Politics follows predictable historical cycles, but even political science experts must be amazed by how quickly mainstream public opinion has switched from “Gay people have a problem that needs to be fixed” to “Someone’s sexual orientation is no big deal.” At the start of Obama’s presidential term, his safe political play was to oppose equal treatment of gays under the law; eight years later, the opposite had become the case.
Christmas movies have become a booming subgenre on Lifetime, the Disney Channel and now Netflix, so much so that even someone who wraps themselves in tinsel and holly starting at Thanksgiving couldn’t hope to watch them all. Despite the high volume of product, very few of these films enter the canon alongside classics like “Christmas Vacation,” “A Christmas Story” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
“Spike: After the Fall” (July-October 2008) caps a trilogy of “Spike” titles – following “Asylum” and “Shadow Puppets” – from writer Brian Lynch and artist Franco Urru, as Spike falls in with new allies in late Season 5 and post-Season 5 of “Angel.” However, the allies in “After the Fall” are different from Team Spike in the previous volumes; that group is in Las Vegas and is none the wiser about Los Angeles’ descent into a hell dimension.
A lot of movies could benefit from a viewer going in with no knowledge of what they’re about to see, but in the age of previews giving away everything, it’s hard to find an experience like that. Streaming services might be bringing it back though: A synopsis and a still image look intriguing, the service recommends it to you based on your viewing habits, it gets good ratings from others … so maybe you’ll give it a shot. Netflix’s “Cam” benefits from the Mystery Mine Ride approach.
Nancy Holder’s “Blood and Fog” (May 2003) starts off with a delicious premise for fans of both “Buffy” and history, as Jack the Ripper enters the Slayer’s sphere. But like the 2002 “Angel” novel “Endangered Species,” co-written by Holder, the last third of the book totally falls apart; it’s filled with copy-editing errors and reads like it was delivered to the publisher minutes before being typeset for the press.
“Sneaky Pete,” developed by Bryan Cranston and Graham Yost, was originally created as a “mystery of the week” series for CBS, about a con man who would solve different cases each week, all while pretending to be a member of a family that wasn’t his own. However, CBS passed and Amazon Prime turned it into a serialized story. Season 1 was a smart, fun, “Ocean’s 11”-style story. The show became Amazon’s most watched series, most likely because of “Breaking Bad” fans looking for their Cranston fix.
Having seen the latest “Rocky”/ “Creed” film, “Creed II,” it’s time to rank all eight films of the saga from worst to first. There are no outright bad films in this series, and a case could be made for any order between No. 2 and No. 7. Just thinking back on the 42 years of “Rocky” films is enough to make me want to blast “Gonna Fly Now” and take a run up the museum steps. Here we go. Ding. Ding.
We’re not supposed to heap praise on sequels, since they are standing on the shoulders of their predecessors, but something should be said about how skillfully “Creed II” continues the story from “Creed” (2015) and “Rocky IV” (1985). Suffice it to say, director Steve Caple Jr.’s film will please fans of this franchise that has become a safe haven for grown men to cry in the theater over themes of fathers and sons (real or makeshift) and overcoming the odds.
A friend mistook “The Little Drummer Girl” for a Christmas series, and I explained that’s not what it is. As for what it really is, there’s the short version and the long version. Simply, it’s an espionage drama set amid the forever war between the Israelis and the Palestinians in the 1970s. AMC’s seven-hour miniseries has all the twisty spy intrigue you could want, but its strongest elements are the character study of English actress Charlie (Florence Pugh) and the amazing set and costume design. A viewer feels every minute of the run time, though, and often might desire to watch something more upbeat, like Norwegian death metal videos or snuff films of kittens being strangled.
After the “First Night” interlude (Issues 6-8), IDW’s “Angel” returns to the main storyline of “After the Fall” having lost its momentum. Although still plotted by Joss Whedon and scripted by Brian Lynch, the arc feels like it is treading water, with a lot of talking. It also doesn’t help that Franco Urru is mostly absent from Issues 9-14, as he was working on “Spike: After the Fall.” Before his return for the grand finale, there’s a shortage of dynamism in the panels.