Arrow Season Three Premiere Initial Thoughts

I like Arrow. I think of it as the closest thing we’ll ever get to having a live-action Batman TV show and that’s a good thing. If you’ve watched Seasons One and Two, you’ve noticed how certain situations, images and lines of dialog were lifted straight from the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight series and the (Green) Arrow himself is as close to Batman as you can get. I realize the Green Arrow is its own character, with its own history, I still see Arrow as a TV version of The Dark Knight trilogy.

Stephen Amell is great. He’s not the most skilled actor, but that’s not a problem at all. In fact that’s the main reason I like him in the lead role so much. He’s like William Shatner from The Original Series. He’s got the look. He’s got the athleticism and he can act just enough to get by. However, the X factor Amell has is his unintentionally funny dramatic scenes. In dramatic scenes, when Oliver is having an emotional moment with whoever; Laurel, Felicity, Sara, Thea, whoever, his gaze wanders to the side as he gets a vacant look in his eyes. This has happened in dozens of scenes over the past couple of seasons. For me, it’s awful acting… but I find that charming and it actually has a campiness to the show that keeps it fun for me. I’m not making fun of it. I’m just amused by how hard it’s trying and I respect that.

So, here we are at Season Three. I am a big, big, big fan of Season One. It had a strong, focused story arc from beginning to end. The Season One Finale was closure to all the story lines building over the season. Season Two faultered big time. The writers were definitely throwing in everything they could fit into the script. Sara is still alive, but now she’s a rogue assassin from The League of Assassins. Laurel has a drinking problem. Queen Consolidated is being taken over. Slade loses his mind on the island. Thea still has a funny Donald Duck lisp. There was no focus through Season Two other than Slade was there to get revenge on Oliver; something he pretty much could’ve done at any time since he was face to face with Oliver’s loved-ones throughout the season. Anyway, whatever. Season Two was messy but fun and it ended well. It provided solid closure to the Slade/Arrow revenge plot which was getting pretty tedious by that point.

Speaking of tedious, ok, I’ll finally cover the Season Three Premiere. I’ll just go in bullet points because I don’t feel like obeying grammar:

  • Flashback Oliver has a better wig now. I immediately miss the crappy, chessy wig, but this new Hong Kong wig has more natural body which gives it a rock star vibe.
  • Hong Kong flashback stuff… oh boy. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of the flashbacks. I really don’t care about Oliver’s mysterious pass anymore. I’d rather have them eliminate the 10-15 minutes of flashback time and devote that to better characterizations of the present day stuff.
  • Brandon Routh. I guarantee that everyone’s response to this casting was: “That’s nice that he’s getting work.” I like Routh. His Superman performance was awkward, but that’s the filmmakers fault for casting such an inexperienced actor in a major role like that. Routh did his absolute best job to play Superman and it shows. He’s nearly a decade older now, and he feels more comfortable in this new role of Atom Man or whatever they’ll call him. I think he could really had a fun element to the show, so I’m looking forward to where they’re going with this character.
  • Diggle can’t get any respect. I really dug the chocolate and vanilla bromance between Diggle and Oliver in Season One. They tag teamed crime like a bunch of bosses. In Season Two, the writers had no idea what to do with him. There were numerous times Arrow was “out in the field” alone with Diggle at the lair with Felicity for no reason. They at least acknowledge that now with Oliver’s concern about endangering a father-to-be. I really hope Season Three does more with Diggle because he’s become irrelevant with the addition of Roy.
  • Oliver and Felicity is so barf-worthy that I can’t help but love/hate it. The whole thing about Oliver being deeply in love with her is so manufactured that I really hope the Arrow writers have something up their sleeve. It’s too artificial to simply add to the show simply because she’s the only girl that Oliver hasn’t stuck with his pink arrow… well, except for Thea but seriously, man. Why are you even taking it there? You should be ashamed of yourself.
  • Sara! Nooooo! I mean, yes! Because I like it when shows make bold moves. Again, I’m very eager to see where they take that story twist.

So, those are just some initial thoughts on Arrow’s Season Three Premiere. Do you watch Arrow? Let’s me Arrow buddies on Twitter @Junkballmedia. I turned off comments here because of the dozens of spam bots that try to sell me discount handbags and NFL mugs.

