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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

It’s Finally Here!!! #TheManOnTheRoof #TMOTR #BookBlogTour

It’s Finally Here!!! #TheManOnTheRoof #TMOTR #BookBlogTour 

It’s finally here, people. This Friday, June 22nd, my psychological mystery-thriller The Man On The Roof will release in ebook Kindle format on Amazon Kindle. It’s been in review for a few months now and, I’m not gonna lie, some people are loving it. I have been comparing it to Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train meets Big Little Lies. Others have seen hints of the once-popular TV show Desperate Housewives. It has complex male and female characters and a narrative that draws you deeper and deeper into its mystery. It will captivate you. 

Currently, I am on a book-blog tour across a slew of lovely book blogs on these-here interwebs! If you join me, along the way you will be gifted with author Q&As, interviews, guest posts, book excerpts, and reviews. And the tour doesn’t stop on June 22nd. It keeps going into July. After the main launch tour ends on July 6th, I have a special Spoilers Q&A planned for July 22nd, and another interview on the 24th! You are going to want to be there. 

You like a good book. You love a good mystery. Hell, you love good TV and film based off of good books, which means you’re probably anticipating HBO’s Sharp Objects coming out in July (post on that later). But sometimes you feel that you’ve seen it, been there, done that. How many drunk women are going to solve a murder? You want to be entertained this summer, right? Not just to be entertained, but a bonding experience, something that will get you talking with your fellow readers. And chances are high that you’re going to risk your time and pocketbook on buying some over-hyped book that comes from the bigger publishing houses and that will cost you near 30 dollars, then regret it when you can’t get into it. A digital copy of my book will only cost $7.99. That’s about as much as you’d spend on two specialty burgers at a fast food place, only my book lasts longer and doesn’t give you high cholesterol. It's even cheaper than the digital copy of that $30 book (12.99 to download a file? You're kidding me, right?) Is it self-published? Yes. But, at one point, so was Fifty Shades and Andy Weir’s The Martian. When you buy my book instead of that other expensive book, one day you’re gonna look back and say that you were part of something great before anyone knew about it. And you want to be part of something great, right? 

Then take the risk. Order my Kindle book. Be entertained! Solve the mysteries! You're not just buying a book, you're buying an experience. You are buying a bond with others who have read the book. And if you don't like it, you'll still have $22 left to buy that other, more expensive book. But I think you're going to feel glad that you got your own copy of The Man On The Roof. 

Well, what the heck are you waiting for? The book is currently on preorder here: The Man On The Roof

You’ve read the comparisons: Gone Girl, Sharp Objects, The Girl on the Train, Big Little Lies, Desperate Housewives. Mysteries await! Go buy a copy. 

Still not convinced? Then start following the tour! It’s already started. Click on the tour graphic to make it bigger. Catch up by clicking one of the links below! 

13th: Duffy The Writer blog interviews me here: DuffyTheWriterBlog

14th: Jan's Book Buzz gives you a cool review: JansBookBuzz

15th: Snazzy Books has an interesting Q&A: SnazzyBooks

16th: Reel Literature Should be THE blog for film & book lovers: ReelLiterature

17th: Princess and Pen has an interview for you: PrincessAndPen

20th: Sarah Rieveley has an interview for you here: Sarah'sBookCorner 

Until next time, see ya! 

P.S. Oh my god! You haven’t blogged in so long that... Did you forget how to blog? Michael, you were supposed to have a quirky, ridiculous, humorous, referential, eye-roll-inducing sign-off for your readers. Why didn’t you reference any cool pop culture in a sarcastic way? Frickin’ Ted Cruz just beat Jimmy Kimmel at basketball. You’re wasting that opportunity!! “Uh... I’ll come up with a better, more creative sign-off next time, maybe?”

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Pretty Sure CW Is Gonna Give Viewers Early Parole #LifeSentence #CW #3weekroundup #recap #review

Pretty Sure CW Is Gonna Give Viewers Early Parole #LifeSentence #CW #3weekroundup #recap #review

All pictures courtesy of the CW 

Let me start by spoiling the review section and saying that I don't find this show dreadful like I did Krypton, I just can already read the wall's ample writings. This show was moved from its original premiere day of Wednesday to Fridays and hasn't done any better than that other godawful show My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and that show doesn't even pull in a million viewers a week. It is possible that it could be outright canceled and yanked from air, which rarely ever happens to CW shows (again, see Crazy Ex). Still, I didn't think it was that terrible, it just wasn't what viewers are looking for. So, is Life Sentence living its best life or is it in desperate need of being put on support. Ay yay yay, that was a bad one. Let's find out together!

Life Sentence stars Lucy Hale as Stella Abbott, a young woman who, at the age of 15, was diagnosed with cancer. Ever since then (I think it's been eight or nine years) her family has worked tirelessly to make sure that she could have the best last days of her life ever. Her sister brought the party to her when she missed out on parties. Her brother (both siblings are older, by the way) tried to teach her everything cool he knew and dared her to live an adventurous life. Her parents cared for her even through her constant trips in and out of the hospital and lobbied for her to get into a potentially life-saving clinical trial. But she was still missing out on that one great thing: true love. So her college professor father decided to send his youngest daughter on a life-changing trip to Paris, the city of love, in order to go on that one last great adventure and maybe fall in love. And she does. She finds a great guy (black English bloke) who falls for her in a moment straight out of a Hugh Grant movie, and marries her within a couple weeks of meeting her because she supposedly only has six to eight months to live. I know that was a heck of an info-dump but don't worry because Stella does the same thing at the beginning of the first episode to get you caught up so that you can be just as shocked as she is when she goes to her doctor and finds out:

She's cured! Yay! The clinical trial worked for her, which means that her funeral that she and her husband were planning must go on hold for a long time. And though she tells her family at the strange pre-death wake she wanted to have, and they celebrate appropriately, things change for the worse almost immediately. Now that she is no longer sick she can learn who her family really is and no more be deceived by their work to make her happy.

The Family with Stella at center. 

As it turns out, while she lived the dream rom-com life that would ultimately end in her untimely death, her family was falling apart. Starting with her brother Aiden, we learn that he is a 27-year-old burnout who dropped out of college, has no job, lives at home and uses his sister's cancer to guilt-trip soccer moms into having sex with him. Things get crazy when the latest soccer mom he's banging (the one he brought to Stella's faux-wake) is actually married to a very big dude who threatens to kill him. He runs around most of the episode trying to avoid being pummeled to death by this distraught husband.

We jump to her older sister Elizabeth who seems to be the responsible one who can keep things together through the chaos. But we learn that the career-driven woman partially resents getting married to Diego and having two children so early in life, something she only did to make sure her parents had something happy to focus on. Also, because she was such a responsible one, she gave up her dream of being a writer, and a scholarship to a prestigious college, in order to stay home and help take care of Stella and make sure their mom didn't lose it.

Speaking of her mother Ida (played by veteran actress Gillian Vigman; she's been in a ton of stuff), she seems to be having the hardest time and is adopting an almost completely new second life. Apparently she's been having an affair with Stella's godMOTHER for a few years and announces that she's coming out as a “Bi” (bisexual) at a family dinner party, but only after Stella finds her mother and godmother sitting on the porch of her godmother's house making out (Stella came to talk with her mom after learning that Ida was leaving her husband and had already moved out the next day after Stella's announcement).

Stella and Paul
That husband that Ida is leaving is Paul Abbott (played by Dylan Walsh of Mighty Joe Young and Nip/Tuck fame), a conservative-looking father who, like most dads, tried to be the rock his family needed and found himself sinking deep into debt to keep his sick child alive and help her live out her dying wish. He has even been paying her rent on a small downtown loft apartment (it's not a big city so it shouldn't really cost that much).

Finally, there is her husband Wes who doesn't know if he can continue the charade he started to live when he first met her. Almost half of the stuff they do together he hates to do, including having her fall asleep in his arms every night, having sex by candlelight literally every time they do it, eating boiled eggs and a bunch of other stuff. He was attending a grief counseling group for spouses of terminally ill people until they kicked him out after hearing his story of woe that his wife is going to live far beyond the six months she was given to live when he first married her. Basically, Stella got the best news of her life—that she would even have a life—and then that said life immediately went to crap.

So, as she learns all of the secrets her family is keeping from her, she also must plan a celebration party for her doctor who cured her just to tell her thank you. Basically she does that while telling everyone throughout the episode that these problems they have can be fixed, and even does a big speech on that very subject. But the speech goes terribly and her sister once again points out that most of the family's problems stem from her having cancer and them trying to create the happiest, safest environment for her to live in, in order to foster a recovery. Still, all is not lost because she has now committed to change each one of her family members' lives so that they have a great one just like she did, in a huge pay-it-forward kind of thing.

