Fanboy News Network Episode 26

“D3 Expo”

Jeff starts out with an announcement about upcoming updates to the site.

Discussion on the fall out of Fantastic Four flopping.

R.I.P. Yvonne Craig

R.I.P. Rowdy Roddy Piper

Jeff talks about his love of wrestling, the history of wrestler Stardust and the upcoming match with Arrow star Stephen Amell.

The announcements out of D23 expo, including Marvel, Star Wars, Jungle Cruise, Pirate of the Caribbean and more.

Recent events in comics.

The difference between comics that have clear endings, ongoings with status quo and ongoings that evolve.

 

Fanboy News Network Episode 21

Fanboy News Network Episode 21

“Fanboy News Network 2.0”

The podcast returns from hiatus with a new format

In this episode

Jeff introduces his new co-host Daniel Christensen.

Wishing Nichelle Nichols a speedy recovery.

Going over the harassment incident that happened at Momocon.

The Hugo Awards and the Sad Puppies

Comic Book inspired TV shows:

  • The Flash
  • Arrow
  • Agents of SHEILD
  • Gotham
  • IZombie
  • Daredevil

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Tomorrowland

Mad Max: Fury Road

What Jeff and Daniel are looking forward to.

Fanboy News Network Episode 19

Fanboy New Network Episode 19

“The Fall TV season”

Jeff takes a look at the new comic book inspired shows of the new season

Jeff talks about Gamer Gate and how the nature of the social media sites contributes to harassment.

Finally Jeff offers some thoughts on the latest Wild Cards book Lowball

 

Fanboy News Network Episode 16

Fanboy News Network Episode 16

Comic movie and TV News

This episode

What Andy Serkis is doing on the set of the Avenger: Age of Ultron

Pre-buzz on Guardians of the Galaxy

What Dave Bautista did to get ready to play Drax

The Batman v Superman trailer at SDCC

The picture of Gal Godot as Wonder Woman

Why Gotham may not be that good an idea.

Buzz for the coming seasons of Arrow and The Flash.

Fanboy News Network Episode 14

Fanboy News Network Episode 14

The year in Geek TV

Jeff takes a look at the season finales for several geek appealing shows and also what we can look forward to next season.

Fanboy News Network Episode 2

Fanboy logo

In this episode:

A follow up on the subscribers getting their copy of Detective Comics #27

News on a possible Sandman movie

DC title cancelations.

Comic Industry market share.

A look at the fall finales of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Arrow.

Fanboy News Network Episode 1

Fanboy logoThe First Episode of The Fanboy News Network Podcast

Trigger Warning: This episode will discuss a sexual assault at the end.

This episode Jeff goes over recent news in geek culture.

The Casting of Wonder Woman in the Superman/Batman movie.

Subscribers not getting issue #27 of DC Comics.

DC’s success with the TB series Arrow.

The events surrounding the alleged sexual assault at Aki Con in Seattle.

Surprisingly good TV Shows

sleepyhollowEvery TV season the networks hope to lure in viewers for their new programs, and that will require a lot of pre-publicity on the shows. When deciding what you are going to watch, a lot of judgment goes into trying to decide what you are going to watch and what is not worth your time. Over the last three TV seasons, I have come to learn that I cannot trust my initial assessment of shows based on preview material. I can name six shows, two from each of the last three seasons, that I was convinced were going to suck, and now are shows I don’t want to miss.

These shows are Once Upon a time, Grimm, Arrow, Hannibal, Sleepy Hollow, and The Blacklist.

So what was it about these shows that caused my initial dismissal of them, and what do they have that has made them appointment viewing?

Let’s find out.

For the first question, my answer is that I didn’t think any of them would be a sustainable series and be able to get up to nine episodes. For everything, but The Blacklist, a big part of my negative view was due to their being adaptations. Once Upon a Time and Grimm took it a step further, in that they were both shows using fairy tales as their basis, and I figured one would eventually cannibalize the other. In the case of Arrow, it was another superhero show on the CW and so I was expecting another watered down and drawn out story like Smallville. Hannibal was doubted because I didn’t see how a network TV show could possibility go to the dark places that the story would demand. With Sleepy Hollow I will admit that I assumed it was going to be a Twilight like take on the story. Finally, The Blacklist just seemed to be a thin premise that I could not see sustaining a season believably.

