The Sound of Useless Wings January 28, 2015 The Sound of Useless Wings Cecil Castellucci Of insect dreams and breaking hearts. Damage January 21, 2015 Damage David D. Levine Concerning a spaceship's conscience. And the Burned Moths Remain January 14, 2015 And the Burned Moths Remain Benjanun Sriduangkaew Treason is a trunk of thorns. A Beautiful Accident January 7, 2015 A Beautiful Accident Peter Orullian A Sheason story.
From The Blog
January 28, 2015
Heists and Capers Redux!
Stubby the Rocket
January 26, 2015
Why Obi-Wan Lied to Luke Skywalker
Emily Asher-Perrin
January 23, 2015
11 Winter’s Tales For Your Chilly Reading Needs!
Stubby the Rocket
January 23, 2015
Winter 2015 Anime Preview: Season of Sequels
Kelly Quinn
January 21, 2015
Don’t Touch That Dial: Midseason SFF
Alex Brown
Showing posts by: thom dunn click to see thom dunn's profile
Jan 27 2015 2:30pm

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 3:00pm

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 5:00pm

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 3:30pm

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 12:00pm

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.”

[Read More]

Jan 7 2015 10:00am

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 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…

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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