I'm ecstatic to host a swag giveaway from the uber talented and prolifically creative Krystal Wade and her new book Wilde's Fire. Enter using the buttons below (it's THAT easy) and in the meantime head over to AMAZON and pick up a copy!
“There is no pain in this death, only peace, knowing I am going to die with the one I love the most.” -- Katriona Wilde
Katriona Wilde has never wondered what it would feel like to have everything she’s ever known and loved ripped away, but she is about to find out. When she inadvertently leads her sister and best friend through a portal into a world she’s dreamed of for six years, she finds herself faced with more than just the frightening creatures in front of her. She’s forced to accept a new truth: her entire life has been a lie, and those closest to her have betrayed her. What’s worse, she has no control over her new future, and it’s full of magic and horrors from which nightmares are made. Will she discover and learn to control who she really is in time to save the ones she loves, or will all be lost?
I'm standing in the middle of a meadow, surrounded by tall wheat grasses. Dotted along the hillside are thousands of purple and yellow wildflowers. Bending down to pick one, I catch sight of him. Tall, strong, with looks piercing straight through me. Stepping away from the dark shadows of the forest, he crosses into the meadow, then stops in front of me.
"Katriona." He utters my name as if there's no other name in the world he'd rather speak.
He reaches out to hug me, the way he has so many times before. His work worn hands warm my skin with their touch. He leans in, closes his eyes--The sun disappears. The sky turns black. Emerging from the forest, gray beasts with hollow eyes surround and watch us. Before Arland can turn and fight, a mangled creature rushes forward, then stabs him through the heart with a long,
My screams fill the darkness.
If you missed Part 1 you can still read it by clicking HERE. Now let us proceed with Dexter-like surgical precision and dissect the next batch of movies. We’ve got possibly the most highly anticipated sequel this year, a reboot, a remake, a spinoff, and a bunch of old action heroes trying to blow each other up. Let’s get on with it!
The Amazing Spider-Man – July 3rd
At this point I will take anything, absolutely anything, to wash the vile taste of Spiderman dancing in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 3 out of my head. Raimi’s version had it’s high points (cool visual effects, a great portrayal of Dr Octopus, Willem Dafoe, uhh…well that was it) and a lot of low points (Kirsten Dunst, emo Peter Parker, a crappy Venom, Spider-man constantly taking off his mask, did I mention Kirsten Dunst?). When it was announced Sony was rebooting the Spiderman franchise it was met with varied opinions. Some people thought it was too soon while others, myself included, believed that there was a lot of untapped potential to take the wall crawler in a better direction. Marc Webb was chosen to Direct (I’m assuming based on his last name) and Andrew Garfield slips into the spandex as a smaller, skinny, Spider-man with unruly hair. Add Emma Stone as the love interest and Welsh super star Rhys Ifans as the villain and this might actually work. Either that or we’ll all have wasted far too much time on Spider-man movies over the past decade.
The Dark Knight Rises – July 20th
Easily one of the most anticipated movies of this year and hot on the heels of the success of Nolan’s first two entries into the franchise comes The Dark Night Rises. For the first time in a long time the superhero porn parody of this movie will be able to keep the same title and still be sexually suggestive. Christopher Nolan struck serious gold with his dark and gritty take on Batman and it’s hard to say if his third and final film in the series will be just as big. Expectations are high and from the marketing campaign it looks like he’s pulling out all the stops. Christian Bale’s Batman and his gravelly voice return to save Gotham from the clutches of the evil Bane played by a severely beefed up Tom Hardy. Anne Hathaway dons the spandex to play Catwoman and the rest is, likely to be, a very profitable history. With Nolan playing his reality card again fan boys everywhere are wondering what kind of incarnation we’re going to see of Bane. In the comic books he was the man who broke the bat causing Bruce Wayne to be replaced for a short time while he healed. Whatever happens, one thing is absolutely certain; it has to be better than Batman and Robin.
The Bourne Legacy – August 3rd
Robert Ludlum’s series of spy novels about the amnesia stricken assassin, Jason Bourne, inspired three movies with the title character played by Matt Damon. When Damon opted out of continuing the series they decided to create a spinoff with the suddenly extremely popular Jeremy Renner (like Matt Damon, only shorter and angrier looking). While the original trilogy of movies were only ever loosely based on the novels they managed to build a decent story coupled with excellent action sequences that made us actually believe that Matt Damon could hurt someone. Having already deviated so far from the original storyline it’s not a stretch for them to expand on the universe they've established. Hopefully they’re not going to play the amnesia angle again because all we need then is a female character to declare she’s gay and someone to have an affair and we’ve got a daytime soap opera.
