Saturday, January 27, 2007

Angel Spotlight Series Graphic Novel

Although Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel have been deceased series for three and two years respectively, the characters live on in the comics. The Angel comic book series is doing respectably well at IDW, and a Buffy Season Eight comic, penned by Joss Whedon himself, will be debuting from Dark Horse comics in the next few months.

I've found the Buffy and Angel comic books much more satisfying to read and true to their source material than the novel tie-ins. With a few exceptions, I recommend them for any fans who miss the Whedonverse. So I'll be reviewing these books as TV Tie-Ins.

Angel Spotlight Compilation

The Angel Spotlight series from IDW has featured single issue stories focusing on various characters from Angel. The first five of these titles are now available as a singel trade paperback. I'm not sure if IDW has plans to make any more Spotlight issues, but these are definitely worth a look.

Spotlight: Illyria--Written by Peter David, art by Nicola Scott. Trying to understand humanity, Illyria attempts to experience guilt by exploring Fred's life. Set during Angel Season Five, prior to Not Fade Away, this story is well-written, with a nice emotional twist.

Spotlight: Gunn--Writen by Dan Jolley, art by Mark Pennington. Gunn visits his nephew, who's fallen in with a bad crowd. While the story here was okay, I was less than impressed with the art.

Spotlight: Wesley--Written by Scott Tipton, art by Mike Norton. When Knox falls ill, Wes struggles with his feelings for Fred. Another nice little story set during Season Five.

Spotlight: Doyle--Written by Jeff Meriotte, art by David Messina. This comic gives us a prelude to City of..., telling us a bit about how Doyle ended up teamed with Angel. I liked this one quite a lot, as it was nice to see Doyle again.

Spotlight: Connor--Written by Jay Faerber, art by Bob Gill. A nice filler story, showing Connor dealing with knowledge of his true parentage while still trying to function in his adoptive family.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Whatever they're paying Ben Edlund, they should give him more. Every time his name pops up under "written by," we get an episode that pushes the show to new levels. It was true on Angel, as well. I mean, dude, the guy turned Angel into a puppet. Tonight, he turned Sam into a badass and Dean into Tommy Shaw. Rock on!

"Nightshifter" is essentially a followup to "Skin," from last season. To make the obligatory X-Files reference, it's the "Tooms" to "Skin's" "Squeeze," as it were. I liked that they did this kind of follow-up episode on The X-Files, and it worked equally well here. When Dean was declared dead in "Skin," we knew--or rather hoped, at that point--that there'd be consequences, that the event wouldn't just be ignored. And it hasn't been, much to the credit of Supernatural's showrunners. They addressed the storyline in "The Usual Suspects," tangentially, and here they've faced it head-on.

Investigating an odd series of robberies, Sam and Dean come upon Ronald Resnick (Chris Gauthier, Eureka), a slightly off-kilter UFO conspiracist type who's convinced the robberies were committed by a robot shapeshifter. He's got it half right--it is, indeed, a shapeshifter, of the same sort that the Winchesters faced in St. Louis in "Skin." Knowing the shifters like to live in the sewers, they work out where the next robbery is likely to occur. They find the shifter, but unfortunately their plans to deal with it are derailed when Ronald appears, taking everyone in the bank "hostage" for their own protection so he can conquer the mandroid.

What follows is a twisty turny plot that gets our boys deeper and deeper into trouble, as not only the local police but the FBI get involved. And the FBI agent has a special interest in Dean. ("Yes, I know about Sam, too, Bonnie to your Clyde." And yeah, that part's true, but don't be badmouthing Dean's dad cause you don't know crap about his dad.) The second act break is killer, and I have to say I didn't see it coming. Sam goes as badass as we've ever seen him, and damn if that Jared Padalecki isn't starting to look hot to me...

In the end, of course, our boys take out the bad guy, and slip away from the Feds to some of the very best use of music in a TV show I've ever seen. This show is known for that, but this was extra good. The song, by the way, was Renegade, by Styx, a tune which brings back a few rather uncomfortable high school memories, but still rocks.

