Movies & TV / Columns

TV Rants & Raves 2.20.13: What, this column AGAIN?!

February 20, 2013 | Posted by Ben Piper

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Ben Piper back in charge of TV Rants & Raves? This could have only happened as a result of the Mayans being wrong, because seriously, I didn’t plan on this. Hell, in the week leading up to this column being posted I also have the distinction of overseeing much of 411’s Oscar coverage, so to say my dance card is a bit full right now is a bit of an understatement. Good thing I don’t wait last minute and just throw things together. And besides, Dimitri asked me nicely, so there’s that.

What up, bitches? Have you missed me? C’mon, you can be honest with me. We’re all friends here. Well, unless you’re a bridge residing troll, because then, we’ve got some issues with one another. But yeah, other than that? It’s all Kool And The Gang.

Wow. I’m really dating myself here. Wait, that’s not to say that I’m actually doing on dates with myself. Oh, hell…

I’m just burying myself right out of the gate with this intro, aren’t I? Most of you might not know who I am, but I’m confident that there are at least some out there in the great big broadband internet that remember fondly my residency in regards to this column and my Get LOST days as well. Good times.

That said, don’t get used to it. I’m subbing in for one week only. But we’ll take full advantage of this situation and revert to my old format, and hopefully, both you all everybody and I will have fun with it.

In the immortal words of the patron saint of shoe salesmen everywhere, Al Bundy; Let’s Rock!

TV Rants and Raves

The above picture tells gives away what I’m about to talk about, but bear with me, as there is a reason for me going about it in the following manner.

Even if you’re not familiar with the name of Elmore Leonard, you’re aware of his work whether you know it or not. Over the course of a forty plus year writing career that has seen him publish 45 novels plus handfuls of short story collections, his literary talent finally got him critical notice in the 80’s. While movies of his works were made previously, (the original 3:10 To Yuma, the Charles Bronson starring Mr. Majestyk, and the Roy Schneider vehicle 52 Pickup) in the 90’s movies of his works really started to take off, each of them successful in their own right either commercially, critically, or both; Jackie Brown, Get Shorty, Out Of Sight.

Let me put it this way; You know you’re a great writer when Tarantino is a huge fan.

Which brings me to Justified. When the show started I didn’t watch so much for the Elmore aspect of things (although I really loved the movies that I had seen of his stuff) but because its star Timothy Olyphant was raised in my hometown of Modesto, Ca. So I checked it out for that reason alone and was left quite pleased with what I saw, essentially a modern day western set in the backwoods of Kentucky in which a U.S. Marshall returns to the place he grew up to confront not only his past, and those involved in it, and so much more.

To be fair, he didn’t return to Harlan County to confront his past, per se, he was forced to after the whole unseen Miami thing, but it just read better.

But I love the show. It is one of my very favorites on the airwaves. Between the outstanding writing that takes place that can be hilarious one minute or turn deadly serious the next, as well as the actors on board, who are all just as fantastic. Raylan Givens is the role Timothy Olyphant was born to play, as he just seems to fit the role like a glove. Smart, understated, witty, and a threatening badass when he has to be. Equally as great is Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder, Raylan’s childhood frenemy, whom is also just as smart and funny, but wily and conniving as he continues to try to rebuild the local criminal empire his daddy once had been in charge of with the help of Raylan’s father, Arlo.

And while I’ll get to this current season shortly, again, I’m going to jump sideways a bit.

On a recent trip to Costco, after the cart was loaded up with bulk packages of hamburger and steaks, toilet paper and paper towels, soda and beer and what else have you, I stopped at the tables where they had loads and loads of both books and DVDs just to see what was available cheap. The DVD section was a bust, as it was mostly kiddie stuff, and movies I had either seen and didn’t like enough to now own or shit that just wasn’t up my alley. (For whatever reason, they were pushing the Twilight franchise hard that particular week in my local outlet)

As I looked over the books, there was the requisite hardback romance novels, espionage fare, some non-fiction, crime novels by James Patterson, etc. Again, nothing that jumped out at me. But as a started to turn to leave I did a double take at the one singular solitary trade paperback copy of a particular book that caught my eye. It was “Raylan” by Elmore Leonard.

Hell yeah, I bought it. And it was freaking awesome. I had never read any of Elmore Leonard’s works, but I found it revelatory. Character and dialogue driven, sparse in describing outlining details such as locations and what have you, but thick in character interactions and the thought process of each of them as they are having it. It inspired me to think once again of attempting to write my own stories, but also humbled me to the point that I knew whatever I wrote wouldn’t touch it.

