Thursday, December 12, 2013

Welcome to Crime Alley with the Parker Novels!

Welcome to a new feature here at The Nerd Report called Crime Alley, where I'll be looking at the crime genre in all its varied forms, from books to movies to comics to TV shows to.....ballet, maybe? If you're a fan of crime stories, maybe this feature will give you a new little nugget to dive into. If you've read the odd mystery but aren't a huge devotee, maybe you'll find some new dark streets to wander down.

So, slam back a shot of whiskey, loosen your tie, put your feet up on your desk, and let's walk down Crime Alley.

In 1962, The Hunter was published, written by Richard Stark. A brutal, fast-paced thriller starring a professional thief named Parker who is betrayed by his fellow crooks during a heist and left for dead. We follow Parker as he cuts a bloody swath through the New York underworld to get revenge and the money owed to him.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Comic Reviews - Week of Dec. 4, 2013

Hi, folks!

Over at Nerds Unchained, my latest reviews are up, so head on over and check them out!

While you're there, please take a look at some of the other reviews on the site. If you're a huge comic fan there's some great insights. If you're thinking about getting into comics but don't know where to start, maybe you'll find a few books that tickle you're fancy. We review more than just superheroes over there.

Thanks, and here's my latest reviews:

X-Men Legacy # 21

Iron Man # 19

Secret Avengers #12

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Writing Is All, Like, Legitimate Now...

Hey all,

So, when you write a blog, you're always a little awed whenever anybody tells you they read it. You kind of figure you're going to be writing for yourself all the time. It's kind of insane to hear not only do people read your stuff, but some of them may actually like it.

So, it's with great pleasure, and  a little pride, that I can announce that I'm not a contributing writer for the web site Nerds Unchained. It's a new site that focuses on the world of comics, and I'll be writing reviews and possibly a few features for them. I'm really excited, they've got some great writers there, so please read their stuff too. You can't go wrong reading about great (and not-so-great) comics written by passionate people.

Here's the links to my first three reviews:

The Flash #25

All Star Western # 25

The Walking Dead #117

Friday, November 22, 2013

50 Years of Who - There's One Thing You Should Never Put in A Trap

Our celebration of 50 years of Doctor Who concludes with a classic clip from the Eleventh Doctor's era.

When Matt Smith was cast as David Tennant's successor there was some initial uproar from fans. Only 26, and a relative unknown, many took this as a sign that the series under new show runner Steven Moffat would take the show in teeny-bopper direction. Moffat shot back that Smith's take on the Doctor would silence all critics, describing the Eleventh Doctor as "bonkers" and praising Smith's ability to play an old man in young man's body.

When Smith's Doctor debuted, Moffat was proven entirely right. Smith immediately nailed the Doctor, creating a performance summed up by his assertion that he truly was "a madman with a box." Smith took his physicality for the Doctor from his favourite predecessor, Patrick Troughton, and used his own gift for physical comedy to give the Doctor a wild energy. His youth was never a factor for an instant, and the Eleventh Doctor's seeming flakiness cover up his wealth of experience.

Moffat also took the series away from the bombast and emotional spectacle of the Russell T Davies era, choosing instead to actually centre his arcs around time travel and multi-layered plotting. While at times it made some stories seem too complex for their own good, it also made time travel and its logistics the focus of the series in ways it had never been before. But, this was still Doctor Who, and it was still full of monsters, thrills and adventure. In the clip below, the Doctor faces off against the Weeping Angels, the most enduring monsters of the new series, and explains to them why going up against him is never healthy:

Tomorrow, November 23, 2013, my favourite TV show of all time turns 50 years old. It'll celebrate this momentous day with a live simulcast of a special episode, broadcast all over the world. That's something usually reserved for Superbowls and Oscar Nights. We'll see the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors team up to battle old foes, face old demons and friends, and Moffat asserts we'll see the series set up for the next 50 years ahead.

Not bad for a little show that started out in an obsolete studio with a tiny budget and big ideas.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

50 Years of Who - I Believe in Her!

After Christopher Eccelston departed at the end of a single series, the role of the Doctor was picked up with both hands by David Tennant. A lifelong fan of the show, Tennant took his excitement and exuberance for the series and channelled it into his interpretation of the Doctor, creating a Tenth Doctor who was among the most energetic and manic of all. But for all of his wit and exuberance, Tennant also highlighted the loneliness of the character, as well as the burden of his moral code. This was the most nakedly emotional Doctor yet, and the bond with Rose that had been building during the Ninth Doctor's era became a full-fledged love story during Tennant's era, though one that was never overtly acted upon. The Tenth Doctor's era was one of bigness; big threats, big emotions, and gigantic bombast, and a wonderfully big portrayal at its heart.

This more emotional approach to the character, combined with Tennant's great charm, drove the series to the heights of popularity, re-establishing it as a vital part of British culture, and opening the door to the global success it enjoys today.

In the clip below, Rose and the Doctor find themselves on an impossible planet, one that is a stable orbit around a black hole. They soon uncover the planet is actually an ancient prison, designed to hold the Beast, a powerful being that claims to be the basis for the Devil in all religions. Cut off from the TARDIS, the Doctor encounters the Best while Rose escapes in a rocket:

Back tomorrow with our final instalment!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

50 Years of Who - "Nice to Meet You, Rose! Run For Your Life!"

In 2005, nine years after the broadcast of the TV Movie, and sixteen years since the classic series went on"hiatus", Doctor Who returned to the BBC as an ongoing series.

The road back had been long and filled with detours. The hopes of fans had been kept alive during this period through original novels as published first by Virgin books and the ten by the BBC itself following the TV Movie. Also, a company called Big Finish productions, founded by fans, somehow got the license to produce original audio plays starring the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and eventually Eighth, Doctors and their companions. All of this ancillary media was well-done and enjoyable, but fans still longed to see new adventures on their television. Many thought it would never happen.

But then along came Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner. Davies was celebrated television writer at this point, having created the original version of the groundbreaking Queer As Folk. Gardner was a producer and script editor who had recently been appointed to BBC Wales as Head of Drama. She immediately set to bringing back Doctor Who, and asked fellow fan Davies to head up the revival.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Women of Interest

Taraji P Henson as Person of
's Joss Carter
It's entirely possible that I could wind up sounding like a total ass in this post. So, allow me to preemptively apologize for any idiocy that may result. The reason for my apology is this; I'm a white male about to write about the state of women characters on television. Yeahhhhhh, I'm THAT guy.