We end the first episode with her talking to a sick kid and realizing that even though life is tough, it's not the end of the world so long as you have people who care about you. She, for the first time, has sex without the candles, tries to setup her brother with her doctor only to learn that he has already impregnated that married woman, gets her mother to tell her dad the truth about her sexuality, gets her dad to realize that he needs to sell the house to pay his debt, and tells her sister that she will start babysitting the kids more so that she can finally start on that book she's been meaning to write.

Episode two is the classic example of the best laid plans of mice and men. Paul puts the house on the market but can't part with it when a couple low-balls him and wants all the furniture inside. This drives Ida into a crazed tizzy, and she wants to tear down the walls (bangs a huge hole in one of them) and dig a pool as part of the upgrades her husband wants to make before selling it. It's an overreaction even when you discover her reason for overreacting is because while Stella could remember all of her best memories in the house she grew up in, her mother can only remember the house as the place where her daughter got sick and her love story fell apart. Forget the fact that it's also the place where you learned that your daughter was cured from a cancer you thought would kill her, where you learned of the news that you had grandkids and where you learned that you were actually more into women than your husband. Her complaints about the house feel more like a jilted soon-to-be ex-wife craving for money. If she didn't want to have to see the house anymore, she could've opted not to come around until the house was sold. And when her husband offers to instead rent out a few rooms in the home which would give him enough time to make renovations and updates that could raise the price, she flips out and bangs a hole in the wall. And there I started to wonder why she would lower the buying price if she wanted the damn house sold so much. It didn't make logical sense.

Stella Talking To Another Sick Kid

Meanwhile, Elizabeth has lost her writing moji on account of not having done it in so long. She is easily distracted by Stella's bad parenting/babysitting skills which result in her daughter (Stella's niece) swallowing Stella's ring. Surprisingly, she's on the show so little in the first three episodes that it made me wonder if the actress had double-booked another TV series or film. But she is around long enough to team with Stella to try to get their brother to take some responsibility.

Yes, Aiden's now got a baby mama, but if the rest of his life is any indication, he's gonna not be responsible about that, too. In fact, he tries avoiding the woman completely, shutting the doors of his guest house and hiding out from the still-married woman, while also banging out every girl he meets. He says he'll change but that's going to take some time. His father gets tough on him, and they have a little heart to heart about how he knows his son is a smart kid, but just doesn't apply himself. Aiden's deal is that once he discovered that he was going to lose the person he loved the most in his life, his baby sister, he decided to never love or really care about much of anything anymore. But Stella convinces him that he can be a great dad if he just tries and stops selling pills to housewives. Stella also gets her sister into a writer's retreat, starts volunteering at the hospital that treated her and commits to listening more to her husband. 

Stella and hubby Wes
Episode three opens with her and her husband being confronted by INS. Yeah, dude married a terminally sick American white chick after knowing her for about a month. INS was bound to show up sooner or later. To make sure their relationship is real the agent is going to ask them a series of personal questions, but oddly gives them time to prepare for such a test. They have the weekend to make sure that they know possibly everything there is to know about each other. And Stella realizes that she really doesn't know this man at all. Not only did she not know his favorite meal (bangers and mash) but she didn't know that he slept with 11 people before her, doesn't have a great relationship with his mom and believed that this was the first time he had ever fallen in love. In fact, he had actually lived with a woman for two years prior to going on that fateful France trip. She's got a lot to learn.

But as she is trying to learn everything that she didn't know about her husband, which is everything, she decides to try to get the young cancer patient girl she was talking to at the hospital into the same clinical trial that she was in. Bad news, she lies to keep the girl's spirits up when she learns that the rich guy who was sponsoring the trial pulled his funding. So she, along with a hottie doctor, scheme to visit the rich guy at one of his hotel's restaurants to beg him for the funding or at least figure out why he pulled the funding. As it turns out, she talks to the guy after mistaking him for the bartender, and learns that he pulled the funding because she was the only survivor and that the FDA couldn't support the trial procedures any longer. So she must go back and tell the girl that she lied about getting her into that particular trial, but says that they will try to get her into a dozen other trials.
Her nighttime adventure to the restaurant leaves Wes at home to babysit Elizabeth's kids while she is at the writer's retreat and her husband is taking off work to go visit her. But when the niece gets sick, he calls Ida to come and help, only to learn that she doesn't do well with sick kids and overreacts to everything. Hello! She had a sick child that was probably suspected of having a stomach ache and ended up having cancer. She basically says what I just typed, and they have a come-to-Jesus moment with each other.

Stella and brother Aiden
Back at the restaurant, Stella happens to run into her loser brother and equally-loser father on a father-son night out. On Stella's request, Aiden decided to get their father out of the house because all he could do was look in at the new owners all day. Oh yeah, they sold the house but made a deal that allowed for Stella's father and brother to continue to live in the guest house. Now Paul lives with his rather disgusting son, who he hasn't hung out with in forever. Aiden thinks they should go and chase tail at the local hotel bar. His dad isn't that interested in it, but after a few very strange encounters, including a woman who had serious daddy issues, he finds a woman also going through a divorce and they vibe. They go back and have some meaningless sex only for Aiden to come home later and run into the woman. Yep, he's slept with her. Slightly older women seem to be his thing.

The night ends with that hottie doctor telling Stella that he wishes he had met her seven months ago (she got married six months ago). This show is the epitome of “life comes at you fast.”

Sick Stella

What's my grade? I give it a solid C+. The problem with this show is that it is neither wholly dissatisfying nor satisfying. It's very middle-of-the-road. Yet, it kind of feels like this show could've been so much better if put into the hands of the producers of either Grey's Anatomy or This Is Us. It is a pseudo-sweet show that doesn't quite push far enough to get to the emotional peaks you might want it to, nor does it sink to the level of funny you want it to either. It feels like a nondescript CW show or one that doesn't have a hook to it. I know that it does have a hook, but it doesn't feel like it does. It's hard to explain it because it's all so vanilla. Ultimately, the show is about figuring out how to live life once you've been given a second chance at it and everything you thought you knew about living it the first time is terribly wrong. It is similar in tone to last year's No Tomorrow which I actually loved. (Goodness, I don't know what it is about CW but between this show and that show, these lighthearted comedies have made me fall in love with their respective female stars--Lucy Hale here and Tori Anderson off No Tomorrow). This show is OK, but I don't think it is better than that show. In fact, I would prefer to watch that show again than to watch this. Frankly, I absolutely hate the mother. I have seen the actress in so many roles before and this is, by far, the one I hate the most. She's an annoying, over-reactive, boring character that I really don't care about. And I would've loved if her character magically disappeared for multiple episodes at a time rather than the sister.

Should you be watching? It's a decent show but it premiered in the literal middle of March (like March 14th; the exact middle) when there're tons of other shows that are more heartwarming and better written. But these characters are easy to relate to and the acting is on point. I'd say check out at least one episode before this gets canceled. Life Sentence next airs on April 27th, CW Fridays at 9pm.
What do you think? Have you heard of Life Sentence? If you haven't, do you think you'll check it out now? If you have heard of it, have you seen it? What do you think? Should this show really be facing the axe so soon in its life? And with the CW expanding to six days of programming next season (now they'll be showing stuff on Sundays, should this earn a shortened season order? Let me know in the comments below.

Check out my 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER#BrandNewHome or the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. Seasons 1, 2 and 3 are out NOW, exclusively on Amazon. Stay connected here for updates on season 4 coming summer 2018. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Look for the mysterious Sci-fi episodic novella series Extraordinary on Amazon. Season 2 of that coming real soon. And look for the mystery novels The Knowledge of Fear #KnowFear and The Man on the Roof #TMOTR coming this fall/winter. Twisty novels as good as Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, you won’t want to miss them. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, “Oh my god! This discovery... could change life as we know it.”
'Dude, I totally loved that show.'
“By show you mean movie, right?”
'Wait, aren't we talking about the show currently known as 3rd Rock From the Sun?'