Total Recall – August 3rd
For those of us who remember the joy and mind bending confusion over seeing a three breasted hooker in the 1990 original movie it was a bit of a shock to the system when they announced a remake was on the horizon. Who would be crazy enough to write over the sacred memory of a Johnny Cab? Well that would be Underworld Director and Kate Beckinsale’s sexual plaything, Len Wiseman. This sci-fi tale of a seemingly regular guy who buys a memory and finds out he’s a secret agent has become iconic. Although mostly because of Arnie’s presence and the multitude of hilarious moments that have been re-enacted by friends in dark basements for over two decades. Judging only by the preview the updated version with Colin Farrell taking the role of Quaid looks heavily action packed. I think I speak for everyone when I say that the remake will be a guaranteed success…as long as there’s still a three breasted hooker somewhere in the movie.
The Expendables 2 – August 17th
What’s better than a bunch of aging 80s action stars getting together in a movie to blow stuff up? Even MORE aging 80s action stars getting together in a movie to blow even more stuff up! The first Expendables movie followed a covert group of mercenaries led by Sylvester Stallone as they fought bad guys. This time around the story is the same but they dug up (literally in some cases) more relics to play out the fantastically over the top action. Joining Stallone, Statham, Li, and Lundgren are veterans Schwarzenegger, Willis, Van Damme, and Norris. You can tell how cool these guys are by the fact I only have to write their last names and you know exactly who they are. Expect stupid action, a multitude of explosions, and a vast amount of ass-kicking. Personally I’m looking forward to The Expendables 3 when they have to break Mr. T out of the retirement home.
The 3rd and final part of ‘The 2012 Nerd Movie Guide’ coming soon!
Nice to see that HBO upped the budget for the latest episode of Game of Thrones so that we could get to see one of the largest events in the series so far, Battle of the Blackwater, in an episode aptly titled Blackwater. Other possible titles could include Joffrey is a Wuss or Oh no, Not Tyrion!.
This is the penultimate battle episode where Stannis (Stephen Dillane) sails his way up the Blackwater to attack Kings Landing. He outnumbers the Lannisters in every way, he has more ships, more men, but lacks one essential element to any battle: a super intelligent dwarf.
The pre-battle scenes cover the main characters in various states of nervousness (when greeted with the prospect of having your head cut off most people would probably be nervous). Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) expresses his fears to his ‘girlfriend’ Shae, Ser Davos imparts less than confident words to his son, Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) procures herself some poison in case of the worst, and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) drinks heavily and hangs out with naked women.
There’s also an interesting altercation between the Hound (Rory McCann) and Bronn as the two clearly don’t like each other but are interrupted when the bells sound to indicate the start of the battle. Tyrion suits up while Varys (Conleth Hill) gets all teary over the fact that he has secrets. This is an interesting development for the eunuch whose power comes from knowing everything about everyone. During their conversation there’s a certain ‘weight’ conveyed that the knowledge he possesses is not something he actually wants.
Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) continues to be an ass by making Sansa (Sophie Turner) kiss his sword (no, that’s not a metaphor). He then proceeds to the walls with his Uncle Tyrion, the Hound and the Pyromancer (Roy Dotrice) and stands around barking orders which Tyrion ignores as he prepares to defend the city.
The ships sailing against Kings Landing are quickly removed from the playing board as Tyrion unleashes the wildfire destroying most of Stannis’ fleet in a bright and spectacular special effect that must have burned up the show’s budget like…well, like wildfire.
What follows are several scenes switching back and forth between the battle as Stannis lands the rest of his army and the high born females are holed up in Maegor's Holdfast. In a lot of ways the scenes between Cersei and Sansa are more interesting than the battle as we see Cersei’s true nature while she gets more and more drunk. Her outer shell is stripped away and she vocalizes about a number of things including how to be a Queen and using tears and her vagina as a weapon.
Back on the battlefield there are an amazing amount of soldiers getting cut in half, mostly by the Hound. Fortunately, for any future victims, the Hound encounters a soldier on fire and he leaves the battle telling the King to eff off. At Cersei’s insistence, and Joffrey’s willingness, the King flees the battlefield which causes the men’s confidence to break. Thankfully Tyrion is on hand to do what he does best: talk. He gives a rousing and intelligent speech letting the soldiers know the threat of what will happen if Stannis succeeds and why they should defend the city ending with “Those are brave men knocking at our door, let’s go kill them!”
In the castle Cersei flees to the throne room with her youngest son to tell him a story which probably had meaning but I couldn’t grasp it. Sansa returns to her own room to find the Hound who offers to take her away from Kings Landing and back to Winterfell. Sansa doesn’t exactly jump at the chance and we’re left not knowing her decision.
Our final scene on the battlefield features Tyrion’s men gaining the upper hand and things are looking rosy until one of King Joffrey’s own guards turns on Tyrion, slicing him across the face. He’s saved from certain death by his man servant and blacks out but not before seeing the Lannister army charge out of the darkness to save the day.
