Saturday, March 17, 2018

Fantastic Beasts: The Potential Storylines

This week we got our trailer for the “Fantastic Beasts” sequel: “The Crimes of Grindewald”. As JK Rowling’s wizarding world continues to expand, we get more and more glimpses into the pre-Harry Potter era of it all. Seven books and nine movies in, we’re probably only scratching the surface. But from what we know, here are a few things I’d like to see in this next movie (or at least by the end of the Fantastic Beasts series). WARNING: Spoilers from the new Fantastic Beasts trailer.

Hagrid and Aragog: Likely not in this movie, but seeing as the Fantastic Beasts movies are said to span 19 years (1926-1945), there’s a chance we could see Hagrid meet Aragog. As we met a new awkward friend fond of magical creatures, it’s not unreasonable to think that Newt is the one who gives Aragog to Hagrid. If the Chamber of Secrets was opened by Tom Riddle in the early 40s, we still have plenty of time for the Big Friendly Half-Giant to appear.

Voldemort’s Beginnings: Not that we necessarily need backstory on Voldemort (since “The Chamber of Secrets” and “The Half-Blood Prince” already basically did that) but it would be interesting to see glimpses or cameos of Voldemort’s past as the war against Grindewald happens. Presumably Tom Riddle Jr would be in the orphanage for the first half of the “Fantastic Beasts” series, so a cameo could be possible, but perhaps not probable.

Newt’s Backstory: We got glimpses into Newt’s past with the first “Fantastic Beasts” movie, but I don’t think it’d be unreasonable to see his flashbacks of his time at Hogwarts. Maybe learn why he was expelled (and why he got to keep his wand?) and maybe learn a bit about Leta Lestrange. Especially since the trailer makes it look like we’re visiting Hogwarts, it wouldn’t be too crazy for Newt to have a few flashbacks.

Newt’s Future: To contrast my last comment, it would be interesting (more just for the fun of it) to see a “flashforward” for Newt at the end of the last movie. Maybe show that the “Fantastic Beasts” series was him or his son telling Newt’s grandkids or great-grandkids about his adventures. Maybe even get Evanna Lynch to reprise her role as Luna Lovegood, as she marries Newt’s grandson.

Dumbledore’s History: From the trailer, we know we’re supposed to see Dumbledore. Since the series is supposed to end around the time that Dumbledore defeats Grindewald (can’t remember if we’re supposed to see that battle or not) it would be likely that we’ll at least get some dialogue about the Dumbledore and Grindewald families (if not flashbacks). It could be controversial to show a romance between Dumbledore and Grindewald, but I think we can at least expect to see their friendship addressed.

What other tidbits from the “Harry Potter” books would you like to see in the “Fantastic Beasts” movies? Any characters revealed by JK Rowling that you’d like to see younger cameos from? Maybe a young McGonagall. That’d be cool. Granted, she’d only be 10 by the end of the series, but still.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Ninth Doctor

So after watching all of Classic Doctor Who over the past two and a half years (and writing about it for two years) I’m finally at Modern Doctor Who! So without further ado, here’s my first Doctor: Christopher Eccleston.

Series 1
The show regenerated
Top Story: Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways
It was really a hard choice between the finale and “The Empty Child”/“The Doctor Dances” for top choice. In fact in my first draft of this post, I picked it. But I wanted to choice the two-part finale, because of its firsts. This was the first time since the Key to Time series that Doctor Who had an overall story for the season, instead of just individual adventures. Through the season “Bad Wolf” popped up occasionally and then got resolved in the finale. This trend has continued through Modern Doctor Who, ever since. It was also the first modern regeneration, so we gotta enjoy the introduction of David Tennant.
Flop Story: Boom Town
It was this or “The Long Game”. However, this story was just unnecessary. I have no issue with the Slitheen. Considering that Doctor Who was bound to have poor special effects on its first season back, of course the aliens were going to be weird. But their original story and their reprisal in “The Sarah Jane Adventures” were good. This was just an unnecessary revival of a supposedly dead character, just to have a story.
Honorable Mention: Rose
This is how new Doctor stories need to be. What the Eighth Doctor movie did wrong was assuming that viewers knew the Doctor, knew regeneration, and knew the TARDIS. In this story, we learn about the Doctor and the TARDIS as Rose does, making it easier for new viewers. This was repeated to some extent with Martha and Bill, making easy points for new viewers to come in without committing to 20+ years of Doctor Who before getting caught up. Granted the Autons were odd, but it was a nice throwback to the old Third Doctor villain. Since the show is 50+ years old now, it needs stories like this to bring in new blood.

Rose      Rose - (10th Doctor)
Adam    Dalek - The Long Game
Jack        The Empty Child - The Parting of the Ways

Favorite Companion: It seems like Rose gets a lot of flack from the fanbase, but I like her. Granted, she and the Ninth Doctor were my first pair I ever saw together consistently (I started with “Blink” and then went back) but this pair worked together. Rose had the character development that I’d want for all companions. She went from working in retail to saving the universe and even matching wits with the Doctor a few times. To be fair, I would have preferred she kept her ending at the end of Series 2 with the Tenth Doctor, but I enjoyed seeing her return in Series 4, so I can’t complain.

Least Favorite Companion: Adam. Just Adam. I don’t know anyone in the fanbase who likes Adam. He hitched a ride in 2012, went to the future, and then got thrown out back at home. We all like to forget about Adam, but he was an unfortunate side effect of time travel I suppose. Above all else, he sucked because he was the one companion to use traveling in the TARDIS for personal gain (unless you count Turlough working for the Black Guardian). He did get some “redemption” in the 50th Anniversary comic series called “Prisoners of Time”, but regardless he’s still down low on my list of companions. ALL companion (even including Adric).

