Welcome to the first (and hopefully not last) edition of The Weekly Static, a comedic (fingers, toes and every other available and cross-able body part crossed) look-back at the week that was in the land of television. The goal of The Weekly Static? Why, that's a simple three-point answer: (1) to offer commentary on roughly 10 random news posts from the past week that also highlight your relentless gaggle of news-thirsty Bleeding Cool writers; (2) to spotlight a news item we might've missed that you'd find interesting; and (3) to feed my ego with waves of praise, adulation, social media shares, and a plethora of Eisner Award nominations.
So grab your towel, slip in your babel fish and let's get hikin'!
Everyone was laughing and rolling their eyes this week when word got out that two of HBO's international offices had accidentally uploaded the upcoming sixth episode of Game of Thrones, firing the starting pistol on an online torrent race for the past four days. Unfortunately, you're all wrong…dead wrong. That was probably one of the most hardcore, Keyser Soze/The Usual Suspects moves that the massive cable giant could've ever pulled off.
HACKER: "Give us bitcoins or we'll dump your shows online!"
HBO: "Oh, you think you can blackmail us by holding our precious Thrones hostage?"
(HBO leans over and presses a few keys on the keyboard. Five minutes, one upload and 367 torrent files later…)
HBO: "What 'cha got for us now, bi**h?"
But then again? Maybe it really was just a screwup by HBO Nordic and HBO España.
Not to be outdone and to keep things competitive, Netflix has announced that it will be accidentally releasing the second season premiere of Stranger Things.
I was going to make a joke about the how the characters look like cosplayers with a pretty decent budget, but I have no interest in insulting my cosplaying friends out there. I'm guessing "creative" has been reading the reactions from fans online over the past few weeks and has decided to take the "yeah-we-know-it-may-not-look-good-BUT-THE-STORIES!" approach to how they're talking about it. When I can't decide if it looks more like a trailer for Vivid's Not The Inhumans XXX or a halfway-decent cruise ship production, that's probably not a good sign.
Xena, Warrior Princess. Hercules, The Legendary Journeys. Angel. Firefly. 24. Alias. Hannibal. That's a small sample of just the geek genre work that she's done…which is why I'm disappointed that (1) it took so long to finally give Torres a chance to lead her own show with her own supporting cast; and (2) that it had to be a spinoff from Suits and not a geek genre project. Torres elevates the quality level of every project and every scene she's in and deserves to have a ton of scripts thrown her way over the years. Anything that can help her deal with the loss of Wash…(still too soon?)
I still remember the first (and unfortunately only) time my Dad and I went to a professional wrestling match together: it was in the late '80s and featured Ric Flair vs. Hawk from The Road Warriors for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. One of the best memories that I'll ever have, and it was also the moment that my Dad added Flair to his painfully short list of favorite pro wrestlers (even though he'd bellow about "how fake wrestling is," you also couldn't talk to him when The Rock 'n' Roll Express were wrestling). That stylin', profilin', limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin' 'n' dealin' son of a gun may not have been an angel his entire life — far from it, actually — but he brought a whirlwind of emotions to thousands of fans every time he entered the squared circle, and that deserves to be honored, recognized and respected.
Full, up-front confession? I'm an agnostic. Basically what that means is that I believe in something…but I have no interest whatsoever in "organized religion" because they're concepts created by humans and humans have a tendency to righteously screw things up. Just look at New Coke. So what's my problem? More often than not, the "fine print" to organized religion is that you'll never really belong unless you worship how they do…and that's painfully scary. Because when the end of everything comes and we're facing what's next, two things are going to happen: one group is going to be jumping up and down, celebrating like they just hit the Powerball over just how right they were; and everyone else is gonna be left feeling a little awkward.
Oh, and before I go…Lindsay Kornick from Newsbusters? We'll stop using your "religion" in our geek stuff when you stop using your "religion" to decide what it is we can watch…what it is we can listen to…what it is we can say…what it is we can do within the confines of our own homes…and who we can love. Deal?
