For several years now, I’ve been of the opinion that television is the dominant storytelling medium of the 21st century. When I say dominant I mean, television has been consistently turning out storytelling, acting, and action set pieces that we normally only expect from big budget Hollywood films. Personally I think the real game changer was Game of Thrones.
Love or hate how it ended, up until Game of Thrones, in theory there’s nothing stopping a television show from having an actor give a riveting and compelling performance that rivals the years Oscar nominees. Where television couldn’t measure up, was its ability to deliver visual effects heavy, action set pieces. Game of Thrones was the first television show to deliver action sequences that were as good or better than anything on the big screen that year. The Siege of Castle Black, The Massacre at Hardholme, The Battle of The Bastards, were among some of the best battle sequences in any medium and rivaled what we’ve come to expect from our summer blockbusters. The VFX quality that went into making Dany’s dragons look damn near photo real was astonishing. In fact I’ll go so far as to even say that I think Daenerys dragons were the most realistic looking dragons ever put on film. They look like real living breathing creatures.
Game of Thrones was only the beginning. My favorite kind of storytelling: fantasy, science fiction, superhero stories, all require complex VFX, stunt work, and make up effects, among other things to make them work. Fortunately as Television has progressed as a medium, Visual Effects have become advanced enough and cost effective enough, for even a network like The CW can have one of their hit superhero shows feature a spectacular fight scene between The Flash and Gorilla Grodd. Now we get to see armies of creatures out of fantasy clash in battle, we can marvel at our favorite superheroes saving the day in daring fashion, and watch some of the coolest fight choreography this side of John Wick, all without setting foot in a movie theatre.
Especially with movie theaters currently closed, we all appreciate now more than ever that some of the most memorable characters, some of the greatest drama and storytelling, as well as incredible VFX are available to us every day on streaming and TV. Which is why I loved it when one of my favorite YouTube channels, Watchmojo, put together this list of the Top 20 TV Show Opening Scenes. As I thought back to some of my all time favorite, opening scenes to a TV series, it was fun to think of all the shows that came to mind for me and compare them to the 20 picks and honorable mentions in this video. Like I said, I had a some fun with it, so will I thought I’d share it with all of you! Give it a watch right here:
I’d love to know what some of your favorite TV show openings are! Hell, it doesn’t have to be just TV, what are some of your favorite movie openings scenes? Let me know in the comments below!
For a few weeks now I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a semi-regular article about some of the coolest graphic novels, Blu-rays, books, and more to come on the market that genre fans like myself and my readers would be interested in checking out. These are all products that I’ve personally purchased and can vouch for their quality. I buy stuff like this all the time and I thought it could be a fun way for me to share with my readers some of the cool stuff available (which I throw away my hard earned money for) that they might also want to check out themselves. So if you guys dig this new article, please let me know in the comments or on social media and maybe we’ll start making Paul’s Picks a semi-regular thing. So let’s get into it!
