Notes From The Underground – Some Podcast Updates


I’ve been busy lately. Not only am I prepping my next short film that will be shooting next month after a few delays but I’ve also been doing a lot of stuff in the world of podcasts. I recently talked to a co-worker who happens to be a music promoter here in Arizona. I’ve been wanting to do a music podcast for a while now. It’s something that’s been sorely missing from the Abnormal Entertainment lineup. Well, we found a way to do it. Big thanks to Ryan Ford for helping us get it done. 

The first episode was recorded about a week ago and had been turned in to the big guy at Abnormal. We’ll keep you posted for the date it’s released. The other podcast news is that one of the shows I’ve been sitting on for a while is finally going to see the light of day. My fellow nerd Isaac Hulke and I have secretly been recording a limited series of Star Trek podcasts. The first episode is all about Star Trek: The Original Series. That has also been handed in. You may be hearing a lot from me in the coming weeks. 

If you have a band and you want us to showcase your work on From The Underground send me an email and a sample MP3 and we will see what we can do. If you’re local to Arizona we would love to set something up at our studio for a live acoustic set as well.

Highlander, What Have You Ever Done For Me?


The Highlander movie and TV franchise has always been a mess. Always. But one thing I’ve noticed as I began re-watching Highlander: The Series on Netflix recently is that even the so called good immortals just tend to amass a small fortune and hide till it is time to take a head.

These people are hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years old. And what do they do with all that time? Fight, hide, sleep with as many people as possible. The don’t spend their time trying to find ways to make the world a better place. Just because they’re immortal and therefore free of disease doesn’t mean that hundreds of years in the field of scientific research wouldn’t come in handy in curing cancer.

Maybe if these immortals weren’t so selfish a cure for polio would have been found sooner and FDR wouldn’t have been in a wheelchair. Maybe these immortals with brains working for so many hundreds of years could help figure out how to stop brain diseases.

In watching the series again I have noticed that the immortals shown on the series are as follows – good guys who hide on holy ground, good guys who try to keep a low profile, morally ambiguous thieves, downright grunting and gravelly voiced bad guy evil, and simpletons. Nowhere in there is an immortal who tries to change the world for the better.

What a waste of life.

My Thoughts On All Things Star Trek


My friend Isaac Hulke and I recently decided to do a limited series of podcasts about Star Trek. They will start posting soon here. In it we devote an hour to each series and then we will go movie by movie discussing each in detail.

We have recorded episodes about the original series and the animated series already. I have always been a very big fan of all things Trek but this has forced me to go back and rewatch many of the episodes of the various shows that made it great.

Before recording last week I went back and watch the TOS episodes “Mirror, Mirror”, “Space Seed” and “The City On The Edge Of Forever”. They made me fall in love with the series all over again. There was so much being done in the series that was not only ground breaking but just great storytelling. In that podcast we also discussed what impact the show had on our present. Many of the children who grew up watching Trek wanted to move into finding ways to create the fictional tech that was used on the show. Many things we take for granted today came from people inspired by that show.

This weekend I have been spending some time watching some of the great episodes of The Next Generation. Being a reflection of our times in the 80’s and 90’s Gene Roddenberry used many things that really took a foothold in our culture and used them in the series. One of the major things was showing a Klingon being part of the Federation. Another was designating Troi as the ship’s counsellor as therapy was such a popular thing during that time.

The Next Generation has not yet proven to be as influential on our society as TOS but some things that were created for the show have since come to pass. The tablet computer being used as a reading device rather than carrying books around became one of the staples of Star Trek and has since begun to take a hold in our society today.

Not only have these shows influenced us in technological way but they have also given us some wonderfully entertaining hours of television. In TNG we had the introduction of some of the greatest creations in all of Trek – The Borg, Ferengi, Cardassians, and many other alien races that proved to have a lasting impact on Science Fiction by holding a mirror up to our society and showing us what we are. There were also some amazing introspective stories. One of the many great episodes was “The Inner Light”. I have had conversations with the writer of that classic episode and he said he was amazed by how beloved the episode has become. He now travels around to conventions and talks about his experiences. His name is Morgan Gendel. If you ever have the opportunity to meet this man you will not be disappointed. He is a very warm and engaging person.

I have spent a lot of time this weekend watching Deep Space Nine. It is sort of the forgotten child of Star Trek. People really should put it up there as one of the greatest creations ever to come from the Trek Universe. Instead it us constantly overshadowed by its predecessors. Voyager gets talked about more because of it sucked. And that’s a shame. DS9 was an amazing series that took a decidedly different journey. It was set aboard a space station and dealt with Federation officers being placed in a war torn part of deep space. It played in an entirely different sandbox. On a regular basis they dealt with loss, religion and racial conflict much more that than any of the other series dared to do. Sure, it moved into soap opera territory from time to time. They all did. But the show was much more daring and bold than anything that came before it.