What was your favorite Ninth Doctor story? You did watch the Ninth Doctor right? We don’t skip Nine here. So go watch Nine. Now. Just go.

I was once told that Colin Baker wanted the Sixth Doctor to have this outfit. Tough luck.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Part 10

So back when I started my Marvel Cinematic Universe posts, ABC was part-way into Season 2 of “Agent Carter”. At that point, I had no way of watching Season 1 to catch up for Season 2. Recently I learned that Hulu had both seasons available. So as I’ve been binging the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe (everything: movies, Netflix shows, network shows, etc.) I worked “Agent Carter” into it all. So now that I’ve watched both seasons, it’s time to backtrack and cover Agent Peggy Carter’s adventures.

Agent Carter: Season 1 (Episodes 1-8)
Season 1 follows Peggy and Edwin Jarvis trying to clear Howard Stark’s name. Meanwhile, Peggy needs to maintain her job at the SSR where she’s constantly undermined. So here we go.
  1. Now is Not the End: In 1946, Peggy maintains her cover while working at the SSR. The SSR investigates Howard after his inventions get stolen. Howard asks Peggy to help clear his name. Jarvis helps Peggy recover Nitramene, ahead of the SSR. Jarvis and Peggy narrowly escape the implosion of Roxxon.
  2. Bridge and Tunnel: The SSR investigates the explosion at Roxxon. Peggy and Jarvis confront Brannis about the Nitramene. He dies in a conflict with a man in a green suit. Peggy finds a new place to stay.
  3. Time and Tide: Peggy meets Dottie Underwood. SSR Agent Thompson recovers Green Suit’s typewriter and discovers its transmitter. Thompson interrogates Jarvis. Peggy and Jarvis track the theft of Howard’s inventions and tip Agents Sousa and Krzeminski off. They get ambused and Krzeminski gets killed.
  4. The Blitzkrieg Button: SSR Chief Dooley investigates Finow. Peggy and Jarvis rescue Howard. Peggy retrieves the Blitzkrief Button, discovering Cap’s blood inside. Sousa investigates the tip. Peggy confronts Howard about Steve’s blood. An assassin comes for Peggy, but Dottie kills him. Peggy hides the blood.
  5. The Iron Ceiling: In 1937, the Red Room trains assassins. Dottie steals Peggy’s room key. The Remote Typewriter leaves a message at the SSR. Peggy translates it and recruits the 107th regiment to help the SSR. The SSR and the Howling Commandos infiltrate the Red Room. They bring Ivchenko back with them. Dooley questions Jarvis about Howard and Finow.
  6. A Sin to Err: Peggy and Jarvis try to track down a Red Room spy. Sousa investigates Peggy. Dottie and Ivchenko infiltrate the SSR. The SSR goes after Peggy. Peggy tries to escape but Dottie knocks her out.
  7. Snafu: The SSR interrogates Peggy. Jarvis brings a fake confession for Howard. Ivchenko steals Item 17 and leaves Dooley in an explosive vest. Dottie and Ivchenko deploy Item 17 at the movie theater, causing a massacre. Dooley dies in an explosion.
  8. Valediction: The SSR investigates the theater massacre. Howard gets captured by Ivchenko/Fennhoff, who hypnotizes Howard to drop the Midnight Oil (Item 17) on New York. Peggy breaks Howard out of his trance. Dottie escapes and Fennhoff is taken into custody.

Random Trivia/Connections:
  • The opening scenes of “Now is Not the End” recap Captain America’s “death” in “The First Avenger”.
  • Soviet scientist Anton Vanko appears in “Now is Not the End”. His son becomes the main villain in “Iron Man 2”.
  • The Red Room appears in “The Iron Celing”, which is where Black Widow says in “Age of Ultron” that she was trained.
  • Armin Zola, who appeared in “The First Avenger” and “The Winter Soldier” appears in prison with Fennhoff in “Valediction”.

The first season of Agent Carter was unsettling for me, but in a productive way. In a smaller way, it was like “Black Panther” and the discussion of racism. Taking place in the 40s, Peggy wasn’t exactly treated well by her male colleagues. It was unsettling (and probably understated compared to the real 1940s). It was a perfect opportunity for me to evaluate how I treat the women in my life. I also liked the mini-series format. About the time I’d start getting bored, the climax of the season happened.