Oct. 13th 2014 Update

Hellooooooo. First off, the next Therapy should be published by the end of this week. It’s on the Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine. Sorry for the long wait since the last video. I actually spent two weeks working on a video that I ultimately decided not to publish. It was a pilot for a new series. Even though I’m not uploading this video, it was still time well spent because it gave me a good place to build from when I eventually revisit this idea. In a nutshell, it’s a comparison series called Versus. An example of an episode would be Nemesis vs. Star Trek, or Man of Steel vs. Superman Returns. Whereas Therapy is more of a retrospective, infotainment series, Versus is more analytical. We all know that Star Trek 2009 is a better overall film than Star Trek Nemesis, but it’s fun to compare and contrast each film, where each succeeded or failed in comparison with each other. Hopefully that doesn’t sound too dry. It would still be a Junkball Media video, so I’d do my best to keep it fun and worth your while.

In the immediate future, the USS Enterprise E Therapy will follow The DeLorean Time Machine Therapy. I have the first draft of the USS Enterprise E Therapy complete and I’m very excited about starting production on that Therapy. I really want to have that one published by the end of October or early November. I also have notes started on First Contact, Insurrection and Nemesis. I wish I had them completed already, but ya know… they say time is the fire in which we burn or whatever that means.

So, thanks for watching and stuff. I really appreciate all the support and feedback. Therapy is an absolute blast to produce, so I’m happy you’ve enjoyed them. I’ll do my best to complete new episodes as soon as I can. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @Junkballmedia. Peace.

First Impression of Gotham

I’m definitely a pessimist when it comes to Gotham. I like Batman like most people, but was skeptical about a Batman show without Batman. It really felt like a cheap ploy to capture an audience by simply setting a generic cops and robbers show in Gotham. As of writing this, we’re only three episodes into the first season, so that might still be the case eventually. However, so far so good.

The pilot episode was disappointing because, well, I didn’t see a single pilot in the show, nor did I see a single airplane. Ok, kidding aside; the first episode was a bit dry but that’s true for a lot of shows. Producing a pilot episode of a new series is a difficult task. You have one or two hours to introduce a bunch of characters, then introduce the situations and world these characters live in. Then you need you need to convince people to care about these characters and situations. On top of all that, you need a story because otherwise you’re just checking off a laundry list of exposition.

In any case, Gotham’s pilot episode felt like a laundry list of exposition. It didn’t waste any time in killing off Bruce Wayne’s parents. I find death scenes fascinating because it’s one of those things all actors have to go through at some point whether it’s in school or professionally. The Thomas and Martha Wayne death scene acting was pretty hokey, but we won’t have to see those actors much again, so no big deal. The important thing the show wants to get across is that a young Selina Kyle witness their deaths too. I think this is a great idea. It actually forms a bond between Catwoman and Batman. Thematically, Batman is a loner. As far as he’s concerned, he was the sole person to experience his parent’s murder. However through chance, Catwoman was a bystander to those murders which could provide the basic sympathy and understand she’ll have for Batman regardless if he ever learns that she witnessed his parents’ death. So, nice twists on that.

Immediately afterwards, we’re introduced to Jim Gordon and his what’s-his-face partner. It’s pretty basic goodcop/badcop stuff. Their hunt for the Wanyer family murderer is the backdrop for introducing the audience to other significant characters. I honestly didn’t care about anything that happened and found myself zoning out for the rest of the episode. That said, it’s a pilot and I had nothing better to do, scratch that, I was too lazy to do anything else so I watched the next episode, “Selina Kyle.”

This episode immediately sucked me in. First off, full confessional: I hate homeless gutter punks. So, when Lily Taylor and the dude from Field of Dreams show up kidnapping them, the show got my complete, undivided attention. Sarcasm doesn’t work too well on the internet, so just kidding about the hate of homeless kids. The episode overall was satisfying. It had a cohesive beginning, middle, end and my standards are low.

