Friday, September 24, 2010

Rapid Fire Review: Sitcom Showdown

I ended up getting a little bit more backed up than I expected to be which is why there hasn’t been too many new posts around here so that’s why I decided to create a new section here. Every once and a while I’ll do a group of short reviews of things that share a similar theme; for the first set I decided to go with a little something called the ‘sitcom showdown.’ So without further babbling I bring you the ‘Sitcom Showdown.’

Mike & Molly 1x01 “Pilot” –

The show had three strikes going into it, so I wasn’t expecting much. Strike one… I loved Accidentally on Purpose, so I don’t like that a new show is on that night when we could have gotten a second season of AoP. Secondly the big night/time shift for The Big Bang Theory. I had a delicate Thursday night line up with the DVR as it was and moving tBBT to another night messed it up hardcore. Strike three… this show is clearly a mash up of CBS’s The King of Queens and Still Standing. I know on the surface the shows have very limited similarities but I loved both of them and they’re gone, I still haven’t forgiven CBS for cancelling The Class, and now with the loss of Accidentally on Purpose all I can do is shake my head and say ‘oh.’
The premise is alright I suppose, two lonely people overweight people meet at a meeting and it takes a series of events to get them to eventually ask each other out. The best thing the show has going for it is Swoosie Kurtz, but I don’t see the character of Joyce (Molly and Victoria’s mother) becoming that much of a focal point unless the main characters actually get married; then she’d become the female version of Arthur (Carrie’s dad on King of Queens.) Samuel – the waiter is a one note character at best and there’s only so many times he can make the ‘you eat so much food but people in my village starve’ joke and it be funny. Victoria is odd, I mean I can sense that they’ll put her with Carl (the other cop) and they could be fun to watch but I doubt they’ll pair off more than half the cast with each other. At the end of the day there are simply too many things on Monday nights to get invested in this show. It’s already tough enough with Chuck, The Event, How I Met Your Mother, Hawaii Five-O and Castle. If Mike & Molly aired on a different day then it could almost be worth considering giving a second try or taking a wait and see approach.


30Rock 05x01 “The Fabian Strategy” –

30Rock is the type of show that you either love to hate it or you love it’s absurdly stupid moments that you can’t help to laugh at because the more absurd they get the smarter it gets. It’s starting it’s fifth season now so it’s hard to jump into the show if you haven’t seen it before but this is the season where the show will most likely go through it’s growing pains. After this season it will have been around long enough to go into syndication so it’s only a matter of the show retaining it’s quality and not going downhill if they go for a sixth season.
Jenna’s fifth season contract stipulations are funny. But I wish we could have seen more of them and have them become even more outlandish just so we can see her be crazy and even stranger than she is most of the time. Tracy going crazy and seeing Kenneth is good, but you kind of have to expect crazy things when it comes to Tracy. I could have lived without ever having to hear Alec Baldwin say ‘I’m a daddy bear,’ it just came out way too creepy for me, but that was kind of the point. I did like that the episode ended with a nice little book end where Kenneth started seeing Tracy everywhere he went – I kind of wish the keep him working at CBS because he’s never been my favorite character and this would allow for less screen time for him.


The Big Bang Theory 04x01 “The Robotic Manipulation” –

I’ve already talked about why I hate the move to Thursdays so I won’t get into that with again. I’ve always been a fan of tBBT so it’s a show I’ll follow everywhere. I am a bit concerned since Kaley Cuoco was injured and will be missing an undetermined amount of episodes, but the fact that Eliza Dushku will be in at least one episode will help fill the gap, it just won’t be the same with a lack of Penny though. I’m not too worried about it being a make it or break it deal because it’s always done well in the ratings and even though it’s just now starting season four it’s already been renewed up through season five/six and the cast’s contracts actually cover a seventh season as well. It also doesn’t hurt that the ratings shot up 37% from last season.
The whole ‘Sheldon has a girlfriend’ thing is funny – I loved Penny’s reaction to the whole thing especially the whole spit-take and robot hand napkin thing when she heard him say that he and Amy were considering having a child. The sex discussion between Sheldon and Penny was fantastic, especially how he doesn’t even refer to himself as ‘human’ I love the interaction between the two of them, I wish the writers would drop the whole Penny/Leonard thing, Sheldon and Penny have much better chemistry and are far more entertaining to watch. It really shows a lot of character growth because of Penny’s continued friendship with everyone after her break up with Leonard and Sheldon actually acts the most human around her. Howard and the robot hand thing ended up being a little too disturbing, but funny up until he figured out ‘it felt like a real hand.’ I know the running plot is Raj can’t talk to girls sober, but you’d think after three years he’d be able to at least talk in front of Penny when they’re all eating dinner together, especially with how frequently they do it.