P.S. Yeah, I just hit you with a little TV history that is super-easy to learn if you do just one IMDb data search. I hate when shows that could do fairly well aren't given time to find an audience while shows that clearly should've been canceled (lookin' at you Crazy Ex) have somehow remained on TV to suck resources and opportunities for better programming. Oh well! I'll try to think of a better sign-off next time.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Farewell, Gladiators! #Scandal #ScandalFinale #seriesfinale #ABC #Shondaland

Farewell, Gladiators! #Scandal #ScandalFinale #seriesfinale #ABC #Shondaland

All pictures courtesy of ABC and Shondaland Productions 

It's rare that I get to write one of these. I think the last time I wrote one was for the short-lived, but twisty-good (in my opinion) series Revenge, another ABC show about backstabbery, betrayal, lying, cheating and rich people problems. In the TV-landscape it is quite rare to encounter. A TV show is very akin to a new restaurant or business, in that over 90% of them fail their first or second year out, and often close up shop without warning. For years, fans have lamented about their favorite new shows suddenly being canceled or put on long, indeterminate hiatuses often without proper conclusions. I think the most flagrant example and probably the one that started the cancellation trend of unsatisfying ends was that of Alf, the 1980's sitcom about a bizarre-looking alien that comes to live with a family in suburban America. It is now not only known in pop culture as one of the strangest shows with a cuddle-ugly alien thing to possibly ever exist, but is infamous for its final episode's final shot showing Alf gazing into the sky while a spaceship, presumably from his home planet, is beaming light down on him. Does he ever get back home like E.T.? What happens to the family who cared for him for four seasons? And what about the government agencies that have chased after him? Fans will never know because the show ended on a huge cliffhanger in hopes of the network keeping them on another season, only to be axed a week or two after the finale aired. All of that long opening paragraph and out-of-the-blue Alf reference simply to say this: It's a big deal when a beloved, long-running scripted series gets a series finale.

President Mellie Hardly Factored Into This Episode If You Ask Me
ut did we deserve this finale? Eh! Let's first recap for any of those people who just like reading my words or like to experience things over again. With Olivia having told her clan that the only way to get out of their current predicament—on the cusp of being taken down and Mellie's presidency being de-legitimized due to charges of treason—was to go over the cliff and actually... tell the truth (gasp!). The truth about everything, but mainly about B6-13. Our finale, aptly titled “Over The Cliff” opened with them readying to testify about their involvement in and/or knowledge of this organization. Everyone from sitting president Mellie, to Fitz, to Olivia, to Huck and down the line were going to testify. They'd do this all to prevent Cyrus from taking over the white house. But first, in order to even get the clout and grand hearing that they wanted, the guy that was looking into Mellie's supposed treasonous attempt to bring down Air Force 2 had to do something drastic. See, he was threatened by Jake and saw no way to prosecute B6-13 without also incriminating himself and bringing everything down. He was a true white hat who only ever wanted to be in a position of power to push strongly for gun control. He asked one thing of Olivia: that she make Mellie act on gun control as one of her first agendas after they got their hearing. The promise made, he then shot himself, which triggered a shift of power back to David Rosen.

David, the long-suffering white-hat lawyer who saw himself stripped of his position a few seasons ago, only to come back and claim the seat as the USADA, was now taking over the investigation into B6-13, which held a higher priority than the treason against Mellie, from which he had to recuse himself. Cyrus' plan to take the oval has gone awry. So while David briefs Olivia's brood on what to expect during their testimony, telling them to give as much of the truth as possible, Cyrus goes to Jake and tells him that they need to get rid of David. Frankly, he wants a hit out on almost all of them at this point. Jake doesn't actively agree, but does go to find Rosen and tries to intimidate him out of continuing the investigation and bringing charges. He reminds him that he shot Cyrus' husband in the back on the street right in front of Rosen, and even raises his gun to him. But David, in his own glorious impersonation of the old Olivia Pope, gives Jake a serious talking to about being good and decent, and actually believing in something for himself and no longer being the puppet of everyone around him. It saves him and Jake disappears.

Jake goes back to Cyrus and tells him that he didn't do as “ordered” because he didn't want to, and that Cyrus can't say a single word to him about it because he isn't strong enough to do the killing himself. At this point, I got a little confused because I could have sworn that we did see Cyrus kill at least one person before through some means. I digress. Cyrus takes the criticism to heart and calls Rosen in in the middle of the night, while Rosen was cuddled up with Abby, so that he can sign a confession and make a deal that will absolve him of any future charges.

David (L) is the stupidest, most trusting lamb on the show. Why meet Cyrus at night? 

It's a trap that tries (and fails) to be rather Shakespearean in nature when he offers Rosen a drink of poisoned wine. Rosen falls to the floor as he is choking but is still alive. It takes too long for Cyrus, and he grabs a pillow and suffocates the man, but only after showing us the many faces of horror that we are to believe have changed him. He can't believe he's killed someone for the first time. After all of those orders to kill, all that bad-wolf bloviating he's done through the years, agony is writ upon his face as he must kill the most honest, upstanding, white hat probably on the entire show.

Meanwhile, as the group awaits a final decision about each of their testimonies to come in, and they all know that they will go to jail based on what they've said, Quinn and the group go to prison to visit Charlie, and perform a solo-visitation-room wedding officiated by Huck. It could be their last chance at tying the knot and Quinn wants to commit even if she'll never see Charlie again. Redhead Abby struggles not to cry and break down now that David is dead because they need to see this over-the-cliff thing all the way through to the fiery crash at the bottom, and if she starts mourning now, she'll never stop. Olivia goes to her father and asks him to stand in the sun with the rest of the group and also testify, to which he says that he is retired. They argue back and forth about the kind of woman he always wanted her to be and her fulfilling that destiny only for him to still say no and say that he is escaping the country. Olivia then hops over to Fitz and challenges him either to fight with her about their past bad decisions or make love to her on their potential last night of freedom. He chooses the latter, but Shonda then fails to give us one last great love scene.

And then they get the call. The call comes in that the decision has been delayed because of a new witness with new testimony. Yes, it is Papa Pope, Eli or Rowan as was his kill name, come to testify before the slew of white men looking at the facts concerning B6-13. In one last great speech for Joe Morton, he pulls out an epic white male privilege speech that sees him gloat about how he, a black man, quietly ran the country for 30 years, deciding presidencies, what laws would and wouldn't get enforced, who lived and who died, and basically every decision and every freedom that most US citizens take for granted, especially the white male ones. He was the true ruler, and he was the architect of such an organization that became bigger than the US Federal government itself. He was command, and you can't take command... But you can give it away. He appeals to their racist/racial bias bones and tells them that while he is command, the author and finisher of the American fate, they don't have to give the US public him. He doesn't have to be the face of this organization which surely must be dismantled and prosecuted. Instead of giving the public a black face in charge of everything, he (and they) sacrifices Jake, the current command. Jake is arrested and thrown in jail (I guess we were supposed to assume that the trial already went down) and everything is then pinned to him and his secret organization. The treason charges against Mellie quietly go away and Olivia tells her that she, too, is going to go away and let Mellie rule how she wants to, instead of being in her ear the whole time. Mellie respects that.

From An Earlier Season. Also This Finale Episode Felt Like Morton's Time To Shine Most

Olivia then goes to Jake in jail and talks to him one last time before he is set to be shipped off to Federal Super-max prison in Indiana (it might have actually been Illinois, but I watched the Cavs-Pacers game right after and my fury at its outcome may have soaked my memory). She asks who he might've been had she left him on that island a few seasons back, left him to stand in the sun and not dragged him back to DC. Like how many licks it takes, the world may never know.

Finally, Olivia calls Cyrus into the oval before officially packing it in and hands Cyrus his resignation papers. He starts talking about how he was never charged with anything and how he is clear and free. But then he shifts and asks Olivia if she can still enjoy a drink. Not a reference to David per se, he insists that after having finally crossed that mad line by killing David, he can no longer get the insanity and brutality of what all they've done over the years out of his blood system no matter what he tries. He can't even enjoy a good drink without thinking of the blood shed. Maybe it is time for him to finally go. He signs the papers and does just that.

We end with Charlie getting out of prison, Huck standing around with no real meaningful ending, Abby finally breaking down into tears because not only are they all not going to jail after their testimony was all redacted in order to charge Jake but Rosen is still super-dead, Mellie signing gun control as one of her first new measures and Olivia meeting Fitz on the sidewalk and doing the old romantic “Hi” thing that every writer has written at least once if they've ever done anything about romance (their, “You had me at hello,” moment). But the final shot is the most curious because it features two little black girls walking through the hall of presidential portraits and seeing Fitz's portrait which is of him behind a window (almost as weird as Obama bushes, but that one had some seriously hilarious symbolism). But then they turn a corner, walk a little farther only to stop and see a portrait of Olivia Pope in a dress that looks very similar to one that Shonda herself has worn before. Some fans have wondered about this ending and Shonda refuses to give the answer, but I think it's quite clear judging from Papa Pope's speech about power and her serving at the pleasure of white people, not to mention her having put two presidents into office and her own love affair with the oval, that this is a shot from far into the future, and she was, at one point, president.

