5 Books That Can’t Hit The Big Screen Fast Enough

It’s inevitable.

I get excited, borderline giddy sometimes, when a favorite book of mine gets ready to make its way onto the big screen. I follow the trailers, pour over pictures of the casting choices, sets, and costume designs. I gather up the family or plan a date night when the book hits the big screen, but am always unable to turn off my “book was better” skepticism.

I loved both the Harry Potter and Peter Jackson’s Hobbit/Lord of the Rings film series, but had my criticisms of these big-screen versions. Too many characters and scenes added to The Hobbit, and too many scenes and characters left out of Harry Potter. Where was Peeves, for goodness sake?

This has always been an issue. How many ways can they mess up Wizard of Oz? Or Peter Pan? Or Treasure Island?

Continue reading 5 Books That Can’t Hit The Big Screen Fast Enough

Five Classic Movies That Need the ‘Ghostbusters’ Treatment

Now that we’re seeing Ghostbusters trailers featuring Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon, the process of seeing gender-swapped characters feels more real. An all-female version of Ocean’s Eleven is in development with Sandra Bullock at the helm, so what other classic movies could be re-energized with a gender change-out? Continue reading Five Classic Movies That Need the ‘Ghostbusters’ Treatment

‘Marvel’s Agent Carter’ Still Has Work to Do

With a proverbial bang, Marvel’s Agent Carter’s season two came to an end Tuesday night. Whitney Frost was defeated, Peggy saved the day with a little help from her friends, and the love triangle that has been a thorn in the side of this show was finally settled.

While a solid and entertaining season, it left me feeling a little saddened by the fate of our favorite S.S.R. agent for four reasons. Continue reading ‘Marvel’s Agent Carter’ Still Has Work to Do

DIY: When There’s Not Enough Gender Representation In Our Favorite Stories

Our guest blogger: Heather Massey searches for sci-fi romance adventures and writes about them at Galaxy Express 2.0 and Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly. Her SFR musings have appeared at a variety of places including LoveLetter magazine, Coffee Time Romance, Tor.com, Heroes & Heartbreakers, SF Signal, and SFR Galaxy Awards.
She’s also an author in the genre. To learn more about her published work, visit heathermassey.com. When Heather’s not reading or writing, she’s watching cult films and enjoying the company of her husband and daughter.

Hey, moms, you know the drill: you’re the parent of a daughter(s) who goes wild over a female character, but when you try to find merchandise, action figures, additional content, or heck, just anything to feed her new passion, there’s nothing there. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

In 2015, this scenario happened to me. My daughter was finally old enough to watch the Despicable Me franchise, so we consumed the first two films in rapid succession. For the uninitiated, the least you need to know about the series is that it’s about Felonius Gru, a supervillain who finds redemption after adopting three orphan girls.

Shortly thereafter, the prequel in the series, Minions, was released. My daughter was developing a love for the little deviled eggs, so I took her to see the movie. I expected a mildly entertaining cash cow—I mean, pastime; what I did not expect was for her and I to develop a seriously hardcore bond over the film’s main female character, namely, supervillain Scarlet Overkill.

Scarlet is the supervillain boss-turned-antagonist for whom the three main Minion characters steal Queen Elizabeth’s crown. Putting aside her villainous nature for the moment, Scarlet’s resume is a collection of amazing abilities. She’s a master thief, an accomplished pilot, and an expert fighter. Her huge, fairy tale castle fortress towers over London and includes a treasure-filled loot room. An ambitious woman, she’s skilled at marketing her brand and building a criminal empire. In fact, compared to the franchise’s other villains, Scarlet’s skill set is by far the strongest.

Scarlet is married to Herb, a groovy inventor with a penchant for warm milk and cookies. Though Scarlet is strictly a plot device, the filmmakers gave her just enough backstory, sympathy, and edginess to become a cult-worthy character.

Much as my daughter and I adore Scarlet Overkill, she isn’t without her problematic elements. Among them are her hypersexualized nature, ableist portrayal (co-director Kyle Balda has, unfortunately, described her as “bi-polar”), and weak characterization (of the “mile wide, inch deep variety.”). Based on my extensive research, the only woman who seems to have had significant input into her character development was Sandra Bullock, the voice of Scarlet. And thank goodness for that.

If nothing else, the Minions experience has given me an opportunity to discuss some of the issues related to gender representation in animation with my daughter (at an age-appropriate level, of course). There’s vast room for improvement regarding female animated characters, the most important of which is making more of them the leads in animated films (so we don’t keep ending up with gender-lopsided lists like this one).

I don’t have the power to influence animation studios, but I can sure as heck influence at least one member of the next generation of animation fans. Our daughters deserve far better.

As many of you are probably aware, female action figures for various franchises are difficult to come by. Avengers’ Black Widow and Star Wars’ Rey are recent cases. This is merely one of many examples regarding the scarcity of merchandise for female characters, animated or otherwise. It’s a pretty rampant situation and if the article cited above is any indication, the scarcity seems to have been deliberately orchestrated on an epic level. The toxic message that girls aren’t worthy has to stop.

My daughter and I bumped up against this scarcity when it came to Scarlet Overkill. Except for an expensive t-shirt, there’s currently no merchandise for her. My daughter, whose Minion figures are collecting dust, keeps asking me things like, “Can we get a Scarlet Overkill action figure?” “What about a poster?” And with a heavy heart, I keep having to remind her that such merchandise doesn’t exist and likely never will.

So what’s a parent to do? I can’t draw fan art, sculpt action figures, or make animated music videos. Neither do I have the budget to extensively commission such things.