Clearly, I was wrong on all counts.

Once Upon a Time and Grimm are nothing alike, I don’t even think of them as having a common origin point anymore. Arrow is not watered down in the least. Watching Hannibal I am regularly shocked at how far the network has allowed this series to push the imagery. Sleepy Hollow, while nothing like the story that inspired it, is not following in the Twilight path. And The Blacklist is a fun series that teases at a greater mystery.

But I think there is more to it than my being wrong in my initial assumptions. All of these shows have two things in common that make me tune in week after week.

First is the fact that there is focus on characters and their story arcs. I am invested in what happens to these people and want to see where they are going. Even the worst written of these six shows (Once upon a Time) has me hooked by this, even for the villains.

The other thing is the overall story and series mythology. Each show is going somewhere and doing it at a good pace. To use Smallville as an example again, they dragged out their main arc, Clark Kent becoming Superman, for 10 years. By the end, it just felt ridiculous. In contrast. Arrow dealt with its main arc (Oliver going after the people on his father’s list in the first season) and wrapped that up; Once Upon a Time also wrapped up its main arc (breaking the curse on Storybrooke) in the first season. Both of these series then went on to have new arcs in their following seasons.

So good characters and good story pacing, really this is what we should want from any series.

And to wrap up, I would like to point out that I am not always wrong. I had bad feelings about both Dracula and The Tomorrow People. I was not wrong. In fact the only reason I am still watching Dracula is to give it a fair shot for when I review it, so you have that to look forward to.

If you have not checked out any of the series I have focused on here, I would recommend giving them a try. Of course, we will have to see how the rest of the season plays out. And maybe we will visit them again after this season is over.

Arrow Season End Review

tv-arrow02Back at the beginning of the season I did a review of Arrow, the CW’s take on DC Comics character Green Arrow. At the time of that review, the series had only aired five episodes. At the end of the review I promised to revisit the series at the end of the season. Well, the season has ended, so here we go. Go here to see what I said of if you haven’t already, as I am going to write this review with the assumption that you have read the previous one. I will not be avoiding spoilers either, so be warned.

First, let’s see if any of my opinions changed between then and now.

Back then I complained that Oliver Queen’s mother Moira, sister Thea, and best friend Tommy all suffered from underdevelopment compared to the rest of the characters. To varying degrees, all of them got better development as the season wore on.

Thea got the least. She is still Oliver’s troubled little sister, seeming to follow the pattern he set in his life pre-island of party girl excess. But after a drug bust and near imprisonment she had to do community service at the Laurel’s law office. This led her to meet a street tough named Roy Harper and start a relationship. It got her out of self-obsessed territory and made her more than just window dressing.

Moira got even more interesting. Her involvement with the villain of the story drove a lot of development, especially when it became clear that she was in over her head and just doing whatever she could to protect her family. This culminated in an attempt at redemption that was well played and should prove fodder for great drama next season.

Tommy ended up getting the best development in the series other than Oliver. While sharing the name of Oliver’s arch-enemy from the comics, it turned out that the Dark Archer was actually his father. This led to plenty of speculation as to which side Tommy would eventually end up on. His arc was well played. Once his father cut him off from the family money, Tommy honestly grew as a character. He found a job working for Oliver at his night club, and started an honest relationship with Laurel. One of the interesting points of that relationship is that every time Tommy was presented with a challenge that might have lead him back to his insincere party boy ways, he instead made the right choice. It created great tension in that he was good for Laurel, thus adding complications to Oliver’s relationship with both. This got even more intense when Tommy learned that Oliver was the Hood, leading him to abandon both Oliver and Laurel. This led to the biggest twist in the finale when Tommy risked, and lost, his life to save Laurel, and reconciled with Oliver as he died.

