by Julian Spivey
The premiere of the ninth season of “Doctor Who,” since the 50-plus year old series was revived in the mid-00s, was Saturday, Sept. 19 and the season began with a whopper of a question: Could The Doctor actually kill a child to avoid the creation of evil beings, save millions of lives and potentially the future of the world?
“Doctor Who” is frequently better when The Doctor is battling his own inner-demons rather than the demons that are some race of alien hell-bent on destroying Earth or other lifeforms in the vast universe. In “The Magician’s Apprentice” The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is battling both his inner-demons on whether or not he could let a child die, but also one of his greatest adversaries in the great history of the show, Davros the Dark Lord of Skaro and creator of the Daleks.
The episode begins in the middle of a long war between two unknown factions when a boy comes across a battlefield and gets trapped in a field of hand mines – hands that spring up out of the ground and pull you under to your certain death. The Doctor arrives to the boys cries of help and attempts to save the lad before asking him his name. When the boy answers, Davros, The Doctor does the unthinkable – getting back into his TARDIS and flying away.
It’s a decision that The Doctor regrets and we see this for at least the first half of the episode as he’s basically hiding from everybody in his shame. In fact, he’s seemingly finally ready to die – a Doctor who fails to save all lives is not worthy of the title, after all.
The only two people who can seemingly find him are his companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) and his arch-nemesis and fellow Time Lord, Missy (The Master) – who survived the end of the last season, not really a surprise to fans of the series. Missy, as played by Michelle Gomez, is a terrific villain because she’s somewhat endearing with her humor, but oh so disturbing in the gleeful way she murders people.
Throughout the first part of the episode there is someone else also trying to find The Doctor besides Clara and Missy, a mysterious hooded reptilian bounty hunter type figure named Colony Sarff, who’s been hired by Davros to locate The Doctor and bring him back to Skaro. This is a task he ultimately does, with both Clara and Missy in tow.
The Doctor and Davros, who is dying and wants to get revenge on The Doctor one last time before doing so, have quite the showdown scene where Davros essentially scolds The Doctor for turning his back on him and fleeing so many years before. Davros starts his revenge by killing Missy, but knows he’ll truly get at The Doctor’s hearts by having his Daleks exterminate Clara – which they do in a shocking moment (though we realize The Doctor will probably save her in next week’s to be continued episode).
As his dying wish Davros wants to hear The Doctor utter the words, “Compassion is wrong” just one time, but the scene cuts to the Daleks destroying the TARDIS and after a bright light appears we see The Doctor back in time again with the boy, with the incredibly rare sight of a gun in his hand before uttering the word, “Exterminate.” It’ll be interesting as hell next week to see how this all unfolds.
Side Note: The Doctor is always cool, but I’m not sure he’s ever been cooler than playing an electric guitar (bringing a different kind of ax to an ax fight). I particularly enjoyed the moment upon where The Doctor sees Clara up above the arena and begins to play the opening notes of the Roy Orbison classic “Oh Pretty Woman.” Just another terrific scene of coolness from the series.
by Aprille Hanson
It can’t be a season of “The Big Bang Theory” without it jerking fans around. But just like a bad relationship, we keep coming back … and laughing along.
At the end of season 8, fans saw Penny (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) riding off to Las Vegas to get married, but on the car ride there came a shocking admission – Leonard had made out with a fellow scientist on his long Antarctic mission a few seasons back. Despite Penny’s anger and sadness, they continue on to Vegas. That in itself was a bad sign.
That came out of nowhere from the writers.
But Amy (Mayim Bialik) telling Sheldon (Jim Parsons) she wanted to take a break to think about their relationship? Now that was coming for multiple seasons. I realize it’s a comedy, but Sheldon’s treatment of Amy was almost becoming borderline mentally abusive, though not intentional. It was always his way, they rarely kissed and he wasn’t really nice to her. It just made sense. Now, what didn’t was the end of the episode where Sheldon, devastated and blindsided, wonders what to do with his engagement ring for Amy. That was the most shocking moment since the two of them first kissed and honestly, probably even more so because we all knew the kiss was coming eventually – the idea of getting married really never had to cross Sheldon’s mind for the show to move forward.
In the season nine opener “The Matrimonial Momentum,” it picks up pretty much where it left off last season. Leonard and Penny are at the Vegas chapel in the most underrated and unromantic wedding they could have dreamed up, from deciding whether or not to get a buffet breakfast at the strip club next door to the chapel being out of rose pedals for Penny’s walk up the aisle. No worries, one of the workers suggests some potpourri from the bathroom as a substitute. The semi-happy couple decline, but agree to stream their wedding online so their friends back home can join in.
