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News Around the Net!

Let’s begin today with this: the single best joke told by every president, from Obama to Washington.

Fox has greenlit 12 episodes of a 24 spin-off series, 24: Legacy.  It’s hard to imagine my watching that since I didn’t make it past the first two episodes of 2014’s 24 revival mini-series Live Another Day.  I watched 24 from episode 1 of season 1, and at first I was evangelical about this amazing, intense serialized show.  But truth be told the only seasons I really loved were those first two years (and even those seasons had plenty of problems).  I stuck around for years afterwards and while there were some high points, I tended to find myself continually disappointed.  I finally bailed before the final season.  I had high hopes that Live Another Day would be a return to the show’s original greatness, but those first two hours just felt like more of the same.  Oh well.

Far more exciting: Netflix has announced a Wet Hot American Summer sequel!  The so-obvious it’s genius Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later will be eight episodes and, you can be assured, high on my must-watch list.

Was this seriously going to originally be the opening shot of Star Wars: The Force Awakens???  Love it!

So this is awesome: the Language Creation Society has just submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in Paramount’s suit attempting to halt production of the Star Trek fan-film Axanar.  Seems this Language Creation Society objects to Paramount’s contention that they can copyright the Klingon language.  You’ve got to read this article, it is nerdy and hilarious and wonderful.  To restate my position, I strongly object to Paramount’s heavy-handed effort to squash this fan-made film.  (After creating the amazing fifteen-minute Prelude to Axanar, this group of Trek fans fund-raised on Kickstarter — full disclosure: I have donated — to create a full feature-length film telling the story of the Five Years’ War between the Federation and the Klingons.  This is an event that is part of the backstory of Star Trek: The Original Series.  The planned film would focus on telling the story of Starfleet Captain Garth of Izar in the years before he became a crazy villain, as seen in the Original Series episode “Whom Gods Destroy.”)  To be clear, it is probably true that the Axanar folks are in violation of Paramount’s copyright, but who really cares?  These fan films are not a competition with Paramount’s official Star Trek efforts.  These fan-made projects are done by Trek fans who love Trek.  I absolutely guarantee you that every single Trek fan who donated to Axanar is going to buy a ticket (perhaps many!) to see Star [continued]

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This “Modern Seinfeld” twitter feed is pretty amusing.  I guess the premise is these guys are coming up with Seinfeld ideas, if the show was being made today.  This one really made me laugh: George gets dumped for being a “toilet texter.” GEORGE: “What else are you supposed to do in there?!” JERRY: “I can think of a couple things.”

This is awesome: A New Yorker’s Tour of Ghostbusters.

Did you catch the second Robot Chicken DC Special earlier this month?  So funny.  This DC All Access video contains some of the great bits, and a peek behind-the-scenes:

This article about Police Academy sort of makes me want to re-watch it!  I haven’t seen any of those films in YEARS, but Police Academy #1-4 were HUGE parts of my childhood!!

How Gravity should have ended:

A new animated Batman short by Bruce Timm (mastermind behind Batman: The Animated Series) in honor of Batman’s 75th anniversary?  And it’s a retro pulp adventure?  And Kevin Conroy voices Batman?  YES PLEASE!

The funniest thing about this new trailer for 24: Live Another Day is the “red-band” text that opens it:

I have absolutely zero interest in the film Sabotage, but this article’s description of star Josh Holloway as “America’s Sean Bean” made me laugh and laugh.  HAS Mr. Holloway actually lived to the end of a movie he’s been in…??

I learned about Operation: Paperclip as a kid from The X-Files.  It was real, and represents a fascinating (and morally ambiguous) era of American history.  I was pleased to see it referenced as part of the fictional S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra back-story in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  More on Operation: Paperclip and the Marvel universe can be found here.… [continued]

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Is a TV-show adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming’s wonderful comic-book series Powers finally going to happen?  This project has been developed for YEARS, most recently at FX, but now it seems there’s a 10-episode order from Sony Pictures TV for Playstation, whatever the heck that means.  Powers is a phenomenal comic about cops in a world of super-heroes (click here for my detailed thoughts on the series) and, if done right, this could be a fantastic TV show.  I hope this actually comes together.