Better with You 01x01 “Pilot” –

Before this show even started I wanted to like it but I was afraid to because Josh Cooke and Jennifer Finnigan aren’t really known for long running TV shows. Joanna Garcia has even worse luck when it comes to TV, outside of Reba no new show that she’s launched has even made it past 18 episodes. If this show makes it I will have bittersweet feelings when it comes to it, I actually loved Joanna’s character on How I Met Your Mother and I’d love to have her back and that won’t happen if this show lasts. And then there’s Kurt Fuller – I loved him on Supernatural but there really isn’t a way to bring his character back, and honestly there are other characters I’d want back before him, so again with the iffy. Kurt and Debra Jo Rupp played the married couple, Jennifer and Josh play the committed couple who have been together for nine years yet haven’t jumped the broom and Joanna and newcomer Jake Lacy play a couple who have only known each other for a few months and are now engaged.
The premise is simple – three couples all at different stages in their lives and relationships, it could be funny if played right. I don’t know if the writers were just trying to cram as much as possible in the first episode as possible or it was Joanna’s naturally sped up talking and the fact that Jennifer tried to keep up with it but it made it seem like I had been watching the show for almost a half hour when in reality I was only a few minutes in. The show could be better if they didn’t use the laugh track so heavily; the parts of the show that were funny were actually funny enough that you didn’t need to be told it was funny. I don’t know if it was how Jake played Casey but that on top of the whole needing to get married because of an unplanned pregnancy thing it feels a bit like watching Van and Cheyenne 2.0. The best thing going for this show is the fact that there isn’t really anything on Wednesday nights for it to go against. Sure there’s Survivor but it’s a different type of show, I mean it’s not like they’re going up against The Big Bang Theory or anything like that. Plus ABC is getting better at giving shows time to grow, I didn’t think any of the sitcoms from last year would make it and The Middle, Modern Family and Cougar Town are all still going strong, so there’s got to be hope right?


Cougar Town 02x01 “All Mixed Up” –

I’m going to be completely honest here; I never thought I’d ever watch this show. I don’t know how it happened, I don’t know why it happened but I watched it last year and I was surprised that I liked it, but in the back of my head I kept saying ‘it won’t last a season, it won’t last a season, it won’t last a season’ … and then it did. This is one of the few shows where the entire cast is likable and that really shocked me considering individually I didn’t really care for quite a few things the actors have done in the past. I liked Courteney in Dirt, but not on Friends (even though she had the most likable character on Friends); Busy Philipps is where TV shows go to die, Dan Byrd is like the male version of her, TV shows don’t survive him, and if they do they’re gone within a year after he gets involved with them. The bright spot always has been and always will be Carolyn Hennesy as Barb, she needs a bigger role on the show, but it wold be hard to have her interact with the cast on a regular basis.
I’m actually going to consider this episode a wash because of how much they pimped out the Jennifer Aniston/Courteney Cox reunion. Granted it helped the ratings, but they didn’t need help to begin with. But the whole Jules/Grayson thing seems way too forced this episode – like it wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t try so hard to write in a character for Jennifer. The only plot that felt natural ended up being the Travis and Laurie ‘who can stay awake the longest’ plot. Jules and Ellie stalking Glenn was creepy. I don’t think I want her back on the show at all.


$..! My Dad Says 01x01 “Pilot” –

Before I even watched this episode I hated the fact that it’s on CBS, I’d much rather it be on SHOWTIME or HBO when they could actually say the name of the show. I cringe every single time I hear someone call this show ‘Bleep My Dad Says.’ The cast is pretty solid, I always liked William Shatner on Boston Legal and I loved Nicole Sullivan on King of Queens, MADtv and Rita Rocks (yes I watched that show for her,) Will Sasso provides a mini MADtv reunion with Nicole which is a nice nod. I don’t know what to think of Jonathan Sadowski as ‘Henry.’ I would have rather they stayed with the original actor they cast but for some reason they replaced Ryan Devlin with Jonathan and I don’t really think it works – but that could be because I’m not familiar with Sadowski.
One thing I’m not happy about at all is the laugh track. Everything Nicole touches turns into comedy gold, Will Sasso is funny in his own right but kind of one note. Shatner is essentially playing Denny Crane again which works but having a laugh track with any of those actors, let alone all three of them in the same show is kind of a disservice. The show would be much funnier if it didn’t have the laugh track. I want to like this show, I really do but the laugh track kills it and Jonathan kind of brings it down. It seems like a show that will grow on you with time, it's just a matter of if it will get the time it needs.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nikita 1.01 Pilot - Review/recap

Nikita is a word that can bring up different memories for different people. To some Nikita is the French action film written and directed by Luc Besson back in 1990, to others it means the 1993 US remake titled Point of No Return staring Bridget Fonda but to most Kikita is actually USA Network’s La Femme Nikita that started in January of 1997 and ran until March 2001, for a total of five seasons. There have been a few minor tweaking over the incarnations (the most obvious being from French to English) either she’s a drug addicted killer or a falsely accused woman, but with the latest incarnation – The CW’s Nikita she is a woman who escaped her previous life and her spy work only to be pulled back in again.

Now this isn’t a straight up copy of the previous incarnations its more of a re reimagining of what has gone before. The CW has had a mixed bag when it comes to reboots, their reboot of 90210 is in its third year (or something, I don’t follow it) their reboot of Melrose Place barely ran a full season, but Smallville is about to start it’s tenth season. So it stands to reason that Nikita will either last 18 episodes, or be around long enough for people to go ‘ugh, I didn’t even know this show was still on.

