James Knows…TV

On the Subject of Comic Book Men and Nerds

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I’ve written about it elsewhere, but I hate comic book fans. I’ve never been a part of a group of people that hated the thing they loved so much. I’ll be the first to admit that not every comic is great but I usually manage to find something to enjoy out of every one that I read. I’m glad that after all of the funny books I’ve read that I’m still able to find that in the medium. That doesn’t seem to be the case for most fans which is depressing.

Recently AMC (the same network that runs The Walking Dead…more on that later), picked up Comic Book Men from Kevin Smith. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a fan of Smith’s work. I’ve seen all his movies — even Cop Out — and I listen to many a podcast. While his book, My Boring-Ass Life, was partially responsible for me starting a blog in the first place, I’m by no means a fanboy. I’ve tried most of the podcasts on the SModcast network but there are several, including Jay and Silent Bob Get Old and Plus One, that I just don’t care for. (For the record, I now only listen to Hollywood Babble-On, SModcast, I Sell Comics, and Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave!.) Anyway, the point is, I checked out the show and I liked it.

Then I went online to see how others reacted to it and I found a couple reviews from large comic sites bashing it. After reading through them, my initial theory of self-hating comic fans seems to still be true. I’m also puzzled by what these people expected Comic Book Men to be about. Smith has said several times that the show is based on the Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave! podcast. If you’ve ever listened to it, you can easily see how the show matches up to it perfectly. The personalities that come through on the podcast each week are the same that are on the show. The dynamic works. Based on the reviews I’ve read, it looks like these sites expected the show to come in and put comics on the map and totally change the negative fanboy stereotype that has stuck with comics for so long. That’s not what the show is about at all. Yes, it’s set in a comic book store and they’re talking about comic book stuff, but the show is about this group of guys that are friends. They joke around and make fun of each other and sometimes people come in with interesting stuff.

That brings me to the next problem that people seemed to have. Comic Book Men features a weird assortment of people coming in to try to sell comics, sketches, and other nerd items to the store. These writers thought that it was unreal or unbelievable or some other nonsense. Here’s the thing. If you think that that strange fat bald guy that was in the second episode trying to sell 3D comics shows up to a comic book store every week in a suit and tie, you’re a friggin’ idiot. The network sent a call out for people to come in with interesting stuff. It is staged. Otherwise it would be a bunch of losers walking into the store with beat up copies of the Death of Superman.

AMC put that together along with the other adventures that the crew has gone on in these first few episodes because working in a comic book store (or any retail environment really) can be incredibly boring. If they set out to make a show about what it would be like to work in a comic book store it would be canceled before it even made it on air. It would consist of a bunch of guys standing around, reading comics, and ringing a register. That sounds riveting, right? It’s got Emmy written all over it.

In case you want further proof of the masochistic nature of the comic book fan, check out this recent post from Blog@Newsarama. The post links to two different sources of people that continue to buy funny books and don’t know why. One of them freely admits that he doesn’t even like the stuff he’s buying but he does it anyway!

Why I Think Smallville was Broken

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There have been a ton of articles and blog posts about the end of Smallville but this isn’t so much about the finale (which was heavy on the talking and light on the ass-kicking). Instead this is about the series as a whole, or rather one piece of it that I’ve had on my mind for awhile. I’ve seen the entire series. All 10 seasons. The first 9 I watched on DVD and caught the last one on air. Yes, the show outlived its welcome but I f-ing love comic books so I stuck with it. Plus there were the occasional episodes where Clark Kent would do something super heroic or team up with people that had far bigger balls than he did. Most of those really cool episodes were written by Geoff Johns.

Anyway, I thought the series would have benefited tremendously if they had just killed Chloe Sullivan. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like Alison Mack. I think she did a great job and I admire the fact that she actually stuck through it for all 10 seasons. I just think that she would have served the show (and the characters of Superman / Clark Kent and Lois Lane) far better as a martyr.

