Favorite Twin Peaks characters

We are just over one week to go until the 18 part mini series event that brings Twin Peaks back to the mind of the nation.  The EYG Hall of Fame series ran for two seasons in the 1990s, but left such an indelible mark that people have wanted a return since.  David Lynch answered all of the Peaks Freaks’ prayers with the new series on Showtime.

In celebration this week, we will be doing several special posts about Twin Peaks, counting down to the big moment next Sunday.

The first of these is my list for top ten favorite Twin Peaks characters.  Oh my goodness, there are a ton of great ones, but these are my personal top ten.

I’m starting out at #1 because it should not be a mystery…

And SPOILERS, by the way, if you have not yet watched the first series…what are you waiting for??????

 

Image result for twin peaks#1.  Dale Cooper.  The lead character of Twin Peaks was also the most compelling character, bringing a Zen-like philosophy with an attitude that you could not help but love.  Dale Cooper’s horrid fate at the end of the final episode of the season two was one of the driving forces behind the fans wishing to bring the series back.  You could not have Killer Bob in control of Agent Cooper for the rest of eternity and have it be okay.  Everything about Cooper made him the perfect character to come and uncover the dark underbelly of Twin Peaks.

Image result for twin peaks#2.  Sheriff Harry S. Truman.  The ultimate sidekick to Agent Cooper was the honest and brave sheriff of Twin Peaks with a name that should be easy to remember.  Sheriff Truman was more down to earth than Cooper, but he understood that sometimes there was darkness in the woods.  One of the Bookhouse Boys, Truman was not afraid to do what needed to be done to solve the crime.   The bromance between Cooper and Truman was one of the best ever on television.  You believed that they would do anything for one another because of a mutual respect.

Image result for twin peaks#3.  Leland Palmer/Killer Bob.  I’m placing the two of these characters together even though they could be considered separate, just because.  Leland Palmer, the killer of his own daughter Laura, was possessed by the evil spirit Killer Bob and he forced Leland to do the horrendous things that he did.  Imagine, ABC reportedly forced David Lynch to come up with an answer to the murder mystery… something Lynch did not want to do.  If ABC had stayed out of it, would we ever have gotten a resolution?  And what would Leland’s fate have been?  The scene where Leland realizes what he has done and kills himself is some of the most powerful acting of the series.  Ray Wise is a wonderful actor.

Image result for pete marshall twin peaks#4.  Pete Martell.  “She’s deadWrapped in plastic…”  These words were some of the first words we heard from Pete Martell, with his unusual accent.  Pete was the every man of Twin Peaks.  The man who could comment on the strange goings on and make you laugh at it.  Lines such as “Fellas, don’t drink that coffee! You’d never guess. There was a fish in the percolator! Sorry.” or “I feel like somebody taped my lips to the tailpipe of a bus.”  Pete was a wonderful character who we will miss terribly in the return.

Image result for twin peaks#5.  The Log Lady.  One of those characters that made you understand that Twin Peaks was unlike any television show before it, the Log Lady was an eccentric woman who carried around and spoke to a log.  And yet, she was not treated like a coo-coo.  She was treated like someone who knew more than just what was in front of everyone.  She was almost like a mystic of the woods, where owls aren’t what they seem and lodges could be white or red.  Plus, did we ever truly discover what her log saw that night?  Who knows.

Image result for twin peaks#6.  Deputy Andy Brennan.  Andy was more comedic relief int he story, as his love affair with receptionist Lucy brought its share of laughs.  I can remember Andy chasing his sperm sample across the floor of the sheriff’s station after he accidentally dropped it.  That was one of the best scenes with the deputy.  Andy was sweet and loving and really not made out for police work.  Yet, there he was, through the tears, doing what he could to help.

Image result for laura palmer wrapped in plastic#7.  Laura Palmer.  Actress Sheryl Lee became the most famous dead girl in the land as they pulled her body from the water in episode one of Twin Peaks.  We would learn more about Laura over the run of the series in flashbacks, in the Black Lodge and in the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, but nothing ever changed the fact that she was one of the most tragic characters to ever grace the screen. Laura had such a terrible life and such a horrendous death- all brought about by her father, it is really sad when you think about it.  Still, she is probably the most iconic victim ever on TV.

Image result for dr jacoby#8.  Dr. Lawrence Jacoby.  When the town psychiatrist is weirder than most of the town, you know there is going ot be trouble, and that is certainly the fact with Dr. Lawrence Jacoby.  Jacoby dressed as eccentric as you could imagine, gaudy bright colors and Oriental robes.  He had different colored lenses in his glasses.  And he was at the heart of the murder mystery of Laura Palmer, being Laura’s doctor.  He was mostly a red (and blue) herring, but he was never going to be forgotten.

Image result for twin peaks#9.  Audrey Horne.  You know that they regretted making Audrey a high school student because of the tremendous chemistry that she had with Agent Cooper, but Cooper could not be involved with a high schooler.  Still, their relationship, as platonic as it had to be, was one of the highlights of the early episodes of Twin Peaks.  Despite her high school age, they still placed Audrey into some seriously adult settings, including the remarkably sensual moment where she tied a cherry stem with her tongue.

Related image#10.  Gordon Cole.  David Lynch himself as the hard of hearing head of the FBI, Gordon was always very funny.  He was more than a one-note joke, however, as he was a support to Cooper and back up for some of the more crazy aspects for season two.

