Big Mouth: When the hormone monsters strike #Netflix

(poster courtesy Netflix)

 

SNAPSHOT
A surreal animated comedy series from real-life best friends Nick Kroll (Kroll Show, The League) and Andrew Goldberg (Family Guy) that explores teenage adventures in puberty.

The series uses the voice talents of John Mulaney, Nick Kroll, Maya Rudolph, Jason Mantzoukas, Jordan Peele, Fred Armisen, Jenny Slate, and Jessi Klein. Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett serve as screenwriter-directors. (synopsis (c) Netflix / Monkeys Fighting Robots)

Hands up anyone who thinks growing up was super easy, with nary a complication to be seen?

Really? Seriously? You actually think that? For the rest of us, getting through the tricky business of growing up, and specifically, that emotionally tumultuous time that is puberty, was an obstacle course of fearsome proportions, made all the more challenging by the fact that we had no freaking idea, nope not a one, what we were doing.

It’s a messy, chaotic, schmozzly time of life which, of course, made it’s perfect fodder for an animated comedy series that is more than happy to let it like it is.

 

 

And as co-creator Nick Kroll says, it’s a series a longtime in the making:

“Andrew and I have been best friends since 1st grade, so this show is over 30 years in the making. I can’t wait to tell all the stories that make up the glorious nightmare of puberty.” (Coming Soon)

Clearly all that time was well spent with lots of thoughtfulness and insight sitting cosily along some fairly in-your-face (no, don’t go there; oh you did, OK then) humour, all of which beautifully explores what it’s like to find yourself in the foreign land without a language guide that is your body during puberty.

Big Mouth premieres its 10 x 1/2 hour episode run on 29 September.

 

 

Fear the Walking Dead: “La Serpiente” (S3, E11 review)

He may be existentially damaged after years of staring into the darkest parts of the human condition but lordy can Daniel shoot a gun (image courtesy AMC / Photo by Richard Foreman Jr)

 

  • SPOILERS AHEAD … AND THE BASEST PARTS OF HUMANITY, BOTH COLORECTAL AND OF THE SOUL …

“La Serpiente” was a really shitty episode.

No, I mean, really … shit everywhere as Madison (Kim Dickens), Victor (Colman Domingo) and Qaletaqa Walker (Michael Greyeyes) followed the shhhhh! super-secret squirrel route into the Lola’s kingdom of damned water (again literally; honestly, not being crude just for the sake of it).

Unfortunately for their personal hygiene, sense of self-worth and mounting dry cleaning bills, Victor’s amazingly direct route into Water Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink Land (if you’re the surrounding people of Tijuana who take a while to figure out “Hey we could take the water they give us by force!”) involved crawling through faecal matter and killing a zombie who was blocking a pipe that when cleared … well, honestly you really don’t want to know.

Suffice to say, it was not pretty; so much so, that when they arrived at DamLand, the wettest land of them all, and didn’t get shot by Daniel  (Rubén Blades), one of the first things pretty much everyone demanded was that they wash.

Just another one of the sacrifices you have to make to stay hydrated in a world where all the water engineers and pipe maintenance folk are more interested in some human sushi that practising their craft.

As it turned out, well initially at first, all they got for all of their jeans-soiling trouble was Lola (Lisandra Tena) aka She Who Shall Not Corrupt Her Soul – for the record Madison respects her stance to stay apocalyptically virginal and not kill anyone; thinks it’s massively shortsighted and going to get her killed but respects it … all together now “Awwww” … see ya Lola – refusing to give them a drop off the much-need H 2 and O.

This was largely because Efraín Morales (Jesse Borego), one of the Lola’s true believers – well mostly; he was all for “release the river! God will get us more water!” – ratted on Daniel shooting at the rioting villagers as the retreat, leaking water tank in tow.

Not exactly a team player now are we Daniel? (His performance appraisal was beginning to look more than a little shabby; no water bonuses for you, angry old man.)

 

Poor zombies – always on the outside looking in (image courtesy AMC / Photo by Richard Foreman Jr)

 

Lola sided with Efraín at first, believing Daniel was about to leave her to run back to The Ranch to see Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) who is alive and well and poisoning people en masse – BIG mistake by Walker was proudly boasting to Daniel that he’d turned his daughter into the killer Dad never wanted her to be; strike one against father-in-law/son-in-law harmony and friction-free apocalyptic festive events – and only decided to give Madison 10,000 gallons a week (ever the cockroach of measurement systems, imperial even survives the end of the world) until the rains come.

