Entertainment Round-Up: Blade Runner 2, Supergirl gets a potential Cyborg Superman, new Daredevil images, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Hooray, it’s Friday! My weekend is going to be filled with Cowboy Bebop and early Miyazaki as I try to give anime a proper go. Hopefully your plans are even more fun! Here are your Friday morning headlines:

– It’s now official, Harrison Ford is returning for a sequel to Blade Runner, and replacing Ridley Scott in the director’s chair will be Academy Award nominated director Denis Villeneuve (Enemy, Prisoners). The new film will be scripted by Hampton Fancher, who co-wrote the original, and comics-scribe/Green Lantern screenwriter Michael Green (who is also working on the sequel to Prometheus). This story will take place several decades after the end of the first and is based on an idea of Scott and Fancher’s.

Does the world really need a sequel to Blade Runner? Probably not, and I say that as someone who thinks Blade Runner is the best science fiction film ever made. Though I can’t help but be curious as to what Villeneuve may bring to the table visually.

– CBS’ Supergirl continues to add to its cast as David Harewood (Homeland) will be joining the cast as Hank Henshaw, better known to comic fans as Cyborg Superman. In this series, Henshaw will be an ex-CIA agent that now heads up the Department of Extra-Normal Operations which monitors extraterrestrial threats to the planet. Sounds like an antagonist to me.

The series has also enlisted Chyler Leigh (Grey’s Anatomy) to play Alexandra “Alex” Danvers, Kara’s adopted sister. It’s worth noting, that every cast member added to Supergirl thus far has either been a female or a person of color, which I find to be a wonderfully exciting development.

– By way of the folks at Latino Review, here are some new Daredevil images from Empire:

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– Last up, we have a nice poster by Gabrielle Dell’Oto for the upcoming March 3rd mid-season premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. focusing on the changes occurring in Skye and Raina:

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The CW aims for a superhero team-up series featuring Firestorm, The Atom, Black Canary and Captain Cold

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It looks as though The CW is going to have its own Avengers after all, or at least a live-action Brave and the Bold style team-up show…

Deadline has reported tonight that the network is developing a multi-superhero series featuring some of the characters that have debuted in Arrow and The Flash, including The Atom (Brandon Routh), Firestorm (Victor Garber and Robbie Amell), Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Black Canary (Caity Lotz). The latter is particularly odd, as Lotz’s version of the character died this season on Arrow.

There must be a Lazarus Pit somewhere, or her stories are set in the past perhaps?

Also, the report states three new DC characters that haven’t appeared yet in either existing series will debut in the new team-up show. Given that Vixen is appearing in a new animated series on CW Seed, it’d be a safe bet to assume that she might be one those referenced.

Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Marc Guggenheim and Sarah Schechter will reportedly executive produce this new project, which may skip the pilot stage altogether and head straight to a series order.

Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick sign a deal with Universal Television

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Huge news for fans of the Fraction-DeConnick household; Deadline reports that Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick, whose creator-owned works include Sex Criminals, Bitch Planet, Pretty Deadly, Ody-C, Casanova and more, have signed a two-year pact with Universal Television to develop their properties into television series.

Additionally, the deal includes the potential for original content as well as series based on other comic creators’ IP, all of which will fall under their Milkfed Criminal Masterminds production banner.

First up on their development docket is a television adaptation of Fraction and Chip Zdarsky‘s Eisner Award winning Sex Criminals. The duo has hired former Marvel editor Lauren Sankovitch as MCM’s Managing Editor as they make the move into the world of the small screen. They’re represented by Rothman Brecher Agency and attorney Shep Rosenman.

I was just thinking about how diverse their creator-owned set of titles are, covering a wide range of genres like exploitation, 50’s era who-dunnits?, sex comedies, westerns, euro-style sci-fi, etc. It’s a tremendous base to work from in terms of a well-rounded television line-up. Excuse me while I go silent jump around for joy in our condo.

 

 

The most important thing Agent Carter got right

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Alas, our eight weeks of Agent Carter are up, and the short series tied up most of its ends with a neat bow. The finale was satisfying enough, though fairly unsurprising – my biggest qualm was that the suspense relied heavily on the danger facing Howard Stark (and anyone who has seen Iron Man, which is basically everyone watching, knows Howard has to make it out just fine).

What surprised me most, though, was what the series didn’t do. From episode one, a huge part of the buzz and speculation around Agent Carter focused on a single idea:

Who does Peggy Carter marry?

