SJW Parent Review: Transformers: The Last Knight

It’s even worse than they told you.

Two hours and twenty-six minutes of this still image would be a better use of the ticket money and the movie screen.

Transformers: The Last Knight

Spoiler Alert: Sorry to be all philosophy of language about this, but words have meanings, and I don’t believe any information about this movie can be considered a spoiler. A spoiler reveals something about the plot of a movie that would otherwise be a surprise. This movie has no plot. No event in the movie, however ensconced in slow motion and loud music, is actually important to the story. Because there is no story. I guess if you do not want to read any descriptions of the moving images that you have not yet seen in the trailers, stop reading, but only after letting me tell you one thing: under no circumstances should you or anyone you care about go to see this movie.

Bechdel-Wallace Score: -10,000/3 – Negative ten thousand points for disgusting misogyny. After sexualizing a 17-year-old girl character in the previous Transformers travesty – and suffering no negative consequences for it – Michael Bay and Universal Studios decided to see what would happen if they sexualized a 13-year-old girl character (played by a 16-year-old actress) in this movie. I’m not kidding – within the first 30 minutes of the movie, you see her running in slow motion in a tank top. It is really fucked up. And this latino girl’s character is introduced largely by a white boy having a crush on her for being a badass.  I’m not a licensed or credentialed psychologist in any way, but I am going to go ahead and speculate that maybe Michael Bay is subconsciously trying to get caught for being a danger to children and will keep escalating this behavior on film until someone intervenes in real life. In the meantime, don’t leave your children alone with him. Also don’t take them to see this movie. Oh and re: the usual Bechdel-Wallace test parameters, there are three feminine characters with names in the movie and I don’t recall them ever speaking to each other, certainly never alone, and none of them say anything that isn’t addressed to and/or about a man.

Shukla Score: -10,000/3 – There are two, or three if you count voice work, named characters of color in The Last Knight. They have no significant dialogue with each other because there is no significant dialogue in the movie. The negative ten thousand points is because within the first 30 minutes of the movie there is such blatant racist caricature on display (a young overweight black boy is show screaming bombastically and exclaiming that he thinks he had a heart attack) and it doesn’t really get better later. The young black man who is in the movie beyond those scenes is – you guessed it! – there for comic relief, which he provides by yelling about things that scare, surprise, or anger him. The fact that he was forced into a job without adequate pay or any benefits is a punchline. He gets shot by a police drone and freaks out about being killed, but the joke is he only got shot with a bean bag. Violence against black bodies is an ongoing crisis in our Republic, not a comedic relief avenue for an action movie. 

Russo Score: -10,000/3 – I assume there were several LGBT-phobic moments in the movie, but that I already blocked them out of my memory. The negative ten thousand points here is because as far as I can tell, LGBT folks don’t even exist in Universal’s shared Transformers Shitverse. Total erasure.

Kittehs: 0/5 – It’s been a while since I published one of these, so just as a reminder the Kitteh score is how many kittens it would take to distract me from the movie. I am pretty sure I imagined kittens to distract myself at one point, but under no circumstances would I allow an actual kitten to be in a room where this movie was playing. Keep your pets away from this movie.

Low points: The whole thing is a low point for culture. This is the movie equivalent of Donald Trump winning the electoral college. The movie isn’t just really bad, it is toxic. I don’t know what else to tell you. Other reviewers have written artfully scathing reviews that are better than what I can manage. Read them. Or don’t. I mostly wrote this review to discuss the sexist and racist stuff I mentioned above, which gets a mention in other reviews, but I feel like they focus on how bad the movie is at the expense of how offensive it is. Yes, it is, start to finish, incredibly bad – but the offensive angle is even worse. Total erasure of queer folks, sexualizing of a minor, making the only black characters into walking punchlines, body-shaming for a laugh (doesn’t work), a couple of quips that are basically jokes about disabled people – it’s like a bingo game of toxic isms in a movie, except in this bingo game everyone gets all the spots on their card filled up early and then you just have to sit for two more hours and wonder how you ended up there at all.

Highlights: The movie was so bad I could not stop myself from writing about it, which sadly is the first time I have written and published one of these reviews in a while, but I guess it is some kind of silver lining. I felt I needed to warn people. (And I am too extroverted to keep this kind of pop culture despair to myself.)

Dad edits: I deeply regret getting my kid excited about this movie in advance. I am very uncomfortable with the coding of the characters and the subtext of the film. My concerns are heightened by the fact that, unlike other problematic movies, this one doesn’t offer any worthwhile story elements for him to hold on to and ignore the ick. It’s just spectacle and ick rolled up together. I really hope future movies set in the Transformers universe, without Michael Bay directing and with stories set on Cybertron, will be acceptable entertainment for him. Of course the kid loved the battle scenes, but he also took a 45 minute nap on my lap during the second act and did not realize he had slept through part of the movie until I told him afterwards. That’s how little sense the ‘story’ makes.  

Final Thoughts: Do not see this movie. Do not let people you care about see this movie. Do not let people you despise see this movie as their ticket sales will contribute to its financial success and could lead to more such movies in the future. Avoid this movie at all costs. So say we all!

Normally I would put a trailer for the movie here, but instead let’s look forward to something else entirely.

