Galavant – “Completely Mad…Alena” and “Dungeons and Dragon Lady”

This week, Galavant reminded viewers that it really is a limited series run (the final episodes air next week), because the top of this week’s hour found Galavant and Co. finally reaching the end of their journey, and by the end of the hour, all the pieces were in place for a climatic finale. In between, there were quite a few plot problems that revealed the limitations of the show’s premise, but the entertaining guest stars and ever clever song lyrics kept things moving along, so let’s get into it.

This week marked Galavant’s arrival in Valencia, and while he is eager to save the kingdom and his lady love, Isabella is racked with guilt over the imminent reveal of her betrayal. To stall for time, she convinces Galavant to head to a local monastery to wash up in preparation for the battle ahead; a monastery inhabited by singing monks led by none other than Weird Al, in the first of two completely awesome guest spots this week. While Galavant is being prepped, Isabella confesses her guilt to Weird Al Monk, and the next time we see her, she’s clearly had a change of heart, because she confronts King Richard to offer up her kingdom’s jewel in return for the lives of her parents and Galavant. Of course, Richard refuses, as he is determined to prove himself worthy of his wife’s affections by killing Galavant, and so with her parent’s lives still at risk, Isabella heads back to Galavant to put the trap in motion. Needless to say, when the knight is ultimately captured and Isabella’s role in it is revealed, Galavant is crushed, Richard is ecstatic, and Isabella finds herself thrown into the dungeons for her troubles.

The wildcard in all of this is Madalena, as she has grown tired of waiting for Richard to be an effective King, and she has decided that once again it’s time for a change in leadership in Valencia. This week, Madalena’s character really comes into her own when the true extent of her ambition and her flair for manipulation is finally put front and centre. Not only does she use the castle’s cook’s affection for her handmaiden as a weapon to get what she wants, but once she discovers that Galavant is on his way to rescue her, she puts her own plan into action; one that saves Galavant from the gallows, places the hapless cook there instead, and summons to the kingdom a mysterious figure whom she claims will execute her evil plan. Also, somewhere in there the cook and the handmaiden sing a hilarious song about what it means to be in love in the Middle Ages, which is easily the best song of the night.

The second act begins right where we left off, with Madalena explaining her intentions to a confused Galavant. While he is still hopelessly clinging to the idea that she loves him, she basically informs him that he’s no more than a pretty face to her, and until her co-conspirator shows up, it’s back to the dungeon for Galavant. Madalena also orders Isabella to be killed and the rest of the group tortured, and all of this is done with such a gleeful flourish and wicked sneer, you wonder why it took the writers this long to give Mallory Jansen something of substance for her character. Clearly she’s having a ball with it.

The other plot line of this episode is far less successful. It follows Richard’s journey to see the magician Xanax (Merlin’s replacement), who is wonderfully and ridiculously played by Ricky Gervais. While I’m always happy to see Gervais in pretty much anything, his guest spot here amounts to nothing more than a wasted opportunity, as he plays a medieval drug dealer who gets Richard high in order to help him understand why no one takes him seriously. This whole section of the episode just feels off and it is deeply unfunny, but it does give Richard some backstory as a second son who unwittingly became King when his bully of an older brother set off to rape, conquer, and kill throughout the land. Still high on his newfound confidence, Richard hightails it back to Valencia to break up with Madalena, but he’s halted in his tracks when it’s revealed that the person Madalena is working with is none other than Richard’s big brother, Kingsley, who’s back and wants Richard’s kingdom for himself. “Oh this is going to be fun,” cackles Madalena. Once again, somewhere in there, Galavant and Isabella finally come to terms with their feelings for each other (through song of course), and when it’s discovered that none of the doors in the dungeon are actually locked, they set off to save the day.

So that’s where things stand heading into next week’s finale. While I confess that these two episodes didn’t leave me as giddy with laughter as previous weeks, I still really enjoy this show, and given its recent slide in the ratings, I have a feeling that next week will be Galavant’s last episodes. I, for one, plan on making the most of them. Check back next week to find out how it all wraps up.

Line of the week: “I know you’re not a hugger, but if you were, I would wrap myself around you like a leather jacket made of love.”

Lyric of the week: “We could wile away each hopeless day comparing open sores.”

