Film Surf Report: Disney Fables Are Still A Man’s World Even When It’s A Girl’s


Santa Monica, CA — Disney has a curious problem with its Princesses:  Their stories are being told from a man’s POV.

Tale as old as Time: Fairy Tale about a young girl is adapted for the big screen by male screenwriter and male director because, if anyone knows about what it’s like to be a young girl, it’s Men.  Am I right, ladies?

Hold up. 

Of course, there’s more to Disney’s latest box office hit: The live-action version of Beauty & the Beast which hit theatres March 17th and stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, and Luke Evans.

There’s singing, dancing, and danger! Women know nothing of these things.  There’s no way that someone like Barbra Streisand could have directed this film.

I am half-joking, but only to prove a point.

Disney hired Bill Condon (Twilight: Breaking Dawn; Chicago) to direct from a script by Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which starred Watson).  Condon is a terrific filmmaker. Chbosky is a wonderful writer. Their version of Beauty & the Beast should be outstanding.

Will audiences embrace this new take on the beloved Disney classic (which itself is an adaptation of many iterations of similar stories)?

Greek Myths. French Fables. Germanic Fairy Tales.  Beauty & the Beast has been thoroughly adapted by men and women.  I am curious to see Chbosky’s version featuring Watson who is a self-declared Feminist and a leader of her generation.

Will Belle change herself, give up her life to be with a Man?  Will she stop reading in order to be in Love? The trailer looks fantastic:


And why did Disney choose Men to write and direct this female-centric story instead of a Woman, especially in an era when there are plenty of female writers and directors available for the job?  The Studio has a recent history of hiring Men to helm its live-action remakes of its treasured animated classic films.

Kenneth Branagh, who did a bang-up job directing Thor for Disney/Marvel, directed Cinderella, the studio’s latest hit live-action adaptation of an animated classic film.  Chris Weitz (About A Boy) wrote the screenplay adaptation.  These guys are terrific filmmakers and storytellers, and yet, the story in question is that of a young girl.

Maleficent, the origin story of the witch featured in Sleeping Beauty, was directed by Robert Stromberg but written by Linda Woolverton (Lifetime’s upcoming Clan of the Cave Bear miniseries) and re-written by Charles Perrault.  At least, there was one woman in the mix.  There’s a sequel in the pipeline, as well.

emma-watson-beauty-and-the-beast          MALEFICENT

Alice in Wonderland, the 2010 film was directed by Tim Burton from a screenplay by Linda Woolverton, who seems to be the lone female screenwriter with a track record in this genre.  This film grossed $1 billion.  The 2016 sequel, Through the Looking Glass, from the same auspices, bombed at the box office.

Even Princess Leia (now General Organa) continues to be written and directed by Men as Disney and Lucas Film have hired men, albeit quite talented and capable, to helm the Star Wars franchise which seems to be skewing female with the introduction of Daisy Ridley’s character, Rey, in The Force Awakens.

I, for one, would be really interested to see a woman’s take on the subject matter.  Paging Catherine Hardwicke! Barbra Streisand! Kathryn Bigelow!

I had a very memorable conversation with a woman friend who is also a writer.  I stated categorically that Men can write Women really well (i.e., Joss Whedon), and she had the audacity (!) to correct me, saying, but not from a woman’s point-of-view.

Lightbulbs immediately went on in my male-gendered brain illuminating my own chauvinism.  As great as these iterations are, would a woman tell Cinderella or Belle’s story differently?

I would like to see those versions.


Snow White And The Huntsman, starring Kristen Stewart, was a hit Universal film directed by Rupert Sanders and written by Evan Daugherty and John Lee Hancock.  I would have liked to have seen Kathryn Bigelow’s take on the sequel, The Huntsman.  Instead, visual effects specialist Cedric Nicolas-Troyan made his directorial debut replacing Frank Darabont, who dropped out.  Darabont wrote the screenplay.  The film, which centered on Charlize Theron’s Evil Queen and her sister, was a box office disappointment.