I was thinking back to the 1990's the other day. I was just sitting in my car, lacing up my Air Jordans, checking my undercut in the mirror and putting in my cassette of Please, Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em and it occurred to me that the 1990's had probably more well-drawn, interesting female characters on TV than we do right now, twenty years later.

Don't believe me? Let's list a few shows from that decade with some iconic women characters: Roseanne, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, My So-Called Life, Daria, Homicide: Life on the Street, Ellen, The Powerpuff Girls (it counts), Xena. And, yeah, there was also Melrose Place, but at least there were options, and you didn't have to look hard.

Look, I know that people could comment below more than a few shows that feature great female characters; I know they're out there. But I'd like to talk about a show with some solid characters that maybe won't be one of the expected ones.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"The Night of the Doctor" - Prequel to the 50th Anniversary Released!

Today the BBC released the prequel to the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special The Day of the Doctor. Feast your eyes on it below:

So, that was…pretty damn cool. The Eighth Doctor returns for the first time in 17 years, and it's awesome to see Paul McGann in action again. Also nice to have the John Hurt Doctor finally explained. Just over a week until the big day!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

50 Years of Who - Are You Any Good at Setting Alarm Clocks?

In 1996, after a seven year absence, Doctor Who returned to TV. In the seven years since the BBC put the series on hiatus, there had been numerous attempts to revive the series with varying degrees of fidelity to the source. I recall reading about a rumoured production that was to star Denzel Washington, for instance.

But producer Philip Segal would be the man to finally get a Doctor Who project off the ground as a TV movie produced by Universal Television for the Fox Channel in the US, with the BBC co-producing and showing the film in the UK. Rather than rebooting the franchise, Segal was adamant that it be a continuation of the classic series, a fact assured by Sylvester McCoy's return as the Seventh Doctor in the early minutes of the film. But this was also made as pilot for a proposed US-made television series, so it had the nearly impossible task of being made for long-time fans and first-time viewers. The result, it must be said, did not entirely work. It relied on mystifying continuity but also contained several changes to that continuity. It was a servant of two masters and therefore truly satisfied neither.

It had things that did work, chief among them some solid effects work and the wonderful performance of Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. In the clip below we get a very good idea of what an ongoing TV series with this Doctor and his companion, Grace, would have been like. It's a real shame that, to date, this is McGann's only on-screen appearance in the role.

If anybody out there is curious to experience more of the Eighth Doctor, I wholeheartedly recommend the fantastic audio plays he's been doing for over ten years for Big Finish Productions.

See you soon for more of 50 years of Who!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"The Day of the Doctor" Trailers Released!

Hi, all. I'll keep this one short. The Beeb has released a couple trailers for the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who special The Day of the Doctor. Check out the epic goodness below:

First the short TV trailer:

And here's the extendo-rama one:

Now the wait is even more excrutiating!

50 Years of Who - Every Great Decision Creates Ripples

After Colin Baker's unceremonious firing, Sylvester McCoy took over as the Seventh Doctor. Initially depicted as clown-like character, McCoy and new script editor Andrew Cartmel quickly began working to bring mystery and darker shadings back to the Doctor. Over his tenure, the Seventh Doctor morphed into a manipulative master-planner, not above deliberately misleading or keeping secrets from his allies to ensure victory. During this time, Cartmel also took a different approach to the role of the companion. Ace was a troubled young girl from 20th Century Perivale that the Doctor first encountered  on another planet in the far future. How she got there was a bit of a mystery, and in Season 26 there was an extended arc where the purpose of several stories was not just your standard adventure, but a deliberate attempt by the Doctor to help Ace move past her troubles and become a better person. This approach foreshadowed the more emotional tone the Doctor/Companion relationship would take on in future.

Sadly, with ever-decreasing episode counts to the seasons and ever-dwindling budgets and ratings, the 26th season of Doctor Who would be the last for the classic series, and Doctor Who would disappear from TV for seven years.

In the clip below, from Remembrance of the Daleks, we get a clip the perfectly encapsulates the melancholy and mysterious tone of the Seventh Doctor's era, where he questions the merits of his grand schemes:

And as an added bonus, here's the final scene from the final episode of the classic series:

See you soon for more classic Who!

Friday, November 8, 2013

"Thor - The Dark World Review", or Please, Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em!

L to R: Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth)
and unconvincing CGI sky. Are they even
With the recent announcement of its partnership with Netflix to create four new super-hero series, as well as the success of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and following its merger with Disney, it has to be said the Marvel Studios brand is now one of the most successful and well-known out there. I'm reminded of the feeling audiences used to have for Pixar. All you had to see was that logo with the desk lamp, and people said, "I'll go see that."

Marvel's latest big-screen release, Thor - The Dark World, isn't anywhere near as good as Pixar at its best. It's not even Marvel at its best. But it does have enough of the best qualities of the Marvel style to wind up being a fun time at the movies.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

50 Years of Who - Consumer Resistance

In 1984, Colin Baker (no relation to Tom) took over the role of the Doctor from the outgoing Peter Davison. Baker initially had tremendous enthusiasm for the role, wanting to outlast Tom Baker's seven year run as the Time Lord. Unfortunately, he was becoming the programme's leading man at the exact moment where the series entered its most troubled period, a period that would eventually see the series put on hiatus for decades.

After Davison's warm, vulnerable and relatable Fifth Doctor, producer John Nathan-Turner and Script Editor Eric Saward decided to make the character of the Sixth Doctor more off-putting, more challenging. He would hearken back to the irritable and irascible William Hartnell, and in many ways go even farther, with the plan being that Baker's Doctor mellow over time. In his first adventure, addled by a difficult regeneration, he actually attempts to strangle his companion Peri. It was a bold choice, and arguably the wrong one. Combined with Nathan-Turner's decision to dress the Doctor in a "tasteless" outfit, there was initially little for the viewer latch onto when it came to the Sixth Doctor.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Random Double Feature: The Bad and the Bogie-ful

Welcome to another edition of Random Double Features! This time out we've got a doozy for you, half of which I'm going to have to apologize for. The top half of the bill is a picture from Warner Bros. in 1941 starring Humphrey Bogart called All Through the Night. The bottom half is a picture from the seventh concentric circle of hell via Italy in 1960 and inexplicably called Atom Age Vampire.

All Through the Night is the first picture Bogart made following his star-making turn in The Maltese Falcon. As was usual for Bogart during this period, he got the lead when other actors turned the roles down. The film was originally written for newspaper columnist Walter Winchell, who backed out. Then, as with most stories like this about Bogie, George Raft was approached. He too turned it down, another role in a long line that Bogart took on to success and acclaim.

