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Archive for September, 2015


Great British Baking Show judges

It is really hard to rival the greatest foodie show of all time–Iron Chef.  A palpable battle to the death of sorts, or at least that’s the way it made us all feel.  International theme and haute cuisine met flying five-finger, one-armed shaolin exploding death touch style, with expert chef Alton Brown at the helm of the American version of the show, teaching us how to make our own meals better with a shuffling cast of interesting judges including Jeffrey Steingarten, Ted Allen, Mo Rocca, and even Jeri Ryan.  And it gave Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, and Masaharu Morimotu the status of food royalty.

Other shows are watchable in their own right, inspired by Julia Child’s original idea they expand what we think about food, how we serve it and what ingredients we use.  These include Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, a show that allows us to go local or travel to test the best food around (I eat at one of the featured dives at least twice per week), No Reservations with Anthony Bordain takes us on a tour with a not particularly pleasant foodie to see what’s good around the planet, and no show since Julia Child educates us more than Alton Brown’s Good Eats.  The most fun seems to follow dessert shows, with Chef Duff’s merry band of friends who ran Ace of Cakes making for a great, almost utopian fantasy workplace show and then there was the great Mark Sommers’ run on Unwrapped, where he showed the business of scrumptious candymaking.  My strawberry rhubarb pie is all the better because of these shows.

British baking Show tent

When you bring the “reality show” or cooking competition show into the mix, you get some of the fun of Iron Chef, but at a different level of entertainment.  Top Chef and The Next Food Network Star featured rival food channels showing the ugly side of competition as most reality shows offer these days, with competitors becoming more of caricatures than anything tolerable in real life circumstances.  All but one, that is.  And that show is the gem of a cooking show in its second season in the States on public television, The Great British Baking Show.

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Jungle Book clip Baloo Mowgli

I consider myself a big-time fan of Disney’s 1967 adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 work The Jungle Book.  To me, it has always been Disney’s #1 animated movie–from the perfect George Bruns score and memorable songs by Terry Glikyson and the Sherman brothers, including The Bare Necessities, Colonel Hathi’s March, Trust in Me, and Abba Dabba Honeymoon.  Back in 2012 here at borg.com I named it in my top five favorite fantasy movies.  (Quick trivia: It’s even one of Clint Howard’s earliest projects).  I even named one of my beautiful bear-cub looking dogs Baloo after the incredibly friendly best pal of Mowgli (and unsuccessfully petitioned the powers-that-be to name his sister after the protective panther Bagheera).  Although the animation itself isn’t Disney’s best, it doesn’t take away from the fun of the movie.  The animated version of The Jungle Book is a gem and a true classic.

So it was with some trepidation that I watched the first live-action adaptation of the story with Disney’s 1994 version of The Jungle Book.  This time the jolly, sing-along music and talking animals were gone.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  Solid direction by Stephen Sommers (Catch Me If You Can, The Mummy, Van Helsing, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) plus excellent acting and faithful characterizations allowed Jason Scott Lee, Lena Headey, Sam Neill, Cary Elwes, and John Cleese to make a truly enjoyable dramatic movie.

Bagheera

In 2016 Disney is trying again with another live-action version of The Jungle Book, this time directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man) with a different twist: voice-over actors for the animals, including Bill Murray as Baloo, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Christopher Walken as King Louie, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Giancarlo Esposito as Akela, Lupita Nyong’0 as Raksha, and young actor Neel Sethi as Mowgli.  Expect this version to be heavy on special effects.  How will it compare to the prior versions?  One plus is that the original songs from the 1967 animated movie will be back, as hinted at the end of the first trailer just released for the movie.

Check it out here:

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iZombie season 2 poster

To quote Major Lilywhite: “Zombies?  C’mon.”

Spoiler alert:  iZombie is a big contender for multiple top honors at this year’s borg.com Best of the Year awards.  Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas did the unthinkable this year by putting together a big hit for Warner Bros. on par with both his own tale of a butt-kicking young woman but also the ultimate series of the genre, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The writing, the characters, and the actors make for a surprising hit show.  The other unthinkable bit?  After much kicking and screaming, Thomas finally sucked us into the zombie genre and even The Walking Dead was unable to do that.