Tywin announces to Cersei that the battle is won as Stannis is forced to flee and the episode abruptly ends. A couple of things worth noting: the complete and utter badassary of Stannis Baratheon. He fights without a helmet, is the first to run into battle, the first up the ladder, and seems to take real joy in cutting off people’s heads. Secondly, who wants Tyrion dead? Is it the King, the Queen…or someone else?
Blackwater is a unique episode to the Game of Thrones saga in that it only features the one storyline meaning we’ll be in for a big cliffhanger episode next week on all the remaining characters. Although this was a great episode I did find myself missing the other characters and look forward to next week’s finale with high expectations.
I give Blackwater 8 jars of green fiery liquid (that closely resembles Mountain Dew) out of 10.
This guide is split into three parts because there’s just too much awesomeness to cram into one article. Never before has Hollywood catered so heavily to nerd culture as it has over the past decade. Advances in cinematography and visual effects have brought superheroes, action heroes, and all sorts of other colorful characters to the big screens that were once relegated only to TV, comic books and the disturbed imaginations of pale twenty something year olds living in their parent’s basement.
What does this mean? Is the nerd taking over? Well…yes. But it’s too late for you to do anything about it so you may as well just accept it.
This year there are a slew of movies coming soon to a theatre near you that feature nerdism at its finest including spandex clad heroes, vampire killing presidents, British spies, genital eating piranhas, aliens, hobbits, and a dark knight.
Anticipation levels are higher than the ticket price at your local theatre. Let’s take a look and see what we’ll be lining up for this year:
The Avengers – May 4th
Alright, I know this one’s already been released and pretty much everyone and their dog have seen it but it’s so good that it’s still worth mentioning. If you’re one of the two people who haven’t seen this yet because you’ve been in a coma for the last two months then stop reading immediately and get yourself to a movie theatre. This superhero ensemble smashed all expectations by staying true to its characters, used talented actors, an amazing director, excellent visual effects, and a Hulk. You can check out my full review of The Avengers HERE.
Men in Black 3 – May 25th
I remain skeptical that Director Barry Sonnenfeld and Actors Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones can capture the magic from the original 1997 film. The 2002 sequel was a fairly dismal attempt and fell short at the box office so it’s a surprise we’re gearing up to watch a third one in the first place. This time around Agent Kay is removed from time and Jay must travel into the past and work with a younger version of Kay to locate the older Kay. There’s likely to be a bunch of aliens, black sunglasses, and at some point Will Smith will say “Awww hell no.”
Snow White and the Huntsman – June 1st
Not wanting to be left behind in the current ‘fairy tale’ phase Universal opted to go a darker route with their Snow White tale. In this version the Huntsman who is hired to kill Snow White instead takes her under his wing, teaches her to fight and eventually helps her lead a war against Charlize Theron. The preview feels a lot like Lord of the Rings which isn’t a bad thing. God of thunder and lightning himself, Chris Hemsworth, plays the Huntsman while sparkly vampire lover Kristen Stewart plays the title character. Apparently this characterization of Snow White will be socially awkward and stare randomly at people with her mouth open.
Piranha 3DD – June 1st
This follow up to the 2010 original that featured a horde of prehistoric piranhas terrorizing a lake community is about as stupid and over the top as it gets. Oh wait, I forgot to mention ‘and awesome’. Here we find a movie that doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. It’s a ridiculously gross horror with tacky comedy, gratuitous nudity, and gallons of fake blood. It’s been a year after the events at Lake Victoria and the nearby town is foolishly opening up a water park. Add bikinis and piranhas and you’ve got the entire premise for Piranha 3DD. Featuring appearances by David Hasselhoff, Christopher Lloyd, and Gary Busey I can’t see how this can possibly fail. Enter with low expectations (it’s not going to win an Oscar), disconnect your brain (it’s the red switch in the back), and you’ll likely find yourself very entertained.