Batman Beyond: The Complete Series Special Edition Blu-Ray
I absolutely love “Art of…” books. I love seeing how so much of the creative process takes shape over time. Especially in genre storytelling, you get to see different versions of how some of film and television’s most iconic characters or locations could have looked at various stages of planning. It’s like looking in at an alternate earth’s version of your favorite movies. The very best “Art of…” books really spark your imagination and make you wonder what might have been. You get to see some of your favorite stories rendered beautifully by some incredibly gifted artists.Regardless of how you felt about the show’s final season, from across The Narrow Sea to Beyond The Wall, this is a beautiful and comprehensive book. It features locations, characters, battle designs, and so much more. I was really looking forward to this one. I had high hopes for this book and I wasn’t disappointed. You can find it here on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Art-Game-Thrones-Insight-Editions/dp/1683835336/ref=sr_1_1?crid=142XJ4INWO4NS&keywords=the+art+of+game+of+thrones&qid=1573701366&sprefix=The+Art+of+ga%2Caps%2C136&sr=8-1
Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo Omnibus Vol.1
When they began their partnership with Batman #1 during DC’s New 52 initiative, not many would’ve predicted that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo would go on to become one of the all time great writer/artist teams in the history of comics. Least of all Snyder and Capullo themselves. In fact the duo disliked one another so much at the beginning of their partnership that Snyder demanded to DC that one of them be taken off the book. Luckily cooler heads prevailed and after working together for a few issues, they fell into a groove. Now the duo with the rough start consider one another best friends, even brothers. It shows in their work because their run on Batman is one of the best in the character’s long history. This collection includes issues #0-33, starting stories like the now famous Court of Owls and ending with the epic Zero Year. This is also where the writer/artist team also began their unsettling work on The Joker, with the chilling horror tale Death of The Family, included in this volume. Snyder and Capullo add new and exciting elements to The Caped Crusader’s mythology, while reinvigorating iconic characters and offerings a fresh and insightful look into the mind of Bruce Wayne. The volume isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s worth every penny. This volume is an example of what the very best Batman stories are all about. Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo Omnibus is The Dark Knight and his world at it’s very best. This comic book collection get my highest recommendation. You can find it on Amazon right here (*Make sure you check the alternate sellers under more buying options for cheaper prices on this product): https://www.amazon.com/Batman-Scott-Snyder-Capullo-Omnibus/dp/1401298842/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2EO5JZS7JTJR2&keywords=batman+by+snyder+%26+capullo+omnibus&qid=1573698863&sprefix=Batman+by+sny%2Cmovies-tv%2C452&sr=8-1
*When you comes to shopping on Amazon, I always recommend checking out the new and used alternate sellers, listed under Amazon’s price on every product page. Often you can find new, or next to brand new, versions of the item you’re looking for, well below the listed Amazon price.
Star Wars is like a religion to me. Those films are a large part of why I love movies so much. However, even with Star Wars Episode IX coming out in December, all of my attention as a fan has been focused on Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones ended up being a bit of a mixed bag in it’s final season, but man oh man, did Endgame deliver. Avengers: Endgame was one of the most thrilling movie going experiences of my life. The movie surpassed expectations to deliver a masterpiece of blockbuster filmmaking. I’ve often said The MCU is this generation’s Star Wars, which makes Endgame the modern equivalent of The Empire Strikes Back. Like, The Empire Strikes Back, Endgame has already reached the status of modern classic. Anyway, back to Star Wars! With Game of Thrones and Avengers: Endgame out of the way, I can focus my fandom on Star Wars Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker! The final chapter in The Skywalker Saga, 40 years in the making.
The new issue Vanity Fair has given us the best look at the film so far. The June cover story is all about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, with an excellent article by Lev Grossman that’s the most in depth look at the film yet and just a damn good read. You can read the full article the full article right here (I highly recommend that you do): https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2019/05/star-wars-cover-story?verso=true
The coolest part of the Vanity Fair issue is the amazing photos taken on the set by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz. Vanity Fair and Leibovitz have been covering the Star Wars movies for decades now. I still have the Vanity Fair issue that focused on The Force Awakens because of the incredible photographs she had taken. In my opinion, Annie Leibovitz one of the best photographers in the business and these fantastic photos for The Rise of Skywalker are a testament to how stunningly beautiful her photos can be. You can see them all below.
Well, the countdown to Star Wars Episode IX has officially begun! Spider-Man: Far From Home is the last, “next BIG movie”, that I’m really looking forward to, but once I see that, I imagine my Star Wars mania will really start to heat up! As always, thanks for reading!
HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones has come to an end, love it or hate it. Watching the final season of the series and especially the final episode reminded me of another great genre show that captured the imagination of the cultural zeitgeist: LOST. They were both genre shows with large ensemble casts that reached audiences that normally don’t watch genre television. Both shows were pop culture phenomena. They both had people hung up on when and how the show would end and they both had divisive final seasons and series finales.
