Friday Favorite: Liz Lemon

In a world wide web of obsessive perfectionism that propagates impossible standards for women, Elizabeth Miervaldis Lemon was a flagship of human imperfection. She made it OK to eat that bowl of cereal before bed … in bed … and leave the dish on my nightstand. She made me feel proud of my period underwear. She rocked the hell out that Princess Leia costume. Not Slave Leia. Full-length, white robe Leia. Continue reading

G3 Review: The Legend of Korra

Many parents know that it is sometimes difficult to find a TV show to watch with your children that you both enjoy. I suffered through many an episode of Sponge Bob (I shudder at the sound of that maniacal laugh) for the sake of quality time with the offspring. Then along came Avatar: The Last Airbender. A beautifully animated and thoughtful cartoon that boasted some of the more charming characters of the last decade. Every week, the offspring and I would cuddle up and be completely engrossed by the adventures of Aang, Toph, Katara, and Sokka. It was only on for three seasons, but told an immensely satisfying story. A story I still watch and rewatch with … and without the offspring.

Last summer, when the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender announced a new series - The Legend of Korra – I was beyond ecstatic. And after almost a year of anticipation, I am happy to say that it is everything I hoped for and knew it would be.  Continue reading

‘Community:’ The Geekiest Show on TV

Oh, “Community,” how we’ve missed you! After a far-too-long hiatus that had fans thinking “cancellation,” the brilliant, criminally underrated comedy about a motley crew of community college students returns. Count V. and I among the faithful who will be ignoring telephone calls and loved ones from 8 to 8:30 p.m.

I could rattle off many reasons to watch this show, from the stellar cast to Dean Pelton’s penchant for drag and extreme political correctness (The school mascot is the Human Being). But “Community” is more than a great comedy in the general sense. It may be the geekiest show on television. This is not a knock against “The Big Bang Theory,” a show that I watch and enjoy. However, where “BBT” takes a much broader approach in serving up nerd culture, “Community” is more sly and, in my opinion, sharper with its comedic delivery. And boy, does it deliver. We’re talking zombies, dead-on action movie sendups, the “Doctor Who” knockoff “Inspector Spacetime,” an “Earth-2″ United Nations and much more. This is a show that expects the viewer to be on his or her pop culture game, and that may be one reason it’s not a ratings juggernaut. Hell, there are probably dozens of geeky asides that have flown over my head, but that just gives me an excuse to re-watch. No wonder this show has inspired several comic book-style tributes.

Still on the fence? Check out some of the Greendale’s geekiest highlights Continue reading

G3 Review: Once Upon a Time

When I got wind of the TV show Once Upon a Time, I was instantly intrigued because of its surface similarities to Fables. Both revolve around fairy tale characters who have been exiled from their magical realm to ours, and that’s excellent storytelling material. Obviously, a show on ABC Family and a comic book with mature themes are going to have some differences, so I didn’t expect an R-rated clone. Besides, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a kid-friendly show that everyone in my family actually wants to watch. (I’m told Grimm is much darker, but I haven’t seen it.)

So what’s the verdict? Once Upon a Time is a good-looking show, and the parts that work well are entertaining. Some of the characters, especially the villains, are great fun to watch. Though it can get a little draggy at times, there’s enough mystery and suspense to keep a viewer coming back each week. The production values exceeded my expectations, especially in the show’s flashbacks to fairy tale world.

The first episode, in which the Evil Queen casts a dark spell over the kingdom, is the best so far. Lana Parrilla is fantastic in this role, and the scene where she barges in during Snow and Charming’s wedding is one of the show’s most memorable yet. Dressed like she’s going to a drag queen ball, EQ pretty much steals the show and puts everyone on notice that they’d better enjoy themselves while they can, because it’s gonna get ugly. She eventually casts a dark spell over the Kingdom that tosses all the players into modern times and causes them to forget who they are. Ruthless? Yes, but there is a secret sadness that makes her more than a one-note witch.

Shift to present day where a bail bondsman named Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is paid a visit from Henry (Jared Gilmore), the child she gave up for adoption 10 years prior. Emma winds up in Henry’s deeply weird residence of Storybrooke, Maine, where the Evil Queen (known here as Regina) is mayor and the boy’s adoptive mother. Time never moves forward and no one there can remember who they are. Well, almost no one. Regina knows what’s up, as do Henry and Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle), aka snake-in-the-grass Mr. Gold. Like Parrilla, Carlyle is a top-notch baddie who does icky and quietly dangerous equally well. I also enjoyed seeing the real-world interpretations of storybook characters like Jiminy Cricket, the town therapist; Snow White, a sweet and lonely school teacher; Little Red Riding Hood, a bad-girl waitress; Cinderella, a maid down on her luck.

Henry is Emma’s field guide in Storybrooke, and their relationship is crucial to the larger story. A little bit of the precocious, chatty Henry goes a long way. I understand that he plays an important role in the unfolding events, but boy, is he grating. That’s not a knock on the young actor but the script, which has him popping up at nearly every turn. It isn’t yet clear how he figured everything out, because Regina has kept the curse tightly under wraps.