DespicableScarlet_cover_small
Image via Heather Massey

But I can write, so that’s what I did.

When it became apparent that neither merchandise nor future Scarlet Overkill film content would likely be forthcoming, I seized the reins and wrote a female-centric adventure I could enjoy with my daughter.

The result: Despicable Scarlet, a free, all-ages fan fiction redemption story about Scarlet Overkill. You’ll notice I wrote it as a screenplay. Why? Mainly to keep in line with the spirit of the story’s visual medium. Plus, I could include many elements that wouldn’t be possible in prose.

I also commissioned some beautiful art to help illustrate the story. Created by the talented Bananataffy, it includes a cover, a striking bonus illustration, and a collection of the early sketches.
Here’s the cover and story description:

DESPICABLE SCARLET picks up the adventures of supervillain Scarlet Overkill where MINIONS left off. Scarlet, along with her trusty inventor husband Herb, embarks on a revenge mission against Felonius Gru in order to reclaim “her” crown, with plans to take down the Anti-Villain League in the process. When an unexpected betrayal throws her plan into chaos, Scarlet suddenly faces the most difficult battle of her life.
***

I read the script to my daughter. She provided additional ideas and then surprised me with a drawing based on one of the scenes! I was so thrilled I included it as an illustration.

Despicable Scarlet is available as a free PDF download from my author site. It’s very readable, so don’t worry about encountering too much technical jargon.

Despicable Scarlet is especially geared for parents and guardians who crave more female protagonists for their daughters. Some will be old enough to read it themselves, and for others it’s best read to them. If your daughter was old enough to see Minions, she’s probably old enough for this story! Of course, feel free to vet it first.

My story includes progressive and subversive elements that not only entertain, but are also an attempt to counteract the sexism and problematic elements in Minions. In other words, Despicable Scarlet is what a Scarlet Overkill story would entail if a female creator had control over the project. It’s about reclaiming and re-imagining a faulty character and giving her not only agency, but new life altogether.

Download your copy here, and then share it with all your friends and family! And when you’re done, try creating your own stories with your favorite characters that might be ill-served by their corporate owners.

You can follow Heather on Twitter: @thgalaxyexpress @TheOverkills

Why Fury Road’s Director and Movie Losses Matter To Geeky Women

Skimming through my Facebook feed on Oscar night, I saw a link to The Nerdist’s interview with Mad Max: Fury Road director, George Miller. The first question and response caught my eye because they represent a profound shift in societal acceptance that matters to me.

Nerdist: Few science fiction films have been nominated for as many Oscars as Mad Max: Fury Road. How does it feel to receive this validation for not only your work but the entire genre?

George Miller: Unexpected. Because, as you said, it’s atypical. So it is a really nice thing. But I never expected that to be the case.

Then, Mad Max won six Oscars. Six amazing Oscars representing it as an artistic piece of film. It won six Oscars, but it lost the ones that mattered to me, a geeky woman who needed this win.

Continue reading Why Fury Road’s Director and Movie Losses Matter To Geeky Women

Netflix & Ill: A Sick Mom’s Survival Story

I don’t often get sick. In fact, I might boast a little of my immune system. I had a brief cold a few weeks ago, but before that? It’d been over a year since I’d been legitimately sick. And I have a preschooler and a nine year old who has to be often reminded that a) he really shouldn’t stick his fingers in his butt and b) hand washing is necessary. I was even mentioning this to my coworker earlier this week that, well, the only time I really get ill is when I get a stomach bug.

Guys, I think the viruses heard me. Continue reading Netflix & Ill: A Sick Mom’s Survival Story

Progressively Ever After?

It would be easy to dismiss the Mattel/Netflix miniseries Ever After High as a ploy to sell dolls. It’s true each new season introduces new characters, and puts the existing favorites in new outfits, to entice little girls and collectors into opening their wallets. Nor do the dolls or the series do anything to outwardly disrupt the parade of pretty Princesses and “stick figure silicone Barbie doll” figures that have populated toy aisles and tween girl pop culture for the past 15-50 years.

But amidst the capitalism and princess-mania is a youth oriented progressive feminism that shouldn’t be overlooked. Last Saturday my ten year old daughter and I watched the latest season—four 24 minute episodes new to Netflix at the end of January—together, as we have the whole series, and it’s occupied my thoughts since. Continue reading Progressively Ever After?

‘The X-Files’ 10.6: “My Struggle II” – Out with A Bang, or with Deafening Silence?

The X-files’ season finale, “My Struggle II”, was a non-stop 45 minutes of action and medical mumbo-jumbo that saw Mulder & Scully working with allies old and new to try and combat a deadly, global contagion. Read on for our spoiler-filled recap. Continue reading ‘The X-Files’ 10.6: “My Struggle II” – Out with A Bang, or with Deafening Silence?

Let “Top Gear” Die With Dignity

Matt LeBlanc’s name started a little Twitter frenzy.

Well, if you want to get technical it all started with Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson fist-to-face Olympics last March started a domino-like chain of events that resulted in two new car shows.

Here’s the highlights: Clarkson tossed from Top Gear for punching producer. Television and radio presenter Chris Evans brought in, Clarkson’s fellow presenters, James May and Richard Hammond, say “no thanks,” and leave the show. Top Gear fans angry. Clarkson haters happy. Clarkson, Hammond, May and producer Andy Wilman acquire lucrative deal with Amazon Prime and start new company, W. Chump & Sons. Evans begins to reinvent Top Gear for a new generation. Evans gets car sick, and has to learn to talk and drive at the same time. W. Chump & Son has to learn to run a production company without the BBC taking care of everything for them for once.