Before I sit down to watch the pilot I’ll take a moment to go into the particular casting for the series. First up Maggie Q, I think this was a mistake. Don’t get me wrong I liked the previous things she was in (Rush Hour 2, Mission: Impossible III, and I’m sure I’ll love her in the upcoming Priest movie) and it’s good to know that she’s an actress who is willing to do TV I just don’t think she’s right to play Nikita. I don’t mind the obvious visual differences I just don’t know if Maggie can pull off this type of role for a prolonged period of time. I could see her doing a movie of Nikita, but 13+ hours of her playing the same character? Yeah I’m not sure if I buy it… yet.

Lyndsy Fonseca also stars in Nikita (and I almost would rather have had her play Nikita at the ‘start’ of her career than the role she’s actually playing) she definitely bumps up the ‘geek cred’ here being fresh off her roles in Hot Tub Time Machine and Kick-Ass on the big screen, and years of roles in genre TV like How I Met Your Mother, Desperate Housewives, Big Love and Heroes. Shane West is here too, you know him from things like Dracula 2000, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and his time on TV with E.R. among many other things as well. So yeah he’s here, next! Melinda Clark is here too and she bumps up the genre cred bringing things like Return of the Living Dead III, Soldier of Fortune, INC, Spawn, The Animatrix, Xena: Warrior Princess, Star Trek: Enterprise, Charmed, Firefly, Reaper, Chuck, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (COME ON SHE WAS LADY FRICKEN HEATHER PEOPLE!!!!) and The Vampire Diaries to the table… to quote Wolverine “ ‘Nuff Said.”  Xander Berkeley has been in far too many things to list outside of his stint on 24, and his recent role in the movie Kick-Ass. Rounding out the cast is Aaron Stanford from the likes of X2: X-Men United, X-Men 3: The Last Stand, The Hills Have Eyes and the short lived Traveler. Given that so far only one episode has aired it’s hard to say how many more actors will stick in the series, but these seem like the core 5.
Alright, I’ve got my Philly Cheese Steak all cooked and I’m giddy and up for Nikita 1.01 – Pilot.

I understand that in order for the series to work there will be several flashbacks over the course of each episode, especially in the pilot but I hope that they’re just using it as a way to set up specific plot points and not spend roughly half of each episode in flashback mode. If a show gets to that point and they don’t pull it off successfully then you really need to wonder why they even bothered creating the jump within their timeline.

It appears that Alex plays off the original Nikita role where she was a drug addict (one would assume, since she was caught stealing drugs) and was framed for the murder of the guard by the masked person she was stealing the drugs with. Lyndsy does surprisingly well with the action part of the role, but I think she needs to tone down her delivery of the lines – she’s trying to hard at times it made me want to laugh. Shane does a little bit better with Michael but he’s not really supposed to be a likeable character or one even worth routing for (this far in at least.)

Now it’s a little bit odd that they played the drug addict framed for murder plot with Alex considering that Nikita herself also reveals that she has the exact same background. I don’t like that it became ‘oh she went rogue after she fell in love with a civilian and her bosses had him killed’ we’ve already done that before (with Alias) and it’s not like she was tech support or anything, she essentially a contract killer, so she should have known the score that loved ones will most likely die for one reason or another.

I don’t really care about the other ‘recruits’ The Division has, but that’s because I don’t think we’re supposed to. They will be characters that float in and out of the series and a recurring rival for Alex. That being said – you have to respect a character when the first words out of their mouth is ‘you’re going to die here.’ Daniel – the man that Nikita fell in love with is okay, but I don’t know if I want him to be regularly featured in flashbacks. I understand why the needed to set it up for this episode, but this is supposed to be a spy show, don’t cut the action with scenes of two people rolling around in a bed and laughing and flirting.

The scenes between Alex and Amanda serve to flesh out Alex’s back story and give her more depth and make you want to pull for her, but part of me can’t help but wonder how long it will take for the writers to reveal that Amanda is much more evil than she actually is. Melinda is too good at pulling off that type of manipulative twisted psychotic character for them not to use her to the fullest extent of her abilities. I’m not sure I buy Aaron as Birkhoff, I think I need more time to get used to him, at least he calls Nikita ‘Niki’ because seriously, even though a series has to name drop like crazy in the pilot, if they kept up saying Nikita like every other sentence and someone made a drinking game out of it there would be a spike in cases of alcohol poisoning.

I can’t say that the twist of Alex being implanted within The Division by Nikita is anything new but it could be interesting to see exactly how far Nikita is willing to let Alex be corrupted. I do wish that they saved the twist for a little bit later in the series, it reveals a major twist right off the bat and it kind of puts limitations on exactly how much interconnectivity the characters can have with each other. At the end of the day is it a good snow? Well it’s watchable but it doesn’t deliver anything that makes me feel like I have to come back to watch the next episode. Would it be a better action/spy show if it didn’t get bogged down with being tied to Nikita, most certainly.