 

 

Honorable mention:  Deputy Hawk, Nadine Hurley, Ben Horne, Catherine Martell, Albert Rosenfield, Bobby Briggs, Garland Briggs, Denise/Dennis Bryson, The Man from Another Place, The Giant, Jerry Horne, Windom Earle, Leo Johnson

 

RiffTrax Live

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I just came back from the latest live show presented by RiffTrax.  Michael Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, veterans of the classic Mystery Science Theater 3000, took the stage in Nashville and riffed the truly terrible film Samurai Cop, and, once again, made this film more entertaining than it ever had a chance to be.  This has been happening for several years, and it is something that I look forward to every time.

And there is an encore show on Tuesday, April 18th of Samurai Cop, and it is a must see.

It got me thinking about what were my favorite live performances by this trio.  Heading over to their web site at http://www.rifftrax.com/live, I found a long list of their live shows.  I have seen most of them (yes, I missed the classic Plan 9 form Outer Space), and I chose my ten favorite performances.

Honorable Mention:  Time Chasers, Starship Troopers ( I had trouble with the audio of this riff or it might be in the top ten), Godzilla, MST300 Reunion show

#10.  Carnival of Souls.

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Related imageA Halloween episode from last year, Carnival of Souls was a creepy cult film where Mary survived a car crash only to wind up as an organist at a church.  There is a pale figure that follows her and she winds up at an abandoned pavilion.  Undead fun with the Carnival of Souls.

#9, Sharknado 2

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Related imageThe sequel to the original ridiculous SyFy show was riffed by our guys and how can you not enjoy sharks inside tornadoes.    The Sharknado hits New York and we see such things as Judd Hirsch and a cameo from Jared from Subway.

#8.  Santa Claus Conquers the Martian

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Related imageSanta Claus has been a key character in the world of the RiffTrax universe.  He has been in Christmas shorts, he met the Ice Cream Bunny, and he has conquered Martians.  This is the standout performance by Kris Kringle.  The silliness of the Martians, especially Droppo, and the actually kidnapping of Santa Claus to Mars, made this a must see Christmas riff.

#7. Sharknado

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Image result for sharknado rifftraxSharknado was a pop culture phenomenon.  No really.  I know it was hard to believe, but the film created a lot of buzz and discussion.  Perhaps the buzz was about how bad it was, but it was buzz nonetheless.  So when it was announced that the film was receiving the big screen RiffTrax Live treatment, I was extremely excited.  And the guys did not let me down.  I did not watch Sharknado on television, but I came out to see it being riffed.

#6.  Night of the Living Dead.

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Image result for night of the living dead rifftrax duane jonesThis showed that even an influential classic can be riffed effectively by Kevin, Michael and Bill.  George Romero basically brought zombies into the pop culture (and where would television be today without them?) and also broke a lot of ground with an African American lead actor (Duane Jones as Ben).  Despite all of this, the RiffTrax presentation of the Night of the Living Dead is one of the best of all time.

#5.  Manos: The Hands of Fate.

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Image result for manos hands of fate rifftraxThis was the first live performance I saw with the RiffTrax gang.  I went to my Cinemark Theater in the Quad Cities not sure what to expect.  I had seen MST300 before, but I was totally unprepared for how much I enjoyed this version.  The way Kevin, Bill and Michael interacted with one another on stage, riffing this silly movie, taking the unintentional funny from the film and making it intentionally funny was amazing.  Manos: The Hands of Fate owes a lot to RiffTrax for making it a cult sensation.

#4. Anaconda

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Related imageI nearly died when that waterfall started going back up.  The timing of the joke was perfect and had me amazed.  With Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Ice Cube, Eric Stoltz, and Jon Voight, this is probably the film with the best cast to be riffed live.  Of course, it might be the most ridiculous Jon Voight performance of all time as well.

#3.  The Room.

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It was the kick off to The Crappening.  And how much more crappy can you get than this film directed by, written by, produced by and starred in by Tommy Wiseau.  Wiseau is so bad, he has become a cult classic, as has The Room (which is not he film with Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay in it).  Featuring one of the more disturbing sex scenes ever to grace film, The Room is one of the worst films ever made.  And that makes it perfect for RiffTrax.

#2. Samurai Cop

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Image result for samurai Cop rifftraxI really loved this tonight.  This was uncharacteristically a rated R film because of language and violence, something that RiffTrax Live usually does not include, but this one was well worth it.  Every “MF” let loose by the Police Captain Rohmer (easily my favorite character) was just tremendously funny.  I laughed throughout the showing of Samurai Cop.  The ridiculousness of the acting, the script and the stunts spoke for themselves.  The wig that seemed to constantly change.  The “Black Gift.”  The cutting off of the head of an informant.  Exploding cars.  Hand grenades that explode twice.  The gunfire.  Bill, Michael and Kevin were on absolute fire with this film.  There was also a fantastic song for the credits sung by Kevin Murphy all about the film.  If you have a chance to head to the encore, do it.  It is worth the time.

#1.  Birdemic: Shock and Terror.

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Image result for birdemic rifftraxThis is my absolutely favorite RiffTrax Live performance.  I purchased it on the web site.  The first half of the movie where the film seemed like it was more about driving and parking than it was about any kind of killer birds are one thing, but when the birds actually show up, the film becomes even worse.  Some of the most embarrassingly poor special effects ever to find its way onto a screen.  The idea behind this “horror” movie makes one wonder why anyone would greenlight it.  Surely, everyone knew that what they were making was ridiculously bad.  Rod is probably the worst protagonist ever.  Watching him walk or pronounce “solar panels” tells you everything you need to know.  And the guys do not let up on the riffing of this character.  You know a film is something else when Kevin, Michael and Bill do not have to say anything, and the audience is cracking up.  In fact, some of my favorite moments of Birdemic: Shock and Terror is when Kevin, Bill and Michael start laughing at what they see on the screen.  No joke required.  It is the best of the worst and the top RiffTrax show ever.

