Friday, March 23, 2018

On The Air: Krypton (2018)

David Goyer has had two previous TV series based on comic books. Suffice it to say, while his track record in movies has been, well, exemplary, television has been just the opposite.

Blade followed the Wesley Snipes film trilogy, but with rapper Kirk "Sticky Fingaz" Jones replacing Snipes in the title role. It lasted 1 season on Spike. On the heels of the success of "Man of Steel" on the big screen, on which Goyer was a producer, Constantine was a critical darling, but a victim of NBC programmers' indifference, and was also cut after 1 season, despite a viewer write-in campaign. Constantine, at least, lives on, airing in reruns on CW Seed, and the character himself (Matt Ryan) now appears on Legends of Tomorrow.

So, what to make of Goyer's latest, Krypton?

Posited as a prequel to the Superman mythos, Krypton, which bowed Wednesday, is built around Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), the Man of Steel's grandfather, and the underdog story of restoring his family's honor while rebelling against tyrannical rule.

Tyranny? On Krypton? I don't think Joe Shuster & Jerry Siegel ever thought of it.

Syfy intends for Krypton to refresh the Superman story, unlike how Fox's Gotham has written its own warped variation on Batman's backstory. Jax-Ur, whom you may remember as a Phantom Zone villain in pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Comics history, has been gender-flipped into a woman, just because. However, Brainiac has been plugged in as DC's answer to, say, Galactus, no longer a mere android with super intelligence. They started messing with Brainiac back in the 80's at DC.

Then, factor in Adam Strange, a sci-fi hero of the Silver Age, reposited as a 20-something time traveler who goes to Krypton to warn Seg of 1) its impending doom and 2) his future grandson, among other things. If they're going to use Strange as a time traveler, he's on the wrong show.

Goyer co-wrote the opener, so it's on him. That it required two directors doesn't make much sense at the moment.

Right now, scope this trailer from Syfy's YouTube channel:

Ok, so Seg is headstrong, gets into fights he doesn't need to, and, in a nod to Gotham, he not only loses his grandfather in the opener, but his parents, too.

I don't know how Goyer was able to sell this to Syfy, much less WB, but I'm not feeling this at all.

Rating: C-.

American League 2018 preview

Two of the three divisions look easy to figure, but, then again........

AL East:

It's easy to say the Yankees could not only reach the LCS this year, but the World Series, hoping to snap a 9 year drought. First year manager Aaron Boone, formerly of ESPN, has a nice problem to have with an embarrassment of riches. It wasn't enough that the Yanks picked up Danny Espinosa (Washington/Tampa Bay/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, etc.) and Jace Peterson (Atlanta) to shore up the bench, but now they have rebuilt Murderers' Row for the 21st century with reigning Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby champ Aaron Judge and the biggest acquisition of the winter, Giancarlo Stanton (Miami) at the center, flanked by Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and their latest signee, Neil Walker (Mets/Milwaukee). They have depth all around the infield, as well as in the outfield. I question whether or not Sonny Gray, in his first full season in the Bronx, can handle the pressure after being about as consistent as a broken toilet last summer. As it is, #5 starter Jordan Montgomery will have all kinds of pressure starting the home opener vs. Tampa Bay on April 2.

In Boston, Red Sox Nation doesn't care that management may have been fleeced by Scott Boras in signing ex-Valleycat J. D. Martinez (Detroit/Arizona). As long as Martinez produces, adding to an already potent offense with two-sport star Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and Mitch Moreland, they'll be happy. I worry more about the pitching. Baltimore fans will be concerned if another Boras drone, Manny Machado, decides to walk after this season to chase the money. And they wonder why no one brings up that they haven't had a sniff of the World Series in 35 years. Along with Toronto & Tampa Bay, they're playing for show money.

Projected order of finish:

1. Yankees.
2. Boston.
3. Toronto.
3 (tie). Baltimore.
5. Tampa Bay.

AL Central:

They say that Kansas City has gone from contender to pretender. Not sure about that yet. Yes, Lorenzo Cain is gone (Milwaukee), but they did get a power bat in Lucas Duda (Mets/Tampa Bay) to replace Eric Hosmer (San Diego). Hosmer, of course, is another Boras drone. Never should've let Hosmer go. If Salvatore Perez can stay healthy, he could form a 1-2 punch with Duda. Ron Gardenhire, last seen venting his spleen in Minnesota, is now the skipper in Detroit. While the pitching is solid with Michael Fulmer and Jordan Zimmerman at the front, the offense has to come around after letting Martinez go to Arizona last summer. Miguel Cabrera & Victor Martinez aren't going to be there forever. It's really a two-horse race, if you believe the pundits, those two being Cleveland and Minnesota. The Indians foolishly decided not to keep Jay Bruce and played Indian giver by letting him go back to the Mets. The Twins' young core may be ready to finally break through. Brian Dozier wouldn't happen to be related to ex-Met & Penn State football hero D. J. Dozier, would he? If Chicago and Rick Renteria want to get back into contention, get Ken Harrelson out of the booth. His act can get stale after a while, and he wasn't the homer he is now when he was Dick Stockton's caddy in Boston many moons ago. Harrelson doesn't realize it, but he may be a plague on the White Sox. Just sayin'.