You're A Villain

OK, so now that we're caught up with the recap, I have to say that I absolutely hated this ending. It wasn't satisfying in the least and fell into the trap-trend that I saw possibly developing years ago. First, to talk about the potential trend, I have to mention the wave of reboots. If you look back through some of my posts, I completely called the trend of reboots slowly drifting back into TV now that movies were inundated with them. For certain, if you aren't a cinema/entertainment history buff, you should know that TV often follows the trends set by film, lagging behind by about eight years give or take. Had we seen a few reboots of old shows in the 90s? Sure. But not like what we have seen in the last 15 years with everything from Roseanne to 90210 to Dynasty and Dallas returning to our airwaves in some form or fashion. We are getting reboots and remakes at an alarming rate in a medium that must feed on new ideas in order to thrive. We're also realizing that the actors and actresses we absolutely loved on past series have found hard times after such big success earlier in their careers, leading many of them to be open to come back and retread familiar characters even after saying adieu to them so long ago. And no, hard times doesn't necessarily mean monetary-wise but can be just getting good roles again. So with this, I predicted about two years ago (unfortunately, I don't think it made it on to this blog, so if this is the first time you're reading it, remember where you heard it from) that some popular series of today would start writing series finales that leave a wide berth of story lines and characters to play with for possible reboot or “sequel series” considerations. This series finale completely smacks of that potential future nostalgia-pandering on both ABC and Shonda's behalf.

For starters, for the last two years I have maintained that Olivia was, in fact, the actual villain of the show. Thankfully, she said as much on the penultimate episode. I called that she was a villain after seeing the abortion episode. But note that it was not the act of having the abortion that made her a villain, rather the actions leading up to and beyond it and the way she went about everything in her life at that time that made her the villain. This also marked the show's long-gestating but finally completed transformation into something almost wholly different from what it started as. No, the show did not start as a political spy thriller, which it became in later seasons, but more as a romance/law show. It's crazy to think that while the political theater was always there, Olivia did more lawyering than politics: she helped people escape bad situations, defended the innocent, advocated for proper law and due process, and could try a case in the court of public opinion which would lead to their never being a trial. She and her group found evidence on people that no one else bothered to find, they helped stop terrorist plots and made good on promises to clients who they saw as good and decent people in a bad situation. The White House's role was more as a tool by which Pope could wield clout and get things done for her clients, rather than something she desired so that she could shape the world.

Remember This? Back When We Were All Shipping Olitz and Thinking Side-Chickdom Might Not Be That Bad?

But as the show grew more political in story-line (not in tone. In tone, it was always addressing the social justice issues of today and kicking butt doing it), it shifted away from romance and went full steam with plots focused solely on the white house, even dropping the weekly cases of innocent people in need of help—I think they only had two of those this entire season, if I'm counting correctly and that's even after Quinn took over at OPA.

I said all of that to say that the shift in tone is what allowed the writers to be so lax in writing the finale and have it be perfectly setup for a reboot. See, now they can reboot the show either as the political drama it ended as or as the romance it started as, using the “hi” moment as a jumping-off point for future storytelling involving Liv and Fitz. But I also mentioned the change in the show to highlight the change in Olivia's character from good guy to bad guy, and suggest that the show should have concluded the way I have been suggesting for the last two years: either Olivia Pope dies or she falls on her sword for everyone and is imprisoned for life. We usually demand villains be punished in some way to make a satisfying ending for we viewers. Either that or everything goes back to happy-go-lucky times to give the viewers a happy ending. But I'd contend that Scandal askew-ed both in favor of an ambiguous ending that, again, allows for future stories to go anywhere.

On a show that was not shy about killing off its guest, main and recurring characters, none of the main players died in the finale after doing the most dirt through the seven-season run. Huck, Jake and Eli (as well as the gay secret service dude who killed the president's son) were all known killers throughout the duration of the show over its 11-year span of time, yet they all lived at the end. We also had Charlie and Quinn live happily ever after. Cyrus, the mastermind and right-hand to two presidents, who often communicated with his B6-13 cohorts openly and honestly about whom to kill, got to walk away without a single scratch to tarnish his legacy. The only important person who died was David Rosen, a good guy but someone whose death was, strangely, not felt as much as it probably should have been. Essentially, everybody who did crime and who did the most dirt got away, lived to see another day and lived through the BS. “We all did a bunch of bad stuff and nothing happened.”

The show started as a lovesick woman trying to atone for her past sins (rigging the election) by doing as much good for people that she could while using her White House influence to the people's advantage. But the worst thing is that the series and its finale never fully make this atonement. Yes, B6-13, the long-tentacled Hydra that controlled the government, is gone, but what of the rest of the crimes committed outside of their purview?

Even more troubling than the fact that everyone lived was that we still didn't get that great of an end to the romance. Some can argue that Liv's speech about making love to Fitz answered that question, but did it? Because to me that seemed like an everyday speech they'd make to each other. It wasn't memorable and wasn't a declaration of some higher level of feeling, it was just in the moment. It was far from Fitz's “Slave to you” speech in season 3(?), far from the stand in the sun speech, far from him begging to go to Vermont with her. And as far as it being a “You had me at Hello,” moment, even that Jerry Maguire speech was preceded by Jerry's/Tom Cruise's brilliant commitment plea to her. He had finally decided after all the back and forth that he was in. Here, I feel like they could probably break up the next week.

We Shoulda Known This Was A Different Show When She Went From White Coat to Dominatrix Carmen San Diego

If I'm thinking about it, the same goes for the entire OPA family. Olivia's relationship with the others didn't feel restored to what it once was or even to what it was midway through the season. She still very much seemed lost and without a home at the end of the season, similar to how she found Quinn at the beginning of the series. It would have been great if that was the poetic note to be gotten from the show, but their switch in roles wasn't stressed enough for me throughout the series because Quinn never became white-hat good and strong. Just a few weeks ago she was going to kill Liv. And though we know where Quinn and Charlie are destined, what of everyone else? Will Mellie have her Olivia Pope-esque affair with her own younger black confidante in the one guy (you know, what's his name) or is that done? What about Abby? Where does she go from here after David's death? And why did Huck have that none-ending ending where all he did was basically stand in the background while everyone else got to emote about love, loss, doing the right thing or entering into a new chapter in their lives?

Ultimately, a good series finale is supposed to try to tie up loose ends about the fans' favorite characters. Yes, we know that the characters will probably continue on in their lives in the fictional worlds created by the show's creators, writers and producers, but finales are supposed to feel like the ending chapter in a very long but enjoyable book. But with the amount of loose ends left untied, this felt more like a run-of-the-mill season finale rather than a series finale. And it seemed quite clear from the ending that Shonda is open to revisiting it probably within the next 8-12 years, if only because of how I originally thought the series could end after viewing that electrifying first season way back in 2012: Olivia Pope becomes president. Fitz would be the first man, OPA would still be around and so would Mellie. And Cyrus, after maybe growing used to killing, would decide to resurrect B6-13 out of seeing a need for the organization in the country. And frankly, if this current trend of rebooting TV continues, and Kerry Washington is exposed to the world of so-so roles for actresses (though, the industry is changing and I think she won't have problems finding work, especially now that she's partnering to produce a TV adaptation of Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere), she might be glad to come back and do a 13-episode-a-year season for a few seasons. Most certainly everyone else will want to, maybe with the exception of Cyrus. Outside of him, these are the best roles that any of these actors and actresses have ever played.

As a season finale of a show that will go on an “extended hiatus” for maybe a full three presidential terms, it's fine. But as a series finale like what it purports to be, it, without conflation or exaggeration, is literally in my top five shows that had the worst series finale ever. I should mention that I, unlike most people (apparently) think that Seinfeld still holds the place as the greatest series finale ever when you consider the entirety of the show and the rich silliness of the characters. Them going to prison for not helping a citizen being robbed was the most ironic (and thus, fitting) end to a group of people who lived their lives by trying to slip, cheat and obfuscate the system, and unintentionally doing some of the most infuriating things ever. They were regular people but also terrible regular people which is what made it so great for them to be imprisoned for being the regular people they were. They rarely ever tried to be good people, they just didn't want to be bad. I still contend that it was genius, and that it was able to bring back all of our favorite characters in the series in one of the least contrived or overly done (so many wedding finales) that we, to date, have ever seen. The end to Scandal should be considered a partial scandal in itself, because it definitely needed some fixing.

Either She Was President Or They Credit Her As A Founding Mother Of The New B6-13-less Republic

What do you think? Did you watch the Scandal finale? Did you like it? If you did, why? What were your favorite parts? Where do you think the characters will go? What do you think of the meaning behind the last shot? And would you be down to see Scandal get rebooted a few years down the line? Let me know in the comments below.

Check out my 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER#BrandNewHome or the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. Seasons 1, 2 and 3 are out NOW, exclusively on Amazon. Stay connected here for updates on season 4 coming summer 2018. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Look for the mysterious Sci-fi episodic novella series Extraordinary on Amazon. Season 2 of that coming real soon. And look for the mystery novels The Knowledge of Fear #KnowFear and The Man on the Roof #TMOTR coming summer. Twisty novels as good as Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, you won’t want to miss them. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, “Well, well, lovers of liberty. You've hung in there for six years and seven twisty, good, OMG seasons. Now, maybe it's time for you—”
'Wait, did we not kill Sally Langston either? And after she got away with killing her husband?'
“We should call somebody about this.”
“That'll work. Wait, what's his number?”
'Don't worry. It's been handled.'