Agent Carter: Season 2 (Episodes 1-10)
  1. The Lady in the Lake: Peggy captures Dottie. Peggy goes to LA to help Sousa with a case. Jarvis, Sousa, and Peggy investigate Isodyne Energy. Peggy questions Calvin Chadwick. The SSR rescues Jason Wilkes.
  2. A View in the Dark: The Council of Nine infuriates Chadwick. Peggy and Sousa investigate Isodyne Energy. Wilkes tells Peggy about Zero Matter. Wilkes and Peggy steal Zero Matter. In a confrontation, the Zero Matter absorbs Wilkes and infects Whitney Frost.
  3. Better Angels: Wilkes is framed as a communist spy by Frost. Peggy tries to spy on the Council of Nine. Thompson tries to bring Peggy back to New York. Sousa discovers Forst is scientist Agnes Cully. Peggy and Howard discover Wilkes stuck in the Zero Matter. Frost sends an assassin to kill Peggy after a confrontation. Thompson meets Chadwick. Frost accidentally kills her director.
  4. Smoke & Mirrors: Growing up, Agnes Cully’s scientific ability is shunned before becoming actress Whitney Frost. Young Peggy buries her adventurous side until her brother dies. In the present, Frost experiments with her Zero Matter power. Sousa and Peggy interrogate Hunt. The SSR gets audited. Frost kills Hunt.
  5. The Atomic Job: Wilkes shows Peggy his Zero Matter powers. Sousa celebrates his engagement. Rose, Samberly, Peggy, Sousa, and Jarvis infiltrate Roxxon. Peggy fights Frost. Violet treats Peggy. Chadwick calls a meeting of the Council.
  6. Life of the Party: Peggy and Sousa try to stop Wilkes from disappearing. They recruit Dottie’s help. Dottie and Jarvis go after Frost, who meets with the Council of Nine. Frost kills half the Council, including Chadwick. Thompson captures Dottie.
  7. Monsters: Frost interrogates Dottie. Peggy and Jarvis go after Dottie. Frost goes after Wilkes, their Zero Matter making Wilkes tangible again. After Frost shoots Ana Jarvis, Dottie escapes and Masters takes control of the SSR.
  8. The Edge of Mystery: Frost observes Wilkes’s powers. Peggy and Sousa meet Manfredi. Thompson investigates Peggy. Jarvis, Sousa, and Peggy use fake uranium to trade with Frost. Masters retrieves the real uranium. Frost creates an atomic explosion, which absorbs Wilkes. Frost captures Peggy and Jarvis.
  9. A Little Song and Dance: Thompson, Samberly, and Sousa steal an SSR car. Peggy and Jarvis escape Frost and steal a truck. Thompson tries to double-cross Frost. Thompson tries to detonate a bomb on Frost. Wiles confronts Frost.
  10. Hollywood Ending: Frost absorbs the Zero Matter. Manfredi teams up with Stark, Peggy, and Jarvis. The team uses the Gamma Cannon to separate Frost from the Zero Matter. Jarvis uses the hovercar to close the rift. In the aftermath, Peggy starts a relationship with Sousa.

Random Trivia/Connections:
  • The Zero Matter is related to the Darkforce, involved in the powers of Daniels in “The Only Light in the Darkness” and Krupin in “Parting Shots”.
  • The Darkforce Dimension (where Zero Matter originates) is part of the Multiverse introduced in “Doctor Strange”.
  • Sousa’s fiancée Violet was portrayed by “Sarah Bolger”, who also played Princess Aurora on “Once Upon a Time”. Aurora was similarly caught in a love triangle.
  • Though the series ended with Sousa and Peggy in a relationship, it is unlikely that Peggy married Sousa. As stated in “The Winter Soldier”, Peggy’s unnamed husband was saved by Captain America in “The First Avenger”.

I enjoyed Season 2 less than the first. Maybe it was because of the extra two episodes? Maybe it was less action? I’m not sure. There was also less of Peggy forcing herself to be assertive as a woman. Other than an episode with her backstory, there was less development with Peggy’s character.

Thoughts on Agent Carter? Probably would have been good to have the series wrapped up a little nicer, but at least each season was a self-contained story. As a result, other than Peggy’s husband, I don’t see any loose ends to be concerned about. Overall, good mini-series.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Krypton and other Stupid Ideas

Yet another TV show is coming out based in the DC Universe but is only tangentially connected to anything worth making a show out of. I'm of course talking about Krypton, SyFy's new enterprise based on JorEl, the adventures of Superman's biological dad. 

Who is JorEl?
Normally we don't get much from JorEl except that he was a scientist who threw his baby in a rocket and launched it at Earth right before his own planet exploded. Occasionally we've got stuff like the crystal tech that allows him to talk to Superman and give him random advice and honestly that's all we really needed. JorEl's part in the story was done. On Krypton he was a scientist (presumably a geologist since he figured out Krypton would explode but he also built a rocket so whatever) and while a couple comics here and there have mentioned him we don't need much more. 

Not the First Time
This is an overall problem I'm seeing with DC and Marvel universes. They keep making TV shows about either the long drawn out origin story of super heroes, IE Smallville and Gotham, or the company's D List, IE Supergirl, Arrow, The Defenders and the Legends of Tomorrow. We'll let Marvel slide on this one because they seem to be legitimately trying to make a massive world with varying degrees of success but every one of DC's shows take place in different universes. 

A Thought on CW
The CW shows have a similar problem in that they focus on the part of the super heroes lives that we don't care about. Arrow and Flash's bigger plots are the always tired "Will they/Won't they?" TV storytelling trope. Between every awesome battle we have to stop the flow and talk about weather or not Oliver will tell whoever that he loves her or if Supergirl can date whoever-nobody-cares-man. 

What If...
I don't want to see Superman's dad, or Bruce Wayne's training, I want to see Superman and Batman. If DC took all the money they keep pouring into these idiotic backstories and romantic comedies into one show about the Justice League, how they got together and them doing a monster/villain of the week thing, I guarantee it'd be more popular than Superman: Before The Cape could ever be. They could get smaller unknown actors to play the major parts, introduce other heroes later if they need to rotate the team as happens in comics, and maybe even make spin-offs as they need to. 

Tell me you wouldn't watch this show. 


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Year of the Dog: The Goodest Boys

So I’m not much of one for Chinese New Year (I frankly can’t tell you the significance of the Chinese Zodiac) but in honor of the year of the dog, I wanted to share some of the goodest boys on TV and movie.