And it also gave me a greater appreciation of this show that I love so much. From the early going showrunner Graham Yost and star Timothy Olyphant have spoken about wanting to honor Elmore Leonard’s works and the worlds that he creates. And after reading this novel, they have pretty much nailed it thus far. The book read like a season of Justified.

Indeed, the reason why the book exists in the first place is because when Leonard visited the Justified set during season 1, both Yost and Olyphant both asked him to write more Raylan stories. As he explains it in the liner notes at the end, Mr. Leonard states “It was the least I could do.” He goes on to explain that as he was writing he sent sections to Yost to use as he wished within the context of the show. Hence the kidney stealing nurse, prostitutes robbing backs (although in the book they were strippers) and the locals rallying against a coal mining company in seasons 3 and 2 respectively but in a different context from the book.

If you’ve never read Elmore Leonard? Do yourself a favor, and please do so.

While Justified in the previous two seasons had big bads to deal with (The resplendent Mags Bennett and not quite up to the task of following her but quite awesome in his own right Robert Quarles) in season 4 instead of a supreme villain there is a mystery to solve. Who is Drew Thompson? I quite like this approach as it keeps the show from repeating itself too many times and as a result keeps things fresh.

Long story short, Thompson can put Detroit mob boss Theo Tonin (introduced last season) away for a very long time so both sides of the law are looking for him. Raylan is on the case because the whole thing started in his father’s house as teenagers ripped out the walls to look for a hidden package. End result? The name Drew Thompson. And Raylan’s one of those guys that once something big comes up, he can’t just let it go.

But with the Detroit mob heavily invested in how things play out? They turn to Dixie Mafia top boss Wynn Duffy (Great character, and an equally great character actor playing him, Jere Bruns ) who then turns to Boyd Crowder to find this guy and rub him out. And we all know already that it’s going to turn out to be outstanding to experience.

And that isn’t even really touching all the bases. Ellen May? Ron Eldard’s increasingly unstable turn as Boyd’s old military friend/enforcer? Boyd’s cousin trying to stab him in the back and kill him off so he can take over things himself? Sheriff Shelby, whom Boyd seemingly bought his election to the post only to find that he isn’t really in his pocket at all? And the marriage proposal?

In the latest episode, Shelby and Rayland worked together, despite the latter didn’t really trust the former due to his ties to Boyd. At the end, Shelby described the first time he shot someone. Again, this ties back to the book I read, in which Raylan found himself in conversation with a new partner from another Marshall’s office. It was short and concise, just like the last scene was. In the book it didn’t amount to a page and a half. But it ended with I quote “They now knew each other”.

In other words? We’re right in the middle portion of a really great gritty crime novel that is presented as visual rather than written form. Stay tuned and appreciate it.

While I grew up reading and loving comic books, I was never much into the DC brand outside of Batman. Because, well he’s freaking Batman! So while I was aware of the Green Arrow character I never knew anything about his overall mythology or the characters that closely inhabit his universe. Despite all that, when The CW (which is not a network, if you can call it that, that I usually watch at all) announced that they were going to be doing a Green Arrow TV series, I thought, what the hell, why not? If the show sucks donkey balls I could then quickly dismiss it for what it was, but if it turned out to be good? Hey, again, why not?

I liked enough of what I saw in the pilot that I have stuck with it thus far, and it has only gotten exponentially better and better for what it is.

And let’s be clear; This is mostly an action driven show. And that’s great. I’m fine by that. I grew up on that type of series, whether it was Dukes Of Hazzard, The Fall Guy or countless others I could rattle off. (Again, I’m dating myself, and no, again, I don’t actually go out dates with… Oh, f***off)

But what I like about it is that over the course of the first season thus far it is slowly, incrementally building up its own mythology, based upon the DC Comics origins but from what I gathered online putting its own twist rubic cube style on the proceedings by changing up characters origin stories and what else have you.

However, I do have to say that Oliver’s little sister and all her emotional issues and tirades and the whole acting out thing? To quote In Living Color‘s “Men On Film” recurring sketch: HATED IT. It quickly became one of the most annoying things about this show, yet it kept coming. Continually. Thankfully, it seems the show has moved on from that as “Speedy” (A nickname that portends her eventually becoming his heroic sidekick, if the comic universe is to believed) has quickly and unconvincingly forgiven her mother, her brother, and everyone else that she was mad at and is working to atone. Whatevs. I’ll care once she stops being one note and actually becomes a fully functioning character that I should want to invest in. Not there yet.