What do you think about this move? Send an email, comment on Facebook, or tweet on Twitter. There is also Tumblr and the comment field below, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

Progressive/Nerd/Parent Review: Star Trek Beyond

Better than the second, not as good as the first, but the most fun of any of them.

Jaylah sits in the captain's chair while Kirk looks at Scotty all bumfuzzled
Somebody call Vice-Admiral Trump, this undocumented immigrant just took Kirk’s job. Sad!

Star Trek Beyond

Spoiler Alert: There are no spoilers in this review that were not already delivered via trailers and TV spots for the movie. That said, they gave up a lot of plot points in the trailers and TV spots so consider yourself warned.

Bechdel-Wallace Score: 1/3 – Two women barely ever shared the screen during the whole movie. Their character backgrounds, development, and activities were almost all centered around men. Even one point seems a bit high, but hey there was more than one named female character, so okay. Seriously though – it’s 2016 and this is a Star Trek movie. I expect better. That said, Uhura’s relationship with Spock was not an absurdity in this film as it was in Into Darkness and Jaylah is not seduced by, or seducing, any of the Enterprise crew. So that’s something.

Shukla Score: 3/3 – Well, okay, so there are at least two named characters that are people of color and they do speak to each other about something other than race. There is one sequence where Sulu and Uhura are working together for a minute, and that gets 3/3. The only other scenes that might pass the test are a few where Uhura and Krall (played by Idris Elba) are talking, but Elba’s face is hidden away for most of the movie underneath a great deal of makeup – including the scenes with Uhura.

Russo Score: 3/3 – Even if you didn’t see any of the hoopla about it online, the movie clearly identifies Sulu as a gay family man. No fuss is made about this and Sulu goes on to be pivotal to the developments of the film and in no way a caricature. Indeed, one of the best emotional moments of the film is a brief shot of Sulu as he realizes his family is in jeopardy.

Kittehs: 😺😹😻😺/5 – I enjoyed the movie a great deal, although it was not entirely engaging – the first and third act both had some uninteresting moments – so I score it four kittehs. The laughing and love-eyed kittehs are for the second act, which showcased the best of the new Spock/McCoy relationship and had the best action and story moments of the whole film. Folks who saw the first trailer for the movie and, like me, thought “oh no this looks awful” will be pleasantly surprised by how not-awful, and even good, Star Trek Beyond turns out to be.

What a waste of such a fine face.
What a waste of such a fine face.

Low points: *NERD ALERT* As a severe Star Trek nerd, I find stupid continuity errors hard to forgive. As you’ve seen in the trailers, the marooned crew of the Enterprise find an older Starfleet vessel – the USS Franklin, NX 326 – to use in the third act of the movie. The problem is that the Franklin is described as being one of the first Warp-4 capable ships from the beginning of the Federation. Now, I’m not saying anybody should watch Enterprise, but plenty of people did and maybe the filmmakers should have run this by one of us since we could have said “well, the NX01 Enterprise was pre-Federation and could go Warp-5, so maybe say “first Warp-6″ vessel instead and avoid a stupid error.” But no, they went with stupid error. *end nerd alert* If the movie had any other low points, they weren’t anything significant. I think it was a waste to put so much makeup on Idris Elba for so much of the film; I think the starbase shown in the movie is just completely preposterous, not to say the Federation couldn’t build it – I like that part – but just that it seems odd to put something so large and fragile and full of people next to a big, dense, chaotic nebula and then, you know, hope for the best.

Highlights: Well, so, that starbase is a highlight too. Even if the positioning of the thing is absurd, it is cool to see folks imagining the Federation as a bold venture of civilization into the vastness of space. Partly I’m sure due to budget and effects limitations in the past, Starfleet ships and bases always had a fairly standard military feel – especially the bases. Here the space station is imagined with all the resources and engineering skill you’d expect a multi-planetary space-faring alliance to be able to muster. And it looks like a beautiful place to live. An overall great thing about the movie is that they finally get the hell away from Earth, unlike the first two movies in the franchise that were very Earth-bound and suffered for it. Seeing the ship and crew in deep space was cool and gave me some serious nostalgia feels. Another highlight actually turned out to be the motorcycle sequence; not wanting to spoil it, but this looked like the stupidest thing in the first trailer and it ended up being the most fun of the whole movie. Last but not least, and again without spoiling it, the solution the crew devises for dealing with the alien swarm is absurd, hokey, and so simple in the end it is kind of stupid – classic Star Trek. I loved it. Into Darkness was so, well, into its own darkness. But in Beyond the franchise remembers how to have fun again. Yay!

The classic superior strength demonstration: lift Kirk up by the neck.
The classic superior strength demonstration: lift Kirk up by the neck.

Dad edits: Damnit, this was so close to being the first Star Trek movie I could take my son to, but not quite. Several people are shown during or after having the life drained out of them. Some folks are vaporized on screen. Many, many people are blown into space. A bit too much death in general, plus a dash of torture at one point, has me saying this movie earns its PG-13 rating.

Final Thoughts: I still haven’t quite let go of wanting a return to the less frenetic, more cerebral, Star Trek movies that I grew up watching. Beyond, if a bit too flashy and hectic for my preferences, was nonetheless a lot more enjoyable than Into Darkness and came much closer to replicating the near-total awesomeness of 2009’s Star Trek. I think the folks running this franchise now are learning from their mistakes and really getting the hang of it. I am relieved this movie turned out so much better than I expected and I am excited to see what they do in the as yet untitled Star Trek 4.

