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Thursday, December 12, 2019

TV - The Good Place - Chapter 20 - Janet and Michael

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The Good Place
Chapter 20 - Janet and Michael
Season 2, Episode 7
October 26, 2017

Janet's turn in the spotlight this time, starting with a flashback to Michael stealing her from the Janet Warehouse and showing what happens when a Bad Janet tries to imitate a Good Janet. Great job by D'Arcy Carden and Ted Danson carrying this episode, where everyone else just has a short scene.

A very touching climax to the episode when Michael finally confronts his feelings. "The reason is friends" might very well be the pivotal moment in Michael's story arc, if not the whole series.

And, of course, the introduction of Derek in the final scene to set up the next episode. The character can be a bit (intentionally) annoying, but I enjoy him.

Podcast this time is Marc Evan Jackson (he plays Kevin on BROOKLYN NINE-NINE)  talking with D'Arcy Carden and director Dean Holland, with some discussion about the technical details on some of the visuals of this episode, like the Janet Warehouse and Janet spewing pennies.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

TV - The Good Place - Chapter 19 - The Trolley Problem

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The Good Place
Chapter 19 - The Trolley Problem
Season 2, Episode 6
October 19, 2017

One of the more explicitly philosophy and ethics focused episodes of the show.

"My name is Kierkegaard and my writing is impeccable, check out my teleological suspension of the ethical."

I liked Michael's analysis of Les Miserables.

The physical manifestation of the trolley problem was pretty intense, and I loved the little gleam of pleasure you could see Michael was taking in it before it's revealed he was torturing Chidi.

Eleanor's confrontation with Michael was fun, especially how she kept wavering on how much she shared his enjoyment. "I can't high five that, no matter how badly I want to".

The subplot of Janet starting to glitch because of the Tahani/Jason relationship had some interesting moments. "What has one thumb and wants to keep going? This not a lady."

And of course Eleanor's reaction to the endless shrimp machine.

Podcast is Jackson talking with William Jackson Harper and Dr. Todd May, a philosophical adviser for the show, with a wide-ranging conversation about ethics, philosophy raps and blood cannons.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

TV - The Good Place - Chapter 18 - Existential Crisis

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The Good Place
Chapter 18 - Existential Crisis
Season 2, Episode 5
October 12, 2017

First episode of the new status quo, the humans aware they're in a fake Good Place and working with Michael and Janet to keep it secret. Like most status quos on this show, it doesn't last nearly as long as I expected it to. On the one hand I like the dense storytelling, on the other hand I think would have happily watched another dozen episodes set in this part of the story.

Vicky and her lackeys bragging about their torture plans is great. Plus Vicky's "from now on make all your memos one page, max, with pictures".

Michael's breakdown was well done, and all the little things in his "mid-life crisis" (like the tattoo which is Chinese for Japan) cracked me up.

Eleanor's breakdown over the family of toothbrushes is almost the perfect distillation of the show's mix of heart and silliness.

Podcast this time has M. (he plays S.) talking with writer Andrew Law and actor Marques Ray (demon Quinston Timeclock) about the episode, including the actual animals brought in for the party scene.

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Monday, December 09, 2019

TV - The Good Place - Chapter 17 - Team Cockroach

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The Good Place
Chapter 17 - Team Cockroach
Season 2, Episode 4
October 5, 2017

After several technically quite tricky episodes, we almost get a bottle episode, set mostly in Eleanor's house, except for the Tahani death flashback and the scene in the town square. Very few special effects shots, too, except for Michael's floating computer screen. It's very much a plot and character heavy episode.

Loved Eleanor realizing just how disgusting the "lazy river of chowder" is.

Never caught Jason's line about "a gun range in a Jacksonville bus station" when talking about his trust of bowties before. DUUUUVAL!

"I just have twelve more Jaguars question..."

This is really well done, seeing how everyone eventually gets convinced to go along with Michael's new plan.

Vicky finally gets her spotlight in the final version of the neighbourhood.

Podcast episode for this chapter is Shawn (he's played by Marc Evan Jackson) talking with writers' assistant Lizzy Pace, editor Matt Freund and composer David Schwartz. Lots of behind the scenes talk on the technical work that goes into various stages of show production.

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Sunday, December 08, 2019

SECTION ZERO vol. 1 by Kesel/Grummett

by Tom Grummett and Karl Kesel

So, way back in 2000, a bunch of creators known for super-hero work at DC and Marvel planned to launch a new publisher for their creator-owned work, Gorilla Comics. Apparently some financing fell through, so the creators ended up self financing and publishing through Image, still with the Gorilla Comics imprint. Some of the announced books finished as planned (SHOCKROCKETS by Stuart Immonen and Kurt Busiek), some finished through other publishers (EMPIRE by Barry Kitson and Mark Waid) and others remained incomplete (CRIMSON PLAGUE by George Perez).

Another of the unfinished ones was the highlight of the line, SECTION ZERO by Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett. Having worked together for several years on Superman and Superboy comics at DC, here they did their own creation based on their interests, commonly pitched as "if The X-Files was created by Jack Kirby". Back then they only got three issues out. There have been some moves towards a revival over the years, including a short lived webcomic. Eventually they had a successful crowd-funding campaign, which led to a hardcover collection completing the original story, which was later serialized in six issues at Image, which has just been reprinted in this mass market edition. This has the preview story from CRIMSON PLAGUE #1 and first three issues, slightly modified from the original and three issues of new material.

The book is about a group of adventurers in the Challengers Of The Unknown / Fantastic Four school who are the latest iteration of a long-running UN-backed group that secretly investigates phenomena in the broad categories of Fortean, urban legend and supermarket tabloid fodder (back then, before tabloids became mostly celebrity gossip). The original three issues were a lot of fun, quickly moving through an adventure while exploring a wide world of weird. I was very sorry to see it end so quickly, and happy to hear it was coming back (and with more on the way next year with SECTION ZERO 1959).

The new material is very clearly not exactly how the story would have gone back in 2000, with a time jump 18 years forwards a dozen pages into the new material. I get the feeling that the story contained in these issues probably would have carried the series up to somewhere between #12 and #18 if the series had been able to continue back in 2000, and without the time jump. So the story is much more dense, with several new characters introduced and the main storyline wrapped up, ready for new adventures. The actual story set up in the original prologue is only tangentially related to the actual story here, with a one-page epilogue promising more on that line later.

The series is still a lot of fun. Kesel is exactly up my alley when he's doing the his modern take on classic comic storytelling in the Kirby lane, and I love Grummett's clear storytelling and creative character designs, especially when inked by Kesel. Hope that this time around they're able to continue exploring this world for a good long while.

The book also has an impressive selection of covers and pin-ups by guest artists, including the original Gorilla Comics artists, plus artists like Walter Simonson, José Luis García-López, Dave Gibbons, Jerry Ordway and others. A good showcase of the strength of the character designs.
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