Next up is a live-action version of Mulan, and guess what!  It’s being written by two women: Elizabeth Martin & Lauren Hynek.  Fantastic! Niki Caro (Whale Rider) has since been set to direct.  Progress!


Now that’s a step in the right direction because as we all know, The Future is Female.


N E X T    U P:

Pilot Season.

The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

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Film Surf Report: Audiences with Super Hero Fatigue Syndrome Must Get Used to Universes and 44 Movies by 2020


Santa Monica, CA — Is it Me, or is it getting harder to keep track of all the big franchise super hero flicks these days:  44 movies (and counting) over the next four years?!  This audience member has Super Hero Fatigue Syndrome.

What with Warner Bros. and DC Comics landing Joss Whedon to write/produce/direct a Batgirl standalone film, and Ben Affleck deciding to direct, then not to direct The Batman,  Marvel’s Phase 3 of the MCU racheting up big time, Carrie Fisher’s death altering the course of the Star Wars Extended Universe, and the next four installments in the Harry Potter Universe where we get to see young Dumbledore, et al.

There are a lot of Universes to sort.

Blame it on Marvel Studios and its successful creation of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). Phase One introduced the audience to Iron Man, Captain America, and ThorPhase Two brought us sequels along with a very unexpected hit in Guardians of the GalaxyPhase 3 kicked off with Captain America: Civil War and a successful launch of Doctor Strange, and the MCU will be greatly tested in 2018 with Avengers: Infinity Wars uniting the Avengers with not only Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, but also Star Lord & Co. from GOTG. A projected Phase Four may be a total re-boot of the MCU following Avengers 4 and GOTG3.

Imitation is the highest form of Flattery.

Warner Bros. and DC Comics took notice (along with some Depressants) and stumbled with the uneven Man of Steel followed by the dreadful Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and the groan-inducing but Oscar-winning Suicide Squad.

The studio’s very aggressive DCEU rollout plans include not only a Nightwing standalone film but also a Harley Quinn standalone film, Gotham City Sirens, based on Margot Robbie’s performance in addition to a possible Mel Gibson-directed sequel to Suicide Squad. Ugh.

nightwing   harley-quinn

Fingers are crossed that the highly anticipated Wonder Woman can get the Super Friends back on track in time for Justice League and the Aquaman standalone film.  The Marvel storytelling approach adopted by David Goyer & Co. to the DC Comics characters doesn’t seem to be working.

Lighten Up, DC!  Superman should be fun. Bring back the Legion of Doom!

Supposedly, Henry Cavill will get another solo Superman film.  He deserves a good story, a great villain, and Amy Adams returning as Lois Lane. No script yet for Man of Steel 2, however, Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman) is in talks to direct which is a good sign.


Meanwhile, Tom Cruise kicks off Universal’s Monsters Universe this summer with a new, contemporary take on The Mummy that will open the portal for Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolfman if all goes according to plan.

Showtime’s Penny Dreadful has comprehensively beat these films to the proverbial (and fictional) punch, btw.  Binge-watch. Now.  British. Period. Fantastic. Season One is pretty fantastic. Kudos, John Logan.

X-Men appears to be a bit of a mess following 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse.  Young Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm and Nightcrawler lived to see another day and to carry the torch to the next decade, but will the audience care enough about them without some incarnation (older or younger) of Magneto, Professor X, Beast and Mystique?

Fatigue has set in, I think.  Nonetheless, a Dark Phoenix-centric sequel seems likely in addition to a New Mutants movie set at Xavier’s School for the Gifted.  How will the Sinister Six figure in, I wonder? (An Easter Egg was dropped at the end of Apocalypse.) Fox and Marvel seem hell bent on aging out the old cast (and audience).  Sorry, Ian McKellen & Co.  Really sorry.

Meanwhile, Disney and LucasFilm are riding high following the success of The Force Awakens and Rogue One.  The untimely death of Carrie Fisher underscores the already Must-See factor of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. And the Young Han Solo movie is currently in production.


