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FOX Invokes The Holocaust to Promote The Gifted

The Gifted is one of my most anticipated television shows of the fall. Airing on FOX, the show brings Marvel‘s X-Men to the small screen after a half dozen big screen adventures. The story follows a family on the run after they discover the children are mutants.

It’s not too surprising that the show was one of the many properties that was being pushed at this past weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con. Con goers were treated to an ARG like building wrapping on the Hilton Bayfront parking lot urging individuals to be tested and giving a tie-in website fans can check out.

When I first saw the above a quick take was it was nice that someone had ponied up the money to raise HIV testing awareness. That same thought crossed others I chatted with later at the show. It wasn’t until Sunday as I was wrapping up my convention the show’s promotion took a more ominous tone.

Often at the convention the local trains are wrapped with promotions and apparently without thought as to what it invokes FOX chose this promotion for the show.

As someone raised Jewish (not practicing) the visual of trains with bars on the window and the words “Mutant Transport” isn’t something that gets me to want to watch the show, it’s something that gets me to want to turn away and run.

In today’s world with Anti-Semitism front and center (arguably on the rise) in so many ways, it feels like a mistake and obliviousness to invoke the Holocaust to promote your show. This doesn’t say mutant roundup, this screams gas chamber. This isn’t some cheeky promotion like the building wrap, this is a vision of a possible future. Like so many X-Men comics, I flashed a future where I’m on one of those trains.

The Holocaust isn’t something that has to be avoided, Oscar winning films have touched upon the subject, but to use its imagery to sell a television show feels shallow and diminishes the deaths of millions for a cash in, especially when early press has said it has a “Civil Rights” tone. Add in trains like this and Mutants aren’t stand-ins for the Civil Rights Movement or in today’s comics LGBT. Instead the trains make it an allegory for today’s Jews who “hide among” the people and bring doom according to many on both the left and right. In a year where I’ve questioned what I am due to my Jewish roots, Mutant might be the closest to reality. Attempting to hide lest I be run out with pitchforks, burning torches, and avoiding pogroms.

At a convention where so much of it is bright, sunny, inviting, fun, this train wrap wasn’t just a stumble but an outright fumble by a company that has done some impressive marketing surrounding the X franchise.

The Gifted is set to begin airing on October 2, 2017.

TV Review: Gotham S3E21 Heroes Rise: Destiny Calling; Heroes Rise: Heavydirtysoul

season_3_posterWith the deadly virus spreading throughout the city, the search for the antidote continuesl Fish Mooney, The Riddler, and Penguin reveal plans of their own; Bruce meets Ra’s Al Ghul and completes his task; Gordon tries to win back Lee.

Gotham wraps up its third season with two episodes that are ADD with what feels like every major plotline being wrapped up with either lots of violence or just outright killing people.

The entire season has felt a little hapdash with just a lot of plotlines and their coming together towards the end. The Tetch virus is out and Gotham is burning which is a bit too much like Batman Begins.

 

From there, it’s a race to save the city by creating an antidote or gettin getting the one that Strange created, but we know that won’t be easy. Still, the episode leaves me shaking my head that an antidote can be wipped up that quickly and though everyone knows there’s this virus and threat out there, no one has done this preemptively.

But beyond the virus, there’s Bruce meeting Ra’s Al Ghul, predictable to an extent with Bruce committing an act that’s pretty brutal and a bit silly for the person he commits the act against to be so forgiving so quickly. We’ll see more of this in season four because this season was about fast tracking Bruce to be on his way to be Batman… as a 16 year old.

Then there’s Penguin and Riddlers battle and Barbara and everyone else. It’s a lot there and each story feels like it could be an episode unto themselves. But, things are wrapped up pretty well taking care of the major plot points and just getting rid of excess characters. But even for a Schumacher riffed season finale, this was a bit unfocused.

There’s some good, like a reveal about Butch that should be exciting but the entire season feels like it destroys Gotham just so we can get Bruce closer to being Batman. It’s a bit excessive and too much has been packed in giving us a lot but not much of it in a way where it feels satisfying.

The ending is predictable with visuals that play off of so much that has come before with its own twist that just doesn’t work as well, which sums up the season so well.

Overall Rating: 6.35

TV Review: Lucifer S2E18 The Good, the Bad and the Crispy

Lucifer TVAfter Charlotte accidentally charbroils a man to death in self-defense, Lucifer tries to hide it from Chloe; Maze goes looking for Charlotte and Amenadiel; Lucifer tries to find a permanent solution for the ticking time bomb he calls Mom.

Lucifer wraps up its shortened second season with an episode that excellently touches upon all of its plot threads really well and in a way that feels satisfying and at the same time ends things in a way that feels like it’ll be an interesting third season in quite a few ways.

I have no idea where to begin but the plot with heading back to Heaven, his mother, his mother being a lawyer, his mother burning someone, the sword, there’s just a hell of a lot packed in and it flows effortlessly. And, how things are resolved both makes sense and also leaves things open in a way for it all to come back in an epic way.