And then there was Voyager. Wanting to get back to the fun of space exploration was the idea behind the show. They came up with a Lost In Space idea where they were cut off in an uncharted quadrant so far removed from Federation space it would take over 70 years at maximum warp to return. Instead of capturing the fun of TOS they opted to make Captain Janeway a nearly spineless person who would constantly ask “what did we do to offend you?” rather than take action. The secondary cast was horribly underused. The stories were weak and Neelix was possibly the worst SciFi character outside of Jar Jar. Enough said on that until the podcast recording.

Enterprise was an uneven show but really started to come into its own in its final season. It’s a shame the show could not have run at least a little longer. I would have liked to see Captain Archer and his crew dealing more with the beginnings of the Federation. And Scott Backula is just cool.

It’s nearly unanimous how people feel about the Trek movies. The odd ones are bad, the even ones are good. But does that hold true for the reboot of the movie franchise. You will have to time into the podcast to find out my feelings on the subject. We also offer trivia. We talk about the series that never was – Star Trek: Phase II, and many other things. I will be sure to let you know when they are available.

My Angry Walking Dead Rant!


I have been a longtime fan of The Walking Dead. Robert Kirkman did an amazing job crafting a world for Shane and company to live in. The comic book has been one hell of a ride. The television series, on the other hand, has had its ups and downs. When it first premiered a couple years ago I was more excited than I could even say. Zombies, comic books, Frank Darabont, and wonderful pilot immediately put this at the top of my “must see” list. The first six episode under Darabont’s guidance were amazing. I have watched them numerous times and love them as much as Darabont’s films. Then season two came along. Longer season, Darabont free, and a lot of “Where’s Carl? Oh, he’s been shot? He can heal quickly and run off again. Good…Dammit, where’s Carl?”

The season started good and went downhill after just a few episodes. Sure, they introduced one of my favorite characters when they got to the farm. Herschel was a favorite from the comic books and the series. But that wasn’t enough. There were too few zombies. The show turned into Days Of Our Lives with the occasional zombie thrown in. Hell, at least when Days Of Our Lives went dark and Marlena got possessed we saw the possessed Marlena every episode! The season was boring. Then they did something that really pissed me off.

Before I say what made me so made at the end of season two let me first say this – I have no problem with the changes they’ve made from the comic to the series. I love the characters of Merle and Daryl. I love the CDC episode. I’m fine with that stuff. I think it’s been a great addition to the lore of the show. But when they do things inspired by jaw-dropping moments from the comic and dilute it then I get pissed. The moment I’m talking about is when Shane gets shot. In the comic Carl kills a living, breathing, human Shane. In the show he had to be a zombie first. That almost made me stop watching. 

This season they get to one of the best story arcs of the comic – the story of the Governor and the prison. Before I get into this part I must warn you that I’m getting into spoiler territory here. Please stop reading if you don’t want to know. 

You’ve been warned.

 

 

Last chance…

 

 

Okay, here we go. In the comic the Governor is keeping his undead daughter locked in his house. He has Roman style Gladiator games happening with zombies to entertain his people. He locks up Michonne and rapes and beats her repeatedly. Rick gets his hand cut off by the Governor. The Governor storms the gates of the prison and Lori and her unborn baby are shot and killed as they flee. This was a big epic game changer for the comic book. 

So far this season on the show (specifically last night’s episode) we had T Dogg, a character not in the comics, die. Carol died. Lori went into labor, had to be cut open to save the baby and then she died! The baby lived. The baby isn’t supposed to live. Everything is happening wrong. It makes me think that the other controversial moments of the comic are gonna get watered down too. 

Don’t take this wrong when I say this but I want these characters to suffer. Glen Mezzarra is taking the work of Robert Kirkman and pissing on it. He started off strong. I thought there was hope for the season but after last night I am at my breaking point again. I will keep watching through the season but I am seriously about to scream at how they are treating the story after last night. I want Frank Darabont back. If I can’t have that then I’ll just switch to his new show L.A. Noir when it premieres.

LucasFilm Is Now Disney Owned?!


Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard the news. Disney purchased LucasFilm for a whopping $4.05 Billion. That is Billion with a B. This is a crazy bit of news. Nobody even knew it was on the market.