Paramount and Sony seem to be playing without such heavy hitters on their roster.  Mission Impossible 6 is on the books for 2018, and Henry Cavill has been added to the cast.  And, the James Bond film is currently up for grabs with no less than 5 studios bidding for what looks to be Daniel Craig’s swan song as 007. (Now there’s a Universe just waiting to be stirred, not shaken!). Sony cannot afford to lose that franchise. Lionsgate has yet to launch The Hunger Games extended universe prequels.

Here’s the latest breakdown of what we can expect from Disney & Marvel Studios, Warner Bros. & DC Comics, the Universal Monster Franchise, etc.:

old-logan   cruise-mummy-2017

2 0 1 7:

  • LOGAN, aka Wolverine 3, opened March 3rd.  Hugh Jackman’s last turn culminates with him playing a much older Wolverine and involves a dying Professor X.  It felt like a Must-see film, and audiences turned out to say goodbye. Received great reviews.
  • May 5th  GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXYStar Lord’s father, Thanos, Taser Face, Baby Groot & more! I trust director James Gunn to deliver (again).  Reviews agree that while it’s still fun, the sequel is not as charming as the original. Meanwhile, Gunn has been set to write and direct #3. Here’s the Trailer for 2:
  • June 2nd WONDER WOMAN  High hopes for Gal Gadot’s solo outing.  She was the best thing in Batman Vs Superman. Chris Pine co-stars as her love interest.  Good for him. Super powerful wrist bands are crossed for a good story.
  • June 9th  THE MUMMY  Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe kick off Universal’s Monsters Cinematic Universe that includes Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman.


  • Nov. 3rd  THOR: RAGNORAK A great cast plus The Hulk.  Here’s the very fun and funny second teaser trailer:
  • Nov. 17th  JUSTICE LEAGUE Meta-Humans unite behind Bruce Wayne.
  • Dec. 15th  STAR WARS, EP. VIII: THE LAST JEDI  Answers the question:  Who are Rey’s parents? No General Leia for Ep. IX, so what becomes of her?  Here’s the Trailer which has All The Feels:  //“>Star Wars, Ep. VIII: The Last Jedi
  • Dec. 22nd  This date available!


2 0 1 8:

  • Deadpool 2  June 1st Ryan Reynolds returns with a new director for the foul-mouthed, almost-Oscar nominated sequel and breakout X-men property.  Fox has to get this sequel right in order to launch Strike Force, so expect a set-up.
  • Black Panther   February. Very impressed with Chadwick Bozeman and his introduction in Civil War and have high hopes for the standalone film which boasts a fine cast directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station).  Interested to see the South Korea locations.
  • Infinity Wars Part One    May 4th. Could be way too many Marvel characters going up against Thanos in this one.  Everyone gets short shrift, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Marvel.
  • Ant-Man & Wasp  July 6th Not a fan, so Rudd & Co. gotta win me over. Michael Douglas returns as Hank PymPeyton Reed directs (again).
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming  Tom Holland and Marisa Tomei scored in Civil War and are awarded with a  July 7th release date.  Michael Keaton is the Big Bad.
  • X-Men: New Mutants April 13th. Josh Boone directing a new group of mutants that will likely include Wolfsbane, Rachel Summers, and MagmaJames McAvoy set to return as Professor X.
  • Venom.  Now, this is a head-scratcher to be sure.  Sony has penciled in this Spider-Man villain flick here for Oct. 5th. This is a case of wishful thinking.  Release date, but no script and no casting.  Hopes are not high.
  • Gambit    Channing Tatum seems awfully busy these days.  Is this film happening?  Doug Liman was set to direct with an original release date of October 2016, which clearly did not happen.
  • X-Men: Dark Phoenix  Nov. 2nd  Too soon. I still remember the Famke Janssen version of X3 and young Jean Grey was just okay in Apocalypse. Fox is going to the X-Well once too often, I fear.
  • Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them, Part Two  (November).  David Yates to direct the 2nd of the planned five films in the franchise that will likely culminate in the big duel between Grindewald and a young Dumbledore!
  • Strike Force A team franchise led by Deadpool, Fox will make it work for better or worse (Fantastic Four anyone?).
  • Young Han Solo May 25th or Dec. 13th  Alden Ehrenreich (Hail Caesar!, Beautiful Creatures) seems to be a terrific choice.  Donald Glover co-stars as young Lando Calrissian.  Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton and Emilia Clarke also co-star. Phil Lord and Chris Miller direct.
  • Aquaman Man, I hope Marvel gets it right here.  Jason Momoa looks great holding a trident, confronting Bruce Wayne, etc.  Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman also star. James Wan directs. Inherits the Dec. release date from Avatar 2 which James Cameron pulled.


