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Jones 1

By Art Schmidt

Netflix debuted the first season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones last Friday, November 20, 2015, in the same one-hour (roughly), thirteen-episode format as many of its other hit series including House of Cards and Marvel’s Daredevil.  The fourth official Marvel Cinematic Universe property to hit the small screen in live-action format since the success of the first Marvel’s The Avengers movie in 2012, Jessica Jones takes the edgy, sexy, delightfully menacing feeling of Daredevil and adds in more edge, more sex, and more menace.

And the result is more awesome.

FYI, from now on, we’re going to drop the “Marvel’s …” in front of every-friggin-thing because: A) Even Matt Murdock could see the heat from the Marvel logo coming off of a flat screen, and B) We get it, we even agree, Marvel has done a fantastic job with its properties these last several years, but even us ardent fans of all things Marvel are starting to get sick of seeing that red-and-white logo plastered in front of every-friggin-thing.

Whereas the well-written Daredevil series focused on a heroic figure trying to overcome the odds and clean up the streets in the neighborhood where he grew up, Jessica Jones is almost a character out of a bad crime novel.  She’s a borderline alcoholic private dick who huddles in alleys and hangs from fire escapes to get dirty pictures for the seedy, pitiful clients she gets from the law firm full of sharks she contracts out to.  She lives in a run-down apartment which barely doubles as her office, she turns to the bottle when she can’t sleep and then goes out late at night, not to fight crime but to take more pictures of people at their worst so she can make more money to buy more booze.

Jones 2

At this point you might be asking: Where are the super powers?  Where are the super villains?  What is this show?

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WKRP Nessman reporting Thanksgiving stunt

Pull the turkey TV dinner out of the oven. Throw some butter on those peas. It’s time again for your annual tryptophan coma. And another annual tradition.

Here at we like our Thanksgiving with turkeys. Not just one turkey. Several turkeys. Flying overhead even. Yes, it is time again for your annual viewing of one of the two best Thanksgiving episodes of TV ever. Finish this phrase: “As God is my witness, I thought…” You don’t know how it ends? Then watch and enjoy our traditional viewing of the greatest Thanksgiving episode of TV ever:

And in between your seconds and thirds on mashed potatoes, corn casserole, bean casserole, pea casserole–and don’t forget the gravy–then check out other Thanksgiving blasts from the past here. And don’t forget the cranberries.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Staff


By J. Torrey McClain

I have an outsized morbid curiosity.  I am in the midst of reading “Devil in the White City” about the 1893 World’s Fair and the serial killer that lurked just outside its gates.  I definitely enjoyed reading Bill James’s foray into something not related to baseball, “Popular Crime.”  I’ve included several books by criminal profiler John Douglas in my reading list over the last fifteen years.  I wrote about “Green River Killer: A True Detective Story” for  So, those personal facts may color my opinion, but I’m going to go ahead and say that if you’re looking for a true crime podcast, you can’t do any better than the season that “You Must Remember This” devotes to Charles Manson and the murders he and his family committed in the summer of 1969.* (

*However, if you’re looking for runner-ups, I suggest the first season of “Serial” from the producers of “This American Life,” and the ongoing “Criminal” that is part of the Radiotopia podcast network.  I’m sure you’ve already read WAY too much on “Serial,” but I may have to add my own “Hey Listen To This!” post on “Criminal” and several of the other members of Radiotopia.

Host Karina Longworth knows how to tell a story, gives the listener a bunch of great facts and lets you know when she ventures into the realm of speculation and rumor.  Each podcast episode comes with its own blog post that notes the sources Karina uses to edify and explain the years Manson spent living free outside of prison.  She connects Manson to various other figures in Hollywood like Dennis Wilson and Doris Day.  (I must say the Wilson part really intrigued me and got me to add his digital double album, “Pacific Ocean Blue & Bambu” to my music wish list.)  She takes her time telling the story, so the series runs for twelve episodes and each episode is at least a half an hour.  It’s not a rush job, it’s not a sample of one evening in the life, it’s a darn comprehensive look at a specific time and place centered around one of the most sensational and senseless crimes of the century.**

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You can’t get much funnier these days than the latest from action hero Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and stand-up comedian Kevin Hart.  Next summer they are teaming up in the buddy comedy Central Intelligence.  Both Hart and Johnson have been cranking out movies lately but they rarely miss a step.

In Central Intelligence Hart plays an accountant who reunites with a high school pal who ended up in the CIA, played by Johnson.  And Johnson’s agent decides to bring Hart’s character along for the ride.  It all looks pretty funny.

Central also features Ryan Hansen and Aaron Paul.

Check out Hart and The Rock in this first trailer for Central Intelligence:

Central Intelligence hits theaters June 17, 2016.

C.J. Bunce


The 2012 fairy tale film Snow White and the Huntsman was a pretty fun romp, telling a completely re-imagined version of Grimm’s Snow White story.  Next year most of the cast (no Snow White) is back in The Huntsman – Winter’s War, a version of the Ice Queen tale with one of our favorite actresses, Edge of Tomorrow’s Emily Blunt, as the new antagonist.

Blunt plays the sister of evil queen Ravenna.  Played again by Academy Award winning actress Charlize Theron.  Also returning is Chris Hemsorth as The Huntsman, Nick Frost as Nion, and Sam Claflin as William.  New to the story is Crimson Peak’s Jessica Chastain as the warrior Sara.

Check out this beautifully done trailer for The Huntsman – Winter’s War:

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by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Last month we offered our review of Guillermo del Toro’s new gothic film, Crimson Peak, raving over its atmosphere and performances.  Since it won’t be released in a home-viewing format for a while yet, how are we supposed to refresh our Crimson Peak fix until then?