Since the last review there were five major characters introduced.

Roy Harper, played by Colton Haynes, I have mentioned before, as he is Thea’s boyfriend. He is significant to comic fans, as in the books Roy is the first Speedy, Green Arrow’s sidekick who ended up as the hero Arsenal. Roy’s arc is that the Hood saved him and now Roy wants to find him and learn from him. Basically Roy feels called to do better with his life, and feels working with the Hood is the way. It was not a big arc, but a good set-up for one next season, especially with his actions in the finale. Roy is going to be promoted to series regular next season.

Another character getting promoted to regular next season is Felicity Smoak, played by Emily Bett Rickards. Felicity is an odd addition, because in the comics she is a supporting character in Firestorm, not Green Arrow, but that is just a fanboy nitpick. At first I was annoyed by the fact that they had this obviously very attractive actress playing like she was an ugly duckling nerd. I had no problem with her being a nerd, but the way she acted was not matching how they had her look. Fortunately as the season progressed, she became more of a socially awkward and insecure character. She knew how she looked, but it was treated as another hindrance to what she loved to do. At first she was just someone that Oliver would come to when he needed some information that required computer skills. When he had to turn to her for help while wounded, she was not surprised, as she had deduced most of what was going on already. This makes her another example of not making smart characters act dumb for the sake of plot convenience.

Since then she has been part of Oliver’s team. However, she brings a problem I like to call the “Chloe syndrome,” named for the character Chloe Sullivan from Smallville. This is where the lead character has more on-screen chemistry with a secondary character than the official love interest. In this case, Felicity has a lot more on-screen chemistry with Oliver than Laurel does.

The third late addition is Tommy’s father Malcolm Merlyn, played by Torchwood star John Barrowman.  As stated earlier he took over the role of the Green Arrow’s arch-enemy, the Dark Archer. It was good to see Barrowman break type and play a villain, especially one with some sympathetic aspects. Malcolm was a well-intentioned extremist.  Sadly he will not be back next season.

The final newcomer is Slade Wilson, played by Manu Bennett. His character was teased from the first episode, as Slade in the comics is the villain Deathstroke, and we saw the Deathstroke mask in the first episode. His role is currently limited to flashbacks to Oliver’s time on the island. It was a good idea to bring on a new regular as part of the flashbacks if they are going to stay in use. It is also interesting to watch as Oliver and Slade are allies right now, but in the comic they are enemies.

Of the remaining cast, Paul Blackthorn is about the same as he was early in the season as Detective Lance. His arc was a minor one, with him eventually coming to realize that the Hood was needed to save the city, and that maybe they could be allies. It was a slow build that took all season, and for the most part it works.

The biggest disappointment is Katie Cassidy’s character Laurel, and in a lot of ways it isn’t her fault. While she did drive a certain amount of the plot, the writers put her in a bad spot. As a love interest for Tommy she worked great, showing his growth and making his final fate really hit home. As a love interest for Oliver she did not work as well. The two do have chemistry, but again it seems pale compared to the Oliver and Felicity. Add to that the fact that the writers have put just too many obstacles between them. But the worst part is that she just seems to be there as a motivation for Oliver, which is sad when you compare her to her comic book counterpart.

David Ramsey as John Diggle, Oliver’s partner in crime fighting, got a good arc in the latter part of the season, the discovery that reoccurring villain Deadshot killed his brother, and Diggle’s thirst for revenge, which created tension in the Diggle/Queen partnership. This plot thread has not been resolved, so there is more to mine from it. Outside of that they maintained the intelligence and skill that was shown early in the season and portrayed that Diggle is not just a sidekick.

And of course you have Stephen Amell as Oliver. Over the season, it is clear that he was a good find and perfect for the role of superhero. His athleticism has made his portrayal of Oliver all the more realistic. He also had two versions of the character at different times in his life, which has gone smoothly. The season finale showed him wounded and yet determined.


 

Another Wonder Woman Pilot

Here we go again with another Wonder Woman pilot.

