Quick Reviews of Legion and Grimm (TV shows)

TV series come an go. Sometimes you really get into them, and other times you wonder why the heck you’re wasting your time. (Well, I do, anyway.) Without going into a lot of detail, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about one brand-new show that just finished its first season (“Legion”) and one show that just finished its sixth and final season (“Grimm”). Just f.y.i., in case you haven’t watched them, yet, there are a few spoilers below….

Legion

Bizarre. Freaky. Surreal.

Keller, Stevens, & Plaza

Those are the predominant descriptives that come to mind for the 8-episode series that ended a few days ago. I really wanted to like it, and there were some parts and aspects that I did like. But, for the most part, I have to say I didn’t care for it. It was one of those shows that I was determined to see through to the end of the season, but I didn’t look forward to it each week. (“The Expanse” and “Humans” were like that for me, too.) Some episodes were better than others. But, overall, there was too much weirdness and not enough action, for my taste. It’s not that it creeped me out; it just wasn’t my thing.

There was a very different vibe and, I think, pacing with this show than most. I didn’t care for most of the psychiatric ward stuff, though I understand that it was an integral part of the storyline. I *think* it was supposed to be set roughly in the early ’80s, though the fashion and music seemed mostly a mix of ’60s & ’70s. Of course, show creator/writer Noah Hawley did warn us,

“It’s a little more of a fable in my mind. If you were to say, ‘Where is it, and when is it?’, it’s not exactly clear, I think. And a lot of it is because [David]’s not exactly clear. It’s the world as perceived subjectively on some level.”

We were promised “numerous split personalities — each commanding a different aspect of his power”, which we never got to see. (Maybe in season 2?) There were a couple scenes in which David acted more psychotically, which gave us a glimpse of what Dan Stevens could do with the truly crazy and violent version of Legion from the comics. I like that they did make the connection to the comics after all, even if they didn’t name any of the heroes. (I.e., animated stick-figure of his biological father looked/acted like Prof. Xavier; main baddy was X-Men villain Amahl Farouk (even if he did look more like a circus freak), which I figured out shortly before they revealed/named him.)

I liked Rachel Keller as the semi-tragic ‘Syd’ (partly based on X-Men’s Rogue, maybe?). I don’t think I’ve seen her in anything else, but she reminds me a lot of Gillian Jacobs. Aubrey Plaza’s portrayal of ‘Lenny’ was… weird; but, then, so was ‘Lenny’, so maybe that’s a good thing. In general, I thought the acting ranged from just OK to really good.

Overall, an unconventional and peculiar, slightly disjointed ride. If you like that sort of thing, you’ll probably dig “Legion”. For me, I guess the negatives outweighed the positives. To quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Grimm

I liked “Grimm” from the start. With its various “wessen” creatures — many of whom were supposedly inspirations for myths, legends, & fairytales — living in plain sight, as it were, I considered it sort of a sister show (though very different) to “Once Upon a Time”. The premise was interesting, the plots entertaining, and the central cast was composed of complex characters dealing with odd and sometimes frightening situations. Some characters were lovably eccentric, others infuriatingly two-faced, and the couples (when they were couples) were adorable. Besides that, I had a bit of a crush on Bree Turner’s ‘Rosalee’ character.

“Grimm” cast

So, I was understandably concerned that the show’s end be properly satisfying (and, mostly positive). I was disappointed at first that the show was ending, but I came to realize that it had probably run its course and should end before the writing, etc., became stale. I didn’t like the fact that it was only given 13 episodes for its final season, but that was better than the 6-episode final season that “Nikita” got to wrap up its plotline(s). I was a bit surprised when “Grimm” season 6 debuted, because I thought the final episodes would be about “Black Claw” and wessen rising up and taking over the world — or, at least, major cities and corporations across the globe. That’s where I thought the story was going. But, either I misunderstood, or the writers changed their minds and decided to go in a very different direction.

They did wrap up some plotlines, while also introducing a few new wessen. I thought the mysterious & powerful splinter of wood was something totally different than what they went with. (Maybe they thought my idea was too obvious?) And, of course, it played a major part in wrapping up the final story. There were a couple times during those last couple episodes that shocked me and had me thinking they’d be ending on a very dark, heart-breaking, and foreboding note. But, I was pleasantly surprised at how it all worked out. I will say that it was a little odd and sudden-feeling. It wasn’t “perfect”, and there remain a few unanswered questions. (I’m trying not to give the finale away by saying too much.) Perhaps, the writers were just too rushed to squeeze everything in at the end? In any case, and for the most part, I enjoyed the “Grimm” series finale.

I have taken pleasure in watching this show — equal parts gruesome and delightful — over the past 5 1/2 years. I became quite fond of the characters, too. (Well, most of them.) And I appreciate that they were able to go out on a high note and before jumping the shark. (Hey, that might’ve been a cool wessen!)

Leb wohl, meine Freunde!

