Following the narratively audacious, emotionally satisfying WandaVision, comes the more prosaic Marvel series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Considering Wanda Maximoff, Vision, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes fought side-by-side against that purple bruiser Thanos not that long ago, it’s hard to believe they ever inhabited the same universe after watching these two shows
As is often the norm with pilot episodes, the first chapter of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a wobbly one. There are interesting ideas (the world in chaos following the five-year blip, race is still a factor even after saving the world), but are buried under mandatory action sequences and the oldest cliché in the book: The hero’s refusal of the call.
Like every other Marvel superhero after Endgame, Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) are not handling the new very normal well. In need of structure, the Falcon is back working with men in uniform. Rather than taking the mantle of Captain America like Steve Rogers wanted, Sam donates the vibranium shield to the Smithsonian and rather focus on saving the family business, a fishing venture only he seems to care about.
Bucky Barnes is not doing much better. Not particularly social to start with, without Steve around, the Winter Soldier has limited contact with the world beyond his court-appointed therapist. While in control of his faculties, he’s haunted by his past as Hydra’s muscle. He wants to make amends, but they barely make a dent on the nightmares that plague them.
Most of the episode is setup, punctuated by a nifty aerial sequence featuring the Falcon battling terrorists (led by George St. Pierre again) and a less exciting flashback depicting the Winter Soldier’s dastardly deeds. The outcome is unwieldly. Canadian filmmaker Kari Skogland (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Stone Angel) gets as much juice as she can from the script, but the writing is perfunctory. Boilerplate even.
I’m not ready to dismiss The Falcon and the Winter Soldier just yet (I’m a completist), but it’s at some distance of becoming appointment television. 2/5 prairie dogs.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, episode one is now available in Disney Plus.
A member of the accomplished generation of actresses born in Regina in the mid-eighties (a group that includes Tatiana Maslany and Amy Matysio), Elyse Levesque had already reached notoriety thanks to geek favorite series Stargate Universe. Now she is the lead of the new CBC drama Shoot the Messenger.
Roughly inspired by Rob Ford’s controversial tenure as Mayor of Toronto, Shoot the Messenger is anchored by Daisy (Levesque), a reporter with a nose for exclusives and messy personal life. A seemingly meaningless gang-related death leads her to a vast net of corruption, involving dirty cops, crooked politicians and unsavory characters.
Elyse Levesque relates to Daisy’s ambition and drive. “The character appealed to the darker side of myself”, the actresses confesses. Even though she is often cast in shows filming in Canada (Messenger, Stargate, Cedar Cove) Levesque is based in Los Angeles: “I work everywhere but the city I live in.”
– You have been cast in a number of TV shows. Do you have an inkling early on which ones will last?
– You never do. The industry is so weird, it’s really hard to predict. Stargate Universe was such a great show, great cast, we were confident we were coming back for a third season and found out that was not the case. It’s unfortunate, because you can get really attached to people and is hard to say goodbye. Now that I’m older I try to choose projects that I would like to watch and hopefully other people share my taste. Continue reading “Shoot the Messenger’s Elyse Levesque: SK Fostered My Creativity”
Fifty years ago today NBC debuted a science fiction TV show called Star Trek. You’ve probably heard of it — the continuing voyages of the starship Enterprise, and all that? I grew up loving Star Trek (in reruns — I’m not THAT old), so I’d have to be drunk on Saurian brandy or dying of Vegan choriomeningitis to ignore this occasion. Here are my six favourite original series episodes. You can bet I’ll watch a couple on Netflix tonight.
1. “Balance Of Terror”
This episode introduces the recurring Federation foes the Romulans with a Cold War paranoia and racism parable. It also has a chess-like spaceship duel that’s second only to Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan’s.
I’m cheating — this one’s from the 1973 animated Star Trek series. But given that all the major actors except Walter Koenig (Chekov) returned for this show (and Koenig wrote an episode, anyway), it’s legit Trek in my book. After Spock is erased from history, he must travel back in time to save his younger self. You’ll never forget Spock’s adorable childhood pet sehlat, I-Chaya. Trust me.
3. “The Doomsday Machine”
Can Captain James T. Kirk use a wrecked Federation starship to defeat a humongous tinfoil space worm? Goddamn right he can. Amusing transporter problems and exasperated Enterprise crew members add to the fun.
4. “Devil In The Dark”
Space miners put jobs ahead of local wildlife and habitat. Sadly still relevant.
5. “Operation: Annihilate!”