Why? Glad you asked!

Because “La Serpiente”of the episode’s title, that would be Victor who never met a situation he couldn’t turn (mostly) to his own advantage, figured out a water for The Ranch to get their water, Daniel to bolster his position and for everyone, bar the water tanker attendants who ended up rather undead and on fire, and perversely wet through at the same time, to get what they want.

Right on cue, as Walker stomped off all upset a little too early that they weren’t getting water, and Madison was a mean lady and he would have to kick off The Ranch and he hated himself etc etc tantrum-tantrum-tantrum, the angry villagers arrived sans pitchforks and torches (honestly does no one respect the classics anymore?) to back up Daniel’s claims that Lola was being was too sweet and naive and that Victor, serpent-brain and all, was a cleverly-manipulative so-and-so.

It was some rather clever politicking and realpolitik strategising that saw two of the wiliest people in the show, Victor and Daniel, achieve a two-birds-one-stone goal while leaving Madison looking as lustrously above the fray as ever.

It was masterful work, and proof once again that Fear the Walking Dead is a great deal more intelligent and nuanced in its storytelling than its rather more blatant parent.

It also nicely examined, once again, how hard it can be to hang onto your humanity when every facet of this hard, cold, cruel and shit-covered (again, literally) new world cried out for parking your humanity, killing as needed and then trying to be warm and cuddly again if you can.

Madison, as much as anyone, appreciates there’s no way to kill and finagle your way to getting what you want and need then shove those necessity is the mother of ruthless invention back in their holes and carry on as if you’re not two steps beyond serial killer status.

Lola, at least, for now, remains largely shielded from that thanks to the willingness of the Victors and Daniels of this world (and Madison who damn well knew what was going on, and find it freaking hilarious thank you very much; later on, not in front of Lola, because no one has timing that bad OK?) to do the dirty work for her and keep her believing she can stay pure as the dam water before her.

 

Why, if only one of the tankers would explode so we could convince Lola she’s being naive and … oh, there it goes! (image courtesy AMC / Photo by Richard Foreman Jr)

 

And so, after a few heart-to-hearts where Daniel said he’s stay with Lola because he knew Ofelia was safe and didn’t have to see her – Lola arranged for him to see her anyway; once again awwwww she’s so dead – Victor and Madison had a lovely moment of friendship where the former demonstrated he does have a beating heart down there somewhere, and Daniel and Victor affirmed they get, I mean really get each other, water flowed back to The Ranch, Walker got picked up on the side of the highway in a smiling Murder She Wrote end of episode kind of way (where was a zombie Jessica Fletcher? Where?!) and everyone, for one more episode at least, lived happily ever after.

The reality, of course, as with any somewhat happy ending in the apocalypse is that the neat tying up of loose ends is not a permanent state of affairs, merely a temporary stay of execution, and trouble awaits pretty much everyone involved.

Lola can only hold off the water-starved hordes for so long without becoming The Damned Queen of the Water, soaked in as much blood as aqua, Madison and Walker, despite the knowing smirks are cruising to a fighting for The Ranch bruising, and Victor’s mind, the “La Serpiente”of the episode is still conniving, plotting and planning and, yes and, heading back to The Ranch where all that Machiavellian self-interest is going to result in the singing of “Kumbayah” around the camp fire with S’mores.

The world has ended, the rule of law and unsullied humanity with it, and no one, no one at all, gets to emerge unscathed, including those, like Lola who would most like to do so.

The apocalypse is a nasty piece of work people and Fear the Walking Dead did a masterful job once again of demonstrating just why that’s the case and how only the canny and the clever will ever get ahead (and get a glass of water and clean clothes).

  • Next week on Fear the Walking Dead … death, guns, zombies and much shooting … in other words pretty much what the apocalyptic doctor ordered and Lola, most certainly, did not …

 

Planting potatoes and dreaming: New Moomins animated series arrives 2019

Ah the beauty of Moominland (image (c) Gutsy)

 

The Moomins, Finn Tove Jansson’s delightfully philosophical creations who have been making our lives infinitely richer since 1945, will be given a new animated lease on life courtesy of an overwhelmingly oversubscribed Indiegogo campaign by Finnish company Gutsy Animation.