However, far more interesting is the fact that in the last several weeks Oliver has begun to get clued in on the notion that none other than his own mother may in fact be involved with “The List”, a pocket book of names that his father made him promise to track down and bring to justice for all the ills that they represent to his beloved Starling City. Of course, we’ve known that Momsy is much more than what she seems and portrays since the series began, what with her conspiring with the seeming “Big Bad” of the show thus far, Malcolm Merlyn (played by sci-fi fave John Barrowman) whom just so happens to be the father of Oliver’s best friend, Tommy.

We now know this due to a suspicion that Oliver’s former bodyguard/partner-in-fighting-crime Digs had. As a result he bugged Mother of the Year and heard a telling conversation that he in turn played for Oliver. Armed with this new set of info, Oliver set out to confront her as “The Hood”. (Really? The citizens of Starling City couldn’t have come up with a better nickname for him than that?) However, once face to face with her, with bow pulled back and in his best digitally-altered threatening voice, she cowered in fear and begged for her life for the sake of her children.

Oliver let his guard down as a result, and she proceeded to pop a cap in his ass. Well, his upper chest more specifically.

Enter Felicity, the mega cute hyper-smart brilliant tech guru at Queen Industries that both Oliver and his stepfather had been utilizing to get to the bottom of the goings on in Starling City in their own separate investigations thereof. With nowhere else to turn, an injured Oliver hides in the backseat of her car and lets her in on his little secret. Her fantastic response? “Everything about you just became so incredibly clear”.

The rest of the most recent episode alternated back and forth between Digs and Felicity working together to save Oliver’s life (at one point he flat lined for at least a minute) and flashbacks to Oliver’s time on the island. This was the most flashback heavy episode yet, as it gave us massive amounts of info regarding how once he returned to civilization Oliver was able to be the badass he now is. (Courtesy of Spartacus‘ Manu Bennett as an Australian Special Forces officer also trapped on the island)

Which sets things up for the run towards the season finale rather nicely. Oliver still doesn’t want to see his mother as either a threat or as part of the problem, but Digs remains steadfast in his suspicions. Felicity now knows Oliver’s secret, and has agreed to join the team for a limited basis until they can all manage to rescue her boss, Walter, Oliver’s stepfather. And things just got a whole hell of a lot more interesting with regards to the island backstory as well. There is so much ground to cover and story left to tell, and I’m excited to see how it all plays out.

Plus, it has just been renewed for a second season. Nice.

What do you guys think of Arrow? Are you liking it as much as I am? Light up the comments and let me know…

Over the course of the past decade, we’ve all gotten our fill of genius investigators on TV that due to their unusual methods, rub the people they come across over the course of their duties, the wrong way. Dr. Gregory House, Thomas Jane from The Mentalist, so on and so forth.

It can be argued that all of these characters owe a debt to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and his creation of the masterful deductive detective, Sherlock Holmes. After all, the name alone is not only easily recognizable and truly iconic, it’s all over the place right now. Between Guy Ritchie’s recent movies starring Robert Downey Jr., (which I enjoyed) and the BBC’s modern set series (that I haven’t seen but by all accounts, is fantastic ) not only does the name, but the character remain significant in our modern age.

So when CBS greenlighted a show based upon the character, set in modern day New York to be called Elementary, my first thought was that they were just piling on and hoping to get on the bandwagon. But then they cast Lucy Liu as a female version of the Watson character. At this point I rolled my eyes so hard I actually saw the bottom of my brain. A Chinese woman playing Watson? I instantly started thinking to myself as to how the show would explain how she was adopted, (hence the name) and how by the end of the first season Holmes and Watson would be will they or won’t they kinda/sorta couple. And how much it seemed at first that it was going to amount to fifty shades of suck.

Thankfully, I was SO wrong about all the above.

As the series began, Holmes was fresh out of rehab after a long bender of drugs and self-abuse. Watson was hired by his father to be his ‘sober companion’ and keep him on the straight and narrow, living with him and remaining at his side as much as humanly possible. While she was in fact a medical doctor, she gave up her license after accidentally killing a patient. It was during the first few episodes that the chemistry between the two characters began to build, even as she found him to be completely infuriating and insufferable. But something she didn’t expect occurred; She found his work as a consultant with the NYPD fascinating. Even more, the fact that she was able to help him solve cases along the way? It put something back into her life that she had been missing, which her mother noticed and brought up to her when she came for a visit.