Disney wasted no time talking about their plans for LucasFilm. They intend on having Star Wars Episode 7 in theaters by 2015, the same time as Avengers 2, with 8 and 9 to follow shortly after. This is great news for Disney, but what does it mean for fans?

First off, Disney owns Marvel Studios and their comic book line. That means Dark Horse Comics will lose the rights as soon as their contract is up. There’s no way Disney is going to re-up that contract now. Marvel was the first company to release Star Wars comics back in the late 70’s and they will have it back again in just a couple short years.

Second, we must address what this means for the fans of the movies. Star Wars and Indiana Jones are both owned by LucasFilm. Fox and Paramount only had distribution rights. Now that Disney owns them that means we won’t have Lucas making poor decisions on how to handle these two properties. Instead we’ll have Disney making those poor decisions…maybe. The good thing is Kathleen Kennedy is staying on as the head of LucasFilm. This could go the same way as Marvel or Pixar for Disney where they are able to make their own decisions while having access to giant bags of money.

People that know me know that I hated the Star Wars prequel trilogy and didn’t really like Indiana Jones 4. With Lucas out of the picture we finally get to see other people step up to the creative plate and give us a new vision of the worlds Lucas created. We may also finally see a Star Wars television series.

After so many years of Lucas slowly losing his touch with what fans want we now get to see what may be a bold and creative new playground set in his sandbox. Overall I am excited. I still have reservations about it but that comes with the territory.

Lucas is also keeping ILM. That’s his baby, something he seems to care about more than screwing his fans with inferior product. One of my biggest complaints with the prequel trilogy was that Lucas seemed more in love with his technology than with his stories or actors. I say let him have the tech and give the other stuff to people who care about the stories.

Brian and I talked about this subject in detail on our podcast we just recorded. It will be available on Monday. And when my friend Dave and I record our Midichlorian Mayhem podcast (coming soon) we will be touching on it even more.

Don’t forget to go “like” our facebook page. There is always new stuff to talk about and we want your feedback. We also do weekly polls where you get to tell us what we review on the show. Go check it out. And while you’re there go “like” our other pages too. You can find them here and here.

Mockingbird Lane – A Beautiful Mess


I am a huge fan of Bryan Fuller. Hell, I went back and watched episodes of Star Trek: Voyager because his name was on them. I loved Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies. My heart broke a little every time his shows would be cancelled. The man is truly talented. That’s partly why I can wrap my head around his involvement in Mockingbird Lane and Hannibal.

Mockingbird Lane is a new updated version of The Munsters. And who didn’t love The Munsters growing up. Even Rob Zombie owns their car. They were weird and funny and just plain lovable. The new version focuses more on the weird and forgets about the rest. Sure, there’s funny moments but it’s an hour long dramatic series more than a comedy this time around. It’s like the version of The Bradys from the 80’s where it was an hour long series and Mike was running for office. It just didn’t feel right.

Mockingbird Lane hasn’t been picked up as a series yet. NBC most likely was trying it out before they committed by putting the pilot on as a Halloween special directed by Bryan Singer. The show had a lot going for it – a good cast with Jerry O’Connell, Portia DiRossi, Eddie Izzard and others playing Munsters or neighbors. The problem wasn’t with the cast. It was the tone. It’s a tall order to take a beloved sitcom family of yesteryear and turn them into a dark, edgy modern monster family. The show would have been fine had it changed the names.

This time around O’Connell plays Herman who looks less like the Frankenstein monster and more like a suburban dad with a few scars. DiRossi plays Lily who still looks like a hot vampire but oozes with more sexuality than her previous incarnation. Izzard’s Grampa is the biggest departure. He is changed from the lovable version of the old show to something more akin to Gary Oldman in Dracula. Marilyn is nearly the same in every way. Eddie looks like a normal kid but still changes to a Werewolf on full moons.

The episode centered around Herman needing a new heart because his was breaking from loving too hard. Grampa was going to go back to drinking human blood while making his neighbors into blood slaves. Grampa gets the idea of killing Eddie’s scout leader, drinking his blood and giving Herman the heart. But rather than play this ridiculous premise for laughs there was a dark, almost cynical, edge to it that made the show not work.

Fuller and Singer both tried their hardest. The cast was all very good but it just didn’t come together as it should have. If the show goes to series there may be potential there but I think NBC is going to pass on it. Granted, it isn’t the mess Wonder Woman was last year and can be saved but it needs work for sure.

I’m finding it very difficult to say this about anything Fuller is involved with but I’m going to have to give it 2 1/2 out of 5 stars. All the other projects he’s worked on are solid 4’s or better.