2 0 1 9:

  • The Batman  Ben Affleck returns. Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, War for the Planet of the Apes) set to direct.  Joe Mangianello is set as Deathstroke, the villain. Frankly, I’d rather see  Bookworm (with Tom Cruise or Colin Firth). Affleck wrote the script with Geoff Johns, however, Reeves is starting over from scratch.  Hence, the delay.
  • Captain Marvel   Okay, Brie Larson.  Ya got your work cut out for ya.
  • Infinity Wars Part Two    Sequel or no sequel.  Will the Russos stick with one film? This film could also become Avengers 4 should a part two not be warranted.
  • Inhumans TV tackles this franchise first.  Hmmm….
  • The Flash  Ezra Miller’s standalone film has been plagued with problems. New script and new director caused the film to get pushed back by a year or more.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming Part Two
  • Shazam!      David F. Sandberg set to direct.
  • Justice League Part Two     Introducing Green Lantern!
  • Fantastic Beasts 3 (November)
  • Star Wars, Ep. IX  December  How will LucasFilm resolve General Leia’s story?



2 0 2 0:

  • Cyborg   Oy.  Can’t say I am really interested.
  • Green Lantern   Hope they take this character seriously and not pull a Deadpool.
  • TBA Marvel Studios x3   Fingers crossed one of these films will be a Black Widow standalone film.  Avengers 4 looks likely to be one of these three films which will lead into a re-boot of the MCU, presumably, with all new, less expensive Avengers.
  • Superman: Man of Steel 2 What villians are left for Superman to battle? No interest in Lex Luthor. Sorry, Jessie Eisenberg.  Too twitchy.  Save this franchise, Matthew Vaughn.  Colin Firth as the villain!
  • Gotham City Sirens Solo outing for Harley Quinn. Who are the other Sirens:  Catwoman? David Ayer set to direct.
  • Nightwing (tent.) Of all the recently announced DCEU films, I am most interested in this Dick Grayson-centric film. Am guessing it’s a prequel of sorts since Robin’s demise is alluded to in BvS. Bill Dubuque (The Accountant, The Judge) scripts. Chris McKay (LEGO Batman) directs.
  • Black Adam The Rock will save both Us and this film. No doubt.
  • Suicide Squad 2 (tent.) Mel Gibson to direct? I would rather see the Legion of Doom.
  • Batgirl (tent.) Barbara Gordon gets her own standalone film courtesy of Joss Whedon
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Will we see the adventures of the original Ravagers and a new mix tape?  This is the 2nd of the three MCU films slated, most likely.
  • Avatar 2: Who Can Remember The First One?


N E X T    U P:

Pilot Season Trends To Watch (or Ignore).

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TV Surf Report: Super Heroes, Sci Fi & Fantasy Still Trending Across Broadcast, Cable and Streaming Services


Santa Monica, CA — Just when you thought the small screen invasion of Super Heroes couldn’t possibly get any more crowded, look no further at the upcoming pilots and series in development featuring more DC Comics and Marvel Studios properties, among others.

