Check out this new international trailer for the new James Bond film: Skyfall! This is our first real meaty look at the new film, and what a look! Beware, it’s possible this trailer spoils a few things you might prefer to remain a surprise. But it’s hard to criticize such a sweet trailer. I am excited.
LOVE Bond calmly fixing his cuff-links after diving onto an exploding train!… [continued]
Ted is the live-action, feature-film directorial debut of Seth MacFarlane, the man behind Family Guy and it’s various spin-offs. It’s a triumphant debut film, confidently made.
Ted takes a fairy tale premise, that a lonely young boy makes a wish that his teddy bear will come to life to be a real friend for him, only to find that his wish is magically granted, and asks: what happens when the boy grows up? Thus we get John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), a 35-year-old stoner who is barely able to hold onto his low-paying job at a car-rental joint in Boston. His best friend is still Ted, his now somewhat raggedy and far-from-innocent talking teddy bear. He’s in a great relationship with a wonderful girl named Lori (Mila Kunis), but she’s beginning to grow tired of John’s arrested development. Has Ted become an anchor keeping him trapped in an unending childhood?
Ted manages to take the best qualities of Family Guy — it’s uproariously raunchy humor, and bizarre pop-culture asides and digressions — and weave them into a film that has a surprisingly big heart. There’s a gloriously gleeful, anarchic feel to the film, a bold we’ll-do-anything-that-is-funny feel that I love. But I have often written on this site that, for me, the best comedies are ones that are ridiculously funny while also telling a real story, with real characters and real stakes. Ted manages to do that shockingly well. I found myself really caring about the characters and, in particular, really caring about the walking, talking, somewhat foul-mouthed little teddy bear in the title role.
The combination of incredible visual effects (I assume mostly CGI, though I don’t know that for certain) and Mr. MacFarlane’s voice acting bring Ted completely to life. At no point in the film did I ever stop to question the character’s existence. Ted feels totally real. You’re not focusing on the effects, you’re just enjoying the character. It’s an astonishing achievement, really incredible. (I’m very much reminded of the effects in Paul — click here for my review — that brought another foul-mouthed short little fantasy character to totally believable life.)
The movie is hysterically funny. There are some classic Family Guy style digressions and pop-culture references (John’s Airplane! fantasy memory of his first date with Lori is one of the funniest things I have seen in a movie in years) but the film thankfully doesn’t ladle them on TOO thick so as to overwhelm the story.
Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis are very enjoyable in the lead role, and their work really helps to sell the fantasy idea of a talking teddy bear being a factor in their lives. Joel McHale is a riot as … [continued]
Although I really enjoyed Batman Begins, I wasn’t quite prepared for just how spectacular the follow-up, The Dark Knight, was going to be. I didn’t expect it, and that film knocked me flat. I’ve revisited The Dark Knight several times in the last few years (I just wrote about it last week!) and I continue to be dazzled by its grim majesty.
The Dark Knight is so good that it immediately puts its sequel in an unenviable position of having to equal or top a masterpiece. The Dark Knight Rises is not at the level of The Dark Knight – it’s rather unrealistic to hope that it would be. It is definitely more flawed than its predecessor. But it is a ferociously entertaining film, smart and serious and with bold intentions, and it brings Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy to a sure-footed conclusion.
The Dark Knight Rises is a huge film — it’s scope is far larger than the previous two films, as are its ambitions. The film is set over a period of many months (which I love, as it really gives the story and the characters room to breathe). Crazy, crazy stuff happens in and to Gotham City in the second half of the film. Sure, the Joker terrorized the city in The Dark Knight, but what happens to Gotham in the film’s second half takes the scope of this tale to a whole other level.
The main ensemble continues to shine. All the main surviving characters from the previous two films return and each gets his time in the spotlight. Michael Caine’s Alfred gets some big emotional scenes, and the great Mr. Caine is, as always, tremendously effective. More than ever before, Alfred is the heart of this film, and the lone anchor keeping Bruce Wayne tethered to some sort of reality. Morgan Freeman returns as Lucius Fox. He gets a great “Q” scene early in the film, and I was pleased that Lucius stayed involved in the story as Bane’s grip on Gotham city tightens as the film progresses.