However, seeing as she was only hired to be his ‘companion’ for six weeks meant that the arrangement was destined to have a short shelf life. However, once Watson learned what put Holmes over the edge and pushed him into drug abuse, (The murder of his one true love, Irene Adler) she feared the worst for him, and asked his father to lengthen her contract. He refused, but she stuck with him anyway, salary free for a while, lying to Holmes about it.

And all leading up to the latest episode, there had been hints of their budding friendship. Holmes admitting that Watson had a knack and talent for crime-solving, and if she so chose, he would help her develop her skills, despite all the barriers he kept putting up between them. And for her part, while she still found him annoying, smug and arrogant, there was still something about him that she found fascinating, to the point that she went out of her way to let him know that she was his friend, and by implication, he was hers. It was actually kind of sweet.

During the post-Super Bowl episode, Holmes helped out his former drug dealer find his kidnapped daughter, and during which, said drug dealer and Watson found themselves captive by henchmen at Holmes’ apartment. As a result, in the latest episode Holmes proceeded to terrorize Watson by faux-attacking her to convince her to get self-defense training. (it began with his menacing her in a ski mask, then moved on to throwing tennis balls at her when her back was turned, proclaiming it could have been a knife instead) While it was all quite rude and pushy, (and amusing) it at least showed a concern for her safety, which isn’t quite Holmes’ at all. He usually doesn’t give a shit.

Also in the same episode, which dealt with the detective they regularly worked with being frame for murder, it found them having quite a conversation;

Watson: You know what? I appreciate your concern for my safety, I really do, but I think we need to have a conversation about boundaries. Okay? You’ve given me this incredible window into what you do. And, you know what? It is fascinating, but at the end of the day, I’m not your apprentice, I’m your sober companion.

Holmes: No, you’re not! No, you are not! You haven’t been for some time!

Watson: Sherlock, what are you…

Holmes: I know that you lied to me several weeks ago when you said my father renewed your contract. I found out about it when I telephoned him last week.

(Bullshit. He probably could tell from the get go)

Holmes: I’m not angry. If anything? I am grateful. You saw that I was in a raw state, and you stayed to see me through it.

(Watson is now flustered to be caught)

Holmes: Now when I learned it was a lie, however, I deliberately adopted a more sanguine mood. I wanted you to see I was well again, so you could… move on. But the most curious thing happened. You stayed. Days passed, then a week. It became clearer and clearer that you were not staying for me, but for yourself.

Watson: Sherlock, I…

Holmes: As difficult as it is for you to say out loud, I know. So, I won’t ask you to. Rather, I would ask you to consider a proposal. Stay on, permanently. Not as my sober companion, but as my companion. Allow me to continue to teach you. Assist me in my investigations. In return you will receive a stipend that will at least equal the salary my father was paying you.

Watson: You don’t even have a source of income!

(Wait, he consults for the NYPD for free? Well, yeah, knowing the character, it figures.)

Holmes: I have certain funds. You may continue to reside at the brownstone. You may reside elsewhere. You may also consider yourself relived of any and all confidentiality concerns regarding my sobriety. This is an important decision, and I urge you to discuss it with others. Explain what you have been to me. And what I believe you can be to me. Hm? Partner?

(After standing with her back to him as he laid this all out, she finally turns to face him, and he instantly can’t stand it. He turns away and puts on his coat, but stops long enough to say this;)

Holmes: And lest you think that this is an act of a charity, a gift from a grateful client? Let me assure you, it is not. I am… Better with you, Watson. I’m sharper, I’m more focused. Difficult to say why exactly. (long pause) Perhaps in time, I’ll solve that as well.

Of course, she eventually agrees, and by the end of the episode proves that their friendship, and newfound partnership is on an even keel by getting back at him for the whole tennis ball thing from earlier, except instead of hitting him in the back with a tennis ball, she blasts him in the face with a basketball. “Could have been a knife” she spouts before walking away.

I love the writing of the dialogue, especially Holmes, in particular. Jonny Lee Miller is quite terrific as the quirky and enigmatic iconic character. And while I haven’t really given much thought to Lucy Liu’s skills as an actress one way or another throughout the years, I do like what she is bringing to her different take on the pivotal Watson role. Add in Aiden Quinn as the police captain they regularly work with and you have an outstanding foundation for a TV series to build upon.

I’m quite enjoying it. And that’s not even bringing up that they have barely/slightly addressed the Moriorty factor, but they most assuredly will in the future. I’d expect that will be part of the inevitable first season finale cliffhanger.

Strange Thoughts

The recently bought new keyboard for my computer pisses me off, in that I’m used to the old one, which had a wide delete button. Now, when I go to push delete half the time, I’m hitting the “insert” button instead. That, and half the time the space bar sticks and doesn’t register my key strokes. If this were a sitcom, hilarity would surely ensue. But in real life? GRRR~!