K-9 (Doctor Who)
The Fourth Doctor picked up the original K-9 in “The Invisible Enemy” and he was left on Gallifrey with Leela. The Doctor already had K-9 Mark II at the beginning of “The Ribos Operation” when Romana arrived and he stayed with Romana in E-Space. K-9 Mark III was sent to Sarah Jane Smith for Christmas 1978 in “A Girl’s Best Friend” and returned with her in “School Reunion”. After Mark III was destroyed, the Tenth Doctor left Mark IV with Sarah Jane, which continued to be her companion in her spin-off series.

Super sassy and super intelligent. Always loyal to the Doctor and his companions, K-9 is definitely a good dog. I especially loved his banter with the super-computer “Mr. Smith” during the Sarah Jane Adventures. 11/10 loyal good boy.

Dug (Up)
The goodest of all the dogs. So innocent. So loyal. He’s everything I aspire to have in a dog. He started as Muntz’s lackey, but was so innocent and just wanted to capture Kevin so that he would be loved. So when he was taken in by Carl and Russell, is it any surprise that Dug jumped ship and chose a new master?

But yes. 12/10 good dog. He’s just met you and he loves you. What better reason is there? He’ll also hide under your porch because he wants to stay. He’s a good listener and he loves to fetch. Just don’t put him in the cone of shame. It makes him sad.

Growlie (Pokémon)
Team Rocket’s James had a pet Growlithe growing up. When returning to his family’s estate in the Indigo League (Season 1) he reunited. When James’s parents tried to manipulate him into marrying the creepy Jessiebelle, Growlie came to James’s rescue and helped James evade and defeat the wretched Jessiebelle. The real question is why didn’t James take Growlie with him after that?

First of all, Growlithes are adorable anyway. I can’t get enough of them on Pokémon Go. Second, it’s hard to not love a pooch who is so loyal and loving after all those years. 10/10 loyal Poké-pooch.

Snoopy (Peanuts)
What a smart intelligent dog! A bit weird too. Who sleeps on the point of a dog house? All the same, he writes, he knows history, and he knows how to have fun. And with how unlucky Charlie Brown is, he’s very protective too, even if it’s in the oddest ways. Like in the Peanuts movie, what dog jumps out on the dance floor to pump up their owner? 10/10 imaginative pup.

Pluto (Disney)
Who can forget Pluto, Mickey’s doggo? Now let’s not get into the Goofy/Pluto dog debate. Let’s just talk about how wonderful Pluto is. No matter what short or series we’re talking about, Pluto is so loyal to Mickey and he does everything he can to love Mickey and keep him safe (even if it’s just from chipmunks). 13/10 Disney top dog.

Stitch (Lilo & Stitch)
Not a dog per se, but he’s an honorable pupper in my book. Although he got off to a rocky start, he helped bring LIlo’s family together and change their lives for the good. In the sequels and the TV series, he was super helpful in rounding up his 600+ cousins and teaching them to be good. That’s not to say that Stitch is good. He’s got a mischievous streak the size of his badness level.

He’s protective and faithful to Lilo. He got aggressive when Cobra, Gantu, and others each tried to take Lilo away from her family. So mischievous he may be, but he’s a good doggo in the end. 15/10 mischievous pupper; he’ll steal your left shoe, but he’ll also love you to death.

Who’s your favorite TV/movie pupper? 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Black Panther -- A Breath of Fresh Air

I was a little bit late getting my tickets to Black Panther, but was lucky enough to still find a decent seat at the AMC just down the road and saw Black Panther opening night in Dolby Cinema.

Black Panther was a different kind of Marvel movie, and one that I will most likely see again in the coming weeks. **Some Spoilers May Follow**

 The movie follows King T'Challa after the events of Captain America: Civil War, as he returns to Wakanda and is crowned as King. From an old family foe to an unexpected challenge to T'Challa's reign as sovereign and King, the movie is a breath of fresh air in an increasingly crowded Marvel Cinematic Universe and sets itself apart as an entertaining movie, a moving story, and a much needed commentary on modern social issues.

The Good

  • Tackling Modern Issues: This is one of the few Marvel Movies that brought up uncomfortable, but necessary, parts of our history and our past e.g. slavery, colonization and imperialism, racial inequality, and so forth. I appreciated the tasteful way that these subjects were woven into the storyline -- but it is the first time I recall modern issues being tackled in a Marvel movie. About time!
  • A Black Superhero: The MCU is white. Pasty white. Too white. Chadwick Boseman's stellar performance in Civil War and in his own title movie sets him apart in my mind as a new favorite.
  • Music: I could write pages and pages about the music, but needless to say one of theist memorable parts of the film for me. Beautiful, at times haunting, and inspiring soundtrack!
  • Costume and Set Design: Outside of the bad-a** costume of the Black Panther himself, the Wakandan wardrobe and the movie's set design is simply stunning and breathtaking.
  • Spirituality: I found this to be a much more spiritual film than I was initially expecting, or used to, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which is saying something considering Thor is a Norse God....) Again, much needed spiritual addition to the MCU after the almost-straight-up comedies that Marvel has recently released.
  • Character Complexity: Instead of a traditional "good guy fights bad guy" scenario, I appreciated the character complexity and development in Black Panther. Not all beloved father figures are perfect. Real moral dilemmas exist, such as nationalism vs. individual and familial loyalty, and noninterventionist pacifism vs. racial equality and justice. In addition to being entertained, I was moved and inspired.