P.S. Wow! Everybody got to live. This is literally the reverse of Hamlet. I have to hand it to Shonda, she said she'd only have the show run for seven seasons, and she kept her word, even though it didn't quite satisfy all the cravings. Even though I didn't like the last two and a half seasons, I stuck it out (I usually do once I commit to a show. Can't wait to finally break up with Grey's and Once Upon a Time some day), and you tried your best to deliver. And sometimes your best is all that someone can ask for. Well done!

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I Can See Why Pieces Of His Home Planet Weaken Superman #Krypton #3weekroundup #recap #review

I Can See Why Pieces Of His Home Planet Weaken Superman #Krypton #3weekroundup #recap #review

All pictures courtesy of Syfy Channel and WB DC

Sigh! I don't know why it is that I feel like if I had a few thousand subscribers I would somehow be able to make a living off of ripping Warner Bros. DC these days, but that's where we are. I'd love to fly straight to the review and finish with this but that's not how we do it around here. Let me stop stalling and adding more words to what is already shaping up to be a long piece. This week, we're looking at Syfy's new show Krypton. So, is this show poised to take flight into a new stratosphere of mythos and intrigue for the Superman legend, or should this planet have stayed blown up and forgotten about? Let's find out together—well, I already know that it kinda sucks, but you're finding out as I write this.

Krypton is DC Comics' latest TV show because they can't do anything good concerning their movies. Birthed from the mind of David S. Goyer (one of the writers on Man Of Steel), we venture into the historical lore of Superman's famed home planet. Yes, we know that Superman was shipped away from the dying world by his parents on the eve of the world's destruction, but what happened before that, and why should we care? Frankly, we probably shouldn't, but some of the stuff we can assume could be relevant with his parents and whatnot, right? Wrong! Because this show doesn't follow his parents but his grandfather. What?! I know. It's rather crazy. Even crazier, we begin with his grandfather's grandfather being executed. OK, first some basic setup.

The planet, or at least the city we are dealing with on Krypton, is divided into a caste system. You have the rankless or the lowly workers (though I haven't seen much of what they do, similar to on ABC's ill-fated Inhumans, but I digress) and you have the ranked. The ranked members of society are split into houses that are labeled by name. So you have the house of El (remember, el was always like a surname for Superman and Supergirl and their respective parents), house of Zod, so on and so forth. These are the people who are ranked high and generally have high education and high jobs in the government. Remember, I usually try to watch the first three episodes of a series twice and take notes on them before writing one of these reviews. Here, just like on Inhumans, I can't remember them ever saying why there are the ranked and rankless. It literally just is because it is. The only thing I can assume, however, is that the rankless still give birth naturally which is why their quarters are overpopulated. That would make sense to me on why they would be deemed rankless because they would be going against the grain of the rules society has put into place.

From these rankless there is a small faction of rebels (some of the high-command call them terrorists) called The Black Zero. What their agenda is, I'm not quite sure. Again, it's rather murky. Yes, they want to overthrow the current oppressive government, but I'm not sure if they want to rule themselves or install something new or what. It's a little too early to tell. Right now all they are doing is terrorist stuff, and I know that's how most wars and rebellions start, but it would be good to know their list of demands. I'll do more world-building as we go throughout, but just know that there's some government and military stuff going on that tries to mimic every other political drama out there right now.

So, back to Superman's grandpa's grandpa. His name is Val-el, played by veteran actor Ian McElhinney. Oh yeah, as an aside, everyone is apparently English on this series for some reason. Why, I have no idea. As if there aren't tons of really good American actors that need work, but I digress. Val is in court and has been accused basically of two things: working on a secret scientific project that the leaders think is something destructive and that tries to prove his ridiculous theory (Oh-ho-ho, more on that theory later. It's a doozy for this show), and that he has been working with The Black Zero. Frankly, he isn't quick to deny either assertion as they're both partially true. So they make him walk the plank out of the dome and into the frosty abyss.

Ready for more world-building? OK, so apparently Krypton is actually an ice planet that is nearly inhabitable, save for these few domes in which the people live. That's fine as some (NOT ALL) of the comic writers have pictured Krypton as this as well, not to mention the Donner Superman also has the planet being like some kind of frozen tundra of beautiful white. But, in most of those renditions it was understood that the Kryptonians could still survive in their planet's own environment, you know, because if you're not a religious person, then... Science. Look, I am a Christian myself, but I know that science tends to say that through evolution dominant species evolve enough to live in and pseudo-conquer their environments. In other words, dominant species are able to live on their planet's surface without much need of other coddling from nature or their own ingenuity. But with the planet ravaged the way it is, it makes me think one of two things: either the planet has been plunged into this chaotic ice desert due to the Kryptonians own mismanagement (ie. Some kind of climate change/environmental destruction message which I would be all for even though they've said nothing to that effect), or they are not native to that planet. Both conclusions bring up intriguing questions.

The second conclusion speaks more to the bizarreness of the show, which I'll touch on further down when I reveal Val's big theory. But the first conclusion also is interesting because it posits that the planet wasn't always this way, and we even see what are clearly supposed to be ruins of an old world now reclaimed by the frost. The problem I have with that, however, is that why not show us that Krypton? Hell, if you're gonna go back to his grandpa, why not go all the way back to when Krypton, I assume, was thriving, and then show us the destruction through the years. You could even expedite it and have this ice thing coming insanely fast, panicking all of society and sending them into this archaic governing system. Hell, the writers and producers on this show talked about how “unexplored” Krypton was as fodder for great storytelling. They literally could've done anything far more creative here, but kinda missed the ball. Frankly, that is the entire critique of the show that you might read multiple times throughout this post. I digress.

Getting back to the story, Val is convicted of the two crimes, his honor and his house's name and rank are stripped (no more house of El) and he is forced to literally walk a holo-plank out of the protective force-field bubble around the city where he then plummets to his icy death. This all happens in front of his family and his nine-year-old grandson who absolutely adores him.

Kem and Seg, the more handsome one. 

And then we zoom ahead 14 years. Val's grandson's name is Seg (formerly of the house of El). Now a 23-year-old rankless trotter, he works cons down at the local pub owned by his friend Kem (I think that's his friend's name, although it could be the name of another character). His friend owns the bar/tavern and makes bets on him about if he can get into fights and how long he can last in them or if he can win them. They win a little money and Seg leaves.

Now, for about the next two paragraphs it is really going to seem like I didn't actually watch this series at all, because you're gonna hear a common frame of me not knowing stuff. What Seg does for his regular job, I really don't know. In fact, similar to on Inhumans, I can only see maybe five jobs that are even available for people on Krypton. If you're ranked you can be a politician, soldier in the guard/army or a scientist (whether that's working in the baby farm or teaching). For the rankless you can be a bar owner or a salvager of the old lands. I assume that there's maybe some kind of mine somewhere to work because most rankless look dirty like they've been digging coal to power the force-field, or that there are farmers to feed everyone, although I guess the scientists could also be doing the food creating. Frankly, I don't know any of this stuff because the show does such a poor job at trying to meld two far-different dichotomies: hyper-advanced future with medieval barbarism.

Anyway, I mention Seg's job (or lack thereof) because he somehow winds up in the high court just as the many-faced god (or maybe it's priest?) and the other guy in charge Daron-Vex (again, Vex is the surname) are about to make a ruling on someone. The guy on trial is a member of The Black Zero and has a bomb implanted in his arm. Seg suddenly appears, sees the bomb and tackles the guy to the ground before he can blow it, which was strange because the dude had the bomb's trigger in his hand and only needed to press his thumb down and everyone would've exploded. Anyway, the guards shoot the guy's arm off with a cool laser blaster and everyone is impressed.

Suddenly, just from that little act of heroism, Seg is brought in front of Daron and his daughter Nyssa, and told that because of his hard work (again, doing what?) and heroism from earlier in the day, he is being absorbed into the House of Vex. He is to marry Nyssa but must take the Vex name (again, he technically has no name anymore as El was banished and it is even a crime to say that name). While he already hates this, he thinks that at least this will be good for him and his parents to get out from living in the rankless slums. They know they can't go with him, and they still believe in what his grandpa was doing. So, before there is even some kind of ceremony he and Nyssa go to that Matrix-looking baby farm, give some blood through a thumb prick and have their baby start to be grown in an egg. They learn the imprinted future of the baby and everything, learning that it'll be a boy, he'll live for 173 cycles and will serve in some government office nobly and faithfully for years. This way is efficient.

