Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday Grab Bag(s) of Unfinished Stories

I had started composing the SGB post for June 14 around the middle of last week, with the intention of finishing it on Friday at work and setting it to auto-publish the next day. But then of course that was Friday the 13th and a full moon and the bino was up for 3 solid hours starting at midnight the night before, so I bailed on work, the blog, and just about everything else (with the exception of the little guy's end-of-kindergarten show). As it happens, now that another whole week has gone by I have a few more items to add along similar themes, so I now present double the grab bag! Bear in mind, then, that all references to days of the preceding week in Part One actually refer to dates between the 9th and 13th.


Another one to file under Fortuitous Timing: so on Tuesday night, the day after I finished reading Mr. Mercedes (probably several days after the more maniacal Stephen King superfans stayed up all night to finish reading it the day it was released), King announced via Twitter and Facebook that the novel is actually the first installment of a proposed trilogy. I'm just slightly on the positive side of indifference on the announcement itself; I liked the book but didn't feel like my life would be incomplete without further adventures set in that world (which, again, is basically the real world). But I am extremely glad that the announcement didn't come until after I had finished the book. I'm firmly of the opinion that the way I read a book, and my expectations and suspension of disbelief and emotional investment and whatnot, are all very different when I'm reading a stand-alone work as opposed to the opener of a series. I can imagine some of the specific ways my experience with Mr. Mercedes would have been different had I known about the trilogy plans, and as I say, I'm glad I went into it thinking it was a one-and-done.


Speaking of ongoing current series ... I mentioned, a while ago, that as far as prestige tv shows that are going concerns right now and which my wife and I are following as fans, it's a pretty select few. Actually, it was only two (Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones) and my wife has pretty much given up on Downton Abbey so it's just GoT. So there's a bunch of stuff we (or I alone) might get into someday, playing catch-up as grand finales approach, or even well after they've come and gone: The Americans, Orphan Black, Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad (not current, I know, but ended recently enough), and so on. And because all of those shows are on my "maybe" list, but very much part of the discussion in online forums, I tend to steer clear of a lot of articles about them to keep myself relatively unspoiled.

However I did read a piece about Orange is the New Black this week and I was gobsmacked by the fact that apparently the prison in the series is called Litchfield. Mainly because I had been rolling around that archaic word in my brain more than usual recently. I've been toying with a horror story idea about dealing with the undead (zombies, vampires, etc.), and whether or not most monster movies let the protagonists off too easy in their ability to "kill" the undead. Maybe the best humans could hope for is to somehow contain these monsters that can never really be destroyed. They'd have to build some kind of special maximum security cemetery or something. My working title for this proto-story was "LICHFIELD, INC." because lichfield is just a cool-sounding old term for graveyard. I say 'was', you'll note, because now that I know Litchfield is the prison in OITNB, I don't want to seem too derivative. Don't worry, I've already thought of a new working title. But I do wonder how many regular viewers of OITNB are cognizant of the play on words there.


On Wednesday this week it was rainy, and usually even if it's not actively coming down but there's lots of puddles on the sidewalks, I just walk through the underground from the train station to my office building. I'm equally likely to take the subterranean route if I have to stop off at the post office first thing in the morning, since that sidetrip puts me underground anyway, and that applied this Wednesday as well because I had both a Father's Day card and a Netflix dvd to mail. But the dvd in question, which I had just finished watching, was Terry Gilliam's Brazil. So you better believe that after slipping it through the mail slot in the post office lobby, I headed back out into the muggy air beneath the cloudy sky, because I pretty much couldn't bear to be closed in by cinderblock walls and low ceilings. To say nothing of the exposed ducts!

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This week my wife and I put in some quality time with our Blu-ray player, and watched an episode of Game of Thrones one night, and an episode of Buffy the next. We are now halfway through Season 3 of GoT! By mid-summer or so we should be done with that and then just counting down for Season 4 to come out on disc.