And what’s impressive is that it does all of that and still moves so many characters’ forward in each their own way. Maze and Amenadiel both stand out as these last couple of episodes feels like they have focused on the two of them and really moved them ahead in so many ways. Maze especially has advanced from just being the muscle of the team and instead she gets some depth.

Then there’s that ending… holy crap does that open up some questions and has me baffled as to where it’s going. While it feels similar to the beginning of this year, I’d imagine that’ll be addressed. Overall, a solid ending for the season that has me even more excited to see what happens next.

Overall Rating: 7.65

TV Review: Gotham S3E20 Heroes Rise: Pretty Hate Machine

season_3_posterGordon races against the clock to save the city from the Alice Tetch virus; Alfred sees a big change in Bruce Wayne after his work with The Shaman; Gotham’s most deranged villains band together.

Gotham takes even more steps back as it begins to wrap up its third season with just a few episodes left. Every storyline you can think is touched upon as the episode bounces around like it can’t keep focus and  changes tone and look at a drop of a hat.

That’s been my biggest issue with the season as it can’t quite figure out what it wants to be, the show with lots of crazy villains, the detective series focused on Gordon and Bullock as cops, Bruce growing into Batman, or all of the above. This episode is an all of the above as the war brews between Penguin’s crew and the Riddler’s. The Shaman confronts the Court of Owls before releasing the virus, and then we get Lee going all crazy and how that plays out with Gordon.

Every plotline feels worse than the last with Lee taking the Tetch virus and enacting her vengeance against Gordon being the worst of them. The resolution had me shaking my head as to where it all goes and what happens. That plotline is the worst of the bunch and that’s saying something as the plot with the Court of Owls is as uninspired as they come being a riff on Batman Begins (though that took inspiration from the comics) and even Ra’s Al Ghul is hinted at.

Then there’s Penguin and his battle with the Riddler with the actual plot feeling like it doesn’t really go anywhere, just the usual fake outs and confrontations that don’t result in anything really. It’s also so different in tone from the rest of the episode it’s almost as if there’s two different shows here.

And that’s the biggest issue of this season. Part of it wants to be the more serious Batman films and part of it wants to be the campier films. And those two things don’t work very well together, at least this show hasn’t successfully made it work.

With just two more episodes left in the season, what looked like a season that was going to end on a high note, actually feels like it’s giving us a finale that’s as much of a mess as the rest of the season.

 

 

Overall Rating: 6.15

TV Review: Lucifer S2E17 Sympathy For the Goddess

Lucifer TVWhen the man who had the final piece of the Flaming Sword is murdered and the piece goes missing, Mom joins Chloe and Lucifer on the case to track down the killer. But when Lucifer gets sidelined, Maze recruits him to help save Dr. Linda’s endangered career and confronts him about the secrets he’s been keeping.

Lucifer is an interesting one in that the episode focuses on Lucifer’s actions in the last episode that have gotten Dr. Linda in trouble and puts her ability to practice at risk.

But, what I think is the most surprising thing about it all is this is a huge episode for Maze. Out of all of the characters, she’s the one who has grown the most in the series and we’ve seen that with her being a roommate, but this episode is where she stands up and stands out because of it. Part of that is because she goes from Lucifer’s enforcer to Linda’s protector in a way and we get the real sense that she enjoys being on Earth and wants to stay. It’s a massive change from the first season and been subtlely down over the seasons in a way that it doesn’t become apparent until here.

The rest of the episode revolves around trying to get the rest of the sword and that ties into the murder. It’s decent but not quite as entertaining as the past. The mystery around Lucifer’s mother is slightly revealed giving us a better idea as to what she’s hiding, but as a whole, this aspect is one of the weaker episodes.

This episode is the Maze show and she stands out from everyone in so many ways. An otherwise meh episode is made solid by her and she steals the show.

Overall Rating: 7.65

TV Review: Gotham S3E19 Heroes Rise: All Will Be Judged

season_3_posterTemple Shaman reveals his hand to Bruce Wayne and sets up the next phase of training. Gordon and Bullock are put into danger as they come across a crystal owl that reveals the most coveted secrets of Gotham’s underworld. Meanwhile, Nygma and Penguin are forced to work together to get out of a tricky situation.

Gotham goes backward with this episode that returns the silly to a point that it’s hard to take seriously and not roll one’s eyes. The Judge has been let loose to take on Gordon and we get a first look at this new get up that… just looks idiotic. A cross between steampunk and the Mask of the Phantasm, the character design just doesn’t fit into the world, which is saying something. With designs in the past that work, and work really well, it makes one wonder why there’s such a divergence from animated versions of the character. The end result is too silly and with Michael Chiklis’ performance not helping at all it takes what were really solid previous episodes.

Then there’s something that happens with Leslie that had me rolling my eyes so hard, it’s difficult to not say this episode drives the car off the road while the last few had righted it so well. That aspect, which I won’t spoil, isn’t something I trust the creators to do right with.

There’s some decent things here though. There’s some reveals involving Bruce and the Temple Shaman that has me going from hating that storyline to actually looking forward to seeing what they plan on doing. But, the biggest surprise is Alfred who steps forward in a way that’s unexpected and gives that character some of the best we’ve seen from him in the entire series.