The Next great Netflix YA adaption should be…..

I have been binging the brilliant new series on Netflix, 13 Reasons Why.  The show is based on the YA book of the same name that was written by Jay Asher.  I read the book last year and really enjoyed it.  It was original and emotional and I never thought it would be adapted on a television screen.  However, Netflix has shown me that it is possible.  In fact, Netflix’s model is considerably better than the YA movies that have populated the big screen over the last several years.  So what books could be the next great series from Netflix?  I have five suggestions.

Image result for dorothy must die#5.  Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige.  The Wizard of Oz is still a classic and everyone knows about the story.  So this book series where we see that Dorothy and her friends from Oz had returned to the land and became corrupted by the magic of the land is a truly awesome idea.  We follow a new Kansas girl, named Amy and her own trip to Oz.  The familiar being switched is a winning formula and a multiple episode series allows Danielle Paige’s story to really develop its new (yet old) characters.

 

Image result for 14 clines#4.  14 by Peter Clines.  I thought about offering up the Ex-Heroes series featuring super heroes and zombies because… I mean, it is super heroes and zombies.  What more could you want.  However, 14 is a story that would be even more interesting.  The mystery surrounding the building is compelling and could easily create a wonderfully frightening world with fantastic characters.

 

Image result for asylum roux#3.  Asylum by Madeleine Roux.  This horror series by Madeleine Roux brings the main character to a special college that was held inside an old asylum.  This book seriously creeped me out, and has had several sequels.  In the book, there are spooky photos throughout the novel that help create the mood.  With enjoyable characters and a well developed mystery, Asylum would be a great addition to Netflix’s catalog.

 

#2.  The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.  The Naturals are a group of amazing young people involved in a special group of profilers from the FBI.  The five main characters are as compelling as any characters in any of these books.  Each of them have a specialty.  Cassie can read people.  It was a skill she got from her mother, who was killed by a serial killer.  The five kids would be vitally important to this story and their complicated relationships are perfect for this series.

 

Image result for grasshopper jungle#1.  Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith.  This is a brilliant novel.  I absolutely loved this book.  I laughed through the entire thing.  It was original.  It was the story of some young teen named Austin Szerba in a small town in Iowa that has had an attack by giant sized Praying Mantis, leading to a potential apocalypse.  The book features all of the teen tropes of coming of age but uses them in a laugh out loud manner.  Rumor has it that the book is being developed into a movie with Edgar Wright attached.  Still, I think this would work all the better on Netflix.

 

 

Musicals

 

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Musicals.  Many do not like these.  Many do. It seems that it is more difficult to make an effective musical than a normal movie.  So I decided to make the list of the best musicals made.

Now, I have to clarify some rules that I used to approach these choices.  One, I eliminated all of the Disney/Pixar animated movies such as Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Aladdin, etc.  Two, I have eliminated the films that have songs, but are performed on a stage or as over the action.  These examples can be This is Spinal Tap, Sing Street, School of Rock etc.

For me to consider a musical for this list, the music has to be involved in the story and have people singing from out of nowhere.

Runner’s Up:  Here are some that just could not reach the Top 10.  Chicago (which was in until the last second), Annie, La La Land, Beauty and the Beast (live action version), Pitch Perfect.

So… here is the Top 10 musicals

#10.  Grease.  It is the word.  John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are great in Grease.  The music is unbelievably catchy.  It tells a fun story of the 1950s and a love story between two kids who expect that the other must change to make the other happy.  Message aside, Grease is an awesome musical.

#9.  Rocky Horror Picture Show.  It’s just a jump to the left.  Rocky Horror is a cult classic with the amazing Tim Curry.  I love the soundtrack of this film.  The movie itself may not be the greatest film ever created, but the fun is undeniable.  Meat Loaf, Susan Sarandon, Richard O’Brien, Barry Bostwick all provide vocals for songs that make this movie great.  And then the audience participation parts really made this a cult classic.  Go see Rocky Horror at a midnight show somewhere, some time and throw some toast.

#8.  Evita. Some people did not love this movie, starring Madonna as Eva Perón, but I thought it was fabulous.  I was never a huge fan of Madonna, but I played this soundtrack over and over.  I also found the movie itself extremely entertaining.  This movie had constant singing or music.  The actual dialogue was severely limited and that was not a bad thing.  The Waltz for Eva and Che is one of my favorite moments of this film.

 

#7.  The Muppets.  I was originally going to eliminate all Muppet movies form the list, but I decided that the return film for the Jim Henson creations really fit the category more than other Muppet films.  This film focused more on the human characters Gary and Mary, played by Jason Segel and Amy Adams, and these two definitely sprung into song throughout the film.  The nostalgia was dripping off every scene and made this movie one of the best Muppet films ever.

#6.  The Wizard of Oz.  I hadn’t thought about this film until I started doing the research for this list, but The Wizard of Oz certainly falls into the category with what I laid out.  Judy Garland’s iconic turn as Dorothy trying to make her way back to Kansas is one of the greatest movies in the history of cinema.

#5.  Little Shop of Horrors.  Feed me Seymour.  The funny musical with Rick Moranis and Steve Martin came from a Broadway play.  The story of a weird little plant that is actually an alien bent on world domination is fun, full of humor and great characters.  Audrey II is one of the best musical villains and really tears down the house (quite literally)!

