Neon Regenesis

Alameda with the Emcee from 'The Elementary Spacetime Show' looking up at LED constellations

Ellen Winter, cousin of my cousins on the other side, is associate musical director
and keyboardist of The Elementary Spacetime Show. The new production written by César Alvarez and directed by Andrew Neisler is playing through Sept. 24th as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival in Philly. You can find out more on Facebook.

The Birdy Bunch

When Larry Wilmore’s abruptly canceled Nightly Show ended this past Thursday,
I stuck around to watch @Midnight. Since the Presidential campaign and the Summer Olympics provide no shortage of springboards for Twit-friendly topical humor, I’m assuming we have the program’s two-week hiatus to thank for the evening’s mundane Hashtag Wars category: #BirdTV. Personally, I enjoy having an evergreen subject to riff on given that updates to the blog will remain infrequent for some months, so here, minus a few brainstorms that I’d seen others beat me to when I took a quick scroll through the feed on Twitter, are…

My Top Twenty-Five Avian Television Shows

25. America’s Got Talons

24. The Young and the Nestless

23. Feather Knows Best

22. Sesame Tweet

21. Harpy Days

20. Parrothood

19. The Eggs Files

18. Gilmore Gulls

17. Fowl Frontal

16. The Dove Boat

Auto Tunes

I’ll wager that most of you are familiar with James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, a
— really, the — standout feature of his brief tenure as host of The Late Late Show on CBS. You’ve probably already seen its latest installment, in which Corden drives around Manhattan with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Audra MacDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Jane Krakowski. So you don’t need me to link to it.

Corden and guests in car, all with mouths open while singing and gesturing

But I just did anyway.

North Mythology

FX will air a marathon of Fargo Season 2 tomorrow starting at 10 a.m. ET/PT.

A red 1970s Dodge seen head-on, dusted by snow, with stylized 'Fargo' logo outlined in snow and cracked glass on its windshield

I can’t recommend it enough. Pretty much everything that TV does well, Fargo does very, very, very well. The cast is phenomenal; the score and soundtrack are just A+; the cinematography is outstanding. Even if the plot and dialogue were nothing special this would probably be captivating television.

But they’re quite special indeed. About half of the season’s scripts are credited to Noah Hawley, the novelist and former Bones story editor who wrote all of Season 1 — and who, given the copious love for the classic 1996 Coen Brothers film on which the series is based, was as bold in doing so as (it turns out) he was justified.

You don’t need to have seen the movie or Season 1 to watch Season 2. Really. I’ve seen and enjoyed the movie but, due to a low tolerance for Billy Bob Thornton, I opted out of Season 1 despite the raves. Hearing the raves for the second season and that it was set before the first, I caught up near the end of its 10-episode run last December, right in time for the finale.

Get Carter Back

ABC finally canceled Marvel’s Agent Carter last week. The short-run winter series, which spelled the fall and spring halves of Agents of SHIELD these past two years, had been a ratings disappointment. Once star Hayley Atwell was cast by the network in a potential regular-season legal drama, now picked up to series, writing met wall.

Agent Carter, in silhouette and backlit, emerging from giant logo

You can’t entirely blame ABC, who clearly wants to be in business with Atwell.
SHIELD itself hasn’t exactly been a ratings bonanza — due in part to ongoing identity crises, tensions between Marvel’s film and television enterprises that leave the big-screen blockbusters bereft of nearly any reference to (and, thus, what should be no-brainer promotion of) the show, and the general demands that “peak TV” has put on viewers’ time. I’ve enjoyed both SHIELD and Carter, however, even as what they do well makes my frustration over what they could be doing better all the greater.

Stella Saner 1916-2016

Stella Saner would have been 100 years old today, had she not passed early in
the morning of January 21st with her daughter, my mother, at her side.

Here’s a lightly edited version of what I wrote to read at her memorial service.

Who’s Zoomin’ Who

The Flash: Can he outrun Superman — or Supergirl? We may get an answer in
the Mar. 28th episode of the latter’s CBS series.

Batmen Beyond

Page 1 of The Brave and the Bold #197 © 1983 and characters TM/® DC
Comics. Script: Alan Brennert. Pencils: Joe Staton. Inks: George
Freeman. Letters: John Costanza. Colors: Adrienne Roy.

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A Great Escape

“I’m gonna dip this potato in some crushed Vicodin... and there’s nobody who can
stop me.”

Matt Damon facing camera marked up with observational data in galley of his Mars habitat

The Martian has more than its share of quotable lines, but that one stands out.
Not having read the book, I don’t know if it comes from Andy Weir’s 2011 novel, Drew Goddard’s screenplay, or even an on-set brainstorm, although Goddard — writer for Angel, Buffy the Vampire, and Lost on TV; co-writer and director of the highly recommended meta horror film The Cabin in the Woods — is a good bet. Matt Damon, as the NASA astronaut stranded on the surface of Mars in the year 2035 after his mission teammates evacuate, delivers it to the camera of his character’s video log perfectly.

David Bowie 1947-2016

Grid of covers to 25 David Bowie albums in reverse chronological order
David Bowie discography grabbed from

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Of Was and When

I’m plodding through a marshland canal in a Colonial Era village at dusk. Muddy and wet, I stop in a cabin to warm up, strip my clothes off, and grab some new ones that had been left there to dry by the fire. After stealing into the night once more, I enter another house by the back door with hopes of making it out the front unseen — only to discover a youthful fortysomething David Bowie, in appropriate period dress and with his sandy blond hair rakishly tousled, cooking over a stove.

“Are you leaving us, then?” he asks.

“Yes,” I tell him, or perhaps I simply nod, and I exit. I pause with second thoughts, however, then head in again. Extending my hand, I say, “I’ve been a tremendous admirer since I was a kid. I just wanted to thank you.” He is gracious. I wake up.

Amped Up

Tony Isabella noted on his blog earlier tonight that DC is finally soliciting a trade paperback collecting the original ’70s run of Black Lightning in the current Diamond Previews catalog for April release.

Black Lightning, in outfit that sports V-neck baring much of his chest, speaking to someone off-panel.

I’m thrilled to hear this.