Jessica Jones: Guided Falling…In Love

After taking time to watch almost all of the episodes of Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix and starting to write thoughts on each single installment, it was decided to do an overall feeling about the series and this unlikely superhero.

Kristen Ritter as Jessica Jones

After taking time to watch almost all of the episodes of Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix and starting to write thoughts on each single installment, it was decided to do an overall feeling about the series and this unlikely superhero. An uber strong, limited self healing, gal who does not fly, but engages in guided falling, it is this description from the heroine that almost wills the viewer to fall in love with this character.

Throughout the season, we have seen Jones become more heroic (as she fights to catch and take out Kilgrave),  Jeri Hogarth become more evil, Kilgrave become pathetic, Simpson become deadly and Trish become stronger.  The entire first season of the show is all about becoming, apparently…and death.

It all about learning the backstory of Jessica and eventually Kevin, aka Kilgrave. But over and above all that, is this seedy, unglamorous and gritty side of Marvel. Set in New York, along the same time line as The Avengers saving the city, Jones is the red-headed step child of the verse.

(In the Marvel verse, Jones was a member of the Avengers very, very briefly.)

Jessica Jones is the “noir” version of Marvel, along with Luke Cage, and she epitomizes the hard-drinking, sloppy P.I. of fiction….except,  she has super strength and can fly.  Although she calls it, “controlled  or guided falling.

Krysten Ritter plays Jones as a downtrodden, attitudinal passive aggressive.  Like the rest of the verse the character inhabits, the city is grey, dark and dirty. The juxtaposition of Jones’ life compared to the Avengers; Tony Stark, Captain America is just too brilliantly ironic.

Cap and Ironman are heroes looked up to by the denizens of New York who believe they lead the charge to save them, along with that “big green guy” mentioned a lot in the Netflix series. Jones, who was not even part of the “rescue” is attacked by a disgruntled woman whose mother died during Loki’s attack.

Once again, like the big screen Marvel adventures and the small screen actions of SHIELD (both Agent Carter and Phil Coulson and his crew) despite all the fantasy elements of the verse, everything is rooted in a semblance of reality. Although arguably, Jessica Jones and her world feel much more in the trenches, or gutter, than the superheroes who saved New York.

Jones’ world takes a look at gory homicide, the messiness of divorce and even tackles drugs, the red white and blue pills that Simpson takes are pretty spectacular and apparently addictive as well as combat enhancing.

Apart from all these gritty, there’s that word again, realities, this version of Marvel is full of malcontents, the socially inept, the downright weird and full of destruction. Jessica lives in a world of broken walls, furniture and people.  As do most of the inhabitants of her verse. Even the more successful, like high-powered lawyer Hogarth is broken, personally and in terms of ethics, granted, she is a lawyer so it is to be expected…

There is at least one person who lives in an ivory tower, Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), former child star and radio talkshow host of New York, is in a different realm from her “sister.” After Simpson turns up, completely overrun by those red pills he keeps popping like breath mints, he leaves two dead men outside Walker’s posh apartment.

When Trish comes home, she find the place spotless, no dead bodies and nothing to indicate that they were ever there. At Jessica’s place, the unconscious Simpson is removed, but her apartment/office still looks like a nuke has hit it. Vive la’ difference…

Leaving lifestyles of Marvel’s rich and famous aside, the noir-ish world of Jessica Jones is still firmly part of the comic verse. Nods and winks to her “colleagues” abound. References to the Hulk and at least one kid running around in a Captain America outfit. Then there is the reference to “inhumans.”

Dorothy Walker (Rebecca De Mornay), the stage mother from Hell, shows up at Trish’s place with an envelope with the mysterious initials IGH. Obviously a reference to Daisy, aka Tremors, and the other Inhumans and must stand for Inhuman Growth Hormone.  This is, apparently, the reason for Jessica’s strength and limited healing capabilities.

This down and dirty version of Marvel is as addictive as the cleaner shinier one.  While there is no real news about a second season or not, this one is pretty entertaining. Jessica Jones and her guided falling has made it easy to fall in love with this “darker” heroine.

