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).

Pop Rocking Culture Goes to Comikaze 2015!

Blue Striker, Dad and I went to Stan Lee’s Comikaze 2015 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on November 1, 2015. For starters, this may be a landmark year for the five year old convention, because Stan Lee (who bought out the convention a couple of years ago) made an unofficial announcement on Friday that this may be the last Comikaze he attends. It would be strange not to see Stan Lee at Comikaze. However, he is in his nineties, and it is amazing that he maintains such a high profile.

We last attended Comikaze in 2012, and upon entering the Convention Center, it was obvious how much Comikaze has grown. For one, we had a hard time getting through the crowds in the vendor area. While this is generally a sign of success, it made things a bit overwhelming. Blue Striker also noted that it also made it difficult to determine who had stuff to give away. A suggestion to those responsible for the day-to-day logistics of the convention: Make sure attendees (including members of the press, like me) have easy access to the programs.

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There was a lot of neat cosplay at Comikaze. I noticed that there was a relatively small number of people dressed as “traditional” superheroes. That said, there continues to be a plethora of Harley Quinns, Jokers, Deadpools and Spiderhumans. There were also plenty of anime and video game characters (who Blue Striker had to point out to me), as well as TV and movie characters. For even a minor Doctor Who fan like me, it was neat to see people dressed up as Doctors Tom Baker, David Tennant and Matt Smith. There were more fezes there than at a Shriners convention!

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As Pop Rocking Culture is also about the pop culture experience for kids, I did notice a few kids who seemed overwhelmed by all of the action. I am sure many of them were tired, hungry and even bored as well. It would be great that on Sunday, which is supposedly the traditional “kids’ day” at cons, there were a few more things geared towards the young set. On the plus side, there was a pretty neat panel called “Pop Culture Parenting with the Geeklings and Parental Units”. I got the chance to find out like-minded moms and dads, who had a few great ideas for bringing up the next generation of pop culture mavens. There is actually a group called Geeklings and Parental Units, who host meetups in the Los Angeles area.

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There were plenty of Baby Boomer and Gen X icons such as Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig of Star Trek: The Original Series fame, as well as Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox from CHiPs. It was also neat to see kid star Kel Mitchell, the one half of the Kenan and Kel team from Nickelodeon whom we don’t see every week on Saturday Night Live. I pointed out to Blue Striker that this guy is the same one who played the goofy kid with the braids in Good Burger. (Note: I mentioned Mystery Men to Blue first, but then I realized that he’s never seen it. Another thing to add to his pop culture “to do” list.)

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All in all, we had a good time at Comikaze 2015. We hope that wpress credentials in 2016. Blue Striker says that he will definitely dress in costume the next time around. As for me, I might as well.

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?

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

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.