As a fan of the show since the beginning, I realize that the lead roles of Penny and Leonard have shifted really to Sheldon and partially Amy by association. But honestly, I wanted a better wedding for the two characters. It might still happen down the road, since Penny was mad enough in their honeymoon suite when she found out that Leonard still works with the woman he kissed, that they two went home … to their separate apartments.
Since the wedding was such a bust, the real story was, and realistically is, Amy’s break-up with Sheldon. Well, “break” but spoilers … it leads to a break-up. When Amy asks for “space” Sheldon is at her door 11 hours later. He has a defense of course – Amy once said watching the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy felt like an “eternity” so that’s about the space he thought she’d need.
Turns out she needs more and the only ones who seem to know about the intended proposal was Sheldon and his mother, another great but brief cameo by Laurie Metcalf. My hope is that she makes an appearance in one of the upcoming episodes and spills the beans to Amy that Sheldon was going to propose to her with his grandmother’s ring.
Amy heads over to Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette’s (Melissa Rauch) where Stuart (Kevin Sussman) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar) are waiting to watch the wedding online, Sheldon not invited of course, to cut down on awkwardness. But Sheldon of course goes full stalker, standing outside the window. His persistence forces Amy into a corner where she lets him have it – he’s immature, rude and she’s done. For good. No thinking about it anymore. While sad, it’s a good-for-her moment, one that’s been a long-time coming.
There’s of course typical ‘Big Bang’ humor thrown in to make the very sad storylines not seem as tragic –Penny’s wedding vows being the best.
For his, Leonard explained how the atoms through space and time came together and how they were made for each other. Penny put completely on the spot, explains how he’s not only the love of her life, but her best friend and “you’ve got a friend in me,” she says, and continues to recite the famed “Toy Story” theme.
While the preacher points that out with a “that’s lame” look on his face, Penny explains, “Leonard loves that movie” and he’s almost in tears and agrees. It’s just hilarious.
But no matter how many one-liners or funny/cute moments they threw in, it’s a heartache of a starter for this season. Sure, both couples likely will find their way back to one another – hopefully this time Sheldon respecting Amy more and Leonard and Penny finally just getting it together already.
Until then, we get to sit back and watch the relationships implode … ‘Big Bang’ style.
by Julian Spivey
History was made at the 67th annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 20 when Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody when announcing the winner for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series opened up the envelope and said: “the Emmy goes to … Viola Davis, ‘How to Get Away with Murder.’”
This might sound unbelievable, but Davis is the first African-American in the 67 year history of the Emmy Awards to win the award for Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Going into the night I personally wanted to see Taraji P. Henson win the award for her scene stealing performance in the hit Fox drama “Empire.” I enjoy Davis’ performance immensely on ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” and agree she is very deserving of her honor, but I just find Henson’s performance to be more enjoyable, not necessarily better, but more enjoyable than Davis’ role.
Despite initially wanting to see Henson, whom obviously would’ve held the same distinction as Davis in being the first African-American actress to take home this coveted award, win I was thrilled afterward that it was Davis who took home the statue because of her impressive and eloquent speech – instantaneously easily one of the greatest speeches in the history of any award show.
Davis remarked about how for years there just wasn’t many leading roles for women of color and now thanks to showrunners like her own Shonda Rhimes and writers and creators willing to now create roles for women of color things are finally getting better for actresses like her in Hollywood.
It was the best speech of the night on a night filled with beautifully eloquent and important speeches like those from “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway and actor Jeffrey Tambor and made you realize she was truly the right winner at the right time. No disrespect intended toward Henson, who very likely could have given a similar acceptance speech as Davis did, but it just felt right for Davis to take this award after hearing her talk about the honor and thanking those who paved the way for her to do so.
If you haven’t yet seen Davis’ acceptance speech you truly must do so …
by Julian Spivey
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are ending Comedy Central’s popular sketch comedy series “Key & Peele” on Wednesday night (September 9) after five seasons and more than 50 episodes of some of sketch comedy’s finest moments.
Key and Peele have proven to be masters of comedy, especially when taking on subjects like race and politics and the decision to end their show after only five seasons came as a shock to many. Hopefully the two comedians can go out on top with the one-hour finale tonight, after a mostly weak fifth season.
Here are Key and Peele’s 10 greatest sketches over their fantastic run:
10. Trigger-Happy White Cop
Key and Peele are almost always at their best when taking on the current state of affairs in our country. This is likely no better seen than in a sketch that aired in the season five premiere where a white cop (played by Key) is incredibly quick to judgment and trigger happy when it comes to black people, but will always hold his fire around white folks – even one that looks like he’s about to take on zombies in “The Walking Dead.” It’s probably one of the most controversial sketches the two have ever aired, but it can’t be denied that it speaks to a particular problem going on currently in this country – black people dying at the hands of white police officers. It’s truly unbelievable that Key and Peele could find humor in such a thing that’s often a tragedy in the U.S.