Jayna on the left; her daughter Lyta on the right
Meanwhile, we also learn of the warriors/soldiers. Here, we learn of the house of Zod. As the current leader of the house of Zod we have Jayna Zod. I usually mention race just to give a full-rounded picture of what's going on and for we POC to be able to cheer on people that look like us getting roles. Here, however, I have to point out that Jayna, her daughter and most of the soldiers are black (or of other minority races) for a later critique. Yes, you already know that critique partially, but I digress.

Jayna seems to be the commanding general or at least one of the highest ranked in the military at the moment. She is teaching a class on combat to her young soldiers when we meet her. We also meet her daughter Lyta-Zod who is part of the newest class of soldiers officially ready to take to the field. Lyta is currently arranged to be married to Dev-Em (another black guy). He seems to be the hallmark of a potential favorite son-in-law: tall, dark, handsome, follows orders, is intelligent and sticks to the status quo. But Lyta is actually in love with another.

Yep, you guessed it, Lyta-Zod is in love with Seg formerly of house El. And that's when you realize that they have made the legendary fight between Zod and Superman into a Hatfields vs. McCoys feud that has been going on for centuries. Yes, in both films Jor-El was against Zod but it still didn't feel like two families feuding because one broke the other's heart. Here, that's exactly what it is shaping up to be. Jayna makes an example of her daughter by stabbing her through the hand in combat and telling her that she is weak because she asked for mercy and this group of warriors never ask for mercy. You fight to the death, period. So she sneaks off and has a roll-around with Seg where they talk about not making waves and his offer to be part of house Vex. The funny thing is that their dialogue isn't filled with longing and heartache as they discuss how madly in love they are or how they wished that the rules were different. I assume that maybe they aren't really that much in love, but who knows.

At this point I must mention that this first episode, with commercials removed, really only clocked in at around 37 minutes because they followed it up with a 9 minute discussion from multiple comic book artists, writers, movie writers and everyone you would associate with Superman on screen or on paper, even Geoff Johns. I say that because I will mention it in the review but also because it sorta cuts the episode short.

Seg and Superman's Cape

Next Seg runs into this guy who is dressed in human clothes and looks like a human and is wearing a Detroit Lions hat. This guy gives him that weird little Superman-emblem crystal like from Man of Steel and tells him to find the fortress. Seg's parents debate whether to tell him or not. Finally, his mom rescues him on the street from being beaten by some guards and hovercrafts him out to this place where Val used to come to do his science stuff. There's an apartment there that they can get into and another space that he must use the crystal to open, and she says that they tried opening it but couldn't but now maybe he can. But then she's caught and is accused of being a traitor like her father-in-law. When they ask who was in the hovercraft with her, her husband steps forward to take his son's place and lie. Her husband then, for no real reason, tries to shoot the Vex only to be blasted. His wife soon follows.

Seg, knowing his parents died to keep this secret and hoping to do something with the crystal, goes back to the place Val had hidden in the icy always-blizzarding tundra and inserts the crystal. It opens into a Fortress of Solitude that his grandfather had. And poof, the Detroit Lions guy is there again and gives him the disintegrating cape of Superman, tells him that he is a time traveler from centuries in the future where Seg's grandson is this symbol of greatness but that the future is in danger because Krypton is currently in danger from a powerful force. This force is the consumer of worlds known as Brainiac. So together Seg and this mysterious guy must work to stop Brainiac from taking Krypton because Mr. Tentacles is already out there and is coming there way. Oh, that big theory that his grandfather had: that they are not alone in the universe and that he saw a biological life form heading their way. Whaaatttt?! Yeah, I know it's kinda blowing your mind and making you question everything you knew about Superman and his home planet.

Episode two sorta picks up where we left off. Seg explores the fortress more and comes to discover a hologram of his grandpa is all up in and through that place. His grandpa does this info-dump on him and talks about how he was working on technology that could see far into the stars and even let him travel to these places. Mr. Detroit or Mr. Strange (or something like that; sorry, I can never quite catch the names in shows no matter how hard I try. But he's supposed to be a known comic character who uses a stone to travel through space/time) tells him about Brainiac. He says that he himself is from earth and that Brainiac collects civilizations, planets and cities he finds interesting, often destroying the rest of the planet or civilization in order to preserve what he thinks is the most perfect example of that civilization. He travels across space looking for planets and is headed their way. He urges Seg and Kem to help him look for any forward scouts that Brainiac sends out to make sure there is life on a planet and it is worth taking or “preserving.” So while Seg has to continue to deal with his new status as part of house Vex, Strange and Kem go into the forbidden lands to search for an orb that Brainiac sent out.

Lyta's Betrothed

Meanwhile, Lyta tries to prove that she belongs not only in house Zod but that she belongs in the warriors brigade and should be taken seriously as a fierce warrior and leader. It's your basic legacy-stuck-in-her-parent's-shadow story that you'd find in any teen fantasy book or show. There is some trouble and whatnot that's brewing down in the rankless sections, and they are planning to go to war with them to combat The Black Zero before it grows even larger, but Lyta doesn't want that because, even though she is highborn, she has always looked at the rankless as people too, especially now that Seg is part of it (we are to assume that they knew each other as children all the way up to age 9, hence the romance that seems improbable). So she challenges her superior officer of her squad to a ritualistic dual that has its basis on the actions of some previous dude that came along, climbed to a mountain and decreed that anyone who thought they could rule could come and challenge him in a battle to the death. Somehow, he became the first general or ruler. I should take this opportunity to say that, among the things I don't know is what kind of government this is: kingdom, twisted republic, etc. Yes, the castes are there and it seems to be Vex calling most of the shots, but he's not the most powerful one from what I can see.

Anyway, everyone doubts her, and her betrothed and mother both say she'll probably die and that it was stupid for her to challenge this dude. She beats the guy, he asks for mercy, and she utters the same line her mother said on the first episode after she snaps his neck.

As she is proving herself worthy, Seg wanders around and sorta does a lot of nothing on this episode. He manages to say that he will not bow to house Vex and take their name because he won't be used as their puppet, but will, somehow still remain among the ranked. Now, at this part I will say that I got a little bored, let my mind wander (on both viewings) and missed what he figured out, but it was something that he thought he could use to somewhat lord over the Vex's head. And we also learn that Nyssa chose him to be her betrothed through some kind of twisted plot. In other words, she somehow influenced his being at the courtroom to stop that bomber that day so that his heroism could be a huge public spectacle. Why? I don't know. But again, I assume that Seg, Lyta and Nyssa all knew each other when they were young and all still part of the ranked. However, it's hard to think that she might've had a crush on him that lasted for 14 years or that she could know who he is now as opposed to then, so I'm not sure why she chose him. A mystery for the season.

The biggest thing was that Detroit (my nickname for him) and Kem went to the ice lands and did find an orb that they learn at the end of the show is one of the scout orbs that Brainiac sent. This signifies just how close he is to the planet (basically, he's already here).

Brainiac's Skull Ship

Episode three dives deeper into Brainiac. We learn—get ready for this one because this is gonna sorta blow your mind—that Val actually created the Phantom Zone. That's not the kicker, though. The kicker is that the Phantom Zone to him is not some prison or empty zone like it has been in pretty much every TV, film and, for the most part, comic book iteration of Superman and/or the Justice League that has come along, but is actually like some kind of wormhole. Think of it as a mix between The Flash's Speed Force and that strange four-dimensional book case from Interstellar. According to Val he explored the universe by using the Phantom Zone, was able to go to different planets, and he learned of Brainiac through one of his Phantom Zone excursions. Granted, the way he talks about it is that he has done all of this through some sort of phantom projection similar to Marvel's Doctor Strange, so he wasn't there physically and the zone acts sort of like a TV and telescope combined. But the idea is there. To recap, the Phantom Zone is not a prison, it's not an empty vast void like it always has been, it's actually a tool or passage to another dimension where the mind can travel freely across time-space.

Val's Fortress hologram explains that it is because of this travel that he knows that the orb they found is supposed to be filled with a parasite. Brainiac himself can determine if a planet has organic life. Once he knows it does, he sends out the parasite to latch on to any organic host. That parasite is supposed to get the lay of the land in order to send info back to Brainiac on whether this city, culture or planet is worth taking. But the parasite always kills the host after relaying this info. Of course the orb they find is empty. They immediately switch to the rankless outlands scavenger who found it to show us that the parasite has gotten into her and it's just a matter of time before she is taken over completely. We're supposed to feel bad for her because she has a daughter and is a friend of Kem and Seg, but she loses it halfway through the show, beats up a bunch of guards and runs off for Seg to find her later. Seg does manage to find her and sees her eyes completely blacked out like Brainiac's usually are. She tries to strangle him for a while, but he manages to bop her on the head as she is trying to tear some stuff up with a computer, so she can learn and send the info back to Brainiac. They then bring her back to the fortress only to realize that she has become a Kryptonian transmitter and is sending B the info right now.