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Jack Bauer and the X-Men: The Sequel

“Tick-choom! Tick-choom! Tick-choom! Tick-choom!” — “24”-style countdown timer

In my “Jack Bauer and the X-Men” post of a couple years ago, I briefly discussed the possibility of “24” returning in some form, with or without Kiefer Sutherland’s involvement. I quoted Dana Walden, Chairman and CEO of FOX, who said,

“First of all, we’re not talking about continuing the show without him. We’re talking about whether there’s one installment that he’s not in. Jack Bauer could come in very organically in the story, or [producers are] prepared to do something that would be the one installment without him.”

24-legacy-promo-posterWe will soon see what this initial, Bauer-less attempt at re-vitalizing the “24” series will look like. “24: Legacy” will premiere on Feb. 5, 2017, on the Fox Network. Corey Hawkins stars as Eric Carter, “A military hero who returns to the U.S. with a whole lot of trouble following him back. With nowhere else to turn, the man asks CTU to help him save his life while also stopping one of the largest-scale terror attacks on American soil.” (IMDB plot summary)

It’s too bad Kiefer Sutherland opted not to return (though he did exec produce 1 episode), but I am still optimistic and looking forward to the new show — even though there are only 12 episodes. Does it bother me that the new central character is so different — younger? blacker? a CTU outsider? Of course not. As long as the actor is talented and a good fit for the (hopefully likable) character, and as long as the story is well-written and compelling, with the usual “24” drama, then I’m more than willing to give it a chance. Some continuity with the original series would be nice, though. (I don’t see any of the recent players in the cast list, but it does look like Carlos Bernard’s ‘Tony Almeida’ will show up in an episode. Isn’t he still in prison?)

In the aforementioned post from 2015, I also discussed the announcement by Gary Newman, Co-chair of FOX Entertainment, that a live-action, X-Men-related TV series was in development. Without further details available, I looked at a few possibilities for what it might be about. Well, Marvel & Fox seem to have had other ideas. (Although, “New Mutants” is being made into a big-screen film!)

One concept that was in development for awhile, “Hellfire” (based on the “Hellfire Club” of elitist, mutant supervillains from the comics), was cancelled several months ago. CBR’s Anthony Couto notes that exec producers/showrunners Evan Katz and Manny Coto left “Hellfire” to work on “24: Legacy”. In its place is an “Untitled Fox Marvel Project” by writer Matt Nix (“The Burn Notice”). As reported by Variety‘s Elizabeth Wagmeister,

“[It] will focus on two ordinary parents who discover 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.”

Bryan Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner, Simon Kinberg, Jeph Loeb, Jim Chory, and Nix will all serve as executive producers.

“There’s comic book adventure, emotional and complicated relationships and a rich, existing mythology from which to draw. With the brilliant production crew behind this project, it has all the makings of a big, fun and exciting new series.”  — David Madden, president, entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company

legion-promo-posterMeanwhile, Fox & Marvel have also been developing “Legion” with Noah Hawley (“Bones”, “Fargo”) over at FX, and that series is going to debut just three days after “24: Legacy” (i.e., Feb. 8, 2017). The executive producers include Singer, Donner, Kinberg, Loeb, Chory, John Cameron, and Hawley, with Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”) in the title role. Only eight episodes on order, so far.

“David Haller, a.k.a. Legion, is a haunted man with power beyond comprehension. His power does not come free, but at the steep cost of David’s mind. Plagued by numerous split personalities — each commanding a different aspect of his power — David is trying to find his way back to sanity. But he’s getting tired and about to give up until he meets the girl of his dreams.”

I remember Haller/Legion from my X-Men-reading days, along with the fact that he was Charles Xavier’s bastard son with Israeli diplomat Gabrielle Haller. I remember him being a scary dude, too. (Nothing like an incredibly powerful, mentally unstable, and emotionally volatile mutant to shake things up!) He also had hair that stood straight up about a foot or more atop his head. That eccentricity probably won’t make it into the FX series. In fact, other than his being diagnosed (accurately?) with schizophrenia, it is unclear how closely this version of Haller/Legion will hew to the original or how much it will connect to other Marvel-based shows or movies. According to Hawley,

“It’s a little more of a fable in my mind. If you were to say, ‘Where is it, and when is it?’, it’s not exactly clear, I think. And a lot of it is because he’s not exactly clear. It’s the world as perceived subjectively on some level. The recent ‘X-Men’ movies, starting with ‘First Class,’ are rooted in a time period and a world and playing with history in interesting ways. This isn’t doing that… It’s a standalone kind of thing.”

Here’s the trailer:

I won’t say I’m “psyched” for it, but I am intrigued….

Headline Miscellany

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen several announcements in genre news that I thought were worth commenting briefly on. You may have seen them already, but please indulge me while I give my two cents’ worth (or less) on each. Give your own in the comments, too, if you feel led….

TV/Netflix News

nbc-the-a-team-keyartA-Team:  I thought the movie version from a few years ago was just OK and only liked half of the casting choices. If they want to bring it back to TV, I guess that’s cool… as long as they stay faithful to the original. Sounds like they’re going to make at least one of the main characters female. As long as it isn’t B.A., I guess I can deal with that… maybe. Btw, I started fan-casting for an A-Team reboot long ago, so I’ll have to share those ideas in the coming months.