So kudos to Ben Edlund for yet another stellar piece of TV writing. Maybe later he can turn Dean into a puppet? Cause that'd be cool.

Also for today's post, I hunted down links to a couple of the source books mentioned in the If Magazine interview with Eric Kripke and Robert Singer. They look interesting, to say the least. I might have to snag them, myself...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Masterpiece Theater—Jane Eyre

In a convenient coincidence, PBS decided to show this production of Jane Eyre only a few weeks after I finally got around to reading the book for the first time. Having greatly enjoyed the novel, I was happy to tune in, though Sunday night was so crowded (with The Dresden Files and Battlestar Galactica) I had to record it. It's definitely well worth a watch. The adaptation by Sandy Welch is a strongly scripted and faithful adaptation of the book, from the dour Jane (Ruth Wilson) to the snooty Blanche (Christina Cole--Hex) to the dark and sinister Thornfield Hall, as much a character in the story as any of the humans. My only real quibble is the casting of Toby Stephens as Rochester. He just doesn't look the part to me. Rochester is described in the book as a large, imposing, dark and craggy man, and Stephens is none of those things. Plus when he turns his head the right way, he looks just like Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley) on Scrubs. I kept expecting him to call Jane "Barbie." They should have cast a really big guy with huge shoulders. Yes, I know this is my personal fetish but it's in the book.

In any case, the interplay between Wilson and Stephens is still good, and the adaptation is solid, so I'll definitely be tuning in for part two.

The DVD of this production is available for preorder at, with a release date of February 20. In the meantime, read the book if you haven't already.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I hadn't gotten a chance to see any of this show, in spite of being intrigued by the premise, so during the hiatus I headed on over to to watch the episodes I've missed. I'm glad I did.

Jericho starts off with a bang--literally--when a nuclear bomb goes off in the middle of the US--probably Denver. The explosion is witnessed by the residents of Jericho, Kansas, who then have to deal with the aftermath of what proves to be a nationwide attack that has leveled several cities and rendered US civilization as we know it a thing of the past.

Just before the explosion, Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich--Into the West) returns to his home town of Jericho after a long absence. Nobody knows where he's been, and he's not too anxious to talk about it. He's reunited with his parents (Gerald McRaney, the town mayor, and Pamela Reed), his brother Eric (Kenneth Mitchell) and old girlfriend Emily (Ashley Scott--Dark Angel, Birds of Prey), none of whom seem all that happy to see him (with the possible exception of Mom).

The first few episodes, dealing primarily with the aftermath of the bombings, were the most interesting to me, although also the most disturbing and the most likely to inspire nasty apocalyptic dreams (although that could have been the hot buttered rum). In later episodes, the show seems to be devolving into a soap opera, though the specter of the nuclear bombs and the decline of civilization does rear its ugly head from time to time. The cast of characters is a mix of tepid and genuinely interesting. Jake is that blend of good guy and badass that I usually enjoy far too much for my own good, while his father is a bit too convinced of his complete rightness to hold my attention. (Plus there was that whole flu thing...) Hawkins (Lennie James --Snatch), the mysterious "Is He Good or Is He Bad" guy, who may or may not be FBI, started out bland filler but gradually has become intriguing. (Also--why is there only ONE black family in this town? I know it's Kansas, but please...) And I really like Stanley (Brad Beyer) and his deaf sister Bonnie (Shoshannah Stern--Weeds), and the somewhat stereotypical but fairly entertaining relationship between him and Mimi (Alicia Coppola, no relation to The Coppolas ), the IRS agent.

I think the biggest flaw of Jericho is probably also the thing that makes it tolerable to watch. Based on what I've read on the subject, the aftermath of this kind of attack would be far worse than what's depicted here. I could see HBO or Showtime doing a much more realistic treatment of a nuclear apocalypse, but I think such realism would be so grim as to be unwatchable. Even Jericho, with its watered down, prettified version, seems to carry the underlying message that, when chips are down and we all need each other, people will still pretty much act like assholes. So the showrunners have undercut the widespread effects of things like nuclear fallout and radiation poisoning, put in elements of typical serial dramas, and have ended up with a show with fairly wide appeal. On the other hand, they've made it look like a substantial part of the nation could survive multiple nuclear attacks, which seems unlikely to me.