Most recently, Top Gear announced its new presenters…all seven of them…and W. Chump & Sons started filming their still unnamed show set for a fall 2016 debut with their own established threesome. The Twitter-verse exploded with pithy commentary.

Two of the things my family and I “geek out” over are the series Top Gear and anything with my creative muse, James May. As such, I’ve been closely following the string of constant articles, press releases, Facebook posts, Tweets and memes from experts (or people who think they are) saying which show will be better. Some of these comments are insanely funny. Others are just plain rude, but welcome to the worlds where Top Gear and social media collide.

Many of these comments are on having to now pay to see the same show that has been free for so long, as well as on the over-abundant line of new Top Gear “underlings.” The new line up includes actor (and Top Gear’s fastest star to drive the “reasonably priced car”) Matt LeBlanc, race car driver Sabine Schmitz, former race car driver and F1 analyst Eddie Jordan, YouTube car commentator Chris Harris, and automotive journalist Roy Reid. Anonymous driver and Top Gear mainstay, The Stig, is back, but with two experienced racers on the new team (Schmitz and Jordan), he looks like a desperate attempt at familiarity. In the official promo shot, Stig looks like I do when I have to take a group shot with my in-laws’ extended family. Nice enough people, but I don’t fit in.

None of these new presenters will be actual “co-hosts” of Evans, barring LeBlanc who will be on every show. Evans remains the new Top Gear top banana. BBC is so confident this new format will be hit, they hope to move the program from BBC2 to the big leagues on BBC1 after the first series, which premieres in May.

Top Gear Twitter Wars
It only took a short time to see all these comments pop up on social media, and these images were all just via Twitter. Photo collage by Lisa Kay Tate.

This whole muddle, in my little world at least, is the death of my Top Gear.

See, this is the real issue with me, and what I would assume is every Top Gear fan. BBC could send every viewer a brand new car, fly everyone out for free live tapings, allow us all to be presenters for a night, and even throw a free coupon for a year’s worth of car washes, but this new BBC show is just not Top Gear.

Actually, the very first Top Gear incarnation wasn’t even Top Gear. If you go back to the original set up of the show debuting in 1977 there was a diverse group of male and female presenters (including on occasion, Clarkson and May). It was a decent car show, to be honest. It wasn’t until it’s first “reinvention” in 2002, the show became Clarkson’s milieu, with co-hosts Hammond and used car king Jason Dawe. May replaced Dawe in the second series. This new threesome soon turned the “car show” Top Gear into a cult phenomenon with a loyal fanbase worldwide, despite there having been American, Australian and other “international” Top Gear offshoots. CNN and others news sources reported the show had a global audience of 350 million viewers in 2015. That’s a bunch of eyeballs watching three guys.

As for the “new” Top Gear team, I don’t dislike any of these presenters, and if LeBlanc had joined the old trio for the occasional guest hosting stint, I would be pumping my fist and yelling “Yes! U.S.A!”  like I did when he completed his lap on the “old” show. However, he is not joining this group. He’s part of a “new era,” which has gone to great lengths not to be the Top Gear that has become a viewing tradition for so many for 22 seasons.

There is a simple solution to this confusion.

Simply retire the Top Gear name, like a star player on a sports team. Let it die with dignity, and let Clarkson, Hammond and May have their BBC legacy. Give Evans a new motoring show, with a new name for new audience. It seems to be what he is intending to do, anyways.

The whole idea of recreating a new show within the shell of another long-running popular show is like a new hipster eatery trying to occupy the same building of a longtime favorite mom-and-pop restaurant. No matter how good the fare is, it just doesn’t feel right to be in there, as if the ghost of its former occupant is always looking over your shoulder saying “this is all good, but don’t you miss those old burgers?”

This is the vibe I get every time look at the group of happy new faces standing in front of the Top Gear logo. It’s simply ill fitting. Give Stig one final “Best of” special, have him make a final appearance on the new show to drive off into the sunset like a storybook legend, and lay Top Gear to rest. Bring on the unmasked driver as yet another presenter on the new show and no one is out of work.

Meanwhile, no matter what W. Chump & Sons end up calling their new show — it could be named “Jessica” for anyone cares — everyone watching will know they are still watching the real spirit of Top Gear.

By all means, let Evans and his new crew have their show, but build a new show from the ground up. May, ever a class act, has even defended BBC’s efforts and applauded the appeal of having worthy competition in interviews. Instead, however, Evans and the BBC are trying to place a new, shiny high rise structure on still very visible remains of a historic landmark. That doesn’t make for a very stable foundation. The “Magnificent Seven,” as they are being dubbed by some, need to find new plot of unused land, and make something entirely their own.

Those of us who love our familiar trio, will keep on watching them, not because we want a good car show (there are plenty of shows, podcast and publications for that) but because we love these three, scruffy idiots. We love the camaraderie. We love the trash talk, impromptu back-and-forth, and face palm inducing ridiculousness that can come only from those who have known each other and worked together for so long. I’ll repeat a sentiment I made in a post last year. Clarkson, Hammond and May are like family for many of us, and well, I miss them.

For those who want to see Evans’s show succeed, then give him and the others a fair shot at making things work, don’t give him the sloppy seconds left behind by another group who has managed to sally forth to what fans hope are bigger and better things. As long as the Top Gear name remains, it will never be Evans’s show completely.

clipboard
Having a choice for new motoring shows isn’t a bad thing, but Top Gear isn’t one of those choices, despite the title. All “ambitious but rubbish” photo illustrations by Lisa Kay Tate.