The episode is a painful one for me to watch, especially since the last few were so good. There’s aspects that just don’t work at all and are presented in a way that loses the vision the series has had for the last few episodes. Hopefully the next episode gets things back on track.

Overall Rating: 6.95

TV Review: Lucifer S2E16 God Johnson

Lucifer TVWhen a grisly murder takes place at an insane asylum, the prime suspect calls himself God (guest star Timothy Omundson). After realizing that this man could actually be his father, Lucifer struggles with his feelings towards him and tries to find the truth, all while trying to discover who the real killer is.

Lucifer meets his dad? This fun episode gives us a heavenly encounter that has Lucifer trying to figure out the truth about this “God” and also how to use it to his advantage to get back at his parents. In an episode that feels like One Flew From the Cuckoo’s Nest guest star Timothy Omundson steals the show which is saying something since Tom Ellis usually is heads and above everyone is charm and fun.

But the show’s humor and entertainment doesn’t just come from them. Ongoing jokes about “What if God Was One of Us?” keeps things lively and allows the rest of the cast to shine as well. Particularly fantastic are Chloe, Maz and Amenadiel… well the less said the better but threesomes and foursomes are joked about as Chloe attempts to solve the case. That itself is kind of blah and a little over the top, but everything else is utterly fantastic and brilliant.

What’s even better is how the show resolves and though I won’t go into detail it completely works, makes sense, and isn’t a gimmick. It feels natural in the puzzle that is this season and all makes sense even when dealing with God. I mean, to make that bit of over the top work is really impressive.

As usual, the series is its normal fun and the energy from the cast feels like it bleeds off the screen making me want to come back each week to see what’s next. The show also brilliantly is able to balance a meta-story with much more focused episodes involving procedural crimes and the various characters’ personalities. Lucifer continues to entertain and put a smile on my face like the little devil it is.

Overall Rating: 8.25

TV Review: Gotham S3E18 Heroes Rise: Light the Wick

season_3_posterGordon discovers the weapon the Court of Owls will use to destroy Gotham, which leads him on a dangerous path as he tracks it down. Meanwhile, Kathryn (guest star Leslie Hendrix) and Temple Shaman (guest star Raymond J. Barry) reveal their next move to Bruce, and Ivy comes to Selina’s aid.

Gotham continues its streak of entertaining episodes, this one with some minor bumps, but overall pretty solid as it begins to wind down the season towards the end game.

The good is Gordon and his toying with the Court of Owls which plays out completely in this episode where he’s forced to make a choice between the Court and doing what’s right. What’s really solid is the episode has everything flowing naturally building to the moment when things shift and we as an audience are left wondering where it’ll all go. That moment also gives us solid action though a head scratcher moment when a gate is supposed to protect against gas? but, what I like most about this plotline is it brings together a lot from this series into a coherent story. Oswald’s story too is great as he attempts to put pressure on Gordon. Actor Robin Lord Taylor has been the highlight of the entire series and here his acting is on full display.

The mediocre of the episode is Selina’s story and Bruce’s. We saw Selina’s turn towards Catwoman in the last episode with a scene straight out of Batman Returns and Bruce’s experience feels straight out of Batman Begins. It feels like when it comes to these two, the writers weren’t sure what to do, so decided to just do an homage to what’s come before. It’s not a bad decision and has prevented from being a disaster to being bearable in a nostalgic sort of way. But, that also means we’re getting nothing new, yet. We’ll see. But, it looks like the writers finally have a direction for these two characters and a better handle as to what to do with them, after a lot of misses.

The episode continues a singular vision now with a style and voice that feels like it’s one. Gone are the episodes where different segments felt like they could be a completely different show. Instead, that has all gelled into a series that feels like a proper follow up to Tim Burton’s vision, mining a lot of the visual look and queues he set up in his two entries.

Though the first half of the season was a mess, this latter half building to the finale has delivered in a way that the series has been missing for some time.

Overall Rating: 7.80

The Gifted Gets Its First Trailer. The X-Men Come to Fox this Fall.

The Gifted tells the story of a suburban couple whose ordinary lives are rocked by the sudden discovery that their children possess mutant powers. Forced to go on the run from a hostile government, the family joins up with an underground network of mutants and must fight to survive.

Written by Matt Nix (APB, “Burn Notice”), directed by Bryan Singer (the “X-Men” franchise”) and executive-produced by Nix, Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner (“X-Men: Apocalypse,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “The Wolverine”), Simon Kinberg (“X-Men: Apocalypse,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past”), Jeph Loeb (“Marvel’s Daredevil,” “Marvel’s Jessica Jones”) and Jim Chory (“Marvel’s Daredevil,” “Marvel’s Jessica Jones”), the series stars Stephen Moyer (SHOTS FIRED), Amy Acker (“Person of Interest”), Sean Teale (“Reign”), Jamie Chung (GOTHAM), Coby Bell (“Burn Notice”), Emma Dumont (“Aquarius”), Blair Redford (“Satisfaction”), Natalie Alyn Lind (GOTHAM) and Percy Hynes White (“Night at the Museum 3”).

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