Ready for new TV shows yet?

It’s possible I may be watching more TV shows this season, having just reviewed the published schedule for the upcoming Fall season.

Last year, my TV viewing was pretty limited. I regularly watched White Collar, Criminal Minds, Game of Thrones and NCIS/NCIS LA. And, yes, okay, I also was watching cartoons — Ultimate Spiderman, Avengers, The Clone Wars. A couple of these shows, I both watched on TV and subscribed via iTunes (White Collar, Ultimate Spiderman). I knew I would want a permanent copy of them, and I’d rather have the shows in a digital format, to entertain me when traveling and to cut down on the clutter in my home. Although I really wish the deleted scenes could be an option when you subscribe on iTunes — you know, buy the season and when the DVDs come out, we’ll automatically download the extras to you. Maybe someday.

Otherwise, I watched Netflix when I wanted to be entertained, working my way through TV shows I’d never had a chance to see, or rewatching favorite episodes from shows like The West Wing. However, when I looked at this year’s schedule, not only were there several new shoes to interest me, but there were actual timing conflicts between shows I want to watch, which hasn’t happened for at least five years except for a couple of weeks when NCIS LA runs against White Collar (and White Collar wins that one, every time).

So what will I be watching this upcoming year?

Monday, FOX will be running a show called Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod Crane — and the Headless Horseman — wake up in our time. Headless is apparently another kind of Horseman — as in, a rider for the Apocalypse — and Ichabod must battle him and save Sleepy Hollow. Could be a good show, could be wretchedly horrible, but it’s got an interesting premise at least.

Tuesday I will be planted in front of the TV for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. There is no way on this or any other planet I would miss that show — Agent Coulson returns from the dead! (You knew Fury was a lying liar who lies, right?). I’ll also be subscribing to it on iTunes, if that’s an option. And in a rare move for me, buying the DVDs once they come out. What can I say, I’m a comics girl and a Marvel comics girl in particular. Also a devoted member of the Coulson fan club.

The show runs at 8 pm on ABC, though, which is going to conflict with CBS’s NCIS. And I’m sorry, Gibbs, Ducky and all — Marvel wins on this one; your show will have to be either recorded or more likely, pulled off On Demand. I’ll switch over to USA for White Collar when it’s on, or CBS for NCIS LA when White Collar’s on break or running at 10 pm.

Wednesday gives me another pair of conflicts. Because I was promoted at work last year, I missed the premieres of Arrow and Revolution. I finally caught up with Arrow mid-season, and I really liked it (what can I say, comics girl whose first love was Hawkeye, alright?). So I’d planned to watch Arrow again this year, and possibly Revolution as well, once I’d worked my way through the first season and decided if I enjoyed it enough to devote time to it.

Wouldn’t you know it, they’ve put the two shows up against one another at 8 pm. Arrow will probably win out.

And then, I’ve got another choice to make. I’ve been watching Criminal Minds on CBS since the second season, when Lost did its many-months-long mid-season break and lost a bunch of viewers, including me. Naturally, at the same time comes The Tomorrow People, a remake of a venerated British show. The Tomorrow People are the next evolution of humanity — men and women who come into their powers of telekinesis, telepathy, teleportation around puberty. Sound familiar, Marvel fans? The name tomorrow people has been used by Marvel to describe the X-Men. So now I have to chose between a show that I love and I show I suspect I will love. Ah, well, at least I won’t be bored, right?

Thursday, there’s The Big Bang Theory and then nothing much.

Friday, and I cannot believe I’m actually saying this, I may seriously have to watch Dracula on NBC. It’s a different take (supposedly), where the infamous vampire is more of a hero, or at least not so much of a bad guy. Dracula was actually the first ‘horror’ book I ever read, and I think I imprinted on it. I’ve caught every movie and TV remake, religiously, no matter how badly written, terribly acted and/or outrageous the plot. I can’t stop now.

Saturday, nothing and I’m not usually home anyway, and Sunday, there’s nothing all that much interesting (to me) except for Spiderman. I’ll catch the occasional episode of something on PBS, and Game of Thrones when it returns.

But seriously, if I follow this schedule, I’ll be watching twice as much TV as I did last year, the exact opposite of the reputed national trend toward watching less TV each year.

What can I say, I’m a rebel who’s never followed a trend in her life.


Is Hawkeye in Avengers 2?!?

From an article on the BBC app announcing that Robert Downey Jr. will return for Avengers 2 and 3:

Downey, 48, was one of the main stars of 2012’s Avengers Assemble, which united superhero characters Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Thor and the Black Widow, as played by Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson respectively.

All four of the stars are expected to join Downey Jr in the forthcoming films.

