Fantastic films and how I rank them: Every ‘Harry Potter’/ Wizarding World movie, from worst to best (Commentary)

With movie theaters serving up the latest round of Wizarding World delights from J.K. Rowling in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” here are my rankings of the nine “Harry Potter” universe films so far (I’m considering “Deathly Hallows” to be one movie, not two). Starting from the weakest and working my way to the best, this is how I rank them. Lumos!

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‘Buffy’ flashback: All 10 short stories from ‘Tales of the Slayer, Vol. 2’ (2003), ranked (Book review)

Drawing a better overall crop of writers, “Tales of the Slayer, Vol. 2” (January 2003) makes a huge jump in quality from the first volume. The authors have a blast playing with our expectations of how Slayers, Watchers and vampires should behave while using familiar Buffyverse beats to teach us about societies throughout human history. Here are my rankings of the 10 stories:

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‘Angel’ flashback: All 12 short stories from ‘The Longest Night’ (2002), ranked (Book review)

It’d be cool to read an “Angel” book of 12 short stories that each take place in one hour on the longest night of the year. “The Longest Night” (December 2002), unfortunately, isn’t that book. It claims to be that book on the back cover blurb, but the editors never told the writers. So the gang can be beat up or covered in demon goo the end of one hour and healthy and clean at the start of the next, for example.

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Marvel Cinematic Universe flashback: All 13 episodes of ‘Jessica Jones’ Season 2 (2018), ranked (TV review)

Maybe it’s because I got more accustomed to the show’s rhythms, but I liked “Jessica Jones” Season 2 (March 2018, Netflix) more than the first. Everyone is established in their roles, and things like Jessica (Krysten Ritter) being perpetually drunk, or someone making reference to that fact, flow in a natural noir-detective-drama way. Even though the overall plot leans more superpowered than hardboiled, Melissa Rosenberg’s series is as comfortable in its genre trappings as Jessica is in her favorite pair of jeans.

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10 shows featuring today’s biggest stars … that you can never watch again (TV commentary)

It’s not as bad as the case of the old “Doctor Who” episodes that were intentionally destroyed after their broadcast, but in this age where it’s easy for a streaming service to make something available to its subscribers, there are still a lot of TV shows you simply can’t see.

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Marvel Cinematic Universe flashback: All 13 episodes of ‘The Punisher’ Season 1 (2017), ranked (TV review)

After his memorable introduction in “Daredevil” Season 2 (2016) – which could’ve been called “Daredevil and Punisher” – Frank Castle/Punisher (Jon Bernthal) gets the spotlight in his own 13-episode season. The revelation of who killed Frank’s wife and two children at the merry-go-round leads to a conspiracy that goes to the highest levels of the U.S. government and military. One approach for showrunner Steve Lightfoot’s “Punisher” Season 1 (2017) might’ve been 13 mini-“John Wick” movies. That would’ve been viscerally satisfying, but I appreciate the meaty roster of characters. The season is not faced-paced, but nor is it boring.

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All 6 of Mike Flanagan’s horror films, ranked (Movie commentary)

I was so impressed with “The Haunting of Hill House” that I immediately checked out writer-director Mike Flanagan’s previous horror work, which is easy to do in these days of streaming services. Although his IMDB goes back to the turn of the century with student films, Flanagan didn’t enter the mainstream until this decade, when he directed six horror (or horror-adjacent) films. All are worth checking out to see the progression of an emerging genre talent. It’s interesting to look at rankings of Flanagan’s films on the web and see that there’s nowhere near a consensus on the order, but here are my personal rankings:

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11 bizarre oddities in the ‘Halloween’ saga (Movie commentary)

The “Halloween” saga is infamous for its oddities and mistakes and its tendency to set aside established plot threads. Some of them are well-known, even by casual observers: the fact that “Halloween III” isn’t a Michael Myers film, the way “Halloween 5” reimagines the ending of “Halloween 4” to avoid having a child as a killer, and the three relaunches of the saga in “Halloween H20,” Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” and the new “Halloween,” which hit theaters earlier this month.

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Fall TV 2018: Thoughts on 8 new shows and how long they will last (Commentary)

There are more good shows on TV than ever, but the traditional fall season has become the dumping ground for the least exciting new series – perhaps because they need the extra buzz of Fall TV Previews more than something with the cachet of an “Atlanta” or a “Fargo.” Still, some quality series rise to the surface: Recent years have given us “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “This Is Us,” along with glitzy franchise entries like “The Gifted” and assorted MCU efforts (“Iron Fist” and “Daredevil” boast new seasons this fall).

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