Is the new 24 twelve-episode mini-series going to be more like seasons 1-2 of 24 (good) or seasons 3-8 of 24 (not-so-good)?  Dunno.  Nice to see this first trailer, though there’s not much here to get me excited, just yet:

We also, at last, have our first glimpse at the long-in-the-works Sin City sequel.  The trailer is good but not great.  Here too, I need a little more to really get me excited.  I desperately want this movie to be good, but I think the time for a sequel may have passed.  Crossing my fingers on this one.

Each year, when I read about Paleyfest, I am insanely jealous and wish I could go to all of the panels.  Here’s a phenomenal rundown of the Parks and Recreation panel.  This is required reading for fans of Parks and Rec.  Lord I love that show. I can’t believe it’s survived cancellation as many times as it has, and it was just renewed for another season!

So, they’re really truly going ahead with Ghostbusters 3?  Without the participation of Bill Murray?  With Harold Ramis having just recently passed away?  With Ivan Reitman now saying he WON’T return to direct the film?  You know, for years and years I wanted this movie to happen, despite the huge risk that, so many years later, it’d be impossible to recapture the alchemy and make a film that was any good.  But now I’ve really soured on the whole idea.  Is it in any way conceivable that a Ghostbusters 3 could be any good?  Not to me.  This lengthy interview with Ivan Reitman is a fascinating look at the process behind this eons-in-development sequel, but I just think it’s a totally misguided notion.

Now, Brad Bird working to develop The Incredibles 2?  That is a sequel I can get behind!!!  I would love to see that come together.

I am absolutely tickled at the idea of Marvel Studios moving to a pattern in which they’d release one new movie each quarter.  That is an awesome dream!

Then there’s Fox, who still owns the rights to several Marvel series, including … [continued]

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News Around the Net!

I’ve enjoyed reading Howard Kurtz’s writing — about politics, and about media — over the years.  He screwed up big-time in his reporting about Jason Collins’ coming out as gay.  But hoo, boy, this video of him getting mercilessly grilled — on his own CNN show — about the incident is pretty brutal.  Click here to see a very uncomfortable fifteen minutes.  I was like a deer in the headlights — I couldn’t look away.

Another great season (thank goodness it’s not the last!!) of Parks and Recreation has recently wrapped up, and so once again Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall has another great post-season wrap-up interview with Parks & Rec’s show-runner (who also has been playing Dwight’s cousin Mose on The Office for the better part of a decade).  Click here to read the full interview.  (Fortunately, soon after that interview was conducted, the news broke that Parks and Rec has indeed been renewed for a sixth season.)

Is Star Wars the most over-rated franchise ever??  Click here for another fantastic opinion piece from Badass Digest’s Devin Faraci.  One fantastic film and one very good film out of six?  It’s sort of hard to argue with that…

Speaking of Mr. Faraci, here is a great interview with Iron Man 3 director/co-writer Shane Black, and Marvel Studios head-honcho Kevin Feige.  (If you missed it, my review of Iron Man 3 is here.)

If you’re a comic book fan and you don’t know who Len Wein is, it’s time to learn.  Click here for a wonderful interview with the man who had his hand in creating the All-New X-Men back in the ’70s.

I’ve been waiting for Alfonso Cuaron’s next film for a while (I think Children of Men is pretty much a masterpiece), and this first look at Gravity has me drooling:

Jack Bauer might return — but not in the long-talked-about movie, but rather in a new 24 TV series?  That is a wild idea!  I loved 24 when it began, but the series’ formulaic story-telling caused me to lose patience by the end, and I didn’t actually watch the last season.  But with better writing, I definitely think there is still life in the character and the franchise.  I am bummed the movie never happened, but I’d definitely check out a new 24 TV series.  It’ll be interesting to see if this goes anywhere…  UPDATE!  It’s happening!  24: Live Another Day will run 12 episodes and premiere next May.  Wow.  Could it be good?  (That spin on the Die Another Day Bond title doesn’t impress me.)  Chloe, open a socket!