Don’t get too attached to NBC’s Powerless, a half-hour comedy set in the DC Universe at a Wayne Enterprises-owned Insurance Company. Anemic ratings do not bode well.  Meanwhile, there’s Neil Gaiman’s American Gods at Starz, and Legion on FX, which has already been picked up for Season 2.  Plus, Netflix has just premiered Iron Fist, the latest Marvel character to be introduced prior to the team franchise debut of The Defenders.

iron-fist    charmed-s1

Trailer for Legion on FX

powerless-group   legion-solo-shot

On the air:

  • Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow at The CW.
  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at ABC.
  • Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher at Netflix.
  • Gotham, Lucifer on FOX.
  • Preacher at AMC.
  • Legion at FX

defenders   watchmen

Pilots in development include:

  • Untitled X-Men Pilot at FOX.  Bryan Singer directs.  Matt Nix (Burn Notice) writes and exec produces this story of a family led by two ordinary parents forced to take their Mutant kids on the run from a hostile government.  They discover an underground network of mutant families while on the lam. Sounds like This Is Us meets Running On Empty…but with Mutants!
  • The Defenders on Netflix.  Series order for the group franchise featuring Marvel’s Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.
  • Inhumans at ABC.  Reportedly, not a spin-off of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Charmed at The CW.  Re-boot of the Aaron Spelling series from the writers of the netlet’s Jane the Virgin.  New set of three sisters in the Northeast in the ’70s.
  • Krypton at SyFy.  David Goyer executive produces this prequel featuring Superman’s grandfather who is an environmental lawyer fighting to save the planet. Poor guy.
  • Cloak & Dagger on Freeform.  Another Marvel property.  Cast just announced.

cloak-and-dagger   squirrel-girl

  • Xena at NBC.  Re-boot written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach seems to have stalled.  G-M is no longer involved.
  • The Passage at FOX.  Okay, this adaptation of Justin Cronin’s fantastically dark novel about genetically created Vampires is not technically super hero-ish, however, the fantastic element, and the quasi-futuristic setting does take it to that Fantasy/Sci Fi realm, so I’ve included it.  Great book.  Highly recommend but it’s disturbing (because it’s so plausible and emotionally troubling).
  • Watchmen at HBO.  Zack Snyder’s feature was creatively not great, but that’s not stopping him from giving it the small screen treatment in a bit of corporate synergy at WB’s sister company.
  • Star Trek: Discovery at CBS All Access.  Series premiere has been delayed but casting is underway. Again, not Super Heroes, yet still super Science Fiction.
  • Squirrel Girl and the New Warriors at Freeform. Series order. Another Marvel property, but this will be a live-action comedy. Premiere set for 2018.
  • Future Man at Hulu.  Seth Rogen exec produces with Josh Hutcherson (Hunger Games).  Janitor by night. Gamer who saves the Universe by day?
  • Black Lightning at The CW.  Pilot commitment.  Greg Berlanti exec produces this DC Comics adaptation.  Project was originally set up at Fox.
  • Warrior at Cinemax.  Bruce Lee’s passion project is directed by Justin Lin.
  • The Tick at Amazon. Creator Ben Edlund’s darker and more grounded take stars Peter Serafinowicz.
  • Marvel’s Runaways at Hulu.  Teenagers on the run from their evil parents.
  • Damage Control at ABC.  Rollover from last year, but probably too late if Powerless succeeds.
  • Star Wars: The Series at ABC.  Get ready for the Star Wars Extended Universe to hit the small screen.



N E X T   U P:

Deadpool. Oscar Nominations. Profanity.


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Film Surf Report: In Praise of LaLa Land And Singing While Stuck On The 405 Freeway

la-la-land-oscar-noms   kcrw-the-treatment-la-la-land

Santa Monica, CA — Sometimes, ya just need to see a “happy” film.  For me, that film is LaLa Land which was nominated for a record-tying 14 Academy Awards. I saw an advance screening in November courtesy of KCRW Radio and have been breaking into song ever since.  (Apologies, Neighbors.)

Old-fashioned yet contemporary, LaLa Land is my favorite film of 2016. The Lionsgate musical just worked for me on every level: Bad Auditions. Hollywood Parties. Piano Bars. Throw in a very charismatic debut performance from John Legend. Add a story twist/nod to Sliding Doors.  This movie had me from its fantastic opening scene:  A traffic jam on a congested LA freeway and Another Day of Sun.

