• Movies,  Television,  Writing

    Stranger Things and the Value of a Well-Flawed Character

    Recently, I’ve read a few of the “We Need to Talk About Hopper” articles dealing with Stranger Things‘ Jim Hopper’s “problematic” qualities. Some of those pieces, I think, are designed to be clickbait–along the lines of the “Why Are Characters Smoking in Stranger Things?” and “Those Kids Need to Wear Helmets When They Ride Their Bikes” articles–but this sort of discussion always fascinates me because a large portion of my job is talking meaningfully about stories and the characters who populate them. Here’s the simplified version of that argument: Police Chief Jim Hopper is problematic because he’s angry and unruly and he drinks and smokes too much. He has Schlitz…

  • Television

    The End is Always Near, and Hell is the History Channel

    As the end of January approaches, and New Year’s Day shrinks in the rearview, a question lingers in my mind. What is it about holidays that inspires “educational” cable channel producers to air every apocalyptic documentary in their catalog? Even if you think you don’t know what I’m talking about, you probably do. Flip through the channel line-up around the holidays, and I guarantee you won’t go far before you find something related to the hypothetical end of the world. It started a few years back, in the days of yore when A&E’s programming changed from arts and entertainment to ex-rock stars, bayou-dwelling people with enormous beards, and folks who…

  • Television

    Adapting Justin Cronin’s The Passage

    I absolutely loved Justin Cronin’s novel The Passage. A couple of years later, I really enjoyed the sequel, The Twelve. I liked the third book, The City of Mirrors, though I thought Cronin spent way more time on, let’s just say (for the sake of not spoiling anything) the backstory of a significant viral (Cronin’s word for a vampire) character than I thought he should’ve. The backstory was interesting, true, but it didn’t seem to contribute a lot to the overall story arc. That said, I was still happy with where the trilogy ended. The overview of the story: Scientists are trying to develop a cure for all the infirmities…

  • Television

    Four Things I Learned from Watching SyFy Original Movies

    It’s Saturday morning, and I’m just out of bed. I pour a cup of coffee, stagger into my living room, and grab my television remote. Back in my younger days, I’d have searched the channel guide for Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, Looney Tunes cartoons, or even Super Friends, but times have changed. Saturday in the AM isn’t what it used to be, entertainment wise, but there’s still programming worth watching, if you know where to look. Here’s a typical Saturday morning lineup these days: Piranhaconda, Piranha DD, Lake Placid 3, and Lake Placid: The Final Chapter. In case you aren’t among the initiated, these are all SyFy originals, science fiction movies made specifically for the SyFy…

  • Movies,  Television

    A Few Notes on The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

    Tonight, just under the wire between 2018 and 2019, my wife and I got to watch The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the Cohen Brothers’ latest flick. Once I’ve had some time to think about it, I’m sure I’ll write a more detailed review, but for now the short of it is I enjoyed it. Here are a few stray, spoiler-free observations: -This film has many messages for us, not the least being the importance of antibiotics, hot running water, and laundry detergent. -I’ll watch anything featuring Stephen Root and/or Tim Blake Nelson. -I now realize Tom Waits and Nick Nolte could easily play grizzled old twins. This needs to happen.…

  • Television

    SyFy’s Nightflyers: Good Horror, Good Sci-Fi

    I finally finished SyFy’s Nightflyers tonight. Don’t mistake this one for a “slasher in space” series. Everything I’d heard or read suggested that, but it turned out to be much more. I’d be okay if the story ended with episode ten, but I really hope they make another season. A+ Please follow and like me:

  • Television

    Have Yourself a Very Troubling Christmas

    It’s that time of year again. During the holidays, we gather with family, friends, and pets. We hang out with folks we haven’t seen since last year, don sweaters that have inexplicably shrunk over the past eleven months, and eat and drink like we have no sense of propriety. The end of the calendar year is also packed with a lineup of Christmas-themed movies and television specials. By their final acts, most of these programs will leave you feeling warm and optimistic about humanity, but it’s easy to miss some of the more disturbing undertones and subplots. Kris Kringle drops the ball in The Year Without a Santa Claus, Frosty…