Much like how Game of Thrones viewing parties have become very common, I’d often go to LOST viewing parties back in the day. When LOST ended, I kept wondering what the next “LOST” would be. For a brief period, I thought The Walking Dead had taken up the mantle, but that definitely didn’t pan out. It turns out that next LOST, was Game of Thrones. So, now that Game of Thrones has ended if find myself asking: What will be the next Game of Thrones?
Time will tell what the next pop culture television juggernaut will be. HBO wisely wanted to remind us that, though we’re saying goodbye to Game of Thrones, they’re still in the business of putting out high profile television programming. Which is why in the minuets leading up to the series finale of GoT, HBO showed us trailers for three of their most interesting and high profile projects. This was a great advertising move on the part of HBO because the series finale for Game of Thrones was the most watched episode of a TV show in the history of the Network. They have to keep those big bucks rolling in after all. Below I get into the details of each series (as well of a few upcoming shows that aren’t on HBO), give you some insight into what the shows are about and what to expect, as well as why you should check these shows out in the first place.
First up, we have the trailer for the new series His Dark Materials starring James McAvoy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ruth Wilson, and Daphne Keene (AKA X-23 AKA Laura from Logan). Watch the trailer here:
This series is based on the successful novels by Philip Pullman which involve metaphysics and alternate realities, among other strange and interesting concepts. His Dark Materials is actually a very good series of books that were adapted several years ago into the film, The Golden Compass, starring Nicole Kidman in a failed attempt to start a new fantasy franchise. This was around the time everyone was looking for the next Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.
I really like what I see from this trailer. It appears that these fantastic books are finally getting the treatment they deserved. From what we saw in the trailer, the look of the series has a very lived in feel. Which is always important when building a whole new world, with its own rules from scratch. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they clearly have an excellent cast. The story exists in a fascinating universe, or multiverse for that matter, and I will definitely be tuning in.
Then we had Watchmen, the new series based on the classic graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons from Damon Lindelof, the man who brought us LOST and The Leftovers. This wasn’t a new trailer, it it debuted several weeks ago, but I’ve been been looking for an opportunity to talk about it. But first, take a look at the trailer and then we can dive in get into some details about the series:
I love what I’ve seen so far from this new take on Watchmen and I’m very excited about this project. Over the last several years DC Comics has been publishing interesting expansions of the Watchmen universe. Most notably in their quasi-sequel Doomsday Clock and their various prequel miniseries’ Before Watchmen, which fleshed out certain existing Watchmen characters. I’m sure there are Watchmen purists Who think the material shouldn’t be touched and any continuations of the universe is sacrilege. But after reading stories like Before Watchmen and Doomsday Clock, I know there are still excellent stories to tell from other creators, about this universe and these characters.
There’s still a great deal we don’t know about this series, like how it connects to the original graphic novel. From what I can see, much like Doomsday Clock, I think this Watchmen series is probably a sequel of sorts. We seem to be getting characters from the original comic books and some created just for the show. From the beginning showrunner Damon Lindelof has said this is not going to be a straight adaptation of the original graphic novel. However, It’s going to take place in the Watchmen universe. The trailer shows a gang that is clearly inspired by the original Rorschach (they kind of remind me of The Jokerz Gang in Batman Beyond).
We also see Jeremy Irons playing Ozymandias a.k.a. Adrian Veidt, the man who orchestrated the conspiracy that was at the heart of the original Watchmen story. One thing I really hope is present in this new series is Dr. Manhattan. He was always the only superhuman that ever existed in the Watchmen universe and I would love to see what could be done with this character in a sequel series, even if he isn’t used as a main character like in the original story. I just hope he is a part of the series in some way. I was disappointed to see that the show is premiering the fall, I was hoping we’d get the premiere this summer. Regardless, this is definitely one of my most anticipated projects of the year, TV or otherwise.
