Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hallow’s Eve 2013

Check out earlier Halloween pics (“Joke Hugs” and “Rianka”) posted somewhere below.
LNA Go Local. This year, they’re dressed as Pinoy fantasy heroes: Lexy as Ginoong Lakas, Nance as Grace, and Argus as Andoy. Happy Halloween!

Etrigan Versus Gargoyle – Etrigan the rhyming Demon versus Gargoyle, a former human mystic named Isaac Christians.

Mr. Funesto – From Dark Colony: MRATSOFTDD. Creepy Mr. Funesto, unmasked.

Spectres of DCs Past. The Wrath of God was bonded to previously deceased hosts Hal Jordan, Jim Corrigan and Crispus Allen in the prior incarnations of the DC Universe. Happy Halloween!

Objectifixation, Six

Halloween edition!

Franklin and Jigsaw.
"Whoa, mister, awesome Zombie Punisher costume!"

Fear Itself miniseries. Odin's secret sibling threatened to destroy the Earth with warriors wielding Asgardian hammers. But Iron Man made a deal with Odin, and Thor sacrificed himself for the nth time, so that fear was sort of short-lived.

Batman tracks a crook to a cemetery, and discovers long-buried crimes in an ancient crypt. Eerie done-in-one story by Dan Raspler. Excellent art by Mike Mignola.

Thanos and Death.
"But Mistress, I thought I was going to be the main villain of Avengers 2, too!"

The truth is scary scifi! Got this episode guide (four seasons, 80+ episodes) a while back. Some interesting character profiles too, before the mythology became convoluted. I hope there'll be a thick, illustrated character encyclopedia someday, preferably by DK Books.

Widowmaker. From my ancient McFarlane Toys collection. “I have multiple points of articulation! Well, these were considered a lot in ’96.”

The 1995 reprint. Horrific Darkseid recreates Dark Phoenix by collecting her energy from different parts of the Earth (including a butte where she and Scott... you know). Plus! Xavier sits on Metron's empty chair. Starfire absorbs Colossus' language by kissing him. And Cyclops briefly becomes a Phoenix host!

Franklin and Witchblade.
"Whoa, that's a nice 'costume,' lady."

West Coast Avengers Vs. the Night Shift! Halloween-themed villains, led by the secretly heroic Shroud: The Brothers Grimm, Needle, Dansen Macabre, Werewolf, Tick-Tock, Tatterdemallion, Gypsy Moth, and Digger.

Frankenstein, one of Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory. He was recently captured and dissected by Batman, who was bent on figuring out the secret to the monster’s immortality. The Dark Knight hoped that he could resurrect his recently deceased son, Damian, with that secret. Happy Halloween!

Affecting career upgrades in 'Undercover Boss'

(Published Oct. 28, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

In the reality show “Undercover Boss,” high-ranking executives and company owners disguise themselves as entry-level employees, discovering firsthand the strengths and weaknesses of their businesses.

Followed by cameras, the coworkers are given the fake story that the “newly hired employee” is the subject of an altogether different reality program. Unrecognized, he or she gets acquainted with the organization’s operations, assessing them while making new “friends.”

Interestingly, this is the time for the boss to get to know some workers’ backstories. Some who open up reveal touching stories, often about sacrifice, whether it’s making an early trip because of a home’s considerable distance, or caring for a seriously ill relative.

The CEO, before and after (videograb)
The undercover boss may  also discover employees with abrasive or indifferent personalities, which provides some occasional conflict.

The “big reveal” comes later, which either rewards or penalizes the concerned employees. Stunned at the revelation that their employer interacted with them, the chosen employees are then given the benefits that are due them, as well as the guarantee that the boss will implement crucial changes based on their situations.

A recent outstanding episode focused on FastSigns chief executive officer and president Catherine Monson, who went undercover with a “rocker chick” façade. This required her to wear a long, dark wig, glasses, less formal clothes and accessories. She pretended that she’s doing a reality show specializing in second chances.
Prior to her undercover “mission,” Monson elaborated on her childhood, plagued by emotional abuse and tragedy. Her immersion immediately inspired realizations; she bonded with workers who mostly reminded her of her own family, sacrifices and career decisions.

She guaranteed positive changes in her employees’ careers, inspired to become their “fairy godmother” of sorts after spending valuable and intimate work time with them.

A spinoff of the original British series, this American version of “Undercover Boss” likewise mines its participants for potentially heart-wrenching stories, almost always delivering moments that viewers can easily connect with.

While the cover story for doing a different reality show can get flimsy from time to time (most workers are probably familiar with “Undercover Boss” by now), the series still manages to present the boss-subordinate dynamics affectingly.