 

#4.  Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  This is easily the bloodiest film musical of all time.  Johnny Depp starred in the lead role of the barber who was back from exile and ready for revenge.  The bodies of his victims found their way into the meat pies sold by Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter).  This film even had the great Alan Rickman.

#3.  Mary Poppins.  Disney’s live action classic, Mary Poppins, brought us the greatest music from any Disney film.  Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke were iconic in these amazing roles, based on a book series by P.L. Travers.  The musical was so great that it inspired a film that told the story of getting the rights to shoot Mary Poppins from Travers.  That film was called Saving Mr. Banks, and it goes to show the impressive lineage of Mary Poppins.  There is soon to be a new sequel to Mary Poppins starring Emily Blunt.

#2.  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  The EYG Hall of Fame movie starring the incomparable Gene Wilder as the reclusive chocolate maker Willy Wonka was both a great musical and a terrifying trip.  The scene of Gene Wilder singing on the boat as it was going through its strange trip was frightening to countless children.  This film would not have been as successful though without the amazing Wilder, who filled Willy Wonka with such charm while also providing plenty of underlying sinister moments.   This one surely deserves a Golden Ticket.

 

#1.  Moulin Rouge.  The jukebox musical that took many present day songs and blended them in with the classic music of the period.  Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman had unbelievable chemistry as Christian and Satine and the tragic end is sure to bring tears to your eyes.  Moulin Rouge is a film about love.

X-Men Movies

With last week’s release of Logan, the topic of X-Men and X-Men related movies is at the front of pop culture and everyone seems to be ranking these movies in order  Well, never let it be said that EYG isn’t willing to jump on a topic.  So here are my list of the X-Men movies in order.

Related image#1.  Logan.  Yup.  This one is a special film.  Full of emotion.  The best rendition of the character of Wolverine from any of the films.  If this is indeed Hugh Jackman’s farewell as Logan then he could not have asked for a better movie.

 

Image result for deadpool#2.  Deadpool.  Ryan Reynolds spent years trying to get this film made, and 2016 finally saw that road come to an end.  And what an end it was.  Hilarious and dramatic.  Full of unapologetic cursing and sexual situations.  A hard R film, but oh so worth it.  International Women’s Day will never be seen the same again.

 

Image result for x2 xmen united nightcrawler scene#3.  X2: X-Men United.  This featured one of the great beginning to any comic book movie, with Nightcrawler’s attack on the White House.  X2 was that rare film that the sequel exceeded the original.  This is still the best X-Men team movie of all time with one of the best non-super powered villains of the X-men canon.

Related image#4.  X-Men: Days of Future Past.  This one felt like it was trying to bite off more than it could chew.  Large cast and a huge comic storyline behind it, this had failure written all over it.  However, thankfully, Days became a massive hit.  It gave us Quicksilver (beating out the MCU Quicksilver from Avengers: Age of Ultron).  The Quicksilver scene in DOFP is one of the top X-Men scenes of all time.  It also helped remove some of the worst continuity in movie history with a mulligan.

Image result for x men first class cuba scene#5.  X-Men: First Class.  This was another failure waiting to happen.  After the previous X-men movies crapped the bed. a soft reboot of the series was called for.  Still set in the same world, the film looked at the beginnings of Charles Xavier and Magneto and the world of the 1960s.  Placing the mutants in the middle of historical incidents (such as the Cuban Missile Crisis) worked brilliantly, and First Class resurrected a franchise that had been barely holding on.  Plus, it gave us one of the greatest cameos of all time (not named Stan Lee) with Hugh Jackman’s Logan.

Image result for xmen original movie#6.  X-Men.  The original was so very important.  None of this comes if this film fails.  The world was ecstatic over the casting of Patrick Stewart as Professor X (though many were unhappy at the casting of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine… “Jackman is 6’4″  He’s way too tall to be Wolverine.  It’ll never work“)  X-Men helped chauffeur in the comic book movie genre and had everyone dressing in black leather instead of spandex.

Image result for the wolverine movie#7.  The Wolverine.  James Mansgold’s first film was really pretty good until the third act where it felt as if the studio may have jumped in and interfered in the creative process.  It is not like they haven’t done that before (hint… Fant4stic).  This started as a great samurai tale told in Japan and featured the greatest ever deleted scene as Wolverine opened a suitcase to see his yellow and blue costume inside.  Fanboys were overjoyed!  Little did we know that this would be as close as we ever would come to seeing that costume on Hugh Jackman.

Image result for x men apocalypse four horsemen#8.  X-Men: Apocalype.  Last year’s film that had some redeeming qualities, but also seemed to tank in the third act.  The early scene of Magneto seeing his wife killed before his eyes and then slaughtering the men who had killed her was worth the price of admission alone.  Unfortunately, Apocalypse and the Four Horsemen were lacking severely.  We got our second cool Quicksilver scene, though.

Image result for xmen last stand logan and jean#9.  X-Men: The Last Stand.  How do you mess up the Dark Phoenix Saga?  Seriously, this should have been such a home run, but it was one of the worst X-Men movies and one of the most disappointing comic book movies of the genre.  Brett Ratner took over for Bryan Singer (who went to work on Superman Returns, another flop super hero flick) and Ratner created one of the more despised X-Men films.

Related image#10.  X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  This is easily the worst X film ever.  They sewed Deadpool’s mouth shut.  The first ten to fifteen minutes of the film was pretty good, seeing the introduction of young James Howlett to the series and watching him grow up over the years in a cool montage.  Then the film started going downhill quickly.  Then, they sewed Deadpool’s mouth shut and gave him all kinds of weird mutant powers.  Then they shot Logan in the head with an adamantium bullet which made him forget everything.  If only that would work for us too.  X-Men Origins was only a success because the failure of it led to the desire to save the character of Deadpool, thus the great Deadpool movie occurs.  Without this travesty, that would never be.  So…thanks? I guess.

