The “Thor” Trilogy is Eventually Worthy

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In the vast and intertangled web of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor often feels like the family’s unloved stepchild. And it’s not very hard to see why. While Captain America and Iron Man represent different ideals of the American Dream (one personifying it, the other living it), Thor both figuratively and literally exists on a whole other world. His story is rooted in Norse mythology, and dabbles heavily in the realm of gods and goddesses. It’s hardly the sort of fodder one would expect from a superhero, particularly one who helms a blockbuster franchise.

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“Coco” Review: Music in the Bones

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Upon first hearing the premise of Coco, my mind immediately responded: “That sounds a lot like The Book of Life.”

It was a snap judgment, but not an entirely groundless one. Pixar’s latest animated film shares a number of elements in common with Life, which was still relatively fresh in my mind (the film was released in 2014) when I saw the first Coco trailer. The perceived lack of originality concerned me, as Coco is one of the few non-sequel films in the current Pixar cycle. (We’ve just come off Finding Dory and Cars 3; next up will be The Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4.)

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Was the “Cars” Trilogy Just a Six-Hour Toy Commercial?

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When it comes to children’s entertainment, merchandise is king. How successful your movie is depends largely on how well it can sell toys. Warner Animation neglected this fact in the late ‘90s when they produced Quest for Camelot and The Iron Giant. Neither film was marketed very well, and neither had a very compelling toy line. Unsurprisingly, both bombed at the box office. Nowadays, Warner Animation makes most of their animated films about Lego characters. Lesson learned.

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The “Planet of the Apes” Trilogy is a Remake Done Right

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I usually like to post TV or film retrospectives on major anniversaries, but sometimes I get impatient. The fiftieth anniversary of Planet of the Apes won’t be celebrated until early next year, but I’m too giddy to keep my damn dirty paws off this franchise until then. Besides, the post here doesn’t directly deal with the original Planet of the Apes; instead, I’m using it to discuss a remarkable film trilogy which drew to a close earlier this year.

But let’s start at the beginning. The original Planet of the Apes hit theaters in February 1968. Produced by Arthur P. Jacobs and cowritten by the great Rod Serling, the film introduced viewers to a barbaric planet populated by (what else?) apes, and the unfortunate astronauts who crash-landed on its surface.

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“Happy Death Day” Review: Die, Die Again

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Before the story even starts, Happy Death Day has let its viewers in on the joke.

The movie opens with the familiar orbiting globe of Universal, the studio which distributed the film. Then it abruptly resets, and begins displaying the globe again. Then another reset, and we finally get the complete logo.

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West Wing 6×01: NSF Thurmont

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[Writer: John Wells | Director: Alex Graves | Aired: 10/20/2004 ]

“Everyone disagrees with your assessment.” – Leo

When trying to persuade someone to watch the post-Sorkin seasons of The West Wing, I typically offer some standby words of encouragement: “Season Five is pretty rough. But stick with it. The show gets back on its feet in Season Six.”

And it does! The sixth season of The West Wing returns the show to its revered status as one of television’s most complex and riveting dramas. Except… it doesn’t do it right away.

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Emmys 2017: Which Shows Will Win?

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It’s that time of year again. The time when rich people gather into a big ballroom and repeatedly pat themselves on the back. The time when awards are handed out to people based on quality and also how much money they spent on campaigning. The time when a host makes some modestly humorous jokes and then disappears after the first twenty minutes. (Okay, I don’t expect much “modesty” from Stephen Colbert these days. But hey, twenty minutes.)

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Was Ally McBeal a Feminist Icon?

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In June 1998, Time Magazine published an issue with a most unusual cover. The image displayed the pictured heads of four women: Susan B. Anthony, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and… Ally McBeal. The first three heads were printed in black-and-white, the fourth in full color. Beneath the picture of McBeal were printed three boldened words: “Is Feminism Dead?”

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Wonderfalls 1×03: Karma Chameleon

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[Writer: Tim Minear | Director: Marita Grabiak | Aired: 3/19/2004 ]

“Buh… Buh… Buh-bye!” – Jaye

When the term “Generation Y” was coined in the early 1990s, it mostly functioned as a placeholder. The “Generation X” phase was over, and a new label was needed for the children and teens fast aging towards a new millennium. So naturally, we simply chose to follow the alphabet.

