Monday, November 10, 2014

Gotham Episode 8 Review

A question, what happens when the show writers of Gotham decided to introduce one of Batman's biggest Rogues and have Bruce Wayne start attending school, all in the same episode? The answer, a smorgasbord of intense scenes of cop drama dialogue for Jim and Harvey, while Bruce struggles with that awkward first day of school, made all the more awkward by being the "new kid" whose parents were murdered right in front of him.

Tonight, we are introduced to the Gotham-verse version of infamous criminal kingpin Black Mask. Richard (not Roman) Sionis (played by Todd Stashwick), shown here as head of a large financial firm, who has candidates jockeying for job openings fight in a deadly gladiatorial game. Sionis's fixation with masks is still prevalent as in the comics, but now, with a leaning towards the culture of ancient warrior cast Japan. Even in conversation with Gordon smacks of the comics, talking about the mask representing a certain depth in everyone, and what they mean symbolically to the warriors who wore them.

As for Bruce, well let's just say that the first day of school didn't go any better for him then it would for anyone else. He meets classmate Tommy Elliot (future comics villain Hush) who takes great delight in asking him personal questions about his parents death and making sport of his mother. Alfred's response to Tommy's bullying is to take Bruce to the Elliot home, giving him his father's watch for the boy to use as a knuckle duster, then rewards the boy with a pizza dinner for taking a stand against the bully. While this may seem out of character for the normally polite and genteel Englishman, but perfectly in step for the slightly more London East End version of Alfred that the show is portraying.

And of course, what episode of Gotham wouldn't be complete without some screen time for Penguin AND for the young Selina Kyle. Penguin's more of a secondary character this episode, dealing with the animosity Fish Mooney is aiming his way for his betraying her back in episode one. Selina, well her moment is even less then Penguin's, a few second scene of two Gotham beat cops catching her in the act of robbing a very posh clothing store of furs and wraps. Hey, a girl's gotta shop right?

As with last week's episode, tonight keeps raising the bar (to my mind) for what the show is setting out to do. Its purpose, to in its own way, reintroduce the may myriad elements of the Batman universe, before Batman, before all the madness and mayhem that will follow. In all fairness and honesty, the show is accomplishing its goal in spades. Each new episode brings more elements of the Batman universe to bear, all setting the stage for the larger show, that of the Batman's war on crime.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Gotham Episode 7 Review

If anything can be said of tonight's episode of Gotham, it is that it just changed the game of the show's dynamic in a big way. Not only did viewers get intense moments of Penguin stepping up in the world of the show, but there is plot gap filled in, that I wasn't even aware existed.

The acting in tonight's episode was amazing, from everyone. Plus there was an added bonus, the introduction of another member of Batman's Rouges Gallery. Victor Zsasz, played by Anthony Carrigan. Casting him in the light as a hit-man for the Falcone Crime Family, he still has the character trait of carving tallies into his flesh with each kill.

What blew me away, was the back-story to Penguin and the events surrounding his becoming a member of the Maroni Crime Family. No spoilers being given away, but for all who missed out on tonight, everything that happens in tonight's episode will blow up the universe of the show in a big way.

All in all, tonight's episode stepped up the pace and game of the show in ways no one could have seen coming. This speaks to the bright future ahead for the show, and what lies in store as the first season continues. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Constantine Episode 2 Review

After the nice, somewhat splashy first episode, now come's the hard part for any new television show, producing a second episode that can help lock in audiences. And tonight does that in a nice way.

Despite it being Halloween, which to my mind means an episode saturated in monsters and John doing what he does best to save the day (employing elaborate magics), we get character and plot development, which is also nice. At the end of the first episode Liv used her scrying abilities to create a map of where various points of where demon activity will/are occurring throughout the United States. And it would seem, that whenever demon activity is in the making, the drops of blood that mark various points, will turn wet and freshly sticky.

