A priest, a singer and a vacuum salesman walk into a hotel … What sounds like the beginning of a good joke is the basis for writer-director Drew Goddard’s newest work, “Bad Times at the El Royale” (2018), set in 1969. Goddard (“Daredevil”) channels his inner Quentin Tarantino with a layered mystery of murder and deceit, dripping with style and intrigue. The El Royale hotel, which lies on the state line of California and Nevada, clearly has a history, and it’s almost a character itself.
My reviews looking back at “Buffy” Season 8 continue. SPOILER WARNING: If you are reading these issues for the first time, I will analyze the character of Twilight based on my knowledge of Twilight’s true identity, which isn’t revealed until later in the season.
The MCU’s first crossover TV series, “The Defenders” Season 1 (2017, Netflix), has all the fun of a superhero team-up, along with all the clunkiness. Despite being written by four veterans of “Daredevil” – Douglas Petrie, Marco Ramirez, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and Drew Goddard — it is a notable step down from that bar-setting series.
Often when a comic book series ends, that final issue will sit in its slot on the racks for a long time afterward, since there is no next issue to replace it. My enduring memory of “Tales of the Vampires” (December 2003-April 2004) is seeing Issue 5 on the rack for a year or so. It was the last issue of Dark Horse’s original “Buffy” run, leaving a three-year gap before Season 8 began in 2007. (It wasn’t a total dark age: There were “Buffy” novels throughout this time, and IDW’s “Angel” comics started in 2005.)
In retrospect, I was destined to be a huge “Daredevil” fan before finally getting around to watching Season 1 (2015, Netflix) of this Marvel Cinematic Universe series. Frank Miller’s 1980s comics that redefined Daredevil into a grim vigilante heavily influenced Eastman & Laird’s invention of one of my favorite comics: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Splinter comes from Stick, the Foot comes from the Hand, and the same ooze that gives Daredevil his heightened senses mutates the Turtles.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which premiered on March 10, 1997. That sentence is technically incorrect – “Buffy” debuted with a movie on July 30, 1992, so this is the 25th anniversary year. The “Buffy” we all know and love is a reboot (a fact that gives me pause whenever I scoff at reboots). The movie shouldn’t be discounted, as people who liked the film provided a good chunk of that early TV audience. (That audience has now grown to include people who were too young for the show when it was first on TV, such as my friend Devin, who was 9 when it premiered and now counts “Buffy” among his favorite shows.)
Exhibit A in the case that network TV is dying is the bevy of reboots that no one asked for, and Exhibit B arrived Monday in the form of NBC’s “The Good Place” (which will move into its regular timeslot at 8:30 p.m. Thursdays). Seemingly the antidote to all the rehashes, this is certainly the most high-concept comedy of the fall slate. But its appeal ends there. The first two episodes are numbingly boring.
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Season 7 (2002-03, UPN) is the ultimate mixed bag from the series’ run. Although it bows out in a satisfying enough way and has a lot of stand-out elements, it’s also the most bothersome season because it misses the mark so often.
“Angel” Season 5 (2003-04, The WB) sends the series out with a bang, ironically because it’s a season of intriguing fresh starts. Unlike with the final season of “Buffy” one year before this, Joss Whedon did not intend for this to be the final season of “Angel” (the WB’s cancellation announcement came while episode 17 was being shot).
I’m currently finding myself disappointed with the end of “Angel” Season 4 in my “Rewatching and reviewing the classics” project, because the story of a secretly evil god coming to Earth and making her followers blindly happy while she eats them for sustenance is too broad of an idea to work on a week-to-week basis. It burns brightly but soon fades, and renders the main characters secondary. Yet I can’t deny that I’m watching a story arc that no TV visionary other than Joss Whedon would even think of attempting.