Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Community on Hiatus

Everyone should be watching Community. It's the best comedy on TV, that has catapulted into a fan favorite series - with engaging characters, inventive stories, and excellent humor. I feel like I'm being blind-sided by this - but apparently Community wasn't doing that great in the ratings. I really don't understand why - I began watching the show with their claymation Christmas special, and upon favorable comments by friends and acquaintances - I began watching it regularly. I also began watching the series with my sister, who seemingly became addicted to the series - going through Netflix DVD Rentals of the first two seasons and all of it's commentary. It's a show worthy of that kind of attention.

When it first came on the air I originally ignored it, because I didn't entirely understand it. Chevy Chase, once a top tier comedian, had long since become supremely unfunny, starring in very bad movies -- so his name on the series didn't draw my attention. Yet, now having gotten into the series, I consider this show to be the best turn his carrier could have ever taken! His unfunny and grouchy exterior in real life suddenly became a hilarious asset - which was put to good use in this series. Chevy Chase was suddenly funny again.

The series has also made all of it's other actors stand outs in my mind. I recently watched Donald Glover's stand-up act on Comedy Central, and while it definitely used much more adult language, was fundamentally an excellent and hilarious show.

Ken Jeong, being launched into the stratosphere with his appearance in the movie "The Hangover", has cemented himself as an excellent comedian - which has proven episode after episode as he played the role of group outsider Chang. (I still can't get over the fact that he's also a licensed medial doctor in real life.)

Anyway - I bring this all up because it was just announced that the series, in the middle of its third season, has been put on hiatus. NBC has said the show will come back. Seeing as how the Office, as a series, is winding down - it seems such a shame that NBC is screwing with their line-ups that work. Again, while a critical darling and fan favorite show - the ratings haven't been as good as they would like. NBC, in general, have usually always been in 4th place in ratings. I really don't understand why, though. Their Thursday Line up are the only prime-time comedies I watch, and Law & Order where favorite mainstays. (Well, until they started screwing with that franchise as well. Now all we have left is Law & Order SVU. I'd really like to see murder investigations again, instead of nothing but sex-crime related plots.)

The Daily Beast Summarized the situation well in this article "Community on Hiatus: Why NBC is Making a Mistake". Despite the less than impressive ratings, the show has a number of factors going for it - including the shocked internet fan response, which might galvanize viewership when the show does return to the air. Yet it strikes me as what's wrong with broadcast Networks in general. Doing stupid things, rearranging shows and canceling fan favorites isn't a new thing -- but if NBC is really looking to get out of being perpetually in 4th place, acting smarter in instances like this really needs to be a priority. Look at what is working well on you're network; If Community isn't doing as well in the ratings, but is getting great reviews - then maybe moving it to after the Office (for example) would be a good idea to get attention. Put more ad support behind the show; use the already established fan base to help spread word. And, most importantly, stop green-lighting bad shows like "Whitney" (which looks like a dinosaur compared to the laugh-track free programs surrounding it), Perfect Couples (which was only mildly entertaining because of the actors starring in it), or "Up All Night" (which just from the commercials looks like a lack luster sitcom with so-so stars). And bring back Law & Order! (As Tracy Morgan on 30 Rock said, upon hearing of L&O cancelation: "But it was a tent pole, A TENT POLE!)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Comic Review: Venom #9

Venom #9

Review by Kandou Erik

In the previous two issues the Venom series had a significant and meaningful tie-in to the Spider-Island mega event. This issue here follows directly after the fallout, where everyone in Manhattan has been cured - and Flash is left to try and re-connect with his girlfriend Betty Brant. This issue features the wonderful and always welcome art of Stefano Caselli. Caselli's manga-influenced styles shines beautifully here, deftly depicting large action scenes and small human dramas of the characters themselves.

In the midst of web swinging around Manhattan, trying to find Betty, Flash comes upon a large armored super-tank - which becomes an immediate threat to all civilians in it's path. Since Venom is a Government Secret Agent, having the character just stumble upon villains on patrol isn't a regular thing - but it feels nice to see Venom doing his more classic "Lethal Protector" shtick. Anyway - this tank operator is a low rent villain, but is quickly making A-Level villain kills - running over an innocent security guard, and ultimately a mother and child -- all of whom Flash isn't able to save as he attempts to stop the tank. This of course brings out the old style Venom - ready and willing to kill - as Flash looses control of the symbiote once again.

I really don't see how he can continue to be allowed to keep the suit after all these freak outs - except for the fact he's found a shared need for the creature, and visa-versa. I'm beginning to think Flash will eventually end up permanently bonded to the creature - forcing his continued use of the suit. I don't mind that possible plot point, as I very much enjoy seeing Flash Thompson as Venom, but it's certainly not going to be good for Thompson's continued well being.

The super tank is able to seemingly escape Venom, arriving at it's hideout where the villain comes out of it, only to find Venom having hitched a ride along with it. Venom begins to tear into this guy, slicing off his fingers, beating him senseless, and breaking bones. Flash has lost all control - and is even tellingly referring to himself in the plural, indicating the merging/take-over of the symbiote in his mind. In a shocking call-back to the way the original Venom handled things - Flash decides to not only kill his man, but does so by biting off his head and spitting it back out. This isn't an entirely un-expected development, as it's been clear Flash can't always control this creature - but this character defining moment, happening this soon, was pretty surprising to me. It's not that Flash hasn't been forced to kill before, as either a soldier in the army of on other missions as Venom - but this time it was the straight-up murder of a subdued suspect.

Later we find Flash later in his apartment, where Betty walks in and finally reunites with him. A few issues ago Flash's father had died, with a final goodbye letter he had been given to Flash, but that had been lost. Betty reveals that she had written up a cleaned up version, but still had the copy of the letter in her short-hand. She read it to him - giving Flash the bittersweet goodbye to his abusive father. This entire scene, while good in it's own right, seemed somewhat at odds with the previous "head-eating" scene we saw but a few pages before. The self-destruction of Flash is of course going to be dealt with - but it felt like Flash had simply come back from a hard day, instead of coming off of just murdering someone.

This was a good issue, and a defining point for the character - as Rick Remender takes us deeper and deeper into a morally ambiguous story. This issue simply would have felt more impactful if we had seen Flash dealing with what he had done - instead of just wrapping up the dying father sub-plot. That's a small complaint, though. Over all it was a good issue.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Comic Review: Wolvrine and the X-Men #1

Here is my review for Wolverine and the X-Men #1. You can read it by clicking here, posted on Comic Book Revolution's Review Site. My review was combined with another review -- mine being the second one; so just scroll down to see it.