Trailer for LaLa Land

We all need to feel Joyful every once and while, yes? As a resident of Los Angeles, Damien Chazelle’s film strikes several chords for me (pun intended):

LLL d 12 _2433.NEF

Ryan Gosling in Hermosa Beach.

  • It’s set in LA!  That’s the Hermosa Pier upon which the charming Ryan Gosling croons and dances.  I surf there.  Los Angeles has never looked so appealing.
  • Traffic is somehow made Joyous.  How I long to do this on the crowded 405 Freeway at rush hour:  Just get out of the car and burst into song along with the million other drivers not carpooling or taking public transportation.
  • Piano.  I have one.  It’s both old AND out of tune. After seeing LaLa Land, I am getting it tuned and heading back to lessons at Santa Monica College.  My most recent piano tuner has died.  It’s been THAT long.
  • Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling sing and dance like non-Broadway people do.  I like their authentic “realness.”  I don’t want or require perfect pitch or tapping.  Just pleasurable.  They nail it.  Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz discuss their casting process with Kim Masters on KCRW’s The Business, where we learn that at one point, Miles Teller (Whiplash) and Emma Watson were nearly signed to star:

KCRW’s The Business

la-la-land-damien-and-emma    la-la-land-roomies

  • Ryan Gosling plays the piano.  He studied for four months.  I like that. I cannot fathom the nerves he must have felt while shooting this film which must of been something akin to juggling while singing, and then dancing.  Here is a link to a terrific KCRW interview on The Treatment, hosted by Elvis Mitchell, featuring Gosling and Chazelle:

The Treatment Featuring Chazelle and Gosling

  • Hotel piano bars are suddenly very appealing.  I have staked out the perfect lounge in which to play and to sing once I’ve shaken the rust from hands and pipes.  Oh, you’ll get an invite.
  • Hollywood parties are weird.  I recognized myself in the bathroom scene at the party in the Hills where Emma Stone locks herself in the lavatory, looks into the mirror and thinks What the f*ck am I doing here?  I experienced this very sensation quite recently.  Chazelle and Stone discuss this scene, at length, via

That Tricky Hollywood Party Scene

lala-land-fwy    la-la-land-trolley

  • I have been humming City of Stars for months.  I do not envy whomever sings it as the Oscars.  Am curious to see if Gosling and Stone attempt it.  KCRW DJ Chris Douridas is a fan as well, debuting the music on his Saturday night show.  Clearly, my favorite public radio station has embraced this movie, which no one wanted to make.

City of Stars (featuring Gosling & Stone)

     la-la-ryan-and-emma-street   la-la-land-ryan-and-emma-movie

Epilogue – LaLa Land (Justin Hurwitz)

Soundtrack – Extended Version

N E X T    U P:

Why Deadpool Deserved Best Picture & Adapted Screenplay Nominations — #GameChanger #Influencer

deadpool   deadpool-on-bearskin-rug

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TV Surf Report: Family Comedies & Dramas In Heavy Development

this-is-us-babies      fuller-house

Santa Monica, CAThis Is Us is unquestionably an Influencer when it comes to the new crop of scripts in development at the networks and streaming services:  An innovative, deeply moving Family Drama that has captured a loyal viewing audience, after airing only 10+ episodes.

Yesterday, NBC picked up This Is Us for two more seasons of 18 episodes each, which is a huge vote of confidence for a creative and ratings success.  Expect all programmers to take note, shouting down their respective hallways, Where’s our version of This Is Us, dammit?!

Studios, production companies and writers are ready to answer the call.  Expect a lot of Family Comedy and Drama pilots to be greenlighted.  Hot Dads, ready your engines!

this-is-us-beth-and-randall    one-day-at-a-time-netflix

Equally as influential is Netflix’s successful re-boot of Full House, now in production on the Family Comedy’s third season.  The streaming service’s well-reviewed Latina re-boot of One Day At A Time is also garnering lots of attention.

Family, it would seem, is an evergreen development genre.  But, that’s no surprise.  What’s new is the freedom to explore the infinite possibilities of What Makes A Family.  New keywords are:  mixed race, unconventional, political, and nostalgic.