Flying rubber pancake parasites from outer space wreak havoc. ’Nuff said.
6. Honourable Mentions
Oh come on, no one could pick only six favourite Star Trek episodes, so here are more: “City On The Edge Of Forever” (time travel, lethal moral conundrums), “Errand of Mercy” (Klingons!!!), “Space Seed” (Khaaaan!!!), “The Trouble With Tribbles” (an ecological meditation on invasive species — plus Klingons!!!), “Arena” (Kirk wrestles a bug-eyed space lizard), “The Enterprise Incident” (Romulans haz Klingon battlecruisers???!!!), “The Corbomite Maneuver” (discussed: the merits of poker over chess), “The Mark Of Gideon” (or: “why condoms matter”), the two-part, brilliantly-retrofitted original Star Trek pilot, “the Menagerie” (which won a Hugo award), and of course “Amok Time” — because A.) horny Spock!!! and B.) the word “amok”.
I’m totally flying blind with this blog post on some multi-media performance that’s being held at Conexus Arts Centre on Friday April 15 — I even asked around the office a bit, but no one could shed any light on what the hell it might involve.
Going by the description on the CAC website, apparently there’s some famous TV and movie franchise that’s been kicking around for a few decades now and to commemorate some anniversary it’s having a production company called CineConcerts has assembled a live orchestra that will perform scores composed for the TV shows and movies coupled with iconic images and video from the franchise projected on a giant screen.
The performance on Friday gets going at 8 p.m., and here’s a promotional trailer for the show that maybe those who are more in the know than me and my Prairie Dog colleagues can glean some useful information from:
HOW THE BIRDS FLY I watched this animated map of bird migration patterns for an embarrassingly long time. Check out the bird that only goes as far south as Cape Breton. What’s that bird thinking? But then, I suppose that if you’re spending your summers at Ellesmere Island, a rocky outcrop at the end of the Maritimes seems like a good deal.
GETTING DOWN WITH THE REPTILE AGENDA Is your spirit dead? If not, take a look at this dating site for Lizard People. This honestly feels like something from the weird old days of the Internet, when bored people had time to code strange sites (instead of going to California and forming a startup).
FILES ARE GETTING X-EY After many, many years, the show that dominated the ’90s is back for a six-episode miniseries. The first episode is apparently not the best? But who cares, it’s X-Files.
I wasn’t able to find a massive amount of information about this event. But on Saturday Oct. 31 a local filmmaker named Michael J. Lai will be screening a homage that he’s made to a favourite TV show which features the signature phrase “Where No Man Has Gone Before”.
Lai plans to speak about the film afterwards, plus also discuss his involvement another project in the fan fiction genre related to the same TV show called Prelude to Axanar that was funded through Kickstarter and premiered at San Diego’s ComicCon in 2014.
Where No Man Has Gone Before screens at the RPL Theatre at 3 p.m. Because it’s Halloween, people who attend are encouraged if they are so inclined to come in costume. Preregistration is requested, and you can do that by visiting the RPL website.
Ending one of the most venerable and trusted careers in making a complete mockery of the news, Jon Stewart has announced that he is stepping down as host of The Daily Show. According to sources who were there (some of whom are already passing word along on social media), Stewart let the news slip at the taping of today’s episode, telling those in the audience that he’s retiring.
The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and the Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger made up an unholy trinity of my editorial influences during the George W. Bush years–the era North America basically committed itself to going to shit (we’ve never recovered).
Given that Stranger editorial director Dan Savage — who was in the crowd of celebrities in the last episode of Colbert — is working on an ABC sitcom, I wonder if I might soon be feeling very, very, lonely.
What up, people of Internet? It’s 5:30 a.m. (as of this writing), my insomnia’s doing great and I’m feeling just a little punchy. I think it’s all the fatigue toxins goosing my synapses. So let’s proceed right into my Yearly Reckoning, in which I dump out some random opinions on your unsuspecting boots. In current news, another Malaysian plane has gone missing: AirAsia QZ8501 has vanished in heavy weather between Singapore and Indonesia with 192 passengers on board. Cue the satellite hunters and conspiracy mongers.
2. HEY, WHO’S KILLING INDIGENOUS WOMEN? This appears to be a question that the Harper government is still unwilling to answer, because as far as our Skinwalker-in-Chief is concerned, indigenous Canadians aren’t real people and may be dismissed if he shakes his head hard enough. Of course, he’s terrified of shaking his head lest his human face come flying off in public.