Prometheus – June 8th
Ridley Scott makes his illustrious return to the sci-fi genre and the Alien franchise that’s become a staple classic among sci-fi and horror fans with Prometheus. Originally it was slated to be a prequel to 1979’s Alien but as the script developed it became more of a spinoff set in the same universe and judging by the current previews it has strong ties to the original movie. This time around it’s a team of scientists that are stranded on an alien world and must fight for survival. Utilizing current Hollywood heavyweights like Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, and Guy Pearce and with Ridley in the Director’s chair the expectations are exceptionally high. It’ll be interesting to see whether Scott can still bring the fire.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – June 22nd
How do you make the tall, boring, 16th President of the United States more interesting? You turn him into a vampire hunter, obviously! Based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel of the same name the story chronicles the ‘other’ life of Abraham Lincoln, you know the one, where he discovers vampires are planning to take over the US and dedicates his life to eliminating them? Seth Grahame-Smith has carved out a nice niche for himself taking classic stories and literature and adding a horror angle. His How to Survive a Horror Movie and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies are both great reads. While I’m not super excited about this I am curious enough to give it a look. With Tim Burton producing I’m half expecting Johnny Depp to show up as a vampire.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation – June 29th
When the first G.I. Joe movie opened in 2009 it was openly bashed by critics and no one expected a sequel. Fortunately no one listens to critics (they use big words and smell like old furniture) as we now have a sequel hitting the big screen next month. G.I. Joe: Retaliation picks up where the last one left off but only brings back a handful of the original cast with Channing Tatum reprising his role of Duke and the Sith Lord Ray Park playing the ever mute Snake Eyes. Add to that a bigger budget, Dwayne the Rock Johnson, a new director, and Bruce Willis and it looks like they’re making a run for the gold. Sure it’ll be bashed by critics again but like the first one it’ll be a great flick to watch while pouring sugar down your throat and stuffing your mouth with popcorn. Let’s face it, that’s exactly what summer movies are all about!
UPDATE: Since writing this article it’s been announced that G.I. Joe: Retaliation has been pushed back to March 29th, 2013 in order for the film to be converted to 3D and to build up an international profile. Loosely translated this may mean that the movie sucks the rear end of a camel. However we won’t know for sure for another 10 months.
Part 2 of ‘The 2012 Nerd Movie Guide’ coming soon!
This show has a number of things going for it, if we look past the top layer (which includes the beautiful locations, acting, writing, action and gratuitous nudity) and look beneath the surface, we find that it’s such a finely crafted piece of work that it’s impossible not to give credit where it’s due. Case in point: The Prince of WInterfell.
The creators and writers of Game of Thrones constantly manage to accomplish the inexplicable by cramming a massive amount of story into fifty four minutes and fifty nine seconds.
They’re also extremely accomplished at throwing the kind of curve balls that smash you upside the head briefly making you believe your name is Susan. Add all these ingredients together, sauté some mushrooms, cover with a pie crust and bake for an hour and you’ve got one hell of an episode.
Let’s start with the subject of the title, The Prince of Winterfell, and my favorite character to hate, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). Now that Theon’s proved he can easily capture six and ten year old boys and burn them alive he’s none too pleased when his sister (Gemma Whelan) shows up and tries to convince him to leave Winterfell. Not for the first time this season he’s embarrassed, undermined, and makes the wrong decision. We also get to see a brief tender moment between the two siblings that make you think that there is someone in the world that actually likes Theon. Yeah, probably not.
Also at Winterfell we are granted the big reveal that Theon didn’t actually burn the Stark boys alive as they are safely hidden in the crypts beneath the castle as Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter) happily discovers when he spies Osha (Natalie Tena) stealing bread. As it turns out Theon burned a couple of other children (see, he’s not all bad).
Beyond the Wall Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) has been captured by the wildlings and is reunited with his brother of the Night’s Watch, Qhorin Halfhand (Simon Armstrong). We also meet Rattleshirt (I always wondered what happened to Skeletor after his run on He-Man ended so it was nice to see him again) who is a wildling leader and favors dressing in bones. The captives are marched through snow (for a change) and Qhorin urges Jon to “do what needs to be done” and then pushes him down a hill which sends some mixed signals.
In the Westerlands King Robb (Richard Madden) returns to his camp with the Lady Talisa (Oona Chaplin) to discover that his mother has released Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and sent him back to Kings Landing in the hope of trading him for the Stark girls. Robb is furious, arrests his mother, sends men after Jaime, and after much flirting has sex with Lady Talisa proving that a King’s work is never done.
Back at Harrenhal Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) makes a decisive move and takes his army to Kings Landing to help protect the city. Arya (Maisie Williams) tries to cash in her final kill card by asking Jaqen (Tom Wlaschiha) to kill Tywin but it’s too late. In order to be difficult she tells Jaqen to kill himself which he takes very seriously and asks her to withdraw his name which she agrees to after striking a different deal. Jaqen agrees to help Arya and her friends escape and at midnight they walk out the front gates.
