Supergirl Pilot Review

Oh Supergirl, what happened? I’m really hoping the show improves because Monday night was such a disappointment. Now, I know it was just a pilot – and sometimes a bad pilot results in a good show. And it wasn’t “bad” just not as good as I had hoped. And pilots do have a difficult job – you have to introduce everyone and the situation, and the world and it’s rules (especially for fantasy) but both Gotham and The Flash (and even Arrow) had better opening episodes than Supergirl.

First, Supergirl seemed incredibly derivative. Kara Danvers seemed way too much like Felicity from Arrow. I’d noticed this in the on-line trailers I’d seen but I hoped it would work to the show’s favor. Kara should be a strong character, an inspiration to young girls, both in her “real” life and as a superhero. One reason I really love Felicity is she’s a normal person – and she uses her own talents – rather than trying to be whom others tell her to be. Kara seems to constantly strive to “fit in” as she says, to do what everyone else tells her to do, to let others, especially male characters defend her, and to not stand up for what she believes. This isn’t a “feminist” hero.

The rest of the cast is derivative too. Oh, look, Kara has her own “Jimmy Olsen” type – Winn. And the “real” Jimmy, now using the more adult name, James, has just started working at Cat Grant’s Worldwide Media. But, of course, the one character from Superman we might expect to see, the Big Blue Boy Scout himself – Superman, isn’t in the pilot. If others were going to make Kara to accept her identity anyway – why not have Superman show up and actually talk to his cousin? A serious discussion between the two might have made Kara’s flip-flops on becoming Supergirl a lot easier to take.

Then there’s Cat Grant. Cat’s a minor DC character, usually a reporter, whom I’ve seen in a number of DC shows, including Young Justice and Batman: The Animated Series. She’s their generic “girl reporter”. So, they bring her in as the head of a multi-media empire – great, and then go all Devil-wears-Prada when writing her. Pleeeeeeeeaaaaase! Why, why, oh why, does a powerful woman have to be a bitch (and not in the good sense)? Why does a powerful woman have to abuse her “underlings” even worse than a male boss? Why couldn’t Cat be shown as an intelligent, inclusive person who values the input of her fellow employees? And Cat’s retrofit explanation for “Supergirl”, rather than Kara’s suggestion of “Superwoman” made me squirm. Cat’s a “girl”? No, she’s a powerful woman. Not to mention Kara gets belittled again when she’s not even allowed to choose her own name. (Yes, as a long-time DC fan, I know that the “Superwoman” name is, actually, already being used – and for an alternate universe “evil” Superman/Wonder Woman hybrid character.) I also realise the show has to be Supergirl – but at least it should have been Kara taking on that name. Actually the scene would have played better in reverse – Cat suggesting “SuperWoman” and Kara suggesting “Supergirl”.

Moving on to the episode itself. The rescuing the plane scene was very cool – but totally spoiled by the on-line trailers. And I’m not a big fan of spoilers, so I didn’t even look for every trailer – but that was in the main one. Alex, Kara’s adoptive sister changed sides more times than a tennis ball in a championship match, so when she finally decided that she was loyal to Kara and that Kara should be Supergirl – it almost came off as artificial. And Alex’s boss is an evil twit, but, yet again, he’s a somewhat standard and derivative character (for both Marvel and DC actually).

One of the best moments in the entire episode was actually Kara getting the hologram from her mother. I hope (but I don’t expect) that the series deals with Kara remembering her former life on Krypton. After all, if she left home at 13 she’d remember something (unlike Clark Kent / Superman who, since he left Krypton as a baby would remember nothing of his previous life or planet.)

I also like that both James Olsen and Kara’s friend, Winn, know who she is (as well as, obviously, her sister, Alex). It might be interesting to bring Cat into that circle.

I do plan to continue to tune in. It’s a shame Supergirl and Gotham are on at the same time. But I really hope for some improvement.

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Agile Update – Week 42

Last week was a successful week. Four posts here on WordPress and a book review on GoodReads. My writing last week included my regular Agile update post, a TV-on-DVD season set review, a link with introduction and a movie review on WordPress. The movie review I also posted to my Blogger movie review page. That’s five days of writing. Woo-hoo! After what seems like a long. dry spell of only a few posts a week, I am so glad to be writing again. I also reached a new milestone on Twitter – I now have 351 followers. That still might not sound like much, but I’m still impressed. Goes to show what having good Twitter manners does for you. I got back to thanking new followers this past week or two.

