A Long Spoon December 18, 2014 A Long Spoon Jonathan L. Howard A Johannes Cabal story. Burnt Sugar December 10, 2014 Burnt Sugar Lish McBride Everyone knows about gingerbread houses. Father Christmas: A Wonder Tale of the North December 9, 2014 Father Christmas: A Wonder Tale of the North Charles Vess Happy Holidays from Tor.com Skin in the Game December 3, 2014 Skin in the Game Sabrina Vourvoulias Some monsters learn how to pass.
From The Blog
December 9, 2014
The Eleventh Doctor’s Legacy Was Loss and Failure
Emily Asher-Perrin
December 9, 2014
Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2014
December 8, 2014
How Fast is the Millennium Falcon? A Thought Experiment.
Chris Lough
December 8, 2014
Tiamat’s Terrain: Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange
Alex Mangles
December 4, 2014
Potential Spoiler Leak for Star Wars: The Force Awakens Reveals Awesome Details
Emily Asher-Perrin
Showing posts by: thom dunn click to see thom dunn's profile
Dec 16 2014 10:00am

Constantine Gets Back In The Habit With “The Saint of Last Resorts”

Constantine the saint of last resorts

“No price is too high to save the innocent.”

The mid-season finale of Constantine’s officially-not-extended-past-the-initial-13-episode-order-but-not-explicitly-cancelled first season accomplishes a whole lot of things: it takes our hero down to Mexico, offers some solid insight into the whole “Rising Darkness” thing, revisits the disaster at Newcastle, and perhaps most importantly, writes a character out of the journey for in-story reasons that actually serve the plot! Also in general it was just a really solid episode of television, with a decent enough cliffhanger to hold it over until after the holiday break. Was it perfect? Nah. And as much as I enjoy the show, it still hasn’t quite become the “must-see-TV” of NBC’s catchphrase. But from the writing to the performances to the production values, “The Saint of Last Resorts” was still a high-point of this first season of Constantine and gave a good indication of what the show is capable of when it’s not trying too hard to exposit at every new audience member.

[I’m sorry for the nun pun in the subject line, but I couldn’t help myself so you’re just going to have to accept it]

Dec 9 2014 4:00pm

Angels We Have Heard On High: Constantine “Blessed Are the Damned”

Constantine Blessed are the Damned

Remember how last week’s episode was actually the 2nd episode of the series, retroactively fitted into the sixth episode slot? Somehow, “Blessed are the Damned” made that work, picking right up with “Caliban”’s clumsy excuse for Zed’s convenient absence. And while Chas was once again shunted off the scenes with but a line (“making good with his daughter,” supposedly), “Blessed Are The Damned” turned the spotlight on another underutilized cast member—Manny the Angel, whose function thus far in the series has been mostly superfluous. But after a brief trip to the Christian Revival scene in Kentucky, it’s starting to look like this show might be going somewhere…

[Read More]

Dec 3 2014 11:00am

Creepy Kids and Constantine: “Rage of Caliban”

Constantine Rage of Caliban

I think it’s a requirement for all supernatural / horror-based television shows to take a stab at the “Creepy Child” trope. These often pop-up in the earlier seasons of the show—Angel’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” from its first season comes to mind, which has always been a personal favorite. At worst, they play at pale attempts to grasp for a new take on The Exorcist. At best, they play well with the obligatory unevenness of any first season, with youthful blunders making an almost accidental metatextual comment on the show’s green status.

In the case of Constantine’s “Rage of Caliban,” the episode most certainly falls in the latter camp. Much of its bumpiness comes from the fact that it was originally intended as the second episode of the series instead of the sixth. Fortunately, Constantine’s already-traumatic history with children (both as established in the show, and as hinted at in this episode) help it to transcend the typical “Creepy Child” tropes and offer a solid and insightful psychological thriller.

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Nov 25 2014 1:30pm

A Spectre Rises in NOLA: Constantine, “Danse Vaudou”

Constantine Danse Vaudou

Constantine gets its serial on with this week’s NOLA-centric episode, giving us a standard case-of-the-week that ties into several of the show’s overarching storylines simultaneously. The central caper involved several seemingly separate situations that all converged in a way that was somehow both anticlimactic and ultimately refreshing at the same time. More importantly, we got to see Chas finally do something! Oh, and there’s lots of fun team-up action including a certain glowy green vengeance spirit. Spoilers ahoy!