The best scene of the episode occurs in Kings Landing where Tyrion Lannister (the now infamous Peter Dinklage) tries to explain to King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) where his place should be in the forthcoming battle. After the King leaves (probably to play with his lego) Tyrion and the eunuch Varys (Conleth Hill) have a discussion about ‘the Game of Thrones’. Although only referenced as ‘the game’ this scene nicely depicts exactly what the show is about as Tyrion expresses his love for the constant power struggles that the entire story revolves around. Varys also lets Tyrion know that he’s heard that there are dragons in Qarth to which the dwarf replies “one game at a time…”
Again, this episode contained so much story that a full review could go on forever and would likely cause eye cramps and maybe even partial paralysis of the buttocks. Other interesting highlights included Sam and Grenn digging up an old cloak to discover it contains daggers made out of dragonglass, Tyrion and Bronn discussing the defense of Kings Landing, Cersei threatening Tyrion, Davos and Stannis discussing how to attack Kings Landing, Daenerys and Ser Jorah decide to rescue her dragons, and somewhere in Westeros Jaime Lannister is dragged around by Brienne as they make their way towards Kings Landing. Jaime never shuts up and the ridiculously tall Brienne looks like she wants to insert a large wooden paddle into him but restrains herself.
It makes me sad to think there are only two more episodes until the end of the season. This was a true masterpiece of an episode and for at least an hour after watching I really did think my name was Susan. Please do not worry…I got better.
I give The Prince of Winterfell a solid 9.5 skeletors out of 10.
When English recording artist, Lily Allen, sang her hit song ‘Alfie’ in reference to her lazy, pot smoking, younger brother Alfie Allen I’ll bet she didn’t expect him to end up burning young children alive and then hanging them from the castle walls. As was the case in this week’s Game of Thrones episode: A Man Without Honor. Alfie Allen portrays Theon Greyjoy in the TV show and plays the part of an underappreciated, egomaniac, d-bag, disturbingly well.
Strap yourself to a giant, hop on board a miniature dragon, stop brushing your dire wolf (you’re never going to get those knots out) and let’s take a look at the events of A Man Without Honor.
We’ll start with the subject of the title. No it’s not Theon, or those sneaky spice traders in Qarth, or Robb Stark, or the Imp, or Varys the Eunuch, or…they really have a lot of people with questionable motives in this show. The man without honor is Ser Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who has spent the entire season chained to a post in a moving prison with Robb Stark’s army. Jaime is a character of notable skill that, when given the opportunity to escape, jumps at the chance even if it means killing a distant relative (we’ve all been there). His freedom is short lived as he’s quickly returned to his prison where Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) pays him a visit and we’re left wondering if she actually means to kill him or something else entirely.
Back in Winterfell Theon gets upset when he discovers the two youngest Starks have escaped and he gathers his men to hunt them down. While we’re not shown their capture we are given a look at the boy’s burned remains as Theon hangs them from Winterfell’s castle walls to serve as an example to others. Naturally the people of Winterfell, especially Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter), are shocked beyond belief, and rightly so.
In Harrenhal Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) is befriended by Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) who I’m beginning to like more and more. Sure he’s the bad guy and yes he’d likely kill her if he knew who she really was but he seems so cute and cuddly for a hardened battle commander. They trade stories, he gives her food and there’s also a hint that he suspects there’s more to Arya than she’s letting on.
In Kings Landing the ever boring, terrified, and slightly robotic Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) gets her period making her ripe for breeding. The Queen Regent gives her some solid advice about getting knocked up while the Hound snarls at her in a creepy, yet loving sort of way. Later in the episode Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Cersei (Lena Headey) have their own heart to heart which is a rare brother/sister bonding moment between the pair and, for a change, doesn’t involve any incest.
In what I can only describe as a complete waste of screen time we are treated to three (count em, three!) scenes of Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) leading his captured wildling (the scene stealing Rose Leslie) across the frozen wastelands beyond the Wall. While everyone knows that the only way to court a redhead is to tie her up and drag her around a frozen wasteland while resisting her sexual advances it still seems like there was a little too much time dedicated to the cause. It ends with her escaping and Jon getting captured making him realize he probably should have decapitated her when he had the chance.
Danaerys’ dragons still remain missing but not for long as her host Xaro (Nonso Anozie) quickly fesses up to a dirty little partnership with the warlock Pyat Pree (Ian Hanmore) before declaring himself king and killing everyone else in the room. Danaerys is invited to see her dragons in the House of the Undying which sounds like the sort of holiday resort you’d want to avoid. She flees but will likely end up there anyway. There’s also an interesting scene between Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and a woman in an ugly face mask (Laura Pradelska) that still doesn’t make much sense to me other than it hints at a betrayal on the part of Ser Jorah.
With only three more episodes to go this season A Man Without Honor effectively moves the pieces into the right places for the final episodes to wrap everything up in a neat little bow. However this is Game of Thrones, they don’t do ‘wrap everything up’, ‘neat’, or ‘bows’. Expect cliffhangers…big ones!
I give A Man Without Honor 8 self-cloning warlocks out of 10.