The third episode was even better. The angle with the Balloon man playing social justice, vigilante was great. Seeing young Bruce feed off the news and form his own opinions of what a vigilante should be portrayed the development of Batman like no other Batman production ever has. Also, the rapport between Jim Gordon his partner whats-his-face is settling in to a nice groove. They’re genuine mutual respect for each other, yet their core values are still at conflict. So, I really look forward to seeing their relationship continue. Whats-his-face has dead guy written all over him, but I’m assuming the show is going to make us fall in love with him before they decide to kill him off, so let me preemptively say to Gotham’s producers, assholes! And good job so far.

Update July 25th 2014

Just a quick update for all the spam bots out there, I’ve got a few new videos coming down the pipes. The main one is Star Trek Generations Therapy in about two weeks.

Besides Star Trek Generations Therapy, there will be a few random uploads like random pieces of film/TV show music. I’d also like to touch upon other mediums like video games. Franchises like Star Trek, Batman and Superman are one of the few IPs that have existed in video games since the 1970s, so that’s worth exploring. Blah, I hate type. Here’s a list of likely coming up videos:

• Star Trek Generations Therapy
• Random pieces of music (like the Star Trek IV punk song)
• Video game-related video
• A superhero Therapy
• Another USS Enterprise Therapy
• A horror movie

I’m aiming to have a new video every 10-14 days, so there shorter videos filling the space between the more substantial videos. Coolthankswhatever.

I also feel compelled to share some information about who I am, so here we go… If I had a waffle maker, I’d never use it. Ooh. We’re getting closer. Can you feel it?

USS Enterprise D Analysis Retrospective

The USS Enterprise D is my favorite starship to appear in the franchise. She’s massive while still looking weightless. She’s graceful, majestic, grand; basically all the things that a starship Enterprise should be. Even as she approaches being 30 years old, she looks timeless. So, let’s explore her history, design and destruction. The follow writing is a companion to the video above, so I recommend watching that before reading any further.

Design & Aesthetic:
From an aesthetic standpoint, she’s the most progressive ship ever designed in the Enterprise linage. The ship has a compressed oval motif that’s most visible with her Saucer Section, Main Deflector Dish and Buzzard Collectors. This effect of this motif is calming. Her chief designer, Andrew Probert resisted the temptation of designing an aggressive warship. While a warship may’ve sold more toys with kids, it would’ve have fit in with The Next Generation’s outlook on the future. Star Trek was never about outer space dog fights like Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica. Star Trek about the Enterprise arriving on a distress call, then her crew would resolve the issue using every resource the Enterprise provided them. Her armaments are simply a set of forward and aft torpedo bays and a few thin phaser arrays wrapping a few areas of the hull. They might be the last thing people notice when looking at her. The USS Enterprise D conveys that spirit very well.

Her warp nacelles are also understated. Proportional to the original and refit Constitution Class Enterprise, the Galaxy Class Enterprise’s nacelles are relatively small. They’re also tucked under the Saucer Section and angled forward with thin pylons. The original Enterprise went with an opposite approach. The Constitution Class warp nacelles were large and long. They dramatically rose out of her hull on long, sweeping pylons and here angled backwards to create the illusion of forward motion. The original and refit Constitution Class Enterprise is just as evocative, but there’s something to be said for the understated grace of the Enterprise D. Within the narrative, she’s a much larger, advanced and faster ship, but Andrew Probert resisted the temptation to express that in her outer appearance.

In fact, the Enterprise D outer appearance was initially supposed to be even more benign. Probert’s original coloring scheme can be found here (http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Galaxy_class_model). In a nutshell, instead of the standard federation grey used on the finished filming model, Probert wanted the Aztec hull pattern to consist of robin’s egg blue and pale greens. The model makers Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) honored Probert’s suggested color scheme as well as they could while also taking practical considerations into account.

Filming Model:
Memory Alpha does a great job at chronicling the Enterprise D’s filming models. In short, there were initially two models. A 6 foot model that could physically separate. It was large and heavy since both the Star Drive and Saucer Sections requires their own independent skeletal structure and lighting systems. Then there’s the 2 foot model for extreme wide shots. Once ILM completed filming the stock footage TNG producers requested, Image G took over later visual effects duties. They were a much smaller operation with even more limited resources. Almost immediately the 6 foot model became too cumbersome for the rigors of a weekly television series. Following TNG’s second season, Image G constructed a smaller 4 foot model. This model didn’t need to separate, so they could cut down on size and weight. The 4 foot model wasn’t as refined as the 6 foot model, but it allowed Image G to create more dynamic shots of the ship, so it was a fair tradeoff.