Read the movie tie-in novel, of course!

crimson peak cover

Crimson Peak by veteran horror author Nancy Holder is a dead ringer for its onscreen counterpart, offering a scene-by-scene text recreation of the film.  But Holder often goes deeper, offering perspectives from characters not fully expressed on screen, elaborating on the story’s emotional arc, and adding to the haunting atmosphere with her own nuanced, sometimes surprising voice.

If you’ve seen the film, there’s nothing new here.  At times the book feels flat, as if the words alone can’t live up to the actors’ performances, and the author was required to give as close a blow-by-blow account as possible.  But in other moments, Holder’s own prose shines:

It watched the house’s breath scatter the dry leaves that drifted in, drifted by.  The walls were bleeding from fissures in the wallpaper.  Stab wounds, or a razor blade drawn across a vein? Moths flew out; maggots fed.  The mad head of the house was rotting, and night was dragging her wings across the moon, tracing filigree on the floor.  In the attic, more black moths were dancing because it was cold, because it was dark. Because they were hungry.

For the butterfly.

Oooh, shivery!

The biggest challenge here is the same minor plot weakness that caused the film to stumble a bit at the end.  With so much glorious setup, with the fantastic otherworldly intervention of the supernatural–which is what drew us to this story, after all!–Crimson Peak deserves a bigger payoff, a less predictable and mundane explanation for all the horror.  But Holder actually manages the material a little more deftly than it appeared on screen; the pacing is more dread-inducing as she doles it out piecemeal.  We already know what’s happening, and yet the book’s buildup is better than the film’s letdown.  Whatever Holder can’t render as stunningly via prose (del Toro’s visionary ghosts), she makes up for in suspense.

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You never know which movies will flop or not and which make enough money to merit a sequel.  We previously reviewed Now You See Me here at and although the ending didn’t quite deliver it was still a fun enough flick.  The draw is most likely the diverse cast, and that’s no different for its coming sequel.

Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Dave Franco, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are back with newcomers Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Radcliffe.  Notably not on the cast list is the original film’s co-lead Isla Fisher.

Here’s the first teaser trailer for Now You See Me 2:

Now You See Me 2 is scheduled for release June 10, 2016.

C.J. Bunce

by J. Torrey McClain

If you read, there’s a great chance you love pop culture in all of its forms. I would bet that most of you really love movies like I do. If you do, I have just the thing for you – Matt Gourley’s podcast “I Was There Too.”

Some of you may know Gourley from his appearance in Volkswagen commercials before VW imploded from within based on emission shenanigans. Others might know him from Superego, a fantastic comedy improv collective that has had episodes like this one devoted to H.R. Giger (voiced by Gourley) animated on YouTube. Others may know him from his other podcasts James Bonding and Pistol Shrimps Radio, his frequent guest appearances on the “Comedy Bang Bang” and “Spontaneanation” podcasts and more still from his hilarious collaboration with Andy Daly on the “Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project.” For those more visually inclined, you may have seen him on “Drunk History,” “Comedy Bang Bang” the television show, or heard his voice as he details the actions of his cat Margaux in the adventures of Margaux the fat guy.

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NASA space station photo

While we have all been busy here on Earth, the international assemblage of astronauts on the International Space Station have been moving on with their scheduled work week far up and away in Earth’s orbit.  The Expedition 45 crew has been busy this month with biomedical science, Cygnus mission preparations, and routine maintenance.

But this crew is not above letting its fanboy flag fly, donning the Jedi Knight look of Obi-Wan Kenobi, complete with lightsabers, for their NASA expedition poster.  What better way to keep the tie between science fiction and science fact?  You often hear about how many astronauts and NASA engineers and crew were influenced by Star Trek, but clearly Star Wars must have had a similar influence.

Expedition 45 includes flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui, who both have been in space for more than 100 days.  Yui has been working on experiment hardware inside Japan’s Kibo lab module.  Lindgren is conducting research on growing food in space for the Veggie botany experiment.  Commander Scott Kelly is prepping for the December arrival of the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft. View full article »

Arnold Terminator Genisys

Few sci-fi films are as revered as James Cameron’s Terminator and Terminator II: Judgment Day. Judgment Day is regarded by many as one of the greatest sequels to any movie ever made.  Both films made American Film Institute lists and are the kind of movies we can watch hundreds of times and still keep enjoying them.  Two sequels followed, no longer under the direction of Cameron, Terminator III: Rise of the Machines, a worthy but lesser sequel reviewed at here, and the far, far lesser Terminator: Salvation.  So coming into the fourth sequel this past summer with the opening of director Alan Taylor’s Terminator Genisys, expectations by many were low.  But fans of sci-fi and borgs knew a winner when they saw it.

Somehow Terminator Genisys manages to be not only good, but great, and not only that, it manages to equal the punch and excitement of both Terminator and Terminator II.  A pretty big feat that holds its own even off the big screen on the newly released 3D Blu-ray, DVD, and Ultraviolet releases available this month.

Terminator Genisys cast

That’s right, if you love the universe of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sometimes villain, sometimes hero Terminator T-800, you’re going to love this film, which is not only loyal to James Cameron’s originals, it flat-out amps up the sci-fi and takes every element that made the earlier films great and expands them into new, exciting places.  This includes time travel, big action, story twists, casting, acting, and all the cybernetic tech you could hope for.  Adhering to a carefully laid out plan covering two parallel timelines (that we know of), we revisit the first Terminator trip to 1984 and learn about two other time jumps that illustrate Kyle Reese’s important line from the first movie: “The future is not set.  There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”   In fact in Reese’s first conversation with Sarah he made the same point, calling her future “one possible future.”  These seeds planted in the original allow this new story to take off.

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