Gary Oldman is spectacular, once again, as Commissioner Gordon. I got a bit worried at first when Gordon gets sidelined to a hospital bed — in both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight I wished there was more of Gordon. (The whole Gordon-pretending-to-be-dead bit in the middle of The Dark Knight is one of that film’s only mis-steps.) But luckily the Commish gets a lot of meaty scenes in the film’s second half. Gary Oldman just IS Commissioner Gordon at this point — he is absolute perfection in the role. When the Batman film series is inevitably rebooted, I suspect this is going to prove to … [continued]
I don’t know about you, but the Lord of the Rings music in the Man of Steel trailers I posted the other day really got me jonesing for The Hobbit. And lo and behold, Peter Jackson & co. have posted another production diary — a glimpse at Comic-Con and the end of principal photography on the two Hobbit films. Take a look:
They really made these films! This is really happening!! Can’t wait for December…!
(C’mon back here tomorrow for my review of The Dark Knight Rises…!… [continued]
Our first glimpse of Zack Snyder’s new Superman film, The Man of Steel, has arrived!
Here’s an alternate version, with narration from Jor-El (Russell Crowe) rather than Pa Kent (Kevin Costner):
I prefer the Pa Kent version myself, though both are strong. This is a very solid teaser. I like the imagery, and the seriousness with which it seems Superman is being handled. After reading the very excited reports from the footage screened at Comic-Con last week, I will admit to being disappointed that we don’t really get to see anything of Henry Cavill as Superman. I’m really curious as to how he looks and sounds in the role (something that it seems the Comic-Con fans got to see).
I’m also very surprised, since this movie is supposed to be a major course-correction from Bryan Singer’s poorly-received (though loved by me) Superman Returns, just how similar this first teaser trailer is to the first teaser for Singer’s film. See for yourself:
Am I wrong?? The trailers are eerily similar, aren’t they?
Well, whatever. I am excited for The Man of Steel, and can’t wait for a trailer with more substantial footage.… [continued]
My excitement is building for The Dark Knight Rises, which opens today! I hope to be seeing it soon, and of course I’ll be posting my thoughts right here as soon as I do. In the mean-time, let’s continue my look back at Christopher Nolan’s previous two Bat-films. Last week I wrote about Batman Begins. Of course, after re-watching that film, I was eager to dive right back into Christopher Nolan’s first Bat-sequel, The Dark Knight.
I have written about The Dark Knight before on this site. Here is my original review of the film, which I wrote soon after having my brains blown out the back of my head by my first viewing of this magnificent film. I stand by my rapturous review. Having now seen the film several times, I think it has held up extremely well. When I first saw it, I was continually shocked by the film’s plot developments, but even knowing what is going to happen I think the film still totally works. In fact, knowing what is to come, there’s a powerful sense of additional dread watching the story unfold. You know it’s not going to end happily.
I have read this film described as “Batman Loses” and that pretty much sums up the story. Bruce Wayne gets smacked around for pretty much the entirety of the film’s long run-time. This is the way a super-hero sequel should be. Once you’ve established your super-heroic character, you need to really stack the deck against him/her. It needs to be nearly IMPOSSIBLE to conceive of a way that your hero can overcome these tremendous odds, and boy oh boy does The Dark Knight do that in spades.
Key to this, of course, is the incredible success of Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker. Everyone went crazy, back in 1989, for Jack Nicholson’s performance as the Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman, and rightfully so. It’s a spectacular performance, and one that was long-deemed un-toppable. But Mr. Ledger’s work absolutely blows Mr. Nicholson out of the water. This Joker is DANGEROUS in a way that Nicholson’s never really was. Ledger’s Joker is creepy and weird and scary. He clearly has a brilliant tactical mind (a point driven home by the film’s terrific opening sequence, an intricately-orchestrated robbery of a mob-controlled bank) but also a wild unpredictability. Pretty much every single Joker scene in this film is instantly iconic, from his magic trick making a pencil disappear, to his various stories about how he got his scars, to his taunting of Batman in the police station’s interrogation room, to his conversation with a scarred Harvey Dent in his hospital room.
Which brings me, of course, to Harvey … [continued]
My rollicking journey through several years-old DC Comics events continues! I’ve already written about Identity Crisis here and Infinite Crisis here, so now my attention turns to Grant Morrison’s 2008 mini-series Final Crisis.