Part of me gets the speculation; we know Carter eventually gets married based on her brief appearance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But it’s also a huge disservice to the character. Post-war, Carter struggles in her professional life, seen by her peers as little more than Steve Rogers’ love interest. Carter was competent in the film and fulfilled a role beyond the archetypal love interest or damsel in distress, but she’s still Captain America’s girlfriend. And now that Cap is gone, what everyone looks for next is not what she’ll do or who she’ll fight, but who she’ll kiss.

I’m not sure if it was intentional, but it almost feels like the men in Carter’s office were a proxy for audience and media reaction.

It would have not only been an easy trap to fall in, but a common one. Women in films have it pretty rough, and it’s hard to imagine it’s much better on television. Only 12% of identifiable movie protagonists in 2014 were female, according to research from the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film. The few females that do show up in speaking roles are more likely to be identified by personal life-related roles, such as wife or mother, than males, who tend to be identified by work-related titles, such as doctor or executive.

Rather than moving Carter from Cap’s love interest to someone else’s love interest, the show runners and writers decided to let her be he an agent. Not a girlfriend. Not a wife. Sure, there were a few potential future suitors, but they were so minor, they could easily fall away and be completely removed if the series comes back for another season. In fact, the only male relationship that feels like it would require a mandatory wrap up or return in a second season is Carter’s relationship with Jarvis, which is rooted in professional respect rather than infatuation.

So basically, Agent Carter was entirely about Agent Carter. How crazy is that?

It’s not something we see in TV often, but by refusing to become a show about love triangles or Peggy Carter’s happily ever after, Agent Carter made its intentions remarkably clear.  As Carter says to Sousa at the episode’s close: “I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t matter.”

 

 

Superman to appear on CBS’ Supergirl after all

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He’s really only alluded to in the series synopsis, but now according to a casting call listed on ProjectCasting, Superman will indeed be putting in some sort of appearance in the new CBS drama Supergirl.

The call appears thusly:

We are looking for BODY DOUBLE for a DC Comic Superhero –
You must be available for an interview this Thursday and if selected will work several day during March.
This is for a CBS pilot. You can be SAG or Non-Union.
You should be 5’11 or taller and be Square Jawed
and have a ripped physique.
You must send a bodyshot, shirtless, sizes, current contact info and your first five to [email protected] – in the subject line write SUPERMAN

So, if any you gents out there fit the bill, apply away!

There are a number of Superman-based characters appearing in the series such as Cat Grant, Hank Henshaw, the Toyman, and Jimmy Olsen. But this report at least confirms that Kara won’t be the only Kryptonian around doing heroic deeds.

Calista Flockhart joins Supergirl as Cat Grant

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Former Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart is the latest actress to jump into the comic book world, as Warner Bros and CBS have revealed that she will be playing Cat Grant in the prime-time drama Supergirl.

Created by Marv Wolfman and Jerry Ordway, Cat is a columnist for the Daily Planet and a sometimes love interest for Clark Kent. For this iteration, she’s described thusly: “a self-made media magnate and founder of CatCo, Cat Grant started her career as a reporter and has built her company into a global powerhouse. Kara (series star Melissa Benoist) works at CatCo as her assistant.”

Flockhart’s take on the character will be the fourth time Cat Grant has appeared on-screen, previously having been played by Tracy Scoggins in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Emilie Ullerup and Keri Lynn Pratt in the final two seasons of Smallville.

Good get!

Entertainment Round-Up: Lucifer, Constantine, Ash vs Evil Dead, Doctor Who

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We’re reaching the end of a long week and Hannah and I are working to book up our travel plans for a couple of the big cons this year, SDCC specifically (and don’t forget that open registration is this Saturday for anybody that’s hoping to go!). But, with that in mind, here are your big entertainment headlines for the day:

– FOX has given the green-light for a pilot based on Mike Carey‘s DC/Vertigo series Lucifer. This adaptation will see Jerry Bruckheimer Television, Aggresive Mediocrity, and Warner Bros. TV team up for a pilot directed by Len Wiseman (Underworld) with a script by Tom Kampinos. Wiseman, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Jonathan Littman will executive produce the series that will follow Lucifer, the Lord of Hell, as he resigns his throne for the “shimmering insanity” of Los Angeles. From there, he’ll team up with the L.A.P.D. to solve crimes and punish the guilty.