Picture this. Chloe goes down in some situation where Clark is powerless to do anything. Maybe it’s a terminal disease or maybe it’s some Kryptonite bomb that only she can disable. She dies. Then, Lois has a reason to be a journalist instead of suddenly becoming one around season 7 or so. This way she’s carrying on with what Chloe had wanted to do and she’s honoring her cousin that way. Meanwhile Clark is inspired by what Chloe sacrificed and realizes that he can’t drag his feet anymore. He has to step up to be the hero that the world needs. Bam. He’s Superman. This shit could have happened like 4 years ago. Instead we had this long drawn out series with the writers somewhat clueless as to what to do with Chloe as a character.

Yes, I’m an angry nerd but I just thought that would have been a much better story than what they ended up doing. Granted, depending on who you ask, anything would have been better than what they ended up doing.

Elementary My Dear House, This is Getting Tired

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Over the past few weeks, Monica and I have cruised through seasons 3, 4, and 5 of House M.D.. It’s been a while since we watched the first two seasons but we were able to dive into the show again without much difficulty. We finished up the fifth season tonight which catches us up to the season that’s currently airing (albeit several months late in order to be up to date on what is airing now).

I have to say that I wasn’t that impressed with season five. I think it’s because the formula of House is getting old. Anyone that’s watched the show knows what the formula is. A patient comes in with a seemingly incurable bizarre disease. House and his team spend the next half hour essentially trying to diagnose the patient using the trial and error method. House talks to Wilson and miraculously knows how to cure the patient. Rinse. Repeat.

The show got by for so long because the cases were actually interesting and honestly I think that many people (myself included) have no idea what 90% of the diseases mentioned are but boy, do they sound scary. Season five started to annoy me though. The main reason was the main character. It’s always bad when you have a show centered around one person who suddenly becomes unlikable. House’s unfriendly demeanor was cute and funny at first. Oh look! He’s saying what we’re all thinking inside but we’re afraid to say. After four straight seasons though this starts to get old. It’s frustrating to watch as House does the same song and dance among the cast and no one has the balls to slap him or to stop enabling him.

I had a similar problem with M*A*S*H. House, just like Hawkeye hasn’t grown as a character. He’s the same now (or at least at the end of season five) as he was in the first episode. Sure, there have been a handful of changes that have been tossed in that have made House think about his life (The offended police officer, the change of teams, various deaths) but they have all been momentary and very short lived.

I think that the writers of the show need to take a page out of their main character’s book. House is known for taking risks that are deemed wildly inappropriate and sometimes offensive but he gets results. Any time that a change came in that may present an interesting dynamic (Cameron taking over for Cuddy) it is ended quickly and everyone goes back to fearing House and making excuses for him. If they had stuck with any of the changes or storylines for more than an episode or three than the show would be more interesting to me.

Maybe they’re afraid though. They are on the Fox Network after all, which is famous for canceling shows on a whim (Firefly I’m looking at you) but at this point, what’s the risk? The show is in it’s sixth season and if the commercial I saw today has anything to do with it, it’s almost exactly the same as any previous season. I’m not all that mad about this. I’m just disappointed. There’s so much potential here (Bryan Singer is an executive producer too) and I feel that it’s wasted right now. Am I the only one that feels this way? Or are other people thinking that House should limp into something more interesting and permanent?

James Knows…DVDs: How I Met Your Mother – Season 3 (2007)

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There are only a handful of really funny shows on TV right now in my opinion. These include, but are not limited to the likes of 30 Rock, Glee, and How I Met Your Mother. That being said, HIMYM is not a show that I watch as it airs. That’s because I’m still behind and I’m just now getting the opportunity to catch up on previous episodes through the wonders of DVD. I don’t remember how I got into the show, but Monica and I plowed through the first two seasons on DVD so we were eager to check out the next DVDs. We went through the third season in less than a week.

