Month: October 2016

“Legends of Tomorrow,” AKA Scrappy Nate and the Scoobies in Edo Japan

Tonight’s episode brings the camp–only with a dull hero in the form of Nate Heywood.

“Shogun.” Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 Episode 3. Directed by Kevin Tancharoen. Written by Phil Klemmer and Grainne Godfree.

Spoilers below.

We get samurai. We get Ray (Brandon Routh) facing what makes him a hero. Stein (Victor Garber) and Jax (Franz Drameh) discover Rip’s secret from Barry Allen’s (Grant Gustin) future, and Mick (Dominic Purcell) discovers ninjas and maybe a new friendship from new stowaway Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers). Sara (Caity Lotz) kicks ass. Many of these details are sufficient in one way or another, be it camp (samurais and ninjas), action (Sara), character development (a new path for Ray to contribute to the team, Amaya learning more about her new teammates), and setting up future storylines (Barry’s future message).

And in this episode, Nate (Nick Zano) gains his superpower–and I do not care.

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Fandom Report for October 26, 2016: Nintendo Switch, SAG-AFTRA voice actor strike, and new Toonami content

Toonami

Toonami already confirmed a November screening of Children Who Chase Lost Voices, on top of releasing a new motivational video and a teaser for its third installment of The Intruder.

Now, Toonami has more details about its new micro-series by Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii. I first heard about this session when Toonami staffers discussed the project at Anime Expo in July 2016, and at that time they said the plan for a joint project with Oshii started with a commercial bumper he had designed for Adult Swim. Re-watching that bumper, I see a lot of similarities between it and the plot summary for this new animated series.

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo previewed its new video game system, Switch, coming March 2017.

There is a preview of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, coming to both Switch and Wii U.

While the patent reveals what the game system may include, Wired talks about what Switch needs, especially as the system is confirmed to have no backward capability for physical Wii U and 3DS games.

The game system has already become a dog, in one of Shou Tucker’s worst scientific experiments.

Video Games

SAG-AFTRA voice actors are on strike from performing for numerous video game companies. Portions of SAG-AFTRA’s key issues are here. Ubiquitous video game voice actor Steve Blum explains demands (transcript here).

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Tonight’s episode of “The Flash” was the definition of an idiot plot.

“The New Rogues.” The Flash Season 3 Episode 4. Directed by Stefan Pleszczynski. Written by Benjamin Raab and Deric A. Hughes.

Spoiler warning.

I’m at a loss how to write a review of this episode, because I have not encountered a television episode this frustrating since the last time I watched Agents of SHIELD–so, about two weeks ago.

To summarize the problems, I have to look at the individual narrative threads, which are not interwoven so much as parallel to each other. Each narrative thread, if given more time in this or a later episode could be entertaining; however, each is rushed to the point that the plot occurs not because this is how the characters we have known for more than two seasons would act, but because, as someone else says, the plot says so.  

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Supergirl’s heavy-handed political allegory contains shipper feels and a frustrating twist ending

With early voting started, let’s have an episode that has a political message that then goes sideways.

And let’s expand the world of Supergirl to show an extraterrestrial bar that is less bouncy and more grungy than the Star Wars cantina.

Oh, and let’s start shipping Alex with Maggie Sawyer. We just need a name for it. “MagLex”? Would that work?

“Welcome to Earth.” Supergirl Season 2 episode 3. Directed by Rachel Talalay. Written by Jessica Queller and Derek Simon.

Spoilers below.

Supergirl has not been subtle in its political allegory. Last season, a senator wanted to build a wall around the Earth to keep out extraterrestrials–and it made about as much sense as the fool running for office right now. (Vote early against Trump: vote Clinton.) “Welcome to Earth” seems to persist with that same storyline, as President Olivia Marsdin (Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter), is about to sign an extraterrestrial amnesty bill that leads to United States citizenship.

Ignore, for a moment, the fiction of all of this: that a President could get that done, when our real-life Congress couldn’t fund Zika treatment quickly, let alone immigration reform for humans.

And ignore, for a moment, the weirdness that it is the United States making itself an asylum for extraterrestrials: I would think the United Nations would be more involved, a la the Superhero Registration Act in Captain America: Civil War–but, then again, Agents of SHIELD had nations lining up to be asylums for Inhumans, so that detail is not that weird.

The surprise to this episode for me is how it is so obvious that Marsdin is a stand-in for Hillary Clinton–and then how this episode undermines that expectation. Or, if you think Clinton is two-faced, reaffirms your views about her. 

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Lucifer wanted to earn a catch phrase. He got one in the worst way.

“What have I done?”

“Weaponizer.” Lucifer Season 2 Episode 5. Directed by Karen Gaviola. Written by Jason Ning

This review contains spoilers.

“Weaponizer” eschews the typical plot structure to other episodes of Lucifer, and to many other procedural shows, and to many other DC on TV shows. The seasonal arc is the focus to the last ten minutes, in which significant action happens, leaving on a cliffhanger in multiple ways that have the audience desiring more. On the one hand, I cannot judge this episode fairly until seeing what happens next week. On the other hand, the anticipation I have indicates that this was a well-done conclusion. Given how funny this episode is, the contrast in the humor and the drama heightens both, creating one of the best episodes so far this season.