Heading to a small mining town in Pennsylvania, Constantine runs into two things, the first being an artist by the name of Zed Martin (direct from the comics) who has been having visions of John, and drawing pictures of him, which is a great treat for fans of the comics to see basic rough sketches of various John Constantine covers and comic book panels from over the years.

The second thing he encounters is Coblynau, Welsh mining spirits, normally peaceful creatures, who are now murdering various heads of the mine that keeps this small town running.

What follows is a great look at Matt Ryan's development of his portrayal of John, really making use of the characters smarmy attitude and con man sensibilities to wheedle information from the townsfolk in order to ascertain the threat at hand. He really seems to be settling into his role of John Constantine, and I believe that he will grow into the Constantine we fans deserve and will be proud to remember in the years to come.

Again, despite the fact that for a Halloween episode this wasn't a very spooky, it was still nice. It had substance, and promises more cracks at monsters, demons and other things that go bump in the night for John Constantine. So come what may, I intend to stick by this show, through its good episodes and bad.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 6 Review

Tonight's episode showed one thing, HYDRA has stepped up their game in the war against S.H.I.E.L.D. but then again, so has S.H.I.E.L.D. Escalation was the key plot point tonight, and brother, it was some heavy escalation indeed.

HYDRA attacks a UN meeting, in disguise as S.H.I.E.L.D agents, killing with deadly force and precision. General Talbot, there giving a update on the need to try and keep Coulson and his agents in check, is a witness to this brutality, and yet, he isn't convinced.

My oh my oh my, what a treat tonight was. Ladies and gentlemen, if there is one thing I can say, its thank gosh Joss Whedon for casting Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse! The banter between her Nick Blood (as mercenary working with S.H.I.E.L.D. Lance Hunter) is fantastic. Course, the fact that their characters are former husband and wife helps in a big way. Having to work alongside one's ex, in a job where danger and intrigue are the main course of every day, this is gonna be some primo dialogue if Palicki is sticking around for a while as Bobbi.

Plus, the added bonus of Senator Christian Ward, Grant Ward's big brother, who reveals the true nature of Grant, that the guy is a mega sociopath. And in exchange for his backing down in the hunt for Coulson and his team, Grant Ward is remanded into federal custody.

Also, tonight we see Palicki suited up in a more combat efficient version of Bobbi's Mockingbird costume from the comics, blond hair and all. I'm throwing in a photo, for all those who missed out tonight, to get a good look at Palicki is like as a blond and wearing blue spandex esque combat armor.

Tonight was as I said, all about escalation. And the escalation is sure to bring with it even more great episodes like tonight's, where front line action of a direct nature is employed, not just small hit and run tactics. More and more, this new season feels like the classic S.H.I.E.L.D. comics of the 60's, where Fury and his team took charge in the war against tyranny and evil. If nothing else, Marvel is showing how good comic book based television should be produced. And that's good enough reason to keep on watching as this season unfolds.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Gotham Episode 6 Review

A big change in character was brought to the scene in Gotham tonight. We are shown a new side to Harvey Bullock, not just the slovenly bought cop who is constantly thrust into the dangerous cases that come with being Jim Gordon's partner. No, tonight we are shown Harvey Bullock, dedicated cop and investigator.

The episode starts out with a flashback to ten years ago, when Bullock, and his then partner Lawson, take down a masked killer targeting Gotham's first-born, well the first-born of the elite upper crust. Lawson is killed as well as the killer that night. Flash forward to the present, and the apparent return of said killer (calling himself 'The Spirit of the Goat') and the death of another of Gotham's rich first-born.

This episode brings out a new side to Harvey as I stated, a Harvey who actually pulls together on a case and doesn't just provide one liners and play cynic to Gordon's investigations.

Tonight also brought a little screen time once more for Eddie Nigma, once again being his obnoxiously neat and fastidious self, but its also nice, because I must confess, I'd started to miss Eddie and his smug know-it-all attitude.