Overall, Jericho is an entertaining show, if not one that will capture my all-abiding love. And it'll have to go to the DVR for timeshifting, since it's on opposite Bones, and even Skeet Ulrich's good guy/badass cannot outrank David Boreanaz's exceedingly wide shoulders.

Neat Interview with Hart Hanson (Bones)

Found this via the Bone Yard--Hart Hanson Interview. Go check it out! There's a picture of David Boreanaz smooching his boss... totally worth the click. But read the interview, too.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Heroes finally returns with new episodes after that ridiculously long hiatus thingum. When last we saw our heroes... hell, who can remember. For that reason, this is more recap than review, as I try to get my Heroes legs back under me.

Anyway, it's two weeks later. Peter is in the hospital in the aftermath of his weird vision. Niki's in police custody, and Claire can't remember what happened in the last episode any better than I can.

Bennett is experimenting with Sylar, who looks much the worse for wear, trying to figure out what makes him tick.

Hiro and Ando search for the sword future!Hiro had. Hiro hopes it will restore his powers, which he feels have been growing weaker. They find it on a Samurai display in a museum. It has the symbol on it that's been appearing off and on, most noteably on Nikki/Jessica's shoulder. Ando translates this symbol as "Godsend," coincidentally the name of the episode. Hiro uses his powers to steal the sword from the museum, but it turns out to be a replica. The real sword is in the possession of Linderman. Hiatus brain kicks in here, as I can't for the life of me remember the significance of that name, though I'm pretty sure I should recognize it.

Peter seems to be caught in a flood of visions. Trying to figure out what's up with his brother, Nathan goes with Simone to Isaac's place, where Isaac reappears, off the heroin now after his stint in Bennett-sponsored rehab. Hiro shows up looking for help finding the real sword. Simone recognizes Hiro from Isaac's comic books, as Hiro recognizes Nathan as "Flying Man." Nathan agrees to help Hiro.

DL has had the charges dropped against him because of Niki/Jessica's confession, but isn't out of danger from the people he crossed regarding the suitcase o' money. Niki is facing the death penalty for the murders Jessica committed. Jessica takes over the questioning and gets Niki thrown into the psych ward.

Claire, befuddled, tries to get the Haitian to give her answers, to little effect. She then tries to reconnect with Zach, who remembers nothing of their friendship, by reenacting the video tape he made of her attempting to kill herself.

Mohinder is still trying to find the folks on the list to warn them about Sylar. Bennett catches up to him. He wants the list, as well, but Mohinder refuses to give it to him.

Matt loses the trust of his partner and attempts to gain the trust of his wife by coming clean to her about his newfound abilities.

Peter's vision shows him causing the explosoin because he took someone's power and couldn't control it. He awakens in terror. Later, he sees the bearded man from his vision (Christopher Eccleston--Dr. Who) at a restaurant. The bearded man is taken aback that Peter can see him, and an altercation ensues. Apparently the bearded man is invisible, and now Peter, absorbing the power, is invisible, too.

I had a hard time following this show tonight. I don't think it was the fault of the show so much as the aftereffects of the long hiatus. Shows like this, where there's an ongoing, very detailed storyline, just don't do well with these long gaps. I think Heroes will be fine ratings-wise, though--but it'll be interesting to see what happens when Lost returns after an even longer hiatus. I think the networks should rethink the whole "Fall Finale/Winter Premiere" concept.

With that said, overall it felt like a solid episode. The explanation of why New York blows up is holding together, and I get a sense that the writers do know where they're going with that storyline. I'm not as sure about other bits, particularly the Niki storyline, but that's largely because I'm not getting a strong sense of exactly what her power is supposed to be, or how it'll come into play. And the continuing tendency to add even more characters as the story progresses is confusing things a bit, at least for me. But hopefully now we'll have another long string of consecutive episodes, and a chance to work our way back into the story.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Dresden Files—Premiere

On his premiere outing, Harry Dresden faces a convoluted case involving a little boy who's being pursued by strange, bird-like monsters, and a murder case where the female victim is left flayed. The two cases are connected, and the boy's dilemma echoes Harry's experiences as the magically gifted child of a stage magician.