 

There they are… the top ten X-Men movies in order from 1-10.  What comes next?  Rumor has it that the next X-men movie will focus on the Dark Phoenix Saga once again.  Hopefully this time they can get it right.

American Horror Story

With the date of September 14th looming all the closer, it is about time to start thinking about Ryan Murphy’s house of horrors, American Horror Story. We just recently got what could be a hint about the theme for season 6, American Horror Story: The Mist.  How this may or may not tie in to the Stephen King novella of the same name is yet to be seen (although Spike TV has given a 10-episode order for a TV show based on that King novella.)

American Horror Story The Mist

This makes me wonder about the previous five seasons and where I might rank them.  So…

#5.  Hotel.  This one was my least favorite of the shows, as I lost interest about midway through the season.  I did enjoy the serial killer ghosts meeting episode entitled “Devil’s Night.”  This episode showed that creativity that had been sprinkled throughout each season.  I don’t know if the absence of Jessica Lange hurt the show, but I never could get into Lady Gaga that much.

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#4.  Coven.  The group of witches was fun at times, especially with the addition of Kathy Bates as Madame Delphine LaLaurie and Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe as Queenie.  The use of the racist Madame LaLaurie and the large black woman in Queenie really helped the season find a voice.  Bates was just amazing, not just playing the straight up racist.  Their relationship was even touching at times, despite the dark way in which it ended.

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#3.  Freak Show.  This one is one of my favorites and, for me, re-energized the show after the weaker Coven.  There were just so much to enjoy here…from the evil killer clown Twisty to the real monster of the season, Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock).  Jessica Lange’s Elsa Mars was full of contradictions and selfishness, but she really loved the freaks.  Add to it the great performance of David Bowie’s Life on Mars and Freak Show had something for everyone.

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#2.  Murder House.  This was very nearly number one.  We had never seen anything like Murder House before.  The use of real life past murders (such as the Black Dahlia victim) as well as one of the most compelling villains we have ever seen (Evan Peters’s Tate) created an air of suspense and uncertainty.  With the Rubber Man running around the Murder House, and with people dying and not leaving the house, the first season set up for one of the most shocking set of events we have seen in a long time.  Dyla McDermott and Connie Britton added a gravitas to the cast.  And there was a rooting section for Tate and Violet (Taissa Farmiga).  I don’t think I have ever seen as disturbing of a sequence as the school shooting during season one.  Unless it is “Piggy Piggy”, one of the series standout episodes.

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#1. Asylum.  This was my own personal favorite.  I will never forget the ride into the oven by Dr. Arden (James Cromwell).  There were so many disturbing images of the way mental patients were treated in the 1960s that a horror show is perfectly set in an asylum.  And that does not even take into account the weirdness that was being done to these poor victims by the cruel nuns or the former Nazi scientists.  And aliens?  Add to it the most unlikely and entertaining moment of all season… The Name Game performed by Jessica Lange herself.  That showed us that truly anything could happen in the asylum and on American Horror Story.

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Both Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto and Sarah Paulson were brilliant this season, but we also had a horrendous serial killer, Bloody Face.

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Asylum was a creative high for the anthology series that it has been striving to find since.

Between Bloody Face and Rubber Man, what will the signature villain be in The Mist?  I can’t wait to find out.

2016 Eisner Award Winners

The Eisner Awards, awards given for excellence int he comic book medium, were presented Friday night at Comic Con.  The Eisner Awards (named after EYG Hall of Famer Will Eisner) are sometimes considered the Academy Awards for comics.  Here is a list of the winners this year:

Best Short Story

  • “Killing and Dying,” by Adrian Tomine, inOptic Nerve #14 (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Single Issue/One-Shot

  • Silver Surfer #11: “Never After,” by Dan Slott and Michael Allred (Marvel)

Best Continuing Series

  • Southern Bastards, by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour (Image)

Best Limited Series

  • The Fade Out, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)

Best New Series

  • Paper Girls, by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang (Image)

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8)

  • Little Robot, by Ben Hatke (First Second)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 9-12)

  • Over the Garden Wall, by Pat McHale and Jim Campbell (BOOM! Studios/KaBOOM!)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)

  • Super Mutant Magic Academy, by Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Humor Publication

  • Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection, by Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Digital/Webcomic

  • Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain/comiXology)

Best Anthology

  • Drawn & Quarterly, Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary, Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels, edited by Tom Devlin (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Reality-Based Work

  • March: Book Two, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf/IDW)

Best Graphic Album—New

  • Ruins, by Peter Kuper (SelfMadeHero)

Best Graphic Album—Reprint

  • Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson (Harper Teen)

Best Adaptation from Another Medium

  • Two Brothers, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material

  • The Realist, by Asaf Hanuka (BOOM! Studios/Archaia)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia

  • Showa, 1953–1989: A History of Japan, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips

  • The Eternaut, by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano Lòpez, edited by Gary Groth and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books

  • Walt Kelly’s Fairy Tales, edited by Craig Yoe (IDW)

Best Writer

  • Jason Aaron, Southern Bastards (Image), Men of Wrath (Marvel Icon), Doctor Strange, Star Wars, Thor (Marvel)

Best Writer/Artist

  • Bill Griffith, Invisible Ink: My Mother’s Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist (Fantagraphics)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team