So they’ve finally made a movie of Ender’s Game?  Feels like this … [continued]

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“We’re Running Out of Time!” — Josh Bids Farewell to 24

May 25th, 2010
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I was a fan of 24 from the very beginning.  However, despite my long-held allegiance to the show, I have not once regretted my decision to sit season eight out.  I had become so frustrated by the show’s descent into endlessly recycled story-lines (to a degree that verged on self-parody) that I felt it was time for me to move on.

But having followed the travails of Jack Bauer since his very first really bad day, I couldn’t resist tuning back in for last night’s series finale.

Even though I hadn’t watched any of season eight so far, it only took me a few moments to figure out what was going on.  24 is never that complicated, and it was pretty clear who the good guys were and who the bad guys were.  In some respects, I think I probably enjoyed the events of this installment more than I might have had I had to sit through the previous 22 hours of circular storytelling and familiar 24 tropes of moles in CTU, double-crosses, assassinations, and Presidential moral conundrums.  It’s sort of like tuning in to the final few minutes of a close-score basketball-game — I can get a lot of enjoyment from the tense final minutes without having to have watched the whole two-hour back-and-forth that got us there.

I found myself quite enjoying the first hour of this two-hour finale event.  There were some great tense sequences, such as Jack’s kidnapping of Pillar (and let me say that it was a pleasant surprise to see Dollhouse‘s Reed Diamond) and President Taylor’s manipulation of Dalia Hassan.  It was interesting to see how far President Taylor had slipped towards the dark side since I’d last seen her, and it’s always fun to see Jack when he’s in full-on Righteous Hand of Vengeance mode.  I felt like this was the fun, fast-paced 24 that I’d loved years ago.

Unfortunately, things slowed down significantly in hour two.  I had no patience for all of the silliness with the data-card that everyone was after, and Chloe seemed unusually hapless (particularly considering that she somehow seems to now be in charge of CTU).  Most problematically, though, was how quickly Jack got taken off the board.  After his confrontation with Chloe, he’s completely passive for the rest of the hour.  I can’t say I thought that was a wise narrative choice for the final hour of this action-adventure series.

I don’t want to spoil every detail of the ending, but to me it was a big let-down.  It felt like a series finale, not a season finale.  Yes, Jack is in a difficult spot when the hour draws to a close, and he’s forced … [continued]

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A Farewell to Jack Bauer

April 9th, 2010
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By now, you’ve all probably heard that this season will be the last for 24.

I was an enormous fan of 24 when it began.  I still remember, a few days after the premiere episode aired, my folks sitting me down and insisting that I check it out.  (Fortunately they had taped that first episode.)  I was blown away, and I remained gripped throughout that phenomenal first season.  The production values were extraordinary — it was like a mini-movie every week, filled with incredible action and nail-biting suspense.  I was also really taken by the “real-time” conceit of the show: that each of the twenty-four episodes of the season was one hour in the no-good, terrible, very bad day of beleaguered super-agent Jack Bauer.

I still hold the first two seasons of 24 as two of the finest seasons of television ever forged.  (The gutsy death of a main character in the season 1 finale remains a high-point for me, and it helped cement my love for this dark show.)  Sure, there are some weak spots in those first two years (mostly pertaining to the misadventures of Kim Bauer), but having watched those seasons through several times, over the years (bless you, DVD — let’s not forget that 24: Season 1 was one of the first-ever full-season DVD sets ever released), I think they hold up remarkably well.