What Lacked in Comparison

Honestly it's hard to complain about anything in Black Panther, but here are a few thoughts I had.
  • Integration of MCU characters: At this point, well into stage three of the MCU, I was expecting more integration of Marvel Characters at some point in the story other than the credits. While not an absolute, for me it would be a "nice to have" element to the story. To be honest, Black Panther didn't need it....but who doesn't love a cameo here and there!
  • Humor: I LOL'ed my way through Thor: Ragnarok, and Avengers, and while Black Panther had great humor, it was not as straight up funny as some of the other films Marvel has produced. Again, I think in this case it was not needed. Black Panther is a different Marvel movie, at this point in time one of its kind. I was fine with the different kind of Marvel film...but for those who are used to the puns, one-liners, and antics of Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth, this film has a different flavor and humor to it. 

Overall, a solid 8.5 out of 10 or dare I say even a 9, depending on what you are looking for in Marvel Cinema. I'm stoked to have Black Panther return in Avengers: Infinity War

What did you think of Black Panther? What did you like or dislike about the film? What are your expectations for Infinity War?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Power TV Couples

Happy Valentine’s Day! This is a new one for me, since it’s the first time in my life that I’ve been in a relationship for Valentine’s Day. Every year so far it’s been about friendship (which it still is), but in honor of romantic love this year here are a few of my favorite TV couples.

Barry Allen and Iris West (The Flash)
                So while they may have grown up as foster brother and sister, Barry was in love with Iris from an early age. After the particle accelerator explosion, Barry lost some time and in the meantime Iris started dating her father’s partner. But Barry is the eternal optimist and romantic and three years later they ended up married. In the end, Barry is the epitome of a geeky boy who got his dream girl.
                Maybe it’s because I was dating my now-wife when I binged The Flash, seeing the development of Barry and Iris’s relationship, but in many ways (not all) my relationship with my wife seems to parallel Barry and Iris’s. Can’t look at Iris without thinking about her. Barry and Iris have been through more than their share of trials together, Savitar’s threat being the least of it. If Barry and Iris can survive Savitar’s attempted murder of Iris, couples in real life can handle anything.

Chandler Bing and Monica Geller (Friends)
                I don’t know if the writers of Friends originally intended Chandler and Monica to end up together, but I love them as a couple for that reason. Even before their relationship was planned, they had a playful, friendly relationship. As early as “The One with the Birth” they joke about getting together, which intermittently continues through relationships with Janice, Richard, etc. until they got together at Ross’s wedding. So when they got together it was the perfect relationship.
                My wife and I relate to Monica and Chandler in my ways, jokingly and seriously. I don’t consider that bad. They became best friends and they worked through their issues (body image, commitment issues, etc.) and eventually became one of the best power couples I’ve seen on TV. Minus the pre-marital sex, I’d probably recommend every couple look up to them.

Cory Matthew and Topanga Lawrence (Boy Meets World)
                What better couple is there on TV? Goofy, sort-of friends in the first season and then developing into a couple in later seasons. Very rarely on TV or in real life do high school sweethearts lead to real marriages, but they did. They worked through fights, break-ups, and other issues together. In Girl Meets World, they dealt with some intense parenting issues together too. If we’re talking TV power couples, I’m putting Cory and Topanga up there with Monica and Chandler.

Rory Williams and Amy Pond (Doctor Who)
                Some people (TJ in particular) might be surprised that I’m putting Rory and Amy on my list. It’s no secret that I have issues with Amy. Granted, she was obsessed with the Doctor from a young age, but trying to make out with the Doctor the night before her wedding still rubs me the wrong way. Still, her relationship with Rory is still one to be envied.
                Despite her obsession with the Eleventh Doctor, Amy was so committed to Rory. Even after he was erased from existence and she forgot about him, Amy still felt strongly for Rory. After Rory was “reincarnated”, she ultimately committed to her husband. When the choice was between the Doctor and Rory, she always chose Rory, even when it meant never seeing the Doctor again. Sacrifice is part of love and marriage and, despite my initial distaste of Amy, she knew that.

James “Sawyer” Ford and Juliet Burke (Lost)
                Despite being together about 3 years, we never really got to see much of Sawyer’s relationship with Juliet. I can only assume that it developed naturally and powerfully. They started as enemies when she arrived at the survivors’ camp in Season 3, but during the time jumps of Season 5, they bonded and had to stick together. Eventually getting stuck in the 70s, Sawyer leaned on Juliet for support.
That support grew into a stellar relationship. So when Juliet died, it was understandable that Sawyer was destroyed. I can’t begin to describe how I felt when they reunited in the afterlife. Sawyer loved Juliet through her insecurities and into her death. Sawyer had many faults, but Juliet made him a better man, who he was always meant to be.

Who are some of your favorite TV couples? Anything you’d add to the ones I’ve described? Whether it’s with your significant other or with friends, enjoy Valentine’s Day. Above all other kinds of love, our Father in Heaven loves you and our Savior loves you enough to have died for you. Even if you’re single and/or struggling, there’s always someone who loves you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Phoebe Buffay

I’ve been re-watching “Friends” lately and it’s cementing itself again as one of my favorite sitcoms. The highlight of nearly every episode (almost inevitably distracting me from whatever my wife and I are talking about) is Phoebe. She’s such a random and lovable character. It’s kind of impossible to not like her if you have any humanity. So in case you need reasons to love Phoebe, here are four of my favorites:

Phoebe has this wonderful undying optimism. Her life has sucked and yet she’s almost always happy. Her dad walked out on her family, her mom committed suicide, her step-dad went to prison, and the list goes on. I know she’s there for comic relief at times, but most characters with her past would be a dark humor instead of the ray of sunshine that we get for ten seasons.

I’m also not sure that there is a character on that has so many amazing one-liners. Maybe Fat Amy on “Pitch Perfect”, but throw in Phoebe’s silly songs and she easily trumps Fat Amy. Her naivety, yet having so much harsh life experience, makes her off-handed comments so much more enjoyable.