Credit current network stalwarts such as Blackish and Fresh Off the Boat (diversity) as well as The Goldbergs (nostalgic) and The Middle (traditional). Family is funny.

will-grace-revival    charmed-s1

Here are a few heavy hitters to be aware of:

  • Felicity Huffman has a pilot order for Libby & Malcolm, a political family comedy, at ABC.  Courtney B. Vance co-stars as two opposing political pundits marry and share a home.  Kenya Barris & Vijal Patel (black-ish)script and executive produce with Huffman.
  • Fred Savage has sold a mixed race family comedy at NBC.
  • LeBron James and Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) have set up a Cleveland-based family comedy at NBC.
  • Melissa McCarthy has set up an unconventional family comedy at Fox.
  • Elizabeth Banks has set up Something to Celebrate, a family comedy at CBS.
  • Kerry Washington sold Melting Potts, a blended family comedy at ABC.
  • Will & Grace has been ordered for a 10-episode revival at NBC. The groundbreaking Odd Couple knockoff evolved into a non-traditional family comedy that, I predict, will get very political.
  • Sofia Vergara has set up The Classic, a multi-cultural family football drama at ABC.
  • Charmed gets re-booted at The CW with a different set of sisters and a new decade, the ’70s.
  • The Honeymooners gets updated at CBS.



N E X T    U P:

Notes From Park City.


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TV Surf Report: Sherlock — When Great Series Jump The Shark (Or Has It?)


Santa Monica, CA — (Updated 18 January 2017)

Oh, Sherlock.  Or rather, Oy! Sherlock!  I fear my favorite television series of the last five years has succumbed to the inevitable:  Sherlock has Jumped. The. Shark.

PBS’ Masterpiece aired the Series 4 premiere episode on New Years Day…and I was there.  Appointment Television is not yet dead.

The Six Thatchers is not Sherlock at its best, I am sorry to report.

Sherlock: The Six Thatchers

It would be easy to blame the arrival of baby Rosie, however, that would be making a fictitious infant the scapegoat of what happens to all successful series in the latter years of exceptional storytelling:  They become aware of themselves.

So aware, that series co-creator Mark Gatiss’ former light touch at dropping the necessary red herrings becomes quite heavy handed.  And yet, the birth of a baby is never a good sign for a great series. (Looking at you, Once Upon A Time.)

Sherlock. Knows. What. It. Is.

The latest episode, which is the first of three airing as part of Series 4, feels like diluted Fan Fiction: Overly familiar. Annoyingly comedic. Unsatisfying.


The latest incarnation of Mary Watson has been terrific…up until Now.  Amanda Abbington’s portrayal has been fantastic, but it’s not her fault that Mary’s new Past as a super spy catches up with her (and Dr. Watson and Sherlock) in The Six Thatchers.

As foretold in the Prologue, the grim figure of Death awaits.  But, for whom:  Mary? Sherlock? The Series?

The highly unsatisfying conclusion (involving an incredibly lame villain) sets up a darker tone for the next two episodes, which hopefully, pays off the central mystery of the promised return/resurrection of Moriarty who presumably killed himself in Series 3 and has planned a posthumous Game.

Something’s coming.  Maybe it’s Moriarty. Maybe, it’s not.

Now, the writers have saddled Martin Freeman’s John Watson with not only a baby (Murphy Brown flashback, anyone?) but also, a guilty conscience.  Poor Molly and Mrs. Hudson, now they have to make tea and look after a baby as Holmes and Watson head outdoors to investigate Sherlock’s personal demons, whom we are told are after him.


This latest episode, which don’t get me wrong, is still Good TV, makes the time-bending The Abominable Bride now look like the high point in the Series.

I fear it’s all downhill from here for Sherlock. Death awaits.

Series star Benedict Cumberbatch has a new franchise in Marvel’s Dr. Strange following the phenomenal success of the character’s Origin Story feature release in 2016.  The character will next appear in Thor: Ragnorak (November) as well as Infinity Wars (2018).  Cumberbatch’s availability is a big problem for future episodes of Sherlock.