No matter what Huey Lewis used to say it was never ‘Hip to be Square.’ At least it wasn’t until the Big Bang Theory came along. This weekly half hour sitcom about a group of nerdy physicists quickly gained an audience by effectively using intelligent humor, exploiting well established stereotypes and in the process caused it’s own Big Bang making ‘nerd’ the new ‘sexy’. Pull on your Star Trek t-shirt, put down that comic book, and let’s take a look at how they did it.
The Big Bang Theory, a brain child of Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men) and Bill Prady (Gilmore Girls), premiered on September 24th, 2007 and is now into it’s fifth season. The show is primarily about four young physicists that work at the California Institute of Technology and the beautiful young female waitress who moves in across the hall. Hilarity ensues.
The show opened to a luke warm reception in Canada but it quickly gained an audience with the premiere of season 4 garnering 3.1 million viewers across Canada making it one of the most watched shows on TV. To give more fuel to the fire the show and it’s cast members have won a number of awards including a People’s Choice, a Golden Globe, and two Emmys.
One of the shows greatest strengths is it’s perfect mash up of different personalities. The show leaders consist of the hyper neurotic Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), the lovable homunculus Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), the often clueless and pretty Penny (Kelly Cuoco), the creepy sex-crazed Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg), and the selectively mute Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar). In later seasons Melissa Raunch was introduced to play Howard’s love interest, Bernadette, and real life scientist and former child actress Mayim Bialik (Blossom) joined the cast as Sheldon’s ‘girlfriend’ Amy Farrah Fowler.
Without a doubt it’s Jim Parson’s portrayal of the loveable, hyper-intelligent, obsessive compulsive, man-child, Sheldon Cooper that steals the show and earned Parson’s an Emmy in 2011 and again in 2012. His character’s collection of idiosyncrasies drive many of the main story lines while being firmly supported by his fellow cast members.
The episodes are often centered around scientific themes which is something the writers wanted to maintain throughout, giving the show an educational edge (I now know what a Higgs Boson is…it makes me sound smart at dinner parties). From week to week the characters of the Big Bang Theory venture through their everyday lives which contain everything from relationship troubles to constant sci-fi references, from the value of adhesive ducks on a shower floor to an all new way to play rock, paper, scissors.
Big Bang has done something that no other show or movie had done previously, it humanized the nerd! Not only is it relatable to anyone who knows what a Ton Ton is but it also made nerds cool and sexy. Maybe it’s the commonality of technology (almost everyone has a smart phone), or finally seeing the superheroes of our childhood on the big screen, or that we all live online through social media. Whatever the common theme, it’s impossible to deny…there’s a little bit of nerd in everyone!
This acceptance of nerd culture hasn’t always been in existence. In the past it was widely recognized in popular culture that the strong survived while the weak were crammed into their own lockers. Jocks were the ‘cool kids’, and the chess club/math club/AV club kids were the ones who deserved to get wedgied into oblivion. The Big Bang Theory has helped change all that.
I’m very fortunate to have married a woman who embraces my nerdisms, encourages me to read comics, buys me Batman t-shirts, and not only lets me dress up as Superman at Halloween but also goes as far as to dress up as Supergirl to match (yup, I’m lucky and hands off, she’s mine).
If you haven’t already embraced your inner nerd and are wondering how to proceed then check out the Big Bang Theory, Thursdays on CTV at 8pm.
I’m past commenting on the show’s deviations from the book as, at this point, they seem essential to expand on characters who received less story development in the books and shortening other character arcs to fit everything into the ten episode run.
The Old Gods and the New is written once again by the only female writer on the show, Vanessa Taylor. This being her second episode this season it’s always refreshing to see her give the female characters of the show a much more dynamic voice to work with. Having said that this episode felt much like ‘an in-between’ episode: the sort that exists to get us from one place in the story to another without any overly major points of interest. That’s not to say it was a bad episode it just leaves you salivating (sadly, not a metaphor) for what will happen next week.
The Old Gods and the New just doesn’t seem like the correct title for this episode of Game of Thrones. Something like ‘Theon’s a Gigantic Dumbass’ would probably fit better as a good chunk of the episode is dedicated to his growing laundry list of mistakes. Instead of irritating coastal fishing villages Theon (Alfie Allen) sets his eyes on a bigger prize and takes over Winterfell with a skeleton crew of men forcing Bran to name him Lord. Ser Rodrik (Ron Donachie) defies the pasty faced moron and is rewarded by getting his head chopped off. In hindsight he probably should have kept quiet. In order to escape Winterfell the wildling woman, Osha (Natalie Tena), seduces Theon (not hard, he’ll hump anything), kills one of his men and escapes the castle with Hodor, Bran, Rikkon, and the dire wolves.