Summing up, if you loved Top Gear, you loved the Clarkson, Hammond and May dynamic. These people will watch the Amazon Prime show, (which everyone knows is the true Top Gear with a pretty new “not Top Gear” package).

If you hated Top Gear (there were plenty who did), and are planning on watching only because of the new format, you don’t really want to watch Top Gear. You want to watch this different motoring show. That’s fine as well.

As for me, when the dust from the spinning wheels finally settles, and the clatter of fans and detractors has quieted down, I’ll likely be among those coughing up the subscription price for Amazon Prime, and follow my irritatingly addictive threesome on their new misadventures.

I’m not going to lie, though, I might check out a few episodes of Evans and crew, just out of curiosity.

I know one thing, though, even if I do watch this new BBC show, I won’t, nor will anyone else, really be watching Top Gear.

A Kid in Time and Space: How I Introduced my Son to ‘Doctor Who’

“Mom… I want to watch Doctor Who.”

The LEGO video games have always been a bit of a gateway in our household. I’ve always found them to be an excellent way for Younger Son to get interested in properties that have played a big role in our geeky lives: from Marvel to DC, and from Harry Potter to The Lord of the Rings. We play our way through them, pure mother and son bonding time, and then emerge to immerse ourselves in the source worlds from whence they came.

So when, flush with Christmas money, he chose to purchase LEGO Dimensions, I wasn’t surprised.

I did, perhaps, cackle madly. I knew what was coming. Continue reading A Kid in Time and Space: How I Introduced my Son to ‘Doctor Who’

Save ‘JourneyQuest’! In Defense of Morally Ambiguous Female Characters

Today I welcome guest actress Emilie Shimkus, who plays Wren on the fan-funded, fan-favorite show JourneyQuest, which is currently in its last day on Kickstarter! She lets us know why this show is important to the genre, and why it’s important that it succeed.

The JourneyQuest Season 3 Kickstarter ends TONIGHT, Friday 2/19 at 12am EST.
If it doesn’t get its funding by the end of Friday, this wildly popular, nerd-friendly, fan-favorite show is over. As geek, a mom, and an actor in the show, let me propose why you should care.

I think we’ve all had it up to here with “strong” women characters. Yes, of course, we want a strong woman over a week and agentless one, but somewhere along the way, “strong” became the “nice” of character descriptors for women, the adjective that would make our 2nd grade teacher kneel down by our desk and say, “Okay, but what do you mean by ‘strong?’ Can you give me some examples? What are other good words?”

Strong seems like a good thing… but what does it mean? Whether it’s a badass, asskicking woman fighting injustices or maybe a weakened, but ultimately resilient woman who finds her strength in success/love/family/adventure… strong has just become a bizarrely conflicting synonym for “unmovable” or “good.” And frankly… neither is very interesting.

Personally, as an audience member, and as a mom looking for shows to share with my kids, I’d rather see a morally ambiguous character—someone who is still developing their moral compass, a character who is conflicted, struggling with issues and decisions. Someone with room to grow, or room to deteriorate.

Photo: JourneyQuest/ZOE
Photo: JourneyQuest/ZOE

And—as an actor—I would MUCH rather play a smart, engaged, funny, seeking, struggling character than one whose description begins and ends with, “she is beautiful and strong, late 20s-early 30s.” (YES, this is often all there is to go on, and you’re lucky if you get “strong.”)

And this is why JourneyQuest matters. This is why a nerdy, fantasy realm, comedic web-series produced in the Pacific Northwest and totally fan-funded by hordes of engaged, enthusiastic geeks matters.

There are several main women characters. That’s a big starting place. In seasons 1 and 2, writer and creator Matt Vancil wrote a script where nearly half the main characters are women, there are more about to be introduced in Season 3, and all of them have room to grow. And every one of them breaks the mold of damn near every script I’ve read in the last 7 years for the following reasons.

They are funny. The women are not relegated to being the subject of, or reactor to jokes about and by the men characters. They get their own zingers and pratfalls and running gags.

They have their own goals and agendas. And—like in real life—said agendas do not always jive with the other main characters’ actions and desires, creating some great conflict and tensions.

They get to make decisions, and they are not always good decisions. These women have their own secrets and motivations, which affect their reasoning and actions, for good, bad, and all shades of grey in between.

They are not all proven good. Good is a silly word, and boring, and needs a better example for your 2nd grade teacher. Some of these women are trying to help others, some are trying to help themselves. Even the normally apparent “villains” have sympathetic qualities and backstories revealed that makes you wonder, but doesn’t tell you what to think, not just yet. Most of them do not do as they are advised, and that spells trouble as often as courage and adventure.

And most importantly, the women characters are integral to the plot. You could not simply pull them out of the story and continue. Without these women and their story arcs, their jokes, their goals and decisions and fallout, their shifting markers of morality, the entire story would stop cold.

And it will. The story will stop if we don’t get funding in less than two days. So please, help the Women of JourneyQuest keep telling their stories! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zombieorpheus/journeyquest-season-3?ref=nav_search

Let’s Doodle With Deadpool!

Well, Deadpool hit theaters recently with a big, violent, bloody, and hilarious bang, boom, slash, and splatter.

Yes, this comic book intended for grown ups, which has been around for 25 years by the way, is all of a sudden being “discovered” by fans of this new, profane sensation, causing juvenile giggles from young adults, and an endless Advil jar worth of headaches from parents like me who have to say “not ’til you’re older…much, much older.”

Continue reading Let’s Doodle With Deadpool!

Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part Twelve): Deadpool

This Padawans is not so much like the others in that, in this installment, we’re talking about a comic-based media property rather than source material documents. I like how academic that sounds, don’t you? Especially given the subject at hand.

Property of Fox Studios
Property of Fox Studios

It’s been a while since I saw a movie opening weekend. A movie that wasn’t Star Wars anyway. Spending more time than I already do away from the kids, ticket and babysitter investment… there are a lot of moving parts and it’s rare there’s a movie I want to see enough to make the effort to coordinate all of them. I’ve been waiting a long time for Deadpool, though, so I made an exception, really, really hoping it as going to be worth it.

It was. It was so worth it. Deadpool met and exceeded all raunchy, foul-mouthed, hilarious, bloody, anti-heroic expectations.

Continue reading Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part Twelve): Deadpool

What’s Killing MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER?

Peggy Carter is one of the best, most fully realized, complete characters to grace our television screens in recent years.

Characters, full stop.

Don’t get me wrong, she was great on the larger screens as well, but in Captain America: The First Avenger she was, at least hypothetically, a secondary player (though I think we can all admit she stole every scene she was in). Marvel’s Agent Carter has given us the pleasure, nay the privilege, of having Peggy as our primary protagonist.

She is also one of the strongest, most well-rounded, well-defined, well-written female characters… well, ever.

Season One of Marvel’s: Agent Carter was epic. Nothing is flawless, of course, but Agent Carter was fabulous enough for me, even as a critical viewer, someone who is often watching comic book property media as a reviewer/podcaster, to overlook the occasional slip or SNAFU and just enjoy.

Season two started out strong.

Over the last three episodes, however, Agent Carter has been dying a slow, agonizing, painful death.

Why?

Two words: love triangle.

That oft-mishandled, often desperate, writer’s device intended to “build dramatic tension” and “heighten emotional impact” and which usually just makes everything bland and lame and gag inducing.

Property of Marvel
Property of Marvel

Note I said “love triangle,” not “love story.” Let me clarify: I in no way think Peggy should spend the rest of her life pining for Steve Rogers. Beyond the fact we know from Winter Soldier that she doesn’t, eternal unrequited would make a deep, complicated, complex character a one-dimensional trope and doing that to Peggy, of all people… the mere thought of it makes me want to burn things with fire.

First of all, Peggy is far too British for such nonsense. Said cultural proclivities have been played largely for humor, especially in her interactions with Jarvis, but beyond gags, I simply can’t see Peggy wasting away for want of a man, even if that man is Captain America. She spent time in Season One grieving and I can get entirely and absolutely, one hundred percent behind the inclusion of that piece of her story. Humans grieve the loss of someone they care about. They grieve the loss of love. The loss of what could have been. Grief makes Peggy a stronger character (not in the ass-kicking way, though she is certainly that and I love watching it, especially when it shows off her fantastic wardrobe to best advantage) because it shows us her depth, her growth, her progression. It shows us that the writers have thought about who she is and what moves her, what motivates her.

Second and far more importantly: She is Peggy. Flarking. Carter. Not some cliched vestal virgin snared by the unrequited. If watching her mourn Steve establishes her character, her personality, her humanity, then watching her fall in love again adds even more details to the portrait, humanizes her even further. Because most people do fall in love again. Most people do find someone else and even if that someone isn’t who they imagined themselves with, had dreams of living a life beside, well then they find something new to adore in that new person. She will always miss Steve (well, until he gets unfrozen anyway) and that is part of human nature but the grief will dim, the mourning period will end. Peggy deserves love and she deserves to be in love.

Property of Marvel
Property of Marvel

I want to watch that happen. I want to watch her find that remarkable person and I want to watch a relationship and an emotional connection develop. I want to discover, along with her, the individual who loves her for everything she is: agent, warrior, soldier, highly intelligent, determined, stubborn, capable, and yes, woman, and who earns her devotion in return.

The stupid love triangle is ruining that opportunity for all of us, Peggy and her devotees all.

I can see her with Jason Wilkes. I can also see her with Daniel Sousa. They both respect her, feel drawn to her for all the right reasons (see above). They both see her as a woman and as a person. Neither of them falls into the trap of being intimidated by her or wanting her to be anything other than what and who she is. They both have faith in her, support her and both show it in a million ways, large and small.

So why do I think the love triangle is killing Agent Carter?

The love triangle cheapens both men and it cheapens Peggy. It makes her into their object rather than allowing her to remain her own subject. It cheapens the genuine emotion and the emotional respect Wilkes and Sousa have for her and that which she has for them.

As Jarvis would say, “That simply won’t do.”

Not all love triangles are, by definition, devices. If the three points were Peggy, Daniel, and Angie, for example, or Peggy, Wilkes, and Angie, then this would be a completely different article; either of those triangles would give us insight into a new aspect of Peggy’s person-hood. As it stands, the triangle has nothing to do with her deciding between a black man and a white one; Peggy has made it clear from episode one that she doesn’t give a fig for the color of Jason’s skin and it has no bearing on her feelings toward him and no effect on whether she is going to choose him or Sousa (if she chooses either). She’s in the middle of two men, one of whom will probably get the girl and one of whom will likely fall on the overused, blunt, and rusty blade of dignity, sacrificing so that “Peggy will be happy,” thus using her to make a point about their own characters instead of allowing her to make the choice based on her own.