[Read More]

Nov 25 2014 11:30am

Bullets & Butlers: Gotham, “Lovecraft”

Gotham Lovecraft

Once upon a time there was a TV show called Gotham , which was intended as a dramatic telling of the early days of James Gordon’s police career in Gotham City in the days before the Batman. It was a decent outing, though it wasn’t particularly remarkable, unsure if it wanted to be Batman ’66 or Batman Begins . If you wanted to apply Newton’s Third Law to dramatic narrative, you could have probably used Gotham as an example: for every compelling story beat about a Good Cop railing against a corrupt system, you had an equal and opposite beat about, oh, I don’t know, a Balloon Vigilante.

So instead of airing the planned mid-season finale, the network made the surprising choice to air a pilot of new show in its place. Tentatively titled Bullets & Butlers , this new show had all the promise of Gotham but without the unbearable cheese and terribly written female characters and annoying winks-and-nods to established Bat-continuity and general lack of subtlety.

I’m being facetious, of course. But that’s the only way I am can process the utter excitement that I felt while watching Gotham ’s mid-season finale, “Lovecraft.”

[Read More]

Nov 18 2014 4:00pm

It’s a Hard Knock Life: Gotham, “Harvey Dent”

Gotham Harvey Dent

“Harvey Dent” is the latest in a longstanding tradition of Gotham episodes that introduce the title character but otherwise have very little to do with said character—okay so this is only the second time out of nine episodes that’s happened, but still. The show probably could have gotten away with a Two-Face-related title to offer some kind of thematic unity, as one could argue that this week’s various plots did relate in some way to a conflict of opposites.

That being said: as an episode, “Harvey Dent” was all right, offering viewers a standard case-of-the-week that tied in well with the overarching storyline, and sub-plots that were mostly contained and impactful. I’ll take it!

[Read More]

Nov 17 2014 5:00pm

Constantine: A “Feast” of Burden

Constantine Feast of Friends

This week’s Constantine goes back to the well and pulls its plot straight from the pages of the very first Hellblazer storyline, in which one of Constantine’s old drug buddies bites off more than he can chew with a hunger demon named Mnemoth and a raging heroin addiction—both of which require help from our reluctant anti-hero.

(There’s also probably an ebola metaphor somewhere in there but I suspect that was entirely coincidental.)

[Read More]

Nov 11 2014 2:00pm

Gotham Goes Fight Club: “The Mask”

Gotham The Mask

It goes without saying that masks are a popular motif in comic books and their derivative stories—the concealment of identity, and the expression of an inner self that is ironically freed through the art of disguise. Being that this is such well-worn territory within the genre, it can sometimes be a risk for a story to fall back on those same conventions. But after a case-free episode that I found incredibly disappointing (though I was apparently the only one), this week’s Durden-esque episode of Gotham found its footing in those familiar tropes, and used the overarching theme of “masks” to tie the central case-of-the-week and all the tangent sub-plots together into one of the most satisfying and singularly unified episodes of the season so far.

[And they didn’t even have to use any Jim Carrey jokes!]

Nov 10 2014 4:00pm

Third Time’s a Charm: Constantine, “The Devil’s Vinyl”

Constantine The Devil's Vinyl

After two attempts at a pilot episode, Constantine finally says “Screw it,” asks the drummer for a four-count on the sticks, then launches into a pulsing, distorted barrage that makes “The Devil’s Music” literal.

[Read More]

Nov 5 2014 11:00am

Constantine Re-Pilot: A Miner “Darkness Beneath”

Constanting The Darkness Beneath

This week on Constantine, our titular hero travels to Western Pennsylvania to uncover the strange case of setting viewers up for the standard case-of-the-week format while also introducing us to a new feisty femme sidekick, after our previous audience-surrogate was unceremoniously removed from the end of the pilot episode. Oh, and there’s other plot stuff that happens too, but whatever.

[Read More]

Nov 4 2014 11:00am

A Penguin Goes HONK! HONK! Gotham: “Penguin’s Umbrella”

Gotham Penguin's Umbrella

This week on Gotham: every lingering plot thread converges!…and yet somehow nothing actually happens, excepting the single most absurd 11th hour plot twist this show has yet seen (which is saying a lot). Oh, and Barbara Kean finally does something for once. Kind of.

SPOILERS to follow, but since nothing of consequence happens, who cares.

[Read More]

Oct 28 2014 10:30am

The Goatman Bleateth! Gotham: “Spirit of the Goat”

Gotham: Spirit of the Goat

This week on a Very Special Halloween Episode of Gotham, we explore the past, as plot threads dovetail towards the future. Oh, and Bullock finally gets his due. Kind of.

