Droughtlander is OVER!!! Diana Vacc sees Outlander S03 “The Battle Joined”

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—

Sunday September 10, 2017, Starz premiered season 3 of Outlander.   This episode follows Jamie hoping for survival during the Battle of Culloden as a pregnant Claire returns to life in the 1940’s.  As an avid fan of the series I was truly excited for its return and had high expectations after the previous two seasons.

THE GOOD:

  • The beginning of the episode is brilliant.  The writing, the directing, the acting certainly don’t disappoint.  It opens with bloody bodies lying on the ground of Culloden.  The focus comes to Jamie (Sam Heughan) whose eyes open slowly after being unconscious.  The episode fades to the beginning of the battle.  The transitions back and forth of Jamie lying on the ground with a dead Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) on top of him to his recollections of the battle makes you feel so much emotion that you can’t help but cry the entire time.
  • The fight between Jamie (Heughan) and Black Jack (Menzies) is deeply personal and the perfect way to end “the devil himself” – Black Jack.  After all that Black Jack put Jamie through, it is fitting that Jamie be the one to take his nemesis’ life and was truly satisfying to watch.
  • Heughan is by far the MVP of the episode as his heroic Jamie shines.
  • Claire (Caitriona Balfe) has to re-adjust to life back with Frank (played also by Tobias Menzies).   Their marriage is one of convenience for Claire and Balfe beautifully plays a woman trapped in a domestic prison, without the man she loves.
  • I love how Menzies brings us a character who is forced to make a normal life with Claire and raise another man’s child.  Can’t be easy for any man, but Menzies makes Frank touchingly human, especially when, unable to contain himself any longer, he has it with Claire, telling her how much it hurts when she pulls away from him, which is, actually, every time he touches her.  This scene makes your heart ache for Frank.

THE BAD:

  • If you find something badly done here, please write and tell me. Because what I see is that Outlander and its creator Ronald D. Moore, have arrived at the perfection Moore has been striving for.

THE REST:

  • All I have to say is if you haven’t watched this series yet, what are you waiting for?

Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and a student in the TVWriter™ Online Workshop. Find out more about her HERE

Munchman sees ‘Disjointed’

by Munchman

Yeppers, boys and girls, mothers and fathers, rich men and poor men, straights and tokers, hipsters and genuine individualists, conservatives and genuine human beings, yer friendly neighborhood Munchaderata is back, and I’m here to tell ya–

I say, I’m here to tell ya–

I say…well, you get the point–

Disjointed has shown this munchadelic one the Kingdom and the Glory, and the hell with “goods” and “bads” and pros and cons or stars or thumbs up. Format be damned, damned to hell, sistahs and brothas!

All I can do is give thanks to, in no particular order except that of course the writers go first:

David Javerbaum
Chuck Lorre
Will Hayes
Taii K. Austin
Warren Bell
Sam Johnson
Chris Marcil
Kevin Shinick
Brenda Hsueh
Bill Daly
Mike Dieffenbach
Matt Kirsch
Angeli Millan
John D. Beck
Ron Hart
& the Fabulous Kathy Bates
+ the rest of the cast and crew

And I also pledge total allegiance forever (or until Disjointed is cancelled, whichever comes first) to Netflix for stepping in after CBS totally fucked up and didn’t just drop the ball they killed the fucking messiah before he even had a chance to preach, let alone get nailed.

In other words, Disjointed is the best thing I’ve seen on TV since BBC Two stopped making The League of Gentlemen. Click, do not walk, to your closest available PC or similar computery thingy, light up a joint (or don’t because you don’t need to be high when you’re watching this spliff), and let the world around you burn, baby, burn.

You’ll be way too busy laughing to care.

munchman luvs ya!

Every Episode of ‘Rick and Morty,’ Ranked

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Rick and Morty is the best-written television show currently running, and this time around we’ll add that it’s probably the best-written since, oh, the first couple of seasons of The Sopranos. (Hi, David! We love you, dood.)