Bogart stars as "Gloves" Donohue, a man about New York that is not so subtly implied to be a gangster. Okay, it's not even implied, he's basically Arnold Rothstein. In any case, Gloves has two major peculiarities; he eats cheesecake from a particular bakery three times a day, and he can't refuse his mother (Jane Darwell) anything. When the baker of his cheesecakes turns up dead, his mother convinces him and his mob to look into the murder. Their nosing around uncovers a ring of Nazi spies operating in New York, planning to commit a major act of sabotage that only Gloves and his crew can stop. Basically, imagine the cast of Guys and Dolls going up against the bad guys of Raiders of the Lost Ark and you'll get some idea of how wonderfully bonkers the whole thing is. These aren't hard-boiled mobsters, they're played for laughs in the Damon Runyon vein, and played by some absolute top notch comedic stars like William Demerest, Phil Silvers, Frank McHugh and a young Jackie Gleason. The Nazis are similarly well-cast, with Conrad Veidt, Peter Lorre and Judith Anderson doing their villainous best.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

50 Years of Who - Always The Perfect Guests

After seven years in the role, Tom Baker gave up being the Doctor, and the mantle passed to Peter Davison. Davison was only 29 when he was cast, and he had an incredibly difficult job ahead of him. He was succeeding a man who simply was the Doctor, who embodied the programme in the minds of the viewers. That's a big challenge, one that could only be met by playing the role so completely differently that comparison would be impossible. Thankfully, Davison was canny enough to do exactly that.

His Fifth Doctor was more vulnerable, more excitable and far less remote and alien. He was moody and easily frustrated. Like the Second Doctor, he was more affected by the events around him. He was like a favourite teacher, travelling on an extended school trip with a few favourite pupils. And still there was a touch of the "old man" that lurked beneath the surface of his portrayal. In this clip, he confronts an old enemy, the Cybermen, who had been absent from the series for seven years:


See you soon for more Classic Doctor Who!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

50 Years of Who - Until We Meet Again, Sarah

For years, when various polls were conducted asking fans who their favourite travelling companion of the Doctor was, the answer would come back Sarah Jane Smith. There was just something about the intrepid feminist journalist that all viewers loved. Played with incredible warmth and charm by Elisabeth Sladen, Sarah Jane made her debut in Jon Pertwee's final season as the Doctor. But it was her remarkable chemistry with Tom Baker that made her a British TV institution. So much so, in fact, that when she left the series in 1976, it was front page news. The Fourth Doctor had called her his "best friend" and there's little doubt that it was true. Enjoy her terrific farewell scene from the closing moments of 1976's The Hand of Fear:

She had returned to the series in 1983 for the 20th Anniversary The Five Doctors (as well as having a spin-off that lasted only one episode in 1981), but her return to Doctor Who in 2006 introduced a whole new generation to Sarah Jane Smith in the episode School Reunion, this time alongside David Tennant's Tenth Doctor:

The popularity of that appearance led to a new spin-off children's series called The Sarah Jane Adventures, with further cross-overs during the Tennant era and into Matt Smith's era as the Doctor. The series ran for 5 seasons until Sladen's untimely death in April of 2011 at the age of 63. The companion against which all others are measured, she is missed.

Friday, October 18, 2013

50 Years of Who - The Definite Article

Jon Pertwee had played the Doctor for five seasons by 1974, taking the series to new heights in popularity. When he left he was replaced by the relatively unknown Tom Baker, whose career at that point had stalled to where he was working on a building site when he was cast as the Doctor.

Pertwee had played the Doctor as a cool and superior man of action, his largely Earth-bound stories and his straightforward approach gave his Doctor more of a human feel than his predecessors. A genuine eccentric himself, Tom Baker's approach to the role emphasized the remote and mercurial alien side of the Doctor, melded with an off-kilter sense of humour. The result was a performance that instantly captivated audiences and helped lead the series into what many consider its golden age, both critically and popularly.

Baker would remain in the role for seven years, and for many, he would come to define the program. Before the revival of the series in 2005, and perhaps even today, when the general public thought about Doctor Who, it was Tom Baker they thought of. The clip below comes from Baker's debut story, Robot, and it shows him already creating a performance that would leave an indelible impact.

See you soon for more from the 50 years of Doctor Who!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Superman hits 75, DC Releases Nifty Short to Celebrate

75 years ago, the modern Superhero was created by two Jewish kids in Cleveland. One was even Canadian. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster called their character Superman, and the rest is most definitely history. Now DC has released this short animated video, conceived by animation genius Bruce Timm, and filmmaker and celluloid Superman guru Zack Snyder. It's a little awkward, cramming a lot of stories into 2 minutes (and I really wish they didn't end with Supes in his blandest costume) but aside from that it's pretty damn cool.

Up, Up, and Awaaaaaaay!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Random Double Feature: Man and Monkey On the Run

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving weekend everyone! Hope you're all enjoying your turkey, tofurkey or turducken, whatever blows your particular skirt. Maybe you need a nice long double feature to while away the hours while you lie on the couch, pants undone, and work off that tryptophan? Well, I've got a doozy for you today, selected by my friend Damian, whose random selection of numbers gives us Alfred Hitchcock's early classic The 39 Steps, followed by Peter Jackson's updating of a classic, King Kong.

Let's start off with The 39 Steps. Before coming to America in 1940 to make Rebecca (which won Best Picture that year), Hitch made a series of films in his native England, some of which were the equal of his later masterpieces, although much more modestly made. Hitchcock began his film career in the silent era, working as a title designer for various film studios in London before working his way up to assisting the British film director Graham Cutts and eventually directing his own films. In 1924, he was sent to Germany to the famed UFA Studios, where he observed the techniques of masters such as FW Murnau and Fritz Lang. Their stylistic approach, grounded in expressionism and subjective camera work, had a profound effect on Hitchcock's visual style.  In 1926, his first out and out thriller, The Lodger, was a substantial hit. In 1929, his film Blackmail was converted to sound, becoming considered by many the first British talkie. By the early 1930s, he was among the most successful of British filmmakers. His next film was to be an adaptation of a Canadian novel by John Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps.

Friday, October 11, 2013

50 Years of Who - The Three Doctors

In 1973, Doctor Who was celebrating its tenth anniversary. By way of celebration, it was decided to bring together all of the Doctors in one story.