Regina isn’t happy that Henry is spending so much time with Emma, whose presence is threatening. (Her put-downs of the boy’s birth mom are cutting and coldly delivered.) Given how rattled Regina is by this turn of events, I’m baffled that she didn’t immediately dispose of Emma, Mafia-style. However, there is the potential for serious fireworks now that Emma has decided to stick around — and Regina is clearly not having it.

I won’t lie; I’d be much happier if HBO were doing a TV adaptation of Fables, which would make a hell of an adult TV series. But Once Upon a Time holds its own, and it’s nice to have a quality fantasy show that you can watch with older children. It’s — Dare I say it? — charming.

Sartorial Smallville: A Critique

V. knows way more about Smallville than I do, but I was a fan of this show in its early days. Though poor Tom Welling has yet to don a cape, there have been some notable, full-costume appearances by major DC players. But since it’s a TV show and not a big-screen blockbuster, Smallville has never had the budget to provide truly splendid superhero costumes. The best ones look like top-notch cosplay getups. Others, like the recent Blue Beetle reveal, are a bit sad:



Blue Beetle: Really? As a reader pointed out on our Facebook page, it looks like a Power Rangers getup. Upon closer inspection, it resembles a Happy Meal action figure. From 1996. Grade: D



Green Arrow: This one’s pretty good and captures GA’s general Robin Hood vibe, with a 21st Century edge. Green Arrow’s costume isn’t fancy, and the nice guns count as an accessory. Grade: B+



Hawkman: In Smallville‘s defense, Hawkman’s comics costume is glorious and therefore very hard to pull off without CGI and big bucks. Again, if I saw this at Dragon*Con, I’d be kinda impressed. However, I saw a Hawkgirl at D*C whose wings were bigger, more feathery, and far more striking than this. The helmet looks like it was decorated with gold spray paint, and overall, it’s a letdown. Grade: C-


Booster Gold: Not awful. Booster isn’t the most serious character in the DCU, but he looks like he’s ready to handle some business in this instance. Snazzy shades, and props for the oh-so-accurate product placement patches. Very NASCAR. Grade: B


Wonder Woman: Even though this is Lois Lane in Diana’s costume, I dig it. In fact,  like it so much that I wish David E. Kelley & Co. had gone this route for the TV show. It’s got some warrior flourishes, and it appears classic and youthful. Points off for the cheap-o tiara and star deficit, though. Grade: A-


Zatanna: Fishnets, check. Tuxedo getup, check. Hot boots, check. Matrix-y trench coat, check. This is a fairly simple look, but it’s effective and awfully stylish: Grade: A


Black Canary: I’m sorry, but this is ridiculous. Dinah looks like a cross between in Val Kilmer in Top Gun and a mannequin at Wilsons Leather. The costume screams “cheap,” and the Ziggy Stardust raccoon mask isn’t helping matters. Grade: D-



Stargirl: The mask is effed up, and the costume is only slightly above Halloween quality. I think had those shorts in fourth grade. Anyway, Stargirl is such an underexposed character that I’m happy to see her at all. By the way, that staff looks like a solar light fixture that was ripped out of someone’s front yard. Grade: C



Aquaman: I really, really got a kick out of this. I’m a tad biased because orange and green are my alma mater’s colors, but Aquaman’s costume looks functional for a guy who spends most of his time in the water, and it’s sleek and modern. Groovy footwear, too! With apologies to my Aquaman-loving friends, “cool” is not a word I often associate with King Arthur, so this is well played.  Grade: A+



Clark Ken/Superman: I realize that he has yet to officially become the Man of Steel on Smallville, but at this point, Clark ought to have more than jeans, a blue T-shirt, and a red jacket from Costco. Can’t a Kryptonian get some love on his own show?! Even Welling’s well-documented beauty can’t redeem this. Grade: F

Upgrade!

Well, this is more like it. They’ve ditched the fugly pleather, light blue pants and brought back the snappy red footwear. The tiara isn’t my favorite, but overall, this costume is definitely an improvement. I can see how it could look fun on television, and I’ll bet you a Starbucks Americano that the dinky lasso is going to have some CGI oomph on screen. I can’t imagine that the studio is going to adopt Christmas garland as one of Diana’s most powerful weapons.

Some have said that Adrianne Palicki isn’t buff enough to fill Wondy’s boots, but she looks plenty lean and mean in the published action scenes. I’ve never had a problem with her in the role. Besides, everyone looks more substantial on film, and I’d rather we didn’t continue the tabloid tradition of picking apart an actress’ body. Palicki looks game and energetic, and that’s encouraging. To all who insisted that the previous costume wasn’t the final product, you totally called it. You told me so!

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Diana: Princess of Pleather

Insert catty Michael Kors comment here.