Final Crisis – Vastly superior to 2005′s Infinite Crisis, Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis is a complex, layered, stupendously entertaining tale that also, sadly, collapses at the very end into an utter mess.
The first three issues are pretty much perfect. Nobody does mounting dread better than Grant Morrison, and the sense of real menace and danger for our heroes practically drips off of every page. It’s quite a feat to make the reader fear for any long-running comic book character (who you pretty much know will eventually be OK and return to the status quo), but somehow in much of Grant Morrison’s work I find an engaging edge of “I don’t know quite WHAT this crazy writer is going to do to any of these poor characters next!” Mr. Morrison also loves to incorporate Big Ideas into his super-hero work. I love that issue #1 opens in prehistoric times, as we see Anthro (the DC Universe’s “First Boy”) meeting Metron (of Jack Kirby’s New Gods, here serving as a Prometheus figure). It’s an indication that Mr. Morrison is setting out a more epic, universe-spanning tale than one might expect.
I love the use of Darkseid as the villain, and the terrible corruption and crumbling of tough-cop Dan Turpin is heartbreaking. (This is classic Grant Morrison — it’s difficult not to emotionally invest in the story when we see such horrible things happening to this good-guy character. Turpin’s fall is much more traumatic for me, as a reader, than the one-panel death of the Martian Manhunter, an event which I expected would be reversed before too long, as indeed it was.)
But what I particularly like about the early issues of Final Crisis is that, while they certainly encompass many characters in many locations and of many types: gods, super-heroes, and mortal men, the story is very focused (FAR more so than the rambling, wobbly Infinite Crisis). It’s a big story, but we follow the storie’s events through the eyes of a relatively small group of characters, and even when we cut away to new characters (like, say, the Flashes at the end of issue 2), it’s clear how those scenes are moving the main story forward. While the comic crosses over into other stories (I’m certain the Green Lantern issues published at the time give far more depth to the Hal Jordan-accused-of-murder storyline), we get enough in the Final Crisis issues themselves to be able to follow the story without feeling that we need to … [continued]
After far, far too long a hiatus, the Deep Space Nine saga has come roaring back to the forefront of the Star Trek literary universe with David R. George’s magnificent, epic duo of novels: Star Trek: Typhon Pact Plagues of Night and Raise the Dawn.
It was the post-DS9 finale series of Star Trek novels that drew me back into the world of Star Trek novels well over a decade ago. I have written many words on this site praising the extraordinary series of post-finale novels that picked up on the many story-threads and character arcs left hanging by the end of the television series (in my opinion the greatest of the Trek television series). I have also written about how frustrated I have been by the way the DS9 series of novels has floundered in the years after David Mack’s fantastic 2006 novel Warpath. We got a few short, sub-par DS9 novels (Fearful Symmetry and The Soul Key — click here for my review), a great DS9 novel that was fairly disconnected by the main stories of the post-finale series (Una McCormack’s The Never-Ending Sacrifice – click here for my review), and several novels set years later that featured some DS9 characters but felt separate from the main DS9 storyline (I’m thinking of Ezri Dax’s story-line in the Destiny three-parter — click here for my review — and the two recent Typhon Pact novels Zero Sum Game — click here for my review — and Rough Beasts of Empire — click here for my review). Rough Beasts, in particular, was a great novel and featured several meaty DS9-centric story-lines, but because all of those novels were set several years after where the DS9 series of books had left off, they felt weirdly disconnected from the DS9 saga I’d been following for so many years. It was cool seeing DS9 characters involved in this new major series-spanning Star Trek story-line (the emergence of the Typhon Pact as a major new interstellar alliance threatening the Federation), but still somehow unsatisfying to me as a fan of Deep Space Nine.
Finally, though, FINALLY, the DS9 saga has returned in full force. David R. George’s duology isn’t given the Deep Space Nine sub-header — the two books are instead both labeled as Star Trek: Typhon Pact novels. This is appropriate, as these two novels connect and move forward the stories begun in last summer’s four-book Typhon Pact series. Just like those novels, this duology features characters from many of the Star Trek series, both the different TV shows and the various series of novels from the past decade-or-so. But make no mistake, Plagues of Night and … [continued]
With Christopher Nolan’s third and apparently final Batman film only weeks away, I thought it would be fun to go back and re-watch his first two Bat-films.