Patrick Troughton agreed to return, as did William Hartnell, though producer Barry Letts, after he called and got Hartnell's agreement to appear in the story, was soon called by Hartnell's family and told that the actor was in fact gravely ill, and that full participation wouldn't be possible. It was decided to pre-film Hartnell's scenes at his home, allowing him to appear and interact with his successors. It was Hartnell's final appearance in the series, as he passed away two years later.

While The Three Doctors as a whole is not top shelf Doctor Who, it does feature many great moments, most of which involve the bickering banter between Troughton and Pertwee, who enjoyed good-naturedly ribbing each other in real life. Check out our first scene, when the Third Doctor and his companion Jo meet the Second:

I love that part with "I Am the Walrus."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

50 Years of Who - Doctor in a Strange Land

Another classic moment from Doctor Who's 50 year history, this one coming from the Third Doctor's era.

William Hartnell's First Doctor ruled the airwaves in England from 1963-1966, when Patrick Troughton took over. Troughton stayed in the role until 1969, and at that point the series was in trouble. Adventures through time and space on a shoestring budget had become all too familiar to viewers, and audiences had dropped off sharply, despite the brilliance of its leading man. Additionally Troughton's final season was plagued by behind the scenes woes leading from the punishing production schedule of making over 40 episodes per season. With the ever-changing and expensive futuristic settings to realize, slipping ratings and a concept that seemed to be getting tired, tough choices had to be made.

The show teetered on the edge of cancellation, but the production team came up with a novel idea; they would maroon the Doctor in London of the very near future, establishing him as being taken on as the scientific advisor for UNIT, an international paramilitary organization who investigated the odd and unusual. The series would now be broadcast in colour, and the length of seasons would be brought down to a reasonable 26.

Troughton moved on, and light comedian Jon Pertwee was cast as the Third Doctor. Initially it was hoped Pertwee would bring more comedy to the part, but he decided to play it totally straight, creating a Doctor that was a bold, arrogant and dapper man of action. Paired with fellow scientist Liz Shaw and working for the stalwart Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, the new concept cut costs, refreshed the series and soon was bringing back the ratings.

In this classic scene from the final story of Pertwee's first season, Inferno, the Doctor finds himself transported to a parallel Earth, one where England is a fascist state and where he is confronted by sinister versions of the people from UNIT.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Gravity" Review, or The Fine Art of Making Movies For Everyone

From L to R: Clooney, Bullock, Cuaron
When I saw the first trailer for Alfonso CuarĂ³n's latest film Gravity, and it came to a shot of Sandra Bullock's astronaut spinning off into a vast empty void of space, I remember a pure jolt of absolute terror rushing through me. I know I'm not alone in this, as most of the online reaction to that shot ran along the lines of, "She's so fucked."

It's a powerful image, from a film that has more beautiful, powerful, wondrous, terrifying imagery than any film I can recall from the last five years. Cuaron's masterful command of camera movement and his grasp of the possibilities of 21st century camera techniques, visual effects and editing combine with some great performances to create that rarest of things; an intelligent well-crafted film that has something for everyone while still being innovative. It's the kind of film-making that made Hollywood famous, and the rarity of those kinds of films these days makes it even more remarkable.

Cuaron is one of the handful of film makers whose work takes what modern film making technology and technique is capable of and pushes it even further. His 2001 film Y Tu Mama Tambien was a significant calling card and Hollywood took notice. He directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which many consider to be the best of the franchise. But his 2006 film Children Of Men was the film that really catapulted him to the front line as one of the most interesting directors out there. Gravity is a labour of love for Cuaron, who also wrote the screenplay with his son Jonas, and he has spent the five years since Children of Men getting Gravity off the ground.

Monday, October 7, 2013

50 Years of Who - Our Lives Are Different To Anybody Else's

Here's another instalment of a classic Doctor Who moment in our lead up to the show's 50th anniversary on November 23rd!

This clip comes from the era of the Second Doctor, as played by Patrick Troughton. While the First Doctor (William Hartnell) was irascible, irritable and implacable, Troughton played his Doctor as a cosmic hobo; a warm but brilliant wanderer with a mischievous twinkle and a penchant for playing the fool and allowing his enemies to underestimate him. Matt Smith has said that when he was cast as the Eleventh Doctor, it wasn't until watching Troughton that he really got a handle on how to play the character. A consummate character actor, Troughton's performance is most often quoted as an inspiration to his successors in the role, and his success in taking over the role undoubtedly secured the show's longevity to this day.

In this quiet scene from the 1967 classic The Tomb of the Cybermen, the Doctor comforts his new travelling companion, Victoria.

See you soon for more classic Who!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

50 Years of Who - Wanderers in the Fourth Dimension

On November 23, 2013, Doctor Who celebrates its 50th anniversary. It's no secret that I'm a huge fan, so, leading up to the big day, I'm going to be posting a few moments from the past half century of Doctor Who. Let's kick things off with a classic moment from the very first episode An Unearthly Child, broadcast on Nov. 23, 1963.

The show starred William Hartnell as the Doctor. In this scene, 20th century schoolteachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright have followed enigmatic student Susan Foreman home from school, concerned about her odd behaviour. They discover she appears to live in a junkyard, and they confront Susan's mysterious grandfather about her whereabouts, eventually discovering more than they bargained for.

It's a very different show from the modern version, with Hartnell playing a much more mysterious and somewhat sinister figure. From here of course, he shanghais Ian and Barbara on a journey through time and space, starting off 50 years of amazing adventures!

More classic moments to come soon!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Does "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Miss the Mark or Stay on Target?

As a huge comic book nerd, and a Marvel Zombie in particular, you can imagine that I was excitedly anticipating the debut of Marvel Studios' first television series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, even though I was excited about the show, I wanted to see at least two episodes before I weighed in.

The pilot was famously directed by nerd god Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, as well as the writer/director of Marvel's The Avengers and creative guiding light of Marvel Studios.

It was co-written by Whedon with Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, who are going to be the main show runners while Joss will presumably keep his hand in but not be in charge day to day.

Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (tm), the series follows Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), mysteriously resurrected after his "death" during The Avengers (or was he? This is perhaps the central mystery of the show) as he assembles an independent squad within S.H.I.E.L.D. to investigate the odd and unusual. His team consists of black ops agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), lethal agency legend Melinda May (Ming Na Wen), a pair of requisite nerd science boffins named Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), and Skye (Chloe Bennet), a computer hacker and member of an anarchist group who's been recruited as a consultant.