– Are you still curious about the fate of NBC’s Constantine? It hasn’t been cancelled yet, and producer Daniel Cerone clarified the time-table in which a decision might be made over Twitter:

 

There remains a glimmer of hope for fans.

– Starz’ upcoming continuation of The Evil Dead franchise, Ash vs. Evil Dead, is scheduled to debut this coming Halloween. Dread Central recently interviewed Bruce Campbell, who will be reprising his cult favorite role of Ash Williams, and in that same report they state that Sam Raimi (Army of Darkness, Spider-Man) will direct the series’ initial episode. I don’t have Starz, but the temptation is very strong here, very strong indeed.

– Lastly, I know there’s a few Doctor Who fans in the crowd, and they got some good news today as Michelle Gomez will be reprising her role of MISSY in soon to begin filming ninth series of the show. I was a huge admirer of last year’s set of episodes, and the chemistry between Peter Capaldi and Gomez was rather wonderful. She’ll be making her return in the premiere two-parter “The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar” written by Steven Moffat and directed by Hettie Macdonald (no relation to this site’s Editor in Chief).

 

Review: Agent Carter explodes with action and sacrifice

AgentCartersnafuAs I was drying my tears following the dramatic conclusion of this week’s episode of Agent Carter, ‘Snafu’, all I could think about was that I wanted more. More Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, whose range and presence eats up every frame of this small-screen show that plays like a big-screen adventure. More of the fabulous, smart dialogue and fantastic supporting cast; more of the beautiful costumes and period lighting — just more! More than just next week’s season finale. If you haven’t been watching Agent Carter yet, in the name of good comic-based television I implore you: read the recaps at ABC.com, binge watch episodes 3-7 and set your DVR to ABC next Tuesday at 9pm/8c.

When we last left Agent Carter she was handcuffed to a desk at SSR, on the receiving end of what was sure to be an impassioned interrogation at the hands of Agent Sousa (Enver Gjokaj). So it was a surprise when ‘Snafu’ opened instead on the show’s second flashback to Russia. While the last flashback showed us a young Dottie (Bridget Regan) snapping necks in 1937, this one takes place in 1943 and concerns the whereabouts of that other Russian mole: Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown). It seems during WWII, Ivchenko was already in full command of the Professor X-like mind control powers he used to push Agent Yauch to commit suicide in last week’s episode. Here he uses them as mental anesthesia on wounded soldier undergoing an amputation.It’s an odd bit of exposition that serves only to define the mechanism of Ivchenko’s powers, which are pretty clearly articulated in later scenes.

Thankfully, the episode quickly plugs us back into the Carter vs. the SSR interrogation scene we’ve all been waiting for and it does not disappoint. Agent Sousa seeks to pin nearly all of the SSR’s unsolved mysteries on Carter’s double-agent machinations: the Raymond/Brannis/Krzeminski murders, theft of the Nitramene bombs and connection to Stark’s weapons cache.

Chief Dooley (Shea Wigham) looks on from behind a one-way mirror with Ivchenko by his side, pulling Dooley’s strings with every twist of his gold hypno-ring. Agent Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) comments on Dooley’s “unorthodox” choice to allow the Doctor to view the proceedings; thank goodness someone is looking on with a critical eye. Sousa, blinded by his heartbreak over Carter’s perceived betrayal, lays into Carter in the most brutal way possible: crediting her defection from SSR to Howard Stark’s ability to “get in deep” with her.

Incredibly, the temperature is turned up still higher on the proceedings as the interrogation drags on. There’s some smart direction in cross-cutting the scenes of Sousa, Thompson and Dooley all taking their turns grilling Carter. It builds the tension so that when Carter unleashes her thus-far concealed opinions on their opinions of her it feels like a revelation. Rather than take umbrage at being seen as a “stray kitten” left at Dooley’s doorstep, a “secretary turned damsel-in-distress” to Thompson or Sousa’s “girl on a pedestal transformed into some daft whore,” Carter remains calm and stands firm. “You’re behaving like children,” she tells them, “what’s worse, what’s far worse, is that this is just shoddy police work!”

And this is the appeal of Agent Carter in a nutshell: using the rampant sexism of the 1940s as a cloak of invisibility for women who serve as double agents on both sides of the emerging Cold War conflict. This being a Captain America spin-off, Agent Carter is clearly the white hat: empowered by the integration of women into the war effort, now struggling to maintain her position. Dottie shows us the other side of the same coin: empowered by integration as a child into a super-spy program, she relishes in her amoral, powerful position post-war.