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Whitewashing… Or Is It?

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Two events recently occurred in the world of pop-culture that, on the surface, appear very similar.

The first instance occurred last week, when controversy ignited surrounding the upcoming Hellboy film. Ed Skrein, a white actor, had been cast as Ben Daimio, a character who (in the comics) has an Asian-American heritage. This hearkened back to the uproar that occurred just last month, when Mandy Patinkin, also a white actor, was announced as the replacement for the African-American star of the Broadway play Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. In response to these respective outcries, both actors have stepped down from their roles.

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A Brief Unauthorized History of The CW (Part 3)

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[By Jeremy Grayson]

At long last, here’s the third quarter of this historical opus. Read Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t already, and then come back here. I’ll wait. I’m the patient type.

By the time she was first approached to run the all-new CW Network, Dawn Ostroff had thirty years of media experience behind her – twenty in radio news (where she had started work as a teenager), and another ten in television. In 1996, she had joined Lifetime, a network with programming aimed at women, and presided over successful shows like Any Day Now and The Division. In 2002, she left her post to become President of UPN. And when the struggling UPN was merged with the WB into a shiny new network, CBS President Les Moonves chose her to lead the way.

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The New “Tick” Dares to be Different

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[By Jeremy Grayson]

When he was first introduced back in 1986, the Tick was designed as a superhero parody – a deconstruction of the familiar tropes and clichés typically associated with the comic book brand. It was a tone that continued in the popular 1990s animated series, and in the early 2000s with the short-lived live-action series (which I wrote about earlier this week). Now, Ben Edlund and Amazon have brought us a new Tick – only this time (dramatic pause) it’s different.

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The First Live-Action “Tick” was Cancelled Too SPOON

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[By Jeremy Grayson]

“Gravity. It’s a harsh mistress.” – The Tick (after falling down an elevator shaft)

Superheroes are everywhere these days, aren’t they? The summer movie season is flooded with capes-and-tights blockbusters. A heroic new TV series seems to debut every few weeks. They appear on all sorts of merchandise, ranging from backpacks and T-shirts to pencils and toothbrushes. And hey, sometimes they even appear in comic books.

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Wonderfalls 1×02: Pink Flamingos

Wonderfalls 1x02[Writers: Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts | Director: Todd Holland | Aired: 4/1/2004 ]

“I’m a puppet.” – Jaye

“Pink Flamingos” was the last episode of Wonderfalls to air on Fox before the network cancelled it. This may sound startling, given that it’s only the second episode in the lineup. But “Pink Flamingos” actually was the fourth episode to air, even though it takes place chronologically before “Karma Chameleon” and “Wound-Up Penguin.”

It might not seem like the biggest deal, but jumping straight from the pilot to “Karma Chameleon” ignores an important stepping stone in the development of Wonderfalls. “Wax Lion” may have established the premise of the series, but “Pink Flamingos” is the first episode to put that premise into action.

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Wonderfalls 1×01: Wax Lion

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[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writers: Todd Holland & Bryan Fuller | Director: Todd Holland | Aired: 3/12/2004 ]

“You can’t talk. You don’t have a larynx. If you don’t have a larynx, you can’t talk. Got it? You can’t talk!” – Jaye

In retrospect, it never had a chance.

Wonderfalls was originally slated to debut on FOX in the fall of 2003. The pilot had been shot several months prior, and was all set to see the light of day. During the brief window between the summer press tour and the fall premieres, it looked like Bryan Fuller’s strange but delightful new show would be a commercial success, and compensate for the previous season’s cancellation of Firefly.

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West Wing 5×22: Memorial Day

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[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writer: John Sacret Young & Josh Singer | Director: Christopher Misiano | Aired: 5/19/2004 ]

“Today’s priority is not world peace.” – Leo

Since John Wells took the reins from Aaron Sorkin at the start of this season, we’ve watched him tug them this way and that. At various points in Season Five, The West Wing has been a bipartisan political drama, a romantic soap opera, an examination of Bush-era policies, a pulp novel, and even (shudder) a documentary. There hasn’t been a consistent tone, or even a consistent arc for the show to use as a guidepost. The season wanted to be too many things, and ultimately, it didn’t succeed at very many of them.

