TV Preview: Constantine: He’s Here and He’s Definitely British 

Constantineby “Harry Lime Jr.”
[Several of this fall’s comic book TV show pilots are floating around out there, and one of our informants got a copy and sent us their impressions. Here’s a look at CONSTANTINE which debuts on NBC this Fall.]

Out of DC Comics three new shows, Constantine might have the most uphill battle but not because of the quality of the show. The pilot episode is phenomenal, horror and the occult spiked with dark humor. In essence, it’s pure Hellblazer.

Since this is not an official review I’m strictly going to speak on my impressions from watching the pilot episode. The first thing you’ll notice is that the previous film is long gone here, whether that is good or bad is a matter of opinion. Here, NBC is getting John Constantine as the comic book fans know him. Matt Ryan IS the dirty blond Brit, whose self deprecating humor endears him to us within minutes.

The supporting group is set up to revolve around Constantine which is what you want when you name the show after your title character. Jeremy Davies (LOST), Lucy Griffiths (TRUE BLOOD), Harold Perrineau (The Matrix) all fit together so well as a cast they round out John Constantine’s character without stealing the focus.

Constantine’s look is a Vertigo comic brought to life combined with the necessary television aesthetic to be on a network like NBC. It’s a testament to how far the comics medium has come that a major network is willing to bet on a show that looks “comic booky” and that is far from a bad thing. For anyone concerned about getting a toned down version of the comic book series, rest easy now, while there will always be somethings you can’t get away with on over-the-air television, Constantine gives you the horror moments a show in this genre commands in suspense more than gore.

The pilot itself does a fine job of not being heavy on exposition, instead betting on developing a chemistry with the audience. Hellblazer was never a series I regularly followed, and have only read John Constantie’s JL Dark adventures, but I’m on board for this series. I’m excited for the potential setups we see in the first episode. It doesn’t spoil the story of the pilot but I will say at one point the Liv Aberdine character was holding the freakin Helmet of Fate in her hands. Constantine has a tremendous amount of potential. Hopefully, Goyer and his team will understand that a successful show based on a comic needs to bring in as much from the books as it can. With that being said, I want to see Swamp Thing and Deadman in this series at some point because they’d fit like a square peg in the square hole—perfectly.

Out of the three new DC shows, Constantine has the biggest challenge ahead because NBC has a different standard of what a successful show should do in ratings. While the show wouldn’t be out of place on the network, the broadcaster itself has had trouble with its identity in recent years and prematurely canceling good shows before they’ve had a chance to land an audience. Constantine could definitely bring together two audiences, those in and out of comics, if pushed right. With shows like Grimm already in their line up it would definitely be in good company. The big question is if Constantine can balance a show for the general television viewers while still keeping familiarity for the core audience.

Now that we’ve seen all three of the new pilots, it’s easy to see what DC is doing on TV that Marvel isn’t. DC isn’t putting their characters in second tier shows, they’re selling their characters into the genres different networks want on television.  A dangerous risk but, judging by how great and unique Flash, Gotham, and Constantine have been, one they appear to be pulling off well.

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“Call to Cosplay” reality show debuts Monday on MyxTV

Despite the glut of unscripted reality TV shows and the lack of recent breakout hits, there is still some slightly untilled ground. For years I’ve been saying a cosplay competition show would be a natural, although nerdcentric TV shows are vastly less popular than shows focusing on rednecks and nouveau riche wives. Although SyFy’s Fangasm was a ratings disaster, Face-Off has held it’s own, and cosplay would seem to be ripe for the same treatment. Oops because I’m an idiot I forgot about Heroes of Cosplay! So yeah obviously this is an idea whose time has come.

And now comes Call to Cosplay, which will air on Myx TV, a cable channel aimed at Asian Americans. A bit of anrrowcasting there, but give it time. The show debuts Monday June 30, 2014 at 8/7c. Here is the PR and some photos provided by Myx. The show will also be available on Crunchyroll.

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Cosplay, a term meaning ‘costume play’ is a popular subculture where participants dress-up and role play various characters from anime, manga, comic books and more. “Call to Cosplay” combines the world of cosplay with all of the exciting elements of a competition design program. Each episode of the series features two cosplayers competing for cash prizes. Contestants are assigned a theme, budget, mystery element and less than eight hours to create a character and costume from scratch. Costumes and performances are then judged by a panel of experts and scored on four main criteria: authenticity, creativity, “wow” factor and craftsmanship.