Beyond the Wall Jon Snow (Kit Harington) learns some valuable lessons from his brothers of the Nights Watch. He fails miserably at killing Ygritte (Rose Leslie from Downton Abbey), a red headed wildling woman (I’ve always maintained that red heads have magical properties), and is separated from his group when the woman escapes and he has to pursue her. His wolf becomes conveniently absent during this time for no apparent reason.
At Harrenhal Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) takes a liking to his servant, who unbeknownst to him is actually Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), and they trade stories about their fathers. Arya’s cover is almost blown when the Game of Thrones version of a used car salesman, Lord Baelish, shows up but fails to realize who she actually is. Arya takes advantage of her position and steals written information from Tywin (not entirely sure to what end?) and is discovered by one of his guards. She quickly urges her personal assassin, Jaqen H'ghar (Tom Wlaschiha), to kill the guard before he reaches Tywin. Once again, Jaqen saves her ass with a well placed poison dart to the guard’s neck. Two down, one to go.
In the Westerlands Robb Stark (Richard Madden) flirts with a nurse (Oona Chaplin….(Oona??)) and his mother shows up to spank him (not literally). Despite this being one of the storylines that’s constantly steeped in battle there’s a surprising lack of action.
In Kings Landing the royal family walks through the city streets and after someone in the crowd flings a pile of manure at King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) he orders them all to be killed inciting a riot that ends with many of his Lords literally being torn to pieces. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) slaps Joffrey for his stupidity but quickly realizes that Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) is missing. In the confusion she’s taken by several men who attempt to rape her but are instead quickly, and efficiently, killed by "The Hound" (Rory McCann). Does the man with the horribly scarred face love the eldest Stark girl? Do eunuchs have a lovely singing voice? Will Hodor ever say anything else other than ‘Hodor’? I’m going to say yes, yes, and not likely.
Finally, in the very pretty looking City of Qarth, Danaerys (Emilia Clarke) negotiates unsuccessfully with one of the spice traders for a bunch of ships before returning to her lodgings to discover the dragons have been stolen. Her reaction is much like anyone else’s when their dragons are stolen. She’s furious. Her story has been monotone up until this point but there’s a good chance we’re about to see an exciting development with her character.
This week’s episode returned to the gratuitous nudity and bloodshed that we all know and love and continued many of the story setups that began in last week’s episode. I’m predicting one more episode like this before we get to the exciting stuff…and trust me, it’s exciting.
I give The Old Gods and the New 7.5 ‘Theon ‘I’m a dumbass’ Greyjoys’ out of 10
Sure there was skepticism, and maybe even some laughter, when Mickey Mouse decided to purchase Marvel Studios and it’s comic book properties but it’s pretty clear that no one is laughing now…not even Goofy.
The Avengers was released in North America at midnight on Friday and as I have a very tolerant and loving wife we lined up in the rain to check it out. After being slightly frozen for three hours and amusing ourselves by making fun of the kid dressed like Nick Fury because he looked more like Kevin Smith’s Silent Bob character we were finally treated to Joss Whedon’s, The Avengers.
In a word, fantastic! In more words, let’s start at the beginning. Marvel attempted something unprecedented in putting together an ensemble superhero movie. DC tried it with the Justice League a few years back and it fell flat on it’s face (Superman flew off, Batman went back to brooding). Marvel Studios took a different approach by actually making a string of good superhero movies that set the foundation for The Avengers. We already knew the back stories of the main characters and had been introduced to the minor characters so there was no need to dwell on the past.
Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity) was hired to direct and the rest is an already very profitable history. The movie took 2nd place for the biggest Friday opening of all time and is set to break the record for the biggest opening weekend of all time. This record was previously held by the last Harry Potter movie which brought in 169 million but if the predictions are true The Avengers will have brought in between 175 – 200 million. Add this to the current international tally and the movie has already made over half a billion dollars. With a budget of 220 million you can bet that Mickey Mouse is smiling and will likely buy himself a new pair of red pants to celebrate.
Enough bean counting. How was the movie really? (I’m going to keep this relatively spoiler free) It literally broke all expectations. The bulk of the story revolves around Thor’s evil little brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), getting together an alien army and invading the earth. In order to do this Loki must possess the Cosmic Cube which we are first introduced to in the teaser at the end of Thor and again in Captain America. The Norse god of mischief steals the cube from S.H.I.E.L.D and Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) resolves to take a drastic measure and assembles the Avengers which is where the true magic of this movie lies: in the characters.
Aside from the characters we already know we’re given expanding storylines for the Black Widow (played by a spandex clad Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner): Both being human characters without any special powers to speak of they’re still special in their own way and kick a remarkable amount of ass. Renner gives life to Hawkeye and makes us believe that an archer could actually do some serious damage against an invading army of aliens which is a testament to his performance and to the amazing visual effects (Santa, if you’re reading this, I want his bow and arrow for Christmas).