Also, once again Bruce and Alfred get some small screen time. Alfred of course being the very caring person he is, wanting to ensure 'Master' Bruce's safety. Bruce's response, there's work to be done. We see just what that work is, a wall covered in pictures and files, all tied together in some way, Bruce's tracking of anything in the way of leads pertaining to his parents murder. But its the line he delivers to Alfred when he turns to his work "Why would the Goat take me? There's no one to take me from." That right there, gets to the heart of the matter, as to how much of an impact his parents death truly affects him, so much so that even the possibility of his life being in danger doesn't phase him right now.

There is even some development on the "murder case" of Oswald Cobblepot, whom is of course still alive and in league with the Maroni crime family. Plus, an interesting scene, with young Selina Kyle entering the Wayne Manor in a stealthy way, to look over Bruce, and help herself to a shiny trinket from his desk.

All in all, a fine episode, one that helped keep my interest in the show strong and peaked. If next week's episode is anything like tonight's, it will further cement my love for this show all the more.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Constantine Episode Premier Review and Easter Egg Reveal

Tonight, was a very special night for television watchers, and fans of DC Comics. Tonight, Constantine premiered its first episode, titled "Non Est Asylum" and not in a shabby way too. There was one aspect of the episode that I felt didn't do well for a first night premier, but there were lots of things it do fine and very handily. But before I get to the bad and the good, I feel its time for a little history for all my dedicated readers out there, who might need some introductions to the character of John Constantine and what sort of mayhem he'll be facing every Friday night.

The series is an adaptation of the comic book Hellblazer, which told the dark and intense adventures of British occultist and magician John Constantine. Created by the team of Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Totleben, John's a character that has been in many of DC's comics over the years, either as a central or supporting character, always making sure the scales of the universe are balanced, in his own way of course. Now, with that little bit of history out of the way, on with the review

Stepping into John's trench coat is Matt Ryan, a honest to gosh Englishman (ok a Welsh-man with dyed hair) but still, fits the role nicely. He has a rough-edged attitude that plays off John's loner attitude, coupled with a nice charismatic air about him to help sell John's classic con man shtick.

Filling in three of the supporting roles are original show character Liv Aberdine played by  Lucy Griffiths, whose father was an old friend of John's, who is tasked with keeping her safe. And stepping in as John's cab driving chum Chas Chandler is Charles Halford. There is a twist added to Chas's character, an apparent survival ability that could very well border on the supernatural. The third role was that of Manny played by Lost actor Harold Perrineau, an angel from Heaven tasked with foreshadowing coming events with the series universe.

The relationship's in the pilot are anything but one dimensional. John's attitude towards Liv is one of care and gruff concern for her well being, helping her learn about the abilities she posses's (courtesy of her father) and giving her some guidance in how they can be properly used in the world of magic.

The one bad thing that the pilot did was the overuse of exposition to move the plot along. John's musings about his home life, the doctor at the mental institution where John is interred (voluntarily), rehashing the details of what went down in Newcastle, even John's talk about Liv's father and his work, it is there, but it feels like it is just being forced into the pilot as plot filler. Now granted this is a pilot episode, so things that go wrong can be remedied, and hopefully that will be the case as the series progress's.

Now one thing that the pilot did right, was throw in lots of juicy Easter Egg's for comics fans to spot. I've yet to spot all of them, but these were a few of the ones I did notice.


When we first meet John, it isn't in the middle of a supernatural ritual, or walking London’s streets under cover of darkness, but as a resident of the ‘Ravenscar Psychiatric Facility For the Mentally Deranged.’ That’s the exact location where the comic version of Constantine spent 3 years (1978-1980) following his first (failed) attempt at exorcism. In the comics, the facility would go on to become a hotel and was eventually owned by Constantine himself.