Exercise this week consisted of going to my weekly one-hour yoga class. I really enjoyed it though, as always. And I noticed that before class, I was upset and angry about some things that had happened in my A+ professional training class, but after my yoga class, I was just relaxed and calm. It helps so much!

Lots of professional development activity last week as well. As I’ve been talking about, I’m in the midst of an A+ class. Last week I read and took notes on chapter 11 (finished chapter 10 the week before), and did the chapter 10 and 11 chapter review sheets. I almost missed doing them, since the person in charge of the class handed them out so late. But they aren’t due until tomorrow so it’s OK. I also turned in three labs. And I I started reading chapter 12, again for the A+ class. And of course I attended the actual A+ class twice. I also downloaded three A+ study guide apps from the Android Play store. We’ll see how they work. I’m still not quite ready to start using the review tools because I figure I should actually read the material first – something the instructor does not get. I have a very specific way of learning information, and it’s served me well all the way through school – which is why I have a BA and two master’s – and this instructor thinks he knows better than I do how I learn? I really don’t think so. And of course, every time he says something like “Don’t read the book, it’s useless. Watch these videos instead.” I just want to scream because I certainly can’t correct him or complain. I’ve been down that route before, it’s a no-win scenario. And since this training is supposed to lead to a job with the company paying for the training (along with two other organizations) I have to suck up to the “teacher”. So, of course, I have to not complain. I also don’t like his “competitive” view of class (I’ve passed every single quiz with grades in the 90s but I never get on his “pet” list, and lately he’s been giving me poor grades on the homework.) Learning needs to be co-operative, or a solo activity, treating it like a football game with a winner and a loser is completely counter-productive.

That’s also something about Agile that I like. In a working environment, when implemented correctly, it’s an cooperative system. Everyone in a Scrum team is working together, no matter their background – from engineers, to documentation writers, to marketing. And it isn’t the false “there’s no I in team” business-speak used to take credit away from people who actually do the work – whether that’s a woman with a ground-breaking idea or a engineer who develops something new and is forced to give up his or her patent to the company they work for. A proper Agile team is cross-disciplinary and co-operative, and everyone is given all information for the “big picture” and all inputs are valued to constantly improve the product.

Using Agile for self-improvement means setting and meeting goals, congratulating yourself on meeting goals, and at times setting new, more complex goals. It’s about not beating yourself up if you slip back and not meet goals you’ve set for yourself, but equally not giving up entirely. Agile is about continual improvement, which is, in the end, realistic.

UHF

  • Title:  UHF
  • Director:  Jay Levey
  • Date:  1989
  • Studio:  Orion Pictures (DVD released by MGM)
  • Genre:  Comedy
  • Cast:  “Weird Al” Yankovic (created as Al Yankovic), Victoria Jackson, Kevin Mccarthy, Michael Richards, David Bowe, Anthony Geary, Trinidad Silva, Gedde Watanabe, Billy Barty, Fran Drescher
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“This is even better than I imagined!” – George

“Sweetheart, take my advice, broads don’t belong in broadcasting.” – Fletcher’s thug to Pamela

“I never should have taken this job. I should have known it would turn out like all the others. You know, for a short time there, I really thought this was going to be different. I just don’t know anymore.” – George

UHF  is a underdog story about a UHF television station and the misfits who end-up working there. However, today many people might not even know what a UHF station is. Back in the days before cable when all television was local and not national, picture tube television sets had two dials – VHF (very high frequency) and UHF (ultra high frequency). The VHF dial consisted of numbers 2 – 13 and was where the locally-owned network affiliates were found. A locally-owned network affiliate was owned by a local business person or group and they bought network programming during prime time, but ran whatever they wanted otherwise (usually re-runs). The UHF dial (channels 14 – whatever) was home to all sorts of unusual channels that were also locally owned (and may even have a network affiliation) in my area we had a channel 35 which was an PBS affiliate and a channel 41 which was an ABC affiliate. But often the UHF band also supported various local channels that catered to a specific audience: news, sports, minority broadcasting, etc. In major cities the local VHF or UHF stations often were the first to jump to cable and become national “Superstations” (for example WWGN (Ch 9) in Chicago – famous for running Cubs baseball, WTBS in Atlanta, WWOR in New York, etc.).