Rating: B

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wishful Casting: Generation X TV Show Edition

Generation X was always something that held a special place in my heart; it drew me into the Marvel Universe right before they launched their epic alternate universe storyline ‘The Age of Apocalypse’ which was just fantastic beyond words. I loved the series so much it was always on my monthly lists of pick ups at the comic book store. Recently I’ve had the urge to go back and watch the made for TV Generation X movie that was done back in the 90’s and in my quest to obtain a copy of it I learned that it was originally intended as a two hour pilot for a potential TV series.

Back in the 90’s super hero/comic book TV shows were around but the quality of them simply can’t hold a candle to the comic book based shows of today, the special effects and graphical capabilities simply didn’t exist back then. So long story short, it got me thinking about what a Generation X TV show would be like today. There would still be some CGI issues, especially with the cost of having to do specific characters on a regular basis as well as plot issues because so much has happened not only over the course of Generation X’s run, but since the series ended.

I want to keep this Wishful Casting as close to the original cast line up as possible, but I did do some adding of characters and blurring of plotlines to deliver the most bang for the buck.


Emma is possibly one of the toughest character to cast for this because of the massive amount of history she has on top of the fact that she gets the shaft in almost every movie/TV incarnation of X-Men so far including the upcoming X-Men: First Class. I mean January Jones? Seriously? There were a few actresses that came to mind, but I didn’t want to go with an actress that was ‘old;’ granted Emma needs to be older than anyone else, but she can’t be so much older that she becomes irrelevant to the series. I’m not a fan of the ‘good girl’ Emma which works better because there was much more bad-ass-ery to Emma in her Gen X days, perfect combo of Hellfire Club Emma and ‘good’ Emma. There’s a lot they could do with her character, but they need to stick with the basics: still getting over the loss of her Hellions, still not fully trusted by the X-Men yet the most trustworthy (in Xavier’s eyes) to train the next generation of X-Men and ultimately killing her own sister because her actions led to the death of another one of Emma’s students.

In the end I decided to go with Tabrett Bethell as Emma. There needs to be a bad-ass HBIC quality to Emma and that was something Tabrett did very well as Cara on the now (far too short lived) canceled Legend of the Seeker. Visually she looks like Emma, plus Cara’s Mord Sith outfit is basically the red leather version of what network standards would allow for Emma’s outfit. I think it would be a good fit because Cara and Emma and their storylines are similar, but honestly if it were humanly possible I’d give all the female roles to Tabrett just to see more of her on my screen.

Alright here’s the WTF moment times two. The ‘Banshee’ character should be Sean Cassidy because in the history it’s Sean and Emma who rescue the kids from the Phalanx and were the headmasters of the school. However the more I thought about it the less I could think of any potential plot he could have. Given that it’s a TV show there would be the desire to pair off characters romantically, and I never would have bought into a relationship between Sean and Emma so that was another reason to use his daughter Theresa instead of Sean. So in theory this series would take place after Sean died because it would provide a massive amount of potential for drama and plots if Theresa was the co-headmaster with Emma. Think about it, she would be bitter and in mourning over the fact that her father sacrificed himself because of Xavier’s dream and she’d be forced to work with someone who up until this point had been one of the X-Men’s greatest villains who is coming off of a history of having the children she teaches/mentors dying.

Okay honestly, part of why I didn’t use Sean was because I couldn’t think of an actor who would fit the character at all; it was easier for me to think up someone who could play his daughter. Now for the second WTF moment… yes I know Sean, Tom and Theresa are all Irish, and that the banshee is Irish and that I picked Karen who happens to be Scottish to play Theresa. I picked Karen for a couple of reasons, mostly because I absolutely fell head over heels in love with the girl on Doctor Who (which is saying a lot considering I’m still not over Billie Piper leaving the show and I’m not over Rose being gone – so naturally I didn’t think I’d be over David leaving Doctor Who but that’s going to be another post at some point) but she’s also a good actress and has proven that she can keep up with the demands of genre TV.


Jono was a character that was left out of the early 90’s movie because it would have been too expensive to have the character around because of the massive amount of CGI it would take to pull him off. There are ways around that now, or it would be possible to even limit the amount of times he uses his powers with out having to make super cheesey effects because they’re cheaper to do. He was introduced in the first issue of Generation X and given the extent of his physical deformities he was even more of an outcast within the group. For a while the only friend he had within the team was Penance (who I’ll get to later) but she would be impossible to do given the extent of CGI she would require. It would be interesting with my pick for Siryn, being here with massive issues of her own; and Jono to play off of each other. She’s the bitter girl in mourning and he’s a damaged man who has to look at a woman who also has ‘throat based powers’ have a more normal life than him. Of course you can’t do Generation X without the Jono/Paige ship so he’s a staple.

My pick for him is a bit of an odd one, though not as odd as casting a Scottish actress to play an Irish character… but I decided to go with Aidan Turner from BBC’s show Being Human. There’s not that many people out there that could pull off a role like Jono and Aidan can, it also helps that from the nose up the two are almost identical. I could easily see Jono as a character that could lean a little bit more to the older set simply because it would be difficult to tell his age due to Jono’s disfigurement add to that the fact that he didn’t have a mutation that he could even attempt to hide in real life it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch for a 19-27 year old(ish) to still be involved with school. The only obstacle to this though would be that Paige would HAVE to be 18 years old in order to even touch on their romance.