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Progressive/Nerd/Parent Review: Agents of SHIELD, “Absolution / Ascension”

TLP’s Progressive/nerd/parent reviews contain lots of spoilers and are intended for folks who have already watched the show and are looking for some supplemental commentary and analysis.

Outfit envy. Well, except for the murder vests. I don't want one of those.
Outfit envy. Well, except for the murder vests. I don’t want one of those.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 3, Episodes 21 & 22 “Absolution / Ascension”

Bechdel-Wallace Score: 3/3 – May and Daisy had some dialogue that managed to be more about Daisy than about Hive, so it earned all three points. It was, I believe, the only scene in the two hours to actually score 3 points – which is a bit off for a show with four important women in the action – but at least the one scene passed the test.

Shukla Score: 3/3 – Mack and Elena score three points this week, as they tend to do. The scene was pretty funny, too, with Elena razzing Mack about how long it takes him to set up a gadget. Mack and Daisy also had some good scenes.

Russo Score: 0/3 – Sad that the show chose to finish without any LGBT representation, especially after what was otherwise Agents of SHIELD‘s best season for said representation so far. Hoping they do better in season 4.

Kittehs: 😺😺😺😺/5 – The episode could have gone for five kittehs, but instead they chose to try to manipulate viewers by keeping us guessing every few minutes about which character was going to die. It became not just boring, but off-putting, and that cost a kitteh. Otherwise, it was a pretty great double episode. The end was a satisfying resolution to the season’s storyline. They even kept up with the “anyone taken prisoner by SHIELD is gaurunteed to escape within the hour” continuity from other recent episodes. The writing in this episode was definitely above average for the series with a lot of delightful humor. The little taste of next season at the end was pretty cool. I appreciate that it was enough to make us wonder what is going on, but not a cliffhanger to leave us in agony for months. (More about that in a future post about TLP’s wishlist for season 4.)

Low points: It was obvious to anyone paying attention, as soon as Lincoln said he was going to leave the team and “see the world,” that he would be the agent who died at the end of the episode. I am mentioning this because not only was the gold-cross-as-existential-hot-potato a bit overwrought on its own, it was also an insulting distraction once Lincoln’s fate was so heavily foreshadowed. Without question it was the low point of the two episodes as it took away from the story and even made me hate the writers a bit. In the end, Lincoln does his noble sacrifice, but it felt unecessary. Fry the manual controls, have Daisy quake-crush Hive a bit and carry Lincoln off the jet, leave the jacket behind – and ta-da, Hive dies and we keep a good character. But no, they wanted viewers, and they decided to get them by promising to kill an agent. *sigh*

Highlights: The action and dialogue during the missile base sequence were really great. Mack is a great character, played fantastically by actor Henry Simmons, and he was an ongoing highlight for both episodes. Elena was great too. And we got back good Lincoln, yay! Plus, and I know I said this back at the mid-season finale too, but we finally get to see Ward die (again), and it sure does seem really permanent this time. I liked Hive better than Ward as a character, but despised Ward enough to be glad to see him go again in any form. Speaking of bad guys who needed to go, Fitz – Fitz! – managed to take out Giyera in a move that was definitely a highlight of the last half of the episode. In real life, I wish death on no one, but in fiction I want the villains to get it and get it good. This episode delivered plenty of that.

Dad edits: Yikes, what would even be left of this episode if it was edited for a younger kid? Not much. If my kid were old enough to watch the show, I think a discussion about Daisy’s condition would be interesting and fruitful. Particularly her decision to ask Hive to take her back – that was Agents of SHIELD keeping it real and I was impressed by that. Not much else happened to really talk about, mostly just action. And that’s fine!

Tell TLP what you thought of this episode! Send an email, comment on Facebook, or tweet on Twitter. There is also Tumblr and the comment field below, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

(Click here for previous reviews)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs on ABC on Tuesdays at 9/8c 

There is currently no official trailer for season 4 (and the fan trailers all suck) but this post will be updated whenever one becomes available.

Progressive/Nerd/Parent Review: Agents of SHIELD, “Emancipation”

TLP’s Progressive/nerd/parent reviews contain lots of spoilers and are intended for folks who have already watched the show and are looking for some supplemental commentary and analysis.

From the dept. of "Why didn't we try this sooner?!"
From the dept. of “Why didn’t we try this sooner?!”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 3, Episode 20 “Emancipation”

Bechdel-Wallace Score: 2/3 – May and Simmons discuss Hive (a male) briefly in the computer room. All the other interactions among women are in a large group setting. I miss the May/Simmons dialogue from earlier in the season. That was good stuff.

Shukla Score: 3/3 – Mack and Elena have one of their heart to heart conversations in what I guess is the SHIELD lounge. It is a good scene and earns all three points.

Russo Score: 0/3 – Still no Joey means still no points earned for LGBT representation, which is the obvious downside of having only one LGBT recurring character anywhere on the show.