 

 

 

Patrick Macnee Dead at 93: So Long John Steed

John Steed from The Avengers
As a kid I adored The Avengers. John Steed, the man who carried an umbrella instead of a gun and managed to have the world’s most beautiful women as partners in the world of off the wall espionage was a childhood hero. While my crush may have been Diana Riggs as Miss Emma Peel, the chap I aspired to be was Macnee’s Steed and it hurts to say so long to John Steed and Patrick Macnee who died Thursday at 93.

161 episodes of a series that featured Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson as the other half of a team that was years ahead of the rest of the world in showing that feminism could work. Although poor Thorson was never in the same league as the first two female stars of the show by the time she showed up, as the actress put it herself, the producers did not really know what to do with her character.

The Avengers was a parody of spy movies like the James Bond franchise, and later the Harry Palmer “bargain basement” version of Bond, where Steed was not quite so glamorous, or as rough, as Sean Connery’s Bond. Steed was: Totally cool, a gentlemen, utterly unflappable, and braver than brave; going up against all sorts of baddies and rarely armed except for that umbrella.

Steed never carried a gun and his character was actually the “second banana” to Ian Hendry’s character (Dr. David Keel)in season one. By the time the series reached season two Keel was gone and Steed was not. Macnee was the quintessential Englishman from 1961 to 1969 and the show made stars of Patrick, Blackman and Riggs on both sides of the big pond. Macnee would go on to do The New Avengers but it never gelled with me the way the first series did, despite Joanna Lumley’s Purdey.

Macnee worked practically nonstop, even appearing in one of the Bond films, A View to a Kill with Sir Roger Moore, whom he had worked with on The Sea Wolves, as well as David Niven, and according to Sir Roger, he was under the impression that Patrick and he were related. Moore gave his old “relative” and colleague a sending off after news of his death was made public.

The actor was a prolific performer and played many different roles, most of whom were English although he did portray other nationalities. He was also very good at playing villains, in the 1988 horror/comedy Waxwork, and its sequel, Macnee was a treacherous old family friend and stinker who tries to kill the hero. He played the baddie many times in his long career and always quite convincingly.

But it is as John Steed that he will stay in my memory. He once revealed that the reason The Avengers worked so well was that he and Diana Rigg, a very serious actress with a background in Shakespeare who was also voted, somewhat ironically, the world’s sexist ever TV star by the American publication TV Guide, wrote their own dialogue as the show’s scripts were, he said, abysmal.

Arthritis slowed him down later and forced him to give up acting except for voice over work. Patrick Macnee died at his California home of natural causes and his son Rupert informed the patrickmacnee.com website that he was with family when he died.

So long Patrick Macnee, aka John Steed, the umbrella carrying English gentleman and “action man.”

Pretty Little Liars: Catching up is Hard to Do

Promotional poster for Pretty Little Liars
Looking over the list of “popular” shows on TV, Pretty Little Liars ranks right up toward the metaphorical top. With a cast of beautiful young women who can act and are topically relevant (example: Lucy Hale who is so socially applicable that Wes Craven killed her off in the first teaser opening for Scream 4) who fill roles from Sara Shepard’s book series that the show is based on, albeit very “loosely.” The many seasons of this mystery/thriller series ticks all the right boxes.

There is, however, one problem with the show. If you have not been an avid viewer from season one, or at the very least season five, catching up is hard to do. Being late to this particular party means trying to figure out who does what and to whom. Regardless of the character confusion the show does feature some great performers and this makes the difficulty worth it.

Holly Marie Combs who does not look much different from her 1998 Charmed days but can still pack a thespian shattering punch when in front of the camera is one example of a solid performance provider. Other cast members include personal favorite Nolan North, the voice over artist and actor who is seemingly in every video game ever, Nia Peeples, Torrey DeVitto and a slew of familiar names and faces who adorn the screen of this popular show.

Watching the latest season on Hulu yields a mishmash of events which leave the viewer at a total loss. The storyline, as presented by IMDb states that the four main “liars” were blackmailed when their fifth member, and leader, Alison DiLaurentis disappeared. Their deepest, darkest secrets will be revealed by “A” if they do not comply. Now Alison is back and she is apparently trying to save her four female buddies.

