He SAID: Fall TV Must Watch

Christopher M. Enis

*takes deep breath and does happy dance*

The Fall TV Season is like New Car Smell, Puppies, and a hug from Mom (okay, hugs from Mom are on a different level, please don’t tell her I downgraded them) all mashed into one!

There are 120+ new and returning TV series this year, which mean a whole lot of shi… err.. filler to get through to get to the good stuff. It’s a tough job, but I’m more than happy to do it. These shows top my ‘must watch’ list for the coming season:

  • Designated Survivor (ABC) Premieres: Wednesday, Sep. 21 at 10:00 PM—Kiefer Sutherland is, once again, asked to put the Free World on his back and save us all. But, he won’t be sleep deprived with a license to kill (and never once charging his cell phone) as he was on 24. This time, Sutherland is a cabinet member who becomes the President of the United States after everyone ahead of him is taken out.  Maggie Q, Kal Penn and Natascha McElhone co-star.
  • Conviction (ABC) Premieres: Monday, Oct. 3 at 10:00 PM—Hayes Morrison is a former First Daughter with more than a few… let’s call them ‘issues.’ She manages to get herself blackmailed by the New York District Attorney, and has to work for him in something called the ‘Conviction Integrity Unit.’ I normally wouldn’t care about this kind of show, but Hayley Atwell (she of the gone-too-soon Agent Carter) is in it so… yeah. The show also stars Shawn Ashmore, Merrin Dungey and Emily Kinney.
  • Riverdale (CW) Midseason—Archie, Betty, Veronica, and the gang find out that take on the zombie apocalypse. No, really. Well… sort of. This subversive interpretation of the classic comic characters comes to the small screen courtesy of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa . It’s the latest in a long line of comic book interpretations on the CW, so here’s hoping it makes its mark in the world of unbelievable make-believe.
  • Shots Fired (FOX) Midseason—An all-star cast (Sanaa Lathan, Stephen Moyer, Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephan James, Aisha Hinds, Tristan Wilds) come together for a limited series about an investigator (Latham) and special prosecutor (James) for the Department Of Justice, to journey a small Tennessee town in the aftermath of possibly racially motivated police shootings.
  • This Is Us (NBC) Premieres: Tuesday, Sep. 20 at 10:00 PM—yes, we were bombarded with the preview of this show non-stop during the Summer Olympics, yet I am still optimistic about This Is Us. I have a feeling that NBC has found a worthy successor to the ensemble void left when Parenthood ended its 6 season run in 2015. This show features a group of people who all share the same birthday, who lives intertwine. Hmm, that sounds more supernatural but I’m still down.

 