Why Did I Watch Dead Heat?


During the dark period of Saturday Night Live there was only one reason to watch – Eddie Murphy. Period. I know Hollywood wanted Joe Piscapo to be a star until they realized what SNL viewers already knew…he was bland. There is nothing he has ever done that people look back on with fondness. Even Jon Lovitz has Mom & Dad Save The World. And, let’s face it, that really is a bad movie.

Dead Heat stars Piscapo and Treat Williams as a couple of boring cops doing boring cop stuff. Then criminals won’t die when the LAPD uses excessive force. Eventually we discover they are the undead. Then Williams and Piscapo join the undead ranks and fight against their own kind to bring down their crime spree.

This was supposed to be an action comedy yet the action sucked and the comedy wasn’t funny. I tried to think back to what made me laugh as a child to see if it made the movie better. It didn’t. In fact, I couldn’t think of a single kind thing to say about this movie other than Treat Williams seemed to really be trying to elevate the material to something he wouldn’t be ashamed of.

When I had the chance to interview Bill Oberst Jr. he told me that about how he goes into some movies with the best intentions. He said Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies was a good script that was hampered by budget. I believe that. I don’t know if that was the case with Dead Heat or if it was an inexperienced director making bad choices. Either way the finished product was not good. I like Williams. His performance in Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead was amazing. His performance in Dead Heat was good. I’m really liking what he’s doing on White Collar right now. It’s just a shame that his promising career in the 80’s was destroyed by this kind of mediocre material.

I harbor no ill will toward the writers, director, or stars of this film other than the fact that I wastes an hour and a half of my time watching it. This movie gets 1/2 star out of 5. It’s painful to sit through.


I have been watching this show from the beginning. It has always been uneven but the good outweighed the bad. Then season six came along and we started to see the scale tip the other direction. Sure, it was a better season than it was bad but it was closer to that 50/50 mark than the show had ever hit before. Season 6 also marked the beginning of Sera Gamble’s reign as showrunner on the series. I said once before that I like Gamble as a writer but I think she’s a little shaky on how to properly run a show. 

The tone of season 7 I kind of liken to the third season of 24. Jack was a heroin addict, suffering from withdrawls. Then, only a few hours later, he’s fine and the story was dropped. That’s how Supernatural felt to me in this season. It was uneven, all over the place, and poorly executed. 

Let’s start with Castiel. The idea of him pulling all the souls out of Purgatory and claiming to be the new God was a bad idea. Having him break the wall in Sam’s head, making Sam see visions of Lucifer was a bad idea. Killing Castiel, a fan favorite was a bad idea. Finding out he wasn’t really dead struck me as an afterthought because the fans were pissed. Having him thinking he was a human named Emanuel was a bad idea. Locking in him the mental institution was a bad idea. Sending him to Purgatory with Dean was a bad idea. 

Now let’s talk about Bobby. Bobby Singer, another fan favorite of the series. He’s been the surrogate father of Sam and Dean on the show for many years. They already killed Castiel and now they’ve killed Bobby half way through the season. After his death we discover he ditched his reaper and chose to remain on Earth as a ghost. Toward the end of the season he re-appears to “help” the boys. Eventually he starts to become a vengeful spirit and the boys have to destroy the flask that is keeping him tied to the Earth. All of this was poorly done. 

Before I move on from my disappointment here I want to say that both these deaths and resurrections (for lack of a better term) seemed forced, haphazardly done, and the return of the characters felt like cheats. Joss Whedon used to kill and bring back characters all the time. But it never felt like a cheat. It felt like he was in control of the universes he created on Buffy and Angel. Supernatural seems to be suffering since creator Eric Kripke left the show.

Now on to Sam. He has had his fair share of ups and downs, more downs than ups. He watched his mom die, never got to have a normal life, watched his girlfriend die, got locked in a cage with Michael and Lucifer, lost his soul, became a very dark demon killer with super powers, got manipulated by his time travelling grandfather, nearly went crazy with visions of Lucifer in his head. The list goes on. The thing I don’t like about the Sam story in this season is that the idea that the wall Castiel cracked and made Sam go crazy with haunting visions of Lucifer was on touched on when it was convenient. For a good half of the season it seemed that he was just Sam. Sure, sometimes Dean would ask how he was doing but that’s not good enough. they should have built up the story through the season so that Castiel’s sacrifice would have had a stronger impact. 

And now we get to Dean. His story played out the most subtle and boring. There was the issue of his drinking. There was his obsession with the big bad guy, his anger and inability to let go after Bobby’s death. Overall, his story was the least stupid and most easy to relate to but also the most glossed over and boring story. 