 

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Trailer Talk – Woman in Gold

Release Date: April 3rd, 2015

The trailer for Women in Gold is one of those trailers that I will invariably watch multiple times over. At the moment, my view count stands at three, but I expect that number will rise soon. So what makes this trailer so great? For starters, it’s delightfully straight forward, with perfectly chosen tid bits of conversations that make you want to hear more. However, what truly makes this a great trailer is that it falls into the category of being a mini-movie. These are those rare trailers that manage to be fairly comprehensive in their plot summaries, but at the same time don’t give everything away, and therefore after seeing a mini-movie, even if you never manage to see the film in its entirety, you still feel like you saw it in some small dose. Mini-movies are incredibly hard to make, because the line between revealing too little and giving it all away is very thin indeed, but Woman in Gold walks the line between the two perfectly. In the end, I have no idea if this movie will be any good, but its trailer is excellent.

Verdict: Will likely see the film, but whether I see it in theatres or at home remains to be seen.

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Agent Carter – “Time and Tide”

Agent Carter was back in action last night, although the actual action took a backseat this week in favour of some much needed character development, so let’s get right to it. The episode started off with a bit of a misdirection, albeit an amusing one, as we’re led to believe that someone sinister is sneaking up to Peggy’s apartment while she searches for the meaning behind last week’s heart symbol. Turns out, the someone sinister is just her neighbour’s boyfriend making a late night house call, and because the rules of the building are so strict about men above the first floor, he’s been forced to climb up the drainpipe. Sadly, his presence does not go unnoticed and her neighbour is kicked out of the building the very next morning, but the incident does give Peggy an idea for her ongoing quest to clear Howard Stark’s name.

She pays a visit to Jarvis to ask to see the chamber from where Stark’s weapons were stolen, because contrary to her landlady’s assertion, no building is impregnable. If they can figure out how the thieves got in, maybe they can find a way to trace the stolen goods. Unfortunately, their visit is rudely interrupted when her colleagues from the SSR show up looking to question Jarvis over the licence plate found in the Roxxon Oil explosion, and when he refuses to let them in, they take him downtown for questioning, leaving Peggy with the task of bailing out her friend and co-conspirator without revealing her involvement. No easy task since Dooley and Thompson are convinced that they can make Jarvis talk by trotting out an old treason charge and threatening to deport his wife, but because Peggy is awesome, she manages to disrupt the interrogation and spring the butler by appearing with a convenient piece of evidence at the right/wrong time, depending on your view of it. Jarvis goes free, but the planned bungle costs Peggy dearly in terms of her reputation at work and her standing with her boss.

Not one to lie around and mope after an awful day at work, Peggy heads back over to the Stark residence where Jarvis lives to inspect the crime scene of the stolen goods, and while she initially tells Jarvis that she respects his right to privacy, she ultimately demands to know the story behind the treason charge. If they are going to keep risking their lives together, she wants to know the truth. It’s here where we finally get some backstory on Jarvis, and while it’s not some shocking reveal, his story is exactly what the character needs. We learn that Jarvis was in the army before the war broke out, and while on assignment in Budapest, he met his future wife. The problem is that his wife is Jewish, and when the war broke out, Jarvis forged his General’s signature on transit papers to get her to safety. He was caught, charged with treason, and was facing execution when Stark used his considerable influence to have the charges dropped and bring both Jarvis and his wife to the US. It’s starting to make sense as to why Jarvis is so loyal to Stark and willing to help Peggy clear his name.

Once the air is cleared, they manage to track Stark’s stolen weapons to a boat in a nearby harbour, and Peggy is ready to call it in and finally earn some respect in the eyes of her co-workers. In another nice heart to heart moment, Jarvis reminds her that the agents at SSR will only use this incident to tear her down further, and with some reluctance, she asks him to call it in as an anonymous tip. It’s a lovely scene between the two of them that really reinforces not just the depths of Peggy’s yearning to be taken seriously at her work, but how good this partnership is for the both of them.