Fun little theory of mine, just to be silly, is that Phoebe also had some mad ninja assassin skills. Don’t ever get on her bad side. Remember that episode where she got replaced as the musician at Central Perk? Did we ever see Terry the Jerk again? I mean, he was mentioned again a year later, but we never saw him again. Did we ever again see Stephanie who knew all the chords? Nope. Never. Only explanation is that sweet little Phoebe offed both. Plain and simple. She used her street skills to assert herself.

Final reason to love Phoebe: Smelly Cat. Not even exaggerating, sometimes when I’m stressed I can just calm myself by singing Smelly Cat to myself. Remember that episode where she got to do the Smelly Cat video? Also that time that it got turned into a jingle? And then there were all the people she tried to teach it to, like Stephanie (before she offed her).

What are you favorite things about Phoebe? Any favorite one-liners or songs? 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Part 9

Runaways Season 1 is over, SHIELD is on its way into Season 5, and Black Panther is only a month away. Sounds like a perfect time to do some more Marvel (not that I need a reason). So this time it’s the first part of Agents of SHIELD Season 3 and our introduction to the sassy Jessica Jones.

Agents of SHIELD: Season 3 (Episodes 1-8)
  1. Laws of Nature: The Terrigen-infested fish oil pills have made their rounds, resulting in random Inhumans throughout the world. SHIELD collects Joey Gutierrez. Coulson confronts the ATCU’s leader, Rosalind Price. Daisy/Skye try to recruit Lincoln to help SHIELD. Lincoln and Daisy get attacked by a monster, Lash. Fitz tracks down details on the monolith. Simmons hides on a desert planet.
  2. Purpose in the Machine: In 1839, a man gets sent into the monolith. In the present, Fitz is removed from the monolith’s room by his friends. Deducing Simmons was transported through space, SHIELD recruits Randolph for help. Garner evaluates Joey. SHIELD opens the monolith’s portal and Fitz retrieves Simmons. Hunter recruits May to get revenge on Ward. Werner von Strucker joins Garner’s class, at Ward’s request.
  3. A Wanted (Inhu)man: Hunter and May track Ward. Simmons struggles adjusting back to Earth. Lincoln evades SHIELD and the ATCU. Coulson reaches out to Rosalind. Hunter works his way into Hydra. Simmons tells Bobbi that she needs to go back.
  4. Devils You Know: Lash kills various Inhumans. Daisy learns he has a human form. Garner evaluates Simmons. Hunter is taken to Ward. Ward threatens Garner’s life if he isn’t released. Von Strucker stalks Garner and the building they are in explodes.
  5. 4,722 Hours: Simmons recalls the events on Maveth to Fitz. Six months previous, Simmons finds herself stranded on Maveth. After a month, Simmons is captured by Will. Avoiding a monster, Simmons and Will comfort each other. During a rare sunrise, Simmons sees Fitz’s flare, Will gets attacked, and Simmons gets rescued. In the present day, Fitz begins working on getting to Maveth.
  6. Among Us Hide…: Garner survives assassination. Hydra and SHIELD chase after von Strucker. SHIELD pursues Banks, suspsecting he’s Lash. Rosalind takes Coulson to the ATCU and finds she has dozen of Inhumans. Von Strucker tells May that Garner turned into a monster. Lincoln calls Daisy.
  7. Chaos Theory: Mack meets with Lincoln. May discovers that Garner is Lash. Coulson shows Rosalind around Zephyr One. Simmons talk to Fitz about Maveth. May confronts and captures Garner. Lincoln fights Garner/Lash. Rosalind calls Malick.
  8. Many Heads, One Tale: Ward teams up with Malick. Coulson shows Rosalind SHIELD headquarters while the team checks out the ATCU. Fitz and Simmons discover that Hydra sent Will to Maveth. Hunter and Bobbi discover ATCU has been creating Inhumans with the fish oil. Malick tells Ward about Hive.

The Inhuman attacking Inhumans
Random Trivia/Connections:
  • The events in New York (“The Avengers”), London (“The Dark World”), DC (“The Winter Soldier”), Sokovia (“Age of Ultron”), and San Francisco (“Ant-Man”) are mentioned in “Laws of Nature”.
  • The death of Wolfgang von Strucker, in “Age of Ultron”, is referenced in “Purpose in the Machine”.
  • Malick was previously on the World Security Council in “The Avengers”.

So after the release of the Terrigen at the end of Season 2, this was the logical direction to go. However, one thing I didn’t like about where SHIELD went from this point on is that every person with powers is now Inhuman. Before this, we had synthetic powers (Mike Peterson/Deathlok), natural powers (Chan Ho Yin/Scorch), and powers of unknown origin (Carl Creel/Absorbing Man). After the Inhuman outbreak, it’s assumed that anyone with powers is Inhuman. It kind of got dull for me in a way. Besides that, I liked it. I enjoyed the backstory to Hydra, dating further back than Red Skull.