We are also being robbed of watching Peggy’s life to continue to develop. In Season One, we got a glimpse into her immediate post-Army, post-Steve period. I want to see how things spin out. Triangles are often thought to be the most dramatic of narrative shapes but, quite frankly, I don’t need angst to be engaged. I would like to see Peggy find that new part of herself, to find her new bliss and happiness. Case in point: I love watching Mister and Missus Jarvis. They don’t quarrel, they don’t fight, they don’t storm around and throw things. They don’t negate one another’s worth by making decisions for each other. They are a lovely, wonderful, honest couple and they are a joy which proves compelling romance does not require ennui

Agent Carter is a grand adventure with more than enough drama in its various narrative arcs and character play: Jack Thompson being sucked into an organization I can only assume will somehow be associated with Hydra; Dottie Underwood running amok; shades of the Black Widow Project, settling disputes with SSR scientists; going behind enemy lines with the Howling Commandos; finding remarkable toys; saving the world; keeping Howard Stark in check; flamingos. It is wonderful, impossible madness and it is so, so much fun. Peggy’s potential love life should certainly be a part of the story but it doesn’t need to be all flarked up by pathos. Love, for Peggy, should be another wonderful adventure, a part of who she is, a piece of her puzzle but not the whole of her being. Seeing her in a burgeoning, somewhat sane relationship would only make the drama of the huge action set pieces even more intense and enjoyable.

I get plenty of conflict and ennui from Daredevil and almost more than I could handle (in the best possible way) in Jessica Jones. Agent Carter is an entirely different animal and the writers should trust us viewers enough to know that, to know that we don’t need it to remain engaged with Peggy because we love her the way she has been.

She knows her value. We know her value. This thing the writers seem to feel was necessary this season, this thing that takes away the very essence of what makes Peggy so amazing? It devalues her.

Which gives me rage bees. Soooooo many rage bees.

There are rumors of Agent Carter‘s imminent cancellation because ratings, because Hayley Atwell has a new pilot, because, because, because… Remember this whole thing was spawned from a short created because the fans asked for more Peggy Carter. Remember that Hannibal got three seasons despite its ratings because there was a vocal fan base, that John Constantine popped up on Arrow this season because the Hellblazers, myself among them, asked for more Matt Ryan. Remember that Agent Carter is only eight episodes and, as something of a vanity project, can be planned around the rest of Attwell’s schedule if she is so inclined or can swing over to Netflix if ABC doesn’t want to foot the bill.

Agent Carter isn’t dead yet.

She can be resuscitated. The writers need to recover that last spark, to tighten this thing back up, to stop relying on typical tricks for a remarkable character. We, as fans, need to demand Peggy put on her red lipstick and red sunglasses and remember she knows her value. Flawed and human, a woman who could simultaneously found S.H.I.E.L.D., research particle physics, convince Howard Stark to keep it in his pants, stare down senators, earn the respect of Dum Dum Dugan and Mister Jarvis, and fall in love after Captain America.

Her value. Not what she’s worth to Daniel. Not what she’s worth to Jason.

What she is worth to herself.

Property of Marvel
Property of Marvel

I’ll hashtag for that Peggy.

#SaveAgentCarter

Property of Marvel
Property of Marvel

See You Next Summer, Gravity Falls

Dear Pines Family and Gravity Falls Residents,

Schmebulock. In other words, thank you and good-bye.

Thank you for being there for my family over the last few years. We met you when our son was still taking naps and would get a quick cartoon while snuggling before his nap. After a few weeks, we felt as though we knew you all so very well.

Continue reading See You Next Summer, Gravity Falls

‘The X-Files’ 10.5: “Babylon” – What the Honky Tonk Badonkadonk?!

In this week’s episode of The X-Files, Mulder and Scully work with another pair of FBI agents to help foil a terrorist plot, and Mulder takes a magical mystery trip courtesy of some mushrooms. Read behind the cut for our spoiler-filled recap of “Babylon”. Continue reading ‘The X-Files’ 10.5: “Babylon” – What the Honky Tonk Badonkadonk?!

Will ‘The Freemaker Adventures’ Finally Put a Mom in the ‘Star Wars’ Universe?

This week, Disney XD announced a new animated LEGO Star Wars series coming this summer. While I’m always excited that a new entry in the Star Wars universe is coming, complete with classic character cameos and the humor we’ve come to expect from LEGO, this is the part that really caught my eye:

When their youngest discovers a natural connection with the Force through an ancient artifact – the Kyber Saber – his world is turned upside down, and he and his family are thrown into an epic struggle against the Empire to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy.

Does this mean that LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures will introduce the first MOTHER with an active part in the Star Wars universe?

Wait a minute, you’re probably saying, there have been plenty of moms in the Star Wars universe. Let’s take a quick tally. Continue reading Will ‘The Freemaker Adventures’ Finally Put a Mom in the ‘Star Wars’ Universe?

‘The X-Files’ 10.4: “Home Again” – The Trash Man Cometh

On this week’s episode of The X-Files, Mulder and Scully investigate a series of horrifying murders linked to the homeless of Philadelphia, while Scully handles a personal tragedy.

This is the episode that I, as a die-hard fan, have been waiting for this season. It combines all the elements that made the X-Files great. A disturbing villain, a social message, some fantastic jump scares, and a wonderfully emotional story for Mulder and Scully.

In fact, the only thing I found myself not liking was a specific camera angle, which says a lot about the episode as a whole. “Home Again” offered some amazing opportunities for both Scully, and us as viewers, to examine the aftermath of William’s adoption and how that has impacted Scully ever since. It also opened up new questions, including the nature of Charlie Scully’s estrangement, and of Scully’s relationship with her mother over recent years. But a good episode of The X-Files always had to end by giving us more questions, and this one delivers in spades.