This competition reality series consists of six episodes, with episodic themes including: sports anime, magical girls, American/non-Japanese characters, throwback anime (pre-1990) and heavy metal armor throw-down. The series is hosted by anime expert, Keith Kawamura.

“‘Call to Cosplay’ is our way of showing genuine respect and affection for the passionate group of fans and artists who represent this thriving sub-culture and we’re happy to give them a place to demonstrate their skills on Myx TV,” said Miguel Santos, General Manager of Myx TV.

Executive Producer of “Call to Cosplay” is George Chung, whose credits include the two-time Emmy Award winning series, “Kanga Roddy,” “49ers Total Access,” “Fight Night at the Playboy Mansion” and most recently “Super Fight League.” For Myx TV, Executive Producer and Executive in Charge of Production is Miguel Santos.

This announcement comes at the heels of the finale episode of the network’s first original reality series, “I’m Asian American and…”. In addition to airing on Myx TV, each episode of “Call to Cosplay” will be exclusively available the next day on the anime website, Crunchyroll, for its premium members for one week. Myx TV is distributed by International Media Distribution, which is owned by NBCUniversal.

Comic Book Men is finally looking for some Comic Book Women

AMC’s Comic Book Men is a ratings success in its post Walking and Talking Dead time slot, but it still gets flak. One of the oft-cited issues with the show is that by the very title, it represents an obviously outmoded way of looking at the comic book industry. To wit, women are flooding into the comic book field as readers and creators and already make up about 40% of the potential audience.

Perhaps to reflect the wider audience—and to add a different look from the generally middle-aged white guy cast members—the show is putting out a casting call for women to come in and sell their geeky items for the upcoming fourth season. CBM has become a geekier Pawn Stars/Antiques Roadshow (as so many shows do) so this is a great chance to sell those Yogi Bear jelly jars* you’ve been hoarding all those years.

Info is in the attached flyer, but you can go to http://comicbookmencasting.com/ to apply.

Produced by Kevin Smith, the show features the employees of Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash in Redbank, NJ, which Smith also owns. The show generally features folks coming in with some item of perceived nerd value, and being quizzed “What did you want to get for it?” by manager Walt Flanagan. And then the cast sits down and argues about comic books. Pretty simple stuff, so those interested should go for it.

*This example is in no way based on personal experience.
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Photo Credit: Ben Leuner/AMC

90’s nostalgia culminates with TWIN PEAKS: THE ENTIRE MYSTERY

My log saw something—and it’s wrapped in plastic. Could it be….TWIN PEAKS: THE ENTIRE MYSTERY, a new Blue Ray set that includes the long lost 90 minutes of missing and alternate footage from Fire Walk With Me?

Between Hill Street Blues, justout on Blu-Ray, and Twin Peaks, you have the momma and poppa of everything you like on TV now. Hill Street Blues introduced the ongoing storyline format, recurring characters and jarring, gritty drama. Twin Peaks introduced great direction, lingering mysteries and eccentric humor.

Unearthing the dark secrets of a seemingly normal town somewhere in the primordial rain forests of Washington State, Twin Peaks followed the lantern jawed G-men and angora-sweatered high school girls as they confronted dreams, darkness and dwarves. Following up on the themes from Blue Velvet, director David Lynch made a show so addictive that Agent Cooper’s coffee fixation is said to have helped fuel the Starbucks boom.

Twin Peaks proved that you didn’t have to explain EVERYTHING for a show to make sense. Unfortunately, network executives of the time (1990-1991) did not get this and forced creators Lynch and Mark Frost to solve the central mystery of Laura Palmer’s death. The result was a silly show that had its guts ripped out and ended smack dab in the middle of a cliffhanger never to be resolved. The show was followed by a film called TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME that was, um, confusing, borderline awful. BUT NOW FINALLY the truth can be revealed as CBS is releasing a 7 disc Blue Ray set that includes 90 minutes of out takes and an alternate ending supervised by Lynch himself:

David Lynch and Mark Frost’s groundbreaking cult phenomenon, TWIN PEAKS — THE ENTIRE MYSTERY, arrives on Blu-ray July 29th with the debut of nearly 90 minutes of deleted/alternate scenes from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. The long-awaited missing pieces from the original version of the film is often referred to as the “holy grail” of Twin Peaks fandom, and can only be found as part of this collection.