Private Eye: Jessica Jones
Jessica Jones: Season 1 (Episodes 1-13)
Like I did with “Daredevil”, I’m going to provide a parent guide for “Jessica Jones”. Unlike “Daredevil” Season 1, there are three sex scenes in “Jessica Jones”. If you see anything you think needs to be in the parent guide, let me know so I can add it. Assume profanity for all episodes.
  1. AKA Ladies Night: Jessica Jones works as a private eye, a year after Kilgrave’s supposed death. Jessica gets hired to find Hope. Jessica meets Luke Cage and spends the night with him. In her search for Hope, Jessica suspects Kilgrave is alive. Jessica finds Hope and returns her to her parents. Hope kills her parents at Kilgrave’s order. (Parental Guidance: Sex scene between Luke and Jessica; immodestly dressed women; allusions to rape; blood and gore)
  2. AKA Crush Syndrome: Jessica gets interrogated. Jessica asks Hogarth to take Hope’s case. Trish confronts Jessica. Jessica researches Kilgrave’s missing year. Luke gets attacked but can’t be harmed. Hogarth takes Hope’s case. Luke and Jessica reveal their powers to each other. (Parental Guidance: blood and gore)
  3. AKA It’s Called Whiskey: Jessica remembers killing Reva. Jessica steals anesthesia to use on Kilgrave. Trish interviews Hope. Jessica saves Trish from being killed by Simpson (who is being controlled). Distracted by saving Simpson, Jessica loses Kilgrave’s trail. Jessica breaks up with Luke. (Parental Guidance: Sex scene between Luke and Jessica; immodestly dressed women; blood and gore)
  4. AKA 99 Friends: Jessica takes a new case and intervenes when Simpson tries to talk to Trish. Simpson and Jessica team up. Jessica interviews possible Kilgrave victims. A woman attacks Jessica, because she’s gifted. Simpson and Trish bond. Jessica learns that Malcolm has been Kilgrave’s photographer.
  5. AKA The Sandwich Saved Me: Eighteen months ago, Trish tries to get Jessica to be a superhero. She declines, but later saves a child. Jessica saves Malcom and gets discovered by Kilgrave. In the present day, Jessica, Trish, and Simpson put a plan together to capture Kilgrave. While enacting the plan, they get chased and Kilgrave is freed. Jessica makes a deal for Malcolm’s freedom. (Parental Guidance: Sexual innuendo in flashback; sex scene between Trish and Simpson; blood and gore)
  6. AKA You’re a Winner!: Kilgrave procures Jessica’s childhood home. Luke asks for Jessica’s help to find someone. Jessica helps Hope abort Kilgrave’s unborn child. Luke and Jessica get back together. Luke and Jessica fight off attackers. Luke seeks the bus driver who accidentally killed his wife. Jessica tells Luke the truth about his wife’s death. (Parental Guidance: bedroom scene of Luke and Jessica; Hope mentions having an abortion; drug trafficking)
  7. AKA Top Shelf Perverts: Jessica threatens Hogarth’s wife into divorcing her. After finding a body in her apartment, Jessica plans to get sent to prison to lure Kilgrave in. Kilgrave uses his powers to avoid having Jessica put in prison. Kilgrave takes Jessica to her childhood home.
  8. AKA WWJD?: Kilgrave manipulates Jessica into cooperating. Simpson meets up with Trish. Kilgrave gives Jessica information on his past. Hogarth works on her divorce. Jessica tries to teach Kilgrave to be a hero. Jessica knocks Kilgrave out and escapes.
  9. AKA Sin Bin: Trish takes injured Simpson to the hospital. With Kilgrave captive, Jessica tries to get proof of his powers. Jessica finds Kilgrave’s parents and gets them to confront him. He forces his mother to kill herself. Kilgrave escapes. Jessica learns she is immune. (Parental Guidance: blood and gore; sexual innuendo; references to rape)
  10. AKA 1,000 Cuts: Kilgrave forces Hogarth to take him to her wife for medical treatment. Kilgrave’s father works on an antidote. Hogarth’s lover saves her from being killed by her wife. Kilgrave confronts Jessica. Simpson attacks Kilgrave’s father. Jessica’s neighbor inadvertently releases Kilgrave. Kilgrave blackmails Jessica into getting his father. (Parental Guidance: blood and gore)
  11. AKA I’ve Got the Blues: Years ago, Jessica moves in with Trish and discovers her strength. Jessica searches morgues for Kilgrave’s father. Simpson attacks Jessica and she’s saved by Trish. Kilgrave blows up Luke’s bar. (Parental Guidance: blood and gore)
  12. AKA Take a Bloody Number: Two days ago, Kilgrave sets Luke up to blow up his bar. Recuperating, Luke and Jessica discover Kilgrave’s plan to increase his powers. Trish tells off her mother. After increasing his powers, Kilgrave orders Luke to kill Jessica.
  13. AKA Smile: Jessica gets Luke to the hospital, where he’s treated by Claire Temple. Kilgrave leads Jessica to the harbor. When Kilgrave can’t control Jessica, he tries to kill her. Attempting to control her again, Kilgrave lets his guard down and Jessica kills him. With Kilgrave dead, Jessica supposes she could perhaps be a hero.

Jessica succeeds in killing Kilgrave. Or did she? Find out in March.
Random Trivia/Connections:
  • During her interview with Hope in “AKA It’s Called Whiskey”, Trish references the Battle of New York and the Avengers.
  • Jessica and her attacker further reference the events of “The Avengers” in “AKA 99 Friends”. The Hulk and Captain America are both alluded to specifically.
  • A child in a Captain America costume is seen in “AKA The Sandwich Saved Me”.
  • Brett Mahoney, who Jessica meets in “AKA Top Shelf Perverts”, appears on a recurring basis in “Daredevil”.
  • Claire Temple, originally appearing in “Daredevil”, appears in “AKA Smile”.

This has by far been my favorite Netflix series that Marvel has done. Perhaps it’s because of Jessica Jones’s sass and humor. Perhaps it’s a little celebrity crush. Regardless, I really liked this series. Also, it was really hard for me to watch this show with David Tennant as the villain. He’s been my favorite Doctor for five years now, so to see him as a villain (and an incredibly well done villain at that) was wonderful and horrible. Granted I've never dealt with PTSD, but in my opinion this show does a wonderful job addressing it, especially in the aftermath of rape.