Jarvis (James D’Arcy) arrives with a half-baked plan to spring Carter from her interrogation with a faked Stark-confession, but only succeeds in throwing suspicion off of Carter long enough to buy them some time to try and figure out Leviathan’s endgame. Ivchenko continues his campaign of brainwashing the Chief. By acting as a mental marriage counselor to Dooley, whose marriage seems to have suffered from to his devotion to SSR, he hopes to gain his trust — and access to Stark’s weapons store. Carter soon realizes the only way out is through, and finally divulges the truth of her double-life to the SSR team. Sousa and Thompson both believe her confession, and that’s enough for Dooley to send the boys off on Dottie’s trail.

What follows is one of the best action sequences to date. Dottie smiles as each SSR Agent underestimates her: hesitating to attack as she disarms or kills them, one after the other. Her prowess leaves even Sousa speechless: as she escapes he watches her execute a controlled fall through the center of a ten-story staircase as effortlessly as if it were a jungle-gym. Meanwhile, Dooley clears the SSR lab of it’s staff with Ivchenko by his side, shopping for Stark technology. Ivchenko makes off with “Item 17″ in just in time for Dottie to appear driving the getaway car. But before they can truly get away, says Ivchenko, they must test item 17 to ensure it “still works.”

Unfortunately, before he left, the bad doctor talked the Chief into strapping on a glowing prototype vest of Stark design. Jarvis, apparently the wikipedia of bad baby technologies, explains it was intended as a heat source for troops in cold conditions. Like nearly all of the Stark bad babies, though, there’s a dangerous flaw: the self-sustaining battery invariably overheats when activated, eventually becoming an explosive device. Warning the team that Ivchenko got inside his head, the vest nears it’s boiling point and Dooley says goodbye to SSR. Wigham, Murray and Atwell play the scene for all it’s worth: wringing every bit of heartbreak from Dooley’s parting lines to both Thompson; “Tell my wife I’m sorry I missed dinner” and Carter: “Promise me you’ll get the son of a bitch that did this!” It’s a nice touch that he leaves the avenging in the hands of Carter, who knows a thing or two about Avengers. Dooley spares Carter a parting: “atta-girl!” before bravely taking a swan-dive through the office windows just in time, exploding in mid-air.

The remaining SSR team mourns the loss of Dooley before discovering that Ivchenko stole item 17 — one of the few bad babies Jarvis can’t identify. Dottie, however, knows exactly what item 17 can do as she wheels it into a movie theater concealed in a baby carriage. A twist of the knob and the device begins to emit gas. She abandons the carriage and locks the theater doors behind her as the gas begins to take effect on the unsuspecting theatergoers. They cough, then get angry and begin to fighting each other like wild animals. They scream and tear at each other, sparing no one and leaving behind a pile of bloody corpses. It seems we finally have our answer to the mystery of Finow! Ernst Mueller (Jack Conley) may have been a creepy Nazi but he wasn’t lying when he claimed the Russian soldiers had “already been torn apart” before he and his soldiers arrived on the scene. Whatever item 17 contains, it made those unlucky Russians and movie patrons tear each other apart.

More favorite moments (there were so many!):

  • I won’t pat myself on the back too hard that my earlier suspicions of the Doctor proved correct; he was so shady I rewound episode 5 to make sure I hadn’t missed him hypnotizing Carter into bringing him back to the US.
  • Funny that the episode opened on Ivchenko playing mental chess with a wounded soldier; wonder how he’d fair against Magneto
  • “Howard Stark has never scrambled my mind or any other part of me!” Oh Peggy, you slay me!
  • Bravo to Bridget Regan, who can even make buying a baby carriage effectively sinister
  • All the switchboard ladies of the SSR telephone center giving a collective “ooh” at Jarvis’ claim to have a signed confession from Stark
  • Hayley Atwell breaking my heart with: “just wanted a second chance at keeping him safe.”
  • The moral of the story is: always look for street parking!

Playstation offers up a “Behind the Scenes” look at Powers

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For those excited about the upcoming Playstation Network debut of Powers, the live action adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming‘s superhero procedural, here’s an 8 minute featurette detailing how the production came to be and lots of new footage.

Powers, which stars Sharlto Copley and Susan Heyward, will be the Playstation Network’s first original series. It should make for a fascinating experiment for the network going forward, particularly to see how many viewers opt to pay the per-episode rate rather than get a Playstation Plus subscription.