The episodes were all over the place. They tried to get back to stand alone episodes more, which I appreciated, but they felt weak. They tried to introduce new characters, like Garth, and failed miserably. The show just seemed to hit a brick wall with the season. I just hope that with Jeremy Carver taking over as showrunner for season 8 that we see an upswing. I don’t think it’s too late to save the show. But if it has another season like it’s seventh it will be. 

Thoughts On The DC Universe Movies And TV


Having just watched the first two episodes of Arrow, the failed Wonder Woman pilot episode, and the horrible Justice League TV movie that never aired I started thinking about what DC and Warner Brothers have done right and what they have done wrong. Where to begin? We all remember George Reeves, the first iconic Superman. People loved him as that character. But even then there were issues with that franchise. Superman Vs. The Mole Men is the perfect example. There was also The Adventures Of SuperPup. Thankfully that never aired. I don’t know if the world will ever be ready for the adventures of Bark Kent. Cut to years later Alexander and Ilya Salkind had such a tyrannical way of doing things that Gene Hackman refused to work with them and wouldn’t come back for Superman III: The Fall Of A Franchise. He came back for the fourth installment but the movies had turned into a big joke by then. Plus there was the Superboy television series around that time. Terrible. And Lois & Clark, more Moonlighting than Superman. Not a bad show but it made Superman into a joke just like the last film. Then there was Superman Returns, a worthy effort but overall weak and incredibly expensive. There were also all the scripts they paid writers for and didn’t use, pay or play contracts with Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage costing them millions. Superman Returns had such a hefty price tag before one bit of it was shot it was destined to be a disappointment. Then there’s Batman. Right now he is DC’s heavy hitter thanks to Christopher Nolan and company. But just a few short years ago we had the Joel Shumaker debacle. Batman Forever was only an okay movie. Batman & Robin killed the franchise with its horribleness. But even before that DC said okay back in the 60’s to having the Batman television series air. It was so campy that it changed the tone of the comics up until Frank Miller brought in the darkness with Year One. Wonder Woman had a hit television series back in the 70’s and 80’s starring Lynda Carter. The show was a product of its time but didn’t really do a disservice to the character. The movie starring Kay Lenz (I’m not even positive it was her so don’t quote me there) did. I already devoted a whole blog entry to the horrible 2011 version that never aired so I’m not going into it here. Let’s just say it sucked and move on. The Flash. He’s long been one of my favorite characters in the comics. They haven’t done much with him but they did make a season of episodes for CBS back in the early 90’s. It wasn’t bad, not good either, but not bad. Green Arrow. After years of talking about making a movie called Super Max where Green Arrow was locked up in prison with the worst of the worst super villains Warner Brothers scrapped the idea and went with a television series. And it’s good. Give it a shot. You will like it. Let’s talk about other good things. Nolan’s Batman trilogy – amazing, Burton’s first Batman – awesome, Superman I & II – great, Smallville – uneven but good, the animated shows and movies – all solid entries. I think overall Warner doesn’t know what they have or how to handle it. It’s sort of like Disney and Science Fiction. They don’t know what they have till they lose money on it. Can anyone say Green Lantern?

The Walking Dead Season 3 Premiere


It’s no secret I am a huge Frank Darabont fan. I was very upset about him leaving The Walking Dead last year. And season 2 muddled its way through most of the season. There was quite a lot of “Where’s Carl?” going on too. So it was with a bit of trepidation that entered into starting season 3. I can say this – it did not disappoint.

It helps that they followed the comic book storyline enough to get to the prison this season. That was some of the best stuff in the comics. Plus they finally introduced Michonne, the most bad ass of bad ass characters in the comic and probably will he on the show. The premiere was written by current show runner Glen Mezzara and he did a wonderful job making sure the pacing was good and the story moved, unlike last season when the middle part felt like Days Of Our Zombie Lives. Ernest Dickerson did an amazing job directing. And the cast was in top form.

The question remains, though – will the show keep it up or fall flat midway through? Will they be as bold as the comic and kill Lori and her unborn baby at the end of the season? Will Rick lose his hand? Will Michonne be raped by The Governor? It’s a lot to ask of a basic cable show, especially when they did soften the blow of Shane’s death compared to the comic book. I look forward to the rest of the season and I pray that they do it right. I don’t need them to do it exactly like the comic book. I want some surprises, after all. I just don’t want them to screw it up either. The season premiere gave me hope that this show can continue to put out quality episodes, and knowing the Governor storyline is coming fills me with comic book nerd glee.