Projected order of finish:

1. Minnesota.
2. Cleveland.
3. Kansas City.
4. Detroit.
5. Chicago.

AL West:

Contrary to what I thought might happen, Houston didn't extend their World Series celebration all the way to the home district, what with a good number of Valleycats alumni (i.e. Jose Altuve, George Springer, Dallas Keuchel) as vital parts of their championship team. The division is theirs to lose. They let Mike Fiers walk, and the last I checked, he was getting regularly lit up in preseason games for Detroit. They get a full season of Justin Verlander, and picked up Gerrit Cole (Pittsburgh) to replace Fiers. In contrast, Texas, despite taking a chance on Bartolo Colon (Atlanta/Minnesota), doesn't really have enough left in their veteran core to make another run. Seattle welcomed back Ichiro Suzuki (Miami) as a free agent, and added more speed by getting Dee Gordon (Miami), who is being converted to an outfielder since Robinson Cano is the incumbent at second base. Pitching is a question mark. Moneyball won't be the necessary answer in Oakland anymore, as they're still about two years away from a playoff return. Los Angeles needs to make a big run, one last run for Albert Pujols, who entered the league the same year Ichiro did. How many more times can network yakkers talk up Mike Trout for MVP if the team's nowhere near playoff contention? How soon does Mike Scioscia need to borrow some SlimFast from Tommy Lasorda?

Projected order of finish:

1. Houston.
2. Seattle.
3. Los Angeles.
4. Oakland.
4 (tie). Texas.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Modern Classic: Roseanne (1988)

After seeing NBC's fortunes turn around with The Cosby Show, ABC executives asked producers Marcy Carsey & Tom Werner to give them a similar tentpole sitcom.

Roseanne lasted about as long as Cosby did, and, as it returns for a short-season revival on Tuesday, it doesn't have the tabloid baggage that has convinced certain cable networks to shy away from reruns of any of Cosby's shows.

Roseanne Barr based her show on her own life and stand-up comedy routines, the latter in much the same way Cosby had mined his act for Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids years earlier. While Cosby was set in New York, Roseanne opted for an Illinois suburb.

You might remember this intro.

There was the curious case of recasting the part of Becky Conner, with Sarah Chalke stepping in for Alicia "Lecy" Goranson. Such a casting change was rarely done in primetime by that point. In the revival, both actresses will appear, with Chalke playing a different character. Johnny Galecki is splitting time between the revival and his current gig, The Big Bang Theory, and likely will pull viewers from his CBS series over to Roseanne just for fun.

The big question, of course, is how to explain Dan (John Goodman) being alive and well when he was killed off near the end of the original series. I guess we'll all find out together on Tuesday. There will be more muscial clips from the original series down the road. I have seen some reruns over the years, but not enough to merit a rating. For now.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Musical Interlude: Whirly Girl (1983)

Here's a one-hit wonder with some serious groove.

OXO scored its only hit in 1983 with the infectious "Whirly Girl". Vocalist Angel Ledesma wrote the song about his wife, Lori, who'd later be a part of the later pop combo, Company B. Deborah Jenssen (Solid Gold) is the titular doll in the video.

I guess Deborah was meant to be a stand-in for Lori Ledesma, since her top matches Angel Ledesma's jacket. I had the vinyl single, and just couldn't stop playing it back in the day.

Sports this 'n' that

Headed into a home match today vs. Canisius, the University at Albany's men's lacrosse team is ranked #1 in the country at 6-0. They've already beaten Syracuse and Maryland, for starters. Unlike their basketball & football brethren, however, UAlbany doesn't have a radio deal for lacrosse, though some games did air on local cable before Spectrum merged their news & sports channels together last year. Keep up the good work, guys. You're making the home district proud!
High school baseball & lacrosse season starts in 2 weeks. Due to Easter being on April Fool's Day (4/1), the first week of games will be early afternoon matinees with the schools otherwise closed for spring/Easter vacation. The colleges are on Spring Break this week.