How I Met Your Mother is a very funny show but with a couple major flaws. The whole premise of the show is that in 2030 this guy is telling his kids the story of how he met their mother. Sounds OK, right? Well, it is except that the entire show should theoretically end when he meets the woman that will eventually give birth to his kids. The show isn’t called How I Met and Fell in Love With Your Mother, Got Married and Had You Kids. That title is just far too long. So, with this logic in place, any relationship that Ted (the main character) gets into is doomed to fail because we already know based on the show’s title and premise that he doesn’t end up with any of these girls. As a result, I don’t give a crap about any of his relationships. I just can’t bring myself to do so.

Another big problem with the show is that I hate Ted. Seriously, he’s one of the most annoying and stupid characters I’ve seen on Television. Plus he makes some of the absolute worst decisions I’ve ever seen. What really doesn’t help Ted is his friends, most notably the legendary Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) who steals every single scene he’s in. When Barney is through, Marshall (Jason Segal) is taking what’s left leaving Ted with little to nothing to work with. It’s actually a little sad.

Anyway, despite these two huge problems, this show is hilarious, not to mention incredibly well-written. The writing is very smart and each episode has a unique quirk to it with pieces falling together almost seamlessly. Sometimes it’s little things like a framed newspaper headline in a scene in the future in Marshall’s office that reads “NYC Lawyer Discovers Nessie” which ties in to a previous storyline. Other times though, it’s the shape of an entire episode as was the case with “The Platinum Rule” where 4 stories are told almost simultaneously that each exist a year apart. That’s just impressive.

This season’s episodes were pretty damn funny and this DVD is pretty good as well. There are commentaries, deleted scenes, and a personal favorite: an unrated gag real. There’s also a music video for both “Sandcastles in the Sand” the follow-up to Robin Sparkles Canadian Hit “Let’s Go to the Mall” as well as a video for Marshall’s “You Just Got Slapped” which is a song that’s been stuck in my head for days.

If I can catch up on this season of How I Met Your Mother, I’d consider watching the episodes as they air. I can’t guarantee that because of how I’ve viewed the show already. I think it would be tough to make that transition. I’d go from plowing through an entire season, watching episodes back-to-back-to-back to watching one every week with commercials. That just doesn’t seem that fun. If the show continues to be this consistently funny I’d at least give it a try on-air. Every episode of this season had me literally laughing out loud.

Rating: ★★★★½

Was That Offensive?

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Monica and I were watching Glee last night which is now one of our favorite shows. During this week’s episode, the kids at McKinley High invite the teams that they’ll be performing against at sectionals for a scrimmage of sorts. One of these glee clubs is from a school for the deaf. The McKinley kids go first and then it’s the deaf kids turn.

Monica and I saw two very different things in this clip. She saw the fact that the McKinley kids got up and interrupted the deaf kids song as offensive and rude to the deaf kids. I on the other hand saw something inspiring and unifying, especially for the McKinley kids. She pointed out that the other team waited patiently and respectfully for the McKinley kids to perform their song and then it was their turn and what happens? They don’t even get to perform their bit because the other kids jump in to sing along.

I didn’t see that. I thought of it the complete opposite in a way. From the McKinley side, it put a lot of things in perspective. They’ve always seen themselves are rejects or socially disabled. Then they sit there and see a group of deaf students singing and signing their way through John Lennon’s “Imagine” and it’s like a reality check. What do they have to complain about? If these kids can overcome the adversity they’re up against and perform with a smile on their faces then why can’t they do the same with their much smaller obstacles? From the other side though it seemed like a form of companionship. While their song was “interrupted” I think it was like acceptance. They never get to do something like this it seems and to be taken seriously by another glee club has to mean something.

So that’s the two sides of the story right now. What do you think?

Fall 2009 Television and Me

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It’s November. We’re a couple months into the Fall 2009 season so what am I watching? I’m sticking to old favorites like The Office and 30 Rock but I’ve tried out a few new shows too. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to keep up with everything.

flashforwardlogoI was ready to check out FlashForwardright when I saw the initial commercial when the previous season of Lost ended. Plus it was written by David S. Goyer of The Dark Knight fame. All good. I watched the premiere when it aired but then totally forgot about it. Since then I’ve been struggling to watch the oldest episode on Hulu so I can keep watching the show. That’s right. I’m five episodes behind. What I’ve seen though is pretty cool. It’s an interesting premise and even though I’m still early on in the season, I’m intrigued enough to continue watching (assuming I can keep up).

