Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Fall TV Season Recap

It's a little surreal to think about times where television really lived up to the name boob tube. No one understood genre entertainment. The idea of superheroes was laughable. Truly imaginative and entertaining writing was few and far between. Then reality TV saturated the airwaves.

Now I have more choices than I have time to watch, or space on my DVR to hold.


This hard boiled spy thriller on TNT is phenomenal. The premise: Sean Bean plays a deep cover agent who has been in the field so long under so many aliases he has trouble remembering who he is. The hook is insanely complex and intriguing, without falling into the usual trap of getting too complicated for it's own good. And of course, Bean delivers a top notch performance.

Agent X

An action adventure of a somewhat more lighthearted James Bond flavor. It reminds me of Human Target in its tone and style (GOD I miss that show). Probably because both are based on comic books.

I'm not sure what TNT is doing to attract so much top card movie talent to it's shows, but it's working. James Earl freakin Jones is in it. Sharon Stone is the Vice President of the United States, who finds herself in charge of an agent so covert that the President nor any of the 3 letter agencies know about him. Gerald McRaney plays Agent X's handler, my favorite character so far. Overall, surprisingly hip.

Agents of SHIELD

I hated this one when it first started. Like, a lot. They finally figured out what to do with it midway through the first season, and now it's become one of my favorites.

It's still not really the show that I wanted, but the stories are exciting and the characters are engaging.

Coulson lost some of that Dobie Gillis quality without losing what fans fell in love with about him. Fitz and Simmons aren't nearly so one-note. Ward is waaaay better as a villain than he was as Agent Roboto. Bobbie was an awesome addition from the start. May is... well she was the one gem from the beginning so she's still awesome.

I even like Skye now, err... Dais--- no I can't bring myself to say her new stupid name. What were they thinking when they named her that? She's cool now, though.


NBC snagged both of the leads from Strike Back and wisely put them in their prime time lineup. Unfortunately The Player didn't stay on my to-watch list for long, but Blindspot keeps me coming back.

I'm always leery of shows like this. The premise sounds gimmicky and formulaic at first blush. A woman (Jamie Alexander) shows up one day with a bunch of cryptic tattoos all over her body, and complete amnesia. In the hands of less talented writers, this would get real boring, real fast. But they've built it into a cool mystery with lots of political intrigue and interesting character dynamics.

The Blacklist

Speaking of shows that sounded gimmicky when I first heard the concept. I cannot gush about this series enough. How it's managed to stay fresh through 3 seasons is nothing short of brilliant. Raymond Redington is a shoe-in for the TV villain Hall of Fame right up there next to Boyd Crowder. And the evolution of Elizabeth Keen from lost babe in the woods (pun intended) to badass fugitive is a work of art.


Hands down the most bizarre crime drama I've ever seen. You will not find anything like it anywhere else. You have to love the Cohen style of storytelling, of course. It does get slow by some people's standards. But the plot and characters are so surreal you can't look away no matter how long the scene. You absolutely cannot predict where this story will go. But despite the insane quality of it all, it feels so damn real you can't help get hooked.

Sleepy Hollow

This show almost lost me last season. It was like the writers read all the wrong reviews and forgot what fans really liked about it. The  historical angles got ham handed and silly. The comedy got cheesy. This season definitely got back on track. I'm glad they found a way to keep it going without retreading the same material.


And now for something completely different, my first guilty pleasure of the season. The plot holes are glaring. The formula is frightening. The acting is fairly mediocre. Some of the characters are more caricatures than people. But dammit it's so charming I can't bring myself to delete it from the schedule. I watch it with the same approach as I did with Once Upon A Time (which I gave up on, but I heard got good again, so I might have to give it another shot).


I feel compelled to file this one under guilty pleasure, too. The plot can get, well let's be polite and say thin. The writing suffers from a lot of unexplainable convenience and questionable leaps in logic. But it makes up for it with the characters, especially the villains. Penguin stole the show last season. "The Joker" just ate up the screen this season. Ed Nygma is getting his well deserved spotlight. And I can't believe they made me like Barbara Kean. She was worthless first season, but making her a villain was a very smart move. Not that the good guys are just background mannequins. The show is a case study in how good characters can make up for a lot.

Arrow and The Flash

I list them together because they more or two sides of pretty much the same show. Arrow may have started out trying to be a lot grittier, but it's not so much anymore. Flash remains more whimsical science fantasy. Both remind me of the comics of the Bronze Age. And they really REALLY have me looking forward to Legends of Tomorrow.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

What I've Been Up To Omnibus

Man I am terrible at self-marketing. My last post was in October. Lazy bums like me are why God created agents.

How bout I start with the current stuff and work my way backward.

Inkwash by Rudy Vasquez:

Yo Joe!

When Amazon unveiled Kindleworlds, I was excited. Until I got a look at their initial offerings. They started with comics I was only vaguely familiar with and a few CW shows I had no interest in at all (because the good ones like Supernatural already had licensing deals). So I yawned and moved on.

Then they added G.I. Joe to the list!

