The Pop Blitz for 10-22

Welcome to the weekend Popsters! I hope your week was better than mine as I’ve spent most of my time this past week fighting with my MUTHER F*#KING COMPUTER! I often have a love/ hate relationship with this life-sucking box but these last few days have definitely been closer to a hate/ hate thing. ARRRGGGHHH!!

Ah, I feel better now, thanks for letting me vent!

I’ve got a lot of stories, reviews and posts that have piled up as a result of me falling behind as I’ve been trying to get my computer up and running again and also working on this new layout for the page. I’ll be playing catch-up for the next few days and you’ll be seeing more posts than usual this coming week.

And with that, let’s get this party started!

• A Galaxy Far, Far Away Has Found it’s Way to Your Local Bookstore

A new book titled Star Wars Art Comics was released earlier this month and for fans of the universe George built this is a must own!

Star Wars and sequential art share a long history: Star Wars debuted on the comic-book page in 1977, when Marvel Comics began publishing a six-part adaptation of the first film, which morphed into a monthly comic book. Now, more than three decades later, new series by Dark Horse Comics continue to expand the Star Wars galaxy.

The second book in the Star Wars Art series brings together the very best artwork from the entire history of Star Wars comics publishing, showcasing original art from the top comics artists working in the industry. Hand-selected and curated by George Lucas, the art featured in this volume includes interior pages and fully painted covers from artists such as Al Williamson, Howard Chaykin, Adam Hughes, Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave Dorman, and many more—as well as new work created exclusively for this book by over 20 renowned artists, including John Cassaday, Sam Kieth, Mike Mignola, Paul Pope, Frank Quitely, Jim Steranko, and other comics superstars. [product description from Amazon.com]

Here’s a trailer for the new book that offers a very nice overview of what I’m certain is going to be a big seller this Christmas….if you can wait that long.

• The Best and Worst of the 2011 Fall T.V. Season

There have been a lot of new shows premiering in recent weeks and still a few to come, here’s my quick overview of the best and worst I’ve seen thus far.

Grimm– NBC Fridays 9/8c

The commercials repeatedly remind us this is from “the producers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel“, Hollywood loves to name drop “producers”, as if the guys who put up the money for these shows have anything to do with the creative success of the product, which, for the record, they rarely do. All you need to know is, Buffy and Angel were both projects created and often written and directed by the Geek God Joss Whedon, who is busy directing next summer’s blockbuster The Avengers. Lucky for Joss, he has NOTHING to do with this new NBC series.

Grimm, as per the network’s press release is set in present-day Portland, Oregon, the series puts a new twist on the stories of the Brothers Grimm in which a homicide detective learns that he is a descendent of a group of hunters known as “Grimms”, who fight to keep humanity safe from the supernatural creatures of the world. Upon learning of his destiny and that he is the last of his kind, he has to protect every living soul from the sinister storybook characters that have infiltrated the real world

The dialog is weak and amateurish, the acting stilted, the casting bad and overall, this one smells a lot like the second season of the network’s previous attempt at tapping into the nerd market, Heroes. Avoid at all costs, it’s an hour of your life you’re never going to get back.

Once Upon a Time– ABC Sundays 8/7c

Really? TWO network fairy tale series in the same season? Once Upon a Time is loosely inspired by the classic fairy tale stories except set in the present day, hence the series name. The stories hold a key to the mystery that will draw a bail bonds collector and the son that she gave up for adoption 10 years earlier to a New England town called Storybrooke, Maine. This town is actually a parallel world in which fairy tale characters look like normal people and don’t remember their true identities or anything about their true lives.

I won’t insult my female readers by implying this is another “chick series” from ABC because, quite honestly, I don’t think this one is a worthy watch for either of the sexes. Call me crazy or sentimental but I prefer my fairy tales animated or illustrated, for whatever reason, when you attempt to “flesh” them out they tend to lose most of their magic. Live action versions of our classic fairy tales have been attempted many, many times and if they have anything in common it’s that they all, consistently, have failed to deliver. The most recent example being the dreadful Red Riding Hood starring Amanda Seyfried which came and quickly went earlier this year.

As cringe inducing as the fairy tale segments are in this new show, they pale in comparison to the modern day sequences which just feel like bad left overs from discarded Desperate Housewives scripts, so much so that they may as well have called this one Desperate Princesses.

Boss– Starz Fridays 10pm ET/PT

Ahhhh, Cable! Try as they might the little 3 networks, (formerly the “Big 3”), just can’t seem to hold a candle to the onslaught of creative talent that’s been flooding the cable networks in recent years.

Starz is so confident they’ve got a solid winner on their hands they gave a greenlight for a second season of their new series Boss before the first episode had even aired. I can’t swear to it but I’m pretty sure that’s a T.V. first. After watching the pilot episode it’s easy to see why they were motivated to make such a bold executive decision. This show seriously rocks!

Kelsey Grammer stars as Mayor Tom Kane, who sits like a spider at the center of Chicago’s web of power; a web built on a covenant with the people. They want to be led, they want disputes settled, jobs dispensed, and loyalties rewarded. If he achieves it all through deception and troubling morality, so be it. As long as he gets the job done, they look the other way.Yet despite being the most effective mayor in recent history, a degenerative brain disorder is ripping everything away from him. He can’t trust his memory, his closest allies, or even himself.