  • Cliff Chiang, Paper Girls (Image)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist

  • Dustin Nguyen, Descender (Image)

Best Cover Artist

  • David Aja, Hawkeye, Karnak, Scarlet Witch (Marvel)

Best Coloring

  • Jordie Bellaire, The Autumnlands, Injection, Plutona, Pretty Deadly, The Surface, They’re Not Like Us, Zero (Image); The X-Files (IDW); The Massive (Dark Horse); Magneto, Vision (Marvel)

Best Lettering

  • Derf Backderf, Trashed (Abrams)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism

  • Hogan’s Alley, edited by Tom Heintjes (Hogan’s Alley)

Best Comics-Related Book

  • Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America, by Bill Schelly (Fantagraphics)

Best Academic/Scholarly Work

  • The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art, edited by Frances Gateward and John Jennings (Rutgers)

Best Publication Design

  • Sandman Gallery Edition, designed by Graphitti Designs and Josh Beatman/Brainchild Studios (Graphitti Designs/DC)

 

Congratulations to all the winners!

Top Ten Netflix

In honor of this weekend’s new Netflix release, Stranger Things (which is a fantastic series that I have not included on this list, though it might fit eventually), I have decided to list the top ten shows/movies/programs that I have seen on the streaming service.  Now, there might be some on this list that other people have seen in other formats, but these are all great presentations that I actually watched for the first time on Netflix.

#10.  The Sheik.  There are a lot of great documentaries on the site.  I have seen plenty of them including Mick Foley’s I Am Santa Claus and Confessions of a Super Hero.  The Shiek tells the story of pro wrestler The Iron Sheik, a colorful character who came from Iran into the WWF.

 

#9.  Pee Wee’s Big Holiday.  I was unbelievably shocked that I liked this movie.  But I watched this movie in order to review it for the Doc’s Movie Review section of EYG and I laughed throughout.  It was a great surprise.  It was one of the original Netflix movies filmed

#8.  Hush.  Another movie, but this one was not a Netflix original.  This film had its release at South by Southwest film festival, but had its rights purchased by Netflix.  This horror/thriller film is full of great performances and tense moments.  I was turned onto this film by YouTube movie reviewer Chris Stuckmann and I had a really good time.

 

#7.  Orange is the New Black.  This is the first original Netflix series to make this list.  Orange has had four seasons now filled with remarkable performances with a great ensemble cast.  The women of the Litchfield Penitentiary have shown us the life behind bars, filled with drugs, sex, gangs, violence and friendship.

#6.  House of Cards.  How could you go wrong with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright playing a manipulative and power hungry Washington D.C. couple, The Underwoods.  Believed to be based on the Clintons, there has not ever been a bigger shock than what Frank Underwood did to series regular Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara).  I won’t spoil for those who may not have seen it yet, but what exactly are you waiting for?

#5.  The Imposter.  A documentary that focuses on the story of Frederic Bourdin, a con man from Spain who claimed to be the grown up son of a family in Texas who had disappear years earlier.  Telling the story in his own words, Bourdin was tremendously compelling, as was the mystery of what actually happened to the missing boy… a mystery that ha never been solved.

#4.  Jessica Jones.  The second series from Marvel TV/Netflix’s agreement was groundbreaking.  A strong female lead played by Krysten Ritter who suffered from PTSD from her time under the mental control of Kilgrave (David Tennent), but she uses her super strength to be a private detective.  Jessica Jones was more than just another super hero show.  It was a tale of survivors and the struggles they face.

#3.  Freaks & Geeks.  Another key to Netflix is they have older movies and television programs available and I had never seen the beloved former TV show that lasted only one season, Freaks & Geeks.  So I was able to binge it and I saw why people loved the series.  It is a crime that this show from Paul Feig and Judd Apatow did not go longer than 18 episodes.  James Franco, Seth Rogan, Samm Levine, Jason Segal, Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley among others got their breaks on this show.  It perfectly showed high school life during the 1980s.  It was brilliant and Netflix gives you a chance to see this great show.

#2.  Life of Reilly.  This is no longer on Netflix, but it is my favorite “documentary” ever.  Charles Nelson Reilly had a one-man stage show about his life, telling these dark and ridiculously funny stories of his life.  Reilly tells about his weird family, including his mother who shouted racial insults out the window, his father who had lost an opportunity to work with Walt Disney and the day CNR went to the circus on the day it burned to the ground.  “Well, it’s that kind of play,” Reilly said every time the crowd groaned in shock or sadness.  Life of Reilly is a story of success despite a background that did not allow such a thing.  And it is uproariously funny.

#1 Daredevil.  Two seasons of amazing action, drama and perfection.  Daredevil is the story of blind attorney Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and his alter ego, The Man Without Fear, Daredevil.  Completely wiping away the memory of the less than stellar movie starring Ben Affleck, the Daredevil series had tremendous fight choreography and has, perhaps, the greatest Marvel Cinematic Universe villain, Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) ever.   We also got, in season two, the best cinematic version ever of the anti-hero The Punisher, played by Jon Bernthal.  Daredevil is one of the best super hero television show anywhere… and it is on Netflix.

Top Match Game Panelists

With the return of Match Game on ABC’s “Sunday Fun and Games” block of shows, I have been thinking back to the heydays of one of the great game shows of all time.  The Match Game was one of my childhood favorites.  It was something that I could watch as a child and laugh at, but an adult could watch it and get a completely different vibe.

The panelists on Match Game were most likely drunk all the time.  And they clearly unscripted as they went wild several times.  Panelists switched spots with host Gene Rayburn at least twice, there was a riot over the judge’s refusal to call something a match…just to name a couple.