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns from the realm of Asgard to bring his brother to justice and is quickly recruited to the team as he’s the God of Thunder and when is that not useful in a battle? Chris Evans plays Captain America as the noble and ethical superhero that he is and is tasked with attempting to lead the Avengers although he still feels very out of place and time. What’s most surprising about Captain America is that throughout the entire movie I didn’t once wonder how he wasn’t shot in the back. The shield’s not THAT big…
The show is ultimately stolen by the remaining two main characters. Robert Downey Jr is no stranger to playing Tony Stark and it shows. His casting in that role is genius and it’ll be a sad day, if and when, they have to replace him. He possesses the best ‘one liners’ throughout the movie and shows a remarkable amount of character growth as he learns the value of self sacrifice. It’s sometimes confusing to know who, between Stark and Captain America, is actually the leader.
The final member of the Avengers and the main reason this movie absolutely destroyed all expectations is the Hulk. Mark Ruffalo plays the troubled and constantly calm Bruce Banner with such stoic ease that you’d think he actually had an anger management problem that resulted in him transforming into a massive green creature. I always thought Ed Norton did a great job in the Incredible Hulk but Ruffalo smashes his predecessor as if he was nothing but a puny human. This is by far the best portrayal of the Hulk to ever hit the screen because it makes complete use of the character in the best ways possible. Add to that some great motion capture by Rufallo when he’s the Hulk and seamless visual effects and you’ve got a winner. There are several amazing moments featuring the Hulk (watch for his confrontation with Loki, it’s priceless) and audiences have reacted strongly. Mark Ruffalo has now been signed on to reprise his role as Banner/Hulk in six more movies. That’s right, green is the new sexy.
My coverage is only the tip of the iceberg, there’s a ton of character development and story highlights that I can’t list because they’re just too numerous and nothing beats watching it.
I give The Avengers 10 awesome Hulk smashing moments out of 10. If you haven’t seen it already stop wasting your time reading this review and go see it. And don’t forget to stick around until after the main credits for that extra special Marvel scene…
Without a doubt The Big Bang Theory, created by Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men) and Bill Prady (Gilmore Girls), is one of the smartest comedies on TV. If you’ve never heard of it then you’ve been living under that rock for far too long and should consider upgrading to a nice semi-detached boulder, or maybe even a cave.
This week the Big Bang returned after a two week hiatus with The Stag Convergence. Followers of the show know that Howard (Simon Helberg), the creepy Casanova of the group, is all set to get married to his high pitch voiced fiancé, Bernadette (Melissa Rauch). But first it’s up to Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Sheldon (Jim Parsons), and Raj (Kunal Nayyar) to throw him a bachelor party.
In a complete one eighty to the Howard we all know and love he chooses to forgo the strippers in an effort to prove to Bernadette that he is indeed a changed man. Raj complies with the request and throws him a toned down dinner party with booze, food, and well known friends and acquaintances from the show.
The speeches turn ugly when Raj begins airing Howard’s collection of skeletons that he keeps in the closet. Mostly sexual based (this isn’t a necrophilia reference…well, maybe…). The info is recorded by none other than show regular Wil Wheaton (played somewhat convincingly by Wil Wheaton) and uploaded to the internet where Bernadette sees it and reacts accordingly. Howards transformation into marriage material continues as he has to display a level of emotion and sincerity in order to win back his fiancé, something that we never would have seen from the Howard Wolowitz of Seasons 1-3.
Notable moments include:
- Sheldon getting drunk and trying his hand at humorous bachelor party speeches: “Howard I always thought you’d be the last one of us to get married, because you’re so short and un-appealing, am I right?” You have to hand it to Sheldon, he made his best attempt to honor the social conventions of the bachelor party.
- Wil Wheaton’s recurrence as a guest on the show has lost a bit of it’s fire since he’s no longer at odds with Sheldon but it’s still a great shout out to nerd culture that he makes a regular appearance.
- Amy Farrah Fowler’s (Mayim Bialik) happiness over Bernadette and Howard reconciling as she still gets to play her part of maid of honor.
- Leonard’s insistence that he’s a ‘wild man’ and attempts to have sex with Penny (Kelly Cuoco) in the laundry room and fails miserably.
Overall a good episode although not one of the best as the main players (Sheldon and Leonard) weren’t used as effectively in order to give the spotlight to Howard, Raj and Bernadette. With the season drawing to a close in two more episodes it’ll be interesting to see if we actually get to see a wedding or if we’ll be left with another cliff hanger like the last season.
I give The Stag Convergence 7 higgs boson particles out of 10. If you don’t know what a higgs boson is then you’re clearly not watching enough Big Bang Theory.
You can check out the hilarious misadventures of Sheldon, Penny, Leonard, and the crew, Thursdays on CTV at 8pm.