I’ve always been a fan of Kelsey Grammer’s work on Cheers, Frazier, The Simpsons and even X-Men: Last Stand but this one, in all honesty, is a bit of a shocker, I mean, really, who knew? This is yet another surprising chapter in Grammer’s increasingly varied career. His comic timing has never been in doubt but the dramatic power he displays in this new series is very nearly a revelation.

The writing is smart, sharp and quick and the cast is, without exception, solid. The show also features some of the best work I’ve seen from actors Martin Donovan and Kathleen Robertson. Boss is easily one of the best new shows of the 2011 Fall Season.

Homeland– Showtime Sundays 10pm ET/PT

Homeland is an American psychological thriller television series based on the Israeli series Hatufim (Prisoners of War). The series stars Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison, a CIA operations officer who has come to believe that an American Marine, who was held captive by Al-Qaeda as a prisoner of war, was turned by the enemy and now poses a significant risk to national security.

Claire Danes? Again, who knew? Put simply this new Showtime series had the best pilot episode I think I’ve ever seen. This one alone would be reason enough to pay for the monthly Showtime subscription, it’s that freakin’ great.

Dave’s Old Porn – Showtime 11:30pm ET/PT

Alright, if Homeland isn’t enough to entice you to sign up for Showtime this one might do the trick, especially if you’re an old school perv. Comedian Dave Attell’s Old Porn is basically Mystery Science Theater with bad 70s porn, a concept so hilariously brilliant it’s almost shocking it took this long for someone to come up with the idea.

Terra Nova– Fox Mondays 8/7c

The show begins in the year 2149, a time when all life on planet Earth is threatened with extinction due to dwindling worldwide air quality and overpopulation. It has become virtually impossible for humanity to survive, and almost no vegetation exists. At Hope Plaza, a massive ring shaped structure in Chicago, scientists discover a rift in space-time that allows people to travel 85 million years back in time to the late Cretaceous period of a prehistoric Earth, but in an alternative timeline (thus avoiding paradoxes caused by reverse-flow time travel), offering a chance to save humanity. The Shannon family (father Jim, his wife Elisabeth, and their three children Josh, Maddie, and Zoe) join the tenth pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova, becoming part of the first human colony on the other side of the temporal doorway.

The Shannon Family starts a new life in Terra Nova while having to deal with carnivorous dinosaurs and the Sixers, a splinter group of colonists with a secret agenda.

As far as network sci-fi is concerned this is probably as good as it’s going to get this season. So far I’m enjoying this one, it’s a new variation on an old theme but it works, especially given CGI has become a reasonably affordable tool for tight budgeted networks. It’s hard to predict how long Terra Nova will be on the air but, for now, it’s a nice diversion from the never ending shit we’re hearing on the nightly news. Steven Spielberg is the lead producer for the series but, as I mentioned earlier, so what? Unless he’s writing or directing why does that matter?

American Horror Story– FX Wednesdays 10 ET/PT

It’s weird, it’s scary and it’s loaded with macabre humor. The gore porn directors filling our theaters every weekend with their insipid tripe could learn a thing or two about horror from the new FX series American Horror Story.

The series centers on the Harmon family, Ben, Vivien and their daughter Violet, who move from Boston to Los Angeles after Ben has an affair and Vivien has a miscarriage. They move into a restored mansion, unaware that the home is haunted.

Fifteen minutes into the premiere episode of this new series and it becomes very clear, FX has taken the censorship gloves off on this one and are prepared to got toe to toe with HBO and Showtime. Cable networks have always had a much longer leash than NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox basically because they have never been required to answer to the big bad FCC. That being said, up until now they’ve really only pushed their envelopes an inch or two farther than the standard channels. With American Horror Story it’s clear they have upped the ante and are throwing whatever caution they had to the wind. I for one believe it’s about damn time!

This show is as creepy as Twin Peaks was in it’s first season and that alone makes American Horror Story one of my favorite new shows of the Fall 2011 season.

• Red, Red Tape

UB40 have sold more than 70 million records and notched up 50 chart hits in a remarkable 33-year career but four of its members are now officially penniless after being chased through the courts by tax officials.

A judge in the U.K. has declared Brian Travers, Jimmy Brown, Terence Oswald (known to fans as Astro) and Norman Hassan bankrupt. Their details have been listed by the Insolvency Service. The court order lasts for a year and means that tax officers could seize property to pay off any outstanding debts. The case is based on the failure of the band’s record firm and management company DEP International and follows the band’s bitter breakup due in major part to the groups financial troubles. It’s an old story but it’s always sad to hear it.

Still, this should be the kind of story that gives the “Occupy Wall Streeters” hope. Who knows kids? Maybe someday this will be the fate of your beloved Pearl Jam or Arcade Fire! Those damn, money grubbing millionaires! Why do they need all that hard earned money when they can pay for your college tuition and health care, right? Damn skippy!

• Attack the Block Comes to DVD

One of the best sci-fi horror films of 2011, ( that no one really saw in the U.S.) is coming to DVD this Tuesday, 10/25 just in time for Halloween!

The critically acclaimed British import Attack the Block is basically about a teen age gang on London’s mean streets trying to defend their neighborhood from an alien attack, how’s that for a tag line? Yes, it is as fun as it sounds. I recommend you check it out when you can.

And that’s all the news that’s fit to POP for today gang, have a great weekend, enjoy that crisp Fall air! Cheers for now!- Scott

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