So… here is the list of the Top Ten Match Game Panelists.

First…some honorable mentions:  Rosie O’Donnell and Tituss Burgess (from the new version), Marcia Wallace, Fannie Flagg, Bill Daily

#10.  Gary Burghoff.  Radar on MASH was a very solid panelist and even sat in on the third seat when Charles Nelson Reilly was gone.

 

#9.  Nipsey Russell.  Nipsey would always give a little rhyme when he was on.  As an African America during the 1970s, many of the jokes were not always racially appropriate.  However, he was always funny, and extremely quick witted.

#8.  Joyce Bulifant.  Joyce would usually sit in the bottom right seat (the final seat) and she would give some of the funniest, albeit, worst answers on the panel.  She acted fairly ditzy, but she was sharper than what she seemed.

 

#7.  Patti Deustch.  Another woman who was in that bottom right seat (the “weirdo” seat as Gene Rayburn would say) and the jokes were directed toward some of the wild answers she would write.  Some might argue that she was playing a character for the show, as some of her other appearances on other shows might indicate.

#6.  Elaine Joyce.  Another of the pretty women who seemed to be more than what they appeared.  Elaine was very flirtatious with the males of Match Game.

 

#5.  McLean Stevenson.  Formerly Lt. Col. Henry Blake from MASH, McLean Stevenson made many appearances on Match Game. In fact, there were a couple of times when McLean took over for Gene Rayburn on a spur of the moment and ran the show (Gene took McLean’s seat.)

#4.  Betty White. Betty was the other panelist to step into Gene’s shoes, showing off her hosting chops.  She was also one of the funniest panelists around.  She imitated Charles one episode which was a riot.  Her one liners with Brett were also fantastic.  Betty White has always brought class, and, even here, it was no exception.

#3.  Brett Somers.  One of the regulars, always seated in the middle of the top row, Brett was always a hoot.  She had an amazing chemistry with Charles and Gene and her smart remarks were almost as enjoyable as her loud and joyous laughter.  She was never afraid to be the butt of the jokes either.

#2.  Richard Dawson.  Probably the best player on the show, virtually all the contestants wanted to do the Super Match with Richard.  It became so much of an issue, the show instituted a “Star Wheel” so other panelists might have a chance to play as well.  Richard was charming and funny and he would go on to be an iconic host of Family Feud.

 

#1.  Charles Nelson Reilly.  CNR was the funniest panelist on The Match Game.  He had chemistry with everyone that appeared.  He was a classically trained actor who was willing to do anything for a laugh.  He would be on the show with his strange outfits, his toupee and those large glasses and he would smoke his pipe.  He was more than all of those.  He made Brett funnier.  His constant mugging for the camera told you he was having fun and gave you permission to laugh too.  This makes Charles Nelson Reilly Match Game’s greatest panelist of all time.

Marvel Cinematic Universe films in order

Welcome to the first post in the new section “Lists, Geek Style” here at EYG.  Like everyone, I love me some lists, and I have been known to put things in subjective order for years.  I remember as a junior high kid doing my own weekly Top 20 songs chart much like the Billboard chart.  Yes, even then, I was a geek.

So this semi-regular column will focus on me placing a certain themed group into a list and counting it down.  The first list will focus on something a lot of different sites did after the release of Captain America: Civil War.  This list will contain all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies in order from best to worst.

Now, the word “worst” does not indicate that the last few films on this list are bad.  In fact, I would go on a limb and say that Marvel Studios has yet to release a bad film.  The last couple of films just happen to be the weaker of the group.  I mean, everyone can’t be Top 5, can they?

Without further adieu, here is the list of MCU movies in order according to me.

#13.  Iron Man 2.  This is a fairly common choice for lowest on this list.  Iron Man 2 was not as good as it could be.  It felt like it was spending more time trying to set up for future movies than actually telling a compelling story.  I believe that Marvel learned how to world build from the shortcomings of Iron Man 2.

#12.  Thor: Dark World.  There are some really solid moments here, mostly dealing with Loki (Tom Hiddleston).  This featured, arguable, the weakest of all Marvel cinematic villains in Maleketh and some strange storyline involving what would turn out to be an Infinity Stone.

#11 Incredible Hulk.  The film that most everyone would forget was in canon, this Hulk film had the unfortunate situation of having to follow the horrible Hulk movie with Eric Bana and Hulk dogs.  This version of the Hulk was pretty solid, including a very strong performance by Edward Norton as Bruce Banner.  However, the trouble between Norton and Marvel led to Norton leaving the role.  Of course, that also led to the best Bruce Banner ever coming on board for Avengers.

#10.  Iron Man 3.  This one is either loved or reviled.  The biggest issue with Iron Man 3 for everyone was the reveal of the Mandarin.  I did not mind the twist, so I enjoyed the movie.  I know plenty of people who despised that twist, claiming that Marvel ruined the character. I found it clever and Robert Downey Jr. is at his smirky best here.  He had to be because there was a lot of him and not that much of Iron Man.  Some people claim that Iron Man 3 is too much of a Shane Black movie to work in the MCU.  I would respectfully disagree as that different flavor is what makes the MCU a great place to be.

#9.  Thor.  This was a huge risk for Marvel since this was one of the first films not including Robert Downey Jr. in the MCU.  And it was being used to set up the Avengers.  Had this failed, the anticipation for the Avengers would have been tarnished.  Thankfully, not only did this film show a great humor and a great Thor, it also bought us the best MCU villain of all time in Loki.  Sure, Jane Foster wasn’t great, but that could be excused.  Thor continued the progression towards the greatest movie team up of all time.