Finally, the most pleasant surprise of the evening was a trailer for a show seemingly starring Aaron Paul that was clearly taking place in a futuristic version of our world. The technology; robotics, transportation, and more… This is a very different world than the one we currently live in. It’s hard to say exactly how far in the future this is. The society and city we’re shown is much more advanced than our own, but not so advanced that it looks like a far distant future.
Some things look pretty similar to our world, but so much looks very, very different. Aaron Paul’s voiceover laments feeling lost in a world that he doesn’t recognize anymore. It almost seems as if he may even be involved in some shady enterprises. The whole thing has a very “Blade Runner” vibe.
As I was watching the trailer, I asked myself at one point “What is this?“. Surely a series like this would already be on my radar, if enough had been filmed to have a trailer ready. Then, BOOM! The twist hits. Aaron Paul approaches a woman staggering out of a dark alley. Believing she’s in need of help, he calls out to her to ask if she’s alright. The woman looks up and it is none other than Dolores from Westworld. We’d been watching a trailer for Westworld Season 3 all along. The show logo comes on as the trailer ends to reveal Season 3 will be premiering in 2020. Take a look for yourself:
What I loved about this trailer, was how different it seems from everything that’s come before on Westworld. Westworld definitely needed to make some bold moves after the end of Season 2 to keep things fresh. Changing things so much that, while watching the first trailer for the new season, the show was unrecognizable until the very end of the teaser, is definitely an exciting direction for the show to go in. I wasn’t a massive fan of Westworld Season 2, even though I loved the first season. This was a great way to get excitement and interest up in the show’s third season until it premieres next year.
One other HBO project I wanted to mention is the upcoming TV series based on the novel Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. Lovecraft Country uses Jim Crow era America as it’s backdrop and revolves around an African-American family pulled into the world of Lovecraftian magic, monsters, and other dimensions. The narrative is broken into pieces, focusing on diffferent characters in the book that are compelling stories on their own, while still serving the larger narrative of the novel as the different stories eventually converge. Combining horror and a predominantly African-American cast of characters living in Jim Crow America, allows the story to talk about serious racial issues while also being creepy and disquieting. I wasn’t even aware this was in the works until very recently, but I was over the moon when I heard it was being adapted by HBO. Lovecraft Country is one of the best books I’ve read in the last few years. The combination of great characters, a unique setting, and Lovecraft horror makes for a fantastic read. To top it off, Jordan Peele and J.J Abrams are developing the show and executive producing. Two of the best genre filmmakers of this generation working on a project like Lovecraft Country is very exciting.
So there you have it, HBO has some very interesting new shows on the horizon. However, It’s important to remember that HBO isn’t the only network with high profile new television series in the works. Streaming services like the upcoming Disney + launching in November, Netflix, and Amazon Prime are all throwing their hat into the ring to create the next “must watch” series.
Disney + will be releasing film quality miniseries that take place in the MCU. So far, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, WandaVision (focusing on Scarlet Witch and The Vision, obviously), Hawkeye, and Loki have all been announced and are in varying stages of production.
Perhaps the most exciting and high profile new series to launch this year will be the new Star Wars live action TV series, The Mandalorian. Starring Game of Throne’s Pedro Pascal, the show will follow the titular Mandalorian, a lone gun slinger traveling the Outer Rim of the galaxy following the fall of The Empire.
The series takes place between Return of The Jedi and The Force Awakens, a period in Star Wars lore ripe for exploration. The show will apparently skew adult, targeting the audience that grew up with Star Wars, but may be looking for something edgier in adulthood than the largely “all ages” films. With Jon Favreau as showrunner and guys like Taika Watitti and Dave Filoni directing episodes, this looks to be an amazing series. The show premieres with the launch of Disney + on 11/12/19.
As for some of the established streaming services, like Amazon Prime and Netflix, both companies have been producing successful original programming for years now. Netflix has a few big genre hits like Stranger Things, with Season 3 of the fan favorite show premiering on July 4th.