The “wish fulfillment” aspect of the show remains engaging; it’s still uplifting to see overwhelmed employees reacting honestly to their career upgrades. It’s also elating to see the changes on the once-distant boss, enlightened by the important truths discovered during his or her masquerade.

“Undercover Boss” airs 10 p.m. on Solar News Channel.

Action-adventure shows
New episodes of action-adventure shows recently premiered on Jack TV. “The Tomorrow People” follows Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell), a student who discovers that he is part of a genetically advanced race gifted with telekinesis, telepathy and teleportation, and are hunted down by a group of scientists. “Tomorrow People” airs Saturdays, 8 p.m., on JackTV.

At 9 p.m., “Revolution” tells the story of survivors attempting to rebuild society after a worldwide blackout. This season, consequences of the restoration of power will be revealed.

Airing Sundays at 8 p.m., the DC Comic book-inspired action show “Arrow”  brings back billionaire Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), secretly the vigilante Arrow, who returns to Starling City to confront the injustices committed during his absence. Another DC character, the Flash, is set to appear in Season Two.

Geeky Stephen Merchant looks for love in LA

(Published Oct. 25, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Bespectacled English comedian and actor Stephen Merchant is single, “but there are always ladies in my life, as you can imagine.”

This was revealed by Merchant to Asian journalists in a recent phone interview while promoting his new HBO sitcom “Hello Ladies.”

“The great thing about going to Los Angeles is, I get turned down by some of the most beautiful women in the world,” he said.

Merchant, 38, created the original version of the sitcom “The Office” with actor-comic buddy Ricky Gervais in 2001. The duo eventually collaborated on the US version of “The Office” as executive producers.

He met his future “Hello Ladies” co-creators, writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, while working on the US remake. “I would occasionally go there and direct an episode, and I did some acting work. I’ve known [Lee and Gene] socially as well as professionally. So we had a pretty good rapport already,” Merchant said.

The 6’7”-tall comedian plays an exaggerated version of himself, Stuart—an awkward, LA-based web designer ignored by gorgeous women. Merchant described the character as “a loser” and stated that “Hello Ladies” will have “a romantic heart at the center.”

Excerpts from the phone interview:

How easy is working with more Americans on “Hello Ladies?”
To be honest with you, it was not as much of a culture shock as I was expecting. The film crews were as talented as the ones I worked with in England. So the biggest difference, really, was just driving to work in sunshine rather than pouring rain, like in London. It was not dissimilar to the way I worked before. The writing process was similar; it was just in a warmer town.

How would you describe the evolution of your comedy?
It’s funny because sometimes people say, “Oh, I watch your shows and they make me cringe!” And I never set out to make people cringe. It’s not my aim. There are certain things that make me laugh … people who are being socially awkward, a bit out of place. But in this show, I try to bring in a more physical comedy, more slapstick-y stuff because when I was growing up, I was a huge fan of “Laurel and Hardy,” John Cleese and “Fawlty Towers.” And I just really wanted to make use of my physical size, because I’m so tall and gangly.

Stuart and his housemate Jessica (Christine Woods) show some compatibility; will that angle be explored?
You don’t have to work very hard for people to start making those connections. But certainly, the thing about those “will they, won’t they” stories on TV, as soon as you bring them together, you lose a little bit of the tension that makes things fun. So I don’t want to confirm or deny whether they wind up together at this stage.

In your experience, do nice guys really finish last?
You have to put yourself out there. You can’t sit in the corner like a quiet wallflower and hope that the girl that you like would somehow see into your soul and realize you’re a nice person … Unless you talk to the girl, she just thinks you’re like a creepy weirdo who keeps staring at her. At some point, the nice guy at least has to go over and ask her out. That’s the thing that took me a long time to realize!
Who are your favorite comedians?
Woody Allen’s stand-up routines from the 1960s were very important to me. I think Louis C.K. is undoubtedly the best in the world at the moment—just unmatched because he’s so raw and honest, like a comedy philosopher in some ways. I think Richard Pryor was rightly held up as one of the best, because he was an amazing storyteller who inhabited the stage and the stories. Eddie Izzard— just a unique comedic voice … all my early stand-up comedy was me doing a version of Eddie Izzard, badly. Billy Connolly—you can’t see how he’s doing it; it seems like he’s just talking, and yet people are crying with laughter! That’s an amazing skill.

“Hello Ladies” airs Mondays, 9:30 p.m., on HBO and HBO HD.

Jeers for Fears

Status updates, et cetera. 