UHF, the film, is about one of these small, independent stations – but more than that it’s about the people who end up there and how they actually care about what they are doing. George Newman (Weird Al) is an idealistic dreamer. He goes from job to job, constantly getting fired for daydreaming rather than concentrating on his boring work. Bob is his friend. After they are fired from their job at Burger World, George is suddenly given what he thinks will be his golden opportunity: his Uncle Harvey wins a television station in a high stakes poker game. George’s aunt convinces Harvey to let George run the station, Channel 62.

Channel 62 is a mess. Fran Drescher is Pamela Finkelstein, the secretary who was hired with the promise of a job in news. When George and Bob arrive no one else works at the station except the engineer, Philo, who seems very strange, even to George. But George, who is at heart, just a very nice guy, assembles a group of great people and gives them the opportunity to shine. This includes Billy Barty as Noodles the Cameraperson who works with Pamela, now the station’s news reporter, Stanley the Janitor – who was fired by the cross town network affiliate “Channel 8” president, JR Fletcher.

George sees that they are only running re-runs, and decides to launch new live shows. At first, this only goes so well. But then, after a particularly bad day, George puts Stanley in charge of the kiddie playhouse show. Stanley is a hit, and soon, “Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse” becomes a ratings blockbuster. George adds in other new shows, including “Wheel of Fish” hosted by his friend, Kani, who also runs a karate studio; and Raul’s Wild Kingdom, as well as various movies such as: “Conan the Librarian” and “Gandhi II”.

UHF moves quickly between George’s daydreams – such as the opening parody of Indiana Jones, or later George’s “Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies” music video; unbelievable commercials, promos for various shows, and brief excerpts of the programs on U62, and it’s main story, which is an underdog story for George and his friends – where nice guys do finish first.

As George and Bob create more original programming, they get more and more attention, and when the ratings come out U62 is at the top in the local market, with five shows in the top five. George and Bob are stunned. But just as everything seems to be going perfectly, Uncle Harvey loses at the racetrack and needs $75,000 to pay his bookie.

Meanwhile, RJ Fletcher, the owner and manager of network affiliate channel 8, who has proved himself to be a nasty piece of work, with no redeeming features whatsoever (and who keeps, through his own arrogance and disregard for others – handing opportunities to George, who’s very niceness turns to his own advantage) is angry about channel 62 beating him in the ratings, which he takes as a personal affront. He offers to buy the station from Harvey so he can pay his bookie.

George convinces Harvey to at least let him match Fletcher’s offer. He and his friends then hold a telethon, raising money by selling stock in the station at $10.00/share. Despite difficulties, at the last minute they are up to $73,000 and change. Then a bum, who’s been seen collecting change throughout the movie, gives them the last $2000 they need. It seems the penny RJ had given him as an insult was an ultra-rare coin worth a fortune. RJ could have still gotten his station (which he then was going to destroy) but he first goes to gloat at and insult the assembled crowd. George sneaks over to the bookie’s car, gives him the money, gets the contract and Harvey signs it over.

Meanwhile, Philo had also installed cameras at RJ’s office and recorded him saying very insulting things about the local community. This footage is not only played on Channel 8’s own signal, over-writing his broadcast signal, but it’s the primary evidence when the FCC agent shows up and revokes Fletcher’s licence (we can assume, since the man shows up and rather than fining Fletcher for not re-applying for his broadcasting licence – he revokes it.) Philo walks off after saying goodbye to George and Teri (George’s girlfriend) and disappears in a beam of light. Pamela reports on the story of the end of Fletcher’s media career.

UHF  is really a simply underdog story. And it’s the story of a man finding his way in the universe. But it’s also a story about good people, and how just simply being nice, and kind, and considerate will bring good things. There’s also a lot of sight gags, some physical comedy, and even some wordplay. It’s an enjoyable family film.

This is a B film, however. Although there are some well-known names in the film (Fran Drescher, Victoria Jackson, Kevin McCarthy, Anthony Geary) it’s mostly “Weird Al”‘s movie – almost as if he and his friends got together to make a film. But even so, it’s enjoyable and fun.

Recommendation: If comedy’s your thing, See it.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Next Film: Van Helsing

Doctor Who Books Checklist (all) – LINK

I’ve written a number of posts on this blog about the various series of Doctor Who books, and I’ve reviewed several individual titles on my GoodReads page. Suffice it to say, there are several different series, six at least – for the main, official, ranges. It is a lot to keep up with. And I’ve gathered information from several sources in order to publish blog posts listing the various series of books in both chronological release order, and in the order the books would take place within the Doctor Who universe (e.g. Doctor then Companion order). While looking for some other information about Doctor Who I found the following site which lists all the Doctor Who books, including the Target novelisations, and even books published by Big Finish (better known for their audio plays) and Telos Publishing.