As that is going on, Lyta is sworn in as her squad's new leader after killing the old one. Even though her mother is proud of that accomplishment, she's still upset because she doesn't think Lyta will be good at this job and disobeys the way it is too often. Her betrothed thinks the same. She proves them both half-right when she and her squad are dispatched to the rankless slums to quell the hottest breeding bed for the radicalism of The Black Zero. They're supposed to question and arrest people and put fear into them that they should not try to help these rebels. One of her troops gets overzealous and shoots one of the people, claiming self-defense. Lyta has her arrested instead of the rankless, ruffling House Vex's feathers. But Lyta has more to be concerned with because Seg comes to her with news of his grandfather being right and an evil alien coming to attack them soon. She suggests they take such proof to the top government officials, but he says no because he actually has a brain and has been paying attention to the show. We end with another shot of Brainiac in the middle of his skull ship with all of his tentacles crawling across his face as he gets his jollies on anticipating his next takeover.

Seg, Daron-Vex, Nyssa-Vex

What's my grade? I give it a shaky C. Yep, that's the first time I've ever given a TV show a shaky grade. I say that the grade is shaky because one, I'm not grading just for myself but for you too, and with that in mind, I would say that whether you enjoy this show depends on so many variables it seems almost unreal. All I can say is what I do and don't like and why I have judged things that way.
For starters, this show is waaaayyyy too dark. Not just in tone but in actual aesthetic texture. I was literally ten minutes into the first episode and knew how I'd feel about almost the rest of the series and came up with this line: they took the Man of Steel aesthetic but seemingly dropped most of the history and mythos built within that film. That's factor number one on whether you'll like this show.

I'm guessing you're reading a post about a comic book show based around the legacy of Superman because you like Superman, and if you like Superman you probably saw Zach Snyder's version in the last three films of Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman and Justice League. If you like those portrayals, particularly all the stuff from the opening 30 minutes of Man of Steel when they are on Krypton, I'm not saying you'll like this show, but I am saying that your probability of enjoying it has increased by 50%. (For a marker, I semi-enjoyed Man of Steel, but still felt it was far from the Superman we want and deserve, and thought the opening was incredible). Even better, I think I can confidently say that they (Syfy and WB) clearly spent some good money on this show. The sets, for the most part, are real and not CGI/greenscreened to death. The CGI that they do have (some of the flying vehicles and beams of light and Brainiac's spaceship, etc.) have rendered fairly well (better than that monster they expected us to call Doomsday in BvS). And the angles and shots sometimes (not all the time) have a film-like quality to them.

This Aesthetic Appears Only Once or Twice An Episode
However, with all of that said, this aesthetic, this vision of Krypton does not fully match the vision of any other Krypton. I usually watch my shows late at night after everyone has gone to bed and I am done with my writing work. That way my eyes can adjust and let more dark light, shades and tones in, so I can see stuff better, but this show still felt dark at 1:00am. Everything is soaked in black or dark blue, all the sets are moody and gray or a dirty white and even much of the reddish hue that you saw in Man of Steel's rendering or that you might see on CW's Supergirl, Smallville or in the comics is gone because everything either happens at night, or the few day shots you do get the red is more of a burnt sienna or auburn color. Now, I get why sci-fi TV shows dealing with space often adopt this kind of aesthetic (look at Expanse, the 90s Star Trek shows, Battlestar Galactica): because filming with dark tints or color-adjusting in post helps to hide flaws of set design, costume design or even bad CGI, etc. It's just like how indie filmmakers will often shoot a film in black and white because it's cheaper than color-correcting. But my god, you've got to be able to see all that's going on.

Worse still, this, like the Man of Steel franchise (we'll just say this for now and include BvS and JL in that), uses a character in Superman who is uniquely associated with light and strips away all the vividness of the precursor narrative. No, they don't have to show some kind of happy-go-lucky people like what Superman is, but if the name Krypton was not on the show, you wouldn't think this had anything to do with Superman. It feels more like a Batman prequel which leads me to my next point:

The plot and tenuous connection with Superman. Back when Gotham first premiered I remember some of the live-or-die-by-comic-books fanboys losing their mind and bawling their eyes out because they were going to feature a Batman show without Batman. Now, while some die-hards still hate the show, it has garnered a healthy and loyal following that has supported it through multiple seasons. Remember, Gotham along with Krypton (it took much longer to get this show off the ground due, I'm hearing, to massive story problems) and Marvel's Agents of SHIELD came along in a time when the studios wanted to capitalize on their comic book properties more than ever but didn't want to overexpose their big-name properties, so figured they could give side stories that surround our mightiest heroes lives. In other words, you don't get Thor but maybe you get Lady Sif to come and help out with a tiny non-world-threatening mission. But where Krypton differs from Gotham and, to an extent, all of those other peripheral shows, is that it has nearly no connection to Superman, nor what we know and love about the character.

On Gotham it is intriguing to see how the city became so corrupted and grew increasingly more and more desperate until Batman became a needed force in the streets. Not only that, but we are able to see the genesis of some of his villains, especially the older ones. Batman had a gaggle of different ages of villains, whether it was the much older Penguin or Professor Strange or Ras Al Ghul, or those nearer to his age in Catwoman and Poison Ivy. Was there a desire to see them all in their youth? No, but there was intrigue to see how they became the desperate, damaged people they are, and what, if any, noise they made during Batman's formative years. It let us know that people didn't suddenly explode into villains once Batman came on the scene, and they weren't all stable adults that had one bad day and decided to start killing. No, they were around and living often normal lives but had secrets that slowly revealed themselves. And Bruce no longer had to be this Jesus-like character: we learn of one instance in his childhood (Jesus was in the temple being about his father's work) and then zoom forward to him becoming Batman in adulthood. His transformation isn't triggered by one or two things, but a slew of horrible things that forces him into the cape and cowl.

Brainiac Does Look Cool

On Krypton, we have almost none of that. For starters, setting the show almost a hundred (or maybe a couple hundred, according to Detroit) years in the past is such a baffling idea that I can't for the life of me figure out why they made it. If you're going to go to the past, either go to the extreme past, like before the world became the ice palace it is now, or close in the past, like showing his father either as a child or doing his own fighting as an adult. This intermediate selection disconnects us from both. Those ruins, how they got there and why the people now live in force-fields seems like a far more interesting story I would want to see enacted rather than told in an expo-dump later this season or in seasons to come. On the reverse side, showing a young Jor-El maybe falling in love, fighting with Zod, fighting to save his planet or learning of its imminent destruction is also more intriguing. But in this show, they decide to choose his grandfather? Huh? Even worse, his grandfather is talking to his grandfather, which lets me assume that the world has been like this in these bubbles for a while. And then they make it into a political show where the have-nots are fighting against the haves on a planet we all know will soon blow up. Like, huh? Why should I even care? Because it's not like there's any drama surrounding a potential countdown before the world explodes. They don't even now they're in danger and the danger they have is superfluous to Superman, really. Again, why should I care? I don't know.

The time is also interesting because we have no idea how time works on Krypton, and they refuse to tell us in any solidified agreed-upon way. We first hear that time operates in years because the show skips ahead 14 years to catch Seg as an adult. But during the baby Matrix conception we hear that his and Nyssa's child will live for 173 cycles. So is a cycle a year? Does that mean he'll be 173 when he dies? How does the time on Krypton compare to the time on Earth? How old can they live to be on their own planet? And yes geeks and freaks out there, I know that time and measurements of it work differently depending on your revolutionary path around the sun and rotational spin on the planet's axis, but there has to be some set marker of time between their planet and ours that we can properly identify. We need that because of my third point on time:

The villains' ages. If this makes it past season one and it probably will because it is super-expensive and studios don't like giving up so easily on expensive stuff related to tentpoles, I assume it will feature more galactic villains that are familiar to Superman fans. OK. I'm fine with that, but you have to tell me how old they're supposed to be, because if they're thousands of years old by the time they get around to fighting Superman, then they should've clearly won those battles on the count of them being wiser. But even more to the point, these villains are world-ending villains. How would these backwoods Kryptonians defeat them enough to not have killed them but allowed them to go free and terrorize some other part of the universe until arriving at earth? With Joker/Jerome (now his twin brother) on Gotham we know that the kid has been through a bunch of craziness already and has gone to Arkham and been dead before, so once he and Bruce finally make their full transformations we'll understand why they haven't already destroyed each other and might never get around to it. Here? Brainiac is coming and I have no idea how they're going to defeat him in an adequate way that will make me think he could still come back and be this huge villain against Superman, especially because of my next point:

They didn't know they weren't the only ones in the universe. Like... what? Remember back when I started the review section and said that this show took the aesthetic of Man of Steel without taking the history. This is what I meant. In that movie, Zod mentions that they've been going around to different planets and scouting them to see if they could hold Kryptonian life for thousands of years (yes, we're back on the time thing). How would they not have encountered aliens? If they were doing any kind of interstellar travel, wouldn't Oa have contacted somebody about this? Don't know. In fact, the show posits that they've never done any kind of space travel. That only leads to more questions. Are they really an advanced society, because it seems like they're a society that Captain Kirk and Spock would have orders to not interfer with. Really, the only super-advanced thing I've seen them have is how they make the babies, and a few flying cars here and there. But everything else seems primitive. And if they do get all of this technology (maybe they obtain it by beating Brainiac), then how do they get adept enough to use it to send a baby off to a far-off planet populated with people when they DON'T EVEN KNOW OTHER BEINGS EXIST! This show is nonsense.

