Munchman: “Red Oaks” is Back!

by Munchman

It is with great glee that I inform one and all that Red Oaks, that cute little web series about a teenage boy and his privileged, country club life back in the halcyon days of 1986 will be back on the interwebs November 11th.

Not familiar with the series? Here’s some blurb verbiage:

For assistant tennis pro David Meyers it’s been a year of upheaval. In a freefall following his parents’ divorce, forced to drop out of NYU and forego dreams of becoming a filmmaker, his one silver lining has been his budding romance with Skye, the daughter of club president Doug Getty. But when Skye returns home from a year abroad in Paris with more worldly ways and a newfound independence, David finds himself caught in the middle between his strong-willed girlfriend and her equally stubborn father….

The series is written by Gregory Jacobs, Joe Gangemi, Karey Dornetto, Shawn Harwell, Tom Papa, Max Werner and Daisy Gardner.

Lightweight, meaningless, and derivative as Red Oaks may be, it’s as solid a series as you’ll find on the web and a good escape from contemporary conflicts, and Yer Friendly Neighborhood Munchadorio recommends it whole-heartedly–

Wait. What?

Red Oaks isn’t a web series? It’s a presentation of Amazon Studios with Steven Soderbergh and David Gordon Green? You sure about that?

Shazbot! Munchy’s been snookered!

My apologies to all. Judged by professional standards, which I wasn’t doing because Indie TV and all, Red Oaks is bottom of the barrel slime. Stay away! Stay away!

Dammit, I gotta start watching my TV on a bigger screen than an elderly iPhone 5 so I can actually, you know, see the damn credits.

John Ostrander: Making a Better Superman

by John Ostrander

supergirl-season-2As of last Monday night, Warner Bros grew a Superman problem. That’s the night that Supergirl started its second season on its new home, the CW… where one could argue that it always belonged anyway. The show guest starred Supergirl’s cousin, Superman, embodied on TV by Tyler Hoechlin.

If you don’t already know, DC – unlike Marvel – does not link its movie universe and its TV universe. Since DC Comics is currently in the Multiple Universe concept once more, it might help to think of their TV and movie universes as alternate dimensions. So we can have two Flashes, two Wonder Women – and two versions of Superman.

The DC movie version of Superman, as shown in Man of Steel andSuperman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice Whaddee Do Dah, is played by Henry Cavill and is a darker, more brooding, somewhat more Batman-ish Superman. His costume is also darker, almost a blue-black. He is, we are told, a more “realistic” Superman. And that’s where I think the trouble is going to lie.

Supergirl’s Superman is a more traditional Man of Steel. He’s a brighter, more confident, more hopeful vision. And, not to slam Henry Cavill, Tyler Hoechlin is a better actor. As a kid he held his own with Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, and Daniel Craig in Road to Perdition where Hoechlin played a starring role as Michael Sullivan, Jr. (Sidenote: not everyone realizes that Road to Perdition is also a “comic book movie” based on the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner. Work that little factoid into your conversations. Amaze your friends. Go out and get a copy. Great read. End of plug.)

The Superman appearing on Supergirl is more my idea of who Superman is – confident, capable, friendly, powerful and, according to one character on the show, smells good. When he walks into the DEO, the government facility where Lara’s adopted sister Alex works, people just stop and stare. Superman works the crowd, smiling, shaking hands, setting people at ease not like a politician or even a celebrity but like a nice guy from Kansas which, for all his powers, he is.

Hoechlin also does a great Clark Kent, reminiscent of Christopher Reeve’s great turn, having a deft sense of humor to the portrayal and making the bumbling aspect work. When his cousin secretly congratulates Clark on a well executed file fumble in the elevator, he tells her it wasn’t an act. That’s endearing.

Also, in the TV aspect of the DCU, there isn’t the underlying mistrust that the DC movie universe has for this strange person from another world. Batman wants to kill Superman because the Kryptonian could be a threat; one of the arguments leading to the creation of the Suicide Squad was who could stop Superman if he decided to burst through the roof of the White House and grab the President? On Supergirl, people trust the Man of Steel. Seeing him, or his cousin, inspires hope. While the darker portrayal may be more “realistic,” it’s not what the character is about.