Dr. Roger Huntoon 

Though he’s never mentioned by name, the doctor interviewing Constantine is shown to be one Dr. Roger Huntoon. Besides operating Ravenscar in the comic books, Huntoon is credited as the author of “Pow! Psychology: Understanding the Super-Men (and Women)” within the DC Comics universe. His distaste for superheroes has even led him to appear in comics like “Sandman,” “Animal Man,” and “Swamp Thing.” 

Helmet of Fate

The artifact picked up and examined by Liv won’t just be familiar to DC Comics faithful, but Smallville fans as well. The golden helm is best known as the Helmet of Fate, able to grant its wearer incredible magic superpowers. The title – and helm – of ‘Doctor Fate’ has passed to a few people over the years, but the helmet itself remains one of the single most powerful magic objects in the entire DC universe.

The Ibistick

Comic fans may be so distracted by the Helmet of Fate that they miss yet another comic icon tucked in behind it: the Ibistick. Originally a creation of Fawcett Comics, the Ibistick was a magical wand forged in ancient Egypt for Prince Amentep. Amentep used the wand – capable of doing almost anything the bearer could imagine – to preserve both he and his dying love. Waking in modern times, Amentep took the name of Ibis the Invincible. Could such a story be planned in the world of Constantine

Pandora's Box 

The ‘three-eyed’ skull seen among the other magical artifacts may seems just as mysterious, but it’s actually a far more recent addition to the DC Comics universe. The ‘skull’ is really Pandora’s Box, the source (like the ancient Greek myth) of all the world’s sin, allowed to escape thanks to the irresponsible actions of Pandora. The object played a large part in DC’s New 52 “Trinity War,” but given the heroes pulled into that conflict (including John Constantine and Shazam) we doubt it’s more than a subtle nod to readers. 

Overall, despite the bad aspect of unneeded exposition, this was a great first start for a John Constantine TV series. It got people hooked on a character who has a lot of demons (and that's not just a turn of phrase in John's case) and with all the Easter Eggs (both listed here and unlisted) there was plenty of stuff to draw in comics fans, which is always a big plus for shows of this nature. Pound for pound, Constantine will do nicely on the Friday night slot, giving viewers and fans alike thrills, chills, adventure, excitement and a heavy dose of world saving British snark along the way. So be sure to tune in next week for Episode 2, and my next review. Till then, happy screams friends.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 5 Review

Tonight's episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a treat, because the game escalated to a bit of an extent for Coulson and his team. Not only did tonight's episode bring in the full return of Raina to the second season, but audiences are given the identity of the brunette who became HYDRA's chief of security at the end of episode 1.

To start out, we are finally given a good look at Skye's father, though we don't know his identity yet. But this is a known fact, the man is desperate to see his daughter, and has a severe dark side.

Meanwhile, over in HYDRA, attempts to weaponize the Obelisk are not going well and Simmons' cover is blown, thus affecting her need to escape. And here we learn that the HYDRA's security chief, was none other the undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Bobbi Morse (played by the amazing Adrianne Palicki).

A little background on Bobbi Morse for all who are unaware of her role within Marvel Comics. In the pages of Marvel books, Bobbi is a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Avenger and was the wife at one point of Avenger Hawkeye. History lesson thus concluded, back to episode talk.

I'm throwing in this photo of Palicki in tonight's episode as Morse, pulling of a nice brunette look, though hopefully if she is to remain a figurehead in the current season, she'll be rocking Bobbi's classic blond locks.

Overall tonight's episode was fun, it had action, intrigue, witty dialogue, great character development (like the reuniting of Fitz and Simmons, which was precious) and the introduction of another amazing Marvel Comics' character into the Marvel Film/TV-verse. With the added addition of Palicki in her full role of Bobbi, we can expect a lot of great banter and wisecracking to enter the show, bringing a bit more cheer back to the serious new S.H.I.E.L.D. that Coulson is running. All in all, a bang up job for tonight's episode, can't wait till next week.