This article steps up to the plate with a ton of reasons why:

by Steve Greene

Rick and Morty” does things no other TV shows would dare to do. Even with the infinite possibilities of a portal gun, this is a show that regularly finds a way to reinvent its own rules and subvert expectations of what a comedy can achieve in half-hour increments.

So, in a constant quest to help “Rick and Morty” newbies find the ideal entry point into the series (and to prove to everyone the microverse car battery episode is vastly under-appreciated), we’ve separated out every installment of the show with a little bit of context to explain why each episode deserves its place in the show’s hierarchy.

And let’s be honest: 94 percent of the people who clicked on this story have already skipped down to see where “Pickle Rick” is, so let’s skip the pleasantries, say “Shum shum schlippity dop!” and get to the list.

(We’ll continue to update this list as new episodes make their way to air. For each episode, we’ve also tossed in our picks for each episode’s best quote, some of which singlehandedly moved up their respective episodes a slot or two.) 

25. “M. Night Shaym-Aliens!” (Season 1, Episode 4)

This probably isn’t the least-entertaining “Rick and Morty” episode, but it’s the one that has been most undercut by other episodes doing its standout elements better. Playing with reality as an illusion, nefarious alien entities trying to wrestle technological secrets away from Rick, and Jerry watching an alternate reality crumble around him have all been utilized elsewhere to stronger effect. But this still has a solid David Cross performance and “My man!” never gets old, no matter how many times the episode returns to it. Some “Rick and Morty” episodes are simply a collection of disparate, amusing component parts, and that’s OK.

Best Quote: ”You’re missing the point, Morty. Why would he drive a smaller toaster with wheels? Does your car look like a smaller version of your house? No.” – Rick

24. “Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind” (Season 1, Episode 10)

Now that we’re well acquainted with some of the intricacies of this particular multiverse, it’s hard to believe that a gathering of Ricks was once a surprise for the show. But even with introducing the bevy of Citadel-bound alternate Ricks, it’s hard not to get over just how weird the rest of this episode is. Seeing a wall full of tortured Mortys is just as unsettling is any mutant Cronenberg, and the farewell Keyser Soze moment of a vengeful rogue Morty disappearing into the crowd is a fun twist on some of the other end-of-episode resets. But above all, let’s all take a second to appreciate the unadulterated commitment to the bit that the chair-pizza-phone combo deserves and gets. The rule of threes has rarely been so satisfying.

Best Quote: “So a few thousand versions of me had the ingenious idea of banding together like a herd of cattle or a school of fish, or… those people who answer questions on Yahoo! Answers.” – Rick….

Read it all at Indiewire

New YouTube Series Gives Us Untold Tales of Star Wars

Whoa, an authorized Star Wars Forces of Destiny is a YouTube web series…ands it’s canon!

Mother of mercy, is this the end of TV?

Yeah, the question was rhetorical, but the practical, all too real answer most probably is, “You betcha.”

Spend some time – not all that much because the episodes are roughly two and a half minutes each, binging on all 8 episodes HERE

Give thanks to Our Overlords at Disney in the comments. This TVWriter™ minion things the series is barely competent, artwise, and completely childish when it comes to the writing, but WTH? I think all the same of all the SW films and TV shows. Well, except for Star Wars Rebels. It’s awesome.

More about SWR is HERE

The Hudsonian Welcomes SPIDER-MAN (‘s) HOMECOMING

Now this is a villain! Much better than in the comics.

by Joshua Hudson

(This article contains spoilers!)

So I’m totally just now getting around to reviewing Spider-Man: Homecoming. It’s been a crazy last couple of weeks. But the good news is that most everyone has seen it by now so, yeah, all the spoilers ahead shouldn’t bother you, right?

As far as I’m concerned, Homecoming was absolutely fantastic. I’ve seen it a couple of times, and the comedy holds up beautifully. Sure, we’ve seen every kind of incarnation with Spider-Man already – he’s been in high school and in college and his Uncle Ben died and had a profound effect on his life – but the writers still found a way to make this different.