Oct. 18. Talagang nagmamadali na magtapos itong MHL ha. Two timejumps in one ep. Four years total!
Oct. 18. Dalawang phoner, isang umaga at isang hapon. Natulog pagkatapos nung una. Kakasubmit lang ng article. Edit naman ng iba. Gutom. MHL ending mamaya. Di na makakahabol sa gym. Hectic na masaya. Sana makapagdrowing pa.
Oct. 19. MHL ending. Ehh.
Oct. 20. As an adult, I'm a combination of my insecurities, hopes and dreams. I still have childlike enthusiasm. And while I have to be more responsible now, I don't see that changing any time soon.
Oct. 23. OMG, Korra. Really good episodes!
Oct. 24. Early Wednesday morning, around 3 a.m., people in our neighborhood woke up to thick smoke. A few houses away, about a hundred feet from ours, a shop/showroom (it sold decor, antiques, etc.) was ablaze. A number of people tried to extinguish it.
I, and probably a few others, scrambled to call firefighters. They arrived some time later, and it was a struggle to put the fire out. The bright orange glow of the burning building, just behind a neighbor's house, was one of the scariest things I've seen. All that time, I was all, "fuuuuuuuckkkk!" But I tried to appear calm. I was surprised that a few people were actually calm enough to record the inferno with their phones.
Thankfully, the flames were extinguished and prevented from spreading. And save for the owner of that shop, everyone felt lucky. Stressed, but relieved.
Oct. 27. "I’ve felt and known true happiness. I still do. I’ve earned some rewards, and share what I can. I don’t try to justify my failures, at least most of the time. I don’t believe in the zodiac, but it’s funny that I’m a Scorpio through and through. Well, I’m just what I am. So few people get that, but I’m glad that I don’t have to conform to anyone’s imagined template of me." --Me, from a blog entry dated Jan. 25, 2008. Therapeutic blogging days.
Oct. 27. Nag-number one last week sa Inquirer-Entertainment site yung article ko, review ng My Husband's Lover. Alam kong troll-bait siya; ganun kasi ang nangyari nang magsulat ako tungkol doon mga almost three months ago. Hindi ko na pinapansin ang comments, panay anti-gay at ignorante, at may nag-suggest pa na mag-direct daw muna ako bago mag-criticize. Ha! :D
Oct. 27. Yeah, social networking sites. Where we whine, brag, attack. But they're also where we celebrate, encourage, connect.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Revenge fantasy realized

A solid remake of the iconic horror-fantasy film, “Carrie” stars Chloe Grace Moretz as the titular teen telekinetic, tormented by her school’s most vicious students.

Directed by Kimberly Peirce and also based on the original Stephen King novel, this updated version is no less haunting, intense and watchable because of the tight script and praiseworthy performances. Carrie’s still the girl you’d regret messing with, delicate but still deadly.

Moretz, just months after “Kick-Ass 2,” gets to portray another misfit, Carrie White, a belittled girl who also gets creative with her revenge on some mean girls. Julianne Moore plays Carrie’s mom, an abusive and self-damaging zealot; the actress offers an appropriately dark and disturbing contrast to Carrie in most of her scenes.

The effects-heavy and graphic sequences cement this version’s contemporary edginess and attention to spectacle. The inescapable prom night incident, where Carrie reveals her unfettered telekinetic fury, is frighteningly absorbing. Moretz shows splendid growth; she makes the role her own, vulnerable and naïve initially, but rage personified eventually.

'Catfish' dissects deceptions swimmingly

(Published Oct. 21, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

 The MTV reality show “Catfish: The TV Series” reiterates the importance of knowing when to avoid communication with strangers online, since many of the episodes feature once-hopeful netizens who end up as victims.

Disappointed and embarrassed after discovering the truth about people at the other end of their online relationships, they reassess their lives, and show marked improvement when the hosts check on them a few months later.

The “catfish” has fake profile information and photos, and mainly avoids webcams and meetups. Whether the agenda is to dupe the unwary to part with their money, to exact revenge or to satisfy some twisted need for attention, the featured catfish usually comes clean on camera.

Cohosted by Nev Schulman (previously the subject of the 2010 documentary of the same title) and filmmaker-cameraman Max Joseph, the show responds to people in online relationships who wish to meet their virtual lovers in person.

Nev and Max help track them down, which may or may not bring them face to face with a deceptive person.

“Catfish” is especially timely and relevant now after the practice gained attention because of an American football player who made news months ago: His years-long online relationship with a girlfriend he never met became a talk-show punchline after the revelation that the “girl” was actually a love-struck guy.

 Focusing on noncelebrities, the show’s chosen cases often end on a similar, disappointing note for the trusting person. The first meetings often become confused confrontations, understandably.

But a recent episode featured an exception to that “rule” when a single mother who searched for her online boyfriend led to a happy ending. Initially cautioned by the hosts, she was elated to see that the guy existed after all and was just as frantic about meeting her and her kid.