3. ACTUALLY IT’S ABOUT ETHICS IN GAMING JOURNALISM By far the most pathetic and embarrassing story of the year: Gamergate, a crusade of misogynistic basement dwellers dedicated to ensuring that women don’t make games and that games aren’t made with women in mind, because nothing’s more unethical than diversity or inclusion or catering to the actual gaming market.
4. POPE FRANCIS, YOU SO COOL Pope Francis continues to make good on his image as a reformer with a wingdangdoo of an address to the Holy See. In a blistering speech, he laid out the ailments plaguing the Catholic Church hierarchy, including “spiritual Alzheimer’s.” He also singles out “working too hard” as a problem, which, good thinking. Francis also promised to bring financial reform to the Vatican, which will probably win him few friends among the Church bureaucracy.
5. BEST THINGS OF 2014
BEST TV OF 2014 Yes, yes, give me your True Detectives, your Hannibals and your Fargos – all of which were excellent, excellent television. But I’m going to propose a few alternates: the hilarious squalor of Broad City, a dirty weed-fogged riff on Girls; Rick and Morty, a deranged stack of inventive madness from Community creator Dan Harmon; and The Affair, which started off as a minutely observed character drama about infidelity and devolved into a fantastically trashy soap opera in only ten episodes. Oh, and from The CW, there’s The Flash, which is the most fun you can have watching a man run fast in red tights, and The 100, which began life as Post-Apocalyptic Hot Teen Soap Opera and is now a frantically paced game of escalating stakes between ridiculously good-looking people on a devastated future Earth. What’s not to like?
BEST MOVIES OF 2014 So many excellent films this year. Under The Skin. The Lego Movie. Boyhood (probably). The Babadook. Snowpiercer, except for the overlong ending. Guardians of the Galaxy. Two Days One Night. And more. Definitely not The Equalizer, unless “Denzel Washington killing randos with home & garden supplies” is the new criterion for great cinema.
DUMBEST MOVIES OF 2014 THAT PEOPLE THINK ARE GOOD BUT THEY’RE NOT Freaking Gone Girl. It’s ridiculous. Okay? And with apologies to Jorge, Interstellar is a movie about a guy who sails beyond the stars to spy on his teenage daughter. It’s creepy. People eat corn, they cry in space and it’s creepy.
BEST SPORTS OF 2014 Over Christmas I watched a lot of football at the in-laws. Then I went to my parents’ and watched an imperial ton of soccer. That was my sports for the whole year, and it was fantastic. I can’t wait for Xmas 2015.
BEST MUSICS OF 2014 Lots of people have opinions, but mine is the one that counts here. LP1 from FKA Twigs, whom I can only describe as an erotic trip-hop anxiety performance artist, is the best thing to hit my ears this year. D’Angelo’s Black Messiah is indisputably great, but you can’t shake my heart. Don’t go shaking it. To give you a sense of what to expect, as Greg Beatty might say, here’s the single “Two Weeks.” Lyrics are a trifle NSFW, but phrases like “higher than a motherfucker” never sounded so sweet and lyrical.
Glen A. Larson passed away this weekend at the age of 77. For those who don’t know, Larson was a prolific TV writer and producer whose body of work was mostly in the 1970’s and ’80s.
His biggest hits were Quincy, M.E., Battlestar Galactica, Magnum, P.I. and Knight Rider, although he flooded TV sets with a ton of shorter lived shows throughout the ’80s. Manimal about a man who can change into any animal, Automan about a crime fighting hologram and The Highwayman which was kind of cross between Knight Rider and Mad Max were just some of the “jems” that Larson came up with. Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Glen A. Larson”
Here’s a thing I should’ve been promoting for many weeks: the Centre for Inquiry Regina has been hosting regular Sunday night meetings at the Industrial Park Café (101 Hodsman Rd) to watch the new Cosmos series.
This Sunday is your last chance to join them as it’s the final episode. Show starts at 8:00 but people will start showing up at 7:00 for drinks and food. I’ve met the CFI Regina crew and they’re pretty cool so it should be a good time. (I’d like to go but I’ll be in Winnipeg this weekend.)
Frankly, I’ve been very impressed with this new incarnation of Cosmos and if I ever get a chance to blog again I’d like to write up something on it. My thoughts in short: It’s great but not as great as the original.
I’m really missing the Vangelis score from the Sagan version, which surprises me because I always thought it sounded just too… 1980. But now with this genero-symphonic thing that the new series is using I’m looking back with new appreciation for the original’s genius.