Given how Generation X started you simply cannot have the series without Jubilee in it. Sean noticed how she wasn’t fitting in with the X-Men, she was targeted by the Phalanx; she has history coming out the wazoo (where ever that is.) She has always been the go to character when it comes to connecting the ‘younger’ set to the well established X-Men Universe. She was the launching point of the X-Men animated series in the 90’s and played a huge role in the Generation X pilot, she was featured in X-Men: Evolution (more as fan-service than anything but it still counts) she had bit roles in the X-Men movies, and she’s a way to justify shoe-horning Wolverine in to anything she’s an incarnation of. If they could do her powers with the CGI back in the 90’s imagine what they could do with them today!

The problem comes with casting her though. The character is a Chinese American, yet half the time she’s cast with a Caucasian actress and that is almost always a source of contention when it comes to the fans. Honestly I couldn’t really think of a Chinese, or Chinese American actress out there today that could fit the age range of the character, so I had to base this casting strictly off of personality and how she would look physically (not racially) given the extent of her history. I mean for crying out loud she was friends with Magik back in the 80s, she was a ‘teenager’ back when the X-Men were in Australia, she was around for the Goblin Queen/Inferno era/saga, and Madelyne Pryor’s kid (in any reality) from that time frame has never been shown as anything younger than 25, so technically Jubilee should be *OLDER* than Nate. But that wouldn’t work. So much like the casting of Jono, Jubilee must be age ambiguous. I went with Allison Scagliotti from Warehouse 13 for this. Her character Claudia is a smart ass, mall-rat type character who is too quick witted yet self-conscious for her own good. That’s how I picture Jubilee.

Paige is almost as important to the mythos as Jubilee was because of how she was introduced and the connection she had to Jono as well as her obvious connection to her brother Sam/Cannonball. She was one of the characters who ended up being ‘altered’ in order to fit the budget of the Generation X movie. Back then it would have been to expensive to have a character around that could shed her skin and alter her form to suit whatever needs she had at the time. Instead they used a character who had super strength and body issues to fill the void of being able to do a straight up copy of Husk. The funny thing about Paige is she has a rich history with Sam and the rest of her siblings, yet they have that with Jubilee and her connections, she’s not as strong or as smart as Monet but she’s the classic bookworm who wants to learn. There’s the obvious romantic pairing that would happen between Paige and Jono, but beyond that there’s an aura of vagueness about her that could lead to limitless plots.

Alona Tal was one of the few actresses in the age bracket that came to mind. It was more of a process of elimination but ultimately it was her recurring role on Supernatural that clenched it for me. Desire to be just like her family and be ‘in the family business’ check, needing to constantly evolve in the situations that most people don’t know exist, check; innocent yet deadly, check. Not to mention that Paige’s story arch in the Age of Apocalypse, and the final scene she had in Generation Next (the name given to Generation X while under the Age of Apocalypse plot) is quite possibly the most powerful moment for me in that entire alternate universe and Alona proved she could pull something like that off with the last episode of Supernatural her character was in.

Okay Laura is filling the role of Penance here for many reasons. First off it would be easier to work around Laura’s healing factor and her claws than it would be to deal with Penance’s razor sharp bright red body with long spiked red hair running around wearing nothing more than a bunch of black leather straps. She would need to be almost entirely CGI all the time and that would be far too costly. So I chose to sub in Laura for cost but it would also provide a lot more plot points to have a rivalry between Laura and Jubilee because of their mutual Wolverine connections.

For casting I decided to go with Nina Dobrev. She obviously looks an awful lot like Laura but her recent turn playing the evil and twisted vampire Katharine on The Vampire Diaries gives me hope that she could pull something like X-23 off. At the very least we know she can to tragic and tortured very well, so there’s always that.

Synch is the type of character that would be the easiest to include because his mutation allows him to duplicate mutant powers. So that means that if they can pull off the CGI for any given mutant powers than they can do it for Everett too. While I was never a fan of his character, he was way too under used and kind of pointless given the other members of the team, and I never bought into the whole romance between him and Monet; he ended up becoming very important because his death (the events of which were triggered by Emma’s sister Adrienne) made a massive impact on every member of the team and Emma’s willingness to murder her own sister to avenge her student led to the team’s ultimate dismemberment. It’s weird though, he has to be included because he sort of has to die at some point.

For casting him I tried to be fair with who I would have playing Everett, it had to be someone that could pull it off, yet someone who would almost be expendable. There were a few people that came to mind, but they would have skewed the character a little bit too old to fit in with the bunch so I eventually settled on Sam Jones III. He’s got experience with the whole superhero thing from his years as Pete Ross on Smallville, which also makes him no stranger to genre TV that relies heavily on green screens and CGI.