Kittehs: 😺😺😺/5 – The episode started with an obligatory nod to the events of Civil War  that was handled pretty well. Then it just kind of coasted on expository dialogue and glacial plot development for a while. Then it got thrilling and awesome, with action, story, effects, and a few twists all in the last few minutes (and also, more exposition). It was basically 30ish minutes of two kittehs and 15 minutes of five kittehs, so I am awarding a messy average of three kittehs.

Low points: May actually said “you need to straighten up and fly right.” She actually said those words in that order. Also, yet again, someone escapes from a woefully inadequate and unguarded containment cell. This makes three episodes out of the last five that this has happened. You’d think they’d have a whole SWAT team staged around every cell at this point. This is definitely deep into lazy storytelling territory; people in containment cells make it off of SHIELD’s base more often than the agents do!

Highlights: I don’t know if I already said this or not, but it is great for me as a viewer to finally be able to appreciate actor Brett Dalton on the show. I never liked Grant Ward as a character. He was boring as a SHIELD Ken doll in season one and somehow, against all odds, was even more boring after he was revealed to be a Hydra sleeper agent in season 2. By the beginning of season 3, Ward was both murderous and whiney, neither of which are appealing characteristics. But here we are near the end of season 3 and, ever since Ward became Hive, he has been interesting and even fun to watch. But I digress. Lash was definitely the highlight of the episode, both because his scenes were cool and because the character, who has a problematic power level, was finally killed. In his final act, Lash saves Daisy from Hive, redeeming himself as an inhuman and giving us a last moment with Dr. Andrew Garner (even if we didn’t get to see Blair Underwood in the role again, which would have been really nice).

Dad edits: I don’t watch this show with my kid. Even if he were older and we did watch this show, I’m not sure how much there would be to talk about. Since we are in the final hours of the season, the show is busy wrapping up loose ends and moving pieces into place for the endgame. This always makes for extra thrills and emotional payoffs for regular viewers, but it also necessarily leaves out the kind of philosophical storytelling that made “Spacetime” such a great episode, or the kind of flashback driven character study from “Paradise Lost,” which was another season highlight. Hopefully the finale will provide a bit more parent/child conversation fodder.

Tell TLP what you thought of this episode! Send an email, comment on Facebook, or tweet on Twitter. There is also Tumblr and the comment field below, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

(Click here for previous reviews)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs on ABC on Tuesdays at 9/8c 

Progressive/Nerd/Parent Review: Agents of SHIELD, “Failed Experiments”

Progressive/nerd/parent Review (spoilers!)

From the looks of this dude, Gargamel is in for a world of hurt.
From the looks of this dude, Gargamel is in for a world of hurt.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 3, Episode 19 “Failed Experiments”

Bechdel-Wallace Score: 1/3 – I don’t recall any of the women on the show talking to each other during this episode.

Shukla Score: 3/3 – (Blue dudes don’t count as people of color, just FYI.) Mack and May, again, score three points a little more than ten minutes into the episode (and a few times later on). Mack and Daisy have some moments together towards the end as well.

Russo Score: 0/3 – Sigh. Another zero. Like last week. Please do better.

Kittehs: 😺😺😺😺/5 – This should have been a three, or even two, kitteh episode. But they started with Kree aliens and that kept me glued to the screen until I saw more Kree aliens at the end. So basically the show cheated, but it worked. Four kittehs. MORE ALIENS PLEASE & THANK YOU.

Low points: When the Hydra peeps went Ark-of-the-Covenant on screen, that was gross. Also, Lincoln injecting himself with the serum. Not because he did it at all, but just because it was this week’s “Lincoln is out of control because he loves Daisy” bullshit, and now they’ve added “self-destructive behavior” to the list with “violent rage” of toxic masculine behaviors the show is associating with true love. Boo!

Highlights: Dr. Radcliffe has quickly become the comedic treasure of the show. Fitz and Simmons are really providing a lot of smiles as they keep developing their much overdue romance. May’s seduction/knocking-the-fuck-out of James was all kinds of entertaining. Also, ALIENS! And then aliens fighting people with powers! Hell yes to all that. Daisy and Mack at the end… …I almost put it in low points, because it was heartbreaking. Really though, the two of them delivered the only real drama of the episode and it was compelling. It made Daisy’s swayed-by-Hive storyline worthwhile for the first time and was just very well done.

Dad edits: Meh, not so much. This isn’t a show I watch with my kid and, for the third week in a row, there was a lot of good story movement but not much in the way of stuff to discuss with an older kid. I mean, there is the obvious “don’t sign up for a medical experiment in an abandoned town,” but that really should be part of the basic stranger-danger conversation, not its own separate discussion.

Tell TLP what you thought of this episode! Send an email, comment on Facebook, or tweet on Twitter. There is also Tumblr and the comment field below, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

(Click here for previous reviews)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs on ABC on Tuesdays at 9/8c 

Progressive/Nerd/Parent Review: Agents of SHIELD, “The Singularity”

Progressive/nerd/parent Review (spoilers!)

Okay, I admit it: I would have loved just an hour of these two dressed up and flirting.
Okay, I admit it: I would have loved just an hour of these two dressed up and flirting.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 3, Episode 18 “The Singularity”

Bechdel-Wallace Score: 3/3 – May and Simmons discuss whether or not Simmons should carry a gun and how she knows when to use it. Distasteful subject matter to me, but it earns three points.