Unfortunately, while Jarvis is out calling in the tip in a hilarious American accent, Peggy is facing down the boat’s resident goon, who wastes no time in telling her that he has no problem with killing a woman. Between Peggy and a later Jarvis, they manage to knock him out, but the SSR can be heard in the distance, and therefore they have no time to get rid of the witness to their involvement. This problem is promptly solved when Krzeminski is transporting the goon back to the station, at which point an unseen assassin takes them both out. Peggy arrives at work the next day to find everyone either in tears or looking really, really sad, and as she’s surveying the flowers left on dearly departed Krzeminski’s desk, Dooley takes this moment to declare that Krzeminski’s death is on Howard Stark, and demands that everyone double their efforts to find him.

In an otherwise solid episode, this was the only scene that rang false, because while Peggy’s anguish over Krzeminski’s death being a direct result of her decision to call in the anonymous tip felt real, everyone else’s reaction didn’t make much sense. Krzeminski spent his entire time on the show being disrespected and made fun of by his colleagues, so while his death would have been sad, it wasn’t like he was the precinct’s golden boy or anything. Perhaps if he had lasted a bit longer on the show and there was more development of these relationships, their reaction might have landed better, but as it stood, it just felt forced. But overall, this was a great episode for just the show’s second week.

Agent Carter is on hiatus for a week, so I’ll be back in two weeks time with the latest recap. Be sure to check back in then.

Line of the week: “Mr. Stark would trust a shark to not bite him if it was wearing a short enough skirt.”

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I Want To Go Back To Kindergarten

No, this isn’t some arrested development yearning for a lost childhood, nor is this one of those nostalgia trips where people idolize the past through rose tinted glasses. To be clear, I don’t want to be five years old again. I just wish we lived in a world where the rules of kindergarten still reigned supreme. In 1988, Robert Fulghum published a series of short essays under the title, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, and while I’ve never read the book, I get what he’s trying to say. Think about it. What were we taught in kindergarten? Share everything. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Very important. In the wake of the horrific events of the past week, I can’t help but think about another lesson that my kindergarten teacher taught me: Get along with everyone.

To this day, I can picture the one kid in my kindergarten class that I truly did not like, but for the life of me I can’t remember his name. What I do remember is that the feeling was mutual, and we would go out of our way to avoid having to play with each other. However, every now and then, my teacher would force the two of us to work together, and if either of us complained, we were simply told that we would have to find a way to get along. We weren’t being forced to be friends; we weren’t even being told that we had to like each other. We simply had to share the same space and get along. What a powerful concept.

A couple of months ago I moved to Paris for a year abroad, and after ringing in the new year at a party that was clear across town from my apartment, I opted to crash at a friend’s place for the night. The next morning, we celebrated New Year’s Day with a three hour conversation over breakfast, and as this friend is French, I used this time to pick her brain about some of the more quirky aspects of living in Paris. In particular, I was confused about why a movie theatre wouldn’t let me use my credit card to pay for a movie pass, and instead had asked for my bank account details. What started out as an explanation of French banking practices eventually evolved into a fascinating discussion about the differences in culture, attitudes, and customs between France/Europe and Canada/North America. Three hours later, not only did I feel closer to my friend, but I felt like I had really learned something about this country that I now call home, and as I sat on the Metro heading back to my apartment later that day, I wondered if any of the problems that currently plague our world could be solved if people were just willing to sit down and talk to each other and really make an effort to understand their differences. I guess you could say I was feeling optimistic about the new year.

A week later, I was frantically texting that very same friend as soon as I heard about the shooting at Charlie Hebdo because I mistakenly thought she worked in the area, and when she answered that she was indeed all right, I’ve never been more relieved to receive a text message in my life. Two days later, it was her turn to text me when one of the hostage situations broke out in my neighbourhood, and two days ago, we marched together in the largest rally in France’s history to show our support for free speech and our resilience in the face of terrorism. Officials estimate that the crowd in Paris could have been as big as 3 million people, and the sense of solidarity and unity among those 3 million people of all races and religions was something that I had almost given up hope was even possible. It was a wonderful moment in history, and as I headed home, I was hopeful that things really could change for the better. Hopeful, that is, until I got home and read about the massacre in Nigeria of 2,000 people by Boko Haram. That’s when I decided I wanted to go back to kindergarten.