The pitch, which aims to deliver 13 new 22-minute mixed CGI/hand-drawn episodes by the first half of 2019, was wildly successful, attracting 127% of its stated goal of $USD 200,000, a reflection no doubt of how much the Moomins are treasured by legions of people young and old. (You can count me in that number, a fan since my earliest days, entranced by their peaceful, perfect world where people were valued and difference was not a dirty word.)

It’s not surprising that they have remained popular with their message of love, inclusiveness and respect for nature and others resonating still, especially in a world as riven by hatred and extremism as ours unfortunately seems to be.

The Indiegogo even made reference to this message when they wrote about the history of the Moomins and how relevant they are all these years later:

“In 1945 The Moomins and the Great Flood was published in Finland by the Finnish writer and illustrator Tove Jansson. Inspired by the fantastical adventures she read as a child, by the likes of Jules Verne, it first introduced the world to the Moomins – a curious, friendly type of troll. Their ancestors supposedly lived behind the round, tall ceramic stoves typical in the Nordic countries. The Moomin family settles in an idyllic valley – a magical and exciting place, it is their whole world. Eight further Moomin novels were to follow, along with four picture books and a long-running comic strip. In the decades since, the growing worldwide popularity of the Moomins has spawned plays, theme parks, merchandise, TV series and films. Today the Moomins are more popular than ever, and their core values of courage, respect for nature, good humour and tolerance have never been more vital.”

 

An idyllic scene from Gutsy’s gorgeous take on the Moomins (image (c) Gutsy)

 

The return of Jansson’s idyllic Moomins to TV follows a series of books, a comic strip, films, animated TV shows from the ’80s and ’90s with Gutsy promising “innovative new television animation, which will help bring Moomin to a new generation …with each episode is based on an original storyline or incident from the novels and comic strips.”

The writing and production is in stellar hands with Oscar winner Steve Box serving as director and head writer, Emmy winners Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler as co-head writers and BAFTA-winner John Woolley as the producer.

The voices of Moominpappa, Moominmamma and Moomintroll will be courtesy of the equally impressive line-up of Matt Berry, Rosamund Pike and Taron Egerton respectively, with Richard Ayoade as The Ghost and Kate Winslet as “spick and span” Mrs Fillyjonk, and Warwick Davis, Will Self and Akiya Henry also joining the cast.

The entire looks and sounds absolutely delightful, particular since the company, with the involvement of Jansson’s estate, aren’t shying away from the complexity of Jansson’s work which talked about some fairly substantial issues, informed by the author living through the barbarity and immoral senselessness of World War Two.

The Moomins were designed as an idealistic counterpoint to this dark period in human’s chequered history and while they live in an idealised peaceful world, it is one that is not untouched by the problems of our own.

The sad part is that the world is once more spiralling into extremism and hatred, but at least the Moomins are with us now to remind us that there is an alternative, a rich, wonderful tolerant, caring alternative to that horrible trend, a reminder that will only grow ever stronger when the new TV series arrives.

(sources: Digital Spy, NME)

 

Weekend pop art: Posters for every Star Trek Next Generation episode

(artwork (c) Juan Ortiz via Gizmodo)

 

Back in the glory of days yore when TV series ran for multiple seasons and came with burgeoning episode counts, they made a lot of TV.

I mean, a LOT of TV.

Which is how Star Trek: Next Generation, which brought Gene Roddenberry’s utopian vision of the future back to the small screen in 1987 after a gap of some 18 years (Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) finished its 3 year run on 3 June, 1969) came to have 176 episodes under its belt by the time it finished its run in 1994.

That’s a lot of TV and hence a lot of work fro artist Juan Ortiz, who has created visually-arresting posters for every single last episode. Yep, very last one! (He did the same thing, to similarly impressive effect, for TOS.)

They’ve all been released in the book Star Trek The Next Generation: The Art of Juan Ortiz which was inspired, so the press release says by “indie-film and black-light posters, comics and rock/punk culture.”

They are absolutely amazing to look at and  a beautiful visual accompaniment to the series, all packaged in a book that looks eye-catchingly good in its own right.

