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Living as we do in a world where superhero movies have become the primary currency of the cinematic landscape, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the comic book world reflects the relatively clear nature of the MCU.

But Marvel Comics has a LONG history, and not all of it is nearly as straightforward as the movies make it seem. There’s a lot of obscure weirdness hiding in the various nooks and crannies that come from 60 years of building and expansion.

One of the odder characters in Marveldom is M.O.D.O.K. (an acronym for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing), created when a man named George Tarleton (born in Bangor, Maine – shout out!) undergoes experiments that turn him into a giant-headed computer-brained supervillain. M.O.D.O.K. would go on to do battle with all the names you know – Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk – as he led his superscience organization Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.) toward his overarching goal of world domination.

And now he’s got his own animated TV show coming to Hulu.

“M.O.D.O.K.” – also known as “Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.” – hits the streaming service on May 21 with a 10-episode season. And it is an altogether different experience than any other Marvel property out there. Created by Patton Oswalt (who also voices the titular villain) and Jordan Blum, the show features a dynamite collection of comedic talent in the voice cast and perhaps the most advanced stop-motion animation we’ve seen yet from Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, best known for Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken.”

This is a show that embraces the comic book grotesquerie largely ignored by the MCU machine. It is a gross-out comedy that also takes great pleasure in fan service, tossing out deep cut after deep cut from Marvel’s back catalog. All that, plus a family element that allows for skewering of sitcom tropes as well. It is weird and ridiculous and an absolute delight, the sort of show that might not be for you, but if you dig it, well … you will DIG IT.

Published in Buzz

Seen anything good lately?

If you’re among the millions of people out there who have turned to their old friend television to help pass the time during these past months (and yet-to-be-determined future months) of staying home due to the pandemic, you’ve likely churned through A LOT of content. You might have even watched everything new that has piqued your interest.

But wait – there’s more!

Broadcast, cable and streaming outlets haven’t let the current circumstances keep them from keeping the new programming a-flowing. Thus, we offer up our annual New to View – January Edition. Have a look at the list and see some of what’s coming over the next couple of months, listed in chronological order by premiere date.

(Note: As usual, we have steered clear of returning shows. It’s all about the new stuff here. Will all of these shows make it to a second season? No. Heck, some of them may not make it to the end of their first season. Still, it’s nice to see all these fresh starts.)

Published in Cover Story

Full disclosure: I f---ing LOVE swearing. I have a notorious potty mouth, using curse words as every conceivable part of speech in my coarse discourse. I swear in front of friends and strangers. I swear in front of kids. Hell, I even swear in front of my mom.

But while I love swear words, I’ll freely admit to not necessarily knowing that much about them. Their origins, their etymology … their history.

Happily, Nicolas Cage has got my back.

Cage is the host of the new Netflix series “History of Swearing,” currently streaming on the service. Over the course of six 20-minute episodes, Cage – along with a cavalcade of celebrities, historians and academics – walks us through the history of various swear words. Each of the six episodes is devoted wholly to one specific swear word.

(For the record, the six in question are: f—k, s—t, b—ch, d—k, p—y and damn.)

Published in Buzz

I think I had convinced myself that he was going to beat it. No – that he HAD beaten it.

Alex Trebek has been a part of my life for nearly 40 years. He was there when I was a kid, when I was in college, when I was stumbling my way through early adulthood and when I finally more or less grew up. And he was there when I finally realized my dream of appearing on “Jeopardy!” just a hair over two years ago.

It hurts to think about him not being there anymore.

The legendary host of “Jeopardy!” passed away on Sunday after a battle with pancreatic cancer; he was 80 years old. He leaves behind a decades-long television legacy – a legacy the likes of which we have never seen before and will likely never see again.

Published in Cover Story
Wednesday, 14 October 2020 12:03

New to view! A Fall 2020 TV preview

So … seen anything good lately?

For so many of us, the circumstances surrounding the pandemic have left us seeking entertainment from home, so the influx of new content from the various networks and streaming services this fall is of particular importance this year.

It’s an uneven slate, to be sure, with so many of the networks thrown off their production schedules due to the coronavirus-caused shutdown. That being said, there’s still a ton of new stuff out there; no matter what your interest, odds are that you’ll be able to find something that you like. We’ve got comedies and dramas and genre fare, animation and game shows – something for everyone.

Will all of it be good? Heaven’s no. But it never is. There will be some shows that look promising that turn out to be terrible and some that look terrible and turn out to be promising. Such is the joy of new TV.

Rather than break it down by date or by service or by some other randomly-chosen criteria, I figured this year, I’d just keep it simple. We’re going in alphabetical order by title and including the network or streamer on which the program airs. No fuss, no muss.