9. Pirate Chantey
Also airing early on in season five, Key and Peele’s Pirate Chantey sketch took on sexism and rape culture. Rape in particular has been a topic of controversy among comedians and whether or not they should joke about it – but if done right it could be hilarious. This sketch of pirates singing about not taking advantage of women is a unique spin on an often over-played subject.
8. Black Republicans
I’ve often wondered over the years how such a thing as a black republican could exist. It’s no doubt something that Key and Peele must find comical, as well, as they brilliantly lampooned this rarity of life into a sketch about a group meeting of black republicans. Among the most hilarious bits of this sketch are Jordan Peele’s speaker talking about the diversity of black republicans and the camera panning to the small crowd of guys who look entirely like each other and the identical gestures and mannerisms of everybody in the sketch.
7. Alien Imposters
Alien Imposters goes back to what is probably Key and Peele’s biggest strength – joking about race. In this sketch the world has been attacked by aliens and Key and Peele are survivors, armed and on the lookout for aliens trying to trick them. When they come across a redneck donning Confederate flag clothing asking them to come live with a small group of survivors they realize there’s no way in hell this guy is a real human and they shoot him. When a white businessman answers that he’d let Key date his daughter it’s again a sign that it’s an alien trickster. My favorite moment of the sketch is when the duo comes across another black guy and they ask him what he thinks about the police and he responds, “I loved their third album.” Of the many sketches poking fun at race throughout this show’s run this is one of the very best.
Key and Peele will often do sketches that are really outside of the box and frankly more often than not I find these to be among their weakest sketches. But, when they decided to poke fun at the nerd culture of steampunk I found it to be a true highlight of their work. However, this sketch doesn’t seem to have hit a comedy nerve that much of their work has and this is likely the only list you’ll see this particular bit appear on. Key plays what can be considered your stereotypical thug Cedric who’s waiting on his friend Levi (played by Jordan Peele) who rides up on a tricked out bicycle dressed in steampunk attire to the bemusement of Cedric. The funniest moment of this incredibly smart sketch, in my opinion, is when Cedric tells Levi he doesn’t even know what steampunk is and Peele’s character says, “Jules Verne and shit.” It’s without a doubt in my mind Key and Peele’s most underrated sketch.
5. Valet Guys
Key and Peele’s Valet Guys is probably one of their most recurring sketches alongside Luther the Anger Translator. The Valet Guys is the perfect lampoon of pop culture in that it manages to flawlessly combined nerd culture and black culture into these two guys who are absolutely crazy about movies and television. From their fan boy conversations on Batman and “Game of Thrones” to Mellie Gibson and Liam Neesons the sight of these two guys absolutely nerding out remains funny no matter how often Key and Peele goes to them.
4. Gay Wedding Advice
Black culture, for some reason I obviously wouldn’t know, has always seemed to react slightly differently to gay marriage and gay culture than white culture does. Key and Peele picked up on that brilliantly in their gay wedding advice sketch from a couple of seasons ago in which a black family in preparation for the gay wedding of their cousin invites a gay man into their home to explain what will take place. The gay man (Keegan-Michael Key) tries to explain that a gay wedding is pretty much done just like a straight wedding, but the family continues to ask him hilarious questions about whether men should wear dresses and women wear suits and whether or not they should throw couscous or skittles instead of rice at the ceremony. From start to finish this is no doubt one of the funniest sketches in “Key & Peele” history.
3. East vs. West Football Introductions
Key and Peele have pretty much been the top of the comedy game when it comes to poking fun at sports culture over the last five seasons, as they have with all sorts of other cultures. This is no better seen than during their football introductions sketch in which they not only lampoon televised football introductions, but also some of the wackier names in black culture. Key and Peele play all of these characters themselves with an assortment of crazy wigs and facial hair (something the show has been brilliant with over the years). It’s a very simple sketch with just player after player announcing their names, but with names like Javaris Jamar Javarison-Lamar, Hingle McCringleberry and Ozamataz Buckshank it keeps you laughing throughout. The great punchline of the whole bit is the one white guy thrown in at the end named Dan Smith.
2. Substitute Teacher
The Substitute Teacher sketch from early on in the “Key & Peele” run has probably become the most quoted sketch in the show’s history. The sketch revolves around an inner-city substitute teacher who’s used to a tougher class of students going to a middle class predominantly white school and the reactions between him and the students. The funniest part of the sketch is the substitute teacher’s inability to pronounce the names of the white kids, in a similar theme to the ridiculous names in the football sketch. The substitute teacher pronouncing the name Aaron as A-A-Ron is something that’s likely going to live on in the pop culture lexicon for many years to come.