Also, as much as I like Neil deGrasse Tyson as a host, he’s no Carl Sagan. But hey, who is? And I’m sure my fondness for Sagan’s sonorous delivery has a lot to do with the fact that I was just a wee, impressionable kid when I first saw the show on PBS.
Speaking of, having the show on network television — while it guarantees a ginormous audience — means commercials, and they’re really breaking up the flow of the show and they also mean that there’s about 15 minutes less time to work with per episode. And that means less science.
But apparently the DVD release will have two hours more content though, so once I own those, the advertising critique vanishes.
So… beyond those trifles, I’m loving the new Cosmos. And last week’s episode totally knocked me out. It was the update of the original’s “Heaven And Hell” episode which compares Venus to Earth and it tackled environmental issues. And, big surprise considering this is airing on a Rupert Murdoch network, it took on human-caused climate change. It was probably the best, most succinct explanation of the issue I’ve seen on television — what we know about global warming, how we know it, how we know that humans are the problem, and what are a couple possible solutions. It was kind of perfect. Bravo.
Anyway, if you haven’t watched the series up to now, the DVD will be out June 10. And if you’re looking for a group of science buffs to watch the last episode with, check out the Industrial Park Café this Sunday.
Once again, comedians are showing the mainstream media how to do their job…
As for Steve’s post about how a collapsing Antarctic ice sheet will lead to rapid sea level rise centuries from now… I guess we’ve nothing to worry about seeing as the Greenland ice sheet is staying right where it is.
Could the people who run Warner Bros. be more stupid and awful? The studio launches a new DC universe TV show, called Gotham, and they hire a guy (it’s always a guy, never a woman) to run it who says things like this:
“When thinking about how to enter the DC world for TV, certainly on network TV, to do shows about superheroes — about people who wear spandex costumes — that doesn’t work very well. We want to see people’s faces. TV is about emotion and character, not stunts and special effects. This is a way of entering that world in a fresh way.”
Right. Superheroes in costumes don’t work. No one would like that. No money to be made that way. Jesus Christ, how much can a corporation hate the thing it sells, anyway? At Warner/DC, the contempt for comics and superheroes is palpable.
Here’s a trailer for this show that will supposedly be more “colourful” and “vivid” than Christopher Nolan’s “visually stunning, but not particularly visually pleasurable” take on Gotham. There’s lots of shitty computer animated blood splattering and a second-rate rip-off of Hans Zimmer’s Batman trilogy score.
Anniversaries. Every single person, place or thing has one. Not everyone has a monocle, but by gum, everyone’s got an anniversary. The only thing that doesn’t have an anniversary, curiously enough, is the monocle. Here are a few anniversaries that will make you smile, then weep, then nod your head as if to say ain’t life a funny thing, but come on. You’re not fooling anyone.
1. 10 YEARS AGO YOU SAW JANET JACKSON’S NIPPLE It’s true. On February 1 2004, during the Super Bowl halftime show,Justin Timberlake grabbed Janet Jackson’s chemise and exposed one mammary unit for the world to see. Millions of people were traumatized at the sight, because no one on Earth had ever seen a nipple – not even one covered with a glittery little anemone of a pasty. Worst of all, the incident gave rise to the euphemism “wardrobe malfunction,” surely one of the most weaselly phrases that ever squirmed into the zeitgeist, and now a category on Huffington Post.
2. MISTER COBAIN, HE DEAD Was it 20 years ago that Kurt Cobain – whose entire musical output now sounds like an enraged call for morning coffee – put a shotgun to his head and wiped grunge rock clean with one pull of the trigger?Yes it is, folks. That’s how time moves here on the Prime Material Plane: relentlessly forward, pushing you away from your most cherished or despised memories into the future, until that final shove into darkness settles all of your arguments. While you wait for that inevitable moment, though, you should listen to Nirvana’s cover of The Man Who Sold the World. It’s a harmonic convergence of coolness that may never come around again in our lifetimes.
3. GEEK LOVE TURNS 25 Sooner or later, every sensitive reader coming of age in the early ’90s encountered Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love, the bizarre story of a carnival family with deliberately induced congenital defects. Caitlin Roper makes a claim that Geek Love is a hidden force in our culture that has inspired countless artists and performers, from Kurt Cobain to Jim Rose. Certainly you can pin some of the blame for the ’90s on Geek Love, and that’s why no one must ever read it again. Just kidding, it’s great. Go buy a copy and destroy your children with it.