Having seen so many great super-hero films in the years since 2005, it’s easy to forget just how impressive Mr. Nolan’s achievement was with Batman Begins. Finally, here was a filmmaker ready to bring to movie-screens the character of Batman that I have loved for so long in the comics, and to treat that character seriously. I love Tim Burton’s Batman, but while that’s a great film, it’s not in my mind a great depiction of the character of Batman. Then, of course, the later films descended into ridiculousness and camp. In the minds of many in the public, the Batman they knew was still the Adam West Pow! Book! Zap! version.
But Mr. Nolan took Batman seriously, and he and co-writer David S. Goyer set about to dig into the character of Batman: who he is an how he came to be. (Comic fans know, of course, that I am paraphrasing a chapter title from Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s seminal four-part story Batman: Year One, to this day the definitive origin story of Batman and a text from which Mr. Nolan and Mr. Goyer borrowed liberally for their screenplay for Batman Begins.)
The genius of Batman Begins is that you don’t spend the whole movie just waiting for Bruce Wayne to put on the cape and cowl. The details of Mr. Wayne’s adolescence, as depicted in the film, are rich and fascinating, and fully hold the audience’s attention for the first two-thirds of the movie. Indeed, it’s the final third, in which Wayne finally becomes Batman, that is the weakest part of the film, but I’ll get to that in a few moments.
I love how well-thought-out and focused the film’s script is. Mr. Nolan and Mr. Goyer seized on the idea of fear as central to Batman and Bruce Wayne. I love how the film, and the characters, continually return to that idea. Ducard (Liam Neason) constantly needles young Bruce Wayne on the subject, exhorting him to identify and conquer his fear. The choice of the Scarecrow as one of the film’s villains further plays into this subject. That’s smart screenwriting. They didn’t just choose a random villain, they chose one who really meshed with the story being told.
Speaking of villains, I love Liam Neeson’s role in the film. Yes, Liam Neeson has played this type of mentor character many, many times before. Yes, when he and Bruce Wayne are training with swords on a frozen lake I can easily imagine him with a lightsaber in his hand instead … [continued]
The word “Crisis” has always had a special meaning in the DCU, something solidified by the epic, line-rebooting Crisis on Infinite Earths from 1986. When Brad Meltzer titled his 2004 mini-series Identity Crisis, I wonder if he realized that his use of the “Crisis” name would launch a build-up to several additional universe-spanning “Crisis” events. Last week I wrote about Identity Crisis, and the build-up towards the 2005 mini-series Infinite Crisis. Now, let’s continue to my thoughts on that big event itself:
Infinite Crisis – Like The Omac Project, I remember thinking that Infinite Crisis had a great beginning but then petered out mid-story. Re-reading the whole series now, years later, I can see how the story hangs together a little more strongly than I’d remembered, but I still think that over-all, it’s not terribly successful. I love the beginning — the first issue is particularly strong. That issue highlights how the schism between Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman has reached a breaking point, with the three heroes unable to find any common ground. (I love the scenes between the three characters in that first issue, arguing with each other in the ruins of the Watchtower. Batman’s kiss-off line to Superman is still a killer: “They need to be inspired. And let’s face it, “Superman”… the last time you really inspired anyone was when you were dead.”) We’re shown how things are going wrong across the DCU, with a million Omacs unleashed world-wide, the Rann-Thanagar war raging across space, and the newly united super-villains brutally murdering the Freedom Fighters. (That gruesome sequence really threw me for a loop when I first read it, and it’s still shocking to read now.) Then, of course, there’s the last-page cliffhanger, which connects all of these events to Crisis on Infinite Earths, as we see that the return of the four survivors of the destruction of the multiverse from that story: the elderly Superman and Lois Lane from Earth-2, Alex Luthor from Superman-3, and Superboy-Prime. It’s a very surprising revelation, and a great hook for the story.