I’m not looking for a return to the Superman of the Fifties as seen in either the comics or the TV show. To be honest, that one bored me even as a kid. The movies, however, makes him more angsty, more dour, and less Super. Hoechlin is only scheduled to appear as a guest star on the TV show for right now but he wears the tights and the cape – and Clark Kent’s glasses – quite well.

I know that in BvS: DoJ (spoiler alert, I guess) Superman dies at the end of the film but we all know he’s coming back for the Justice League movie. I, for one, wouldn’t mind if the movie Superman uses the grave as a chrysalis and pops out as Tyler Hoechlin. Or maybe they can have Tyler spin off into a series as Superman. I’d watch it. And I bet lots of others would as well.

And that’s going to be WB’s problem – the better Superman isn’t on the big screen; it’s on the small one.

John Ostrander is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium and the writing brain behind the most successful run of Suicide Squad in comics. Don’t forget to read his most excellent blog at ComicMix.

Munchman Bitches Again!

What we do for luv – and money!

What we do for luv – and money!

Munchman’s TV Musings #1

More thoughts from Yer Friendly Neighborhood Munchman, a guy acknowledged the world over (or at least within the room in which this is being typed) as a penetrating and trenchant observer and occasional conspirator in today’s TV scene:

  1. Word around the interwebs is that Disney, Amazon, and Apple are all looking into buying Netflix, which tells you bud Muncholo here that those of us who lurve the fact that Neflix is all about entertainment and nothing but (yeppers, I mean me! me! me!) could be in deep schitt because becoming part of just another diversified portfolio means the end of excellence as we know it. Think about it, y’all.  Every time the “our shareholders don’t care about the product, all the want is immediate profit” boys have moved in, audiences have suffered. Why, I remember back when I was Euripedes’ go-fer….
  2. Didja know that Black Sails is coming back for a fourth season on Starz? Do yez know why? Me neither, kidz. And I remember when Starz boss Chris Albrecht was a programming genius! Of course, he was also bopping his girlfriend in public back in those halcyon HBO days, so maybe his lost touch means he’s a better human being now, hey?
  3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is being developed for TV by Universal Cable Productions. Munchhausen was all thumbs-up on the Charlie Kaufman-Pierre Bismuth feature film, but this version’s going to one of the geniuses behind Human Target, Mad Dogs, and Forever, credits much more suited for a certain male member that rhymes with the aforementioned “genius” word but starts with a “P.”
  4. Speaking of Schitt, as in Deep Schitt, sorry Canadians, but no matter how hard I try I can’t find a single thing to laugh at in that very rapturously reviewed fraud. Like the old saying sez, “Schitty is as shitty does.” (Come on, there must be some old saying that says that…or at least something like it, yeah?)
  5. To end on a more positive note, the interwebs have been showing Amazon Prime’s first trailer for The Grand Tour and – wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, shockarooney – looks like the old Top Gear gang of Clarkson, Hammond, and May are gonna pull it off. Damn show looks and sounds glorious. Hmm, maybe things won’t be so bad if Amazon buys Netflix after all. But don’t believe my munchin’ mouth. Have a look-see for yerself:

That’s it for this week. Seeya next time with more TV joy!

munchman’s Take on the Fall 2016 Season so Far


What we do for luv – and money!

by munchman

More thoughts, munchites, from a guy acknowledged the world over (or at least within the room in which this is being typed) as a truly penetrating and trenchant observer:

  1. Okay, yer munchy one made absolutely my best effort to binge his way through Woody Allen’s Crisis In Six Scenes. Thanks to the magic of fast-forwarding, I made it through the first ep (well, more or less), but after that – whoa? Skinny, boring, old neurotic dude’s ready to trade in Elaine May for Miley Cyrus? This show is Allen’s biggest piece of crap since his last big piece of crap, and believe me, that was a tough act to follow.
  2. Anybody out there watching Amazon’s I Love Dick? No? I knew TVWriter™ attracted a smart crowd. Yer Friendly Neighborhood munchman’s advice: Keep away. Keep far, far away. I mean, how many shows about neurotic, self-obsessed, unhappily married and all-around unfulfilled 40-something housewives does any world need? And even if there was room for one more, I Love Dick wouldn’t be the one. (Lurve the title though. It never fails to bring a nice, sneery, smirk to me face.)
  3. Amazon’s also ready to assault us with a new version of The Tick. The first live TV version was heavenly satire. This one actually seems to be taking itself seriously. Sorry, Amazon, you won’t be kicking Netflix’s ass with this kind of crud. (Do you know what “crud” really means? Trust me – it’s definitely a word worth looking up. Oh, wait, they’ve fucking changed it. Now it means “an incrustation of filth or refuse.” Back when I was in 6th grade it was a guaranteed giggler because Webster’s said it was “a crude synonym for smegma.” And smegma is what The Tick is, through and through.)
  4. Ooh, at last, a half hour – more or less – of pleasure. Just watched the season opener of Blunt Talk, which is Woody Allened (you know, created and run by) Jonathan Ames, a skinny, neurotic, not old or boring neurotic dude who also created, produced, wrote, etc. the late lamented Bored to Death. For my moolah, such as it is, Blunt Talk is currently one of TV’s least-watched but most brilliant comedies. Orgasmically blissful (take it from somebody who, well, knows.)

Ah, nuthin’ like spreadin’ the joy. Seeya next week with more TV joy!

Doug Snauffer sees “MacGyver”


This is MacGyver?

by Douglas Snauffer

CBS’ reboot of MacGyver (Fridays, 8 p.m.) is another freshman series I was curious about all summer.  

Not that I had high hopes for it.  The odds are typically against recycled TV shows.  MacGyver, though, is being used as a lead-in for Hawaii Five-O, another title resurrected by CBS that is now entering its seventh-season.  So if CBS believed in it that much (if they didn’t, they would’ve had McGarrett & Company be the lead-in instead of the follower), I didn’t want to completely discount Mac’s chances.

My optimism, however, turned out to be short-lived. Just five minutes into the premiere episode my mind was already made up – I hated it. I dutifully sat through the rest of the hour, but that merely reinforced my initial opinion.  MacGyver is another case of a TV classic receiving a modern make-over with disastrous results.

First, a bit of history for those who fall into TV’s most-desired demographic (ages 18-34) and missed the original series.

MacGyver ran on ABC from 1985-92. Its hero (Richard Dean Anderson) was an incredibly resourceful loner who was (initially) a freelance intelligence agent. By the second season, he was employed by the Phoenix Foundation, a think-tank which worked closely with the U.S. government.

Richard Dean Anderson portrayed MacGyver with the perfect combination of cool and nerdy

(Richard Dean Anderson portrayed MacGyver with the perfect combination of cool and nerdy.)

What made Mac unique is that he detested the use of violence (especially guns) and typically won his battles by out-thinking his adversaries.  He was a master of invention and ingenuity and could jury-rig his way out of any scrape with nothing more than the materials at hand.

Sound a bit familiar? It should. Not only was MacGyver a long-running hit, but the quick-witted hero’s moniker actually became a part of the American lexicon.

Some may argue against comparisons to the original series. But if CBS is going to use the title, the concept, and the characters, the nostalgia comes with it.  And the new MacGyver just isn’t true to its origins, in execution or in spirit. Instead, its basic structure reminds me most of another CBS hit – Scorpion.

This time around, as might be expected on CBS, Mac (X-Men‘s Lucas Till) is part of a team of operatives including old friend Jack Dalton (former C.S.I. co-star George Eads), paroled ex-hacker Riley Davis (Tristin Mays), and their handler, Patricia Thornton (Sandrine Holt).

And while Mac resorts to the occasional trick in the guise of ingenuity, he and his compatriots rely even more heavily on high-tech gadgets.

In the pilot, Mac was betrayed by another fellow team member, Nikki Carpenter (Tracy Spiridakos), who sabotaged a mission and then faked her own death.  She and Mac had also been lovers, so he now has both personal and professional reasons for wanting to find her.

Mac also has a roommate, Wilt Bozer (Justin Hires), whose purpose seems to be comic relief.  But I think it’s safe to assume, given the genre, that should the show survive long enough there will be more to Bozer than meets the eye.

Right now, I don’t think it’s likely to get that far. I predict the same fate for MacGyver that befell previously reimagined series’ like The Bionic Woman, Knight Rider, Charlie’s Angels and Ironside.