Read behind the jump for our spoiler-filled recap of “Home Again”.

Continue reading ‘The X-Files’ 10.4: “Home Again” – The Trash Man Cometh

‘The Shannara Chronicles’ Episode 1.3 -‘Fury’

Have you started watching The Shannara Chronicles yet? If you haven’t, I think you should. The show is not at all what I was expecting (read: hoping for) but I’m finding myself enjoying it just as it is, despite considerable changes from the novel.

If you need a memory refresher, check out the premiere episode recap.

“Fury,” (actually labeled as episode 3 by MTV but don’t get me started) aired originally a few weeks back but is available for free streaming on mtv.com or you can buy it from Amazon. The last time I checked, the premiere is free but you have to pay to watch the subsequent episodes with Amazon.

Shannara Chronicles Fury
Photo: Fury from Shannara Chronicles

Continue reading ‘The Shannara Chronicles’ Episode 1.3 -‘Fury’

Honest Valentines from Mommy’s 15 Seconds

Meet Mommy. She only has 15 seconds to record her thoughts while hiding from her children in the closet or bathroom. No one knows how many kids she has or what her real first name is, but one thing is certain, whether she is inventing things to make life easier or sharing poopie stories, she sure is funny!

For Valentine’s Day, Mommy got a great idea that backfired horribly…

Well, to be honest, Honest Valentines are kind of funny… Continue reading Honest Valentines from Mommy’s 15 Seconds

‘The X-Files’ 10.3: “Mulder And Scully Meet the Were-Monster” – Dagoo? Dagoo!

On this week’s episode of The X-Files, the show gives us the latest in its run of comedy episodes that stretches back to season two.

As with many of the previous comedy episodes, this one contains some fantastic moments and some deeply troubling ones. Read on for our spoiler-filled recap of “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”. Continue reading ‘The X-Files’ 10.3: “Mulder And Scully Meet the Were-Monster” – Dagoo? Dagoo!

Super Bowl Ads Get Nerdy With Aliens, Scott Baio, and Avocados

The Super Bowl is coming! Like winter, it happens every year and if you’re a football fan, then it’s a big deal. If you’re not a football fan, then it’s really just about eating lots of nachos and watching the commercials. The big game is only a few days away and some of the ads are already leaking, including this fabulously nerdy ad featuring aliens, Scott Baio, and avocados.

Everyone knows that avoacados are delicious and that, yes, we will happily pay extra for guacamole. Avocados from Mexico wants to make sure you don’t forget the guac for this year’s game, so that’s why they’ve released this ad early. There is so much nerdy goodness in here, you’re going to want to watch it more than once. Continue reading Super Bowl Ads Get Nerdy With Aliens, Scott Baio, and Avocados

The Normalization of Domestic Violence in ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’

A few months ago, I wrote about the normalization of domestic violence in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. There were a couple of comments on the article, one of which was to the effect of, “Well, Anakin is a bad guy, what do you expect?”

I don’t typically engage over stuff like that; through experience I’ve come to realize it’s unlikely I’ll change the minds of the close minded. People are entitled to their opinion, I suppose, even if I strenuously disagree.

Let’s play devil’s advocate for moment, however. Let’s leave the others out of it and pretend Anakin’s inherent seed of evil predisposed him to abusive behavior towards his wife. For the record, I think that’s a load of crap, but I posit it here so I may counter it.

I am going to counter it with Carter Hall as he appears in DC’s Legend’s Of Tomorrow.

I’m going to say at the outset that my only previous frame of reference for this character is the Justice League cartoon. I’ve done some research on him for a hero profile over at the Last Chance Salon, but I’m not super familiar with his comic self. What I am writing here is based purely on my observations of the first two episodes of Legends. Clear? Cool.

We the viewers are supposed to believe Carter Hall is a good guy. A hero. He has, for multiple lifetimes, been holding back the forces of darkness. He has given his life over millennia for the afore mentioned cause. He is also a lover, holding fast to Shayera whether they are together or separated. We’re to believe their love is true and enduring and has survived not only death but any possible extenuating circumstances such as: distance, personality changes, and other people.

In the Legends of Tomorrow framework? I’m not buying it. Continue reading The Normalization of Domestic Violence in ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’

All The Reasons My Daughter Loves ‘Octonauts’

My daughter Elodie is three and a half. And while, like many girls her age, she’s a big fan of things pink, frilly, and princessy, her heart truly skips a beat when it comes to the Octonauts. It’s her first request in the morning. It’s her favorite pretend time (especially with her little Peso doll). And consequently, it’s currently our biggest bargaining chip when it comes to doing discipline.

Most of the time when I watch a show with the kids, I sort of filter what I think they like. I break it down, talk about the education and developmental aspects, and filter it through my lens. (Well, okay — I will say, they’re totally adorable, and they super appeal to my inner oceanographer nerd).

But today I’m going to give you the reasons the Octonauts is great, not from my analysis, but from hers. Because, really, in the world of blogging, what better than to go directly to the source?

Mommy: Why do you like the Octonauts?

Elodie: Because big and tall!

Mommy: They make you big and tall? How?

Elodie: Because Captain Barnacles! He’s really big and strong.

Mommy: Who’s your favorite character?

Elodie: Dashi and Shellington and all of them. Who’s your favorite?

Mommy: Shellington. I love a Scottish accent.

Elodie: Me, too, Mom.

Mommy: What do you learn on the show?

Elodie: Captain Barnacles strike! I’m strong like Captain Barnacles.