The hosts are depicted as consistently tireless in helping investigate the mystery partners, and the show is generally fair to deceiving parties by letting them air their sides. Sometimes, the catfish seems genuinely remorseful; he or she asks forgiveness off the bat. But there are those who are combative or unrepentant, which lead to more drama.

While the chosen relationships may seem befuddling because of the precarious and even dubious nature of the situations, the people and the bonds involved reflect the reality that such deceptions are rampant in today’s technologically connected world. 

And the show manages to dissect sensitively these strange bonding stories that are becoming increasingly common, however bizarre they may get.

“Catfish: The TV Series” airs Sundays, 11 p.m., on MTV Asia.

Space oddity

Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” is mostly set in space, a cold backdrop for an oddly named astronaut, Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), who finds herself drifting in the void and with very few options after getting separated from her space shuttle and fellow astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney).

Powered mainly by Bullock’s stellar performance—although Clooney’s Matt is an important, well-played presence—“Gravity” is a gamble that paid off quite stunningly. Relying mostly on green screens to recreate the vastness of space and a priceless view of the Earth, the film mines Bullock’s authenticity and uncommon charisma. The result is nothing less than a powerful, if somewhat exhausting film.

Some scenes have been disputed by experts; the science of the film is apparently far from perfect. Among those questioned were the distances between depicted points, which were simplified and made unrealistic by the film, supposedly.

Scientific facts aside, it’s a film that isn’t subtle about some philosophical points, but not in a “Life of Pi” way. Regardless, Ryan’s backstory is perfectly disarming, even when flashbacks aren’t shown and her tale is only verbally related by Bullock, whose steady, energized performance makes us follow and respond to her unusual, nerve-wracking journey.

'MHL' accomplished much, but ended unsatisfyingly

(Published Oct. 21, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

GMA 7’s soap “My Husband’s Lover” ended last week after a successful four-month run. Moving, grueling and baffling at different points, the series expectedly ended with its manly gay characters finally getting their much-deserved happily-ever-after. But the less than grandiose resolution left this viewer unsatisfied.

The series dealt with the love triangle involving Lally (Carla Abellana), her husband Vincent (Tom Rodriguez), and his lover Eric (Dennis Trillo). In the first month or so, the characters’ bonds were sturdily established, the illicit relationship the source of much-appreciated conflict and tension.

After the revelation of the affair—which was executed rather impressively—we hoped that it would continue to explore subplots and arcs that could stem from that main plot. The show did, to an extent, but disappointingly, it didn’t always succeed in presenting other ideas as creatively.

One of the things that “My Husband’s Lover” did right was the sensitive tackling of controversial, gay-related topics.

For one, there is a clear clarification that homosexuality is not an abnormality or disease, as declared by a psychiatrist character. This fact strengthened Vincent’s acceptance of his gayness, much to the chagrin of his cure-seeking mom Elaine (Kuh Ledesma).

Another issue it expounded on is the difference between gay men and transgenders. Vincent talked to Lally about his cousin Zandro (Keempee de Leon), who dresses and identifies as a woman.

Third, it dispelled the myth that only gay men can get stricken with HIV. Vincent’s extremely homophobic dad Armando (Roi Vinzon) was diagnosed positive for the virus; he was initially shocked to discover that his affairs with women could lead to such a consequence.

It’s unique and brave in that respect, having inserted such long-established “facts” into the narrative. It was a breath of fresh air; it depicted a variety of issues positively as opposed to prior demeaning portrayals of gay people as punchlines and perverts.

The storytelling was adventurous (the camerawork, transitions and compositions were artistic) although there were times when it just got clunky.

Vincent figured in a number of iffy parts, including his abduction scene. He was forced by his father to attend military camp; the henchmen attempted to beat the gay out of him, to no avail. This long ordeal came off as stretched out and sometimes comical; Rodriguez, however, was consistent with his long-transfixed pained look through that arc and after Vincent’s failed suicide.

Forgiveness was a recurring theme. After much drama, Lally forgave Vincent and Eric; Elaine forgave her villainous hubby; Vincent forgave his dad eventually as well. The violent, gay-bashing general didn’t deserve it, but the show chose redemption over more lasting comeuppance, which felt forced.

The Tom-Dennis pairing spawned an album, “TomDen,” currently an iTunes hit. There is also a DVD collection of “MHL” episodes being released, which contain deleted scenes. Milking the show’s success is timely and perhaps fitting, but we wish the series itself had ended in grand fashion. While flawed, it was mostly a source of “alternative” entertainment, and accomplished much in so short a time. Still, “My Husband’s Lover’s” loyal viewers deserved better. Sure, it was an okay finale, but the show, without showing important glimpses or flashes of the happy repercussions, just ended.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Objectifixation, Five

"Hawr! The last coupl'a months have been fraggin' insane! Twilight Lobo and Batfleck--DC sure knows how to rile up the fanboys!"
"You forget Suicidal Harley In A Bathtub, Lobo. It's a trifecta!"