Complete Doctor Who Books Checklist.

Check it out!

The Batman – Season 1 Review

  • Series Title:  The Batman
  • Season:  1
  • Episodes:  13
  • Discs:  2
  • Cast:  Rino Romano, Alastair Duncan, Ming-Na Wen (credited as Ming Na), Steve Harris
  • Original Network:  Cartoon Network
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers (Animation)

Premiering in 2004, several years after the classic Batman: The Animated Series (1992 – 1995), The Batman is almost the forgotten animated Batman series. It’s set in modern times, and Bruce Wayne even has a device called The Batwave which informs him of crimes in progress, escapes from Arkham Asylum, and can remotely control his devices. The series starts simply introducing, one per episode, the major villains of the Batman universe: Joker, Bane, Penguin, Catwoman, and Mr. Freeze. Even lesser known villains such as Firefly and Cluemaster make brief appearances. This “intro a new villain, quickly move on” approach falls somewhat flat. However, Joker’s second and third appearance, the second appearance of Penguin, and the introduction of Clayface make the back-half of the short 13-episode season work.

Alfred is sardonic here, but he is also understanding of Bruce’s need to fulfill his self-appointed mission. “Traction”, the second episode of Season One, where Batman comes up against Bane and loses is one of the best – especially the flashback to Alfred making a promise to care for Bruce, and Alfred agreeing to help Bruce come up with a solution to defeat Bane, despite his misgivings about Bruce getting even more hurt or killed.

The series also has a “it’s for kids” quality – not that it’s “bad” or “immature” but the violence is much less than other versions of Batman, and often off-screen. There are also a lot less scares in this version.

This series also features two police officers – Ethan Bennett, an old high school friend of Bruce Wayne, and Ellen Yin – Ethan’s partner.

Season 1 feels very much like an introduction. I now have the rest of the series on DVD, most of which I haven’t really seen – so it should be interesting to see how it goes. Oh, one more note – several of the episodes were directed by directors who worked on the various Warner Brothers Animated Batman, Superman, or Justice League movies.

Agile Update – Week 41

Last week I was very sick with a bad sinus cold; however, I still managed to accomplish quite a lot of what I had to do. And I pushed myself in some areas too, which I’m proud of.

My goal has been to write three to five blog posts a week and failing that to at least write something nearly every day for a total of five days a week. Well, last week I wrote two blog posts here on WordPress, which was pretty good, though not my minimum goal of three per week. But I also wrote two book reviews on GoodReads (see my GoodReads page – Widget at lower right of this blog page). So that’s a total of four which isn’t bad. But not only did I write my Agile update post on this WordPress blog, I also reviewed a comics mini-series Doctor Who The Four Doctors Event written by Paul Cornell and published by Titan Comics. And not only did Paul personally thank me on Twitter (which was very awesome and  I almost missed due to being off-line for much of last week because I was sick) but he reblogged my review on his tumblr. My WordPress blog posts automatically post to my tumblr. I was so geeked and just found it so awesome that Paul Cornell did that.It just meant a lot, and since I’ve been having a rough time lately that was just very very cool. The Internet gets an awful rap on the news and from so-called “security experts” (who really just want to shut-up, I mean, take the right of free expression from us writers, especially women) but no one, ever, talks about the small, beautiful events and acts of kindness that happen on-line. Besides the author of the Doctor Who Four Doctors Event reblogged my review! How awesome is that?

Paul_Cornell_Tweet-to-JM

Because I was sick I wasn’t able to go to Yoga last week. And I was really sick, I was so out of it on Wednesday that even watching TV or reading was beyond me – and I just kept falling asleep on the sofa. In short, I was a mess and there was no way I could go to Yoga. But I was determined to at least exercise at home, so on Saturday I was finally feeling a bit better and I did 30 minutes of Yoga at home. I’ve mentioned I really like the 10-Minute Solution series of exercise DVDs, and I used that doing the Balance & Flexibility, Energizing Yoga Flow, and Stress Relief sets. Each set is 10 minutes, so combining three of them gives you a 30-minute workout. Anyway, I was proud of myself that I was able to do that. And I do need to get back in to exercising on two days other than my Yoga class day.