If you look back throughout the course of our history, it would seem that we humans have always been in conflict with one another. We have waged wars over territory, resources, and ideologies, and it is heartbreaking to think about where we could be as a race if we would just stop thinking up new ways to kill each other. So the way I see it, we currently have two choices. We can either throw up our hands and concede defeat to the status quo, or we can stand up together and decide that we can be better than this. We can go back to that magical time when we all got along because our kindergarten teachers were wise enough to know that that was the only way we were going to get anything done. We don’t have to agree on everything, we don’t all have to be friends, and at the end of the day, we don’t even have to like each other, but this world is our classroom, and at the very least, we have to find a way to get along.

 

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Galavant – “Two Balls” and “Comedy Gold”

Galavant was back at it last night with another two solid episodes that featured plenty of self referential jokes, spoofs, and a delicious jab at Lilith Fair, which apparently is still culturally relevant over 15 years later. There was also plenty of singing, including a performance by what has to be TV’s first executioner-led rock band, and fights among the characters as to who gets to sing the songs’ big finishes. Yes, Galavant’s tongue is still firmly in cheek, so let’s dive in.

The show is continuing with the two concurrent plots route, with Galavant and Co. first heading to squire Sid’s hometown for a visit and a chance to rest their horses. There’s just one problem. It would seem that Sid is the town golden boy, and in his recent letters to his family, he’s been prone to embellishing the facts of his life away from home, leading everyone to believe that he is a knight and Galavant is his lowly squire. It’s also revealed that Sid comes from a predominantly Jewish village, complete with his own set of stereotypical overbearing Jewish parents, and while Galavant is loathe to pass himself off as a lowly squire, Isabella is eager to play along with Sid’s charade, and even goes so far as to pass herself off as Sid’s fiancee to help him look better. Before you can say “Mazel tov!”, his parents are planning a big ball for the happy couple, and Galavant is stuck hanging out with the rest of the help.

This proves to be an enlightening experience, because it turns out that not all squires are as happy in their jobs as Sid, and listening to the other squires bitch about their masters (through song of course), Galavant realizes that there may be somewhat of a discrepancy between how he views himself vs. how others see him. This of course leads to the epiphany that he has it pretty good with Sid, and although Galavant offers to keep up his act for Sid’s sake, he convinces his squire that the most important thing is staying true to who you are, prompting Sid’s confession of his true status to his parents.

Over in Valencia, it’s been 48 days since Richard has conquered the land, and the people are in dire need of some entertainment. And food, but Richard chooses to table that for the time being. Instead, he decides to throw a ball to try and have some fun, but the task is made decidedly difficult by the fact that he burnt all the crops and executed all of the musicians during his invasion. Richard still insists on throwing a ball, but it is a disastrous affair, filled with horrible stand up routines, hysterically morbid dance moves (courtesy of the previously mentioned executioners band), and the remaining food being set on fire. Richard then decides that this would be a good time to open up the space for the townspeople to air their grievances, and everything is going fine until the castle eunuch lets the cat out of the bag that Madalena and the jester are sleeping with each other. Richard is devastated, the ball is quickly cancelled, and the eunuch is swiftly put to death, but since this is Galavant, this turn of events is still darkly comic.

In the following episode, we find Richard pinning away for Madalena and looking for a way to win her back. He decides that laughter is the key to a woman’s heart, and after confronting the jester over his affair with the queen, Richard enlists his help to learn comedy in order to woo his wife. After four episodes, it is clear that no one on television is having as much fun as Timothy Omundson as King Richard, because watching him bumble his way through the basics of comedy is hilarious, and his final stand up routine for his wife is cringeworthy. He may not have won her over this time, but his actions did lead the jester to break things off with Madalena, leading to his exile in the dungeons (the really scary one, with the mice), so for now, it’s not just Richard who isn’t getting any.

Back with the journeying crew, Galavant, Isabella, and Sid’s constant proximity to each other is leading them all to get on each other’s nerves, and their little group is on the verge of breaking apart when they are captured by marauding land-based pirates. Because why not? This is a musical comedy medieval fantasy after all, so I suppose anything goes. While this plot does have some pretty fun musical numbers, it doesn’t do much for the plot progression except to convince the questing threesome to put away their differences and work together, lest they be torn apart like the pirates. Turns out, the only reason these buccaneers are land-based is that their ship is grounded on a nearby hill, and they’ve grown so weary of each other they can’t even work together to figure out a way to get it down. Galavant offers to help them in exchange for passage to Valencia, and a couple of “You maggots!” later, the ship is returned to the sea and the journey to Valencia is back on track.