I wrote up a post (just before lawsuit news broke) on Robert Kirkman going on Twitter to reassure fans that he was still working with AMC on The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead, and other projects that were in place before his new deal. I thought that was a very cool gesture on his part…until I realized later that it was a social media "preemptive strike" on his part to help ease the impact of the lawsuit bombshell.
Don't get me wrong…it's nice that both sides issued statements agreeing to still be professionals while the suit works its way through the courts. But you know it's gotta be insanely weird for both parties…like when you have that nasty breakup with your boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband but you both still have to live together until one of you can save up for a new place? You're gonna make it work because it has to…but it's gonna be damn awkward.
So did we see the start of a mini-Cold War between "The House of Mouse" and "The Streaming Behemoth" this week? Disney announces that it's gonna pull Disney and ESPN programming from Netflix because Disney is going to create their own streaming homes for their programming. Netflix now finds itself in the position of having to renegotiate with Disney to keep the Marvel stuff there. As mere coincidence…Netflix lures away Shonda Rhimes (Scandal) from ABC, securing Shondaland's future creative resources for the streaming service while ABC is left scrambling for cover. This is getting fun! Besides…creatively? Her move makes perfect sense in that she won't have to worry about the constraints that come with working in network television.
I'm a fan of Bryan Fuller and have a ton of respect for the series work he's done in the past — especially his commitment to continually do right by Neil Gaiman's American Gods. From a visual standpoint, Hannibal is one of the best-looking television shows to air in the past 30+ years. Acting-wise, you had a "murderer's row" of quality: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Laurence Fishburne, Gillian Anderson and so many others.
Having said that? I found the storylines leaning too heavily on "flash" and not enough on logic and common sense as the series rolled along. My biggest issue with the series? They made Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mikkelsen) less Lecter and more like a psychopathic James Bond…some kind of hybrid of a UFC fighter, a GQ cover model and Gordon Ramsey. I keep going back to the one scene where Lecter literally walks away from the house where he's left a pile of dead and damaged bodies…in the rain…with this slow-motion imagery that looked like it came off the editing room floor of an R. Kelly video.
Nothing major here…just a point of personal privilege: I think the idea of blending storylines from an animated series into a live-action series is very cool, and can be another effective way for The CW to gauge interest in characters for future development (with LoT itself being the other great launchpad). From a financial standpoint, it's also a smart move for The CW in that the network's not wasting monies on expensive, high-profile failures. The other bonus? By reflecting plot points from Vixen on other shows, the CW is showing fans that the animated series matter and aren't just disposable standalone episodes.
I never understood why Unplugged kinda faded away to begin with, because the concept seems pretty simple and straightforward: artists perform stripped-down versions of their songs and an occasional cover in front of a live audience. Even with MTV not playing one-tenth of the amount of music they used to play, that equation always seemed like a winning combination as long as you're attracting acts with strong, supportive fanbases.
I remember seeing LL Cool J's Unplugged for the first time and being completely knocked on my ass over how powerful his lyrics sounded in a raw musical environment like that. Shawn Mendes was a good choice to kick off the series, but I'm not sure I'm buying that whole "hard work' thing from him — because his songs sound like they would lend themselves easily to that format.
Here's a news story that we might've missed from this past week, but I thought you might want to know about:
Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) is taking-on some of pop culture's most significant moments in the new documentary series Cultureshock, premiering on A&E some time in 2018. Some of the topics already announced include comedian W. Kamau Bell (United Shades of America) directing a film about Chris Rock's 1996 comedy special Bring the Pain and its long-term influence on comedy landscape; Brent Hodge (I Am Chris Farley) directing a profile of the cult series Freaks and Geeks; and Spurlock himself will look at how "tabloid talk shows" like The Jerry Springer Show and Geraldo laid the groundwork for today's "reality television."
Happy watching, people…see you la próxima semana!