Things began to go awry in season 3, when the writers decided to abandon all of the dangling story-lines left hanging by the cliffhanger end of season 2, and instead create an entirely new scenario, with Jack involved with drug-dealers in South America.  In hindsight, I respect the writers’ attempt to find a whole new paradigm for the show (something that, sadly, they’d never attempt again, much to the show’s long-term detriment), but at the time, Jack Bauer’s adventures in South America seemed like a big mis-step.  Things picked up in the second-half of the season, when suddenly the show became about stopping the release of deadly nerve gas in LA (the first but not the last of the show’s mid-season story-telling about-faces).  But looking back this signaled the end of the show’s ability to create a unified story for  each season that could sustain over the full 24 episodes.  It also signaled the unfortunate end of the writers’ interest in maintaining any semblance of plausibility to the “real-time” aspect of the show’s story-telling.

Though I kept watching, with each subsequent season I became more and more frustrated with 24.  It boggles my mind why the writers continued to re-use the same tired story-lines again and again and again.  How many moles in CTU could there possibly be??  How … [continued]

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“We’re Running Out of Time!” Camp Ramah Parodies 24!

December 30th, 2009
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Back in October, I posted Camp Ramah in New England’s Lost parody video (from summer 2009), and last week I posted our parody of The Office (from 2008).  Now, I’ve got one last silly Camp Ramah video to share with you all.  (For now, that is!)

Back in 2007 we kicked off our Staff Week at the start of the summer with an elaborate program based on the TV show, 24.  Here’s the intro video:

This lead into a multi-element competition in which the counselors had to complete a variety of tasks in order to plan a trip for their campers.  Of course, just as 24 seems to totally change track every 8-or-so episodes, in which whatever bad guy we thought was the real villain turns out to just be a minor player in a much larger scheme, after 30 minutes of our program we called all of the participants back to our CTU (“Camp Trip Unit”) headquarters and revealed that our counselors had a bigger problem to deal with:

That sent the counselors scurrying around camp, searching for life-size paper cut-outs of their “missing campers”. And then, just to be mean, we switched things up again only moments before the program was scheduled to end, and revealed the true nature of the threat facing our camp:

Pork Saturation Bomb?  That’s quality humor, folks.… [continued]

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News Around the Net

Good news, everybody!  Futurama lives!!

So Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) is joining the cast of 24 next season?  Time for the Battlestar Galactica actors to learn what the members of the ensemble from The Wire have discovered: they’ll never again be in a TV show as good.

Did you see The Daily Show’s John Hodgman’s uproariously funny speech at the 2009 Radio and TV Correspondents’ Dinner?  Not to be missed.

A nice farewell to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles can be found on Composer Bear McCreary’s excellent blog, as he lists his 15 favorite moments from the show.  (They are all excellent choices.)  This show had its flaws, to be sure, but I am really disappointed that we won’t be getting a third season.  (By the way, Bear was also the composer for the reinvented Battlestar Galactica throughout its run.)

Speaking of The Terminator, the fine folks over at filmschoolrejects.com have posted an interesting list of 20 Things We Didn’t Like and 10 Things We Did about Terminator: Salvation.

I don’t play videogames, but I must admit that this trailer for Lucasarts’ new Star Wars: The Old Republic trailer is ridiculously cool.  I wish we’d seen half that much bad-assery in the prequels…

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog has made his first appearance on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien!  Watch him make fun of some hippies here.

Have a great weekend, everybody!  See you back here on Monday!… [continued]

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News around the Net and 24 Returns!

January 13th, 2009
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Not to distract anyone’s attention from MotionPicturesComics.com, but I wanted to point out to y’all that Drew McWeeny, one of my favorite writers over the years at Aintitcoolnews.com, is now writing for HitFix.com and his blog (about movies, DVD, and lots of other fun, related stuff) is definitely worth checking out.  I’ve always enjoyed Drew’s writing over the years (he was known as “Moriarty” over on AICN), particularly his articles on all of the many many DVDs that he watches.  Those DVD pieces, in particular, were among my inspirations when I started this blog.  

