits into a narrative better. It uses the TV show idea as a way of examining the cast in a way the regular format wouldn’t have the chance to.


Ghostfacers, Season 3, Episode 13, first aired 10 February 2003

Another way of doing this is to have the main show’s characters appear in a different show. Here a web/local access series featuring characters called Zedmore and Spengler (yes, we get the joke) who do a Most Haunted style ghost chasing show and Sam and Dean Winchester get involved. Showing the main cast trying to keep this TV crew alive and themselves out of the limelight is interesting enough, but the main draw of Supernatural is that it had a sense of humour and often refused to take things seriously and it’s this trait that injects some fun into this episode.


A Constellation of Doubt, Season 4 episode 17, first aired 10 February 2003

This is also a bit of variation, more than half of this story is the lead character watching a TV show that was picked up by the space ship he is on. Previous to this story, the majority of the crew of Moya spent 3 months on Earth and it seemed to go okay. Problem is though it didn’t. The media of the time (in the first 18 months from 9/11) is full of fear and panic and this TV show that shows new footage of the aliens is used to emphasise how frightening these creatures are and the horror that their existence brings to mind. We get lovely character moments and commentary from talking heads and it mixes with the lead character talking with the rest of the cast and the crew’s searching for one of their own. The sad part of this, is how the show’s tone and themes of fear and distrust aren’t as dated as they should be. Most shows about aliens use the aliens to tell us things about ourselves, but this one shows us ourselves to tell us things about ourselves and honestly, it’s not good things.

Babylon 5

And Now for a Word, Season 2, Episode 15, first aired 3 May 1995

It’s not an understatement to say that modern genre TV owes a great debt to Babylon 5. Apart from utilising CGI to great success, to showcasing interesting ideas delivered in amazing performances and more, but it’s main contribution is that instead of being an episodic show, it was a serialised 5 year novel that had a clear beginning, middle and end. As a result it was able to showcase a world that changed and grew and was complex enough to feel lived it. It even showed the media of the time through the TV channel ISN (Interstellar News) being shown from time to time and this episode showed an ISN show about the titular space station.

The episode was shown as a TV special and yet was able to further plot and characterisation and being news based was able to show how the media of Earth views the various races and Earth itself. We saw an advert with the PsiCorp, well I say advert, it’s more propaganda and yet you can buy it being a thing. It lacks any kind of subtlety, but then doesn’t news TV? All in all it was one of the better examples of this kind of television show.

Well that’s the 5, can you think of any?

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Films

Defending the DCEU part 4 – Suicide Squad: The Extended Cut

This was the one I was least looking forward to. I have reservations regarding some of what became known as ‘Snyderverse’ but a lot of that were questions about plot direction and overall feel. The actual film making wasn’t real problem. I had problems with what the film did, not how they did it. With this film, it was quite honestly both, but we’ll get to that.

Suicide Squad was a 2016 film written and directed by David Ayer and had something of a stellar cast playing villains and bad guys from DC’s stable of characters. The cast included Will Smith as Floyd ‘Deadshot’ Lawton, Margot Robbie as Dr. Harleen ‘Harley Quinn’ Quinzel, Jai Courtney as Digger ‘Captain Boomerang’ Harker and Viola Davis as Amanda ‘The Wall’ Waller. We also have Jared Leto playing the ‘Joker’ and cameos from Ben Afleck’s Batman and Ezra Miller’s Flash.

The plot involves Amanda Waller recruiting members for Task Force X as she manoeuvres and manipulates events to have this team in place for when it’s needed. From maximum security prisons she recruits Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Slipknot, Harley Quinn, El Diablo, Killer Croc and the Enchantress and has Rick Flagg, the one ‘good’ guy riding herd on them, with Katana having his back. The team is then set out to rescue someone from Midway City after Enchantress frees her brother and the two powerful magical beings work to do ….. something and the task force is sent along with two teams of special forces operatives and chaos ensues. Whilst all this is going on the ‘Joker’ (I am using quotation marks for reasons that will be clear later) is trying to find and liberate Harley Quinn.

I will be honest internet people, I was dreading this particular section of this DCEU rewatch. I don’t have fond memories when I first watched the film and in particular it’s use of the ‘Joker.’ That said, there’s a lot to like about it.

Viola Davis inhabits the role of Amanda Waller, giving her a sense of power and of menace that previous portrayals have lacked. She plays the character as a person who fully commits to doing that job and as a result has no compunction with whatever needs to be done in it’s service. She lies, manipulates, blackmails and at one point cold-bloodedly murders and seems to not at all care about it. You can’t help but hate her, but know that what she’s done could save others. Some of the cast have a lot of fun with the role, Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomering is a lot of fun and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje breathes life into Killer Croc. We also get the revelation of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, who plays crazy with such wild abandon that it’s hard not to watch her flit between sharp psychologist and unhinged lunatic. The moments with her and the action scenes are true high points of the films. There are a few lines that stick with you long after the rest of the film fades away like the taste of popcorn. There’s also an interesting point in how people feel after metahumans become and thing and then Superman is killed. People in power are scared and the Suicide Squad is a reaction to that.

But sadly there’s only so much you can say that’s positive. Will Smith phones it in, Joel Kinnaman mustn’t have needed to eat during most of the shoot, since he feasts on the scenery. I’ve been to butchers where there was less ham and much of Jay Hernandez’s Diablo’s story seems to not land for me. But in such an ensemble cast, not everyone’s going to either deliver or be given the screen time to deliver and it’s hard to be too harsh, but we don’t stop there. From the video game menu style captions, to the disjointed tone and the weird balance of exposition where we get lots of lots for some things and almost none for the others. The editing and direction seem wrong in a way that I can’t describe as a lay person, but don’t like as a viewer. The final act with the ubiquitous blue sky beam is just not very good, despite the drama and characterisation that the film tries to deliver at the end of it.

There’s little in this film that seems well done, I can see several of the actors doing their best and the second unit people don’t come up short, but overall this film is something of a lukewarm mess. This wasn’t a failure of concept because some things work and it would lead into a sequel which proved that. This was a failure in execution on several levels. I’ve watched it now, so it can go back into the the DVD storage thing for a few more years now.

I know, I didn’t mention the ‘Joker’ in this, but I’ll be honest I didn’t want an additional 600 swear words in an already rambling mess of a post. I will say two things 1: I like Jared Leto as an actor, he was great in Requim for a Dream and other roles and I have enjoyed his musical efforts 30 Seconds to Mars, so I mean no slight to this actor. 2: We’ve had Mark Hamill, Cesar Romero, Tim Curry, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Joaquim Phoenix play the character, plus several others and each one doing something quite different from the rest. How far off the mark do you have to go to not be recognisable as that character. I use inverted commas because I honestly don’t see this guy as the clown prince of crime, I just don’t.

The positives I can see is that the some of the things in this film that worked survived into other, better films and they are ahead of me.