I have to say I was a bit disappointed in this episode. The story was muddled and difficult to follow. I was left struggling to work out the mythology, even on simple levels such as how the show's magic system works, and whether other people know about the wizarding and the beasties that lurk in the night, or whether this knowledge is limited to a select few. In the books, all this was made apparent very quickly, but here it's not clear at all, and for a pilot episode that's a potentially fatal flaw.

On a positive note, Paul Blackthorne (24) works very well as Harry. Terrence Mann seems a bit overwrought as Bob--in the books he's a lecherous smartass ghost-in-a-skull, while here he's more somber and much more willing to help Harry out. Overall, I think the showrunners here dropped some elements from the books that could have worked strongly to their advantage.

With all that said, I will be tuning in again next week to see how things develop. Hopefully the show will find stronger legs with a few more episodes under its belt. In the meantime, I think I'll see about ordering some more of the books.

Supernatural Season Recap

Since I didn't start blogging reviews until partway through the season, I thought I'd do a quick recap of all the episodes aired before I started. (Okay, so it was a good excuse to lounge about and watch Supernatural all day.)

In My Time of Dying--I thought the end of the first season was a copout, until I saw this episode, which made the sudden, seemingly gratuitous cliffhanger into an integral plot point. Ouija board--$18. Pajama party with your near-dead brother's spirit in his hospital room--Priceless. And the end of this episode is just heart-wrenching. I can't drop a cup of coffee anymore without weeping like a baby man.

Everybody Loves a Clown--Sam is afraid of clowns. Planes may crash, but dammit, clowns kill. And creepily, too. Another heartbreaker as Dean takes out his pain on his most precious possession. We are introduced to Jo and Ellen, whom we tolerate and adore, respectively.

Bloodlust--The introduction of Gordon, fellow hunter, Dean's shadow-self. The boys' usually black and white world finds shades of gray. Most importantly, the Metallicar returns in all its shiny glory and gets its very own musical montage.

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things--A zombie story provides clunky, inexpertly crafted metaphor for Dean's state of mind regarding his return from certain death. In spite of numerous TV listings to the contrary, Summer Glau does not appear. In a strange coincidence, Sam's arm is broken by the zombie in the exact same place Jared Padalecki broke his arm. Sam wears a cast for several episodes after this, because Jared Padalecki makes him. (Note: although this is still my least favorite episode of this season so far, I didn't dislike it quite as much on repeat viewings.)

Simon Said--Ben Edlund pens an episode worthy of, well, Ben Edlund. Sam and Dean meet another "chosen child," deepening the mystery of what Sam's precognitive abilities mean as regards the Yellow Eyed Demon's plans for him and others like him. Also--great Star Wars jokes, Stonehenge, Moby Dick's bong, Dr. Badass gets naked, and poor Dean is tormented by Jo's love for REO Speedwagon. And Jensen Ackles sings, which we love with much gooey love. The first, and one of the best, of the ongoing streak of damn near perfect episodes.

No Exit--Jo elbows her way into a hunt for the ghost of H.H. Holmes, America's first serial killer. We are left trying to figure out if we like her, or if she still annoys us. Probably the weakest of the Near Perfect Streak, but not bad. A nice showcase episode for Alona Tal.

The Usual Suspects--Horror maven Linda Blair appears in an episode that "reads" like fanfic. Hah. And you all thought Jo was the Mary Sue. Dean says he likes frisky women. We notice the obvious sparks between him and Linda Blair's character, add that to the obvious sparks between Dean and Ellen*, and vow to be friskier in the future.

Full-length reviews of the remainder of Season Two can be found here.

*Yes, they are obvious. Shut up. The boy obviously adores older frisky women. I am not projecting. I said shut up.