agents_of_s-h-i-e-l-d-_season_4_poster

Quick Thoughts on the Fourth Season Premiere of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

(Promotional image above courtesy of ABC.)

After months of my son asking me when is the premiere of (his favorite TV show) Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we finally got to watch it. Just a few thoughts I had:

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Brett Dalton + a 10:00 pm starting time = me feeling some kind of way. Sleepy, for one.
  • I like Agent Coulson more than Director Coulson.
  • FitzSimmons are much more attractive now that they’ve gotten together. They should have done this a long time ago!
  • Note to Agent May: You really looked like such a hater when you were talking to Gemma. Not a good look for you.
  • Wonder how Mack will use his exploding pen…
  • Who’s faster — Yo Yo or Quicksilver? I hate Quicksilver, so I hope it’s Yo Yo. But I think The Flash is faster than both.
  • I like Gabriel Luna as Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider. Even if he does look like the IT guy at my job. (The flaming skull would be appropriate after the IT guy tells someone for the fifth time to make sure the computer is on!)
  • So, just as I’ve gotten used to calling Skye Daisy, now I have to call her Quake?!? Sigh!
  • Note to self: Sliding Doors (starring John Hannah, who plays Dr. Radcliffe) is now on Netflix. Watch it!
  • If she was on, I missed her, but I heard that Parminder Nagra is on the show now. As an aside, I think she’d make an awesome Doctor Who.
  • This single episode was more racially/ethnically diverse than many networks’ entire schedules (I’m looking at you, CBS).

Looking forward to watching more episodes this season, even if the 10:00 start means a later bedtime for my son (and me).

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Appreciation: Local TV Commercials I Have Known and Loved (Despite Themselves)

While watching the morning TV news yesterday, I thought of local TV commercials. They are getting to be a rare breed these days, given the rise of the Internet as a marketing medium, and the nationalization/globalization of TV watching (both on “regular” TV and online). I have lived in a number of large cities, each with its share of home-grown commercials. No slick productions or fancy computer graphics here — just sincere local businesses trying to get your money. Here are some of my favorite local TV commercials from years past, perfect for this Throwback Thursday.

As a kid growing up in Detroit, Maurice Lazar, owner of Belvedere Construction, was a fixture on the family TV set in his guise of “Mr. Belvedere”. This 1984 commercial is the oldest one I could find, but if you ask anyone who grew up in Detroit during the 1960s or 1970s, they know about these commercials. I’m sure there are some people who, although they can’t remember their own phone number, remember Mr. Belvedere’s – TYler 8-7100.

I hope you noted the near-Method delivery of Mr. Belvedere’s lines, as well as the au courant wood paneling in the background.

Later, when I lived in Chicago, TV was a refuge from the stresses of graduate studies. Chicago did not lack for uh, interesting local commercials. Here’s one from Moo and Oink, a meat market chain that featured the beloved mascots Moo the cow and Oink the pig.

Although the Moo and Oink stores are closed, Best Chicago Meat bought the trademarks, including the iconic pig and cow. Moo and Oink products are now on grocery shelves in areas surrounding Chicago. Don’t know if they’ll resurrect the commercials though…

Along the way, I lived in the Washington, DC area. At first, I couldn’t think of an old local commercial that played in DC. So I did a search for “old DC TV commercials” on YouTube. The first one that came up was for Mr. Ray’s Hair Weave! I definitely remember these commercials, and passing by the shop when driving home on Georgia Avenue. I didn’t see a line of people with hair problems outside, clamoring for Mr. Ray’s services, though…

Crazy Gideon was L.A.’s answer to the infamous New York City purveyor of cheap, crappy electronics, Crazy Eddie. But Gideon, who at times could be incomprehensible even to polyglot Angelenos, had a style all his own.

Recent gentrification of eastern downtown Los Angeles doomed Crazy Gideon’s, but the Yelp reviews of his store (and commercials) are still with us. These reviews are as bizarre as the commercials were!

What’s your favorite old or new local TV commercial?

Favorite Dads in Pop Culture

Dumbledore is one of our favorite "dads"!

Dumbledore is one of our favorite “dads”!

Since Father’s Day is coming up, Blue Striker and I were discussing our favorite dads in pop culture. Now, mind you, these aren’t necessarily good dads, but here they are (in no particular order):

Marlin in Finding Nemo: As Blue Striker says, how can anyone who crosses the entire ocean to find his son not be a good dad? Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) is a great dad, Finding Nemo is a great film and one of Pixar’s best.

Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show: Purveyor of homespun homilies? Check. Good guy who isn’t uptight? Check. Able to successfully police the crazy inhabitants of his town, starting with his wacky deputy, Barney Fife? Check. Great sense of humor? Check. Opie Taylor’s dad manages to do all this while raising his son as a single dad (with the help of Aunt Bea, of course).

Mung Daal in Chowder: Mung (voiced by Dwight Schultz, better known as “Mad Dog Murdock” of The A-Team) is more of a father figure than a father (Chowder’s his apprentice). Although at times Mung is impatient with his much less than perfect apprentice, he possesses the daffiness of a Cartoon Network character (which he is) as well as the best cartoon mustache since Snidely Whiplash.

Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series (books and movies): Harry lucked out when he fell under the tutelage of the wise and powerful Headmaster of Hogwarts (played by Richard Harris and Michael Gambon in the movies), especially when you consider the alternative.

Fred G. Sanford in Sanford and Son: The “G” stands for “great googly moogly, how can you leave him out?” Redd Foxx (born John Elroy Sanford, whose brother was Fred Sanford) was hilarious as the cranky junkman with a heart of gold, particularly when it came to his son Lamont, who could be unappreciative and self-centered at times.

Jonathan “Pa” Kent in practically every iteration of Superman: The guiding force behind the Man of Steel. The fact that actors known for playing “good guys”, such as  Glenn Ford, John Schneider and Kevin Costner, have portrayed Pa Kent tells us much about his character.

Lynda Carter Addresses “Wonder Woman ’77” and Her Music Career on The Today Show

Sorry that I haven’t posted for a while.  Just wanted to share of this interview of Lynda Carter by those two tipsy chicks Hoda and Kathie Lee on the 34th, er, 4th hour of NBC’s The Today Show.  She talks about “Wonder Woman ’77” and her music career.  She also demonstrates the fact that she hasn’t lassoed anyone in decades!

http://www.today.com/video/lynda-carter-still-has-her-wonder-woman-costume-429106755517

Happy New Year from Pop Rocking Culture!

Opinion: What We Want to See More of and Less of in 2015

We at Pop Rocking Culture have come up with a short list of what we want to see more of and less of in pop culture in the next year.  Some are very obvious, while some less so.  Here we go:

Up Arrow

WHAT WE WANT TO SEE MORE OF IN 2015:

1. Adventure shows like Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

Agents of SHIELD 4

As regular readers of this blog probably guessed, we are big fans of MAOS at Pop Rocking Culture.  Sure, you have Arrow and The Flash, but we want more!

2. Truly funny social media memes.  When it came to new memes, we wondered if anything would rise to the level of the famous Batman slapping Robin meme.  Some new memes were a bit confusing — what does Kermit the Frog drinking tea have to do with anything?  But Michael Jackson eating popcorn as he eagerly awaits comments?  Pres. Obama anticipating blame?  Those are funny!  Keep it coming, you people with nothing better to do!

3.  The Simpsons.  This created a bit of controversy here at Pop Rocking Culture — aren’t there 25 years worth of episodes to watch?  But Blue Striker wants this show to go on forever!  Hope you’re reading this, Fox and Matt Groening!

4. Wonder Woman.  Earlier this year, Pop Rocking Culture posted a couple of articles about the casting and directing of upcoming movies featuring Wonder Woman.  Add to that the bestselling book, Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman, and you have a regular Amazing Amazon renaissance going on.  Coming in 2015:  Wonder Woman ’77, a digital comic book featuring the world of Wonder Woman as it was portrayed in the iconic 1970s TV show starring Lynda Carter, and another Wonder Woman book, Noah Berlatsky’s explicitly titled Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948.

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WHAT WE WANT TO SEE LESS OF IN 2015:

Unfortunately, this list is much more obvious, because A LOT OF PEOPLE want to see less of:

1. Justin Bieber.

Fun meme of Justin Bieber mugshot

Fun meme of Justin Bieber mugshot

Good Justin, Bad Justin.  How about No Justin?

2. Kim Kardashian.  This includes her body parts, as well as her entire extended family.

3. Will and Kate.  Another controversial selection by Blue Striker, because I love Will, Kate and the children (those here and yet to come).  But I can see where Blue is coming from — he’s an American boy who has absolutely no use for royalty.

4. Family Guy.  Okay, you had your revival.  The door is to your right.

What do you think?  Do you agree?  Disagree?  We want to hear from you!