Presented as a feature-length experience, “The Missing Pieces” has been directed and edited by Lynch exclusively for this release. Capping off more than 30 deleted/alternate scenes is an epilogue providing a fascinating glimpse beyond the cliffhanger finale of the TV series.

With the July 29th timing, I’d expect to see ALL the stops run out for this at San Diego. Just a guess. And I need to be at that party!!!

Twin Peaks and Buffy are the cornerstones of 90s nostalgia. I rewatched the entire Twin Peaks opus five or six years ago and it held up amazingly. I can’t help but wonder why networks are so much smarter now? I guess HBO showed that you could do smart television without second guessing the people making it, and everyone followed suit.

Twin Peaks may have been equalled but never surpassed, and just in time for flannel shirts and doc martins, the original is back.

CBS Video has set up a tumblr called andthemissingpieces.tumblr.com/ where you can follow along at home.

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First look at Rose McIver in iZombie

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This future CW show will be appearing as a mid-season replacement so ther’es a ways to go. But in the menatime, here’s Rose McIver in the title roll of iZombie, based on the Chris Roberson Mike Allred comic. Hopefully there will be mroe Allred-ian touches to come.

Comics’ secret economy: animation hiring boom

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While walking around TCAF a ton of conversations I overheard involved boarding, backgrounds and other animation type gigs. One publisher even wondered aloud what would happen if Adventure Time went off the air. And this Deadline story tells the story: LA-Area Animation Jobs At All-Time High. While there’s lots of film work, it’s also in TV:

Jobs in TV animation are also on the rise. “The work has really increased on the television side,” Hulett said. “There’s more storyboard work and design work, and it’s all driven by animation’s profitability. Animated television shows have been a great cash cow and profit stream for the conglomerates. They can make them for at a competitive price, and they have a long shelf life.” New media is also creating jobs for animation workers, he said, noting that DreamWorks is producing Internet content for Netflix. Hulett noted that the good times in animation are creating many good-paying jobs for other workers in the industry as well, including voice-over actors, editors, and sound technicians. “The growth here,” Hulett said, “is coming from all the preproduction work – the storyboards, layout, animation scripts, character design and key backgrounds.”


I can’t even keep count of how many indie cartoonists make a living doing animation work, but the number of them moving to LA is an indication, as is this Tumblr post which asks: WHY IS STEVEN UNIVERSE SUCH AN AMAZING SHOW?!

mc-burnett:

BECAUSE REBECCA SUGARIAN JONES-QUARTEYKAT MORRISBEN LEVINJOE JOHNSTONJEFF LIUPAUL VILLECORAVEN MOLISEELAMAR ABRAMSALETH ROMANILLOSHELLEN JOHILARY FLORIDOKATIE MITROFFELLE MICHALKADANNY HYNESCOLIN HOWARDANGIE WANGSTEVEN SUGAREMILY WALUSJASMIN LAIAMANDA WINTERSTEINTIFFANY FORDEFRAIN FARIASKEVIN DARTSTU LIVINGSTONLAUREN ZUKE, LAUREN HECHT, MATTANIAH ADAMSNICK DEMAYOJACKIE BUSCARINO, CAROLYNA ROBEZZOLI, ALAN PASMANCHRISTY COHEN, LISA ZUNICH, CHUCK AUSTEN, CARDER SCHOLINAIVI & SURASSHU AND A BUNCH OF AMAZING FREELANCERS, OVERSEAS ANIMATORS AND POST-PRODUCTION PEOPLE AND ALSO THE WHOLE CAST HAVE WORKED REALLY HARD TO MAKE IT AMAZING!!!!!!!!

How many familiar names can YOU spot there? Chuck Austen!

FLASH trailer debuts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnXsnR-2AvU

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Looks like he’ll be running…and FAST.

Seriously, this is a fine trailer. And I don’t even like the Flash. And the Arrow crossover possibilities are endless.

Grant Gustin will be playing the title character, Barry Allen, and he’s evidently a jolly sort who likes his powers.

The Flash previously appeared in a one season TV show that ran in 1990 starring John Wesley Shipp. No one really talks about this show any more, but it ran in the “Dark Ages” too soon for the internet, too late for nostalgia.

Three minute long Constantine trailer released

The first three minute look at Constantine, the upcoming NBC series based on the Hellblazer comics, has been released and there is good and there is bad.

