Dog March 25, 2015 Dog Bruce McAllister "Watch the dogs when you're down there, David." The Museum and the Music Box March 18, 2015 The Museum and the Music Box Noah Keller History is rotting away, just like the museum. The Thyme Fiend March 11, 2015 The Thyme Fiend Jeffrey Ford It's not all in his head. The Shape of My Name March 4, 2015 The Shape of My Name Nino Cipri How far can you travel to claim yourself?
From The Blog
March 24, 2015
Protecting What You Love: On the Difference Between Criticism, Rage, and Vilification
Emily Asher-Perrin
March 23, 2015
Language as Power in Shakespeare’s The Tempest
Katharine Duckett
March 16, 2015
What Changes To Expect in Game of Thrones Season Five
Bridget McGovern
March 13, 2015
Five Books with Fantastic Horses
Patricia Briggs
March 13, 2015
Is Ladyhawke the Best Fairy Tale of Them All?
Leah Schnelbach
Showing posts by: thom dunn click to see thom dunn's profile
Mar 5 2015 12:30pm

To Catch a Cop: Gotham, “Everyone Has a Cobblepot”

Gotham Everyone Has a Cobblepot

Two weeks in a row where an episode of Gotham features a mostly-logical sequence of events, and real consequences (well, maybe) for the actions of its characters? What is happening? For the most of the series so far, Gotham has tended to dote on its central conflicts, rather than progressing the story (whatever that story may be). “Everyone Has a Cobblepot” contained just about every interesting aspect of the police corruption plotline that we’ve been waiting to see, but which the show has thus far denied us, opting instead to spin its wheels and remind us every now and then that Gotham’s corrupt ’cause police n’ corruption n’ stuff.

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Feb 24 2015 12:20pm

Gotham: Under “The Red Hood”

Gotham The Red Hood

This week’s episode of Gotham is a thematic continuation of “The Blind Fortune Teller” in the way that it continually trolled the true identity of the Clown Prince of Crime. What makes “The Red Hood” stand out is that it had stakes, drama, subtlety, emotion, genuine character interactions, and plenty of surprises.

“The Red Hood” was so good that I didn’t even hate the Barbara scene (that much).

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Feb 17 2015 5:00pm

The Killing Joke: Gotham, “The Blind Fortune Teller”

Gotham The Blind Fortune Teller

According to Gotham’s showrunners, this week’s episode “The Blind Fortune Teller” almost certainly did not not give us a possible definite origin for The Joker, maybe, and it may or may not probably involve the character of Jerome (played by Cameron Monaghan), who was featured in all of the previews clips and production stills, cackling wildly, almost like a crazy man laughing at a joke.

But this is all an obvious red herring, as evidenced by Jerome’s red hair—the real Joker would not be above such a delightful pun, and seeing as next week’s episode is titled “The Red Hood,” that means there’s only true answer to the identity of the Joker, and it’s been staring us in the face all along:

It’s Barbara, you guys. That explains everything.

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Feb 17 2015 2:00pm

You Always Got to Wait: Constantine “Waiting for the Man”

Constantine Waiting for the Man

If I hadn’t recognized the opening scene of “Waiting for the Man” as being pulled from the Hellblazer issue of the same name, I would have thought that this week’s Constantine episode was actually a leftover one-shot script from True Detective. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; like most episodes of Constantine, it’s still a blast, offering up some nice thrills and a few moments that inspired uncontrollable audible reactions. But as far as a season finale for a show that’s been waiting for its own cancellation announcement since before it ever aired, well, “Waiting for the Man” still leaves us waiting.

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Feb 11 2015 12:00pm

There’s Nothing to Fear But a Terrible Episode of Gotham: “The Scarecrow”

Gotham The Scarecrow

On the bright side, “The Scarecrow” may have been the first Gotham to give us a full-on origin story for an established Bat-villain (as opposed to Selina Kyle, Penguin, and Nygma, whose arcs are clearly more spread out over time).