The one thing I’d change from this show is the sex scenes. Bedroom scenes don’t add to the show for me. If we had a make-out with a bedroom door closing behind, we’d have the same result in my mind. Overall great series though. Can’t wait for season 2 this year.

What did you think of the Inhuman outbreak? Any thoughts on Jessica Jones? What do you hope to see in Season 2?

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Eighth Doctor

Another Doctor down. He only had one TV movie and a mini-episode. So as a result, I don’t have much for top or flop stories. So I’ll just review both stories. HOWEVER, the Eighth Doctor does have some spin-off media that held Doctor Who through the dark ages of 1996-2005. Anyways, here we go.

Fresh after regenerating
TV Movie: Doctor Who
So the first quarter/third of the movie was actually the Seventh Doctor. He gets shot while landing in San Francisco and regenerates into the Eighth Doctor. We had some unique moments with this Doctor. I found his youthful attitude to be a precursor to David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. He was also the first Doctor to have a romantic kiss with a companion. The Y2K story was actually pretty compelling, but there are definitely critiques I’d have.

Eighth Doctor's TARDIS team
This movie was meant to reboot the show after it got cancelled in 1989, but it didn’t set it up very well. It didn’t leave room for new Whovians. It assumed you knew about the Doctor beforehand. So in comparison to when the Ninth Doctor arrived, this story didn’t even have a chance. There’s also the whole inconsistency with the Master’s interaction with Chang Lee. In one scene the Master is threatening him into helping and in the next he’s pulling some sort of elder brother move.

So my final thoughts: It’s worth watching, but it’s definitely not a starting point for the series.

Regenerating again
Mini-Episode: The Night of the Doctor
It’s near the beginning of the Time War and the Doctor ends up crashing, trying to help Cass. Then the Sisterhood of Karn forces a regeneration to keep him alive. This story came out shortly before the 50th Anniversary Special in 2013. It was the perfect way to help close the gap of the Doctor’s regenerations. I absolutely loved this story when it came out and I could still watch it a lot. One thing that I wish would have come from this story would be more appearances by the Eighth Doctor. Even if it’s just for a team-up episode with the current Doctor. I had hoped that Paul McGann would have worked with the Twelfth Doctor. Since Paul McGann is still young enough to play the character, why not? Maybe I can still hold out for him to team up with the Thirteenth Doctor. I really loved this Doctor and he deserved a better shot.

Grace    TV Movie
Chang   TV Movie

More than a match for the Doctor
Favorite Companion: Both companions only appeared in the TV Movie, but I really enjoyed Grace. My understanding is that she could have appeared more if the Eighth Doctor’s reboot had been picked up. She appeared in some spin-off media. Even just the fact that her intellect rivaled the Doctor, it was great. She didn’t need the Doctor explaining why the TARDIS was bigger on the inside. It kind of reminds me of companions like Zoe and Nyssa, who weren’t just along for the ride, but also were able to match wits with the Doctor (while not being completely obnoxious like Adric). I would have really liked to see more of her.

The Master's companion turned Doctor's companion
Least Favorite Companion: Chang Lee was actually more like the Master’s companion, but he ended up being on the Doctor’s side in the end, so I’ll count him. Like I said before, Chang’s motivation to help the Master changed between scenes, so it really didn’t help him; one scene he’s being threatened into helping and the next he’s being bribed. The writing of that didn’t sit well with me. But he ended up being a good guy at heart (despite being a gangster) so I guess I liked him in the end. Maybe we could still see him again at some point? Doubtful, but it’d be cool.

What do you think of the Eighth Doctor? Have you read any of his books or listened to any of the audio dramas? Which ones can you recommend? I’d love to get into more of his canon.

Just before regenerating in to the War Doctor, he acknowledges several names including Charley and Molly. These were companions who traveled with him in the Big Finish audio dramas.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Passing of a Guardian: A Mormon Geeks Tribute to President Monson

For two and a half years of my life I lived in the suburbs of Chicago. One of my favorite parts about living out there was the proximity to Nauvoo. I would frequently go out there to enjoy the historical sites and enjoy the spirit of that place.

On one of my last trips to Nauvoo in the summer of 2015, I happened to pass by a t-shirt shop fairly close to the temple, and saw the below shirt. Given my love of the First Presidency and Guardians of the Galaxy, I felt that it was a no-brainer to buy it 😀

And sadly, one of our beloved Guardians of the Galaxy has passed on. 

Within my 29 years of life, I've only clearly remembered the passing of President Hinckley 10 years ago this month. President Hinckley was the prophet of my youth. He called me to my mission in Brazil and signed my mission call. I remember finding out in my first area that he had passed away. I felt like I had lost a close friend and a hero.

It is with similar feelings that I woke up to the news of President Monson's passing this morning. When I think of true Christians who exemplify charity towards their fellow men, devotion to the Savior, and service to the Kingdom, Thomas Spencer Monson is at the top of the list. 

Even at his very weakest, he left us with two powerful sermons this past April in General Conference. May we heed his counsel to love one another and to read the Book of Mormon.

The Kingdom will roll ever on, Zion will continue to be established, but for today, and in gratitude for the past 54 years of service to the Kingdom as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, We Thank Thee Oh God for Thomas Spencer Monson

On behalf of the Mormon Geeks community, we express our deepest condolences to the Monson family and invite all of our readers to follow President Monson's example by serving those around you over the next seven days.

**Details of President Monson's funeral can be found here**