Mommy: Okay, what do they do on the show?

Elodie: They, um, to your mission!

Mommy: Why do you love the show so much?

Elodie: Because there are biscuits. And sprinkles and sparkly ones.

Mommy: Where do they go on the show?

Elodie: To the missions!

Mommy: Where do they live?

Elodie: They live into the Octopod. It’s a squid! They live in a squid. They live in an octopod.

Mommy: What’s special about it?

Elodie: Tweak! She always makes stuff. And GUPS.

Mommy: Anything else you want to tell me about the show?

Elodie: No, actually. Well, Tweak always makes GUPS and wow, Tweak!

There you go, folks. Right from the mind of the foremost authority on the subject. You can catch Octonauts on Netflix.

Natania is a Netflix StreamTeam member.

Top image via Octonauts.com, Disney.

Buffy Redux: Watching BTVS with my Daughter

I have a confession – I made my daughter cry. Not on purpose – well, not exactly – but with an admitted amount of foreknowledge. You see, I let her watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer from start to finish.

Not in one sitting, but almost. We started in December and finished it only a few days ago. I knew the characters she’d grown attached to, knew their traumatic ends, and yet I did nothing to warn her.

The Scooby Gang at the end, copyright WB Television Network
The Scooby Gang at the end, copyright WB Television Network

She sobbed.

We bonded. Continue reading Buffy Redux: Watching BTVS with my Daughter

‘The X-Files’ 10.2: “Founder’s Mutation” – X-Files Meets X-Men

While Sunday’s opening episode of The X-Files’ 10th season waded far into the depths of mythology, Monday night’s follow-up, “Founder’s Mutation”, looks at the emotional impact that mythology has had on Mulder and Scully, and the scars they still carry.

Read on for our recap but beware: here be spoilers.

Continue reading ‘The X-Files’ 10.2: “Founder’s Mutation” – X-Files Meets X-Men

10 Questions with Lori Morgan of Discovery Channel’s ‘Killing Fields’

When Lori Morgan’s three children began school, so did she. But while they studied the three R’s, Lori studied forensics. Now the Louisiana police detective is solving crimes in front of the camera, as part of Discovery Channel’s hit show Killing Fields. She’s the lead DNA expect in this season’s puzzling case. Her life has never been more complicated, or more exciting.

Killing Fields is co-executive produced by Emmy Award-winning producer Tom Fontana (“St. Elsewhere”)  and Academy Award-winning film director Barry Levinson (“Rain Man”) and follows homicide detectives as they reopen a cold case from the Louisiana swamplands.

Join GeekMom, with the help of Discovery Channel, as we talk with Lori Morgan, and then stay tuned for a sneak peak from the show — before the new season of Killing Fields airs January 26 at 10pm/9 central. Continue reading 10 Questions with Lori Morgan of Discovery Channel’s ‘Killing Fields’

‘Downton Abbey Season 6’: Saying Good-Bye

And they say romance writers are sentimental. They have nothing on Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey.

That was my overall reaction to bing watching on Downton Abbey, season 6, via my review copy over the weekend. You can do the same, as the DVD releases today, even though PBS just aired part four on Sunday night.

I’ve stuck with the show through thick and thin, though I nearly quit after Anna’s rape that somehow became all about her husband instead of her. Yet, I couldn’t completely let the show go. Why? Because as any good watcher of a soap opera does, I grew attached to the characters. Oh, not all of them. Mary could die horribly, drawn and quartered, and I wouldn’t care. (I’m also lukewarm about Daisy, Denker and Spratt.)

Oh, but there’s Edith, the Jan Brady of the Crawley clan, who has tried mightily to find happiness and keeps falling short. My one requirement for this season was  “Edith gets a happy ending.”

There’s also Carson and Mrs. Hughes, who are lovely, Anna, Baxter, Mrs. Patmore, Molesley, the Countess, and, of course, the Dowager Duchess/Grandmama, who gets all the best lines.

MAJOR SPOILERS AFTER THE CUT
Continue reading ‘Downton Abbey Season 6’: Saying Good-Bye

‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’: A Lot of Potential & Some Potential Problems.

I have pretty much given up on the DC TV-verse. I didn’t want to. But now that we’ve had a taste of genuine rogue John Constantine, even one of my favorite characters of all time, Green Arrow, can’t keep me engaged. Mostly because our dear demonologist reminded me this Green Arrow is a whiny, dour, paternalistic, douchebag.

The Flash, which has kept itself alive on my watchlist as the goofier, younger sibling went *splat* with the midseason premiere. The reasons are legion and previously ranted about by myself and others.

See that Ray Palmer face? That's the one. Property of DC/WB/CW
See that Ray Palmer face? That’s the one. Property of DC/WB/CW

After the above debacles, I considered, even having been rather excited previously, skipping Legends of Tomorrow all together.

In the end, I watched.

And in the end I was pleased.

Mostly. Continue reading ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’: A Lot of Potential & Some Potential Problems.

The X-Files 10.1: “My Struggle” – A New Mythology for the Modern Age

The X-Files returned to FOX last night after a, frankly terrifying, 14-year hiatus. Launching straight back into the show’s epic, and complex, mythology, Mulder, Scully, and the gang were back in fine, if confusing form in the unfortunately titled “My Struggle Part One”, an episode that delighted fans but is unlikely to win over many new faces, whilst positively alienating (pun absolutely intended) anyone sitting in the right hand side of the political spectrum.

Read on for our spoilerific recap! Continue reading The X-Files 10.1: “My Struggle” – A New Mythology for the Modern Age