Somewhere, Jim Lee is breathing a sigh of relief. While his Wonder Woman costume redesign ruffled the feathers of fans and the fashion-conscious public at large, he looks like Zac Posen compared to the person who unleashed this pleather horror of adult superstore chic here. As you already know, this is the first photo of Adrianne Palicki — star of the pending Wonder Woman TV show — in costume. To be fair, some of you guys dug it, but the reviews overall have been scathing. Here’s a sampling of your commentary from our Facebook page:

“Kill it. Kill it with fire.”

“Lasso looks like braided sparkle Barbie hair.”

“Ugh Ugh Ugh.”

“NO BUENO.”

“Somewhere in America, someone is missing the lining to their kiddie  swimming pool.”

“It takes something like this to make Jim Lee’s biker redesign look good.”

“It beats most [all] of Smallville’s tries at costumes.”

“The actress doesn’t look like she’s kicking butt anywhere but a MAC counter.”

“As Joey Tribbiani would say: What’s not to like? Cleavage breast plate, good. Pleather hot pants, good. Sexy Wondy boots, good.”

“The shiny patent leather makes this get-up straight-up fugly.”

“I refuse to believe that’s the right costume.”

“What the friggin’ A, man?!”

“I think it’s a great compromise for TV! And she can always whip them blue pants off and have the bikini on underneath!”

“I cannot forgive the shinetastic horror of the material.”

But my favorite comment so far is from Wapsi Square artist Paul Taylor via his Facebook wall: “Why does everyone interpret that darn lasso like it’s a length of knitting yarn?!” (G)ive her a lasso that looks like a goddamned lasso!”

I guess the top half of the costume is fine, and Palicki wears it about as well as anyone could. I don’t mind the pants or the playfulness. What I do mind is that it looks cheap. V. asked, “Um, why is it made entirely out of patent leather?”

As some have pointed out, the costume could look very different on film while the character is in action. I think the biggest missteps are the shiny, bright blue disco pants and the Halloween-quality boots. I mean, this would be a hot look at Dragon*Con, but not on a major TV show.

But whatever my feelings about the costume, I’m still gonna watch this show and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will be good, despite the iffy script buzz. Some of the casting choices (Elizabeth Hurley!) are quite exciting, so perhaps this is merely a bump in the road on the way to an ass-kicking good time. Hera, are you listening?

Lights, Camera, Wondy!

If only.

There’s some great work being done on television, and there are a number of shows I’d watch gladly before forking over $10 for a paint-by-numbers blockbuster. The big screen isn’t always superior, and lots of comic book characters would be well-served by a thoughtful TV vehicle. Just look at Smallville.

And yet, when the story broke that David E. Kelley was developing a new Wonder Woman TV series, I was somewhere between indifferent and disappointed. Continue reading

Amanda Waller Will Cut a Bitch

I used to be a huge “Smallville” fan, but over the years, my appreciation of the show has ebbed and flowed. I enjoyed season 8 quite a bit, as the writers finally decided to weave in more DC continuity. Besides, Tom Welling is always easy on the eyes.

Not that I could have ignored all the publicity if I wanted to, but I was quite looking forward to the “Absolute Justice” episode that aired Feb. 5.  The story was solid and plausible, and the costumes were so not corny, as I had feared. The acting was “meh” at times, but that was all forgiven when legendary brick house Pam Grier showed up as the diabolical operative Amanda Waller. My insides leapt with joy as Grier nailed the character. (Spoilers ahead!)

Cut to a scene of the villain, who has freezing powers, all tied up in a large heated room. Waller finishes interrogating him, says he’s served his purpose and puts a bullet in his head. “Welcome to the Suicide Squad,” she says as she exits the room, swagger fully intact. The doors that close behind her bear the Checkmate symbol. Like, whoa. Greg Rucka’s Checkmate series is one of my favorites, so that scene was like “butta.” I’m looking forward to more Grier as Waller on “Smallville,” which will give the show some much-needed edge.

Cover art by Dan LuVisi

This has been a good month for Waller, who has also been center stage in one of G3′s favorite titles, Secret Six. It’s hard to upstage the Sixers, but that’s exactly what she does in issue #18, the final installment of the “Danse Macabre” storyline. In her attempt to extract Deadshot from the Six for her own purposes, Waller wreaks serious havoc. Meanwhile, as Belle Reve prison burns down around them, the Six have to contend with some nasty Black Lanterns during a tense standoff with the Suicide Squad. In the middle of it all is Waller, who is as fearless as she is unethical. (Spoilers ahead!)

Just how gangsta is The Wall? She threatens to detonate Bane’s cranium by clicking a pen that would trigger the chip in his head she previously installed. When Black Alice refuses to give Nightshade back her powers so that she can teleport Waller back to headquarters, she punches Alice, knocking her out cold. Again: She punches Black Alice. In the face! We haven’t even gotten around to how Waller disposes of the Black Lanterns with an ingenious combo of grenades and a very handy Manhunter robot, or how she takes a bullet from Deadshot in stride. In addition to serving up some sharp, funny dialogue, the writing team of John Ostrander and Gail Simone really captured Waller’s essence. The Wall is shady and ruthless, but she always gets the job done.