They skipped over the origin story (thank GOD!) and just focused on Peter as a sophomore in high school, learning how to be a hero. What Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films did was gloss over a lot of this. Parker was done with high school before the midpoint of Raimi’s first movie, and all we saw was a series of shots of him learning how to be a hero.

Just because you have superpowers doesn’t mean you’re going to know how to use them right out of the gate. From beginning to end, Homecoming showed that as great as Peter was, he was flawed as a hero – as a teenaged hero. But that was okay because he was still having fun and enjoyed helping people, which pulled us as the audience along for the ride.

After watching all of the trailers and seeing a heavy dose of Tony Stark, I was happy to see he had only a few scenes in the movie. They were just enough for us to know Parker is firmly a part of the MCU as a whole, but, yeah, essentially they replaced Uncle Ben with Stark. As a fanboy, this irked me, but it worked for this film and I wasn’t totally upset because we’ve already seen the Uncle Ben thing play out anyway.

This time around we get Parker looking at Stark as a father figure and learning how to be a hero. And Aunt May definitely makes her presence known as played by Marisa Tomei. I’ve heard of a deleted scene which I thought would’ve been great, but without knowing where it fitted in, I’m not sure how I would’ve felt seeing it. In a nutshell, the scene shows May doing something heroic in front of Peter, which could’ve easily served as fuel to his heroic fire.

Michael Keaton as The Vulture was arguably one of the better villains in the MCU, right up there with Loki in my opinion. In terms of previous Spider-Man only film villains, I’d rank him second behind Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock. What makes both so great is their relationship with Parker. Vulture’s connection is shown late (and even I didn’t see that coming), but his attitude throughout the film really made you feel for him. The Vulture wasn’t someone that wanted to be a bad guy. Circumstances dictated it, and he had a family to look after. That’s the type of baddie that plays really well.

The fight scenes were done well. I’ve heard some of my friends say there wasn’t enough. I disagree. It’s easy for a director or storyteller to want to put a lot of action into a script simply because it’s an action movie. But this is also a coming of age story for Parker. The writing here gave us action that moved Parker’s journey along, and the final scene was an exclamation point on his ascension to respected hero. Could the action have been better shot and edited? Yes, but I’ve never seen a film where that couldn’t be said.

Parker’s high school classmates were great. Some longtime fans may be mad about casting choices because in the comics, everyone is white and there’s no ethnicity. Did you know that in today’s New York City over 60% of the population is black, brown, or Asian?

This film added diversity to just about EVERYONE. Liz is half Black, Ned looks hispanic, Flash IS Hispanic. I don’t think it took away from any of their comic book origins. Personality-wise, Flash was still a bully, just not a football jock bully, so I was okay with it. And if they ever decide to make him Venom, that’ll be really interesting. My only beef was with Zendaya’s character, Michelle because…

!!!SPOILER!!!

At the very end, it’s revealed that Michell’s “friends” call her M.J. This was a complete cop out by the writers (there seem to be about a dozen of them so forgive me for not naming them here) and director Jon Watts. Michelle Jones, or whatever her last name is, is NOT the M.J. we all know and love. If you wanted ditch the red haired Anglo girl look, fine. But why not at least keep Mary Jane’s name? Nothing against Zendaya. I thought she was great actually. I just felt that as a comic book fan, I’d kind of been  insulted

The introduction of Aaron Davis (The Ultimate Universe Prowler), Mac Gargon (The Scorpion), Herman Schultz (The Shocker) and Mason (The Tinkerer) all fitted well in the story. Each villain served a purpose. This as a case where “too many villains” worked because Spidey didn’t have to fight them all. And that’s okay. What we have now is a great set-up for future Spider-Man movies, and I’m curious to see their next move.

Bottomline: Go see Spider-Man Homecoming. It’s terrific, and a much needed refresher on the MCU as a whole. As long as Sony doesn’t screw up their side of the Spider-Man mythos (Black & Silver featuring Black Cat and Silver Sable, Venom, et al), I think there’s a lot of potential here for great stories.