Netflix also has the hotly anticipated adaptation of The Witcher, starring Henry Cavil. Based on the series of novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowsk. The books follow Geralt of Rivia (Cavil), a badass monster hunter with some supernatural juice inside him, which allows him to face all kinds of monsters that threaten humanity. The series exists in that vaguely “middle ages” type of fictional world that we see in so many fantasy stories from Lord Of The Rings to Game of Thrones. Though The Witcher was also adapted as a popular video game series, the TV show will be entirely based on the original novels. Expect The Witcher to hit Netflix in the second half of 2019. With Henry Cavil playing Geralt and the cool premise of the show, I think The Witcher along with The Mandalorian, are my picks to be the “next big thing”out of all the shows I’ve previewed here. I also think ther’s a pretty good chance that Watchmen could end up being something pretty special as well.
One thing is certain, we live in a golden age of television programming. A world where TV shows can match and even surpass, movies on the big screen in some cases. These are just a few of the major projects in development that could scratch that Game of Thrones itch. It’s doubtful that any of them will have the incredible mega-success that Game of Thrones has had. But then again, someone does have to be the next Game of Thrones, so who knows? The bottom line is that it looks like we’re in for some incredible television over the next 12 months.
Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice & Fire, one of the greatest shows of all time… has come to an end. On this episode of “The World’s Best Podcast” we give you our first reactions to the historic series finale, “The Iron Throne”! A fitting title for the final installment of the series.
We recorded this episode almost immediately after watching “The Iron Throne”. I’m sure, after watching the episode again, we’ll pick up on things we may have missed on our first viewing. Over time, our opinions of the series finale, the final season, or even the series as a whole, may change and evolve. However, on this episode of The World’s Best Podcast, you’re getting our gut reactions, right after watching the end of one of our favorite television series of all time.
Was the show able to deliver a satisfying final episode? What the fate of all our favorite characters? Who LIVED?! Who DIED?! Get our take on this CAN’T MISS episode! Listen here or subscribe on Spotify, Stitcher, and iTunes:
If you’re not caught up on Game of Thrones, I’m going to be spoiling some stuff for you, so please leave now if you don’t want that.
This season has had some received some major flack from audiences for all sorts of issues, and obviously I don’t agree with everyone, but I wanted to talk about a couple that I don’t like. I guess, I’ll start with the big one, the title of this article kind of hints at. Daenerys turning crazy/bad/however else we want to categorize her. I didn’t dislike this until the moment in this week’s episode when the bells are ringing, and she looks over at the Red Keep, and decides to lay waste on the people of King’s Landing.
You see, while Daenerys has never shied away from being violent to achieve her goals, there was always some sense of morality to it, and she was never casual with innocents. Up until this point, the fact that she’s burned the Iron Fleet, and the guard towers, and as much as she has destroyed, makes sense, and largely is the right thing to do, to avoid unnecessary death of innocents.
Then she stops, sitting atop the final remaining dragon, and looks down, the bells are ringing, and it is clear that she has won, and she snaps and proceeds to go further. Now, if she’d done everything and never stopped, never paused, and was just caught up in it, and therefore didn’t notice the bells, or the peace, or anything else and got carried away, this would be a more satisfying example of her going too far, and perhaps being the threat Varys died to stop (which I thought was played excellently). Also if she had that moment of pause, and then flew over and destroyed the Red Keep, I could get that too. But she pauses, looks around, sees she has won and unleashes fury on the innocent, which is out of character. It’s not getting carried away, or going too far as many of her past behavior has shown, it was her snapping, and it is out of character for her.
I also think that if it had been more along the lines of her getting carried away and going too far, even way too far, this would allow the necessary characters to say “oh we need Jon Snow to sit on the Iron Throne” without the writers betraying the character of Daenerys to justify that final play that it seems is coming.