Happily audiences and the CW agreed with us and quickly renewed iZombie for Season 2.  It’s “in the can” and ready to air next month.

iZombie season 2

Where we last left Rose McIver’s medical-resident-turned-morgue-dwelling zombie-police aide Liv Moore, Liv had made her life into a complete mess in classic TV cliffhanger style.  What’s to become of boyfriend Major (Robert Buckley) now that he knows she’s a zombie?  It’s not really the end for fan-favorite evil zombie Blaine (David Anders), right?  What about the fate of Liv’s poor brother, and will her roommate ever talk to her again after she witnessed Liv in full-on zombie mode?  Will Liv finally get a taste for brains and throw out the hot sauce?

We can hardly wait to find out.  Meanwhile, check out this preview of the premier episode of iZombie Season Two, followed by a San Diego Comic-Con panel from this summer, and if you’ve missed Season One, a great 3-minute catch-up reel:

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dc-comics-flash-season-zero-tpb-1

CW’s The Flash TV series is what superhero shows should all strive to be.  Mainly, it’s about fun, with a young actor (Grant Gustin) playing a fresh version of a classic character trying to get his footing with his strange, new powers.  Like the original 1980s version of the series, this series is about Barry Allen working with a small group of friends to do good in his smaller world of Central City.  Unlike the edgier, groundbreaking Arrow TV series, The Flash doesn’t take itself too seriously.

As with Arrow, DC Comics and the CW partnered, as it should, to bridge the TV series with the comic books that the series was derived from.  It’s here, in the print and digital pages of The Flash: Season Zero, available this week in a trade edition, that we are introduced to one of the most vibrant and fun versions of The Flash to be published by DC Comics in years.  Again, not taking the stories and characters too seriously, the writers of the TV series have written the further adventures of Barry Allen that both amplify the humor and camaraderie found in the TV show, but this incarnation also informs the TV superhero–filling in gaps that don’t make it to the TV scripts.

Phil Hester art on The Flash Season Zero

In the pages of The Flash: Season Zero we see what would be more difficult to translate to the moving image, like King Shark, that villainous land shark.  This is done beautifully and in his unique superhero world style by artist Phil Hester, who returns to the realm he illustrated for several years in the pages of Green Arrow (and even returns to his roots by including a cameo of Oliver Queen in one story).  Hester’s pencils and Eric Gapstur’s inks along with some great color work by Kelsey and Nick Filardi provide a visually interesting read for audiences of all ages.

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BTTF banner IDW

Great Scott! 

IDW Publishing announced during this year’s San Diego Comic Con a new series spinning off from the classic Back to the Future movies, timed in honor of the series’ 30th anniversary.  The original movie creator/screenwriter Bob Gale is behind the new series.  Joining Gale in alternate timeline stories are IDW writers John Barber (Transformers) and Erik Burnham (Ghostbusters).  The artistic duties will be split between Brent Schoonover (Batman ’66) and Dan Schoening (Ghostbusters).  Each subsequent issue will feature rotating artistic teams.

“We’ve subtitled this ‘Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines’ because for years, fans have asked questions about things that happened before the events of the trilogy, in between the events of the trilogy, or in our alternate realities,” said Gale in the IDW news release.  “In this series, we’ll finally answer some of those questions, with our focus squarely on the characters everyone loves.”

BTTF var 1    BTTF var 6

In the first tale of the debut issue, readers are taken back to 1982 and witness the very first meeting between Marty McFly and Doc Brown.  Then the story heads back even farther to 1943 with a younger Doc Brown.   This first issue will feature three standard covers, by Schoening, Schoonover, and Amy Mebberson (My Little Pony).  Additionally, Back to the Future #1 will join in on Artist’s Edition Month in October with an original art styled cover by Schoening.  And all four standard covers form the banner image above.  Check out all these great covers for Issues #1 and #2:

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True Believers Thor    True Believers Ms Marvel

Earlier this year Marvel Comics introduced a series of $1 reprinted introductory titles under the True Believers logo.  All featured characters leading into Marvel’s Secret Wars summer event series.  A new batch of True Believers titles are being released this month, offering a great jumping on point to ten titles featuring the best of Marvel’s pantheon of strong women leads.

Each issue is a reprint of the first issue of key titles, many available in their full story arcs as trade paperbacks and hardcovers for those who get hooked.  And expect to.  Whether you’ve been in or out of the Marvel Universe lately you’ll find stories here that even made national news.  Like Jason Aaron’s story of the first woman holding the Thor mantle (and hammer).  Like Ms. Marvel, soon to be featured in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film.

True Believers Captain Marvel    True Believers Black Widow

Like Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow, the borg.com pick for Best Comic Book Series of 2014.