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Too many “Legends of Tomorrow” may give conflicting answers to our heroes’ question: What makes a hero?

 

“The Justice Society of America,” Legends of Tomorrow, Season 2, Episode 2. Directed by Michael Grossman. Written by Chris Fedak and Sarah Nicole Jones

Spoilers for this and future episodes of Legends of Tomorrow

The challenge I have watching the initial episodes this season of DC on CW shows is that it is a lot of setup for the rest of the season. I don’t bother with Arrow, The Flash is extending repetitive mysteries about arc villains, and Supergirl is just absolute fun. While each of those shows has its supporting cast, and Arrow expanding its own cast this season, still these are shows focused largely around their titular characters, making the shows into the protagonists’ stories and having their develop determine the major themes being explored.

Legends of Tomorrow has the additional challenge of a larger cast of characters, potentially diluting show’s focus, struggling to juggle multiple storylines and potentially conflicting themes. There are shortcuts this season seems to be taking already, such as shifting Nate (Nick Zano) to the position of our hero on the Joseph Campbell journey, and removing Rip and promoting first Stein (Victor Garber) then Sara (Caity Lotz) as leader. Yet the addition of the Justice Society of America for this episode only enlarges that cast. The Society returns later this season, for a few reasons I’ll clarify in the more spoiler-heavy discussion below, so some focus had to be given to Rex Hunter, Commander Steel (Matthew MacCaull), and Vixen (Maisie Richardson-Seliers), while their teammates take a back-seat along with the as-of-yet unmentioned Legends.

What helps Legends, even when the focus is diluted among so many characters, is the camp. When your story has the heroes fighting Nazis, however, camp requires a deft hand–or else you get something as monotonous and dark as Hellsing. And this episode of Legends is not campy enough or dark enough for that kind of content.

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Fandom Report for October 19, 2016: Captain Planet returns, Obama picks favorite sci-fi, and Toonami announces a new film broadcast

A short week, but a lot of news, especially coming out of Japan!

Star Wars

A new trailer for Rogue One was released. And just in time, Episode Nothing looks at the original Star Wars trailer, and how the production and marketing changed in promoting this film. (H/T AV Club)

RIP Gary Dubin and Susan Aceron

Voice actor Gary Dubin, known for The AristoCats, Cowboy Bebop, and Fist of the North Star, passed away at 57.

Voice actor Susan Aceron, known for her work on the English dubs of Sailor Moon, Beyblade, Digimon, and Medabots, passed away.

Science Fiction Film and Television

Wired lists some of Barack Obama’s essential films and TV shows in science fiction.

Leonardo DiCaprio is bringing back Captain Planet–because, sure, why not.

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“The Flash” does not earn its feel-good ending in a problematic episode

Outdated gender stereotypes, fragile masculinity, poor fathering, and to top it off, ignorant portrayal about foster parenting, multiple personalities, and mental health care, in a muddled script that fails to push forward this episode’s own plot, or the season’s arc

“Magenta,” The Flash, Season 3, Episode 3. Directed by Armen V. Kevorkian, written by Judalina Neira and David Kob

Spoiler warning: This review contains spoilers for this episode, about upcoming episodes of The Flash, and about Netflix’s Luke Cage.

It’s one thing to analyze a story by its own rules as entertainment, and to analyze a story as reflective of writers’ perspectives of the world and, in directing this writing to an audience, what it reflects about a culture’s values. It’s the challenge reviewing “Magenta,” which is dissatisfying in four parts: as an individual episode, as it portrays multiple personalities and mental health recovery, as part of the season’s arc, and as it portrays parenting especially in terms of gender norms and foster families.

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The greatest powers “Supergirl” has: suspension of disbelief–and Cat Grant

“The Last Children of Krypton.” Supergirl Season 2 Episode 2. Directed by Glen Winter. Written by Robert L. Rovner and Caitlin Parrish

This review contains spoilers for Supergirl, as well as Netflix’s Luke Cage.

“The Last Children of Krypton” is a Supergirl episode that requires substantial suspension of disbelief. This is not “you will believe a man can fly” disbelief, especially when this episode has impressive fight sequences (using a lot of shadows to obscure stunt doubles) and CGI animation (for not only Kara [Melissa Benoist] and Clark [Tyler Hoechlin] but also a good dose of J’onn [David Harewood] in Martian form).

Rather, it is suspension of disbelief over minute details that gets in the way of what is a decent story. This episode continues the marketing event of having Superman visiting National City (why didn’t this air as a two-hour special last week?) while also re-introducing more Season 1 details with a good dose of action.

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“Legends of Tomorrow” pushes through a perfunctory season premiere–and wastes some potential storylines

 

Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 Episode 1, “Out of Time.” Directed by Dermott Downs. Teleplay by Marc Guggenheim and Phil Klemmer. Story by Greg Berlanti and Chris Fedak.

I was promised Sara Lance in a Nathaniel Hawthorne short story–and darn it, I didn’t get what I was promised! And how did Mick narrate this when he wasn’t there for most scenes?!

I’m just going to assume the theme for this year’s DC on CW shows is “Resetting,” with Legends of Tomorrow being the latest.

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