But things quickly fall apart from there. There are several problems with Infinite Crisis, in my opinion. First and foremost, it’s too big. The series is constantly bouncing around from location to location, and from character to character across the DCU. Unless you’re reading all of those characters’ individual titles (which I certainly wasn’t), it’s extraordinarily difficult to follow (can anyone explain to me what happened to the Flashes in issue #4?), and without any characters to really invest in, I lost my involvement in the story. This series should have been much more focused on the big three of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The … [continued]
I know some people who don’t care for the peculiar stylization of Wes Anderson’s films, but I am an enormous fan of his work, and the arrival of a new Wes Anderson film is always a cause for excitement for me. I particularly adored Mr. Anderson’s most recent film, Fantastic Mr. Fox (click here for my review). I loved it almost as much as The Royal Tenenbaums, which still stands as my favorite Wes Anderson film, though Fantastic Mr. Fox is very, very close. I was a little worried that, coming off of that great film, Moonrise Kingdom might be something of a let-down (in the way that The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was somewhat disappointing to me after Tenenbaums, though I have subsequently come to really enjoy that film). But such was not at all the case. Moonrise Kingdom is magnificent.
The film tells the tender story of the young love that blooms between two twelve-year-olds, Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward), who decide to run away from their respective homes together. Sam is an orphan, who doesn’t seem to be loved by his new foster parents and who is ostracized in the Khaki Scout troop in which he finds himself a member. Suzy’s parents are still alive, but distant from her, wrapped up in their own failing marriage. Susy’s discovery that the mother is having an affair proves difficult for the young girl to make peace with. So Sam and Suzy make plans to set off on an adventure together.
The two kids are both fantastic. There are times when the performances of the young actors might feel a little stilted, but the two kids are both so genuine and honest that it’s hard to complain. Sam and Suzy are very different from one another, but the connection that forms between them is a magical one, and young Mr. Gilman and Ms. Hayward bring their childhood romance to beautiful, heart-rending life. The film wouldn’t work if these two weren’t believable, and let me say that the film works very well indeed.
The adults in their lives are just as wonderfully fascinating, if not more so! Bruce Willis has been stuck in “Bruce Willis” mode for a while now, so I was shocked by how great he is as the sad, lonely police captain on the small New England island on which the story is set. It’s a very tender, restrained performance, and it’s absolutely wonderful in every respect. Equally great is Edward Norton as the earnest leader of Sam’s Khaki Scout troop. Scout Master Ward is an adult, but he’s another great child-at-heart Wes Anderson creation, more at home in his life as a … [continued]
I went into the theatre very dubious about the prospects for The Amazing Spider-Man being any good. I adored Sam Raimi’s first two Spider-Man movies. I felt they captured the character of Spider-Man absolutely perfectly, and they were a heck of a lot of fun. Spider-Man 3 was a huge mis-step, but I felt there was still plenty of life in the series, so I was disappointed when Mr. Raimi and Sony parted company. I would have liked to have seen him have an opportunity to make a great Spider-Man 4 that would erase the bad memories of the third installment.
But as disappointed as I was to hear that Mr. Raimi wouldn’t be returning to the series, and that Sony planned on re-casting all of the main roles, I was even more disappointed to hear that they planned to start the series over from zero, and re-tell Spidey’s origin. What is the point of that? Why waste half a movie re-telling an origin that everyone knows, and that everyone saw so recently in the wildly successful first Spider-Man film?? I would have vastly preferred had they just re-cast the roles, maybe spent five minutes at the start of the film (maybe during the opening credits) re-establishing the origin, and then gone on to tell a great new Spider-Man story with these new actors.
So I was greatly surprised that I actually quite enjoyed the first hour of The Amazing Spider-Man. This revamped version of Spidey’s origin wasn’t dull or ridiculous, I found myself surprisingly taken by it, and by the family drama we were watching unfold. I don’t think the perfect origin story crafted by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko all those years ago needed all the added drama of making a big deal about the disappearance of Peter Parker’s parents (the movie suggests that they were up to big secret things, and that they left young Peter in the care of his Uncle Ben and Aunt May because they feared for their lives), but as executed in the film I didn’t have a problem with this new version of events. The film totally re-works the chain of events leading to Uncle Ben’s death, changes that were totally unnecessary bordering on baffling, BUT somehow I still felt it all worked. The moment is powerful, and I liked the new way they found to made Peter culpable (in not stopping the criminal, earlier, when he had a chance). It’s a dreadful, horrible moment, and it works.
It’s a shame, then, that the rest of The Amazing Spider-Man is such a disappointing mess!