Shukla Score: 3/3 – The episode opens with exposition between May and Mack about the state of the base and the team after the closing events of the previous episode, which earns three points. Not much else in the episode, though.

Russo Score: 0/3 – Alas, no Joey, no Russo points. The show either needs an LGBT regular or a lot more LGBT guest stars (please, go with a regular).

Kittehs: 😺😺😺/5 – Sooner or later, after “Spacetime” and “Paradise Lost” being abnormally strong episodes, the show had to have an average episode. This was it. The season arc moved, Lincoln’s arc moved, Daisy’s new arc moved, but nothing especially gripping happened. I found my mind wandering too often for the episode to be awarded more than three kittehs for engagement.

Low points: So the new thing is Lincoln is a wild child who can’t control his rage. I would find this compelling if it wasn’t being presented part and parcel with his love of Daisy and desire to see her again. Here is a tip for writers: don’t ever make a man’s rage in service of something noble. That isn’t what happens in real life when men rage. Ever. Plus, I liked Lincoln as the mostly-gentle type he used to be. But c’est la vie.

Highlights: The suicide/murder vest conversation was morbidly hilarious. The Fitz/Simmons scenes are fun. Simmons said “sex!” They talked about sex. It shouldn’t be such a big thing, but I suppose it is (nerds on network TV, after all). And really, the Fitz/Simmons relationship as well as what their pursuit of Dr. Radcliffe were the only higlights of an otherwise perfunctory episode. Oh wait! Simmons shooting Hive/Ward a few times – that brought a smile to my face.

Dad edits: Yeah, I got nothing. Kid is too young to watch this show and I can’t find any theme in the episode that would make for good philosophical discussion if he was older. It was just a fun hour of TV, nothing more. (And that’s fine!)

Tell TLP what you thought of this episode! Send an email, comment on Facebook, or tweet on Twitter. There is also Tumblr and the comment field below, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

(Click here for previous reviews)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs on ABC on Tuesdays at 9/8c 

Progressive/Nerd/Parent Review: Agents of SHIELD, “The Team”

Progressive/nerd/parent Review (spoilers!)

AoSs3ep18
I don’t have superpowers, but just FYI to anyone looking, I will sign up for any team/league/whatever that provides flattering black jumpsuits.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 3, Episode 17 “The Team”

Bechdel-Wallace Score: 2.5/3 – Technically Simmons tells May she can’t move and May is all like “whatever I can fly,” but it is dialogue that could have been between any two characters and was in a room full of people. I’m only awarding the 2.5 points because the room was half full of badass women. (Same goes for later Daisy/Elena dialogue.)

Shukla Score: 3/3 – Several scenes in this episode could score three points, but the first to do so without question is Joey and Elena in the elevator, talking about Joey’s ruined date, in Spanish. Mack talking to Elena (also in Spanish) is a close second place for best Shukla scoring scene.

Russo Score: 3/3 – Yay they did better this week! We got to see Joey be crucial to the whole episode and even first showed up while out on a date. Yes, his date was ruined by the call to duty, but the thing wasn’t underplayed or overplayed, just a gay man on a date.

Kittehs: 😺😺😺😺/5 – Gotta give some credit – two minutes into the episode, there is a meeting among the proto-Secret Warriors team that is: 50% women, 25% LGBT, and 75% non-white. This shouldn’t be a big deal and it shouldn’t be just for one episode, but the reality is that this is no small deal even if just for one episode. And on top of the way better than usual representation, a great story was told, with a four kitteh level of engagement. Nice job Agents of SHIELD, y’all have really hit your stride.

Low points: I don’t find it to be good storytelling when Coulson doesn’t tell Daisy et al., what is going on. Sure, if he had then the episode would only have been twenty minutes long and Daisy wouldn’t have gotten away, but it still would’ve been better storytelling from the standpoint of believable character behavior. Also, let us once again note that SHIELD’s containment pods seem to be woefully undersurveilled, which is kind of amazing considering that this is an intelligence organization. Especially after last week’s seatbelt buckle escape, it seems like they’d have figured out that some eyeballs and a tazer would be good to have nearby any containment unit.

Highlights: Well let’s be honest, as good as this show is when it is focused on the regular people, Agents of SHIELD is at its best when people with superpowers are kicking ass. And there was plenty of that this episode. The banter among the inhuman team of Daisy, Lincoln, Elena, and Joey was a real treat as well, especially later in the episode. The first 10 minutes of the show really were the best, including the regular human-folk holding fort in the supply room. Later on, other good things happened, with a highlight probably being Daisy doing away with Malick. That guy had it coming and I always like to see a bad guy get what’s coming. Best moment: Elena’s self-translation of what she said to Joey as “Screw SHIELD” – priceless 😂. Oh wait! How could I forget?! Fitz and Simmons! It is so nice the show is finally getting them together and letting us spend a few minutes each episode enjoying all that.

Dad edits: Well for sure we would revisit the conversation about whether or not you should sell people something called “containment pods” if they don’t, you know, contain things. At any rate, I don’t watch this show with my kid, but can’t think of much in the episode to discuss with him if he were older and we did watch it together. Fun to watch, just not much to discuss. Except maybe this: communicating with people is always a better option that hiding things from them.