On the down side, “The Scarecrow” was so ploddingly atrocious and unnecessary that it almost made me long for “Balloonman” again. At least “Balloonman” was entertaining, and so ridiculously uneven that you could experience some form of schadenfreude as you suffered through it.

Watching a video of a snail crawling down your driveway for 43 minutes would be more compelling than “The Scarecrow.”

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Feb 10 2015 3:00pm

Angels We Have Heard Get High: Constantine “Angels and Ministers of Grace”

Constantine Angels and Ministers of Grace

There’s a lot going on in this week’s episode of Constantine, even if most seems unrelated to the whole Rising Darkness storyline that’s been simmering in the background all season. “Angels and Ministers of Grace” is ostensibly the Constantine crew’s take on a Very Special Episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and yet, even with all the head-vs-heart, light-vs-dark, angel-turns-mortal, addiction-second-chances thematic craziness going on, perhaps Manny’s greatest miracle is the fact this episode works.

It is a gripping hour of television that throws out way too many ideas without actually feeling overstuffed, with a strong emotional core and some wacky humor that somehow still fits the tone. The entire cast had a chance to shine, and I was even genuinely surprised with the villain reveal!

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Feb 3 2015 6:00pm

Gotham Itself: “The Fearsome Dr. Crane”

Gotham Fearsome Dr Crane

Before anyone gets too excited, I just want to be clear that I’ve been snowed into my home for 2 days with minimal human contact and I might be going a little stir-crazy. It’s entirely possible that this case of cabin fever is affecting my judgment. But “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” was an overall enjoyable episode of Gotham. It wasn’t a huge game-changing blowout like “Lovecraft,” but it was still generally well done. It had stakes? And realistic dialogue? And a mostly logical series of events? And nice character moments? It was even tonally consistent, with just a dash of that trademark Gotham camp, evenly spaced and deftly handled.

I’m almost afraid to offer any serious criticisms, because we’ve seen what happens when the Gotham creative team tries too hard. But then, fear is the whole point of this week’s episode, so perhaps it’s appropriate that they were afraid to go as all-over-the-place as usual—but in this case, that fear may have paid off.

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Feb 2 2015 1:00pm

Ritchie Returns: Constantine “A Whole World Out There” Recap

Constantine A Whole New World Out There

The title of this week’s episode made me think of “A Whole New World,” but the content was more like an ode to Nightmare on Elm Street, with a little more New Age pseudo-babble. But that’s okay, because we got the return of Ritchie Simpson (delightfully portrayed by Jeremy Davies), the resident technomage of the Newcastle crew, and we got to see Constantine partake in one of my favorite hobbies, which is sitting by fire drinking whiskey while listening to Warren Zevon and feeling sorry for yourself. Between that and the episode’s general creepiness (a continuing highpoint of the Constantine crew), I was more willing to overlook the shortcomings of “A Whole World Out There” and just go along for the ride.

But that’s what I love about Constantine: even when I’m watching with a critical eye, it’s hard not to enjoy myself.

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Jan 27 2015 3:30pm

Surgically Removing The Onions: Gotham “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon”

Gotham Welcome Back Jim Gordon

“Welcome Back, Jim Gordon,” is an interesting title choice for this episode, but not in the way that “Selina Kyle” or “Harvey Dent” or “Lovecraft” were. “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” feels like almost a re-pilot for the entire Gotham series. It contains all of the show’s trademark elements, both good and bad, and presents them in a mostly adequate package. If you combined every single episode of Gotham up until this point and then divided to find the median, you’d probably end up with ‘Welcome Back, Jim Gordon.” In true Gotham fashion, the exposition re-hashes just about everything we already know about the world of the show, and even though it kind of does technically advance the overall plot, it also feels (with the exception of a few details) like it could have been slotted in at any point in the series, just to fill up space.

Still, it makes for a decent hour of procedural television—which, coming from me is some of the highest praise that I can offer this show.