Joshua Hudson is a producer, writer, and actor. Find out more about him at Hudsonian Productions. Thanks, Josh!

Everybody Remembers Floyd the Barber…and if You Don’t, You Should!

by Doug Snauffer

In October 3, 1960, TV viewers were introduced to the fictional small-town of Mayberry, North Carolina—home to an oddball assortment of lovable characters on a new CBS comedy, The Andy Griffith Show.  The pleasant hamlet quickly became as definitive a depiction of rural America as Norman Rockwell’s classic Saturday Evening Post cover illustrations.

There were few lawbreakers in Mayberry.  In one episode, the town was even recognized as the most crime-free community in the country.  Andy never even carried a gun, and Barney kept his one and only bullet in his shirt pocket.

Don Knotts (standing) and Andy Griffith in The Andy Griffith Show, circa 1960.

Over the years, a flurry of local citizens was seen on a recurring basis.  More often than not, they were presented as country bumpkins, but rarely were the portrayals offensive.  

Over the years, a flurry of local citizens was seen on a recurring basis.  More often than not, they were presented as country bumpkins, but rarely were the portrayals offensive.

The most prominent of these characters was hyperactive town barber Floyd Lawson, played by character-actor Howard McNear.  The men of Mayberry would gather at Floyd’s Barber Shop to play checkers and share a few laughs while waiting for their haircuts.  Floyd was endearingly quirky and perfectly suited for the leisurely pace of life in Mayberry.  His biggest ambition was to someday add a second barber chair to his small shop.

By the fall of 1962—thanks primarily to exposure from the Griffith show—56-year-old Howard McNear’s career was on an upswing.  He had landed

Howard McNear (left) and Elvis Presley in Fun in Acapulco.

featured roles in a number of high-profile films: Fun in Acapulco starring Elvis Presley; Irma la Douce with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine; and The Wheeler Dealers, a romantic pairing of James Garner and Lee Remick.  On TV, as The Andy Griffith Show rolled into its third season, McNear was receiving increased screen-time.

Two episodes in particular focused the spotlight squarely on McNear.

In “Floyd, the Gay Deceiver,” (Nov. 26, 1962) Floyd wound up in a bind when a wealthy widow (Doris Fowling) whom he’d been corresponding with decided to pay him a visit.  He’d misled her into believing he was a wealthy philanthropist, and couldn’t face her with the truth.  He turned to Andy—typically the voice of reason—who instead went to extreme lengths to help Floyd continue the charade.

That episode was followed by “Convicts at Large” (Dec. 10, 1962), in which Barney and Floyd’s big fishing weekend was interrupted by three escaped convicts—three very rowdy, female convicts (Jane Dulo, Jean Carson, Reta Shaw)—who took the men hostage.  It was a physically demanding episode for McNear—featuring dance sequences which had to be choreographed, rehearsed, and blocked for the cameras.  Yet throughout the production, he remained as lively and animated as ever.

“Convicts at Large” is widely considered the most popular Floyd-centric episode of the Griffith show.  Unfortunately, it very nearly became his final appearance as well.  In December 1962, McNear suffered a massive stroke which left him severely impaired.  It affected his left shoulder, most of his left arm, and both of his legs.  He was fortunate to have survived, but it appeared his acting career was over.

Reta Shaw (standing, left) and Jane Dulo keeping an eye on Howard McNear in the episode “Convicts at Large.”

Losing Howard McNear was a huge blow to the series.  He was sorely missed by his fellow actors on set, and the series’ writers were thrown into a quandary over how to deal with the creative void left by McNear’s sudden absence.

Ultimately, their solution was to add another character to the rolls.  On Christmas Eve 1962, Jim Nabors made his debut as naive young gas station attendant Gomer Pyle.  Gomer pumped gas, washed windows, and checked under hoods for customers of Wally’s Service Station.  He was a hometown boy who loved comic books, monster movies, and cherry sodas.

Gomer became an immediate hit with viewers and was soon moonlighting as a reserve deputy, thus allowing him to interact more closely with Andy and Barney.