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VMA 2016

  • Christopher M. Enis
  • I ain’t gonna lie, I’m hoping DNCE’s Cake By The Ocean is played at least twice during the VMAs.
  • The VMAs have a White Carpet (I don’t know what happened to the Red Carpet, maybe they ditched it because it tends to draw folks like Ryan Seacrest, John Legend and Crissy Teigen to it like buzzards to a Wildebeest carcass)vma
  • Oh sweet Jesus, DJ Khalid, who next quiet moment of reflection will be his first, is one of the pre-show hosts. I’m already second guessing watching this.
  • Alessia Cara? I wonder if she’s related to Irene Cara (no she isnt)?  I don’t know who this skinny white boi waif is she brought out to sing the hook (Troye Sivan), but he’s wearing platforms that my 5 foot 3 step dad would have shanked him for back in 1979.
  • Cara, a Italian-Canadian and hook boi Troye, a South African-Australian are singing a song called Wild, that, I’m told, is R&B. Show me the receipts! I demand a second opinion.
  • Chance The Rapper, I love that brother. I’m checking his gear and it looks like he should have been on Sesame Street with that big ass 3 on his cap and those Earthtone overalls on.
  • 2 Chainz looking like he a warrior in the Gucci Tribe sponsored by Timbaland Boots
  • Beyonce strangled a Emu and threw it on her neck. I ain’t mad, that Emu may be, but I aint.
  • Kent Jones wearing a big ass hot coat with a hoodie.
  • Kent Jones was nominated for Song Of The Summer. I can’t with these VMA category names, having said that, I know that Cake By The Ocean came out around MLK Day or something but it should be the Song Of The Summer.
  • Tinashe.  Say her name out loud. Then say it soft. vma 3
  • Ariana Grande brought out the My Little Pony Tail with the frosted tips out tonight. Swing it girl.
  • Gaby Wilson is a MTV News Correspondent, like MTV does actual news.
  • VMA Pre-Show co-host Charlemagne Tha God’s name always gives me 9th Grade World History flashbacks.
  • Nick Jonas discusses his hit song, Bacon. DJ Khalid asks for confirmation about the song title and the smile on his face probably makes the Silk Almond Milk (who he does commercials for) people very nervous
  • Halsey is wearing a jumpsuit that is almost so sheer that you can tell she didn’t have enough money in the budget for a Brazilian Wax.
  • I feel so old and like the dirtiest of Dirty Old Men whenever Fifth Harmony shows up. Oh, they looked good in matching black.
  • Jidenna aka Bird from The Midnight Falcons, Jr. (look up Five Heartbeats characters, kids) is singing.  I was hoping he would perform his track Chief Don’t Run (nice follow up to his Classic Man song) but instead he sings something called A Little Bit more, a song that sounds like Flo Rida and Pitbull had a baby.  Jidenna complete the image by dressing in a breezy knee short outfit that would see your cool old Uncle wearing at the cook out because his usual J. Anthony Brown is way too hot for this humidity.
  • Speaking of J. Anthony Brown suits, this dude named Desiigner (that’s not a typo, that’s how he spells his name) is wearing a salmon colored suit, with no shirt on underneath.  This would be distracting enough if it wasn’t for the jaw dropping sound of his voice.  He sounds like he bought a 2nd hand Auto Tune from T-Pain and accidentally dropped it in a bucket of Tartar Sauce and said “Fuck it”.  His hit song is called Panda. I’m sure he could scare a panda into impotency with that voice.vma 2
  • P Diddy is here, I don’t feel like the oldest person watching this anymore
  • Someone named Myke and Steak are talking.  Steak is the girl.
  • Turns out that Myke, Girl Steak and VMAs Pre Show Co-Host Lizzo (these damn names!) are all part of some new show on MTV called Wonderland, yeah, like I’m setting that up in the DVR to record. Don’t bother looking them up, all Google got is listings for Steak Houses and Lizzo’s video for her song Good As Hell (which isn’t bad! It’s on that #BlackGirlMagic tip so no one under 40 will get it).
  • DNCE is here! Please sing Cake By The Ocean! Cake By The Ocean! Cake By The Ocean!
  • They didn’t sing Cake By The Ocean. Bummer that.
  • The lead singer of DNCE is Joe Jonas. His brother is Bacon singing Nick. They have the songs about food on lock at the VMAs
  • Ty Dolla $ign (Why does he call himself that and have the dollar sign symbol in his name as well…and a Dolla Sign tattoo on his neck, Jesus? I have so many questions!)
  • Ty Dolla $ign’s redhaired dread look reminds me of former Essence Magazine editor Susan Taylor. Serious forehead action going on.
  •  Zara Larsson looks nice in a black elf gown. Zara (and Lizzo) is from Minneapolis (RIP Prince). I have no idea who Zara Larsson is.
  • The Chainsmokers have the number 1 song in the country with Closer. Charlemagne makes a Surgeon General joke. I laughed because I enjoy the occasional corny joke.
  • Jidenna is back wearing a menthol looking man Kimono (it looks better than my description…kinda.)
  • Lukas Graham is singing his nominated song “Mama Said”.  I bet Mama never said for him to wear a sweatsuit jacket zipped up to the neck.
  • Mama Said sounds like a James Blunt/Ska/Motown Light mashup. (it sounds better than my description…kinda)
  • Welp, that’s a wrap from the VMAs White Carpet. Y’all excuse me, all this talk about steak, bacon and ocean cake has made my blood sugar rise dangerously high.

He SAID: The Stranger Things

Christopher M. Enis

In 1983, in the small town of Hawkins Indiana, 12-year old Will Byers disappeared. With no suspect, no evidence, and no answers… the only hope of finding him might lie with his rag-tag group of friends, and their unquestionable faith in the supernatural.

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So sets the stage for what might be one of the best binge-watching opportunities on Netflix. Stranger Things pays perfect homage to 80’s Pop Culture with references that transcend generations. For those of us older than the average Millennial, there are obvious parallels between iconic 80’s stories from Stephen King, Steven Speilberg and John Carpenter. The show even stars 80’s darlings Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine, who – in this story – are all grown up and basically getting in the way of progress, much like their adult counterparts back in the day.