Notes:

*Clearly, the writers of this show are huge Game of Thrones fans, because I’ve now counted three clever references, and I’m wondering what I missed in episode two.

*The one minute musical recap at the beginning of the first episode was just pure lyrical genius.

Line of the week: “Perhaps now I shall finally be able to satisfy my wife the same way  you have. (Awkward pause) My God, we’ve got a strange relationship.”

Lyric of the week: “So now we hold the river here by brutal violent force. We’ve also taken up gardening. Sustainably, of course.”

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Trailer Talk – Chappie

Release date: March 6th, 2015

Full disclosure, District 9 is one of my all time favourite films, so any movie that Neill Blomkamp and Sharlto Copley produce together will always be high on my list of films to see. Last year, the first trailer for their new collaboration was released, and I’ll admit to being quite intrigued by its portrayal of a robot’s wonder at discovering the world around him. However, that particular trailer was less than forthcoming on plot details; something that is not a problem with the new trailer released today. In this one, we get a much better idea of why the title character was created, and more importantly, why it’s being hunted by a terrifyingly mulleted Hugh Jackman. This trailer still manages to capture the wonder of a new being discovering life, but it brings a sense of urgency to the proceedings that was missing before. It also pulls at your heartstrings in all the right ways, especially when one of Chappies’ “family members” tells the robot that in order to survive, he must fight, which is devastatingly heartbreaking when you consider that this robot is still essentially a child.

Verdict: Definitely seeing this one in theatres.

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Agent Carter – “Bridge and Tunnel”

The first episode of Agent Carter proved that the title character was more than capable of carrying her own show. The other main characters were introduced as well, as was the season’s Big Bad and overarching plot line, and Hayley Atwell got to kick some serious butt. The second episode featured lots more butt kicking, but everything else slowed down just a bit to allow the show to settle into itself, which is always a good thing. So let’s get into it.

The episode starts with Peggy looking for a place to live after the events of the last episode, and although Angie, her waitress friend, offers up an available room in her building, Peggy refuses, remembering what happened to her last roommate. Instead, she gets to spend the night at one of Howard Stark’s more discrete houses, and in the process, inherits a closet full of potential disguises when she discovers the costumes used for Stark’s more theatrical romantic rendezvous.

In fact, she uses one the very next day when she poses as a city health official with a very convincing American accent and lots of attitude to gain access to the milk trucks of the Daisy Clover Company. It was one of their trucks that drove off with hundreds of glowing bombs last episode, and Peggy is determined to track them down. While she doesn’t find the truck, she gets the truck driver’s name. Now all she needs is an address.

However, first up, it’s off to the offices of Roxxon Oil, where her co-workers are trying to determine whether the previous episode’s power plant explosion could have been an inside job. Peggy is called in to help screen the female employees for radiation residue, and when a worker she recognizes from the night before bolts, she immediately drops into badass mode, and not only heads him off, but manages to drop him in front of her fellow agents. They thank her by taking the guy in for questioning and telling Peggy to leave the room when the interrogation begins to get intense, claiming that women shouldn’t have to see that sort of stuff. Now, I understand that a big part of this show is Peggy battling the sexism of the 1940s, but when she takes down a guy right in front of them, there should be some sort of acknowledgement, otherwise these characters risk becoming caricatures.

Anyway, while the men are beating the living daylights out of their suspect (was this the norm in the 40s?), Peggy and Jarvis drive over to New Jersey. She’s found the address of the missing truck driver, and guessing correctly that the interrogations will work and her co-workers will be close behind, she wants to get there quickly. Apparently Jarvis’ driving is faster than taking the train. After arriving at the address, Peggy takes down the truck driver, captures one of the evil henchmen from the last episode, and drives off in the truck full of bombs with him and Jarvis. Problem is, there’s another creepy henchman from the last episode waiting for them, and similar to the one in the truck, he can’t speak and communicates with his boss through a creepy, automated typewriter. He has orders to eliminate all opposition between him and those bombs, so when he drops down on their truck from a bridge, you know there’s going to be trouble.