I did do a lot of professional development work this past week. I read the book for chapters 8 and 9, and started chapter 10. I did the homework sheets for chapters 6 and 7. My instructor won’t hand out the homework sheets until the class before they are due – even though we have to read the chapters the week before. So say for example it’s Week 5 of class – the HW sheets for chapters 6 and 7 will be due, which we read in week 4, and even though chapters 8 and 9 are due as reading for that week, he won’t hand out the homework sheets for them until Week 6. Most instructors will give you homework sheets very much in advance (like an entire semester’s worth at once), or at the very least before the reading assignment the homework goes with. Not this guy. It’s starting to really irritate me. But anyway, I attended class on both Tuesday and Thursday – even though, Tuesday I was really sick and had a very runny nose. I got a 90% on the quiz, passing, but I still feel that I should be getting 100%, especially as this are open-book quizzes – and it irritates me that I’m not doing better. I also did my chapter 8 review sheet. The instructor recommends an on-line youTube source for info, called Professor Messer and I watched three videos in his A+ series.  I also discovered (somewhat belatedly but still, now I know) that the text for every video is transcribed below it. And I can right-click it, and save the text as a .pdf. Now, for some reason you also get all the ads and such on the webpage, but that is easily ignored. Then I could even use Calibre to convert those .pdfs to EPUB and load them onto my tablet to read in my e-reader program. This is an awesome discovery and something I really need to do. I even started reading chapter 10 of my A+ book.

So, even though I was sick, I still did a lot last week. I met my obligations for class, passed the quiz, and did homework. And I wrote two posts on WordPress and wrote two additional book reviews on GoodReads. I watched videos for class. I even managed to exercise on my own, when I couldn’t get to my Yoga class because I was sick. So even though I was sick and that be definition could have made it a terrible week – it was a successful week instead.

Doctor Who Four Doctors Event (Titan Comics) Review

The Four Doctors Event is a five-issue comic mini series written by Paul Cornell and published by Titan Comics. I know I first heard about this series from social media, I think on Twitter. Anyway, I was very excited about it because I really like Paul Cornell’s writing (Cornell writes the Shadow Police urban fantasy series, see reviews on my GoodReads page) – and I thought it was great to see him back to writing Doctor Who. Titan Comics is a new publisher for Doctor Who Comics and they definitely get Doctor Who. I’ve now read several of their graphic novels (collections of the soft cover series) and the art is always excellent, and the stories very much in the tone of New Who. Again, see my GoodReads page for specific reviews of the various titles I’ve read so far.

The art in the Four Doctors Event is excellent. The panels have a painted almost watercolor look, and the edges of figures are sharp and crisp. I like my comics art to be realistic and the panel order to be clear – and that’s precisely what the Titan Comics give me, including this series. But it’s also gorgeous and I really like the painted look.

Doctor Who has had multiple-Doctor stories before in both the Classic and New aired series, namely “The Three Doctors”, “The Five Doctors”, “The Two Doctors”, and the 50th Anniversary Special, “The Day of the Doctor”. These stories have been hit or miss – I loved “The Day of the Doctor”, and I enjoyed “The Three Doctors” but I felt the plot of “The Five Doctors” was more a series of cameo appearances than a good story and “The Two Doctors” was just too long and slow-moving. But the Four Doctors Event has a great story that takes advantage of several versions of the Doctor (the Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth and briefly the War Doctor). There were several surprises in the story that I don’t want to spoil, so I won’t – but it is a good story and well-written.

The only disappointment I had was that The War Doctor (John Hurt’s character in “The Day of the Doctor”) only appears at the very beginning. I kept expecting him to return, but he didn’t. The Ninth Doctor also isn’t in the story, except a very brief cameo at the end – but the explanation for his absence is brilliant! Overall, this story was excellent and had the same feel as “The Day of the Doctor” without being quite so bonkers at times (No “little girl” Elizabeth the First this time around) but it also wasn’t as grim as some stories I’ve read by Cornell. Not that there’s anything wrong with grim, I like grim – at times; but this mini-series had just the right New Who attitude, so I enjoyed it very much.

I normally never buy things twice, but I plan to purchase the Graphic Novel version of this story when it becomes available in January 2016. This comics mini-series (and no doubt the graphic novel) is highly recommended.