So, yeah, that's the set up. The question is, is it any good? Well, it could be. It's close. But sadly, it's not there. The problems come down to two major areas.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Random Double Features: The Man With No Name and the Kid With No Shame

Welcome to another edition of Random Double Features, where a friend makes a random selection of two films from my library and then I sit down and watch them. Then I come back here and let you know if there's any way the two can be tied together.

An old theatre school buddy, Mary Beth, picked our latest Double Feature: A Fistful of Dollars and Scott Pilgrim vs The World.  On the face of things, they couldn't be more different; one is a Spaghetti Western released nearly 50 years ago and one is a comedy set in Canada made by a Brit and is one of the most 21st Century films around. But, when I watched them, I was actually surprised by how well they fit together.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

BBC Announces 50th Anniversary Plans for Doctor Who....after, you know, somebody leaked them anyway.

Proving once again that while the Doctor can keep his secrets pretty damn effectively, the BBC has more leaks than faucet repaired by a blind three-legged hedgehog, the BBC has officially announced their full run down of all their celebratory programming for Doctor Who's 50th anniversary......hours after someone else leaked the whole damn thing.

Not to be undone, the Beeb confirmed that the title of the 50th Anniversary story will be "The Day of the Doctor." The special will run 75 minutes, and will feature a team up between the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and his predecessor, the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant). They also released this sweet-ass poster. Take a look at all the photo-shopped goodness below.

The special will costar Jenna Coleman as current companion Clara, Billie Piper (returning as the Tenth Doctor's companion Rose) and John Hurt. who Hurt plays exactly forms the central mystery of the special as in last season's final episode it was revealed (SPOILERS FOLLOW UNTIL END OF PARAGRAPH DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YA) that he is some sort of version of the Doctor who, according to the Eleventh Doctor "broke the promise."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Random Double Feature: Close Encounters With Catholic Priests

In my last post, I announced a new feature here at the Report; the Random Double Feature. By clicking on this link, through the magic of the Interwebs, you can discover how I arrived at this new feature, but suffice to say, I'm having friends randomly select movies from my library to create impromptu double features, watching them, and then trying to find some sort of connective tissue between the two. It could be trivial in nature, though I hope that sometimes we'll find some sort of surprising thematic connection.

For our first instalment, my friend James selected Close Encounters of the Third Kind and I Confess. Both are films directed by master filmmakers; Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock. I watched Close Encounters first, so let's start there.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind was Spielberg's first film since his incredible success with Jaws in 1975. Though the film had been in development with Columbia Pictures prior to Jaws' release, the blockbuster success of that film meant Spielberg could pretty much do whatever he wanted with this Close Encounters. In fact, to date it's the only film credited as "Written and Directed by Steven Spielberg", making it the single work that is probably the least diluted from his original vision. I can't believe I even have to summarize this film, but here goes: it's they story of Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) an average guy living in Indiana whose life is changed when he witnesses alien spacecrafts flying around the countryside. The film then follows his growing obsession with uncovering the meaning of what he saw and his efforts to see the aliens again, as well being the story of a woman (Melinda Dillon) whose son was abducted by the aliens, and an international team of scientists, led by a Frenchman named Lacombe (Francois Truffaut) who are trying to make contact with the visitors.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Random Double Features and the Nerd Report Gets Booked in the Face!

Not too long ago, my good friend Scofe and I were hanging out and we decided to watch a couple of movies. As the guest at my abode, I allowed Scofe to make the choice of two movies to watch. Normally we tend to pick movies that go together, but for some reason he selected Robocop and All the President's Men.

They went together surprisingly well, and while tone, genre and subject matter were completely unalike, we both saw that each film commented on the society of the time in a similar way; one was a satire of corporate culture, the other an expose of political corruption. Both issues were dominant issues of their times.

Having enjoyed the pairing, I decided to start a new feature here on The Nerd Report; the Random Double Feature. I've assigned each movie I own with a number between 1 and 330. Every so often, I'll be asking for a couple of numbers from readers, and then I'll watch the movies and see how well they match up or if watching them together results in a fever dream of insanity!

Our first selection comes from a buddy of mine named James who selected 58 and 131, which corresponds to......Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess! Feel free to watch along with me; my thoughts on our inaugural Double Feature will be posted on Sunday, September 1st!

To facilitate future instalments of the Double Feature, I'm also announcing that you can now follow the Nerd Report on Facebook! Click on that thar link and you'll be taken to the FB page where you can "like" it and thereby help give sustenance to my ravenous ego!

I'll be posting all things related to the Report via that page, and it gives people who want to a venue to give feedback about the blog, and participate in reader driven features such as Random Double Features. You can also shoot me ideas for future stories and I may or may not ignore them, because, again, my ego can reach Cthulhu-like proportions.

Viddy well, little brothers and sisters. Viddy well.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ben Affleck is the New Batman, and Why You Shouldn't Worry About It

Earlier this evening,  news came out that Ben Affleck will play Batman in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman film, to be directed by Zack Snyder and co-star Henry Cavill.

And the Interwebs went bat-shit insane. Pardon the pun. There were some people in the Twitter-verse that had good things to say, but there were also people that seemed to regard this as a sign of the end times. Including my wife, whose irrational hatred of Affleck actually scares me sometimes.

I'm a pretty huge comic book fan. And I'm a pretty huge movie fan. And so I have no qualms suggesting that everyone CALM THE FUCK DOWN. Seriously, take a breath. Now allow me to go into why I not only don't mind the news of Affleck as Batman, but actually think it could wind up being awesome.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Elysium" Review, or How to Blow a Good Concept in 1 Hour and 50 Minutes

Like the last competitor in a marathon, Elysium crosses the finish line of summer a bloated, sluggish and disappointing mess. It's a film with a complex, timely and vitally important issue at its heart, namely the growing chasm between the wealthy and every one else. The problem lies in writer-director Neill Blomkamp's handling of this issue, an approach that is so shallow that we never get much beyond "rich people are bad and why can't we be fair to everybody".

This normally wouldn't be enough to sink a movie. There's been a lot of very good science fiction films that examine complex issues in a superficial way. Hell, most of Star Trek is celebrated for that very approach. But where those other films succeed and Elysium fails is that the story itself is sloppy, filled with plot holes and contrivances and populated by two-dimensional and cliched characters.