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Jan 26 2015 4:00pm

At Last! The Secret Origins of Chas are Revealed in Constantine: “Quid Pro Quo”


This week’s Constantine featured the on-screen debut of a classic DC villain, and gave us an in-depth look into the life of Chas, including the revelation around just why it is that he can’t seem to die. While the episode suffered in part from some muddled continuity—is this a flashback? Why is this plot so conveniently hinged around Brooklyn? Why is Chas’s ex-wife so two-dimensionally heinous?—it ultimately proved itself to be a satisfying hour of television, thanks in no small part to the heart and humanity of our ever-faithful cab drivin’ sidekick, Chas.

Did I mention that his name is actually “Francis”?

[Did not see that one coming.]

Jan 20 2015 6:00pm

Do That Pazuzu That You Do So Well: Constantine, “The Saint of Last Resorts” (Part 2)


When last we left our curmudgeonly British anti-hero, he was dying in a Mexican sewer known as the “Friday 10pm time slot.” Will he survive the move to the 8pm Friday time slot, now that he is armed with the knowledge of the group behind the Rising Darkness?

Spoilers: of course he will, because he’s the title character, which kind of saps the dramatic tension out of an otherwise suitably creepy Exorcist homage.

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Jan 20 2015 4:30pm

Always Wear Your Rubbers: Gotham, “What The Little Bird Told Him”


I’m starting to think that Gotham might be the best comic book adaptation to ever make it to the small screen. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good; I’ve still got my problems with it (then again, what do I know? It’s already been renewed for a second season). But ongoing serial superhero comics are all about the illusion of change, with Bold New Directions that circle right back to the beginning. At best, this allows our decades-old heroes to tip-toe forward in emotional and narrative progress, but in such a way that feels almost invisible to the reader.

By that assessment, Gotham is doing a remarkable of job of pretending like it’s going somewhere, or that its story is somehow progressing, when in fact, we’re just spinning our wheels. Or perhaps a more appropriate metaphor, given the topic of the episode, would be the Electric Slide, since we’re basically just shuffling left and right and then turning around in a square.

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Jan 20 2015 1:00pm

Reopening the Time Loop: 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys Pilot

I’ve been a fan of Terry Gilliam ever since the first time I watched Monty Python & the Holy Grail—which of course, was before I saw any of his post-Monty Python films. And of those wonderful, wonderful movies that he’s made in the intervening years, 12 Monkeys has always ranked at the top of my list of personal favorites. I’m a sucker for a good time travel flick, and the bleak determinism of 12 Monkeys has always appealed; how the film creates a complete and concise circle of cause and effect.

As such, upon hearing the news of the 12 Monkeys television adaptation on SyFy Channel, I found myself torn: on one hand, I love that story and universe so so so so so much that I was eager to see it explored in a new and modern context. On the other hand, my adoration of the original film (to say nothing of La Jetee) has a lot to do with the perfectness of its cyclical paradox. Going into the SyFy series, I couldn’t help but wonder: how is it even possible to extend such a perfectly structured time travel story into an ongoing series?

But then I watched the pilot episode and leaned back in my seat and thought, “Damn. All right. I’m in.”

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Jan 7 2015 11:00am

Orange is the New Gotham: “Rogues Gallery”

Gotham Rogues Gallery

After an excellent mid-season finale, Gotham’s re-pilot episode picks up with a whole new set of problems, for the characters, and the return of some old problems, for the show. Plus a whole bunch of montages and tired asylum tropes and a 12-year-old passing for a phone sex operator and even a musical sequence and a gang of people with microcephaly chanting “Gabba Gabba! We accept you! One of us!”

Okay, so I’m lying about one of those things.

[But only one of them.]

Dec 16 2014 11:00am

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 5:00pm

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…

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Dec 3 2014 12:00pm

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 2:30pm

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!

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Nov 25 2014 12:30pm

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.”

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Nov 18 2014 5:00pm

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]