I liked the callouts to actual comics, like the insect covered call of the very first issue, and the angel winged Mannym as played by Harold Perrineau. OBviously there were a lot of Glenn Fabry covers floating around on the set. THe story is set in NYC which I guess I can live with — filming in London would have been too expensive. The actual filming looks like Vancouver, but that’s typical.

I was only half convinced by Matt Ryan as Constantine. He looks the part but his line reading were as stiff as frozen maple syrup. And I know a Scouse accent would be unacceptable on American TV, but Ryan’s native Welsh accent came through most of the time. I guess most people expect him to sound like the Geiko Gecko (Cockney) but I’m sure this will grow on me.

The action looked Vancouver TV level, but faithful to the feel of the book. So rest assured when it debuts on Friday nights this fall I’ll be there to set my DVR!

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Fox releases first trailer for GOTHAM

Fox and WB just released the very first trailer for this falls GOTHAM tv show!

With great hesitation and uncertainty, I would tag this as “Nolan-esque.”

And why not? The Christopher Nolan Batman movies are the benchmark now. Gotham has been ordered for a full season this fall on Fox, and it’s billed as “an origin story of the great DC Comics Super-Villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told.” Ben McKenzie stars as James Gordon, Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, Jada Pinkett Smith as mob boss Fish Mooney, Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth, David Mazouz as young Bruce Wayne and Camren Bicondova as young Selina Kyle. The PR also mentions “one cop’s rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering on the edge of evil and chronicles the birth of one of the most popular super heroes of our time.” Gotham begins.

As you can see, this is a dark, gritty serious take on Batman, with all the villains as youngsters just discovering how evil they can be, and Gordon taking a grieving Bruce under his wing. This is really a nobrainer for a TV show provided it lives up to its promise.

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Syfy getting comical with Ronin, Clone, Letter 44 and PaxRomana

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The Syfy Channel has generally been left out of the comic book mania gripping Hollywood, although they’ve had various stuff in development over the years. But now they’re going all in with FOUR projects in development including Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s Ronin, an often assayed but never conquered peak.

This time out Warners Horizon is developing it as a mini-series. The original was a complicated story about a reincarnated ronin who comes to a futuristic city to fight a demon. Darren Aronofsky once took a crack at making a Ronin movie, and a later movie version has been languishing for a long time. Frank Miller has been out of favor in Tinsel Town for a while but I guess 300: Rise of Empire did okay so he’s “in” again.

Also in development:

Clone, based on the Skybound comic by David Schulner  and Juan Jose Ryp. Robert Kirkman is aboard as executive producer. The story involves a retired soldier who has to fight a clone of himself. Schulner, who was involved in the recent Dracula and Ironside tv shows, will write and produce himself.

Letter 44, based on the Charles Soule/Alberto Albuquerque book about a new US president dealing with aliens and such. Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3) will write and direct.

Pax Romana by Jonathan Hickman, about a Vatican-led plan to travel back in time and improve things via warfare. Federman & Stephen Scaia (Jericho, Warehouse 13, Human Target) are writing the script.

Note to self: time to reread Ronin.

Game of Boobs

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If you’re not a devoted Game of Thrones watcher, please move away.

Sean T. Collins has a post about the recent rape problems on the show that kind of echoes what I’d been thinking. Basically, that the Jamie/Cersei rape scene wasn’t necessarily a fatal misstep, given that we don’t know where these characters are going…but the problem is that it probably wasn’t meant to be a rape scene by the producers, a view supported by the confused interviews they’ve given about the scene in question.

Collins also brings up the real problem in the matter: HBO’s titty mandate. This was on display in True Detective, where the completely gratuitous and jarring T&A sex scenes gave the impression that this was a story complicit in the demeaning attitudes about women it was actually exploring. Creator Nic Pizzolatto said as much when he was quizzed on the lack of female characters. There is no problem with a wonderful piece of storytelling that follows two great characters who happen to be men; but when unnecessary bare breasts are thrown in, the entire enterprise gets an unseemly tacky element. (Also, the all male police department of the 90s amused me — it’s the 90s not the 30s fer gawd’s sake, even if it is Louisiana.)

I haven’t read the Game of Thrones books (yes yes, I know…….) but it’s often mentioned that one of George R. R. Martin’s themes is is the suffering caused by brutality against women and brutality in general. The TV version retains that, but, once again, the endless sexposition undermines the message. As someone I was watching it exclaimed the other night, “Oh, a glass of wine! We’ll be seeing titties soon!” And indeed, whenever someone is relaxing with a glass of wine, a good shag is about to follow 80% of the time.