There is, but Peggy proves that heels and skirts aren’t going to stop her from doing her job, and before long, she’s on top of the truck getting shot at and taking down evil henchman #2 in an action sequence that is awesome in theory, if a little bit messy in execution. The whole thing ends with the truck going over a cliff, presumably taking #2 with it, the bombs exploding in the river, and Peggy, Jarvis, and evil henchman #1 left on the road. #1 has been shot and is dying, but before he goes, he gives Peggy another clue about Leviathan; a heart with a curvy line through it that he draws in the sand.

Back home, Jarvis is stitching up Peggy’s wounds, and when she tries to tell him for the hundredth time that she doesn’t need him, he counters that everyone needs someone to lean on. Peggy insists that her dearly departed Steve didn’t, but Jarvis just reminds her that Steve in fact relied on Peggy. Apparently some of his words sink in, because the next thing we see is Peggy moving into Angie’s apartment building (although it sounds more like a boarding school than an apartment building), and it looks like Peggy is finally warming to the idea of having friends. The episode ends with one of Peggy’s co-workers, Agent Krzeminski, finding the licence plate from Jarvis’ car bumper from the wreckage of the power plant explosion. Something tells me Jarvis will have some answering to do sooner rather than later.

Agent Carter is only slated to run for eight episodes this season, but something tells me this show is going to make the most of them. In particular, this episode’s juxtaposition of a Captain America radio play with Peggy’s actual struggles worked quite well, because it succeeded in establishing that while Peggy’s story may have originated with Captain America, this show is hers through and through, and over the course of just two episodes, she’s proven to be a character worthy of the title billing. Fingers crossed her story lasts for more than just eight episodes. The next recap will be up next week, so be sure to check back then.

Line of the episode: “There is not a man or woman, no matter how fit he or she may be, who is capable of carrying the entire world on their shoulders.”

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Agent Carter – “Now Is Not The End”

Marvel expanded their dominance of pop culture once again, this time on the small screen, when Agent Carter debuted last night with another double header episode, making me wonder if this is the new mandate for launching shows at ABC. Nevertheless, I’ll happily digest a double dose of Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter, because now that she’s free from the constraints of being the token female in a superhero film, she’s a heck of a lot of fun. Therefore, I’ve decided to make Agent Carter the second show of this site’s new tv recap section. In case it still needs to be said, obligatory spoiler alert before we dive into it.

We first met Agent Carter in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, where she was introduced as an English officer of the Scientific Strategic Reserve (SSR) serving during World War II, and the love interest for Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers. While the storyline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe may have left Agent Carter in the past at the conclusion of that film, Atwell’s popularity as the character led to a Marvel One-Shot short film, and ultimately her own series that serves as the mid-season companion piece to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. As this is a Marvel property, it’s full of obligatory references to the rest of the films, and therefore it only makes sense that Agent Carter’s first episode begins with Peggy and Steve’s tearful good byes.

We then jump ahead to 1946 New York City, where Peggy is still very much single, living with a roommate, and battling sexism at the SSR. The men have come home from battle, and where Peggy was once a respected officer of the organization, she is now treated by her co-workers as no more than the office secretary, with the exception of war veteran Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), who experiences his own brand of prejudice due to a crippling injury he suffered in the war. Peggy’s fortunes change when her old friend Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), father of Tony-Iron Man-Stark, enlists her to help clear his name. Turns out he’s been creating all sorts of nefarious weapons, whom he affectionately labels his “bad babies”, all of which have now been stolen and are showing up on the black market. Branded a traitor by his country, Stark asks Peggy to track down his stolen goods in New York while he goes looking for the rest overseas. Before driving off into the night on what looks to be a wooden powerboat, Stark offers up the services of his butler, Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy), for the mission, who promptly informs Ms. Carter that he’s only available until 9PM at night, at which point he and his wife go to sleep. “You’re new to espionage, aren’t you?” she quips.

Of course, to carry out this new mission, Peggy has to go undercover at work, as her co-workers are still convinced Stark is a traitor. They also continually underestimate Peggy’s skills as an agent, and after she plays up the secretary part they all want her to play in order to gain access to information on where the latest sale of Stark’s stolen goods is going down, she gets the day off, slips into a blonde wig and gold dress, and heads off to the rendezvous to intercept the weapon herself. This is where the show gets fun.