Avengers # 48. The Avengers activate the Sentinels and launch an attack on mutantkind! Just kidding. They used them to fight Kang, who immediately took control of the robots and sent them to Washington, DC. Also, this issue has a reprint of a Barry Windsor-Smith-drawn story, back when his art looked pretty bad. I know, I didn't think it was possible.
Wonder Woman + Storm = Amazon! From Amalgam Comics (the temporarily merged DC and Marvel Comics), 1996.

Thanks, 2nd Avenue, for sending me these cupcakes. I got to taste the one with bacon last week at the office (my coworkers and I ate someone else's cupcakes with permission).
And thanks for this cute mini-cake too! Even though I've no idea what that thing on the right is.
The all-new, all-different X-Force! 2001's line-wide revamp introduced a new group, a strike team that had nothing to do with the previous X-Force. The celebrity mutant-antiheroes later changed their group's name to X-Statix. Members got killed off a lot.

The quotable Northstar, from left: "'Tired' is for other people!" (Northstar # 1); "They love me, Mrs. Summers. Not because I am gay. Or because I am a mutant--but simply because I am a celebrity. I can live with that." (Uncanny X-Men # 392); "While I am not inclined to discuss my sexuality with people for whom it is none of their business--I am gay!" (Alpha Flight # 106); "You are what you are, my friend. There's no changing sides once God places you." (Uncanny X-Men # 414)

Bought the tape version almost 20 years ago, and this CD around 2000, when there were still Tower Records stores. Natalie Merchant and her last album with the gang.

"Mister Colossus? Hi, I'm Wiccan. Was wondering if you wanna hang out, grab some drinks. I'm single now."
"Nyet, comrade. You mistake me for Ultimate Colossus. I like younger females. Wait, that did not sound right! It was only one girl. She was 14. Wait, that sounds worse..."

Not yet ‘Super Fun,’ but potentially rebellious

(Published Oct. 18, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

It has yet to become really super and fun, but the new Rebel Wilson sitcom “Super Fun Night” shows promise.

Created by the popular and witty Australian comedienne, the show is about an underdog (and underachieving) lawyer, Kimmie Boubier, who often goes out with her “besties” to unwind after work. As Kimmie, a New Yorker, she speaks in an American accent convincingly.

The first episode also introduced a rival in fellow lawyer Kendall (Kate Jenkinson), who is envious of Kimmie’s flirty friendship with the boss’ son Richard (Kevin Bishop).

“Super Fun Night’s” executive producers include Wilson and talk show host Conan O’Brien, among others. Wilson previously appeared in the films “Bridesmaids” and “Pitch Perfect,” and hosted the MTV Movie Awards last April.

The show’s humor mostly stems from the awkwardness of the lead character and her best friends. Kimmie, the plus-size girl at the office, is vocal about liking pastries and is afraid of public speaking. In the first episode, her night out with friends at the piano bar was meant to be a break from work, but conniving Kendall shows up to upstage her because Richard was there.

Kimmie manages to muster up the courage to sing in front of people—and as soon as she does, she gives a rousing rendition of Meatloaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” The uninvited Kendall, however, attempts to sabotage the number by singing some of the lines, resulting in an unexpected sing-off.

“Super Fun Night” is actually quite simple and derivative, so far. There’s obvious sexual tension between Kimmie and Richard; she and her similarly uncool friends (played by Lauren Ash and Liza Lapira) go through some potentially disastrous experiences weekly; her slim and ambitious rival belittles her whenever possible.

But it has the potential to be truly different and, well, rebellious. There’s already a mix of smart and risqué gags, and the show successfully transmits a feel-good vibe. It also has a small and engagingly quirky cast, and charming Wilson gives much of herself to the less-than-subtle humor.

(“Super Fun Night” airs Tuesdays, 7:30 p.m., on ETC.)


Rianka. Vampire queen from the Filipino comic book Skyworld. Happy early Halloween.

S.H.I.E.L.D. catalogues super and otherworldly phenomena

(Published Oct. 16, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Heavily connected to 2012’s “The Avengers” movie directed by Joss Whedon, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is a sleek, ambitious spin-off that seeks to expand the cinematic universe’s mythology.

Remember when “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” started with few and clunky special effects? “S.H.I.E.L.D.” is nothing like that; it’s big-budgeted and bombastic from the get-go, already reflecting Marvel’s movie world in terms of flashy enhancements.