Later in April, Joe Bruno Stadium and the Tri-City Valleycats will host the annual Friday Night Lights high school baseball series. Three weeks of double-headers, scheduled for April 20-May 4, barring rainouts. The only game announced so far is the first half of the April 20 double-dip, a Colonial Council matchup between Watervliet and LaSalle. It'll be a home game for the Cadets. The rest of the schedule will be officially made public the week of April 16, but all you need to do, really, is scan the league schedules (Colonial, Suburban, etc.) to see when your teams are booked for the Joe. Crossing fingers that LaSalle isn't the only hometown school playing at Bruno Stadium this time.
What goes into the mind of a veteran NFL coach like the Patriots' Bill Belichick?

New England doesn't believe in continuity. Local product Dion Lewis took the money and ran to Tennessee, for example. Danny Amendola went to Miami, and his Wikipedia page was sabotaged by angry, butt-hurt Patriot fans. Jeremy Hill comes over from Cincinnati to replace Lewis, but watch. Belichick may have just given new Titans coach Mike Vrabel a means to unseat the Pats as the beasts of the AFC. Remember, Belichick let LeGarrette Blount walk last spring, and now he has a 2nd Super Bowl ring after New England fell to Philadelphia last month. There's no guarantees that Julian Edelman, who missed the season with an injury, will be 100% ready by July, when training camp opens. Sure, New England picked up defensive lineman Danny Shelton (Cleveland) to shore that up, but what difference does it make, then, if everyone else catches up to New England in the coming season? Not everything works for the best.
So the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) represented the America East in the NCAA tournament on the men's side, and went further than UAlbany was ever allowed to go, reaching the 2nd round before being eliminated. The Lady Danes finished their season with a one-&-done in the women's NIT, so they still have a glass ceiling to overcome.
So the Jets took a turn on the QB carousel, picking up Teddy Bridgewater (Minnesota), while retaining Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, & Christian Hackenburg. The Vikings also parted with Case Keenum and Sam Bradford, with Kirk Cousins taking over as the starting quarterback. Apparently, the team's ownership decided to go el scrimpo on all three of their 2017 QB's. That will cost them. Trust me on that.
Back at home, when the Albany Empire take the field for their first Arena Football League game at Times Union Center on April 14, there'll be some local talent on the field. Wade Hansen (Tamarac High/University of West Virginia/RPI) and former Troy High star Jordan Canzeri, who played his college ball at Iowa, have signed with the Empire. Both played in Japan (!) last season. They may not be the last Section II products to sign with the Empire or any AFL team before this is all said and done.
Local Mets fans will have it easier to find radio broadcasts of the team's games this season. Pamal Broadcasting, which took over some former Albany Broadcasting properties, has moved Mets games to WROW (590 AM), which now has mostly talk radio. I can remember the days when WROW AM meant muzak. Seriously.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Celebrity Rock: She Caught The Katy (1996)

Taj Mahal's "She Caught The Katy" was recorded by the Blues Brothers (John Belushi & Dan Aykroyd) for the soundtrack of their 1980 movie. Sixteen years later, Zee Blues (James Belushi), along with Mighty Mack (John Goodman) join Elwood (Aykroyd) in Atlanta to perform "Katy".

A few years later, James Belushi & Aykroyd shed the porkpie hats and shades and cut an album as themselves. Unfortunately, it also exposed the fact that Aykroyd has forgotten when to say when at the dinner table, based on concert footage available on YouTube. We'll show you what we mean another day.

The roots of a play: Josephine Sunshine & The Energy Facility, 3/19/18

The Troy Foundry Theatre is hosting staged readings, that is, public rehearsals, of productions this week & next at different sites in the hometown.

Tonight, the Scarlet Seven Gallery in downtown was the place for a reading of "Josephine Sunshine & The Energy Facility", a new play by Allison Giguere. Based on the enthusiastic response of the 50+ people who attended the program, I'd say we'd see a finished product down the road.

While the program was scheduled to fill a 2 hour window from 7:30-9:30 pm (ET), between the reading and a short Q & A session with Ms. Giguere and the cast, the night was over in less than 90 minutes.

"Josephine Sunshine" is, at various points, a social-psychological study and a romantic comedy bordering on eroticism involving the title character (Dana Goodknight), her husband (James Carola), her mother (Amy Kirkpatrick Rosen), and a stranger who becomes Josephine's, ah, new partner (KD McTeigue). What does the "Energy Facility" of the title represent? It all depends on the viewer's interpretation. It could be an allegory or analogue for today's society, especially given the #Metoo movement, or how government is perceived today, based on the Trump administration, or it could be something else entirely. Something to think about.

Rating: A--.

Next week, Troy Foundry Theatre, which is clearly operating as a traveling theatre within city limits, moves across town to the Collar Works in North Central for a reading of "The Charlie Play".