If you think Monet Yvette Clarisse Maria Therese St. Croix's name is long and confusing wait until you get into her history. She was practically a dozen characters. There was the Monet we met with the Phalanx storyline, who had super strength, telepathy, flight, speed, agility, endurance, invulnerability, night vision, and superhuman intelligence for her powers. Also she appeared to have a form of Autism. Then they form Generation X and Penance crashes the joint. It turns out later that ‘Monet’ is actually Penance and the girl who was Monet were her younger twin sisters Claudette and Nicole who ended up merging to become Monet only to eventually switch bodies and become Penance while Monet got her life back. Then there’s M-Plate, which is like an evil version of the M Twins and when they get their bodies back Penance doesn’t vanish she’s got a personality and conscious of her own. So you’ve got 3 versions of Monet, 3 versions of Penance, the individual M Twins and then M-Plate. It’s way too confusing. Thankfully with removing Penance from the mix you can clear a lot of this up and just have Monet be the girl with all the powers from an aristocratic background who is used to having everything handed to her having to ‘slum’ it up with characters like Paige, Jono, Angelo and Jubilee.

Despite the overtly complex history and shoehorning in of almost everything and anything any writer that touches her can think of she was actually the easiest for me to cast. The only person that came to mind was Greek’s Amber Stevens. She’s been playing the sort of stuck up and snobby girl who you’re supposed to hate for her personality yet you can’t because she’s so sweet with everything she does for over four seasons now, throw in some superpowers and throw her in some high end clothing and you’ve got Monet St. Croix in a nutshell.

Skin was sort of a victim of the Generation X movie, while his powers weren’t bastardized like Paige; or elements removed like Monet there just simply wasn’t enough going on with him to make a big mark. It doesn’t help that they didn’t give him the same skin tone like he has in the comics, but at least they didn’t change his racial background like they did with Jubilee. He basically has an extra six feet of elastic skin that he manipulates to ‘look like normal features’ or stretch into things; so essentially he’s a giant rubber band.

Casting Angelo was problematic because much like Synch he’s a character who is destined to die. So what do you do? Do you cast someone who is unlikeable and it you can’t help but wait for them to die; do you cast someone who is so likeable that you desperately hope that the writers will decide to ignore the fact that the character’s ultimate fate is to be crucified and then his body was dug up and removed from his grave because the cemetery wouldn’t allow him to stay there because he was a mutant? Or do you cast someone who you hope the writers won’t kill off, but you can’t help but be deeply moved by the actor’s portrayal of Angelo’s death scene if they decide to go that way? I went with the third option so that’s why I landed on using Diego Luna.

Okay, I’ll be honest I threw in Hellion because he’s quite possibly my favorite new character introduced to the X-Universe in the past 10 years. But this is how I’m justifying it… the Generation X team has always been stacked with females, case in point: Blink (she counts.. don’t tell me she doesn’t) Penance/M Twins/FauxMonet, M, White Queen, Husk, Jubilee, Gaia and Adrienne ran the school for a while – so that’s 8 females. The men just had Synch, Skin, Banshee and Chamber and out of the 4 of them 3 are dead. The team needs more guys. On top of that Hellion was Emma’s student, he took the codename of her fallen team, and then you add in the tragic factor he has – almost had his heart cut out by Lady Deathstrike and ended up having his hands cut off, he fits right in with the guys if you look at it that way. Plus Julian and Laura kind of go hand in hand.

I decided to go with Justin Chatwin for this particular character. He has proven many times that he’s good at pulling off the sarcastic jackass you can’t help but like, and lets face it… he owes the world a decent genre/superhero portrayal after having to suffer through the horrible writing that was the live action Dragonball movie.

I picked Josh to round out the team because a) it needed more males and b) given the fact that the team is so inexperienced as a whole and the fact that Emma is coming off of running a school and loosing all of her previous students and Generation X itself starting off with the death of Blink it would make sense to me that Emma would want a healer on the team. Naturally as the series progresses I could see them dealing with Josh discovering that he can also kill people with a touch and deal with the potential of him going ‘dark.’

I picked Marshall Allman because he’s no stranger to series TV given his stints on Prison Break and most recently True Blood. He’s sort of the ‘ohh that guy’ you’ve seen him before, even though you might not remember who he is.


I know historically Adrienne went by ‘White Queen’ (even though it was self dubbed) but Emma needs an ‘evil’ counterpart, so for this Adrienne is the Black Queen. My take on this would be that Adrienne is the bitter ‘forgotten’ Frost sister; she comes to Emma in need of help only to be turned down. I could see the fact that Emma is searching for redemption after the disaster of the Hellions (which for the plot would have been co-run by Adrienne) and her sort of looking down on her sister as motivation for Adrienne to create a group similar to Generation X but consisting of people that Emma ‘failed.’ It would be a way to try to tempt Laura, Julian and Josh and if they did kill off Everett they’d need Adrienne around for Emma to kill for revenge.

This one was hard and easy at the same time. You want someone who can pull off such a catty role but still be likeable even though you know if you turn your back on her she’ll kill you in a heartbeat. There are a few actresses who do well playing that type of role and not come off ‘diva’ like and even fewer who have the acting ability to play a character that could rival HBIC status with Emma Frost. I went with Erica Durance for this, she’s done great with Lois on Smallville which speaks volumes for her.