How would they learn all of this knowledge about the universe—enough to have those tons of crystals for Superman to study in his Fortress of Solitude—within the span of two generations? Again, I see where they are or at least could go with this and use Brainiac as the Deus Ex Machina that launches Krypton into a golden technological age that would dwarf our own of the last 60 years in comparison, but gimme a break. Would it even be fair to call them an advanced civilization at that point if they only get advanced in the last two generations of their existence? This is one of the problems I had with Black Panther: they are this super-advanced society yet still settle matters of a thousand different other things, including their politics, by rather barbaric means. I get the fascination for writers to juxtapose the two ideas of technological advancement with caveman-like behavior but when does the line get drawn? Hopefully on an alien planet.

Seg and Lyta

Speaking of alien, for all my sci-fi geeks out there, this show is the most geekworthy-devoid show I probably have ever seen on the Syfy channel, and I don't watch much of the Syfy channel. There's almost nothing in it that tells you it is a science fiction show, and that goes doubly for a show based off of a superhero or comic book character. Dark Horse comics or some of the other comic vendors that don't have the big name of DC or Marvel behind them, I can see this being one of their shows. But a DC show? This? I don't know what this is. On Krypton none of the Kyrptonians have any superpowers which I'm OK with (maybe their superpower is to live excessively long regardless of what planet they are on), although I would've liked it if everyone had at least one power that everyone could do and to them doesn't seem super, but I digress. They live like humans, have the same kind of governmental problems as humans, fight like humans and even love like humans, but they just don't procreate like us. But here's the kicker, they also don't seem to have an atmosphere all that different to earth. I say that because of Mr. Detroit's (Strange) seemingly unaffected demeanor from walking around on Krypton. Granted, we have no idea how long he has been there or if he himself is an alien to both Krypton and Earth, but what we do know is that we never once see him in a space suit or struggling to breathe in their air or adopt or adapt to their culture and environment. It literally feels like an American Michigander crossed the border into Canada and discovered everyone speaks curiously with a British accent.

With a lack of alien presence (outside of Brainiac who still isn't on the planet yet), politics that are playing out too similar to our own (but surprisingly with dumber twists to them; think India's caste system and sprinkle in a little bit of Brexit), a weakly-plotted and executed environmental message (again, where's the story about the ruins and why the planet is so cold that they can't survive for too long outside of the force-field), and the fact that they are only just now realizing that they aren't alone in the universe (mimicking our current NASA-fueled questions) it makes you wonder as to why they even decided to make this show and call it Krypton. You take three things out—the names, the cape, Brainiac—and this is a run-of-the-mill Syfy channel show with no draw, no comic book fanbase and rather boring politics. It's trying to be a knock-off of Game of Thrones but takes none of the good parts of that series and doesn't add in its own good parts.

Remember, I've gone through this entire review without talking about the strange mixing of races which I promised to talk about, the fact that they felt compelled to use the Man of Steel aesthetic yet used the Donner movies Superman music, inexplicably have a Fortress of Solitude for Val (so Superman can't have anything that he himself came up with?), have yet to show the red sun in all of its glory, have failed to explain the dude who wears the mask of the many faces, have failed to explain why the Vex and the others in charge are so against Val and anyone else talking about life beyond their planet and have failed to make me adequately care about any of the characters. Still, with all that said, this is a toss-up to me.

Finally, I go back to something that Geoff Johns and Goyer were saying. They were talking about how DC gives their artists so much leeway to do whatever they want with material. They (Goyer specifically) stressed how Superman is, even though he grew up in the Midwest, an alien. They even talked about how he as a superhero is so important and what he means as a character. Ultimately, the reason why I still hear bad stuff coming out of DC (this time about Aquaman) is because I still don't think they understand their properties. Sure, Geoff and Goyer might understand the character but fail to understand what really shapes the character and how the fans view the character. Yes, he's an alien but the only thing that makes him an alien are his powers. Superman... Clark Kent... Kal-El is ultimately a humble boy from Kansas who grew up being instilled and filled with love, an appreciation for all life and understanding the joy of living it. He's not a hero because it's in his blood or because he feels it is his duty, he's an ordinary guy who does heroic shiznit because he is the one who can do it. Literally none of the history of Krypton shapes Kal-El. Kara on the other hand...

Yet, even in here, within their own declaration do they fail. While Superman is supposed to be this big alien playing human, they do nothing to make this world feel alien to us. In fact, this world is no more alien to us than Mexico is alien. And before half of the population starts spouting off about illegals and drugs and poverty and blah, blah, blah, remember that we have all that crap, too, not to mention the same dominant religion. Now, Americans going to some place like Iraq or Jerusalem would be way more of a culture shock than Mexico.

Should you be watching? This is why the grade is so shaky, because I really don't know if the average viewer would enjoy this or not. Granted, there's been plenty of stuff that I've said is stupid and manages to stay on TV while stuff that I enjoyed was canceled, and I still watch Agents of SHIELD after all this time, so... But with that said, I know that some of my own expectations probably clouded my judgment. I was really excited to see this show because I wanted to know what they would and could do with a famous name and an almost blank slate waiting for creativity. What I felt I got was an amalgam of some of the worst ideas and retreads that I have seen in an original property in a while. It, sadly, feels like Goyer's other series Flash Forward which premiered to amazing numbers and had an amazing premise but sputtered out after only a few episodes because it was big on concept, yet had no emotional weight and terrible execution. It was a great idea in theory, but in execution... Eh! Feels the same with Krypton. If you like political shows where the politics is fuzzy, you might like this. Like young people rebelling against their parents? Might like this. Like Game of Thrones but don't like that pesky magic or the intricate writing? Might like this. Liked the aesthetic but not the story of Man of Steel? Might like this. Like your sci-fi and fantasy shows light on sci-fi and fantasy? Might like this. But if you like something that is fresh and new and exciting and filled with adventure, or doesn't move slowly, or feels like stuff actually happens on every single episode, or you're looking for cool Superman Easter Eggs, or think that Krypton is going to be this rich world full of fantastic stories to tell, then look elsewhere because this show is not for you. Krypton airs Syfy Channel Wednesdays at 10pm EST.

What do you think? Have you heard of Krypton? If not, do you think you'll check it out now? If you have heard of it, have you seen it? Do you like it? Was I too rough on it? What is your favorite part? Do you think Brainiac will be the main villain for the shows duration or will they bring in other extraterrestrial rogues? And tell me honestly if you would've preferred to see a show or at least something about the ancient past of the Green Lanterns instead. Let me know in the comments below. 

Check out my 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER#BrandNewHome or the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. Seasons 1, 2 and 3 are out NOW, exclusively on Amazon. Stay connected here for updates on season 4 coming summer 2018. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Look for the mysterious Sci-fi episodic novella series Extraordinary on Amazon. Season 2 of that coming real soon. And look for the mystery novels The Knowledge of Fear #KnowFear and The Man on the Roof #TMOTR coming this fall/winter. Twisty novels as good as Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, you won’t want to miss them. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, “It's a bird!” “It's a plan! It's su--”
'Hold on! Why the hell are we all suddenly looking up in the sky and pointing at things that fly? Is this some weird flash-mob thing I'm in? Or do you two guys just always travel together and do this in random groups of people to make them think they might see Superman?'

P.S. Yeah, I never quite trusted some of the writers behind these Superman comic books. I always get this sneaking suspicion that they actually hate Superman as a character and think that he's too goody-two shoes. It's strange that people are loving Captain America right now but so many comics fans always credit their dislike of Superman by saying that he's too perfect or too goody-goody. What the hell do you think Captain America always was? I digress. I still want to write a Superman/Justice League movie, because I think I can do the characters justice, but that's just me. I'll think of a better sign-off next time.

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