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Stallone and Jordan in Creed

Okay, it doesn’t really seem possible.  We know Sylvester Stallone more for his action movies than any acting prowess.  Yet he is Oscar material.  Rocky–the movie and role that made him a household name, earned him nominations for both acting and his screenplay.  The latest Rocky movie, titled Creed, is his seventh film as boxer–now retired boxer–Rocky Balboa.  And the latest trailer (see here at borg.com for the first Creed trailer) shows he still has the acting chops, and can give as emotional a performance as ever, and maybe one that could garner him another Oscar nod for the same role he played nearly 40 years ago in 1976.

Like the first Rocky film, Creed looks more like a drama than just another boxing movie.  This time Stallone handed the writing and directing honors to 28-year-old Ryan Coogler.  Will it take passing his most significant life’s work to someone else to get him a story that provides the recognition he deserves?

Creed Stallone Jordan

If you’re a Veronica Mars or Heroes fan, as you watch this new trailer for Creed keep an eye out for the girlfriend of Creed’s son (Michael B. Jordan playing the characters Adonis Johnson).  It’s Tessa Thompson who played Veronica Mars’ off and on friend Jackie Cook, and Becky Taylor on Heroes (Claire’s sorority sister and her power was invisibility).

Here’s trailer #2 for Creed:

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Supernatural Season 11

Who would have thought Supernatural could make it this far?   Maybe its 2.5 million viewers.  The adventures of Kansas “boys” Sam and Dean Winchester and their black 1967 Chevy Impala, 327, 4-barrel, V-8 engine, automatic, 4-door hardtop remains compelling after all these years.  The Vancouver, BC-based production can only really be compared to The X-Files, also full of watchable single, monster-of-the-week, episodes (that you can just pop in to watch even if you’re not watching every episode of the series) as well as ongoing story arcs.  But The X-Files only made it nine seasons–so far.

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles begin their next journey in only a few weeks.  And fan favorite Mark Sheppard, who has been on some 50 episodes as Crowley, is back as well.  And you can always bet on some good guest stars to show up each season.

Supernatural chevy

Check out the Winchester brothers and Crowley in this preview for Season 11’s premier episode, “The Darkness”–

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Jo Kamm 3D figures

It almost looks like a hall full of cosplayers at a comic book convention, doesn’t it?

Once these figures get painted that’s exactly what it will look like.  As we mentioned four weeks ago in our coverage of Kansas City Comic Con, the latest, greatest, newest addition to the Comic Con front is 3D photography turned into 3D printed figures.  Specifically, it’s artist Jo Kamm’s new concept called The 3D Photobooth.  The end result is an approximately 8-inch figure, the next thing every cosplayer will be clamoring for.  (Note: the sheen is in the photo, not the figure, which follows the 3D photography quite well.  Once painted, these will look like the real thing).

3D Radagast and Gimli

It starts with a turntable and the cosplayer being still for up to two minutes while the camera records every detail:

3D Photobooth Gimli Jo Kamm KCCC 2015 Kansas City Comic Con

Then the software records the images, later to be cleaned up back in the office:

3D Photobooth rendering Gimli KCCC 2015

The result is a near perfect image that can be rotated 360 degrees and viewed from any angle.

3D rendered Radagast CJ Bunce

Jo uploads his images to Sketchfab.  You can see the best gallery of cosplay anywhere here.  Make sure you click “more” to bring up hundreds of his 3D images.

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Limitless-CBS-TV-show

As the lead in director Neil Burger’s 2011 theatrical release Limitless, Bradley Cooper gave one of his better performances.  Opposite Abbie Cornish and Robert DeNiro, Cooper played Eddie Morra, who stumbles upon a pill that allows him to use 100% of his brain functions.  This allows him to manipulate the world around him, and, as we said in our review of the film here at borg.com back in 2013, the result was a superhero movie hidden within a film marketed as a drama.

Cooper is briefly reprising his role as Morra in a television sequel series coming to CBS.  Cooper will hand off the leading role to actor Jake McDorman (Live Free or Die Hard, House, M.D.), who plays Brian Sinclair.  Like Morra, he will use these new found powers to change the world around him.

Cooper in Limitless series

Limitless co-stars Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter), Colin Salmon (Arrow, the Brosnan James Bond films, Doctor Who, Resident Evil, The Bank Job) and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Grimm, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves).  Check out this preview for Limitless:

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