He would fit in perfectly with Adrienne’s ‘Anti-Emma’ team. He accidentally hurt a fellow student with his powers and a misunderstanding led to him thinking Julian and the rest of Emma’s students were turning on him. Plus he pretty much fit the bill when Selene recruited him for her team in the comics. On top of that there would always be the potential drama of him using his powers and killing one of his former friends, yet there would be no actual risk because it’s obvious he would always square off with either Elixir or X-23 and their powers would effectively cancel out his.

I couldn’t think of anyone for this other than Ben Barnes, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. Kevin needs to be a dark character and honestly it was almost impossible for me to even find a picture of Ben without a giant grin plastered across his face. It would be interesting to see what Ben could do with a character so ‘dark.’

If Adrienne is gathering a team of people Emma failed then Blink has to be a staple of the team. I know between Wither and Blink it looks like I’m biting pretty heavy from Selene’s Inner Circle and the Necrosha plot line, but considering Blink’s death was the first major sacrifice that led to the formation of Generation X she needs to be one of the characters that gets included in the bunch. And it’s not like the character isn’t wildly popular, she was in only a handful of issues in the regular universe and she played a MASSIVE role in the entire Age of Apocalypse story line, had several spin off titles of her own and then was brought back into the main universe.

Blink was tough to cast for a reason, pre-GenX Clarice was a scared little girl who ultimately made the greatest sacrifice, in AoA you get a girl who while is still scared can more than hold her own against the likes of several heavy hitters in the X-Men universe, and then you get her return to this reality and she’s spent years being brutally tortured by her own powers only to be manipulated into believing that Emma abandoned her because her powers were too much of a threat. You need an actress who can play socially awkward, scared, innocent and it’s hard to find that (outside of Summer Glau) can also pull off a dark and twisted ruthless badass. I went with Alison Brie for this, she’s got the first half down and after her role in Born I want to see her turn out something twisted and evil.

Nate would be an easy fit into Adrienne’s team, not only would he be a counterpoint to Julian but the fact that Nate is the biological child of Jean Grey and Scott Summers gives him a bit more cred. The bitterness would come in from the same as his canon origin, being raised in the Age of Apocalypse alternate time line (where he dated Siryn might I add) only to survive that world’s destruction to come to this reality and find that Cable (the biological child of Scott and Madelyne Pryor) basically got the ‘better life.’ The fact that Nate’s power level rivals that of Phoenix it would be easy for Adrienne to manipulate Nate into moving against Emma because of her romantic involvement with Scott.

Why Chris Pine? Honestly I don't know. Nate (along with Hellion, Magik and Madelyne Pryor are my favorite characters in the X-Verse ever) was scary to cast because of how much I like the character. I didn't want to put certain people in there because I don't think they could take on the role and have it be appealing to the masses. I'll admit I have never seen a single thing Chris Pine has ever been in, but everyone seems to love him so if he could pull of Nate I'd be willing to watch his other works.

If torturing Emma is Adrienne’s game then she really needs access to The Stepford Cuckoos. It would be easy to spin Celeste Mindee and Phoebe turning to Adrienne after the deaths of Esme and Sophie if they were the only three survivors of the now dead Hellions. Another selling point to Adrienne using Emma’s artificially created ‘daughters’ would be that they each hold a shard of the Phoenix Force, between the three of them and Nate Grey it would make her team almost unstoppable if they all learned how to fully access their powers.

Why Dakota Fanning? Simple… she’s the new Christina Ricci, you look at the girl and you just expect the still picture of her to come to life and rip your soul out through your eyeballs, so can you imagine her playing FIVE characters who are genetic clones of the biggest bad girl this side of Dark Phoenix/Goblin Queen? Mm hmm, don’t tell me you can’t picture it.

Why the Darkchylde incarnation instead of Magik? Why Illyana at all – it’s simple: her connection to Jubilee. Add to that the fact that she was kidnapped as a child and raised in Hell only to return to earth and be corrupted by her magic and transform into Darkchyle only to be de-aged and later die of the Legacy virus. Years later the demon Belasco ‘recreated’ Magik but the partly demonic soulless creature disgusted him so he sent her away. She then brings members of the various younger X-Men squads to Limbo and begins rituals on the members that have magical abilities in order to remove their souls to give her back her own. In this version though I’d rather she not regain even a portion of her soul, let alone rejoin her former team. I like the character dark, soulless and bloodthirsty enough to be willing to sacrifice the souls of the people she once loved.

Now I know I’m going to catch a hell of a lot of heat for going with ‘a Disney girl’ for this one, but there’s just something about Ashley Tisdale that makes me want to see her do this. We know from her previous roles (even her new role on Hellcats) that she can be ‘the nice bitch’ but can she pull off something this dark and raunchy? I’d like to see her try (worst case scenario they could just kill her off or retcon her back into being 7 again.) Her powers though… that is a bit problematic, not the teleportation and ‘stepping discs’ or CGI-ing up Limbo and her Soulsword but the fact that this incarnation of Darkchylde runs around half naked with demonic horns coming out of her head, a pointed tail and goat legs ending in cloven feet. I’d say save that for the few times she goes full on demonic, but keep the horns when she’s ‘normal’ – they seem like they’d be the easiest to pull off and remain cost effective.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Charmed Season 9 Issue 2 'No Rest for the Wicca' Review

You know, honestly I wasn’t looking forward to the second issue of Zenescope’s Charmed Season 9. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Charmed, but after being blown away by the ‘Book of Shadows’ issue it would be an understatement to say I was underwhelmed by ‘Charmed Lives.’