Martin’s books are actually coming from a more evolved place than HBO, which operates under the assumption that to be adult you’ve got to show naked ladies. Serves them right that so many times, it turns out to be Lena Dunham.

Almost Human cancelled — but you can sign a petition

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Well, to no one’s surprise, Almost Human, the SF show about two guys driving around talking about their nads, has been cancelled by Fox. Although it launched with strong ratings—and was the fourth most popular new drama of the last season—Fox declined to pick up the JJ Abrams-production, even though the follow-up program, The Following, which had similar ratings, will go to a third season.

While I haven’t seen any behind the scenes reports, watching the show made it clear that Fox didn’t know what to do with it. They aired all the episodes out of order, switching from a heavily-storyline oriented show to a more routine police procedural with futuristic trappings (including liberal use of images and even sound stings from Blade Runner). The cost of the SFX also varied wildly as the season progressed. One thing that didn’t change was the great chemistry of the cast, though, and that’s what made it a favorite at Stately Beat Manor, as at other nerdly households. Not enough, alas. Plus of course, Karl Urban, who is a born leading man for TV or PS3 or Amazon or whatever you’re watching. Apparently he didn’t like the weekly grind of making a TV show, though, so I think it will be a little while before we see him back on a weekly basis. Sigh.

There is a petition to bring the show back at Change.org, so if it makes you feel better go sign it.

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Comic Book Men non-spin-off coming starring Robert Bruce and more Kevin Smith-verse stuff

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Here’s a run down of what Kevin Smith is up to, including news that Comic Book Men will be renewed for a fourth (!) season. Smith is also developing a late night talk show based on his Hollywood Babble On podcast with Ralph Garman. And Finally, there will be a Comic Book Men SPIN-OFF somehow related show starring Asbury Park co-runner Robert Bruce, a regular guest star on CBM:

Frequent castmember Robert Bruce will be the focus of the companion series, which is not being billed as a “spinoff.” Produced by Original Media, with Charlie Corwin and Smith executive producing, the series would take Bruce outside of Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash (as highlighted on Comic Book Men), on a cross-country search for collectibles and fanboy items at estate sales, auctions and flea markets.


Nerd Dream Roadshow then?

Bruce is interviewed about his new venture at 13th Dimension where he’s also a contributor.

How to prepare yourself for Game of Thrones Season Four


Game of Thrones Season Four had its premiere at Lincoln Center last night and they built a big old dragon for the occasion, as seen on Instagram.

The new season debuts on April 6th, and doubtless we will have daily countdown clocks blazing across Tumblr. If you, like The Beat, have waited until the last minute to cram on remembering what happened last season, here’s a short new trailer that was just released:

And for post grads, here are two longer catch up pieces. From what we know, in the new season, the cast reacts to the horrific events of the Red Wedding, Joffrey gets married again, Cersei and Jamie are reunited, Tyrion has to deal with humiliation, Daenerys frolics with her dragons and Jon Snow learns a thing or two. Oh and because so many characters got killed off last year, there are NEW characters to kill off or disfigure! Woot, can’t wait.

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And here’s a quick first look at The Flash costume

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A Flash pilot is on the way starring Grant Gustin as Barry Allen—and here’s the first look at his costume. It was designed by Academy Ward winner Colleen Atwood, who also works on ARROW. (Her Oscars include Alice in Wonderland, Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago.)

This image says scarlet, it says foreshortening…does it say Speedster? What say you, peanut gallery?

THE FLASH pilot is executive produced by the ARROW team of Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and David Nutter. Nutter is directing from a script by Berlanti & Kreisberg and Geoff Johns.
 
 

Big Agents of SHIELD comeback had lowest ratings yet

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I know everyone is tired of the dumping on Agents of SHIELD but Tuesday’s big episode had the lowest ratings yet for the show. Whoops. The 1.7 rating was down 23 percent from 2.2 for the previous episode. You got some heavy lifting to do, Sif.

It’s worth remembering that as rousingly entertaining as they may be, none of the Marvel movies are cinematic masterpieces. In fact they are cut from a very standard cloth. I watched this episode and it was okay, but in a world of True Detective and Breaking Bad, it looks painfully pedestrian. But as my friends with kids tell me, the younglings like it, so let’s just leave it for the intended audience.

Now can we all start being anxious about the upcoming Netflix Defenders?