Wait, how the hell did that tilde get in that last thought?

Am I the only one that would like to kick the teeth out the new Five Hour Energy overachieving douchenozzle? I know he’s just an actor playing a part as a part of an advertising campaign, but still, take your fake autotuned debut album and please go away, posthaste. You annoy me.

And yes, douchenozzle is in fact a word. I coined it. And now that it is posted on the internet, then by God, it must surely be real.

If you’re not aware of Leanna Decker, you haven’t witnessed hot redheaded goodness. #Drool

Not to repeat myself, but? F***ing insert button pisses me off.

This is me just checking. If I’m wrong, please correct me in the comments. But if a young woman has a massive tattoo centered upon her upper chest, she’s just begging for people to look at her tits, am I right?

As a teenager, I once dreamt about having sex with Madonna. I was awaked by a severe itchy case of Crabs, despite the fact I was still a virgin at that time.

I’ve got a massive zit forming just below my left temple that hurts any time I make any sort of facial expression. I’m sure that you don’t care, but it sucks and just thought I’d relate that.

I have to say that I fear for the future of one of the actual “reality shows” I really like and enjoy, Comic Book Men. Since AMC has moved it away from being a part of The Walking Dead Sunday lineup I fear fans will forget about it. I say that because although AMC promoted the hell out of it during Dead‘s winter return this past week, I completely forgot it was returning this past Thursday. I was able to DVR a 1 A.M. repeat so I could at least see it. But if I forgot about it, how many other people did as well?

On a related note, I’ve since realized that I once owned a first edition first appearance of The Punisher in an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. However, my Mother (may she rest in peace, we all still love and miss her) in her infinite wisdom, threw out all the comic books I had collected during my childhood during my early teenage years. I can’t help but to cringe when I think of what else could have been in that stash of comics. (And I mean that VERY seriously)

This past weekend’s SNL featuring a game Christoph Waltz was far and away, the best installment of this season.

And seriously, I f**king hate this new keyboard. Goddamned space bar.

The bad thing about following shows week to week is having to wait seven days to see the result of a cliffhanger. #SaveAlexis

One down, three to go. (Inside family joke)

Who Tweeted What?

Drew McWeeny: I hope Chris Brown dates Ronda Roussey next. I really, really, really, really, really, really do.

Zachary Levi: Guys, it’s not okay to date a girl who still quotes Spongebob. Unless it’s the early years then it’s totally cool.

Bryan Cranston: Just throwing this out there… Heisenberg for Pope.

Richard Roeper: An LA TV station cautioned viewers they ‘might hear expletives’ during Dorner coverage. Also, you might see someone getting shot.

Patton Oswalt: I hope they let Jessica Chastain play Dorner in the movie version of all this.

Jim Gaffigan: As you wish Fat Tuesday. As you wish.

Ken Keaton: Don’t put your dick in the chocolate wonderfall at Golden Corral. It’s actually way hotter than it seems. You’re welcome.

Amber Benson: Sometimes I tweet things that only in hindsight do I realize are naughty.

Andy Richter: PUNCH MY TAINT #candyheartrejects

Ethan Suplee: Dear Christians, remember when your patron saint of love was beheaded for performing illegal marriages? Happy Saint Valentine’s day!

kelly oxford: California should sell Kim Kardashian to a Sheik then take everyone to Friendly’s for a Happy Ending Sundae.

Albert Brooks: Was going to take a cruise but decided to stop up my own toilet and save money.


The Non TV Segment Of The Week

Not at all into rap, but for this I’ll make an exception. Warning! The following is NSFW!

…And now for something completely different.

And a long overdue celebration of the fact that they will take their rightful place in the Rock n” Roll Hall Of Fame later on this year? I present this…

Let’s double shot this bitch…


And that’s all I got for you. Believe me, I could keep going on about Castle‘s great big cliffhanger, or Once Upon A Time‘s “big reveal” that turned out to be exactly what I expected, or the last ten minutes of the latest Walking Dead. (which was freakin’ AWESOME) And so much more, but alas, I’ve had a rather busy week, so I’m rubbing up too close to my deadline to continue any further.

As always, cheers to all of you for clicking the link, and I truly hope that you enjoyed our short time together. I’d ask for you all to wish me luck with regards to defending my title as one of the 411 staff’s chief Oscar prediction experts, but you likely don’t give a crap.

All things being equal, Dimitri will be back for you to kick around next week.


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