Powers will be available on PSN starting March 10th.

The first three Daredevil episode titles and directors are revealed

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According to the British Board of Film Classification, we now have the first three episode titles for Marvel and Netflix’s soon to be released Daredevil.

Here they are, along with the directors who will take on each episode (via CBM):

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Phil Abraham has directed 14 episodes of my favorite series on television, Mad Men, along with some work on Orange is the New Black and Ray Donovan, among others.

Adam Kane, who helms episode 3, is most recently known for his work on Hannibal.

These are some very stylized choices, and while it should be a big surprise given most of Netflix’s original output, it’s likely that Daredevil will have more of a cinematic quality than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Agent Carter. Given the collective $200 million budget for these Netflix series that Disney has invested, I’d be disappointed otherwise. Either way, Mad Men and Hannibal are two of the best looking shows in the medium, so the right talent is definitely in place.

Once again, here’s the synopsis for Daredevil, with all 13 episodes hitting the streaming network on April 10th:

Marvel’s Daredevil follows the journey of attorney Matt Murdock, who in a tragic accident was blinded as a boy but imbued with extraordinary senses. Murdock sets up practice in his old neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, New York where he now fights against injustice as a respected lawyer by day and masked vigilante at night.

 

Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar is coming to TV

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The story of Vanth Dreadstar, and his struggle to end the intergalactic war between The Church of Instrumentality and the Monarchy, is coming to television; with Jim Starlin teaming with Universal Cable Productions and Benderspink to do it, per THR.

Dreadstar was a 64 issue series created by Starlin for Marvel’s Epic imprint, its initial trailblazing creator-owned line that published Dreadstar as its very first title. After 26 issues, the title was moved over to First Comics, the home of Howard Chaykin‘s American Flagg!. Starlin left the book with Issue #41, with Peter David and Angel Medina taking over creative duties through its then final installment. A 6 issue mini-series was published by Malibu Comics’ Bravura imprint in the 90’s.

At one point, Starlin’s creation was headed to the big screen with Illuminati Entertainment teaming up with Benderspink. But, in light of the latter’s collaboration with UCP in adapting Frank Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham‘s Five Ghosts for Syfy, the dramatic long-form potential of a weekly series probably proves a better bet.

Here’s Starlin on the big announcement:

I consider Dreadstar to be an extension of my family, so it took me a while to feel comfortable letting anyone else take care of this project. It has taken some time, but I know I’ve put my trust in the right team and I’m excited to collaborate with Universal Cable Productions and Benderspink to bring Dreadstar‘s unique brand of chaos to television.

Starlin is penning the initial script and will executive produce the series along with Ford Gilmore (Catacombs). Starlin and Gilmore were represented by attorney Harris Miller.

No network is currently attached to the project.

This is incredibly exciting news, and it’s fantastic to see one of comics most influential creators getting the Hollywood love he’s long deserved. Between this and the lead-up to Avengers: Infinity War, I can’t wait for the tidal wave of Starlin material and press focus that’s sure to come.

Can a fan-led branding campaign save Constantine?

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When people talk about saving John Constantine, usually it’s a hopeless task, as the scouser magician’s soul has long been consigned to hell for his many sins on earth. But another campaign to save Constantine is under way—and this time it’s fans attempting to keep his TV show going past a 13 episode commitment despite middling ratings.

Arrested Development has plans for a fifth season on Netflix, Twin Peaks will see you on Showtime twenty-five years from the 1991 series finale, and Yahoo Screen will bring Community closer to its promise of #sixseasonsandamovie, airing new episodes this spring. It’s a golden age of fan campaigns with the ability to resurrect dead and mostly-dead shows with measurably vocal fan bases. It’s a golden age fans of NBC’s Constantine are counting on, as the last of the series’ 13 episode initial run airs this Friday, February 13 at 10pm. The network has halted any further production on the show, prompting fans to organize on Twitter and Facebook under the hashtag #saveconstantine in support of its renewal — whether on NBC or another network entirely.

Fan campaigns to save television shows are nothing new, with the late sixties fan campaign to save the Star Trek original series largely credited as the first of its kind. Still, there does seem to be a trend in the growing power of fan campaigns to have an impact on programming, even those who represent much smaller audience shares than the high-profile efforts of yesteryear, prompting fledgling networks to pick up where network and even cable channels have left off.