In the future presented by the film, Earth has become vastly overpopulated, the ecosystem destroyed by pollution and over-consumption of resources. The wealthy have fled to an immense orbiting space station called Elysium, where they live in splendor and have access to an array of marvels, including medical capsules that can cure you of any illness or defect. The remainder of humanity live in squalor on Earth. The film seems to suggest that the people live in some sort of totalitarian police-state, controlled, I guess, by the people on Elysium. It's not really clear.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Trailer Park - Movies For Grownups Edition

Welcome to another edition of trailer park, where I roundup some interesting new trailers for upcoming movies. This time out, we're looking at movies for grownups. Is it just me or does it lately seem like American films are only capable of putting out movies for teenagers and/or people with the attention span of Quentin Tarantino on cocaine (so, I guess, regular Tarantino, then).

Anyway, it's a relief to see summer winding down and some more adult subject matter coming to the fore.

Like David O. Russell's next film, American Hustle:

A few thoughts: Man, the 1970s had a truly godawful collection of hairstyles, didn't they? I mean seriously, what the hell are those things on Bale's, Cooper's and Renner's heads? Also, I get that Jennifer Lawrence is a sex symbol (I don't see it, personally, but whatevs) but when did Amy Adams get crazy stupid hot? Remember Doubt? Still, I really like David O. Russell's films, and this is a pretty damn strong cast.

Next up is Ben Stiller's remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty:

This is based on a short story by James Thurber, and it was already a classic film starring Danny Kaye. Some people will cry foul, and proclaim we should never remake classic films, and these people will probably have never seen the 1947 version. It's a good film, but by no means sacrosanct. And I much prefer Flirting With Disaster and Greenberg Ben Stiller over Meet the Fockers Ben Stiller, and this looks like the former, so I'm looking forward to it. We need more fantasy for adults, and I don't mean Game of Thrones.

Next we have Martin Scorsese's latest attempt to win Leonardo DiCaprio that Oscar, The Wolf of Wall Street:

First off, how do we live in a world where Jonah Hill has an Oscar nomination and Matthew McConaughey doesn't? It's nice to see McConaughey wake up and start making good movies. After that Surfer, Dude movie, it was like he hit rock bottom and said, "I have to put on a shirt and start actually acting again."

So there's three movies coming out from mainstream Hollywood that at least try to cater to adults in the room, and they look pretty damn good. Hope to see you at the box office.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"The Wolverine" Review, or How To Claw Your Way to the Middle

Jackman shows us why he can never enjoy a candy bar.
It's been a tough summer. I mean, think about it. Have any of the movies, even the big hits, been beloved by anyone? Sure, we've had good movies (Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness) and bad (Man of Steel), but not one that has really stepped up and come to define the summer.
There's so much money invested into these films now that unless they make over half a billion (billion!) dollars, they are regarded as somewhat of a failure. Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel are certainly huge hits, but have they really come to define the summer in the same way that The Avengers did last year? Or The Dark Knight in 2008? I think the answer's no. The reaction to those films have been divisive enough that you couldn't really say that either is THE summer film of 2013.

Part of the issue is desperation. Blockbusters reek of desperation these days. You know when you go out for a night with your buddies and one guy keeps insisting, "This is going to be the best night ever!" and then you wind up eating a slice of pizza downtown at eleven pm? It's because you can't will an amazing event into being. And you can't manufacture a true blockbuster by just piling on the scale. You need to actually capture people's imagination with story, not just dazzle them with things going boom.
Am I implying that The Wolverine will be this elusive cultural blockbuster? No. Oh, no. It's not good enough for that. But it does have its heart in the right place in that it tries to put a good story at the centre of the film, rather than empty spectacle; a story that focuses on putting its titular character though some kind of journey, no matter how shallow that might be.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Comic Observations: Marvel vs DC - Round Two: Marvel NOW!

Ad for Marvel NOW!
In my last post, I began a two-part feature looking at the State of the Union for each of the big two comic publishers. I've been reading almost all of their output for a while now, and this article is an attempt to suss out which one is producing the strongest line overall, indeed which one has the strongest and most satisfying universe to offer and why that might be.

My final view on DC was of a company that may have some very strong individual titles, but that overall the line was seriously hampered by editorial interference and a lack of a cohesive focused direction. Does the House of Ideas, namely Marvel, fare any better?

Just like DC, Marvel has recently attempted to pull its line under an overarching banner in an attempt to pull in new readers and give a greater direction to its titles. Marvel has titled this direction Marvel NOW!, and like DC, relaunched a lot of their books in an attempt to inject some freshness. Marvel NOW! is far more nebulous than DC's New 52 reboot, but that's actually an okay thing. I know that sounds weird, given that I spent most of my last post slamming DC for its lack of strong direction, but hear me out.

Over the last few years, since Civil War in 2006, Marvel has been very smart in using their events to set up new status quos in which their characters operate. The events themselves have been successful to wildly varying degrees, but they almost always have resulted in a change to the Marvel Universe that can act as a launching pad for a slight variation in the stories, a slightly new world in which their characters operate. Civil War ended with Tony Stark's super-hero registration act taking effect. Secret Invasion ended with Norman Osborn stepping up as major force in the Universe, and created stories of how the heroes deal with that. Siege saw the end of Osborn's reign, etc. In each case, it's been about moving things forward. Yes, things often change back to more familiar settings because, hey, this is comics! But where DC's New 52 was all about wiping away continuity to go backwards and re-examine the characters' beginnings (for something like the third time in my lifetime), Marvel was about providing a launching pad for moving forward that doesn't need any rejiggering of continuities or erasing of anything that came before.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Comic Observations: Marvel vs. DC - Round One: The New 52

For a couple years now, I've basically been reading almost all of the output from the big two comic publishers, and after reading hundreds of comics, it's become clear to me which one is enjoying the greater renaissance, and which one seems to be rudderless.

Let's start out by looking at DC Comics.

Ad for the New 52
Back in 2011, DC was tying up their latest line-wide event Flashpoint. The story involved the Flash experiencing an alternate timeline, and then returning to a whole new DC Universe, merging elements from the classic DCU, the Wildstorm Universe and the Vertigo Universe into one, with a whole new timeline.

As a result, all DC books were cancelled and 52 new books were launched (hence the name "The New 52"). Some, like Action Comics, Wonder Woman, Batman, etc, would be relaunches of established titles. Some would be new titles, such as Mr. Terrific, Voodoo, I, Vampire and Men of War. All would take place in a new DCU with a different continuity, resulting in changes to characters' histories and appearances. Superman's origin was now radically different, with Action Comics initially dealing with his early days, and Superman dealing with his present day stories.