Tell TLP what you thought of this episode! Send an email, comment on Facebook, or tweet on Twitter. There is also Tumblr and the comment field below, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

(Click here for previous reviews)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs on ABC on Tuesdays at 9/8c 

Progressive/Nerd/Parent Review: Agents of SHIELD, “Paradise Lost”

Progressive/nerd/parent Review (spoilers!)

AoSs3ep16
Being heirs of a vast fortune and power over an international organization is clearly rough. So rough.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 3, Episode 16 “Paradise Lost”

Bechdel-Wallace Score: 2.5/3 – Some combination of May, Simmons, and Daisy have dialogue as part of larger group scenes a couple of times during the episode. (I only award all three points if two women talk to each other alone, even if just for a moment.)

Shukla Score: 3/3 – Daisy and Mack shared several lines of personal and plot related dialogue early in the episode.

Russo Score: 0/3 – Seriously how hard is it to just have on single LGBT series regular? Just do it already. My zero key is tired and LGBT fans everywhere deserve more. Do better.

Kittehs: 😺😺😺😺/5 – Following on the heels of “Spacetime” is not an easy task for any episode, but “Paradise Lost” did it well. The episode managed to advance the overall season’s plot arc, introduce a new character, and provide character development for both Gideon and Hive. Four kittehs because, for the most part, I couldn’t turn away.

Low points: Giyera’s escape was seriously lazy, bad storytelling, let me count the ways: nobody bothers to watch a super dangerous inhuman in a containment pod; a fucking seatbelt buckle is strong enough to pry the doors slightly open; said doors are apparently easy to fully open once cracked (reminder: this is a pod meant to contain the most dangerous beings on the planet); Coulson, who watched the guy give May a run for her money earlier, tries to go fisticuffs with the fellow; Giyera, whose power we have been reminded this very episode only works on line of sight, is able to move the controls in the cockpit that he cannot see; Giyera is appareantly immune to the various laws of physics that negatively impacted everyone else on the plane during its tumultuous descent. I think that about covers it.

Highlights: The backstory on the Malick family, which also ended up providing some development of Hive’s powers/memory retention, was really well done and compelling. Powers Booth really does a great job playing Gideon as the character is caught in a vice of his guilt about the past and fear of the future he was shown in “Spacetime.” Still he seems to relish his role as a father in the present, at least until Hive/Ward/Little Bro Malick kills her. This wasn’t a highlight in the sense of being fun, but it was compelling storytelling and really good acting.

Dad edits: I don’t watch this show with my kid (way too young). If I did, we would talk about professional integrity and how you should always build containment doors that can contain things like, say, seatbelt buckles – or just get out of the business. We also might talk about how fear of death is one of the only things that can give love of family a run for its money in this world. Also, don’t kiss alien boys with parasite tongues. Bad news there.

Tell TLP what you thought of this episode! Send an email, comment on Facebook, or tweet on Twitter. There is also Tumblr and the comment field below, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

(Click here for previous reviews)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs on ABC on Tuesdays at 9/8c 

Supergirl: Progressive/Nerd/Parent Season 1 Recap & Season 2 Wishlist

TLP’s Progressive/Nerd/Parent recap of Supergirl season 1, wishlist for what we’d like to see in season 2, and the current news about the show’s next season.

In season 2, it would be nice to see the writers develop the character beyond "Ally McBeal with laser vision."
In season 2, it would be nice to see the writers develop the character beyond “Ally McBeal with laser vision.”

Supergirl Season 1 Progressive/Nerd/Parent Recap:

(This only includes the episodes TLP reviewed, which are numbers 6, 7, and 9 – 20)

Bechdel-Wallace Scores: Average 3/3 – Highest  3+/3 (episodes 6 & 9) – Lowest 2.5/3 (episodes 7 & 12)

Shukla Scores: Average 1.5/3 – Highest 3/3 (episodes 13 & 16) – Lowest 0/3 (episode 18)

Russo Scores: Average 0/3 – Highest 0/3 – Lowest 0/3

Kittehs: Average 😺😺😺/5 – Highest 😻😺😿😾😺/5 (episode 13) – Lowest 😾/5 (episode 19)

Low points: The award for worst episode goes, hands down, to the penultimate episode of the season, Myriad. The worst storytelling decisions during the season were, in no particular order: Winn and Kara having a no good, very bad, completely terrible relationship; the way the DEO gradually became a hybrid of top secret government agency and The Max (the diner where the kids and their friends all hung out on Saved by the Bell); anything involving, or not involving, Superman. (I will elaborate on all these points, and the problematic representation scores, in the season 2 wishlist below.)

Highlights: The award for best episode goes to number 13, For the Girl Who Has Everything, with World’s Finest and Falling tied for second place. The best storytelling and/or performances of the season, in no particular order: Melissa Benoist as Kara Zor-El / Supergirl / Kara Danvers & Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant – both were fantastic all season long; while the romance between Kara and Jimmy formed seemingly out of nowhere, and the Lucy/Jimmy stuff was weird, it was nonetheless pretty great that Kara and Jimmy got it together right before the end of the season; bringing J’onn J’onzz onto the show was both smart and tons of fun; the crossover episode with the Flash was a blast.