Cocreated by Whedon, his brother Jed and previous “Dollhouse” collaborator Maurissa Tancharoen, the show directly follows events depicted in “The Avengers,” finally focusing on the super-equipped government agency that appears in Marvel’s various movies. S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, led by Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson).
It’s off to a good—if somewhat unspectacular—start. The series centers on the adventures of a squad handled by Agent Phil (Clark Gregg), who was killed in the aforementioned film. The show will gradually answer questions regarding his miraculous survival.

Referencing the thwarted alien invasion of New York ad infinitum, the first episode reveals that the world is radically changed and the appearance of superhumans and potentially destructive weaponry is starting to become commonplace. Tasked with investigating them, the small but capable S.H.I.E.L.D. squad is made up of seasoned field agents and younger science experts.

The cast of characters is typically diverse, each exhibiting quirky behavior from time to time. The oft-cutesy, disarming Whedon patter is there, along with the “Buffy” and “Firefly” creator’s penchant for empowered women: Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) is an accomplished pilot and fighter; Skye (Chloe Bennet) is a relentless “hacktivist” and potential new recruit; and Maria Hill (guest star Cobie Smulders) is Fury’s exemplary lieutenant.

Fans looking forward to Whedon’s lively banter will not be disappointed; there’s a characteristically humorous, character-focused script.

However, it’s a bit too glossy at times; it’s hard to believe that Skye’s been living in her van for some time because she looks really glamorous, for instance. But the
technology is dazzling; there are cool floating doodads, holographic touch screens and, of course, flying cars (just like in the comics!).

This cross-media transition can, and is expected to, complement the Marvel movies in the pipeline. Perhaps some of these new characters and concepts will appear in the movies, as well. The series was picked up by the ABC channel and will have a full, 22-episode season. It’s a welcome and action-packed elaboration on, and hopefully, a strengthening of Marvel’s movie realm.

(“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” premieres on Oct. 19, 9:50 p.m., on Fox.)

Spice of Life

Status updates, et cetera.

Oct. 3. Learning, learning. I like my job.
Oct. 7. Sorted stuff for Jerald's comic book drive. Picked a few that I can easily part with. I actually hesitated with stuff that I disliked; I didn't want to inflict some people's work on young readers. But then again, what I dislike for whatever reason could be gold to someone else, and I hope that someone will find joy in them anyway. It's a worthy cause, and I understand perfectly how comics can be a source of escape and happiness.
Oct. 15. I'm liking my change of pace, so far. I really didn't imagine myself becoming a full-time employee just a few months ago. I can say that I'm getting the hang of it now. I'm tired and kinda overwhelmed, but I'm feeling good. I like being around, or learning from so many hardworking people.
Oct. 17. Got my ID photo taken at the office yesterday. Photog's a real pro; he asked me to smile, but I'm not really the type who does that--I only give hesitant smirks, usually. But I gave it a shot and grinned a bit, after which he said "pogi." And then I smiled more comfortably in the next few shots. Wish I could flatter as adeptly; I actually admire how patient and skillful he was with getting me to pose properly, too.
Oct . 17. I still use my 10-year-old Ericsson phone. I know I should upgrade and all, but it still works.

‘Crazy’ Williams-Gellar casting makes perfect sense

(Published Oct. 13, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

The new David E. Kelley sitcom “The Crazy Ones” scores a casting coup with comedian Robin Williams and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s” Sarah Michelle Gellar as a father-daughter team working in the same Chicago advertising agency.

It’s a welcome breather from Kelley’s legal drama shows, but just like them, “The Crazy Ones” is sharply penned, rife with characteristically gabby figures with clashing personalities. What’s pleasantly surprising about it is its more feel-good, more optimistic bent, which aptly offers Williams a comfortable playground for his endearing and kooky comic abilities.

And as the respected, laid-back ad executive Simon Roberts, who’s proven himself time and again despite his unpredictability, Williams has a credible, wizened demeanor. But Simon isn’t entirely without self-doubt, which makes his more tightly wound daughter Sydney a valuable presence in his life and career.

Gellar, who spent seven years winning over fans as the supernatural heroine Buffy, matured tremendously as an actor in the acclaimed series that ended a decade ago. While she appeared in a few successful fantasy and horror flicks (“Scooby Doo” and “The Grudge”) and the short-lived action-suspense series “Ringer,” it’s elating that she snagged an interestingly lighter character in a more “real” setting.

There was a strong rapport, an obvious give-and-take process that kept the first episode smooth and promising. Simon’s and Sydney’s opposing methods were clearly established; threatened with the possible departure of a high-paying client (a popular fast-food company), the Robertses whipped up differing strategies to extend that profitable partnership.