(source: io9 Gizmodo

 

(artwork (c) Juan Ortiz via Gizmodo)

 

(artwork (c) Juan Ortiz via Gizmodo)

 

(artwork (c) Juan Ortiz via Gizmodo)

 

(artwork (c) Juan Ortiz via Gizmodo)

 

 

Saturday morning cartoons: Mr Benn

(image via YouTube (c) BBC)

 

Supposedly the much-revered ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once said “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man”.

While it’s not absolutely true, of course, since life is way too messy and cruel sometimes to keep that 7-year-old in absolutely pristine condition, there is a enough truth in that age-old observation to warrant the quote’s repetition over and over again.

In my case, it’s very relevant with the TV-obsessed 7-year-old I was in 1973 becoming the TV-obsessed 51-year-old adult of 2017.

One of the TV shows that played a significant role in helping me to appreciate and love the way television could tell a pithy, well-wrought story was the classic BBC animated program for kids, Mr Benn.

Broadcast by the BBC in 1971 and 1972, the 14-episode series, created, written and animated (with Ian Lawless) by David McKee, with warmly conversational narration by Ray Brooks – 13 episodes were transmitted in the early ’70s, with the 14th “Gladiator” only making an appearance in 2005 on The Noggin Channel – was an enchanting diversions for me.

There was an enthralling wonder to every episode with the eponymous Mr Benn of 52 Festive Road, which was always described as very ordinary, taken on a magical journey to far-off kingdoms, outer space, jungles and prehistoric times and even the wild, wild west, all courtesy of a mysterious fancy-dress costume shop located in a small off-the-grid lane.

The proprietor of the shop, a mustachioed, fex-wearing man who always appeared out of nowhere,always happily let Mr Benn try on any costume he liked, before our intrepid explorer walked out the end of the change room into an exciting adventure of some kind.

The stories always had a gentle morality tale quality to them such as environmental concerns or respecting someone’s word and not listening to scurrilous talk about them but it was never heavy-handed, and each episode ended with the shopkeeper appearing again, ushering Mr Benn back to the change room and sending him with a memento of his trip out of the ordinary and the mundane.

 

 

As David KcKee told The Guardian recently, the object of each episode, all of which followed the same reassuring and delightfully repetitive pattern, was to provide an escape but too much of one for viewers:

“I wanted to write a story about Mr Everybody. Everyone is trapped in a situation … we all have that routine and the adventures were an escape from routine.

“Of course, in some ways we don’t want to escape. There is the security of routine but to escape and have a little adventure every now and again might be quite nice.”

You might not think that a 7-year-old boy would have much need of an kind of escape, but teased almost from the moment I went to school because I didn’t fit the notion of masculinity that even first graders seemed to have hardwired into them (yeah, I never got that memo), I most certainly needed to get away and get away often.

Of course I had my own imagination to draw on, but beyond that, the episodes of Mr Benn, whose then 13-episodes were repeated twice a year for 21 years by the BBC – this requirement meant that a Father Christmas episode never made the cut, a pity since I love Christmas and would have welcome a festive escape from Festive Road – and whose deliberately simple but charming animation is a pleasure to watch even as an adult many years later, proved a lifesaver for a young boy for whom reality was not always kind.

The good news is that universality of needing an escape from the everyday but not one that places that everydayness in jeopardy, is still as current today with an exhibition in London at The Illustration Cupboard gallery (it finishes today) and a mooted movie (first raised and discarded in 1999 but back on the drawing board) and even an opera keeping the Mr Benn love alive.

What was so distinctive about Mr Benn, and what no doubt keeps him in the public consciousness even today, is that all his adventures, no matter how magical they were, actually happened and weren’t just dreams, a particularly important facet of the storytelling according to McKee:

“I never liked stories that ended up as dreams. I never liked the character having a fantastic adventure and on the last page it was ‘Come along, John, and John realised it had all been a dream.’ What a cheat!” (The Guardian)

And in the end, what would have been the point for a show like that?

Granted I never found a fancy-dress costume shop that took me on grandly epic adventures to all kinds of places and times just by putting on a costume, but the idea that I could, that it could maybe, possible, really happen?

Ah know, that was the beguiling promise from Mr Benn that got me through childhood, and reminds every day as an adult that finding the magic in the everyday is something we owe yourselves to find whenever we can.