Iron Fist and Moon Knight:  If the rumor is true about “Iron Fist” getting scrapped (or, at least, postponed), that would be disappointing but not entirely surprising, given the problems with casting and developing a workable concept for the series. (I wonder if they’ve considered bringing in some Hong Kong talent….) It would be a shame not to see the other half of “Power Man and Iron Fist”/”Heroes for Hire” in the Defenders. On the other hand, the possible replacement with Moon Knight works for me. Not clear if MK would be part of the Defenders, but he has been in at least one version of the team in the comics. Regardless, I’ve already expressed my desire to see an MK series, so how could I say “no”?

X-Men:  Well, not X-Men, exactly, but it looks as if not one but two new shows are being developed involving some of Marvel’s not-so-Merry Mutants. The first is “Legion”, named after the illegitimate son of Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller, who happens to be off his nut (i.e., crazy) and incredibly powerful. The second will be a look at “The Hellfire Club” as it existed in the 1960s. Not sure how I feel about “Legion”, especially when there are, imho, several better options. But, a look at the clandestine mutant elitists know as “The Hellfire Club” could prove quite intriguing, and setting it in the 60s is an interesting twist.

TV/Movie News

(Teen) Titans and Birds of Prey(?):  It’s about time we heard something about this. We got a little news in May and then September that the “Titans” TV show is still in development at TNT. Now, we may be getting a Teen Titans movie, too! I was never a huge Titans fan, but I do like several of the characters, so this could be pretty cool. The quoted line that led to the speculation about a Birds of Prey movie, too, is not that clear to me. I read it as referring to the Teen Titans movie possibly having an “all female cast”. But, if they do it right, I am totally in favor of a big-screen Birds of Prey, as long as the connection to Batman and other heroes is there.

Movie News

Xenomorph (H.R. Giger)

Xenomorph (H.R. Giger)

Aliens and Prometheus:  The first part of this is that Scott is now insisting that his Prometheus 2 be scheduled to shoot before Alien 5, which is probably fine, since Blomkamp is still refining his story and script. (Downside, ofc, is that this may delay Alien 5 another year.) A few weeks later, Scott announced that his film will now be titled, Alien: Paradise Lost. This strengthens — or, at least, confirms — its connection to the Alien films. Uncharacteristically, Scott even hinted at “connections with Ripley”, the return (or would that be the debut?) of the classic xenomorph, and big plans for the android David’s severed head. Scott is 77, which may factor into his reasons for this accelerated pace. For me and the rest of the fans, I think it’s a good thing.

Superman:  A bit of bad news, this one. Rumor has it that the much-anticipated Man of Steel 2 is on indefinite hold. Truth be told, though, it’s all a bit sketchy, with nothing definitive coming from the studio or reliable sources. Far as I could tell, we never had any projected dates for production or release, anyway. Still, this is a bit disappointing, and I hope everything comes together in the near future. I’d really like to see Henry Cavill’s Supes in solo action, with focus on him and his classic foes, while he’s still in his 30s.

Men in Black:  I don’t know about this…. MiB is due to return with another trilogy (could be great!) but without Will Smith (could spell disaster). So much of the success of the first trilogy was the characters played by Smith and Jones and their odd-couple chemistry on screen. This makes me dubious of another trilogy’s success without either star. But, who knows? There may be another perfect pair ready to be cast that could — along with clever stories/scripts and F/X — give the franchise three more blockbusters.

Indiana Jones:  According to Spielberg, “I’ll probably do an Indy 5 with Harrison.” This confirms what both (Spielberg protege and current Lucasfilm president) Kathleen Kennedy and producer Frank Marshall have hinted at earlier this year, though there is no script and it will probably be awhile. Of course, if they want to have Ford, 73, actively involved, they better get a move on! One possibility is to have an elderly, possibly ailing, Indy (played by Ford) bookend the movie, as he relates a tale of his younger years to his (grand)children. Not sure how I feel about Chris Pratt (suggested by some) playing that younger version of Indiana Jones, but casting will be crucial to capture that same, lovable, swashbuckling swagger.

Die Hard:  Not sure how I feel about this. I thought the last installment was fun, yet it lacked a little something. Making a prequel could be a great idea, or it could really suck. Willis’ unique presence — the attitude (inc. the ever-present smirk) and delivery of great one-liners — is what made this franchise so popular. Without him, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. Casting the young John McClane is key, along with a great script and director, of course. (Just as it will be for any Star Wars prequel featuring a young Han Solo, or the Indiana Jones prequel mentioned above.) If it doesn’t all come together, they should just let the franchise rest in peace.

UPDATE, 10/22/2015:  Of course, this came out the day after I published this post….

Krypton:  “It takes place 200 years before Man of Steel.… [W]e’ll learn about the politics of the world. We’ll learn about the culture, the art, all the different guilds… a lot of different locations… some of the other moons, which is kind of cool.” That all sounds cool to me. Lots of opportunity to expand on what we “know” about Krypton and its peoples. I’m sure the creators are having a lot of fun mapping it all out. Now, how about an estimated release date…?