[Read more]

Oct 27 2014 9:30am

Constantine: “Non Est Asylum”

Constantine: Non Est Asylum

After a middling grab for the big screen several years back, everyone’s favorite misanthropic chain-smoking bisexual British occult detective has finally landed on NBC with his own weekly television series, just in time for Halloween spookiness. But is it enough to wipe away the memories of the movie version of Constantine? Let’s look at the first episode of the series, “Non Est Asylum.”

[Constantine premieres on the small screen]

Oct 21 2014 10:30am

Got Milk? Gotham: “Viper”

Gotham Viper

This week’s episode of Gotham was all about the good things in life: food, sex, and drugs. And also Lil’ Baby Brucy doing detective work like a real grown-up Batman, plus the kind of drug-addled super-villainy that you expect find with a real grown-up Batman. But mostly it’s about food, sex, and drugs.

[Read More]

Oct 14 2014 11:30am

Gotham: Arkham? I Hardly Know ’em!

Gotham Arkham

This week on Gotham: the personal gets political and the politics get personal as the city’s economic policies intersect with the coming turf war, and Barbara Kean (Gordon-to-be) does something I never, ever, ever, expected to see happen. SPOILERS ahoy....

[Read More]

Oct 7 2014 9:30am

Yes Father, I Shall Become... A Weather Balloon! Gotham: “The Balloonman”


This week’s Gotham brought some much-needed lightness to the series, showing us that despite all its corruption, there are still some good intentions floating through the air of Gotham City, and it’s infectious. More importantly, the episode introduced us to fan-favorite Batman character, Balloonman. What, you guys don’t remember Balloonman? He fought Bane that one time? Wait no that was...huh. That’s weird...

[Read More]

Sep 30 2014 1:30pm

Gotham: “Selina Kyle”

Gotham Selina Kyle

This week on Batman Minus Batman Gotham: self-harm! Child trafficking! Drunk driving! Lots of creepos being creepy! Metal \m/ ! And an adolescent homeless girl who insists on calling herself “Cat.”

[SPOILERS ahead]

Sep 23 2014 11:15am

Welcome to Gotham — Hope You Survive The Experience!


And yes, I realize the title of this post is an X-Men reference; no, I don’t care.

Last night was the world premiere of the highly-anticipated Gotham on the Fox network, a police-procedural-slash-superhero-origin-story about the fabled Gotham City in the days before the Batman—because what’s more populist than a cop drama and comic book show combined? The show tries to be a lot of things at the same time and for the most part succeeds, but its catch-all strengths are also its shortcoming as it can’t quite decide if it’s Dick Tracy, Batman Begins, SVU, or a Raymond Chandler novel. But if you’re a fan of camp and/or noir (which I am), you should be pleased.

Let’s head back to Crime Alley and take a look at what happened in last night’s episode

[SPOILERS to follow, obviously]

Aug 26 2014 11:00am

Who’s Your Daddy? (Star-Lord Edition)

Chris Pratt Star-Lord Guardians of the Galaxy Peter Quill

It’s the question that’s on everybody’s mind (at least after “How do I get my own Groot?”): who is the man that fathered Chris Pratt’s lovable half-human scoundrel in Guardians of the Galaxy?

The origin of 616-Comic-Book-Star-Lord is incredibly convoluted and full of retroactive changes, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe offers a new opportunity to streamline and reimagine his story. We’ll have to wait until July 28, 2017 for the definitive answer, but in the meantime, we can follow the breadcrumbs that were left behind in the film and subsequent publicity interviews around it, and they might lead us to a few rational theories about the identity of our mystery man...

[Read More]

Jul 29 2014 9:00am

You Will Believe A Tree Can Steal Your Heart. Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy movie review

First of all, I would like to point out that I did in fact resist the urge to write this entire review in Grootspeak, which I think should count for something.

In case you’ve been living under a rock pile of vintage analog audio equipment, Guardians of the Galaxy is the latest offering from Marvel Studios. The movie follows the adventures of Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord and a bunch of other obscure Marvel characters that are almost too weird to be real but are in fact quite indicative of Marvel’s 70s output. Which is appropriate, considering the movie’s anachronistic soundtrack (as evidenced by the overuse of Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling”) in the advertising campaign. But if you’re anything like me, and somehow haven’t gotten sick of the ironic juxtaposition of 70s pop music set against the backdrop of a technicolor Mos Eisley, I’m here to tell you that Guardian’s of the Galaxy is the greatest remake of Footloose that you will likely ever see.

[Read more]