 

Mr Benn and his mysterious adventure benefactor (image (c) BBC/ image David McKee)

All life is born from chaos: Star Trek Discovery tries to bring some order

 

(image via IMP awards (c) CBS)

 

SNAPSHOT
Star Trek: Discovery will follow the voyages of Starfleet on their missions to discover new worlds and new lifeforms, and one Starfleet officer who must learn that to truly understand all things alien, you must first understand yourself. The series will feature a new ship, new characters and new missions, while embracing the same ideology and hope for the future that inspired a generation of dreamers and doers.

The Star Trek: Discovery cast also includes Sonequa Martin-Green as First Officer Michael Burnham, Doug Jones as science officer Saru, Anthony Rapp as fellow science officer Stamets, Terry Serpico as Starfleet admiral Anderson, Maulik Pancholy as chief medical officer Nambue, Sam Vartholomeos as junior Starfleet officer Connor, Mary Wiseman as Cadet Tilly, James Frain as Sarek, astrophysicist and father of Spock, Chris Obi as Klingon leader T’Kuvma, Mary Chieffo as L’Rell, a Klingon commander, Shazad Latif as Lieutenant Tyler, Rekha Sharma as Commander Landry, Kenneth Mitchell as Kol, Clare McConnell as Dennas, Damon Runyan as Ujilli, and Rainn Wilson as Harry Mudd. (synopsis via Coming Soon)

I am ridiculously excited about Star Trek‘s long-awaited return to the small screen.

While the reimagined cinematic journeys of the Star Trek: Original Series such as Star Trek: Into Darkness and Star Trek: Beyond were engaging and imaginative, they only popped every few years, which made the wait for more of Gene Roddenberry’s flawed-utopian future long and drawn out.

But the imminent arrival of Star Trek: Discovery, which is the first TV series since Enterprise ended in 2005 – the new series is set between Enterprise and Star Trek: Next Generation in the original Star Trek timeline (not the new movie-based which is known as the Kelvin Timeline –  is set to end all that drawn out waiting.

Well, for now at least. (In the grand tradition of new TV series, the season will be split in two a la The Walking Dead.)

 

(image via IMP awards (c) CBS)

 

While the new episodes are streaming, we will be treated to some changes to traditional Star Trek TV storytelling. Not only are the Klingons different (again) and the first openly gay character in mycologist Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), but the series will be feature a story arc rather than discreet episodes and a protagonist who is not the captain.

Sonequa Martin-Green plays First Officer Michael Burnham, raised by Spock’s father Sarek, who will offer a fresh perspective on adventures that have hitherto been very captain-centric.

She must navigate the thorny world of galactic politics when Klingon T’Kuvma sets out to unite the fractious 24 great house of the empire, leading to a cold war between the Federation and its long time thorns-in-the-side.

It offers some serious gravitas, full-on action and, if the trailer is any guide, the kind of thoughtful philsophising that has made the franchise such a joy to watch.

And a series that will be very much have been worth waiting for.

Star Trek: Discovery premieres its first two episodes on 24 September via CBS All Access in USA and Netflix worldwide; the initial eight episodes will screen in 2017 with the final 7 available from January 2018.

For all sorts of Star Trek: Discovery goodies, go to Spoiler TV.

 

Fear the Walking Dead: “Minotaur” / “Diviner” (S3, E9 & E10 review)

It’s shooting time! Oh who are we kidding? It’s ALWAYS shooting time in the zombie apocalypse – right Kim? (image courtesy / photo Richard Foreman Jr)

 

  • SPOILERS AHEAD … AND SOME TECTONIC SHIFTS IN POWER … AND SHOPPING …YES SHOPPING 

From the beginning – both of the show and the apocalypse it so brilliantly documents – Fear the Walking Dead has excelled at exploring what humanity is like under stress.

I mean, extreme, world-ending, civilisation-collapsing, everyone you know and love is gone, zombies are everywhere stress.

Unlike The Walking Dead, which has shown an increasing penchant for violence for the sake of violence, its philosophical soul rung dry, Fear has always kept a canny eye on the fact that while there will inevitably be some violence when the world ends since people aren’t that good at coping with the everything going royally to shit, humanity will also demonstrate an aspiration to be better in some way, regardless of how harrowing the circumstances become.

