What's up, loyal readers.
Man, it's been a sad few days for pop-culture fans. Let me say a few quick words on two great artists who recently passed away ...
- STEVE GERBER was one of my favorite writers. And I can say that despite having missed a lot of his work from the 70's and 80's, the era when the writer really rose to prominence as a hilarious, subversive, and intelligent voice in comics. At that time, Gerber had a number of memorable runs on Marvel, DC, and independent comics, and along with names like Frank Miller and Alan Moore, he was certainly one of the creators who truly began to push the medium past its more simplistic roots. Nothing embodied this more than Howard the Duck, a wise-cracking, cigar-chomping, quack-fu-practicin' smartass - an underground spin on classic cartoon animals. But for me, the comic that made me love Gerber was HARD TIME, easily one of my all-time favorite books. It was the story of an outcast teen responsible for a Columbine-esque school shooting, and his subsequent life as one of the youngest inmates in a maximum security prison. This was a comic that pulled no punches, that was gritty, relevant, darkly funny, and just a great read. Few writers could have written a book like this, and few would have been willing to take a chance with such atypical subject matter, but Gerber was always someone who went against the grain. What makes his passing so sad is that Gerber was still writing up until his last few days, but a prolonged illness took him far too early. Over the last few months, I've been thoroughly enjoying his work on DC's Countdown to Mystery, and it's a great example of how character was always paramount with Gerber - his heroes were off-kilter, flawed, written in shades of grey, yet somehow likable in the end. This is a huge loss for anyone who can appreciate those writers who push what's possible, who never settle or conform, and who were memorable because their voice was so loud and unique. This one just left me feeling really sad and depressed - truly one of the greats.
- And then, I have to quickly mention the passing of ROY SCHEIDER. Talk about an icon, this guy did it all, from big blockbusters like Jaws to more personal fare like All That Jazz. whatever the subject matter, he made it all seem effortless. In one of my film classes in college, I remember our professor popped in All That Jazz and, given the subject matter, I don't think I could have been less excited. So I was pretty surprised to find myself utterly blown away by the movie, so much so that I immediately tracked down the DVD first chance I got. Roy Scheider is incredible in it - it's got to rank up there as one of the all-time great singular performances in a film. But man, reading through some of the obituary comments over on Ain't It Cool, I was just struck by how not one person had a bad thing to say about the guy - he was maybe one of the last great movie heroes, a man's man, someone whose career of memorable roles basically speaks for itself.
- Anyways, the show must go on ...
- A lot of interesting news from the world of entertainment lately. The Strike seems to be over, for one thing. Not really up for analyzing the ins and outs of the new deal with the WGA right now, suffice to say as a fan I'm just curious to see if and when some of the big shows come back or, in the case of a LOST, if the season is able to conclude as originally planned.
- By the way, I've been meaning to read The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, but without having read it, the thought of a Coen Bros. adaptation, as announced today, has me practically drooling. There's something about the sensibilities of the Coens and Chabon that seems to be a 100% perfect fit.
- As far as current movies go - man, it's been a bleak few weeks. And the fact that crap like Meet the Spartans and Fool's Gold has done well at the box office is pretty disheartening. Semi-interested in The Spiderwick Chronicles and Semi-Pro looks to be pretty funny. Otherwise ... summer can't get here soon enough at this point, at least as far as films go.
- One random note: I randomly watched the 1980 FLASH GORDON movie the other day ... um, wow. Possibly one of the trippiest movies I've ever seen, in that it is a total camp-fest that's like Star Wars meets The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with tons of sexual innuendo just beneath the PG surface. Awesome soundtrack by Queen, of course (Flash! Whoah-oh! King of the impossible!), but man, what a strange movie.
- Also, finally catching up on the latest season of CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM. So far, a little bit below the standard set by some of the previous seasons, but still moments of greatness. The third episode, with Larry stealing flowers from the memorial for Funkhowser's mother, was pretty hilarious, so I'm hopeful the episodes continue to get better and better as the season progresses.
Okay, good segway ...
- Last night's PRISON BREAK ...
... was yet another dose of awesomeness. From minute one, I was totally into it, and this was another classic escape episode, in that the intensity level was off the chain, there were some great twists (from the get-go, with Scofield revealing that part of his plan was to let T-Bag, Bellick, and Lechero get captured), and some great character moments as well. T-Bag alone had several classic lines - "No need to re-fry my beans." and "If I knew this was how you boys liked to party, I never would have tried to leave ...", to paraphrase two of the funniest. Loved the interplay between Mahone and Lincoln / Michael as well - the eventual fate of William Fichtner's badass ex-FBI agent is definitely one of the most compelling reasons to tune-in to next week's season finale.
Now, I do have a few complaints. One is that Gretchen, while surely an awesome villain, might be better off if she was toned down just a tad. I didn't really get why, last night, she suddenly decided to scrap all of her plans right as they seemed to finally be coming together, and just go gun-crazy and try to kill Michael and Lincoln. My other complaint is that Whistler has long been a somewhat frustrating character. We still know next to nothing about him, so him bolting at episode's end was more annoying than exciting - I mean what's his deal anyway? I guess it's frustrating that Whistler hasn't developed into a better / more compelling character by this point.
That being said, this one was a nail-biter. From Sucre being unable to come through with the boat, to the reunion of basketball-kid with his father, to the underwater escape, this was good stuff. Can't wait for next week's conclusion.
My Grade: A -
- Also, want to mention the sole new FOX episode on Sunday, which was KING OF THE HILL. A pretty good episode, that saw Hank and the gang at Strickland Propane begin to sell bootlegged fried food, when Arlen instates a ban on trans-fats. This ep def had some classic moments, chief among them Hank's dream in which he meets Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Tom Landry while flying a WWII bomber. Only in the mind of Hank Hill ... Anyways, a fun episode of a perenially entertaining comedy.
My Grade: B+
- Alright, that's about all I've got for now. Back later with more ... rock on.