A statement on the Marvel website said Avengers 2 will feature “favourites from the first Avengers film and new Marvel characters never before seen on the big screen.”

Okay. First, there were SIX superheroes in Avengers — and Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner, was the sixth. Suddenly, no mention of him — which is either sloppy journalism or a reason for me to become very annoyed and/or concerned.

Because, second, I’m a Hawkeye fan since forever, and if they add in some new characters and leave him out — well, I’m going to be extremely annoyed, maybe even to the point of NOT seeing the film. Or seeing it only once, on the regular screen, instead of the marathon IMAX, 3D, multiple viewings. And under my new rules of life — possibly not even buying merchandise from the film. Because seriously, life is too short to waste on things that annoy me.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. novels

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. novels and short stories need to be digitized.  Someone, please, put them into an e-pub or mobi format, make them formally available on Kindle/Nook, pdf them as a last resort.

Because they’re simply too much fun to languish in obscurity. 

And they should do it now, as, once again, there are plans afoot to make a movie about this wonderful show.

I discovered The Man From U.N.C.L.E. years ago, when someone had me watch a few episodes he had on tape, and immediately I was smitten.  It had a unique format for its time — an American (Napoleon Solo, played by Robert Vaughn) and a Russian (Illya Kuryakin, played by David McCallum), at the height of the Cold War, working together in a multi-national agency (the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) to protect the world from harm.  Ian Fleming, the creator of “Bond, James Bond,” was involved in crafting the show’s premise, which was originally to center around Solo — although that had to be altered when David McCallum’s character attracted the attention of fans.

I understand that UNCLE was the inspiration for my beloved SHIELD (of Marvel comics fame), which is itself soon to be a TV show in its own right.   

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. only ran for four years in the mid-1960’s, spinning off a short-lived sister show, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.  After being unavailable for years, the episodes finally were released on DVD and then digitally.  I promptly bought the DVDs, and as part of my decluttering, I’m slowly adding the digital versions on my iTunes account.  Although some people dislike the latter part of the second season and the third season for being more campy and outlandish, the show overall is one that is always fun to watch, feature interesting characters (including the ‘innocent of the week’) and a number of well-known actor guest-stars.  Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner appeared in the same episode — two years before they created sci-fi history in Star Trek.

It’s one of those shows where every episode has something in it that I like.  The action, the plot (no matter how outrageous) or simply the snarky commentary by Kuryakin and Solo.  Literally, there isn’t an episode that I don’t enjoy.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. had a number of merchandise tie-ins — games, toys, action figures (I hope to someday see one of those!), comics (I actually have found some, courtesy of my local comics store, and will, I vow, have them all!), and above all, novels and a monthly magazine that featured original stories about Solo and Kuryakin.

And it is those stories I want to be able to read in a digital format.

Altogether, there were 23 tie-in novels (well, 24 really, but more on that in a bit), and a number of short stories published over 2 years in the monthly magazine.  There were also a couple of books published for The Girl, a standalone called ‘the ABCs of Espionage’, etc.   And with one exception, none of them are available in a digital format.

And that’s a shame, because if you liked the series, you really do need to read the books.  As a rule, they generally followed the format of the show (even down to having the requisite ‘innocent’ character to be placed in danger, and calling each book ‘The (insert name) Affair’, just as almost every episode was named an ‘affair’).  The books were more explicit than the show in how they depicted the violence of a ‘spy’s life’), and in my opinion, you really do have to read them to have the full ‘UNCLE’ experience.

My personal favorite is book number 6,  The Vampire AffairAn UNCLE agent is found dead in a forest in Transylvania, drained of blood.  Napoleon and Illya are dispatched to investigate and along the way meet the descendant of Dracula.  The ending is a killer — in that they may actually have been dealing with a real vampire!

Over the years, through used bookstores and yard-sales, I’ve managed to get most of the 23 published books.  I’m still hunting for 19, 20, 22 and 23, as well as the books from The Girl.  I can always pick them up off Amazon, although the books I’m searching for can be rather expensive, as there seem to have been fewer of them published.  There was a 24th novel planned, but the series was cancelled and so it never made it into formal publication.  At some point, it ended up published as a pdf file online, and I’ve since managed to snag that file.  I’ve even come up with a few of the magazines.

But, as carefully as you care for these books, they are 50+ years old.  And while my copies still are tightly-bound in their bindings, the pages are discoloring, and eventually, they’re going to begin crumbling.

And so I need them in a digital format, where I can indulge in reading them without worrying that a fragile page is going to rip.  While we’re at it, someone needs to gather the short stories/novellas published in the magazines in one place as well.