I mentioned Varys, and I think Varys is a prime example of how the characters should be thinking about Daenerys, his last words are “I hope I’m wrong about her,” (or something similar) but he honestly believes he is not. That’s because she’s riding the edge of righteous and power-hungry, and he is forced to make a decision unsure if he’s correct, it makes his decisions more bold. Now if Jon realizes she’s a mad-Queen, and rebels against her, it will not be a bold act, but rather the obvious one for someone who will always risk his life for what’s right. It takes away the ‘risk of being wrong.’
Now, there were plenty of moments in addition to Varys’s death which I thought were well executed, I liked the final battle with the Hound and the Mountain, and I thought that Arya leaving because Cersai is dead regardless of what happens, worked really well.
But there were also moments in which it seemed like they tried to eat their cake and have it too. Jaime could have gone with Brienne (I didn’t really want to see that, but once it happened I liked it) or he could go back to Cersai, but I think having him do both really cut through both. That’s ultimately what I think the problem with this season is (it’s the worst of GoT, but it’s still pretty damn good otherwise): they want to both shit and get off the pot at the same time, and they spent years elaborately creating characters and beats, and now they’re trying to tie them all up far to quickly.
It’s finally here! The epic ending to “A Song Of Ice And Fire”! On this week’s episode of The World’s Best Podcast, Paul Sr. and I do a SPOILER filled, deep dive, breakdown of Episodes 1 & 2, “Winterfell” and “A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms”! From Game of Thrones: The Final Season! Listen here or subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/17715325
On this week’s episode of The World’s Best Podcast, I review the new DC superhero movie SHAZAM! starring Zachary Levi.Shazam may not be well known, but at one time his comic book series was outselling Superman. DC may not be knocking it out of the park with their movies like Marvel, but they’re on the right track. With missteps like Suicide Squad and Justice League out of the way, DC has built up a solid roster of stand alone movies with Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and now Shazam. SPOILERS are discussed in this episode, but I cover the characters history and some other interesting topics before breaking down the movie.
Listen to the episode here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:
First of all I feel I have to apologize yet again for being a little late in putting out our latest podcast. It’s been a busy month, but we try to get episodes of The World’s Best Podcast on a more or less weekly schedule at a minimum, if not more. So I really appreciate your patience with our unorthodox podcast release schedule over the last few weeks and I want to reassure you that the release schedule will be getting back to normal. As a small consolation, this week will see the release of not one, but TWO pretty great episodes of the Podcast (today’s episode and our Captain Marvel SPOILER-Filled Deep Dive Review)! I am particularly excited about our upcoming Captain Marvel episode! Not only because I am very psyched to see the movie, but some of the concepts and elements that we will see in this film, have the potential to open up so many different interesting possibilities for the MCU! Much in the same way Guardians of The Galaxy and Doctor Strange did.
Anyway back to today’s episode! Most excitingly, HBO FINALLY dropped a full trailer for the EPIC final season of Game of Thrones premiering on April 14. I’ve posted the trailer below if you want to check it out (As if you haven’t already watched it a dozen times 😉). Needless to say, we were super excited to talk about it and we needed to do a breakdown of the trailer right away. I really dug it, the trailer was exciting and just substantive enough, without giving too much away.
We also discuss the trailers for Dark Phoenix and Hellboy released earlier this week, we touch upon some predictions for Captain Marvel, and sadly we wrap things up on a somber note. With a tribute to the untimely passing this week of beloved actor, Luke Perry. Who was taken from us too soon, passing away at the age of 52. Despite the sad ending, as usual we had a lot of laughs recording this episode and we think you will too! So please enjoy! Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:
HBO released some very cool character posters today that feature about 20 different Game of Thrones characters sitting on The Iron Throne. With all this promotional material coming out, hopefully we’ll get a real trailer soon. I first found out about these over at EW.com. I put my favorite posters below, but if you want to see all 20 you can follow the Twitter link here: https://twitter.com/i/moments/1100531893244739585