Dad edits: The show was very kid friendly (if you’re okay with standard superhero type fighting scenes, which we are). There were a handful of moments all season long that just needed to be skipped over for my young kind, but most of the trouble he had with the show came from times when the plot was just too erratic for him to follow. That’s not an age thing, either – even a lot of the story is over his head, he can still basically find and follow the conflicts driving the plot. The episodes full of plot holes were the episodes that left him bored, disengaged, or asking questions. There was also a lot more gun play that I would prefer my kid see; the show deserves some credit, but only a little, for showing guns racked or holstered much more often than fired. Still – there is a Kryptonian on your team, and your enemy is impervious to bullets. Put the guns away, people!

Supergirl Season 2 News:

The series is moving from CBS to The CW for season 2 for reasons having to do with money and/or The CW being more watched by viewers in Supergirl’s target demographic (read: young folks).

Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman on TV in the 1970s, has been cast to play the President of the United States for an unknown number of episodes during season 2.

Sadly, it seems Calista Flockhart’s character, Cat Grant, may not be a series regular now that the show has moved to The CW.

An actor named Tyler Hoechlin will be portraying Superman for the first two episodes of the season.

We also know that Supergirl season 2 will premiere on The CW at 8pm on Monday, October 10th, 2016. That link also has some other miscellaneous casting news and new character speculation.

We also know that there will be at least one crossover story spanning episodes of all four DC superhero shows on The CW next year, holy shit!

(This post will be updated as more news about season 2 becomes available.)

Supergirl Season 2 Progressive/Nerd/Parent Wishlist:

SupergirlTawnyCypress
“It’s time to stop talking and start acting.” Or in this case, stop talking and start casting.

Representation: So the Russo score of zero – ZERO – in every episode is unacceptable. The Shukla score of 1 in almost every episode is much better than zero but still not nearly good enough. The Bechdel-Wallace scores are impressive, unless you reimagine the test as the Bechdel-Wallace-Hooks test, and then you realize the scores would drop to zero. There are most certainly LGBTQ people of all genders and ages in National City, there must be more people of color in National City, and some of those people of color must be women. We need to see more of all of them on the show in season 2. A lot more.

Just getting to the point where the show even represents national averages of LGBTQ and/or people of color would be a start, but remember some of these folks need to be superheros and some of them need to be series regulars, too. As mentioned above, we know that Lynda Carter of Wonder Woman fame will play the President in season 2. The show is giving itself a pat on the back for this, but who cares? We are about to have an actual woman be actual President. The series gets some credit for having Tawny Cypress play Senator Miranda Crane in an episode or two during season 1, but again we are about to have an actual black woman be an actual Senator soon in real life, too. Sure, Hillary Clinton would be the first woman President and Kamala Harris would be only the second black woman to be a Senator, but my point is that Supergirl should stop giving itself a pat on the back for barely keeping up with current events and start pushing ahead to show us our real lives, which involve strong LGBTQ and people of color as members of, and leaders in, our communities. Television is a place where it is possible to show that reality sooner than can be done in the uppermost echelons of elite position and influence in our society. So please, get to it!

SupergirlSupermanProblem
This is the perfect visual representation of the show’s Superman Problem.

Fix the Superman Problem: In season 2 of the (excellent) animated series Young Justice, the core members of the Justice League (Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, etc) have to leave Earth to face trial for attacking a planet while they were being mind-controlled at the end of season 1. All season long, when the Young Justice team seemed in over their heads, there was always a good answer to the question “hey where is the Justice League?”

Supergirl never – not one single time – pulled this off in season 1. Superman either went unmentioned, showed up on instant message to say he wasn’t there because he wants to help Kara trust herself, showed up kind of sort of at the last minute and only for that minute, or – and this was the worst – was inexplicably felled by a mind control device that only effected humans, and then (in the shot above) rendered unconscious by the device being destroyed while all the regular humans were able to go back to their lives. All season long there was an army of Kryptonians plotting to conquer Earth, attacking his cousin, and causing mayhem – and Superman was AWOL the whole time. It was just absurd and distractingly unbelievable.

Since we already know that an actual actor has been cast to actually portray Superman in the first two episodes of season 2, then maybe the showrunners will do some kind of Supergirl/Superman team up that ends up with the Man of Steel having to go off and do something in the cosmos for a while. This would explain his absence for a whole season, no problem (and not for nothing, but they could have done this without an actor in the role for season 1). There is another solution, that I actually like better, but is a lot less likely to happen…

SupergirlArrowverse
Hell yes.

Join the Arrowverse: Season 2 being on The CW allows for more than just a crossover. With Barry Allen having begun something like the Flashpoint event in the final moments of season 2 of The Flash, rewriting some small or large pieces of the continuity of all of these shows is not out of the question. This could fix a lot of problems. We could have a reality where Superman has been gone for years, or was killed by Doomsday, or is a bad guy – all of those things would explain why he isn’t around to help Kara out, but wouldn’t disrupt the Jimmy/Kara storyline (since they would not have met without Supes playing matchmaker). It’s also a chance to bring a lot of good people back to life: Rip Hunter’s kids on Legends; Barry Allen’s dad and some new version of Harrison Wells on The Flash; Shado and/or Laurel Lance on Arrow; and did I mention it could be used to solve the incredibly annoying Superman problem? Yeah, I did, but let me say it again: this could provide a bunch of different ways to solve the Superman problem. Plus it gives a chance to merge Kara Danvers reality from Supergirl with maybe an Arrowverse reality where, unbeknownst to us, Kara has been living, looking for Kal-El, and slowly becoming villainously bitter about her cousin’s fate and the barbarity of human society – Supergirl vs. Power Girl, anyone? (Yes, please!)