In all of her previous incarnations, we’re told that Peggy Carter is a talented and efficient agent, but we’re never really shown it. Not anymore. After arriving at the club where the sale is happening, Peggy manages to gain access to club owner Spider Raymond, effortlessly seduces him and takes him down, breaks open the vault, recovers the weapon, realizes that it’s no longer just a written formula but rather a weaponized bomb, takes out one of Raymond’s henchmen with a stapler, evades her three co-workers who show up to stake out the deal, and escapes through the kitchen. All in a matter of minutes. It’s all pretty badass, and proves once and for all just how ruthlessly efficient and capable Peggy Carter really is. This is further reinforced when she arrives home to find her roommate sick in bed, and so promptly excuses herself into the bathroom to defuse the bomb using various chemicals she found in her kitchen. No biggie.

When we were first introduced to Colleen, the sick roommate, at the top of the hour, I figured she would either be in on Peggy’s secret life by the end of the episode, or she would be dead. Sadly, it turned out to be the later, because while still in the bathroom, Peggy hears something in the apartment, and upon investigation, she finds Colleen has been shot in the forehead by yet another henchmen who has followed her home. What follows is an impeccably choreographed fight scene that dispels any lingering doubts you may still have about Peggy’s credentials as an agent. Peggy wins the fight, but the mysterious man gets away, and she’s left to grieve the fact that her double life cost her friend hers.

Peggy later meets up with Jarvis for a heart to heart at a New York diner, during which she questions whether doing the right thing is worth it. After some bonding, which is done over the shoulder as apparently they can’t be properly seen together, Jarvis and Peggy visit Anton Vanko, aka. future father of Mickey Rourke, to find out where the bomb was manufactured. He points them in the direction of a power plant that is used by Roxxon Oil, and Peggy and Jarvis are off to save the day. Or rather, Peggy is off to save the day, as Jarvis is left behind in the car to await orders. Unfortunately, the bad guys have manufactured a whole truck load of those glowing balls of death (darn you Stark), and instead of stopping them, Peggy and Jarvis barely manage to make it out of the place alive, although the bumper of Jarvis’ car isn’t so lucky.

They later meet up for one last session of back to back bonding, during which Jarvis promises to look into Leviathan, the name given by one of the bad guys as the season’s Big Bad right before the power plant explodes. Before leaving, Peggy takes it upon herself to rid the diner of an obnoxious customer who’s been berating one of the waitresses the whole episode using only a fork and some strongly worded threats. Like I said, Peggy Carter is a badass. And considering the fact that there is still a truckload of bombs out there in New York City, Peggy looks pretty happy with herself as she exits the diner, puts on her sunglasses like a boss, and struts down the street like she owns the place. Watching her go is Jarvis, who is on the phone with Stark and tells him that he made a good choice and that Peggy doesn’t suspect anything. The plot thickens…

All in all, the first episode was a lot of fun, and Hayley Atwell has firmly established that Peggy Carter is all around pretty darn awesome. I’ll be recapping the second episode tomorrow, so if you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, you some time to catch up. Until then, I’ll leave you with the episode’s best exchange:

Peggy: Mr. Jarvis. You do realize that this job will have certain after hours requirements.

Jarvis: So does my wife, Miss Carter.

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Trailer Talk – Ant-Man

Ant-Man Teaser Trailer

Release Date: July 17th, 2015

As the first trailer for Marvel’s newest property that doesn’t have Avengers in the title, this teaser had a lot riding on it. I’ll admit to being incredibly curious about seeing Paul Rudd take on the superhero mantle, and given all of the pre-production drama surrounding this film, I was looking forward to seeing how it all turned out. What we get is a pretty standard looking superhero origin film, with a voiceover from Michael Douglas telling a troubled looking Paul Rudd that he’s special and has the power to be a hero, followed by a montage of some intense looking moments and action set pieces. Basically, it looks like every other superhero origin film trailer of the past five years, and while a glimmer of Rudd’s trademark humour makes an appearance, it would seem that anything original or creative that could differentiate Ant-Man from the half dozen or so superhero films set to be released this year went out the door with former director Edgar Wright. That being said, there’s nothing inherently bad about this trailer either, because while every frame screams “This is a Marvel movie!”, Marvel movies of late haven’t sucked. The trailer also features Ant-Man flying around on the back of a flying ant (appropriately enough), so colour me at least intrigued.