Guest star Kelly Clarkson appeared as a more demanding version of herself, the pop singer adding an unexpectedly combustible component to the already “crazy” equation. Her song-recording scene with James Wolk, who plays the agency’s hunky copywriter Zach, was inspired and rib-tickling.

The episode’s running time, however, is barely 20 minutes, sans commercials. Still, it was succinct and precise enough, winning over the viewer and leaving them satisfied.
But limited time aside, it’s good that the outtakes are being shown. Williams gets hearty reactions from his costars, who inevitably crack up because of his unmatched improvisation and rapid-fire verbal antics—they can break any professional’s composure!

It’s great that Williams and Gellar are appearing regularly again, and will hopefully do so for a couple of seasons. This new show knows how to utilize their strengths, and the exciting casting is a brilliant idea that easily sells itself.

(“The Crazy Ones” airs Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m. on 2nd Avenue.)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

'Glee' changes, and stays the same

(Published Oct. 10, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

It’s more of the same for TV musical series “Glee,” storywise, after some major lineup and status quo shake-ups last season. The show has become even more empowering for the outsider, however, reiterating its importance in today’s TV landscape.

Now in its fifth year, “Glee’s” season-opener is a two-part Beatles tribute, showcasing the influential band’s music through typically peppy renditions by the show’s New Directions glee club.

The first week focused on the Beatles’ earlier phase, the songs aptly chosen for the series’ themes. The episode culminated in gay couple Blaine (Darren Criss) and Kurt’s (Chris Colfer) engagement after the previous season’s cliffhanger. Blaine finally proposed in grand fashion with “All You Need is Love.”

The second week featured songs from the Beatles’ more experimental phase. Lesbian coworkers Santana (Naya Rivera) and Dani (Demi Lovato) performed an appropriately light and endearing duet of “Here Comes the Sun.” The episode ended with “Let It Be,” performed by the group after Tina’s (Jenna Ushkowitz) “Carrie”-esque humiliation at the prom.

“Glee” is still mostly about Rachel’s (Lea Michele) artistic journey; that and the enduring Blaine-Kurt relationship continue to be well-written. Other pairings and arcs pale in comparison, and some storylines seem shoehorned in just for the heck of it. Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), who selflessly quit last season because of an accident involving a gun, is suddenly a devious character again and is currently the school’s new principal.

The younger characters introduced last season blend in well, despite the rehash of subplots and personalities. The New Directions team has always been diverse, but it has become even more representative of minorities with the inclusion of a transgender, Unique (Alex Newell) and a biracial kid, Jake (Jacob Artist).

Music-wise, the show has gotten eclectic as well. Earlier seasons featured tributes to “bubblegum pop” artists, but there have been countless covers of songs by “more serious” musicians. The show finally started using more original content last season, although the songs were lyrically hits-and-misses. (The songs were written by one of the high school students in the story, so it somehow fit.)

But it’s a good start and viewers need to hear more new material in season five, not just versions of popular songs. Still, they’re mostly great covers, especially the ones that highlight Michele, Criss and Rivera’s exceptional vocal abilities.

This Friday’s episode is “The Quarterback,” which will address the death of actor Cory Monteith, who died last July. He played Finn, the athlete-turned-outcast member of the New Directions. Monteith was one of “Glee’s” most popular stars. 

Monteith contributed greatly to the show’s lively dynamics; he was an effective and charming performer who shared obvious chemistry with Michele. The show will continue without him—“Glee” has a legion of stars-in-the-making and similarly gifted newbies—but it just won’t be the same.

Still, the show remains worth watching for its focus on important identity and artistry issues, aside from the generally well-produced numbers.

(“Glee” airs Fridays, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on ETC.)

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Joke Hugs

This is sort of a sequel to my Christmas drawing Bat Hugs. The Joker takes a snapshot with some unconscious Bat-Kids for Halloween.

The end has come for disturbed avenger 'Dexter'

(Published Oct. 7, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

An era ends with the conclusion of the groundbreaking crime drama “Dexter,” beloved for its quirky and cathartic protagonist Dexter Morgan.

Introduced eight years ago, the main character of the show (currently airing on FoxCrime) is a blood spatter analyst by day and a merciless vigilante by night.

Played by Michael C. Hall, Dexter’s unfeeling savagery was revealed as the product of a childhood trauma. A witness to a violent crime, young Dexter’s murderous tendencies were eventually redirected by his adoptive cop father Harry (James Remar).