This could also solve the representation problem! If you combine the LGBT folks on Arrow with the people of color on The Flash and the women on Supergirl… …well then all of those shows could start getting decently balanced representation scores. (Hey, an SJW fanboy can dream, right?)

There are also downsides to this plan. If Kara/Supergirl were present in the Arrowverse, while it might solve the Superman Problem on Supergirl, it would create a new Supergirl Problem for The Flash and Arrow (with the latter arguably already having a bit of a Flash Problem). Plus there is the risk of recreating the Season-3-Fringe-Problem –  it is one thing to create an alternate universe and ask me to care about other versions of the show’s characters, but it is a whole other thing to replace the original characters AND the mirror universe characters with different versions from an alternate timeline. (I mean, Peter was a great character, but I still miss Originalivia.) Then again, Supergirl, has only had one season, and all the continuity changes could be explained away in one or two scenes of expository dialogue without much change to the defining events or characteristics of the regular characters.

I really hope somebody, somewhere is considering this. It would be great to see a Justice League of some kind form on TV (probably would need a different name to avoid irritating the DC/WB movie people). All we need now is to get Gotham to move to The CW on Friday nights and introduce year one Batman. Don’t even get me started on how many problems that could fix!

 

Tell TLP what you think about Supergirl season 2!  Send an email, comment on Facebook, or tweet on Twitter. There is also Tumblr and the comment field below, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

Click here for all of TLP’s Supergirl reviews

Progressive/Nerd/Parent Review: Supergirl, “Better Angels”

Progressive/nerd/parent review (spoilers)

Two of the three best characters on the show, once again inexplicably without the help of the best character not on the show.
Two of the three best characters on the show (the third is Cat Grant), once again going into battle inexplicably without the help of the best character not on the show (Superman).

Supergirl Season 1, Episode 20 “Better Angels” (spoilers)

Bechdel-Wallace Score: 3/3 – This test was aced by Kara and Alex and/or their mom Eliza right at the beginning of the episode. (Many other scenes aced the test, as well.)

Shukla Score: 1/3 – Olsen and Henshaw/J’onzz figured prominently in the episode and were even in a scene together briefly, but never spoke to each other.

Russo Score: 0/3 – Another zero score for LGBTQ representation this week. I will save my complaints about this for the upcoming season recap & look ahead to season 2.

Kittehs: 😾😾😾/5 – Three unhappy kittehs. Remember, the kitteh rating is about engagement more than quality per se. I was engaged and curious to know what would happen, even if I was seriously bothered by many of the storytelling choices, during this episode. Certainly it was more engaging than the previous week’s shit show.

Low points: Sandwiched in between the episode’s highlights (we’ll get to those in a minute), the low points of this episode were all to be found in between when Kara defeats Non and when she goes back to work. Alex, in the process of having her brain fried, would not suddenly learn how to pilot Kara’s old shuttle, move it into a launchable position, fix the damage done to it during the previous episode, being able to locate Kara in space, have anyway of getting Kara into the shuttle with her, or any knowledge of how to successfully re-enter the atmosphere and land. That was just some serious bullshit. Next up, Henshaw/J’onzz being pardoned is believable – but his being reinstated as director of the DEO is just absurd. This isn’t an episode of Full House, we don’t just have an “everything goes back to how it was and we eat ice cream yay” moment at the end. Maxwell Lord’s redemption also didn’t ever sit well with me – and I am somebody who likes redemption, I forgave and came to adore Gaius Baltar, ffs – and so that was another low point in my mind. Also, if you ask me, the cliffhanger at the end was unwelcome. I guess at some level I actually prefer the “everybody is happy and we eat ice cream drink champagne yay” moment over a needless tease.

Highlights: Well it was a weak episode with many problems, but one highlight was just how much better it was than the previous episode. Also Kara’s defeat of Non, while not especially thrilling, was very satisfying. Fast forward past the next few scenes and we get to Cat Grant and Kara having one of their best scenes, which are by far the best thing about the show, as Cat gives Kara a write-her-own-ticket promotion. Finally, Jimmy Olsen and Kara finally got it together. While I have been critical of the writing of their relationship over the course of the season, I am nonetheless glad as a viewer that the two of them are together now instead of just circling each other. I really think TV shows can create more and better drama out of ongoing relationships than out of on/off relationships.

Dad edits: The moment when J’onn J’onzz tears apart Indigo with his bare Martian hands is a bit dicey, both because it is rough and because women always get the worst of the violence on TV shows. We skipped over that little bit. Otherwise it was fine, but one way I know the plot was weak is that the kid asked a lot more questions than usual to try to understand what was happening.

Tell TLP what you think of this episode!  Send an email, comment on Facebook, or tweet on Twitter. There is also Tumblr and the comment field below, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

Click here for all of TLP’s Supergirl reviews

Supergirl season 2 will be airing on The CW beginning this Fall (2016)