So it was again in the double-episode opener, “Minotaur” and “Diviner” where the Ranch, newly-devoid of its sole remaining co-founder Jeremiah (Dayton Callie) to “suicide” – *cough!* Nick (Frank Dillane) killed him! *cough!* Shhh don’t tell Troy (Daniel Sharman) – opened its gates to Qaletaqa Walker (Michael Greyeyes) and The Nation who claimed ownership of the land and were determined to have it back one way or another.

Part-idealism, part-hands-forced practicality – more of the latter than the former right Madison (Kim Dickens)? – it was a marriage of convenience with The Nation in dire need of the protection and resources of the Ranch, and Jake (Sam Underwood), the successor fairly certain none of the people under his care wanted to die.

It was that basic and that necessary and so two competing parties, pushed apart from some pretty big, continental-sized grievances, not all of them sourced from the apocalyptic imperative to go all Lord of the Flies and survive, ended up together.

They all lived, as you’d rightly expect, happily ever after.

Hahahahahaha … or not. Very much not.

 

We’re all friends now aren’t we? Aren’t we? Um, OK maybe not so much (image courtesy / photo Richard Foreman Jr)

 

It was not for want of trying to be fair.

While Madison, the power behind the throne, who back-channelled to Taqa like it was a U.N. summit on steroids, much to peacemaker Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey)’s disgust (she stuck firmly to idealism, partly because she believes in it, partly because what choice they have and to support her man, Jake), played a hard-nosed endgame, Jake, and yes even Taqa himself tried to make the uneasy new arrangements work.

No prizes for guessing that it was fraught from the start, but borne of a recognition that both parties really had no choice, they gave it a red-hot, kumbayah go.

Unfortunately in quick order, the sharing of responsibility for weapons devolved to Taqa controlling all the weapons and policing the Ranch which went down a treat with the conspiracy-addled racists, and the scarcity of water, something Jeremiah had kept well hidden, opened up the kind of fissures you’d expect in such a tense situation.

Surprisingly, or not surprisingly if you’ve paying any kind of attention to the nuanced, thoughtful storytelling style of Fear the Walking Dead, violence was the overwhelming choice du jour.

Most people at the Ranch accepted their loss of weaponry and the necessity of water rationing with the only holdout being – go on guess! You’ll never guess! Ha you totally will! – good old Troy who managed to rope an unwilling but easily coerced Nick into staging a massive shootout at Jeremiah’s old ranch house.

With shades of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but WAY more firepower as Taqa’s guys opened fire despite Madison’s entreaties – it’s my son! What about my son? Once again you can understand Alicia’s quiet despair at the way her mother plays favourites – Troy was determined to go out in a blaze of misguided glory.

That he didn’t was testament to some desperate arguing by Nick, and the admission that he’d killed Jeremiah – way to kill the rebel without a cause mood there Nick! – and so Troy lived and was exiled, Nick was sentenced to sit in a metal box in the sun for days and everyone went back to sullenly resenting each other in a grand experiment that was proving all to fallibly human after all.

 

Nothing seals a relationship of convenience that a spot of post-apocalyptic shopping (image courtesy / photo Richard Foreman Jr)

 

While there were diversions to get some water, which mainly served as a way of reuniting Victor (Colman Domingo) with Madison at the most weird-ass apocalyptic shopping centre ever, and a peek at how the new water-sharing regime at the dam under Lola (Lisandre Tena), the kindhearted idealist, and Daniel (Rubén Blades), the shrewd, bloody-handed pragmatist – the yin and yang of the new world order if ever there was one – these were episodes that squarely balanced whether humanity was capable of sitting down with the better angels of its nature when everything was screaming to play down, dirty and downright bloody.

All indications were that it was going to be idealism 0 reality 1 but “Diviner”, which naturally enough, centred on the search for water in forms both natural and thoroughly, industrially-practical, ended up on an amazingly positive note.

A tentative as hell one granted, and honestly who believes it has legs, but for one brief shining moment, guns were downed, violence was forestalled, and everyone chose idealism over violent pragmatism, humanity over sheer brutish survival.

For all of the obsession of dystopian literature and visual storytelling with humanity’s willingness to do whatever it takes to survive, the end of the world would be way more layered than that, at least once the dust settled, with the majority of people, wanting to believe, deeply, to the depths of their soul believe that civilisation wasn’t some blip on humanity’s chart but the default, the natural and preferred way of things.