Honestly I’m not familiar with how Zenescope formats the books because Charmed is the only thing I read from this particular publisher; so it’s taking me a little while to get used to it. I actually like the fact that there are no ads until the end of the issue, but the downside is it makes it seem like a quicker read than it actually is. “Charmed Lives” had 21 pages however “No Rest for the Wicca” only has 20; 21 if you count the recap as a page. This wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that out of the 20 pages four of them are full page spreads and two of them are two page spreads. It seems to me like they could find a better use for the story than what they’ve used these pages for so far.

Out of the three covers for this issue I ended up with the wraparound cover, and I’ve got to say for the second month in a row I’m disappointed. The covers are so phenomenal, next to all the Jo Chen covers for Buffy the Charmed covers are my favorite. The problem is though the art on the covers is so good that when you look at Dave Hoover’s art on the inside you almost feel cheated. Don’t get me wrong though he does well with Holly Marie Combs’ likeness and he did a great job capturing the essence of Rose McGowan, it doesn’t look exactly like Rose, but you can tell it’s how ‘Paige’ would look as a comic book character. Phoebe though, wow she is definitely drawn the worst out of all the sisters. Leo doesn’t come off much better, he doesn’t even look like how Leo looked in the first issue, at least Phoebe is still the same as issue one.

Thankfully the plot pays off a lot better than the art does. The little recap written by Paige is kind of campy, but it works. I’m not entirely sure which of the two plots is supposed to be the A plot or the B plot because they’re both used equally. Phoebe and Piper go to the funeral of an innocent they saved who died of ‘natural causes.’ What makes this significant isn’t just the fact that the writer decided to access the huge library that is Charmed’s mythology; he went back almost to the beginning, all the way back to episode TWO of SEASON ONE- Piper’s friend Brittnay who was a victim of the demon Javna. Phoebe touches Brittnay’s casket only to have a vision of Brittnay’s rapidly aged corpse. Piper freezes everyone and they open the casket confirming Phoebe’s vision.

The C plot involves Neena and Hogan in the Underworld using a handful of lower level demons to construct something. It appears that they summoned something and have made a deal with it, although exactly what is going on still remains unclear. We do learn one thing though, Hogan can’t blink. I don’t know if this is supposed to imply that he’s also a lower level demon, or if he’s a Warlock who maybe hasn’t fully accessed his powers yet.

Meanwhile Paige is off trying to mentor her newest charge a nineteen year old High School senior named Brent who is just coming into his powers. She stops him and his friends from giving a swirlie to another student. After trying to explain to him about his powers Paige is forced to tackle Brent and orb him out of school when he attempts to use his powers on a teacher. She explains to him about Magic School and how important the next forty-eight hours are to how the rest of his life will play out (this ties into yet another plot from Charmed, you really have to respect the fact that the writers are actively using the history of this show in a way that actually makes sense); Brent says he needs a little while to figure everything out so Paige instructs him to call her name when he’s ready and she orbs back to Halliwell Manor. Seconds later Brent runs into Hogan and Neena who try to tempt Brent into being evil.

Back at the Manor Paige arrives to see Phoebe and Piper frantically looking through the Book of Shadows when suddenly Phoebe has a vision of many people in danger, she explains to her sisters that the vision she just had involved every innocent they ever saved and every charge Paige ever had being in great danger. The issue ends with Brent’s bloody corpse (his neck had been snapped) laid out on display to the entrance to Magic School.

The plot is amazing if for nothing more than the fact that it was dripping with references from previous seasons. Coop wasn’t in this ‘episode’ at all, but that’s fine because he wouldn’t have really served a point, not that Leo did either, but he’s been a staple of Charmed for so long that he kind of has to be inserted into at least one scene. I’m a little concerned by the fact that we still haven’t seen Henry at all, but it took us two ‘episodes’ before we even saw his and Paige’s children.

I’m looking forward to the next episode/issue especially with how “No Rest for the Wicca” played out. The fact that we got another mention of Prue, Neena and Hogan going after the Charmed One’s previously saved innocents and Paige’s charges really gives me hope that Billie will make at least an appearance, the teaser image of issue 3’s cover looks like it has the demon of Fear on it, so I’m hoping we’ll get more Prue references, if not even a flashback or a ghostly visit like Patty and Grams do. Of course the image of the woman drowning in Phoebe’s vision makes me think even more that we might get Prue soon if it really is the demon of fear on the cover because he used Prue’s fear of water and drowning to magnify her fear of loosing a sister to torment her. And this issue alone proves that the writers have no problem bringing up things from the past. I mean they used Brittnay and Javna and they were stand alone characters.

Rating: A+
Still not a fan of the art but the use of history blew me out of the water