We're almost halfway through our rewatch of Season 3 of Buffy, as it happens, one episode shy at this point. Which means the episode we watched, on a day when it hit about 98 around here, was the Christmas episode, aka Amends, aka the backdoor pilot for Angels' spinoff series, aka one of my wife's all-time top 5 favorite episodes of Buffy, aka many other cool things which were much more apparent to me on this rewatch than the first time we tore through the complete series. In addition to the seasonal irony, it's significant enough to merit a mention because part of the whole point of re-watching Buffy is to simultaneously watch Angel for the first time, and now it feels like we're getting close to actually implementing that phase of the grand campaign. Huzzah.

I also should acknowledge the weird bit of trivia that Amends contains the first appearance of, um, The First Evil, a cool (and supremely Whedonesque) concept which wouldn't resurface again until it returned as the big bad for the final season of Buffy almost four years later. This got my wife and I talking, after the credits, about the long mythology of Buffy and the relative merits of the Big Bads over the course of the series. I was holding forth on the way that each Big Bad builds up the threat level from the previous one, until of course Season 4 which I pointed out all right-thinking fans consider the weakest season. My wife agreed with that assessment by way of an all-consumingly aggrieved epic eyeroll. I have to admit I find that irresistibly adorable, that eleven years after Buffy went off the air my wife can still have sincerely passionate reactions to how disappointing a certain season of it was. I fully cop to being the one in the relationship who's usually obsessed with some pop culture minutiae or another while my wife is the more grounded one, but she has her moments, and I wouldn't have her any other way.


And on a final note, this week marks the anniversary of the theatrical release of the Green Lantern film back in 2011. You could refer to that movie as the first part of a trilogy, but while that may have been the original intent, clearly you'd be lying to yourself if you still thought two more sequels were going to happen. (Which is why I am not calling it that.)

No, clearly what is much more likely is a reboot of some sort. And as faithful readers of the blog will know by now, I have softened quite a bit on the acceleration of the reboot cycle between one iteration of a franchise and the next. I used to think one set of movies per generation was about right, but now I know that the interval can be much smaller without feeling too much like a second verse, same as the first.

Usually it's the successful franchises that get rebooted after they run themselves into the ground, not the franchises that failed to launch with the premier installment. But, Warner Brothers is pretty clearly desperate to catch up to Marvel Studios and the Avengers phenomenon, so I still think it's a safe bet that we'll see more Green Lantern movies sooner than later. How soon? Well, again, that's hard to calculate given that all the other precedents were moneymakers and not flops, but for simplicity's sake let's assume we're comparing apples to apples.

Superman Returns came out in June of 2006. (Point of fact, basically every big DC Comics superhero movie comes out in late June, so from here on out I will refer to years only and the June part will be implied.) Man of Steel rebooted the series in 2013, seven years later. Batman and Robin came out in 1997; Batman Begins, in 2005, eight years later. The Spider-Man franchise rebooted after five years and change, as did the X-Men series (except now that Days of Future Past is in continuity, First Class isn't really a reboot, just a prequel, but let's not get sidetracked) and I concede that those are Marvel properties and maybe oranges to DC's apples, but they still add some weight to the argument that a franchise can re-invent itself in as little as half a decade. WB tends to be a bit slower, but who knows, maybe they'll speed things up going forward in the Great Superhero Franchise Movie Wars of the 2010's.

So, my bold prediction is that the Green Lantern movie reboot will come out six years after the original. (In June, of course.) And it's been three years since the original, which means we're already halfway there! Three years is still a fairly long time in Hollywood, though, and thus I'm not going to go so far as to say who I think will play Hal Jordan in the next go-round; it's entirely possible that it will be some young stud who's relatively unknown as of today. Which makes this probably my one and only chance to post this piece of fan art miscasting the role in an utterly awesome way.

Please note the judges would accept Dwayne Johnson as Kilowog, however.

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