The girls in question were prisoners in an elaborate house that is makes one think of the banned episode of The Avengers, where a leather-bound Emma Peel being put through the paces was considered too risque for prime-time TV audiences. (The episode was A Touch of Brimstone and American censors banned it “outright” from US television screens. Pretty impressive for an old black and white show.)

Anyone not having read the books will be completely lost, although the show is, as stated above, only loosely based upon Shepard’s series. Fans will only be able to enjoy the series for another season according to Lucy Hale who let the cat out of the bag last year.

For the time being the girls are out of the doll house, after setting fire to the thing while Alison followed clues to the location. Now all of the ones from the house are having issues, flashbacks and dealing with it as best they can. Sara Harvey, the girl who had been in the silo doll house for years, runs away from home and goes to Emily’s place.

Rather ominously, Sara does not believe their captor is Andrew Campbell while Aria is so convinced that it is Andrew she lied to the police saying that she’d seen his face. Mona decides to go back to school and enlists Aria and Emily to return as well. Emily stays at home to comfort Sara and Aria never leaves the coffee shop.

Alison reveals a persecution complex, Spenser is struggling at home and it turns out that Andrew is adopted. Lorenzo and Ali appear to be mutually attracted to one another and the thought now is that Campbell may really be Charles DiLaurentis. Jason, however, shoots this down by telling Spenser that Charlie DiLaurentis was his imaginary friend.

Em, Ari, and Mona are at the doctor’s office to go through a group session when Spenser relays what she learned from Jason. However evidence exists that shows “Charlie” is real and as the girls discuss this, a call comes in for Emily from Sara on her borrowed burner phone.

Sara is asleep and a gloved hand, holding a knife is poised above her body. A text message appears stating that if his name is mentioned, the girl dies and they have seconds to leave the doctor’s office. They all comply. When they get to Sara, she is unaware of what happened.

Emily’s mother tells the girls that Andrew is being released by the police because of a lack of evidence. All the girls go through the DiLaurentis home looking for the proof that Charles is real. Aria finds a picture that matches the home movie that the girls found in the doll house. It shows Jason and another blond-haired boy…Charlie?

Andrew bumps into the girls at his release and is not best pleased that they thought he had kidnapped them. After he storms off, they meet Lorenzo and later talk about the “shocking game” Charles made them play. Now that it seems Andrew was not responsible, tensions return.

Ali and Jason confront their father about Charles DiLaurentis again and this time his answer is different. Viewers, however, will have to wait as whatever poppa DiLaurentis tells the two is behind glass and all we can hear is Alison saying, “What?”

Pretty Little Liars may be a little difficult to catch up on, but three episodes made it fairly easy to follow the most recent events. The show is entertaining and certainly contains a lot of twists and shifts in direction. Another ABC hit that will be missed when it ends after one more season.

‘Grimm’ Season Four: Alexis Denisof Back in TV World of the Supernatural

‘Grimm’ Season Four: Alexis Denisof Back in TV World of the Supernatural

TV audience members who have only just discovered the splendid supernatural world of Grimm, season four, will have noticed that a somewhat heavier, and older, Alexis Denisof is back in the land of fantasy and horror, this time on NBC. This modern day version of Grimm’s fairy tales has been around since 2011 and viewers who tuned in back then will notice that a lot has changed since a bald and dying Kate Burton (Daughter of the Welsh icon that was Richard Burton.) drove into Portland, Oregon and her nephew Nick Burkhardt’s life. Burton’s character departs the show by the end of the second episode of season one leaving her nephew the next in line of Grimm’s who can see creatures who inhabit human bodies and who must now “take care” of the ones who misbehave

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Award for Coolest Episode Goes to Season One Finale

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Award for Coolest Episode Goes to Season One Finale

Watching last night’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was not only an exciting experience, but the season one finale could have won an award for the coolest episode ever. Considering all the complaints from viewers about the Marvel small screen verse of agents and no superheros, not counting the best tie in ever with the Captain America: The Winter Soldier plot affecting the Joss Whedon television version completely, the last season one show delivered, as they used to say, in spades.