McWeeny’s new blog attracted a lot of attention last week when he posted a lengthy open letter from one of the producers of Watchmen about the on-going litigation between Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox over the film (and Fox’s attempts to stop Warners from opening the film as scheduled in March).  If you are at all interested in this story, you should click on that link and read this fascinating letter.  Another recent post of interest drew my attention to a phenomenal evisceration of Ben Stein’s recent “documentary” Expelled (if you haven’t heard about this film, it’s a defense of creationism and an attack on the theory of evolution) by none other than famous film critic Roger Ebert.  This is an older article (Expelled was released last year), but it is a terrific read.

But enough of all that — let’s talk about the first four hours of 24‘s much-delayed seventh season (it was supposed to have launched LAST YEAR at this time, but was scuttled by the writers’ strike), which premiered on Sunday and Monday nights.

I have made no secret of my opinion that, for some time now (since, oh, I’d say about season four) 24 has been crying out for a total reinvention.  Keep Jack, keep the adrenaline-pumping real-time format, but start telling some entirely different types of adventures.  For too long now, 24 has been telling the same types of stories over and over and over again, usually involving some variation on the following themes:  a terrorist captures someone and forces them to help with a nefarious plan… Jack tortures someone for information… there’s a lot of technical talk about access codes and opening sockets and someone gaining access to a weapon or a code or a piece of equipment that they can use to menace the United States… Jack winds up on his own with no one to trust, because there’s a mole or multiple moles in the government agencies trying to stop the bad guys… and meanwhile there’s a lot of intrigue in Washington involving the President trying to make some big decisions about important world … [continued]

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The Redemption of 24?

November 27th, 2008
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When the new TV-movie 24: Redemption begins, television super-hero Jack Bauer is in Africa, helping out at a school for orphans and trying to avoid a subpoena that would summon him back to the States.  However, this being 24, it isn’t long before a perfect storm of evil warlords, conniving businessmen, and some pretty bad luck result in Jack being stuck in the middle of a coup, determined to protect the school’s kids and get them safely to the American embassy.

And, hey, I sort of remember why I used to like 24 so much, back in the day!  

For the record, my position on 24 is as follows:  the first two seasons were pretty much genius (except for the occasional stupidity with amnesia and Kim Bauer in jeopardy); the first half of season 3 (Jack Bauer fighting drug lords in Mexico) was dumb, but the second half (which, as I recall, dealt with the potential release of a horrible toxin) was better; season 4 started off great with some interesting new characters (“Behrooooz!!”) but quickly got bogged down in ridiculousness; season five was pretty much the same; and season six was, for me, just unwatchable.

But this new installment is pretty entertaining.  Not phenomenal, mind you, but better than 24 has been for years.

What’s good?

The story is stripped down — gone are almost every familiar character and location.  This enables the writers to jettison all of the baggage of the last several seasons and concentrate on telling a tight, exciting story — Jack’s mission to protect the kids and get them to the embassy.  It’s a very linear action-adventure.  (The only two characters other than Jack who we’ve seen before are Powers Boothe as President Daniels, on his last day in office, and Peter MacNicol as his advisor Tom Lennox.  Frankly, I wish the writers had gone all the way and gotten rid of these two characters as well.  First of all they remind me of annoying past storylines that are far-better forgotten.  Secondly, both play one-note, unlikable characters.  Its good to have villains, but that’s not these guys.)

Wait, I was talking about what I liked!  Robert Carlyle does some great work as Jack’s old friend Carl Benton.  Its nice to see another character on 24 who is as capable and heroic as Jack.  I liked seeing Tony Todd (Worf’s brother Kurn from Star Trek: The Next Generation), although he has a very small role here as the evil Colonel Juma.  Hakeem Kae-Kazim gets a lot more time on-screen as the Colonel’s right-hand man, and he’s a lot of fun to watch.  Note to Powers Boothe: this is how you play a villain — … [continued]