4. NOTICE TO BABY BOOMERS: SO OLD. SO, SO OLD 50 years ago, when the air was fresh and the earth was green, the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. Do you remember what they played? Were you one of the 73 million who watched them on TV? Were you in the audience? Did the massive libidinal excess unleashed that night encompass you in its radiant pulse? Did you drift through Woodstock and wash up on the grim shores of Altamont? Did you high-five your friends when you bought your first BMW in the ’80s? Did you forget that Sunday night is turkey night in the cafeteria? No cranberry sauce if you don’t show up at 5:00 sharp.*
Seriously, just listen to the screams in the audience. That must have been a good night to be young and alive.
5. TELEVISION. THE DRUG OF A NATION. BREEDING IGNORANCE AND FEEDING RADIATION Television’s roots date back to technologies from the late 1800s, but it was introduced to North American consumers in 1939 at the New York World’s Fair (Germany beat the US in this respect by several years). Anyway, the glowing box that fed a nation its post-war Pabulum of middle-class dreams and mutant vaudeville is turning 75 this year. That may well be older than your grandparents. It’s definitely older than your Netflix subscription, so show some respect, you punks.
*Making fun of Baby Boomers is the only pleasure left for us Gen Xers and Yers. The Millennials, I don’t know what their pleasures may be. At best they’re an alien life form, but I’m betting that they’re a freak signal from the CW Network made flesh and walking among us.
As everyone knows, Regina’s Tatiana Maslany, star (or stars?) of BBC’s science fiction clone drama Orphan Black, was nominated for Best Actress In A Television Series-Drama in this year’s Golden Globe Awards. As everyone also knows, she didn’t win. But perhaps some people haven’t yet seen this amusing squeal of outrage from Buzzfeed. You must watch it! It’s got gifs!
In any case, there’s got to be worse things than being an award runner-up to the freaking Princess Bride. Maslany’s insanely talented. Her time will come.
The important work I do at Prairie Dog sometimes involves reading the Family Guy Wikipedia page. And on that page there is listed an upcoming episode with the title “Brian The Closer”. Page is here, copyright application is here.
Another upcoming episode has this description: “An unnamed episode will guest star Maya Rudolph as a runner whom Brian falls for and Glenn Howerton as the publisher of a children’s book written by Joe. The episode is slated to air in the fall of 2014.”
Welcome back, Brian. It’s like you were never gone.
Vancouver actor and protagonist of Glee Cory Monteith was found dead in an hotel room this afternoon. The actor had been battling drug addiction and just recently finished a stint at a rehabilitation centre. While Glee is not my cup of tea, Monteith was an outspoken Vancouver Canucks fan and all-around good guy. A bad Saturday ends up worse.
I blogged awhile back about the debut of a BBC America SF mini-series starring Tatiana Maslany called Orphan Black. She was born and raised here, and at age 27 is carving out a pretty solid career for herself as an actress.
Quantum Black’s a particularly big challenge for her, though, because in it she plays nine or so versions of the same cloned woman (that’s one version of Sarah above). And earlier today, as other media have reported, she was nominated for a BBC America Critic’s Choice Best Actress in a Drama Award. Claire Danes, Julianna Margulies, Elizabeth Moss and Kerri Russell are the other nominated actresses. So all in all, pretty good company.
So congrats to Tatiana. And congratulations also to Weyburn-born Trenna Keating who’s become something of a sensation in the SF community for her portrayal of the alien Doc Yewll in the ScyFy series Defiance.
The debate about whether off-color jokes reinforce stereotypes or actually satirize ignorance is well-worn at this point. Wherever you stand, it’s crucial to recognize that simply voicing an objectionable belief isn’t itself offensive—it all depends on the context. And last night’s routine was seeded with indicators that McFarlane was operating within a shtick called “Caddish Dude Who Writes Family Guy Cluelessly Mouths Off.”
Seth MacFarlane made a whole bunch of sexist, reductive jokes at the Oscars last night. It’s frustrating enough to know that 77 percent of Academy voters are male. Or to watch 30 men and 9 women collect awards last night. But MacFarlane’s boob song, the needless sexualization of a little girl, and the relentless commentary about how women look reinforced, over and over, that women somehow don’t belong. They matter only insofar as they are beautiful or naked, or preferably both. This wasn’t an awards ceremony so much as a black-tie celebration of the straight white male gaze.