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So what does all this mean for fans of Constantine, starring Matt Ryan as trench-coated demon hunter John Constantine? Do they feel a campaign to save the show, based on the long-running DC/Vertigo series Hellblazer, has a better chance of being saved now than it would have 10 years ago? “They definitely are more successful — especially with social networking being the way it is,” said Breanna Conklin, who has been active in the campaign to #saveconstatine since NBC confirmed in late November they would stop production on the series. “I am in a few nerd groups on facebook. You’re able to spread the word to like minded folks and your friends within a few seconds. Social media gives awareness that wasn’t available to us ten years ago.”

The #saveconstantine effort began to gain momentum when a slick-looking website, saveconstantine.com, went up in December. In addition to links to the petition and fan communities, saveconstantine.com offers a detailed description of the importance of the recently introduced Twitter TV ratings model from newly-formed group, Nielsen Social. An off-shoot of the more traditional Nielsen ratings, Nielsen Social “identifies, captures and analyzes conversation on Twitter in real time for every program aired across over 250 of the most popular U.S. television networks, including Spanish language networks, as well as over 1,500 brands” according to the company website.

The challenge for Constantine fans is to ensure that their awareness of the need to campaign for the continued life of the series is leveraged in a way that speaks both to NBC and their advertisers. It’s not enough to simply prove there’s interest in Constantine from the hallowed 18-49 age demographic; advertisers need to ensure that ad placements can actually have an impact on that demographic. As television consumption proliferates on an increasingly diverse group of content platforms, strong same-day viewing ratings don’t necessarily show advertisers that their ads will be seen instead of fast-forwarded on a DVR viewing post-broadcast.

It’s a challenge the organizers of the #saveconstantine effort hope to meet by being better educated on the increasingly complex world of network tv ad buys. “It’s a big group effort,” said Allison Gennaro, one of the campaigns many organizers. A fan of the Hellblazer comics, Gennaro became involved in the campaign upon hearing “NBC had capped the airing to just 13 [episodes],” which she took to mean the show was “in trouble” but also that the “ratings might not be meeting the NBC demo of choice.” Hoping to convince NBC not to cancel the series, the #saveconstantine organizers publicized a petition for the show to get a second season across social media platforms in late November. The petition cites a “38% bump in the ratings and an 87% viewer retention rating (after Grimm) with the introduction of The Spectre” as evidence of the viability of the series which currently boasts over 20,000 signatures.

The description on saveconstantine.com explains the impact live tweeting Constantine episodes can have on the Twitter TV ratings. The site believes the live tweets “denote that a show has a consistent and loyal audience,” and may show advertisers they “are being rewarded for their investment in the network…so if you want to save Constantine, please watch, tell your friends, and tweet.” Gennaro cultivated a group of Constantine fans through a mailing list to help push the #saveconstantine hashtag and live tweet campaign. “We even threw Friday night twitter parties before the show to trend and gain attention,” she said.

Fan campaigns of the past relied on letter writing, placing ads in trade magazines like Variety, even buying billboards to plead for their respective shows. While Constantine fans have also employed letter writing and email to NBC executives in this campaign, their informed approach in targeting advertisers and leveraging their consumer power is in step with more recently successful ‘save our show’ campaigns. In 2009, Wendy Farrington began a campaign to save another NBC series with supernatural overtones: Chuck. Her game-changing approach acknowledged the fact that the show enjoyed better ratings on off-network viewing platforms and galvanized fans of the series to support a major advertiser of the show, Subway.

According to a 2014 article by Christina Savage for Transformative Works and Cultures, which examined fan-run ‘save our show’ campaigns, on the day of Chuck’s season finale hundreds of fans went to their local Subway and bought a $5 foot-long sandwich featured on the series via product placement. They then left behind comment cards explaining their purchase was in support of Chuck. Savage explained that by “focusing on Chuck as a business transaction, fans used their knowledge of the industry” to support their effort. Shortly thereafter, NBC ordered 13 more episodes of the series. Savage wrote: “co-chairman of NBC Ben Silverman said that this campaign was one of the most creative he had seen, and as a result, Subway would increase its presence within the show.”