Community: I heard some chatter about this show from various people. They all said it was hilarious. I didn’t really get that impression though. I watched the first few episodes and continued watching until NBC moved it to 8 PM. I haven’t watched an episode since. Honestly the whole thing felt stale and unfunny. Also if the main character is supposed to be a disbarred lawyer, why is he macking on a college girl? It just seems creepy.

V: Premiering late in the game (presumably so ABC could say it’s the latest hit of the season), I checked this out when it debuted three weeks ago. I’ve never seen the original mini-series but this seems pretty cool. With the inclusion of two former cast members of Firefly and Juliet from Lost and that guy from Battlestar Galactica there’s a pretty decent cast and aliens are always interesting. Oh and there’s conspiracies and shit. My only qualm with the show is that I feel like a big plot point is going to be “Who’s really a V?” which is so last year. I mean, Dollhouse did that a few times last year. We got it.

gleelogoAnd now we come to my favorite new show of the season. Glee came out of nowhere for me. It was suggested to me by Stewie (who hates himself for liking the show) and I’ve been hooked since. I had started watching the show on Hulu and actually made the transition to watching it when it airs on TV instead. This never happens. Most shows for me are either one or the other. Glee has broken that trend. And I’m surprised that I like the show so much. It’s about a glee club after all. Yes, some of the songs are corny and I would never listen to them otherwise, but goddamn this is a good show. Even though there’s some great songs involved too the real jewel of the show is the writing. It’s filled with Arrested Development level wit and I love it. And not only that but the show actually hits in serious drama too. The good news is that Fox has already picked it up for an entire season. That’s awesome.

I’ve still got a few months until Lost comes back. Dollhouse has been on hiatus for a few weeks but the show has been cancelled and won’t be renewed for a third season so I can enjoy that while it lasts I guess. Anything else I should check out?

Oh! It’s a Metaphor! I Get Metaphors! [Dollhouse]

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The penultimate episode of the season aired on Friday. “Briar Rose” packed a helluva punch with the reveal of Alpha, Ballard in the Dollhouse and a huge Sleeping Beauty metaphor. But holy crap, where can we go now? Let’s talk!

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A Hot Version of Murder She Wrote? [Dollhouse]

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Is it just me or have the past few episodes of Dollhouse brought the more ethical, non-kinky imprints to light? Admit it. When you first heard of the premise of the show your mind went right to Dirty Naughty Land. It’s OK. I think that everyone did it. Lately though we’ve been seeing the humane type of engagement where the Actives just help people that have had some sort of suffering in their life (ie: Patton Oswalt’s character in Man on the Street) or people that just need a friend (ie: Topher in this week’s episode). Then there are just paranoid rich people who have high powered friends. That’s where Echo goes off to this week.

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Change We Can’t Believe In [The Office]

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Is it just me or has The Office seen a pretty steady decline in hilarity over the course of this season? Sure, there are still laugh-out-loud moments, but they’re not hitting nearly as much as they did before and when I do laugh, it’s not as hard or as long as before. I’m sad. I think that overall I’m just not that pleased with this season. It’s the season of change…or rather how the showrunners are terrified of it. Let’s take a look.

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My Attic is Nowhere Near as Terrifying [Dollhouse]

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Despite all the crazy news about Fox not airing the finale of Dollhouse, the show still aired last night (and will continue to air at least 12 total episodes). I really have to say that since that infamous episode six, this show has just been on. Last night’s episode was no different.

I had a whole post typed up and then WordPress lost it. Fuckin’ A.

I liked the episode. It was fun and told in that style where there’s one story, but many different points of view. Domenic is bad. Echo is not broken. DeWitt has been banging Victor. I’m angry.

What do you think?

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