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There may be no pair better suited to bring us this nostalgic mashup than the twin Duffer brothers. 80’s babies  Matt and Ross said hello to the world in 1984, and have managed to create a time capsule with a story that transcends space and time. That may be even more appropriate, considering the multi-dimensional story-line in this series. There are Dungeons & Dragons (duh! 80’s), big bad government conspiracies, and frantic adults who do more harm than good in the search for a 12 year old boy who has  disappeared without nearly a trace.

The Duffer Brothers are not just good  at capturing the feel and the look of the era, they also take the best parts of the stories from that time and meld them into a cohesive plot that really works.  It’s not even a stretch to say that Stranger Things surpasses 2011’s Super 8, a similar homage sci-fi film produced by Steven Spielberg.

Now that should tell you something.

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The script is excellent and the story is compelling, but – much like 80’s movies – it’s the kids that really make this show work. The young actors are perfectly cast to bring this story to life, and stand out as the driving force. All of the children are excellent, but the real stars are Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) and Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven). Matarazzo’s character is missing his front teeth, because of a condition called Cranial Displasia. The actor himself actually has the condition, and he nailed the performance so well in auditions that the writers decided to include it in the script. And Brown is such a standout as Eleven, that I’d be surprised if she’s not considered for an Emmy for this performance. Equal parts mysterious and bursting with childlike innocence, Eleven is the key to solving the mystery of little Will Byers and exposing a world that only the kids and the shadiest adults know exist.

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This show is so good that it has already been greenlit for Season 2, and it will continue along the same story-line. There are some well-deserved criticisms about parts of the show that feel rushed or are neatly resolved, particularly towards the end of the season. But overall Stranger Things is well done and well deserving of cult status, and many more seasons to come.

RATING: Binge

He SAID: Dare/Punish/Electrify

Christopher M. Enis

Daredevil Season 2 hit Netflix with all the fanfare worthy of a superhero comic. But to be honest, even with the appearance of two new major characters, I wasn’t that jazzed about it. I honestly thought that it wouldn’t reach beyond the classic adventures of Matt Murdock: Blind Lawyer by day and Vigilante by night.

Turns out I was wrong.

Season 2 might just be better than Season 1, and that’s saying something.

The new season starts with Murdock (Charlie Cox) moving forward, after taking down crime kingpin Wilson Fisk. Business is booming at the law firm he shares with partner Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and assistant Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll). There are plenty of clients, but none of them are able to pay in actual money. But a client in need is a client indeed, so no one is turned away. Alter ego Daredevil is just as generous, going out of his way to protect his residential Hell’s Kitchen.

But his efforts are not enough to satisfy the man we come to know as The Punisher, who takes things a step further. Where Daredevil works to disable wrong doers, The Punishimages-2er goes out of his way to specifically target and kill all known gang members and associates.

The Punisher is Frank Castle, a man brilliantly brought to life by Jon Bernthal. He is unapologetic, unyielding, and brutally thorough in his one-man mission against crime. When he finally comes face to face with Daredevil, the confrontation leaves the latter shaken to the core with the recognition of Castle’s determination.

If that’s not enough to grab you, our hero’s story is further complicated with a gorgeous blast from the past in the form of ninja-trained assassin (and former love ELECKTRAinterest) Elecktra Nachios (Elodie Young). She commands the screen from the moment she shows up, and performs so well that we’ve nearly forgotten that horrible movie starring Ben Affleck and his ex-wife.

There is a lot going on in Season 2, but it never feels overloaded. Everything that made season 1 great is expanded and easily lays the groundwork for the next great chapter in this series. It’s not a stretch to say that Daredevil’s second season is the best superhero event of 2016 (fans of the big DC debacle will disagree, but the thinking among us know better… much better).

RATING: Catch it on Netflix and consider it Must See TV.

 

He SAID: Messy Marvel

Christopher M. Enis

Marvel might be mostly straight-laced on the big screen (Tony Stark nonwithstanding), but it’sjessjones1 a different story on the small screen. First, we were led to the dark side with Daredevil. Now, Marvel is following up with an equality morally ambiguous Jessica Jones. This is the second installment of the collaboration with Marvel and Netflix, and so far it’s working very well.

Based on the Alias comic book series, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is former super-powered vigilante. These days, she’s a hard drinking, PTSD suffering, super-powered (’cause that’s what we call small screen ‘superheroes’. What, you didn’t get the memo?) private detective. And she’s moving around the very same Hell’s Kitchen where Daredevil resides. Her former and current lives collide when she takes on the case of finding a missing girl, the ironically named Hope (Erin Moriarty).  Jones’ case leads her to the very person responsible for destroying her life.