John Constantine may not eat at Subway, but fans of the demon exorcist are invoking similar brand marketing powers with their #saveconstantine efforts. Only this time, the fans themselves are the product. By targeting Nielsen’s Twitter TV ratings specifically, Constantine fans “become valuable social ambassadors for programmers and advertisers alike as they amplify content and messaging through their social spheres,” Nielsen Social wrote in a an article posted in September. But will it be enough to push NBC to order another season of Constantine? Could it make the show attractive enough to warrant a rumored move to sister-network Syfy, which has released several high-profile interviews with network executives seeking to return the channel to it’s Sci-fi/fantasy genre roots? NBC president Jennifer Salke told IGN in January that “we wish the show [Constantine] had done better live. It has a big viewership after [it airs] in all kinds of ways and it has a younger audience, but the live number is challenging.”

We spoke with Dr. Balaka Basu, a professor specializing in pop culture and fan studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte about the viability of the type of campaign #saveconstantine is waging. “Campaigns helped to save Chuck and Roswell, and gave Firefly fans closure in the less-than-successful Serenity,” she said. “ I think the key was demonstrating an understanding of how television economy works. With Chuck, for instance, fans literally gave their monetary support to the chain sandwich shop Subway…this demonstrates a comprehension of the relationship between advertisers and television producers.”

Fans like Miguel Gonzalez Cabañas, who lives in Madrid, show the global reach of the #saveconstantine fan efforts. He calls Constantine “the best series with a paranormal plot” on television. He, along with Allison, Breanna and the thousands of other fans who make up the campaign to #saveconstantine will be redoubling their efforts tonight: tweeting their support for the show before, during and after the season finale. But beyond the comic book fanbase, beyond charismatic lead Matt Ryan or the show’s arcane mythology: what is it about Constantine, or any other fan-campaigned series, that produces this kind of fan advocacy? “Whether it’s a show like Constantine, where many fans came into the show already in love with the character,” says Dr. Basu, “or shows like Buffy and Angel, where they were allowed to fall in love over the duration of the show, it’s really when the characters feel like real people that you don’t want your relationship with them to end, ever. And that’s been true since the days of Star Trek.”

 

Kirkman and Azaceta’s Outcast is headed to Cinemax

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After The Walking Dead became a massive hit for AMC, it was only a matter of time before another network came calling for Robert Kirkman. This time around it’ll be Cinemax, as Variety reports that the premium channel just picked up his and Paul Azaceta‘s Image series Outcast for a full series order.

Patrick Fugit (Gone Girl, Almost Famous) stars in this 10 episode series centered on a young man who sets off to find answers as to why he’s been possessed by demons since he was a child. Philip Glenister co-stars as the evangelist who assists him.

The initial pilot has already been filmed and was directed by Adam Wingard, who you may know best as the filmmaker behind last year’s The Guest (a really fun film) and 2013’s You’re Next. The pilot’s script was written by Kirkman.

There’s no word on when the series will see an air date, but given the timing and the status of the pilot, it’s quite possible that it debuts as early as the Fall of this year.

Will this be enough to get you to subscribe to Cinemax if you haven’t already?

Your first “Behind The Scenes” look at Spectre

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Wasn’t Skyfall just the best?

I know there are a few people that disliked the walk back into Bond’s past from the slightly grittier first two Daniel Craig offerings, but beyond that, its hard to deny the technical marvel that was Sam Mendes‘ first foray into the adventures of 007.

With the sequel, Spectre, just around the corner, the production team has released a fun little Behind the Scenes vignette to whet your appetite a bit:

Here’s the official synopsis for the film, which releases on November 6th and stars Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, Dave Bautista, Ben Whishaw, Andrew Scott, Naomie Harris, and Rory Kinnear:

A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

 

The Jig is up for Agent Carter

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Peggy kisses a girl. Dottie kills the dentist. Ivchenko has a hypnotic ring.

Oh yeah, spoilers to follow.

With only two episodes left to go, Agent Carter is building toward a fairly serious implosion at SSR headquarters. The momentum of episode 6, A Sin to Err, was primarily pushing towards Carter’s ass-kicking escape from her fellow SSR agents, who have identified her as the girl in the blonde wig. After her cover was blown, things were still mostly going well for Carter – she and Jarvis took down a diner full of SSR agents in a rather jaunty fight scene, complete with punchy music. Carter used her magical combination of violence and goodwill with her co-workers to escape, headed back to her own apartment – where everyone was looking for her – and still managed to evade the authorities, thanks to some theatrics and lies from her neighbor Angie, who kept her safe.

The theme of the week seemed to be women being underestimated, unsuspected vehicles for espionage.