I've talked a lot about my big creative influences: superhero comics, pulps, and urban fantasy and sci-fi, genre TV, and of course, Star Wars.

But a big one I have yet to mention is G.I. Joe. I was 11 years old when I saw my very first issue of the comic, back in the days when comics were on spinner racks in drug stores; G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #2. I somehow missed issue 1, but I didn't care. Larry Hama spun an awesome tale of a squad of four insanely unique soldiers on a mission in the arctic. I read that issue more times over than the rest of my collection combined. I would go on to collect the series up to around issue 50 or so, and the entire run of G.I. Joe: Special Missions.

I also collected most of the Hasbro action figures and a bunch of the vehicles. I even watched the cartoon even though I was like 7 years older than the intended audience. I can't hear the phrase "Now you know," without being compelled to finish it with, "And knowing is half the battle". I would draw stick figure panoramic comics of G.I. Joe vs Cobra in school. I followed the comic off and on when it kind of meandered toward the end of the Marvel run, and during the spotty DDP years (a few of those runs were really good), and Chuck Dixon's and Mike Costa's re-imagined take on the Joe universe when IDW rebooted the franchise.

While Costa's Cobra series was a lot grittier and hardcore -- and certainly has a lot to like -- Dixon's G.I. Joe run blended all of my favorite elements of Hama's original vision with a modern, more grounded military flavor. He even took stuff from the cartoon and made it work for mature readers. Now that's talent.

So needless to say, I was stoked at the idea of getting to play in that sandbox. I am pleased with the result, if I don't say so myself.

As regular readers of this blog might guess, my first installment, Bait & Switch, is heavily influenced by the Stony Man novels. It stands alone, but it is also meant to fit into a full length novel. The story follows a squad of Joes on what starts as an investigation into a smuggling operations in Barcelona, Spain, then on a raid on Extensive Enterprises in Paris, France. Lots of firefights, high tech hardware, espionage and intrigue. Oh and ninjas. Duh!

How soon I get part 2 done depends on how well this one does. It's only around a hundred Kindle pages for $1.99. So it'll be a quick, fun read if you're a fan of action adventures.

What's Old Is New Again

Those who already know me may remember a couple anthologies that came out a couple years ago. My first novellas appeared in Supernatural West and Modern Gods II from Metahuman Press. Since my contract allowed me to release those books as standalone works after a year with them, that's exactly what I did. As with Codename: Orchid, I would love to continue each of these into their own series.

First up is a historical fantasy, set in the post-Civil War New Mexico Territories. You know all those tiny little ghost towns scattered out in the desert? The ones that were set up by miners thinking they would strike it rich, then abandoned and left to rot like they never existed. The kind of town that was so remote that if zombies attacked, no one would ever know.

This is the story about what happened to one of those towns.

It's also the introduction of a man known as The Hunter. Imagine John Constantine meets Dean Winchester meets Josie Wales. And his partner/mentor, a half-blood Navajo shaman.

When I first pitched it to Metahuman Press, I confess I wasn't as jazzed about it. I wasn't sure if I could pull off a Western. Honestly I was just hedging my bets on an open call trying to get a short story gig and figured, hey why not it's worth a shot.

But I ended up having more fun with it than I first thought. And I became fascinated with the idea of and Old West setting for a supernatural fantasy. It's a unique era that is far enough removed from the days of the Brothers Grimm and faerie folklore and the Salem trials that characters would have no frame of reference, but long before half the tropes that we are so used to seeing in urban fantasy today were even written. No one in that time would have any idea what a werewolf or a vampire or a zombie was. Magic was pure superstition and demons were abstract concepts they heard about in church.

Please spread the word so I can sell lots of copies of this one. I want to do more with it!

Next up is a crime drama that turns into a modern day fantasy rooted in Greek Mythology. It's primarily urban fantasy, but with a decidedly superhero flair.

On one side you've got the story of our hero, Jarett Reese; an art thief and con artist who was caught by the FBI and forced to take down his former boss, the feared matriarch of the Greek mob. If that wasn't enough for him to deal with, he's been targeted by a hitman and his sister got mixed up with the Serbian mob.

On the other side you've got a story about two immortal wizards trying to kill each other over an ancient spellbook.

The stories collide when a rampaging minotaur interrupts Reese's botched heist.

Read it. You'll thank me. And you'll motivate me to give you more Olympus Wars tales.

On A Personal Note

I'll be honest. I've spent the better part of the last five years or so in a pretty dark place. After Haven went under, I wasn't the same for a long time.

Around the time of my last post, I was in the midst of the process of returning to a sense of being myself. The first step was actually two years ago, when I got out of the Hillbilly Hilton and bought a condo. Then I was able to finally be rid of my junker car. Then I decided to try dating again.

In December I met Vanna Maria. I was not looking for anything serious. I never imagined that I would find the woman who I would want to spend the rest of my life with, but that's what happened. It's hard to explain that feeling when soulmates finally meet.

So I feel bad for not blogging in so long. It was neat seeing traffic start to build for awhile there. But I've been a little... distracted.