1. Luther the Anger Translator
Keegan-Michael Key’s Luther the Anger Translator is the greatest character “Key & Peele” has ever come up with and is one that will live on in the annals of classic sketch comedy characters for as long as the medium of sketch comedy television series exists. The idea to have President Barack Obama give a speech and have an angry black man saying what the President really wants to say to his many critics was brilliant. The sketch is absolutely made by Key’s performance as Luther, but his hilarity is heightened by Jordan Peele’s absolutely perfect impression of President Obama. I’ve seen many Obama impressions over the years and none are better than Peele’s. Luther the Anger Translator has become such a huge success in pop culture that Key made an appearance as Luther this past spring during the annual White House Correspondents Dinner backing up the actual President Obama.
by Julian Spivey
The fall network television schedule looks pretty weak when it comes to new shows debuting in the next 30 days. Almost every show added to each network’s schedule appears to be worse than the shows canceled last season to make room for them. Things are particularly bad on the comedy side of things as most of the new sitcoms look like they would’ve been better off airing in the ‘90s (and that’s definitely not a compliment).
Here are the five new network shows premiering this fall that look like they might stand out in a crowd of what mostly looks like stinkers …
5. “Scream Queens” (Fox) – Premieres: September 22 @ 7 pm
“Scream Queens” is the newest series from Ryan Murphy of “Glee” and “American Horror Story” fame who appears to have combined the popularity of those two series into something that looks like a comical horror series that is supposed to have a new storyline each season ala “American Horror Story.” The series’ first season will center around a sorority and murders surrounding that sorority and will star Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Abigail Breslin and others. The quality of the show could easily be iffy, but it may be the closest thing to a surefire success from any new show this fall.
4. “Code Black” (CBS) – Premieres: September 30 @ 9 pm
Frankly I haven’t been interested in any medical dramas since the heyday of “ER.” This particular part of the drama genre seems completely played out and so ‘90s. It has also recently fallen by the wayside on network television but this fall there are two medical dramas: CBS’ “Code Black” and NBC’s “Chicago Med.” I don’t follow the other two members of NBC’s little ‘Chicago Trilogy’ and frankly find the idea of stocking the entire schedule with similar series from the same city to be uninteresting and lacking in originality so there’s no chance of me tuning into “Chicago Med.” “Code Black” honestly isn’t something I’d probably pay much attention to either, were it not for its lead Marcia Gay Harden, who has proven herself to be a strong actress time and time again. I’ll tune in for Harden and see where the storylines take me.
3. “Blood & Oil” (ABC) – Premieres: September 27 @ 8 pm
It’s a good thing ABC opted to change the title of this show from just “Oil” to “Blood & Oil” before it even began because we’ve seen in the past that a bad title can kill a show before it even gets out of the gate. It was one of the factor’s that likely killed the decent ABC sitcom “Trophy Wife” two years ago and hurt popular ABC sitcom “blackish” out of the gate last year. Let’s face it, “Oil” was a horrible title (“Blood & Oil” may not be a whole lot better) and would’ve made it hard to survive. This soap-ish looking series about an oil boom town in North Dakota could be something that plays very well at ABC or it could find survival hard if the demographic (likely mostly women) find the storyline or setting to be too boring. The 8 pm slot on Sunday night might also not be the greatest place to begin your run.
2. “Life in Pieces” (CBS) – Premieres: September 21 @ 7:30 pm
The 2015 fall television season looks to have the worst crop of new comedies potentially in the history of network television. There are only six new sitcoms debuting this fall and really only one of them looks halfway promising and that’s CBS’ “Life in Pieces” (although ABC’s “The Muppets” will probably be popular because it’s the freakin’ Muppets after all). There really isn’t anything about the trailer for “Life in Pieces” that makes me believe it’ll be a great show. I just really like some of the cast members like Thomas Sadoski, Colin Hanks, Betsy Brandt and James Brolin and that group makes me believe it could be a strong show. Also, the show premiering and airing directly after the most watched comedy on television “The Big Bang Theory” should ensure its survival to a second season regardless of quality.
1. “The Player” (NBC) – Premieres: September 24 @ 9 pm
NBC’s “The Player” is a new drama series mixing crime and Las Vegas where wealthy people gamble on whether or not a former military operative turned security expert can stop crimes before they happen. The series stars Philip Winchester and Wesley Snipes. Why is it number one on this list? Because it comes from the minds of the people who brought us “The Blacklist.” If “The Player” proves to be even half as good as “The Blacklist” it could become the best new series of the fall. The one problem it faces is it’ll be going up against CBS’s Thursday Night Football coverage for its first few months, which will absolutely obliterate it in the ratings.