CW, being a subsidiary of Warner Bros. has a long track record of bringing DC comics’ properties to the TV, or at least trying to. Obviously they had the 10 year run of Smallville and the 13 episode long Birds of Prey series. They produced a pilot for an Aquaman series. There were proposals for a show about teen titian member Raven and about the Grayson family before Dick became Robin that never got past the proposal stage. And of course you have the current series Arrow.

I’ll be honest, I am really apprehensive about the announced Wonder Woman pilot. It shares several traits from the other shows and pitches mentioned above that I think are not workable. On the other hand I had doubts about Arrow too and I have ended up liking that series.

Basically CW has some habits when it comes to DC shows that I am convinced are just there to annoy long time comic fans.

The first is that they seem to think that the best way to go is with a series that functions as a prequel to the comics, with Arrow and Birds of Prey being the exceptions. This started with the original pitch they made over a decade ago, a series that was going to be titled Bruce Wayne, detailing Bruce’s life between his return to Gotham City at 18 and becoming Batman. The reason the series did not get past script stage was that the WB movie division also wanted to explore Bruce’s development into Batman, which ultimately resulted in Batman Begins. On that point let’s go ahead and say that this turned out for the best.

So when Bruce Wayne was shut down they turned around and created Smallville. And as I have said before, at first this was not bad, but it went on too long and stretched the premise beyond the breaking point.

The Aquaman pilot used the exact same idea, only with Arthur Curry. I remember liking it when I first saw it, but in retrospect I think it would have ended up a weak premise for the same reasons that Smallville did not work long term.

The Graysons was just baffling as a pitch. Following Robin’s family and their adventures prior to their murder and Dick’s being taken in by Bruce. This would basically be a series where we know that it will end with the murder of the main characters. Also if we go with the general idea that Dick becomes Robin around 13 than the age you have him at the beginning of the series would set the lifespan of the show. All this of course assumes you intend to remain faithful to the comics, which Smallville showed was not necessarily going to happen.

We now add Wonder Woman to that list, as the pitch is literally the same as Smallville, but with Diana coming to America and I guess learning what it means to be a hero.

Another issue with DC shows on the CW is the names. I think the only show that got to keep its title from the comic was Birds of Prey. Besides Smallville and Bruce Wayne, You had the Aquaman show being called Mercy Reef, Green Arrow became Arrow, and now Wonder Woman’s show will be called Amazon. I assume this is a marketing issue with the film division in case they want to develop a movie using the characters, but it does seem like they are running from the franchises they want to develop.

So here is my main issue with the new stab at a Wonder Woman series. They are using a format that fans are going to be apprehensive about. The whole “Diana before she was Wonder Woman” is at best only sustainable short term. If they are going that route I hope they do not take the “no flight, no tights” mandate that ultimately hamstrung Smallville.

I think if they are going to do this they make it the arc for the first season, with the finale having her become Wonder Woman. From second season on have it be like Arrow, the beginnings of her career.

Do I see that happening? No I do not. I’m afraid they will get locked down into the prequel mode like Smallville and the problems that it brings.

On the other hand if they manage to stay true to the characters roots and persona maybe it will be worthwhile, or at least wipe out the bad taste left by the last Wonder Woman Pilot.

Two things I want to address real quick before I wrap up.

First, the whole Iris thing, where a casting sheet was released stating that the character’s name is Iris along with other back story alterations. This is a not uncommon practice when casting for a very well-known character. It is done in hopes of getting an audition that is not just an attempt to fill the preconceived notions about the character. Rest assured her name will be Diana in the series as has been confirmed by Geoff Johns.

The other is the Justice League movie. Obviously it is being developed and there is a general assumption that Wonder Woman will be in it. How will that work? Good question, and there are a lot of ways to do it. One is they just assume that audiences can deal with two different version of the character at once like when Superman Returns came out during Smallville’s run. Another is that they do not include Wonder Woman in the Justice League movie. This all of course assumes that Amazon makes it past pilot stage.

So there we have it. Let’s hope that DC can give their most iconic female character the adaptation she deserves.