Now most TV producers would be exceedingly protective of a character as popular as Gomer Pyle, but not Andy Griffith.  He thought so highly of Jim Nabors’ talent that he was reluctant to hold the young man back.  It was Griffith who so generously pulled the strings with CBS to get Nabors his own spin-off series.

Don Knotts, Andy Griffith, and Jim Nabors on the set of The Andy Griffith Show. They made the show a hit; the show made them stars.

In the final episode of the 1963-64 season, Gomer enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and shipped off to basic training.  In the fall, his cousin Goober (George Lindsey) took over his duties at the service station.  Goober had been mentioned periodically but had made only one on-screen appearance.

With Nabors gone, concerns arose once again over how to best handle the departure of a primary supporting player.  Then one afternoon in the production offices, Griffith, writer-producer Aaron Ruben, associate producer Richard O. Linke, and a couple of writers were trying to fix a problematic script, when Ruben uttered, “Boy, do I wish we had Howard.”

Suddenly, Andy Griffith was hit by an epiphany. Why someone like Howard McNear when they could have the genuine article?  Griffith quickly picked up the phone and called McNear’s wife Helen to inquire about her husband’s condition.  Helen loved the idea of Howard returning to the program.  She explained that Howard had been making progress in his recovery, but that he’d grown depressed at being so inactive after having lived such an industrious life.

Producer Sheldon Leonard (right) working with Andy Griffin (left), Don Knotts (2nd left) and the rest of the cast during rehearsal of The Andy Griffith Show. (Photo by Allan Grant/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Helen said she’d speak to Howard to see how he felt about the idea and then get back to Griffith.  When the phone rang about an hour later, it was McNear himself.  He sounded well, and seemed thrilled at the prospect of playing Floyd again.  He was forthright, however, in regards to his limitations, but his old-friend Andy Griffith assured him that if he felt ready to return, that together ”they’d work it out.”

And together they did.  Due to his paralysis, McNear couldn’t walk.  When a script required him to stand, a special device was employed to support his weight.  To conceal the rigging from view, McNear would then be positioned, for example, behind Floyd’s barber chair.  A majority of the time, however, scripts were written and staged with Floyd in sitting positions—a favorite location being the bench in front of the barber shop.  It sometimes appeared a bit odd, but the important thing was that they made it work, and Floyd the Barber was once again a part of the Mayberry community.

A year later, in the spring of 1965, Don Knotts announced he was leaving The Andy Griffith Show to pursue a feature film deal with Universal Studios.  It was a tremendous career opportunity for Don, but his departure was a major blow to the series.

Although Griffith had made a name for himself in such films as A Friend in the Crowd (1957) and No Time for Sergeants (1958), he had left the comedy in his TV show to Knotts.  Now Griffith was a straight-man without a comedic sidekick, and the supporting players—Ronny Howard, Frances Bavier, George Lindsey, and Howard McNear—were more vital to the program than ever before.

Still, due to his fragile health,  McNear’s workload was kept relatively light throughout most of the sixth season.  A new character was added that season, Floyd’s nephew Warren Ferguson (played by actor-writer Jack Burns), who became Andy’s new deputy.  The idea had been to team Warren and Goober for laughs, and have them play against Griffith’s straight-man.  But Burns never caught on with viewers and Warren was fazed out by the end of the season.  Another tactic was to bring back several of the programs most popular recurring players, like the Darling family (featuring patriarch Denver Pyle), rock-throwing nuisance Ernest T. Bass (Howard Morris), and nomadic Brit Malcolm Merriweather (Bernard Fox).

In the fall of 1966, at the outset of the seventh season, another new character was introduced to viewers.  This time it wasn’t a deputy.  The producers had evidently learned their lesson about trying to replace Don Knotts’ Barney Fife.  Instead, county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) was added to the series.

McNear had become alarmingly frail and was having trouble remembering his lines.  He often became frustrated at the situation, and had fallen into a deep depression.