Check out this selection.

Published in Cover Story
Wednesday, 15 January 2020 13:47

New to view - 20 of 2020's early TV offerings

Remember when the fall television lineups were all that mattered?

It wasn't so long ago that that autumn offerings were the be-all and end-all of new TV. Shows that made their debuts in January were considered little more than filler, with the term “midseason replacement” taking on a derogatory tone.

However, as the ways in which we consume television have changed, so too have our attitudes regarding when shows join their respective lineups. Instead of an afterthought, this second season has become a viable entity in its own right, with loads of interesting programming arriving on your screens of choice.

Broadcast networks, premium and basic cable outlets, streaming services - everybody has something for the viewer looking for something new to consume this winter. If nothing else, it seems likely that all tastes - highbrow, lowbrow and everything in-between - will be addressed.

Have a look at some of the intriguing options coming your way.

Published in Cover Story
Tuesday, 01 October 2019 15:48

New to view 2019: A fall TV preview

Fall TV premiere season is upon us!

Granted, the whole concept of the “new fall lineup” has increasingly become less of a thing with the proliferation of streaming services willing to drop entire seasons in one go and networks becoming more and more flexible with regards to when a series can and should debut, but whether it is by design or simply through inertia, we still see a whole lot of new material hit the airwaves in the autumn.

As per usual, this preview addresses only those shows entering their debut seasons. This isn’t about all the exceptional television that is returning for a second or third or fifth or tenth season – this is about stuff we haven’t seen before. It’s a chance to look ahead at what’s coming and think about what content – if any – we might be willing to invest our limited leisure time into.

It’s a mixed bag for sure. We’ve got broadcast and we’ve got streaming and you’d better believe we’ve got HBO. We’ve got comedy and drama. We’ve got prestige fare and we’ve got mass appeal. We’ve got highbrow, lowbrow, middlebrow – all the brows you could ever desire.

Will all of these shows be good? Absolutely not. Should you watch them all? Also – no. And this is far from everything. But if there’s even one or two gems among the flotsam, that’s a big win. And honestly, it looks like there might be a couple of winners here.

Or maybe it’s all just poorly-conceived adequately-executed entertainment detritus. Who can say?

Let’s have a look at a few of 2019’s fall TV premieres.

Published in Cover Story
Wednesday, 25 September 2019 09:14

‘Downton Abbey’ sumptuous and satisfying

“Downton Abbey” was a television phenomenon. For six seasons, millions of viewers immersed themselves in the lives of the residents of the Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey. The members of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants received equal airtime, with all of their dramas – large and small – playing out to the delight of a massive audience.

I was not a member of that massive audience. Aside from an occasional snippet caught due to a friend or loved one watching the show, I had zero exposure to the program. I was aware of it, but I was largely unfamiliar.

So when it came to the “Downton Abbey” film, I was left with two choices. I could try to catch up on some 50-plus hours of period drama … or I could go in cold and see if the film version held up without the context of the show.

I chose the latter.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 09 January 2019 13:48

New to view – 19 new shows for 2019

Remember when the fall television lineups were all that mattered?

It wasn't so long ago that that autumn offerings were the be-all and end-all of new TV. Shows that made their debuts in January were considered little more than filler, with the term “midseason replacement” taking on a derogatory tone.

However, as the ways in which we consume television have changed, so too have our attitudes regarding when shows join their respective lineups. Instead of an afterthought, this second season has become a viable entity in its own right, with loads of interesting programming arriving on your screens of choice.

Broadcast networks, premium and basic cable outlets, streaming services - everybody has something for the viewer looking for something new to consume this winter. If nothing else, it seems likely that all tastes - highbrow, lowbrow and everything in-between - will be addressed.

Have a look at some of the intriguing options that are coming your way in early 2019.

-

Published in Cover Story

Here in 2018, the television entertainment options presented to us are truly staggering. Between broadcast networks, cable channels and an ever-increasing number of streaming services, it feels as though there are nigh-infinite options for new content.

And yet, for many of us, the choice is to look back. Whether it is a nostalgia trip or a youthful discovery of a show from before our time, we use the Netflixes and Hulus of the world to watch what was beloved a generation ago.

We watch “Friends.”

Why does this sitcom about six, well … friends living in New York City from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s still resonate? Why is it still among the most watched programs in both streaming AND syndication, even well over a decade after the final new episode aired?

That’s the central question behind Kelsey Miller’s excellent retrospective “I’ll Be There for You: The One about Friends” (Hanover Square Press, $26.99). This thorough and thoughtful book goes deep on the beloved show, exploring the behind-the-scenes making of the show as well as the broader pop cultural impact it had during its decade-long run.

Published in Buzz
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