The problems were evident early on. First off, no one really knew what parts of which character's histories counted anymore or what differences there were between the old continuity and the new. Were Ma and Pa Kent dead or alive? Had there been a Wally West who was a sidekick to Barry Allen's Flash? Batman and Green Lantern's continuities (DC's biggest sellers at the time) were largely untouched, but that just made their stories more confusing. For instance, Barbara Gordon, who had spent over a decade in a wheelchair as the first major disabled superhero, was now back to being Batgirl, but had been paralyzed. We didn't know how she healed, if she spent any time in the super-hacker Oracle persona, if any of the Birds of Prey stuff counted, etc. Somehow, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake and Damian Wayne had all been Batman's partner within five years. Were they all Robin? All at the same time or one after another? No one knew. And as of this writing, we still don't know the answers to many questions, though some have been answered.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Trailer Park - Tiger Beat Edition

Welcome all, to another edition of Trailer Park, where I round some trailers and present them to you for your mockery or admiration.

This time out, I thought we'd take a look at some teen movies, seeing as how it's summer vacation. Wanna guess which one will be the next Sixteen Candles and which one will be the next Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead? Let's fire up the projector!!

Let's start with The Spectacular Now:

Okay, that actually looks spectacular. It's got what looks like two solidly authentic and nuanced performances from two actors that look like they may be in hooting distance of actually being teens. It's got one heck of a great supporting cast (Bubbles! Coach Taylor! Saul Goodman!) and it's written by the team who brought us (500) Days of Summer, which some people found insufferable but I found really great.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Doctor Who and Me - Part Two

In my last post, I told the story of how I wound up joining the cast of the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie.

When I left off, I had just been cast as Gareth in the film, and to say I was excited would be an understatement. I was ecstatic. As an actor, you basically have to come to grips with the fact that most of what you're going to be paid to do is far from high art, or else this will happen to you (a little NSFW):

So, to get a part in something that you love and are a huge fan of is rare. It can completely recharge lagging creative batteries, and reawaken a sense of why you became an actor in the first place. And here I was, cast in Doctor Who. It was not only my favourite TV series, but it had been effectively cancelled over six years prior to this point, and it had always been filmed in England, with very minor exceptions. To say I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd ever get within hooting distance of appearing in the show is putting it very, very mildly.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Doctor Who and Me - Part One

When you are a fan of something, no matter what that may be, you can find yourself experiencing some pretty amazing life moments. This blog springs from my love for all things Nerdy and Awesome, but I've never shared the story of how I became a fan of my nerdiest of nerdy obsessions, Doctor Who, and how being a fan resulted in a unique experience.

One of my first memories is of Doctor Who. I must have been three or four, and it was night time and I think I was at the home of some friends' of my parents. The TV was on, and all I recall was seeing the opening titles of Jon Pertwee's final season. If you're three or four, that's going to leave an impression. I mean the bouffant alone...
When I was eight or nine and over at a cousins house, I saw my first full episodes. He was the son of a Brit, so he was a fan of Doctor Who in a big way. This was during the Peter Davison years, and I remember watching his videotapes, recorded from PBS, and being captivated.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

"Man of Steel", Movie of Kleenex

Remember in Superman II, where the three evil Kryptonians led by General Zod show up in Metropolis? They're fighting Superman and they pick up a city bus and are going to throw it at him. Superman pleads with them,"No! The people!" He soon realizes that the only way to keep the city safe is to lead the Kyptonians away by basically making it look like he's chickening out. So he flies keep people from being hurt. It's a great moment where the film demonstrates the core of the character's selfless heroism.

Yeah, you won't be seeing stuff like that in Man of Steel.

This is a movie that takes an approach to comics' first and greatest hero that misses the point of the character entirely, resulting in a film that I walked out of feeling bored and depressed. It's a film that is well-acted, and with action set pieces that are executed competently and with a real sense of scope. But there's no joy in the material. For a film about a man who can soar through the air, it never really takes flight.

Friday, June 14, 2013

"The Newsroom" Returns July 14th With More Self-Righteousness!

Feeling like there's not enough self-righteous indignation on our airwaves? Do you think that all the American media is missing is a show where journalists can see how great the news would be if they just did it with integrity, darn it? Think that the liberal way is the best way?

Then rejoice, because The Newsroom is returning to HBO for a second season on July 14th!

I'm kidding, I actually love this show, and I'm psyched that, after its rocky reception, it's coming back.

I'm an Aaron Sorkin fan, and an unapologetic one. There are tons of criticisms you can level at the guy's work, for sure. It is arrogant. It is unabashedly liberal. He does recycle dialogue and ideas. There is a nostalgic paternalistic streak to it. And I can even see how people can call his stuff a little misogynistic, though I also think he created CJ Cregg, one of the great women characters in the last twenty years or so, so I'm not sure more isn't being read into this issue than actually exists. I do hope they make Maggie a better character this season though. She was written like a complete moron last year, and she is probably the single biggest fuel to the whole "Aaron Sorkin hates women" thing when it comes to this show. He's a better writer than the stuff he was giving her to do last year.

But I don't care. He's a master of the rhythm of speech, not in a realistic way, but in a musical way. He can structure a story exceptionally well. He has a love of screwball comedy, particularly the romantic aspects of that genre, and if you love that as I do, then it's a very good thing.

Here's the trailer for the second season:

I'm excited. And for all those who hate this show and it's liberal bias, feel free to not watch it.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Superman Won't Just Be Lifting Stuff In This Film

I've kind of been avoiding the massive deluge of Man of Steel stuff that is all over the interwebs right now. But I had to look at this new trailer, which seems to be 2 minutes of relentless action. It's sort of like Zak Snyder is mocking Bryan Singer's Superman Returns through marketing.

You remember Superman Returns, right? You know where Superman is a deadbeat Jesus-dad who basically spends the movie lifting really heavy things? Okay, I actually kind of like Superman Returns, but Man of Steel looks like a film that actually takes full advantage of 21st Century technology to tell the kind of big scale story the Big Red S deserves.

Check it out below:

Awesome-Sauce. Still think the costume looks.......really weird. Off. I think Supes really does need the red underpants. Otherwise he looks a little bland.

Also, Michael Shannon is terrifying. My favourite comment about him came from my friend Scofe who once told me, "I saw Michael Shannon on the street today. He stared into my soul."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Geronimo!.........and What's Next?

I must be the last person on the planet to post about this, but over the weekend the news broke that Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who.

Smith will stay for the upcoming 50th Anniversary special in November (which sees him paired with David Tennant, his predecessor in the title role) and for the Xmas Special in December, which will be his final turn in the role that made him famous the world over.