The final season revealed that this rechanneling of young Dexter’s bloodlust wasn’t entirely the father’s idea, after all. Encouraged by neuropsychiatrist Dr. Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling), Harry implemented the “code,” which strictly forbade Dexter from randomly executing people, and tasked the young killer with targeting only people who deserved it.
“Dexter’s” eighth season started promisingly with the revelation of this “mother figure,” as well as the continuation of the arc concerning Dexter’s cop sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter). Reeling from her involvement in the death of their colleague Captain LaGuerta (Lauren Velez), guilt-ridden Deb struggled with keeping Dexter’s macabre secrets.

Compared to previous seasons, this eighth is less gripping, but still has powerful, deeply affecting moments. To be fair, none of the others were as taut as the fourth season, which featured the Trinity Killer (John Lithgow) and culminated in the death of Dexter’s wife Rita (Julie Benz)—that is easily the strongest, most shocking.

The main foe this time is the Brain Surgeon, an elusive killer trying to catch the attention of Dr. Vogel and, inadvertently, Dexter. The new mystery character is a formidable villain, an unexpected match for Dexter, who has gotten less-focused and, at times, careless.

Hall unwaveringly portrayed the stoic, introspective Dexter Morgan role through the years; as the disturbed avenger, the actor consistently delivered the unique dichotomy.

The small cast of characters has undergone significant changes, season after season. There have been hit-and-miss storylines, but the pervading dark humor and philosophical musings continually empowered this blood-soaked saga. (The series finale got mixed reviews recently from viewers abroad; some found it bittersweet while others considered it a letdown, or even a non-ending.)

While the show has had its share of confounding plotholes and unusually contrived situations, viewers nevertheless rooted for this particular antihero. Dexter is, and will always be the embodiment of rage and release, a distinctly cathartic TV character that will surely be missed.

(“Dexter” airs Wednesdays, 10:50 p.m. on FoxCrime Asia.)

* * *

‘Super Fun Night’ on ETC
The sitcom “Super Fun Night,” starring Rebel Wilson, will air tomorrow, 7:30 p.m. on ETC. It will be followed by the horror-drama series “The Vampire Diaries” at 8  and its new spinoff, “The Originals,” at 10. The three shows will have “match airings,” releasing episodes close to their US air dates.

Share the Adventure

Please share your old comics. Introduce new readers to fun worlds. Contact Jerald Uy soon.

Cartoon channel searches for Filipino mystery winner

(Published Oct. 4, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Cartoon channel Toonami’s “mascot,” a time-traveling heroine code-named Nami, was created to represent its focus on animated action shows. A contest intended to strengthen the design was launched months ago, but Toonami has yet to find its Filipino winner.

“Nami was developed to have a fan component,” explained Turner International Asia Pacific Limited’s creative director Glenn Bartlett in an e-mail interview. “Earlier this year, we did a call-out for submissions across the region to give more detail to her backstory. We received hundreds of entries, a lot of which came from the Philippines. It was no surprise that a Pinoy boy named Zachary won; his essay really helped realize our vision.”

But the winner has yet to respond to Toonami’s announcements.
“We started our search for Zachary on Facebook, to no avail. But we’re not giving up that easily. Unless, of course, he’s just decided to go the superhero route and stay in disguise,” Bartlett said.

A 41-second clip of Nami in action was posted recently on the channel’s official Facebook page (

“If Zachary does come forward, we’ll be able to incorporate his words into the original animated clips to complement the story line. And he’ll receive a unique comic book, illustrated with his full work,” Bartlett elaborated, adding that anyone with information regarding the winner should contact Toonami via Facebook.

Launched at the end of 2012, Toonami was designed to give viewers prime animated superhero content, according to Bartlett: “Fans no longer have to channel-surf or wait until later in the day for their favorite shows to go on air [because] Toonami has it all, all the time.”

The creation of an exclusive channel for superhero-centric shows reflected the solid presence of the genre’s fans, he added. “When we launched Toonami, we were well aware of Asian viewers’ love of content laced with heavy doses of action and adventure. This passion extends beyond animation and is reflected in the types of movies produced in the region, like kung fu flicks and all those great action films from the 1990s. The Philippines has had a very prolific local action-movie industry and continues to be a big market for international superhero content.”

“Young Justice,” “Iron Man: Armored Adventures” “The Avengers,” “Beyblade” and the original “Ben 10” series continue to be among the channel’s most-watched shows. More heroes are expected to join the lineup in the coming months through series like “Xiaolin Chronicles,” “Transformers Beast Hunters” and “Beware the Batman.”

“I think what drives their success comes down to the strong and relatable characters… Toonami’s audience has always been drawn to recognizable, aspirational and larger-than-life superheroes,” Bartlett concluded.

Wetworks, 1995

From Wetworks # 5. Pardon the wonky anatomy. Drew this in 1994, when I was 20. This was colored by Wendy Fouts, I think.