I have a lot of problems with the film, but they boil down to three main mistakes.
1. … [continued]
I’ve been having a ball, recently, reading the last few years’ worth of Geoff John’s work on Green Lantern. Click here for part one, in which I discuss Green Lantern: Rebirth and the subsequent collections of Mr. John’s work on the re-launched Green Lantern comic, and click here for part two, in which I discuss the massive crossover The Sinestro Corps War. The Sinestro Corps War dug deeply into DC Universe continuity, featuring as villains characters such as Superboy Prime (who was a main villain in DC’s line-wide crossover series Infinite Crisis) and the Anti-Monitor (the villain of 1986′s classic Crisis on Infinite Earths, the series to which Infinite Crisis was really a sequel).
Since I was a kid, I have always been more of a fan of Marvel Comics than DC. I’ve read far, far more Marvel comics than DC comics, and I am far more deeply-versed in the minutia of Marvel Universe continuity than I am with that of DC. Nevertheless, I’ve been reading DC comics since I was a kid, too. And while the only books that I have been reading regularly, year after year, are the Batman books, I’ve also picked up many of the big DC crossovers, as well as various other DC books from time to time. I’ve read a lot of the big DC events of the past decade, but I’ve never really gone back and re-read them. So I decided to take a pause in my reading of Geoff John’s Green Lantern stories, to read back through some of the big recent events in the DCU. I have read 1986′s Crisis on Infinite Earths several times, so I decided to start more recently, with 2004′s Identity Crisis.
Identity Crisis – Brad Meltzer’s story was pretty shocking at the time, and I must say it still packs quite a punch. It’s a very adult take on the characters of the DCU, one that is more than a little reminiscent of the great Alan Moore’s approach to telling stories of the DC super-heroes. (That is a compliment, not a criticism!) Identity Crisis kicks off with the shocking, brutal murder of Sue Dibney, wife of the DC hero the Elongated Man. But it’s the events of the second issue of the mini-series that really shocked — the revelation that, years ago, Sue was raped by the villain Dr. Light, and that in retaliation members of the Justice League wiped his mind, and that, in fact, the Leaguers had been doing that for years, any time a super-villain discovered anything that might put their secret identities in jeopardy and endanger their loved ones. Identity Crisis works on so many levels. It’s a great way … [continued]
Mad Men took a little while to grow on me. Right from the beginning I recognized it as an extremely intelligent, well-made show. But while I respected the audacity of crafting a show around a group of pretty much entirely unlikable, despicable characters, I found that kept me at a distance from the show in those early days. (Click here for my review of Mad Men season one.)
(I suppose one might argue with my describing the ensemble as being comprised of entirely unlikable characters, but I stand by my assessment. The characters were well-rounded, but so filled with flaws that it was hard to find a character to root for. Even Peggy, who was perhaps the most endearing character introduced in that first season, was tremendously off-putting at times. Now please understand, this is not a criticism of Mad Men. Quite the contrary, the series’ eschewing of the usual TV need to make every lead character “nice” is a major aspect of the show’s brilliance. But it also was part of why it took a while for me to really fall in love with Mad Men, even as I was intellectually impressed by what I was watching.)
For me, it really wasn’t until season four that I began to truly LOVE Mad Men. I think it took that long for the characters to really grow on me. Whereas at first I found it hard to really care all that much about what happened to Don Draper and co., by that fourth season I was really hooked. It’s possible that the recently-concluded fifth season was the show’s strongest season yet. I certainly was captivated by the goings-on as I’d never been before.
I love the unpredictability of Mad Men. This is a show where I find it almost impossible to predict where it’s going next. Season five contained some bold narrative moves. (Beware spoilers as we proceed.) The demise of a major character was of course one shocking development (made all the more potent by the writers’ cleverly playing off of the parallels between that death and the season one death of another person in Don Draper’s life). But I was also surprised to see Peggy leaving the agency (a move I never expected to see), by Joan’s divorce, by the side-lining of Betty Draper and the tremendous prominence given to Megan, the new Mrs. Draper.
Speaking of new characters, I was worried at first by the introduction of Michael Ginsberg (played by Ben Feldman). When we first meet Ginsberg in the second episode of the season, I found him terribly annoying. I also worried that they were piling on the Jewish stereo-types a little too high. (In … [continued]