So perhaps, it’s for the for the best that Sherlock gets a much needed Rest for the next few years.  The writers can forward time jump, grow up baby Rosie and send her off to Boarding School, leaving Holmes and Watson to ponder their feelings about one another while chasing more red herrings.

Two more episodes to go. Fingers crossed they are worth this less than stellar set-up. Toby Jones (Captain America, The Hunger Games) shows up as a new foil of some sort in The Lying Detective.

Time to bring back Lara Pulver’s terrific Irene Adler.  She’s also on the big screen in Underworld: Blood Wars.

20 Easter Eggs Hidden in The Six Thatchers

With the very emotionally satisfying The Lying Detective, Sherlock has successfully avoided a Shark Jump.

Writer/Series co-creator Steven Moffat gives a terrific Six Feet Under-esque spin to Episode 2 of Series 4 by utilizing the ghost of Mary Watson to ground a terrific mystery that allows John Watson to regain the emotional heart of the series.

And, Mrs. Hudson!  Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful.

What a complete turnaround in both Tone and Storytelling from The Six Thatchers!

Here is the link to The Lying Detective:

Excellent work all around:  Martin Freeman soars.  Amanda Abbington has never been better and brings a wonderful coda to Mary’s sacrificial death from the previous episode.  Toby Jones is outstandingly sinister as the central villain.

However, the huge twist in the final moments of the episode brings the mystery of What Has Moriarty Done? to new heights.

I love Sherlock.  Bring on The Final Problem.


I spoke (or blogged) too soon as The Final Problem is Sherlock at its manipulative worst:  Shark Jump re-instated.  Oh, well.  221B Baker Street was good, many times great, while it lasted.

Now is the time for Cumberbatch, Freeman & Co. to take a nice, long holiday.  I need a few years to forget this horrible finale.  And, I need to grow out my hair which was sorely tested during this story.

There is enjoyable head-scratching, to be sure.  However, there is a lot of hair-pulling throughout The Final Problem.  And. It. Is. Not. Enjoyable.

Here is the link to the episode:

As emotionally satisfying as I found The Lying Detective, the third and final episode of Series 4, co-written by Gatiss and Moffat, is exactly the opposite:  Infuriating.

Childhood backstories involving Sherlock’s dog, Redbeard. A ludicrous red herring of a little girl trapped on a doomed airplane flight headed towards London.  An inexplicable act of cruelty forced upon beloved Molly Hooper. And finally, the absurd super villainy of new character, Euros.

Why am I here? No one ever tells me.  Am I being punished?  Euros, I know how ya feel.

I miss the sanity of Moriarty.  I could at least follow his thoughts somewhat.  Thanks to a flashback involving Mycroft, viewers are treated to the possibility of his return and then, greatly disappointed.

Moriarty is not the only beloved character to be seemingly resurrected. So manipulative. So unsuccessful.  Shark Jump, indeed.

The resolutions of the many dilemmas in this story are absurd.  I could hardly believe it.  The writers wrote themselves into a corner they could not escape unless they betrayed the audience’s intelligence along with Sherlock’s. And, Dr. Watson’s. And, Mycroft’s.

And then, as a way of Apology, the regretful episode is tied up in a bright, happy, big-picture Bow.  I need a drink.

So long for now, Mr. Holmes.  It is what it is.

N E X T   U P:

Family Comedies and Dramas In Heavy Development.











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Film Surf Report: Carrie Fisher Kicked Butt — The Star Wars Sequel I Always Wanted to See: Princess Leia, Evil Jedi

Santa Monica, CA — (Originally published in December 2015, this post is a favorite and honors the passing of Carrie Fisher, who was one of the first people to “like it” on Twitter. #RIP, Carrie.)

In preparation for the release of the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I recently re-watched the original trilogy of films. After watching Return of …

Source: Film Surf Report: Carrie Fisher Kicked Butt — The Star Wars Sequel I Always Wanted to See: Princess Leia, Evil Jedi

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