So, fittingly, after Carter’s multiple escapes, Dottie managed to use Carter’s knock-out lipstick formula to incapacitate her with a kiss in the hallway. I’m not sure why she first had to kiss Carter, and then try to stab her with a pointy object, except oh right I am sure because it’s television and Hayley Atwell is gorgeous. I  can’t even blame them for falling into that trope. The SSR agents show back up right as Carter falls and take her into custody, and the episode closes with Carter in cuffs.

Though this was still a solid episode, and the action and plot movements were there, I couldn’t help feel like there was a lot of mustachio-twirling silliness this week that held it back from being a stellar one.  Aside from the they-couldn’t-help-themselves-if-we-have-a-hot-spy-woman-she’ll-kiss-another-hot-spy-woman, we had:

  • Pretty much every scene with Ivchenko. SSR thought they’d captured a valuable asset in Ivchenko, but it turns out he’s basically a double agent. He’s also a psychological mastermind with level 20 persuasion and a weird ring that makes people do whatever he tells them to do. So they put him in a room with a low-level redshirt for supervision. Basically, I hated all of these parts.
  • Dottie killing a dentist in an office opposite of SSR so that she can point a sniper rifle at Ivchenko. But – gotcha! Instead of using the rifle, she uses its reflective light to communicate with him.
  • Ivchenko uses hand signals to communicate back to her, and she goes to the trouble of writing down everything he says for the camera, in English. It says kill Peggy Carter. Dun-dun-dun.

The above is where the episode just felt a little too silly for me. Without Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy, Agent Carter wouldn’t be half the caliber that it is, and it’s never clearer than it is in this thread.

Meanwhile, in a plot thread that could have been equally silly but ended up being my favorite of the episode, prior to her capture, Carter teams back up with Jarvis to review a full list of the women Stark has been sleeping with over the last six months, presuming at least one of them will have been a Leviathan agent bred out of the Black Widow program they discovered overseas. Because what better way to get information from Howard Stark than an attractive woman?  Jarvis is uncomfortable, Carter is disgusted – these are what these characters do best, and it’s great.

Nitpicking aside, a middling episode of Agent Carter is still a pretty damn good episode relative to its competition. Tracking tweets this week, it appears that a small campaign has emerged to drum up more interest in keeping the show around for a second season, in spite of its declining ratings.

#RenewAgentCarter. I’m still on board.

Entertainment Round-up: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Constantine, Captain Marvel, X-Men: Apocalypse

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Happy Monday everyone! Hannah and I took today off from our regular gigs, but I didn’t want a few of the more interesting headlines to pass us by…so, let’s take a look at what’s causing a buzz in the entertainment side of things.

– According to TVInsider, Jamie Alexander is returning to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. reprising her role as Lady Sif from the Thor films and her guest appearance in the first season of the ABC series. Alexander will guest star in the second episode of the midseason, where Lady Sif will be struck by amnesia after a massive battle with a yet to be revealed villain. Though executive producer Jeffrey Bell states that the memories that she hangs onto will prove very important in the on-going Inhuman-based subplots of the series.

– Over the weekend, OK! Magazine (via SpoilerTV) reported a rumor that Angelina Jolie (Unbroken, In the Land of Blood and Honey) was offered $20 million dollars by Marvel Studios to direct their upcoming Captain Marvel feature. This rumor caused a bit of a stir online, but let’s face facts, Marvel has yet to offer any director that kind of payday and it’s hard to imagine they’d start doing that now ($20 million dollars was Christopher Nolan‘s take for Interstellar for example). Most sources I’ve spoken with in trying to follow up on this report state that the rumor is fiction. The one thing it gets right is that Marvel is likely looking to hire a female filmmaker for the property, and that is a very exciting prospect.

– Another unsourced story (from Cinelinx) floated around yesterday that NBC/Universal, in the wake of not renewing Constantine for a second season, would be moving it to SyFy and renaming the series Hellblazer. It’s a great idea, yet I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Sadly, barring a sudden surprise renewal announcement, the upcoming finale is likely the last you’ll seen of John and company.

– Production on X-Men: Apocalypse continues, and Bryan Singer, ever the busy tweeter/Instagrammer, has posted a photo of interest:

I know. Old door. But there’ll be something new behind it. #XmenApocalypse

A photo posted by Bryan Singer (@bryanjaysinger) on

It sounds like the Danger Room is returning if I were to hazard a guess.