Reaction: Blair Underwood joins Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (contains possible spoilers)

As much as I love Blair Underwood (I’m a fan of his Facebook page), I was rather annoyed at the news that he’s going to join the cast of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (MAOS).  I am convinced that Underwood has some dirt on important people in the TV business, as it seems that a year doesn’t pass without him on yet another TV show.  I think that the only reason why Blair Underwood hasn’t been on TV much this past year is because he was performing in the revival of the play The Trip to Bountiful, which I saw and enjoyed very much.

Maybe MAOS needed another Black guy in the cast since the show decided to kill off Agent Triplett (B.J. Britt) in the last episode before the mid-season break.  Triplett’s death resulted, as par for the course for the show, in leaving a few things unresolved. I was waiting for Agent Triplett to make a big revelation regarding something his grandfather (who I assume was Gabe Jones of the Howling Commandos) discovered during World War II.  But, on the other hand, judging from what happened to Agent Coulson, in the Marvel Universe, presumably dead people don’t necessarily stay dead!

Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson) and Ming-Na Wen (Agent Melinda May) at the 2014 PaleyFest panel on Marvel's Agents of Shield.

Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson) and Ming-Na Wen (Agent Melinda May) at the 2014 PaleyFest panel on Marvel’s Agents of Shield.

Going back to the casting of Blair Underwood, I noticed that both he and Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson) were both on The New Adventures of Old Christine.  Underwood played a boyfriend of Christine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), which Gregg played Christine’s ex-husband.  On MAOS, Underwood is Agent Melinda May’s (Ming-Na Wen) ex-husband, while there have been hints of a past relationship between Agent May and Agent Coulson.  Coincidence?  I don’t know, but I’m waiting for Wanda Sykes to show up as Agent May’s best friend!

Review: Peter Pan Live!

I just wanted to write a quick review of NBC’s Thursday broadcast of Peter Pan Live!  Watching this had completely slipped my mind, until Blue Striker finished his homework early and wanted to watch some TV.  BTW, thanks a lot to NBC for showing a three hour long play (padded by commercials) on a school night.  I realize that Fridays and Saturdays are TV graveyards nowadays, but this meant that many kids stayed up way past their Thursday bedtimes.  Oh, well, I guess it’s my fault that I failed to plan for this “special event”. (Sarcasm intended.)

I think Alison Williams, the daughter of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, dispelled any notion of nepotism with her portrayal of Peter Pan.  She was very cute and spunky when she needed to be, and appropriately melancholic at the end. Her English accent was good, but I say this as an American, so what do I know?  She had a bit of a problem with the flying, but in the final scene, when Peter flies into Wendy’s window for the last time, it was magic. Blue Striker, as with most kids watching the play Peter Pan for the first time, was confused by Peter’s gender.  Was Peter a boy or a girl?  I had to explain to him that a petite woman traditionally portrays Peter on stage, because the role is too demanding and strenuous for an actual 12 year old boy. (I didn’t go into child labor laws and all that.)

As much as I like Christopher Walken as an actor, I think he was out of his element as Captain Hook.  He is, at best, a double threat — great actor, OK dancer, please leave the singing to someone else.  And I think he was a bit old for a part that involved some physicality. Blue Striker was less generous with regard to this; according to him, “wow, that guy is old!” Neil Patrick Harris would have been great as Captain Hook, but he’s overexposed as it is.

The other cast members ranged from splendid to just OK.  Taylor Louderman as Wendy was a bit flat, although I did like Minnie Driver as the adult Wendy, bad blonde wig and all.  The Lost Boys, the pirates and the Indians were fantastic dancers.  Blue Striker did object to the Indians’ costumes — “they’re half naked!”  But I had no such objection (hot guys in flesh-colored Speedos and feathers? <<Ahem>>).  And I appreciated the fact that the Indians’ song “Ugg-A-Wugg” was replaced by “True Blood Brothers”.

The production values were pretty good.  The costumes were pretty nifty — I really liked the pirate costumes.  And I can’t believe they used a real dog to play Nana!  Given the unpredictability of animals and the live setting, the fact that the dog who played Nana did such a good job is a testimony not only to the dog, but to the trainer. On the other hand, whoever designed the crocodile should have been told to do it over — it looked terrible!  And the flying apparatus crew needed more practice with pulling Allison Williams around on the wire rig (except, as mentioned before, at the end).

Overall, Peter Pan Live! was good, not great.  Blue Striker enjoyed it, despite the objections noted above.  And he had no problem staying awake until 11 o’clock.