It may not be, and perhaps we are at heart still animals with enough intelligence to be aware we are our own worst enemy, but Fear the Walking Dead insightfully gave voice to both sides of the equation, told an engaging story, as it has always done, with a deep appreciation for the contrary nature of humanity, and a shrewd understanding that people would meet the end of the world with both guns, knives and violence but also with a burning hope that there was some way back to who we used to be, or at least, to a better version of the future than currently on offer.

  • And so to the next episode, which comes with the evocative title “La Serpiente” and this kickass promo which presages that there may be a little tilting to the violent side  of things …

 

 

A queen beats a straight every time: Will & Grace returns (new trailer)

(image via TV Addict (c) NBC)

 

I am always torn when a TV show I once loved or a long-dormant movie franchise comes back from the pop culture dead.

On the one hand, my inner fan boy/girl/pop culture tragic is cartwheeling its way across the park, exuberantly happy to be reunited with old televisual friends.

But then there is the part of me, stung by Bewitched, Dad’s Army and CHiPs revivals – yes I have received therapy and am on my way to healing; alas the nightmares continue – that shudders at the very idea.

The interesting thing about the announcement of the return of Will & Grace, which ran on NBC from 1998 to 2006, is that my reaction encompassed all of the former dynamic and none of the latter.

Such was my faith in the strength of the classic sitcom, which was as funny in its then-final season as it was in its first and which played a huge role in helping people to understand that LTGBQI people were just like them (well mostly, bar the obvious), and its creators David Kohan & Max Mutchnick, and stars Eric McCormack (Will), Debra Messing (Grace), Megan Mullally (Karen) and Sean Hayes (Jack), that I just immediately assumed it would be awesome.

The latest trailer, which gives us a heady mix of classic scenes, interview snippets and new episode glimpses, is proof that the team behind Will & Grace haven’t lost a single beat.

Will & Grace season 9 will air from 29 September on NBC in USA and on Stan here in Australia.

 

MANAMANA! Feast your eyes and ears on the original 1969 version of the iconic song

    (image via YouTube (c) Sesame Workshop)

 

Sesame Street is justifiably famous for a great many things.

Its still-necessary mission to educate the children of the world through bold and imaginative means, its hilarous parodies of all kind of pop culture moments (complete with rteachable moments) … and of course, “Manamana”, a catchy as all get out song, that debuted on the 47 season long show in just its 14th episode, way better in 1969.

The song very much reflected the spirit of the time with a heavy beatnik influence and an infectious folk vibe that caught on like crazy.

So popular was the song that the original version, featured beatnik Bip Bippadotta and two girls who riff around him, was updated for the first ever episode of The Muppet Show in 1976 where Bip became Mahna Mahna, backed by the fabulously-named Snowths.

You can see why the song was so catchy so quickly, and if you ever needed proof that Sesame Street had it all together and then some from the word go, I give you exhibit A.

Now just try and get this out of your earworm …

(source: Laughing Squid)

 

 

Fear the Walking Dead S3b: There’s a whole new apocalypse in town

(poster via IMP Awards (c) AMC)

 

If you think the apocalypse was challenging up to this point for Madison (Kim Dickens), son & daughter Nick (Frank Dillane) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) respectively, Daniel (Rubén Blades) and Victor (Colman Domingo) then by the looks of the latest trailer for Fear the Walking Dead season 3 part 2, you haven’t seen anything yet.

With tensions on the rise between the conspiracy theorist survivalists of The Broke Jaw Ranch (plus the Clarks) and the Nation, led by Walker (Michael Greyeyes), and a leadership vacuum caused by Jeremiah’s (Dayton Callie) untimely death – thank you Nick! Or not thank you or … lordy what a dilemma – everyone has less to fear from the undead than they do from each other.

Same old story then – humanity is its own worst enemy.

You can see Madison’s deal with Walker as canny political manuveuring or a Sword of Damicles hanging over the head of the Ranchers.

Either way, it’s going to get messy and chaotic and frankly, if I was a walker, I’d grab me some meaty popcorn, sit back and watch the carnage that will undoubtedly ensue, followed by, yes, a tasty dinner of newly dead human.

Things can only get worse before they get better until, of course, they get worse again … and then worse again … well, you see the pattern.

It ain’t gonna be pretty whatever goes down.

Fear the Walking Dead season 3 returns Sunday 10 September in USA and Monday 11 September in Australia.