In September 1967, The Andy Griffith Show returned for it’s eighth and final season, but town barber Floyd Lawson was nowhere to be found.  Floyd’s shop on Main Street was also gone.  In its place stood Emmett’s Fix-It Shop.  The transition, however, was never explained on-screen—not on the Griffith show anyway.

But later that season in an episode of Gomer Pyle, USMC  (“Gomer Goes Home,” Jan. 5, 1968), Floyd’s disappearance was finally explained.  On leave from the Marines, Gomer returned to Mayberry only to learn that all his friends were away on a fishing trip.  While there, he noticed Emmett’s shop and inquired about Floyd; a passer-by explained that Floyd had retired and was living with his daughter in Mount Pilot, and Emmett had bought him out.

The Andy Griffith Show finished its eighth season as the top-rated program on television, an outstanding achievement.  Yet Andy Griffith had decided he was ready to move on, and what better time than with the show being number one.  Obviously, CBS wasn’t happy with his choice to end the series, and neither were the 27.6 million viewers who’d remained loyal to the program over the previous eight years. 


Doug Snauffer is TVWriter™ Contributing Editor.  His work has appeared in myriad publications and on SyFy Channel. He’s also the writer of several cult horror films and the books The Show Must Go On and Crime Television. Learn more about Doug HERE.

Check Doug out on IMDB.

munchman sees ‘Killjoys’

Hannah John-Kamen, ladies and gents!

by munchman

I’ve seen every episode of Killjoys since this series about intergalactic bounty hunters first debuted on SyFy in 2015, and I’m going to lead this review off with what may be a shocking confession:

I haven’t understood a single thing I’ve seen in any episode except the various sex scenes that have appeared from time to time. Yet, still, I watch. And watch. And watch.

And I can’t for the life of me explain why.

So with that in mind:

THE GOOD:

  • Hannah John-Kamen is totally believable as the most accomplished assassin in any universe, and she doesn’t utter one single word that sounds like she didn’t just think of it. She’s also gorgeous and has the sexiest voice munchado has heard since UK stage and occasional screen star Tammy Grimes moseyed from this mortal coil to the next one.

    Oh, look, it’s Hannah John-Kamen!

  • There’s all kinds of crazy chemistry between cast members. The banter is non-stop, and you know you’re watching people having a terrific onscreen time with each other.
  • Fucking show moves faster than anything else on TV or the interwebs ever.
  • Premium cable language – “Shit!” “Fuck!” “Bastard” – without premium cable pricing.

THE BAD:

  • WTF is going on in this series?
  • Why in the name of Isaac Asimov are these people doing any of the things they do?
  • Worst photographed fights of the current era. Nobody on TV throws punches as wildly as Aaron Ashmore and Luke Macfarlane yet brings their opponents whamming to the floor. OTOH, watching Ms. John-Kamen kicking ass is so tingle-inducing what the guys do doesn’t matter at all.
  • The plots are for all practical purposes plotless, presupposing that the viewers – every one of us – have seen and read every science fiction series on TV and film and therefore are able to bring our own stories to mind to fill in the blanks that arrive every 45 seconds or so.
  • The settings, basic arcs, and attitudes are exactly the same as those of Killjoy‘s Syfy stablemate, Dark Matter. It’s like two rival network executives made a bet that each of them could oversee a stronger show than the other using the same basic material as episode guide.

ALL IN ALL:

As the crazy fanboy with the incredible background necessary for enjoying this show (i.e., a love of women like Ms. John-Kamen performing her various kung fu moves in skintight clothes and a pretty damn good memory of every science fiction show ever) I have to tell you that non of my complaints matter. Not one. I really want you to watch this show and keep it on forever.

Dark Matter, on the other hand, could vanish forever and I’d never know it was gone. Well, I might miss the sexy android trying to learn how to be a real human girl, but probably not because Hannah John-Kamen…yes!!!

Oh, are there other actors on this show besides Hannah John-Kamen? Yer friendly neighborhood muncher has never noticed.


munchman is TVWriter™’s sexist pig in residence. Or maybe, just maybe, the poor guy is hopelessly, inadequately, miserably, in love.