Having another Enterprise D model also gave producer the flexibility of augmenting the 4 foot model for the alternate future Enterprise in All Good Things. This ship would go on display at a Planet Hollywood, then go missing for several years before resurfacing where it was restored.

Destruction:
The ship’s graceful design was likely the core reason why she was destroyed in Star Trek Generations. As the video USS Enterprise D Therapy chronicles, her aesthetic design led to several complications with the filming model. The combination of being too heavy with complicated lighting circuits and have a limited number of mounting points, the original filming model would’ve been replaced regardless of the ship being destroyed within the movie or not. Since this of TNG’s first movie, the producers also wanted to make a big splash, so she was destroyed. When you consider that the climax of Generations is Picard, Kirk and Soran fumbling over a rocket remote control, the rest of the Enterprise D crew needed something to do in the movie.

Like a lot of geeky kids in the 80s, the Star Trek The Next Generation Technical Manual was a treasure trove of information. One of the nuggets from the manual was a diagram illustrating an emergency saucer landing. While the destruction of the Enterprise D felt rushed and unnecessary to me, I was entertained that the writers would follow this obscure diagram from a non-canon publication that was seven years old by the time Generations was released. While it may’ve made practical sense to ditch the Enterprise D’s model and design following Generations, the later TNG movies lost one of the series’ most iconic elements. The Enterprise D remains the quintessential Captain Picard Enterprise.

One of my favorite aspects of the Constitution Class Enterprise was that it was the same ship between TOS and the first three movies. When that Enterprise eventually blew up, it felt appropriate. That wasn’t the case with the Enterprise D. It still felt new. Audiences next got a chance to really see her go toe-to-toe with a Romulan Warbird, or take serious damage like in The Wrath of Khan. The Enterprise D was eventually downed by a defective Bird of Prey, which added to the cheap feeling Generations gave off. Even the use of the Bird of Prey was cheap. It was basically the only movie-quality Klingon ship they could use. The other Klingon ships from the 24th Century weren’t up to snuff for the big screen. It might’ve been more effective to use an equally powerful Klingon ship, but the movie didn’t have the budget or time to design a new Klingon ship. Not only that, but when the Bird of Prey was later destroyed, they simply reused footage from Star Trek VI. Wasn’t there an alternate shot of the Bird of Prey explosion from Star Trek VI that they could’ve used? In USS Enterprise D Therapy, you’ll notice they cut to the Bird of Prey as the explosion starts because otherwise you’d see the Star Trek VI torpedo hit the Bird of Prey.

On the 2009 Director’s Commentary of Generations, David Carson claims they shot their own Bird of Prey destruction. He seems fairly hazy with his recollection of Generation’s production, so it’s tough to believe him. If he is being accurate, the shot must’ve turned out poorly causing them to use Star Trek VI’s footage. I’m off topic from the Enterprise D, but the manner in which they reuse the Bird of Prey footage illustrates the rushed and cheap production of Generations that failed to give the Enterprise D a proper send off.

While there’s been three new Enterprise designs since the 1701-D with the Enterprise E, NX-01, and JJ-verse reboot, none have really come close be being as iconic as the Enterprise D. That’s remarkable considering her design is so understated. The D stands out as an Enterprise design that not preoccupied with looking cool and she’ll probably be the last Enterprise to be able to say that.

Update 4/28/2014

Hi. Thanks for checking in. I don’t have a good method of providing updates at the moment. So, in case you’re curious I have a couple new Therapy videos coming together as I type this.

You’ll notice that Batman Returns Therapy is the latest video, but I haven’t forgotten about Star Trek. The next two videos will be TNG era Star Trek. I’d just like to break them up with other franchises. It helps me stay out of mental ruts. So in the immediate future the next two Star Trek Therapy videos should land in May 2014 followed by another non-Trek in June 2014.

As always, I appreciate the feedback so feel free to leave any you might have. Thanks for swinging by!