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The “Buffy” Film, 25 Years Later

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[Written by Jeremy Grayson]

Just a brief mention of the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer film will likely cause shoulders to shudder and faces to wince. While the Buffy TV series is a landmark accomplishment of story and character, the film which inspired it is generally dismissed as silly and pointless. Many Buffy fans haven’t even watched it. Joss Whedon doesn’t even regard it as canonical to the series, and he’s the guy who wrote it.

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A Complete Guide to Studio 60 (Part 1)

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[Written by Jeremy Grayson]

You like good TV, don’t you? I mean, you obviously do, or else you wouldn’t be on this site. We at Critically Touched write a lot about good TV, and great TV, and all the TV in between. Rarely, however, do we take the time to write about bad TV.

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Farewell, Buffy

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Hi, gang! Jeremy here.

First, the bad news. As some of you may have already noticed, MikeJer’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer reviews are no longer available to view on this site. Sadly, all the Buffy reviews have been removed from Critically Touched. The decision to do this was entirely Mike’s – he has decided to fully move on from Critically Touched, in an effort to focus on other life endeavors.

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“The Many Lives of Catwoman” Shines a Light on DC’s Best Anti-Heroine

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[Written by Jeremy Grayson]

As a young child, I didn’t play with many action figures – at least, not from the world of superheroes. Though I obsessed over Superman and Batman from a youthful age, my familiarity with them was limited to comic books and cartoons. I never owned a Superman cape, nor a remote-controlled Batmobile, and my playtime implements were mostly limited to matchbox cars and little plastic farm animals. (The cows crossed the road, forcing the drivers to veer left. It’s more fun than it sounds.)
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West Wing 5×21: Gaza

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[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writer: Peter Noah | Director: Christopher Misiano | Aired: 5/12/2004 ]

“The only dishonor might be not to try.” – Kate

Most folks don’t watch The West Wing for half-baked operatic romances. Most folks don’t watch it for thin, didactic exploration of Middle Eastern conflicts. And most folks certainly don’t watch it for confusing, poorly-told stories about half-baked operatic romances and thin, didactic exploration of Middle Eastern conflicts.

And yet… “Gaza.”
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The 2017 Emmy Nominees Are Surprising… But Not Shocking

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[Written by Jeremy Grayson]

I make fun of the Emmy Awards a lot, and with good reason. They constantly pick the same shows over and over. They fail to recognize many of television’s greatest and most laudable shows. They constantly change their own voting rules, to the point that it all currently amounts to little more than a popularity contest. And when all is said and done, they’re just another awards ceremony in which Hollywood congratulates Hollywood for being Hollywood.
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Reviewing All the Spider-Man Films

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[Posted by Jeremy Grayson]

In the fifty-five years since his debut, Spider-Man has been both insider and outsider. He is Marvel Comics’ most recognizable superhero, yet he is largely disconnected from the publisher’s greater Universe. Outside of the Marvel Team-Up series (which paired him with other heroes in every issue), he has mostly worked as a loner, web-slinging his way through a more earthbound sector of comics than the Avengers or the X-Men.
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West Wing 5×20: No Exit

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[Review by Jeremy Grayson]

[Writer: Carol Flint, Debora Cahn, Mark Goffman | Director: Julie Hébert | Aired: 4/28/2004 ]

“On a need-to-know basis, who needs to know this much.” – Bartlet

“No Exit” deserved better.

Coming near the end of The West Wing’s most troubled season, it is designed as an antidote to the year’s earlier missteps. It clearly wants to take the show in a fresh new direction. And it wants to tell a compelling story at the same time.
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8 Books for the TV Addict

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[Posted by Jeremy Grayson]

People sometimes ask me: “How do you know so much about television?” (Well, technically, they ask “Why do you know so much about television?”) Truth be told, I was not born with a silver remote in my mouth. I accumulated this knowledge through reading. Lots of reading.
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Get Onboard: iZombie

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[Posted by Jeremy Grayson]

“I used to be passionate, inspired, alive. Now, I’m mostly just hungry. And… a zombie. So there’s that.” – Liv

Full disclosure: I’ve never been a fan of zombie fiction. The horror genre has delivered a seemingly never-ending string of vampires, mummies, and werewolves, and while plenty of ghoul-centric books, films, and TV shows have been spookily entertaining, zombie-centric stories, with their moaning, groaning, brain-chewing antagonists, have always struck me as repulsive. Continue reading “Get Onboard: iZombie”