TVWriter™ and its visitors enjoyed Doug Snauffer’s first appearance here so much that we tied him up in the garage so he’ll give us more. But he’s far from inexperienced, as you can see:

Douglas Snauffer is an Ohio-based freelance writer. His work has appeared in myriad publications and on SyFy Channel and includes several cult horror films and the books The Show Must Go On and Crime Television. Check him out on IMDB.

Diana Vacc sees “This is Us”


By: Diana Vaccarelli

*Be warned – this review may contain spoilers!*

The 2016 fall television season is in full swing.  I got microwaved my popcorn the other night and watched the highly touted new NBC show This Is Us.

This Is Us at this point has seems to have a simple premise: The show gives us a glimpse in the lives of a group of people who share the same birthday. Twins Kevin and Kate. Lawyer Randall. Married couple Jack and Rebecca. But the glimpses themselves are all about surprising twists.


  • Finally! Network television has come out with a show that is so original I couldn’t help but grin.  And the twists! Let me put it this way: The ending of the pilot episode is guaranteed to shock and surprise you. My mouth was wide open at the end in very pleasant astonishment.
  • The performances of all the actors are stellar. I hope the Emmy committee is still watching broadcast TV because in this one episode alone every performance needs to be acknowledged.
  • The writing of the show is more than twisty. It is original and brilliant.  Dan Fogelman, writer and producer (known best for Crazy, Stupid, Love) gives us a series everyone can relate to. No matter who you are in life there is a character here that, quite simply will remind you of…you. Even if you aren’t an obese woman working on losing weight and getting healthy, a famous actor struggling with moral issues regarding his career path, or a black man abandoned by his birth parents the day he was born, you’ll find yourself relating.


  • I tried my utmost to find a flaw in the first episode of This Is Us, but, honestly, I couldn’t. I related, I enjoyed, I can’t wait to see more.  the first time!


Do you want to watch a show that is honest, talks about issues that affect families today, and makes you think? If so, then This Is Us is for you.  I’m so excited that mainstream television finally came out with a show that feels new and original, instead of giving us yet another retread.

Put this one on your DVR list, find yourself a snack, and watch. I’ll betcha dollars to the proverbial donuts (not that I would eat such an unhealthy snake, of course) that you’ll have a smile so big you’ll feel it spreading across your whole face!

Classic TV – The Alfred Hitchcock, Um, Touch

The Master of Suspense (and Comic Timing)

The Master of Suspense (and Comic Timing)

by Doug Snauffer

I love Alfred Hitchcock Presents (and its later incarnation, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour), but I hate Hitchcock’s famous and oh-so-skillfully delivered epilogues.  Earlier this morning, for example, MeTV, a classic TV mini-network, aired one of the best hour-long episodes, “Ten Minutes From Now,” starring actor Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica) as an unstable artist/bombing suspect.

The episode has a great hook at the end, which I won’t reveal. But afterwards Hitchcock made his customary closing comments in which he drolly offered a wrap-up to the story that basically ruined the wonderful, surprise ending that the episode’s writer and director had so skillfully crafted.

Hitchcock did this regularly, on an almost-weekly basis.  Viewers would tune in and watch in suspense, for example, as someone committed the perfect crime, only to have Hitchcock come on for his closing epilogue and reveal the man was stopped for speeding a mile down the road, broke down and confessed on the spot, and is now serving hard time.

I think you can see why I always hated those final remarks, regardless of how cleverly they were worded and, I admit, perfectly delivered.

I suspect Hitch had to go this route because of the rules, both official and unofficial, of TV in the era in which the series was originally produced (1955-65).

This was a period in television history when killers, thieves, and other assorted evildoers were expected to face their comeuppance in the final act.  At the time, this was regarded as being socially responsible, but as someone who didn’t watch TV – or even breathe – back then –  I for one  find this inability of one of the greatest filmmakers in history to stick to his creative guns unnecessary, annoying, and an artistic flaw to an otherwise perfect TV program.

Are you watching these old Hitchcock shows? What do you think?

Douglas Snauffer is an Ohio-based freelance writer. His work has appeared in myriad publications and on SyFy Channel and includes several cult horror films and the books The Show Must Go On and Crime Television.  Check him out on IMDB.