#8.  Captain America: First Avenger.  Placing this at this spot on the list is tough for me, because I truly do love this film.  The fact is I just can’t place it above the other films.  First Avenger is the Cap origin story with the perfect Steve Rogers.  Chris Evans was a questionable choice for Steve since he was really an actor who played the smart-ass character and he was already Johnny Storm in two Fantastic Four movies, but this film showed how right Marvel is in their casting.  Captain America: First Avenger was a great war film and served as the final connection to Avengers.

#7.  Iron Man.  The godfather of the MCU.  An argument could be made that if Iron Man did not succeed, that nothing that followed would have come into being.  I know RDJ laughs off this fact, but without Iron Man, the MCU is a completely different place.  Iron Man was a wonderful origin story and is full of awesome characters and exciting action.  Seeing that grey armored behemoth coming out of the cave for the first time is every geek’s dream.

#6. Ant Man.  I wouldn’t have guessed that this film would wind up this high, but Ant Man turned out better than anyone would have anticipated.  Especially after the behind the scenes drama of Edgar Wright departing the project just over a year from release.  Marvel did not panic and they did not postpone the film.  Instead, they found a perfect replacement in Peyton Reed.  Ant Man was a welcome change (although the story beats did resemble Iron Man).  The heist movie was smaller, more personal than some of the other offerings from the MCU and that was just the right decision.  A classic cameo from Falcon.  Michael Douglas! Paul Rudd knocked it out of the park as Scott Lang.  Ant Man was the little hero that could.

#5.  Avengers: Age of Ultron.  This is another film that can be somewhat divisive.  Many people did not like this movie.  I loved it.  Here is the issue, IMO.  Age of Ultron was never going to be able to capture that amazing feeling of watching the original Avengers movie because that film had the ability to be the first time these characters were together on the big screen.  There was a nostalgia pop that was lost in Ultron.  If you went in hoping to recapture that feeling, you couldn’t help but be disappointed.  I loved Ultron, and I loved James Spader.  Ultron being like Tony Stark made sense to me (that echoed the comics, only in the comics, Ultron is more like Hank Pym, who created the robot in the comics).  Age of Ultron gave us a perfect rendition of the Vision, created stakes for our heroes, and wound up killing one of them (who has, as yet, not been brought back).  Maybe it did not have the magic of the first time, but that did not mean that it was bad.  Nitpickers can always find faults.  Age of Ultron was a solid film.

#4.  Guardians of the Galaxy.  What a surprise this one was.  When Marvel announced a big screen adaptation of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the world responded with a collective…”WHO?”  A group of heroes that included a talking raccoon and a walking tree that only said “I am Groot” was weirder than anything you had seen in the MCU up until then.  But the thing was… weird isn’t bad.  If you do something weird, but you do it brilliantly, people will love it.  James Gunn took this unknown property and made it a massive hit.  Everyone believed that this would be Marvel Studios’ first “bomb.”  Oh how wrong they were.  Guardians of the Galaxy was funny, irreverent, off-beat, while still having that Marvel feel to it.  It was a space opera of the finest order opening up the cosmic side to the MCU.

#3. Captain America: Winter Soldier.  Captain America’s sequel completely changed the tone of the series.  This was not a war movie like the original Cap movie, but a ’70s political thriller, and this film captured that feel and tone perfectly.  This was grittier than any Marvel film to date and gave us tense action and drama. Robert Redford was here as well.  Robert “freakin'” Redford in a Marvel movie.  That signaled the times we live in.  Winter Soldier gave us Falcon, a great brother-sister relationship between Cap and Black Widow, and the return of Bucky as the brainwashed Winter Soldier.  It also brought down SHIELD and changed the MCU forever.

#2.  The Avengers.  The plan came together as one of the greatest comic book movies ever.  Seeing Hulk, Cap, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Thor together for the first time was awe-inspiring.  It was something that many never believed to be possible, and yet Marvel pulled it off.  There are so many great moments in the Avengers, from the fight between Iron Man and Thor to “Puny God”, this film balanced its heroes better than it could ever have been imagined.  Each hero had his/her moment to shine and developed as characters.  Plus, we had Loki.  And an after credit scene with Thanos!  Audiences responded.

#1. Captain America: Civil War.  This epic film was unbelievable.  It took so many characters that many people called it Avengers 2.5 and made it a film that definitely feels like a Captain America film.  The central conflict between Cap and Iron Man made sense and actually created stakes that created tension.  Everyone kept asking who was going to die in Civil War to make the stakes high enough, but Marvel did not fall into that trap.  They created stakes without having to kill someone off.  That final fight scene with Cap and Iron Man was as intense as it could be.  There were action scenes galore in Civil War, including perhaps the greatest action sequence ever with the Airport scene.  It introduced us to what could become the greatest cinematic Spider-man of all time.  It brought us an incredible version of Black Panther, completely nailed by Chadwick Boseman.  It advanced the Vision-Scarlet Witch relationship.  It brought us the scene-stealing Ant Man.  It gave us a different type of villain in Zemo.  And it split the Avengers into two sides without demonizing either side.  You could understand why Cap did what he did and you can understand why Tony did what he did.  Neither man was wrong.  That is an amazing piece of writing with characters that we care about and know after all of the other films that came before it.  Civil War had that major advantage.  It was able to take the continuity of the other films and give us a rich and textured story of characters who we love.  It is the best Marvel film to date.

Now…bring on Dr. Strange!

 

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