Especially since, it seems, we may sometime in the next few years actually get a movie version of the show.  There’ve been a number of attempts to get one filmed, but they always seem to fall through.  But given the recent popularity of films based off classic TV shows, it might be time for Napoleon and Illya to make their triumphant return, either as a remake in 1960’s style, or an updated version of the show.

Just as long as they pull the books and stories into digital print along with them.

A Perfect Match

Godzilla + Marvel comics = Perfection. Two of my favorite things in one place. How did I miss this one?


Yes, you are seeing Godzilla fighting a rat.

No, the rat isn’t a giant prehistoric rat mutated by radiation.

Godzilla has been shrumk.

By Marvel comics’ Pym particles.


I adore Godzilla — I once passed an entire winter weekend, snowed in, watching every film in order. And as you probably already know, I love Marvel comics as well. But somehow, I managed to miss the fact that Marvel had published 24 issues of Godzilla, King of the Monsters. Until, that is, the wonderful people at Showcase Comics, knowing my love for the Great Giant Lizard of Doom, mentioned that there was this comic with Godzilla fighting a rat. A teeny, tiny Godzilla. I bought it — and wow.  There’s S.H.I.E.L.D.! And Dum-Dum Dugan! And a helicarrier of sorts dedicated to hunting down monsters!

And of course, there’s Godzilla, who’s suffered the indignity of being shrunk, although it’s so he can be safely relocated elsewhere. But that goes awry (of course it does, it’s a comic, when does any operation like this one go smoothly in the comics!?!).  He gets dumped into the river and ends up washed into the sewers of New York City. Once there, he has to face down the foulest monster the city has bred — a rat. Poor ‘Zilla. And poor rat, suffering the delusion that it could defeat Godzilla.

I absolutely have to find the rest of this series. Wikipedia tells me that the series was gathered into a trade paperback, and if I can’t find the individual issues, I’ll have to settle for that book. Still, it’s Godzilla. And Marvel. Together.

Let’s hear it for crossovers!


(and again, meant for Sunday, March 10th, but work!)

Alas, Marvel

Oh Marvel, why did you have to screw up my digital comics addiction?

I love comics.  Oh, I love books, and movies, and TV shows as well.  But comics are different.

The books I like run the gamut from entertaining and funny to self-improving and thought-provoking.  My favorite movies and TV shows are tear-jerking, soul-rending, heart-stopping and sometimes outright terrifying.  But comics?  Comics combine all those emotions with laughter and comfort.  Comics take me back to simpler times, when I could count on my heroes to to solve every problem while quipping one-liners.

I race to comics when I’ve had a particularly nasty day, because where else can I get a quick emotional boost and a thorough distraction in less than 40 pages?  And above all comics, I worship Marvel.  Truly.  But this latest redesign of their website — forget it.  I’ve seen new Microsoft products with fewer bugs and less customer irritation.

Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited was a wonderful feature that fit perfectly into my ‘digitize’ mantra.  Thousands of back issues, neatly formatted for a convenient reader.  I could track what I’d read, mark comics to read in the future, toggle easily from one comic into the next in the series.  If I was eager to read more about Hawkeye I would just search the character.  And if I wanted to revisit the Secret Invasion, I could just search for the series.

I have a subscription to MDCU.  Had.  Have — at least until I call the bank tomorrow and ask about reversing the charge.  You see, Marvel ‘improved’ MDCU, transforming it into the new “Marvel Unlimited.”

Improved it as in removed the features that made it enjoyable and transformed it into something so impossible to use that I’m essentially paying for something with little resemblance to what I thought I was buying.

Rather like paying for a new pair of Manolos and getting the left shoe from a used pair of low-budget sneakers.

I can’t even begin to list the problems I’ve found in trying to use it — that is, when the website isn’t jamming and freezing to the extent I nearly have to physically shut down my computer to get out of it!  No way to record what I’ve read or what I want to read.  No easy way to toggle into the next comic in the series.  The few comics I tried to pull up took so long to load that I gave up and backed out.  When something did load, the new reader did such a poor job of aligning it that I couldn’t read half the print and again backed out.

Useless.  And my resolution for 2013 is to eliminate useless things.

I won’t stop reading comics — but it looks like I’ll be sticking to the print ones now.  And since I’ll be print-only, well, I’ll probably buy fewer Marvel and expand out into other comics.  Been awhile since I read Batman, there’s the new Arrow — time to check out DC and the indies, I think.

Great sigh of sorrow, here.  I really, really wanted their redesign to work.  I loved MDCU.  It was my go-to place.  I had big plans for reading my way through whole series I’d missed.

Guess Netflix will be getting a workout, now.