Verdict: Will probably see in theatres, but not on opening day like Age of Ultron

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Galavant – “Pilot” and “Joust Friends”

Last May, when all of the broadcast networks were unveiling their new line ups for the 2014-2015 television season, I came across this trailer. I’ll give you a moment to check it out.

I quickly decided that a medieval fantasy musical comedy was either going to be the worst thing on television since Cop Rock, or one of the best new shows of the season, and I couldn’t wait to find out which one it would be. I had to wait a long time, but last night the series finally kicked off with a double header of episodes, and I’ve decided to make Galavant the first in my new series of television recaps. *From here on in, an all purpose spoiler alert is in place for all recaps.

Galavant’s pilot episode begins as most medieval fantasy tales do – with a knight galloping overland on horseback. This particular knight is Sir Galavant (Joshua Sasse), and as the music swells, the show gets right to the heart of its premise by launching into its first big production number. Over the course of just three minutes, all of the main characters are introduced, the main plot and conflict are set up, and the tone of the show is established as tongue being firmly in cheek. In fact, it only takes about 30 seconds for the show to acknowledge that its title character is a fairy tale cliché, but by the end of the song, this cliché has been properly turned on its head.

The gist of the plot is that Sir Galavant was once one of the greatest heroes in the land, and he was madly in love with Madalena (Mallory Jansen). One day the evil King Richard (Timothy Omundson) comes through town, spots the fair lady, and kidnaps her to be his wife. Of course, Galavant quickly sets out to rescue his lady love, but when he arrives at Richard and Madalena’s wedding, she chooses the fame and fortune that comes with marrying Richard, thereby humiliating Galavant and breaking his heart.

Fast forward a year. Galavant is now a disgraced drunk whom everyone claims is out of shape, however it would appear that someone in costuming didn’t get that memo, because with the exception of some slightly rumpled hair, he still looks the same. Nevertheless, it seems all Galavant has done in the past year is drink himself into a stupor day in and day out, and he has no interest in giving up this routine when Princess Isabella Maria Lucia Elizabetta of Valencia (Karen David) arrives on his doorstep looking for a hero to help her reclaim her conquered kingdom. No interest, that is, until it’s revealed that the conquerer of her kingdom is none other than Richard himself. One mention of that name and Galavant is ready to get back into fighting shape.

The problem is that this whole plan was a set up. Turns out, Richard and Madalena are having marital issues, especially since Madalena can’t stop comparing her new husband’s shortcomings to her former flame’s heroic reputation. Determined to beat Galavant on his own terms, Richard makes a deal with the Princess. He’ll spare her family’s lives if she can lure Galavant into a trap by telling him that Madalena is deeply unhappy and regrets her decision to dump the good knight. Follow all that? If not, you’re not alone, because the episode’s final production number, in between jokes about Galavant’s non-existent muffin top, specifically reference the sheer amount of plot points they’ve managed to squeeze into a mere 22 minutes.

Thankfully, the second episode slows it down a bit, with two mostly separate plot threads detailing Richard and Madalena’s ongoing marital issues, and Galavant’s quest to win a jousting tournament in order to earn the money needed to finance the journey back to Princess Isabella’s kingdom. Easily the best thing about this episode is the way it sends up various common plot devices, including the ridiculousness of musical theatre exposition songs, cheesy sitcom conventions, and sports movie clichés. There is even a training montage underscored by a song whose lyrics are all about training montages. Brilliant. Oh, and John freaking Stamos (!!) guest stars as Galavant’s chief rival in the jousting tournament. What more could you possibly want from a television show?

All in all, I came into last night’s viewing hoping for the best but expecting the worst, and I’m happy to say that Galavant proved me wrong by succeeding on almost every level. The songs are actually quite good, the lyrics are hysterical, and the cast is near perfect and hilariously multi-cultured for a show set in 1256 England. The tone perfectly balances the line between camp and genuine enthusiasm, and the jokes and pop culture references come fast and furious (Game of Thrones!). While I’m not entirely sure how Galavant is going to maintain its momentum for an entire season, it’s going to have a lot of fun trying, and I’m going to have a lot of fun watching it try. Check back next Monday for further recaps.

Line of the week – “Never start a marriage with a kidnapping.”

Lyric of the week – “You’re frigid and demanding. I shudder at your call. Whenever you come near me, my flesh begins to crawl.” (Opening line of the show’s first love song)

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