The show is similar to Daredevil in terms of grit and violence. But where Daredevil’s first season an R-rated superhero show, Jessica Jones reads like a psychological thriller about people who just happen to have super powers.

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Ritter is great in the title role.  She’s physically strong, cynical, emotionally distant, scarred, and downright unlikeable… sometimes all in the same scene. It’s a demanding role, and Ritter appears more than up for the challenge.

Creator Melissa Rosenberg has been trying to bring the series to television since 2010. Operating within the Marvel universe is not for the faint of heart, what with all the references to other characters and easter eggs designed to keep old fans and attract new ones. Rosenberg manages to do jessjones3all of it and more, even previewing Luke Cage (coming soon to a small screen near you).

And parents, please be warned: Jessica Jones is based on a comic book but it is NOT for kids. If you want superheroes who pick up after themselves and go to bed by 9, stick with the blockbusters on the big screen. Jessica Jones has been through hell and lived to tell the tale, and she makes no apologies for any of it. If you’re down to ride, Jones will take you on one that you’re not likely to forget.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones is currently streaming on Netflix.

RATING: Must See TV

He SAID: There’s a new (Super) Girl in Town…

Christopher M. Enis
Unless you’ve been living in a galaxy far, far away, it’s been impossible to miss that the Geeks have inherited the Earth (well, Hollywood and Television. Same difference).  These days, you can’t swing a Streaky The Super Cat  in any direction, without hitting a Superhero movie and/or television series. Despite this, there hasn’t been many with a lead female character (ABC’s Agent Carter and The CW’s iZombie are the notable exceptions).  But as we close 2015, change is on the horizon… and her name is Supergirl.
The first episode of CBS’ Supergirl aired on CBS. Even with its typically older viewership, the series might be right at home at a network with a long history of female-empowered storylines (Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, Alice and, more recently, The Good Wife & Madam Secretary).
Based on the DC Comics character (created in 1959 by Otto Binder and Al Plastin43d4f1c7352b0e244413e1f916af6075o), Supergirl is Kara Zor-El a.k.a. Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist). She and cousin Kal-El (Superman) were the last survivors of the doomed planet Krypton.  Kara and Kal were sent on their way in separate rockets to Earth, but a cosmic mishap literally changed the course of both of their lives.
In a stunt casting move that only nerds will appreciate, once Kara finally makes it to earth she is taken in by Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers… who are none other than former Supergirl Helen Slater and former Superman Dean Cain. Kara begins her life on Earth like any country girl who e39b3d6b58850791165a9aace73184d5ends up working in the big city… under a painful interpretation of The Devil Wear Prada’s chief villian, played by Calista Flockhart. Shall we just pretend that she doesn’t resemble husband Harrison Ford’s frozen facade circa Return of the Jedi about the eyes and face? Yes? Okay. I kept sitting there waiting for her face to move into some sort of … expression. Alas, nothing. But we’re pretending not to notice! Back to the story…
Kara may be the second most powerful person on the planet but there seems to be more than a few reasons why she’s decided to hide out and pretend to be ‘normal.’ An unexpected emergency causes her to shed her doubts, and go up up and away… fueled by all the Girl Power cliches that CBS can muster in a single episode. It’s alma7a35b1f367bf382057e436bb3fd8e0aost too much. But I get it. So even though the story so far is full of plot holes large enough to drive a semi through, it’s all for the good of the Girl Power. Supergirl doesn’t exist to add to the deep, dramatic angst that is the norm for most of the superhero series/movies. It’s meant to show that ‘anything you can do I can do better’ for the real life up and coming SuperGirls of our time. The male characters on the show take a back seat in the first episode (I’m working to ignore the fact that Jimmy Olsen is way too damn old), and there’s a pretty good chance their supporting status won’t change much as the show progresses.

The best thing about Supergirl is likely Supergirl herself. Benoist is on point in a star-making role.  She makes Kara likeable, believable and worthy of rooting for. She is a breath of fresh air in a superhero universe dominated by men… not to mention the vanguard of a number of series/movies with women in prominent roles (Jessica Jones on Netflix, the Wasp in the upcoming Ant-Man sequel, and Wonder Woman in Batman vs Superman).  d18efb7dc9cd33986220dac9bf30a556Supergirl is a great and long overdue start to the Superhero Ladies Revolution, and she should soar for years to come.