In the BBC press release, Smith had this to say:

Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show. I'm incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day, to realise all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience. Many of them have become good friends and I'm incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years.

Having Steven Moffat as show runner write such varied, funny, mind bending and brilliant scripts has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my career. It's been a privilege and a treat to work with Steven, he's a good friend and will continue to shape a brilliant world for the Doctor...

...It's been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the TARDIS for a spell with 'the ginger, the nose and the impossible one'. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys. Matt.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

NBC and Dan Harmon May Kiss and Make Up.....There's An Image, Huh?

Dan Harmon
News is emerging that Dan Harmon is in talks with Sony Pictures Television to return to Community.

The absurd postmodern sitcom created by Harmon has always struggled with low ratings, but has garnered a devoted following and critical acclaim. While its numbers are bad, they're not bad for NBC, who can't seem to find a hit with both hands and a flashlight.

Harmon created the show, and was the driving creative influence. After the third season, he was fired by Sony, who cited his continual lateness delivering scripts, amongst other creative differences. He had a public and ugly feud with cast member Chevy Chase (Chase himself left the show mid way through the fourth season) and according to Harmon, Sony never even fired him in person (he was told via an executive producer on Community that he was done).

A 13 episode fourth season was greenlit and shot, with David Guarascio and Moses Port as producers. Many long time fans of the show (including this writer) felt that fourth season was nowhere near as strong as the previous three.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Write Fan Fic? Amazon Wants to Help You Get Paid, Dawg

Yeah, you can't unsee this.
So, yeah, first off, let's get something out of the way here. I've written fan fic. I'm not proud of it, I didn't write very much, and it was a long time ago. If you know anything about me, you'll probably know what it was for. That's right, The Waltons. You can't know the thrill I got typing the words, "Goodnight, John Boy."

Up until recently, fan fic was the absolute literary gutter, just slightly above its more disreputable cousin, slash fic. The good fan fic was written by people that were talented writers, but fan fic really led nowhere, so one got the sense they were wasting their time. All the other kinds of fan fic are basically fan wank. That's where you get all that Star Wars meets Star Trek fan fic. Or Doctor Who meets The Dukes of Hazzard, etc.

But now, Amazon is taking things to the next level. They just announced Kindle Worlds, "a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games." Basically, they're starting a platform where people will be able to write fan fiction, submit it to Amazon, who will offer it for sale. They've gotten the license for properties owned by Warner Bros. Television Group's Alloy Entertainment. They produce shows like Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries. I'm thinking that last one will get the bulk of the submissions, all of them dealing with suppressed sexual desire and intense longing stares. The brooding. Oh, the brooding.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Star Trek Into Darkness" Review, Or Set Phasers To F@#*ing Awesome

When Star Trek was released in 2009, the JJ Abrams directed reboot of Gene Roddenberry's landmark series was given a new lease on life. After years of diminishing returns on TV and in theatres, many had thought that the franchise was all but dead.

But the reboot was accomplished with style and verve, the new cast managed to evoke the spirit of the originals without being impersonations. And JJ Abrams wowed with his confident handling of the material, managing to capture Star Trek's inherent adventurous qualities, but updating them for 21st century audiences.

Still, some Trekkers hated the film. It was criticized for bad science and a plot driven largely by coincidence and convenience (all those charges are true by the way, but most space opera is driven by those very same things, and I'd argue that most original Trek is driven by those things too). Finally, they really disliked what they called the Star Wars-ification of Trek. That Roddenberry's saga of peaceful exploration had been replaced by more action, more space battles and less of the "vision" that defined Star Trek.

Well, those people may not like Star Trek Into Darkness any better, but that is certainly their loss, because the sequel betters the 2009 film in almost every regard, delivering a film that is funny, thrilling, emotional, and action-packed.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Will We Learn "The Name of the Doctor" This Weekend?

This Saturday brings the 50th anniversary season of Doctor Who to a close with the airing of The Name of the Doctor. If you aren't excited by that sentence then I don't know what you're even doing on this site. Seriously. Doctor Who is incredible.

While the show runners have hinted that the finale will solve the mystery surrounding new companion Clara Oswald, the title also suggests that the viewers may learn the answer to the show's longest running mystery; Doctor Who? It's a plot point that has been set up by show runner Steven Moffat for a long time, most explicitly at the conclusion of the previous series.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

That Funke Is Some Kind of Something

Arrested Development's new season begins on Netflix this month. I could not be more excited. And Mitch Hurwitz and co. certainly know how to use the interwebs.

Case in point, this little viral video of Tobias Funke's "Sizzling Reel":

You can also go to Tobias' web page. It has the best title of all time, and you can see all of the range and versatility that the world's only analrapist can bring to your project.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Ordered to Full Series

In the no-brainer decision category, ABC has ordered Marvel Studios' first TV project, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., to full series.

Taking place after the events of The Avengers, and tying into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the series follows a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, led by Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), who investigate "unclassified" cases. The series was developed by Marvel's current creative mastermind (and Avengers writer/director) Joss Whedon, who also directed the pilot episode. The pilot was written by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen.

The series will also star Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge. You can see the 30 second promo for the series below:

So, that looks pretty epic. Obviously this is a no-brainer for ABC, I mean who wouldn't want to tie themselves into probably the biggest franchise going right now? And for Marvel, it's another platform for them to integrate into. Although Whedon has said that the series will focus on the periphery of the Marvel Universe, I'm sure Marvel is looking at this as a cheap way and lower risk way to introduce characters that could conceivably launch new film franchise or bolt into existing ones.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Trailer Park - Grumpy General, Magic Butler, Not Bob Dylan and Gump vs. Pirates

Starting a new feature here on the Nerd Report that I'm calling Trailer Park. If you're like me, and you love watching trailers, even bad ones, you'll hopefully enjoy. So, let's dive right in!

First up is Ender's Game:

So, I've never read Ender's Game or any of the novels in that series. There's a few reasons for that, and only some of them have to do with Orson Scott Card's homophobia, which has cost him a number of things, inlcuding a job with DC writing some Superman stories. I will say that this trailer made me somwhat interested in the film, and as my interest level prior to this was absolutely zero, that's an effective trailer. It's very nice to see that someone has slipped Harrison Ford the Geritol he sorely needed. He still looks grumpy, but at least he no longer resembles the other dwarf; Sleepy. Also, man, they are pimping the Acadmey Award nominations in the cast, huh? Pretty shameless attempt to scream, "We're classy!"