Tagged: Dollhouse

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Declassified for Home September 9

Agents Of ShieldRelive All 22 Thrilling Episodes, Plus Get Level 7 Access with Newly De-Classified Bonus Features Available On Blu-ray and DVD.  In Stores September 9, 2014 


agents-of-shield-coulson-death-operationThe mind-blowing saga that began in Marvel’s The Avengers continues in ABC’s action-packed series, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — The Complete First Season.

Skye SHIELDIn the wake of The Battle of New York, the world has changed forever. An extraordinary landscape of wonders has been revealed! In response, mysteriously resurrected Agent Phil Coulson assembles an elite team of skilled agents and operatives: Melinda May, Grant Ward, Leo Fitz, Jemma Simmons and new recruit/computer hacker Skye. Together, they investigate the new, the strange, and the unknown across the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary. But every answer unearths even more tantalizing questions that reverberate across the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe: Who is “The Clairvoyant”? What is Hydra’s sinister master plan; what dark secret lies behind Skye’s puzzling origins, and most importantly of all, who can be trusted?

Cast:                                  Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  stars Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Chloe Bennet as Skye, Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May, Brett Dalton as Agent Grand Ward, Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz and Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Jemma Simmons.

Lady-Sif-Jaimie-Alexander-Agents-of-SHIELDBonus Features:
Journey Into S.D.C.C. – 
Hop on the bus and share the thrill of a lifetime as the series makes its first ever appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, where the cast is welcomed with open arms by a sea of enthusiastic fans

Marvel Studios:  Assembling A Universe TV Special                                                                                   

5 Behind-The-Scenes Field Reports – Get exclusive access to the show’s classified sets for the making of some of your favorite episodes

  • “The Malibu Jump”
  • “The Bridge”
  • “Asgardian Bar Fight”
  • “Classified”
  • “Cello Duet”                                                            

VFX Breakdowns – Explore the layers of effects in sequences with split-frame comparisons to the final version

Audio Commentaries with Filmmakers & Cast    

Gag Reel 

Deleted Scenes

Writers:                                   Varies by Episodes
Executive Producers:      Joss Whedon (Marvel’s The Avengers, Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Maurissa Tancharoen (Dollhouse, Spartacus, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog), Jed Whedon (Dollhouse, Spartacus, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog), Jeffrey Bell (Angel, X-Files, Alias) and Jeph Loeb (Heroes, Lost, Smallville)

Release Date: September 9, 2014
Rating: TV PG
Run Time: Approx. 946 minutes; 22 episodes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1, 16×9 Widescreen
Audio: Blu-ray:  5.1 DTS-HDMA, DVD:  5.1 Dolby Digital
Languages: English Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Emily S. Whitten: Interview with Raphael Sbarge

Whitten Art 131008Currently, actor Raphael Sbarge is playing the character of psychiatrist Archie Hopper (a.k.a. Pinocchio’s conscience Jiminy Cricket) on the modern-day fairy tale show, Once Upon A Time, in which fairy tale characters have been transported to the “real world” town of Storybrooke, Maine, and robbed of their real memories by a powerful curse. It’s a lot of fun!

If you somehow haven’t encountered Once Upon A Time and Sbarge’s character there, however, you may also remember him as one of the main characters on The Guardian, Jake Straka. And if you’ve missed both of those shows, I can pretty much guarantee you’ve seen him in something. Why? Because Sbarge is one of those great TV actors who shows up in pretty much every show I’ve (or anyone’s) ever watched. From Prison Break to Quantum Leap, and Avatar: The Last Airbender to Murder She Wrote, Sbarge has also been on Star Trek: Voyager, 24, Grey’s Anatomy, Bones, Numb3rs, Dollhouse, Lie to Me, Rizzoli & Isles, Dexter, Burn NoticeCastle, and many more.

I always enjoy Sbarge’s roles and guest appearances, so I was delighted to sit down with him at Dragon Con this year for a fun chat about his career and current work. We talked about everything from his background and first forays into acting as a child; to his experiences as a stage, TV, and voice actor; to his diverse TV career and his roles on The Guardian and Once Upon A Time. Sbarge also told me about On Begley Street, a web series he is currently executive producing and directing, which “explores the building of North America’s greenest, most sustainable home” by actor Ed Begley, Jr. and his wife Rachelle Carson-Begley. I haven’t encountered a premise like that before and it sounds pretty cool; so be sure to check that out!

You can watch my full interview with Raphael Sbarge here (and yes, I am actually in this video). And don’t forget to check out Sbarge on Once Upon A Time…and whatever multitudes of other TV shows he might appear on next!

Enjoy! And until next time, Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis Discusses Paul Levitz

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold Discusses Newspapers and Slow Death


Emily S. Whitten: SDCC Part 1 – Zac Levi’s Nerd HQ!

Whitten Art 130723San Diego Comic-Con International has come and gone, and it was a blast! But boy, am I exhausted. I definitely need a little bit of mellow down-time after all of the (great!) excitement of the biggest genre con in North America (or maybe the world? I’m too tired to look this up, y’all). That’s why even though I’ve got lots of fantastic news and interviews coming your way (Psych! Almost Human! I Know That Voice! Warehouse 13! Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D.! Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox! Captain America: The Winter Soldier! Guardians of the Galaxy! Interviews with voice actors Rob Paulsen and Dee Bradley Baker!), today I want to talk about the most chill place I hung out this weekend – Nerd HQ.

Nerd HQ, now in its third year, is technically not part of SDCC, being the brainchild of Chuck star Zachary Levi and operating as its own thing, but it took place in nearby Petco Park during the con and featured a number of celebrity guests, which made it feel a bit like a mini-SDCC or arm of the con. The atmosphere, however, was a nice and relaxed change from the hustle and bustle of the con floor and crowded panels; and also, it was free to walk around and enjoy the main area, which is cool.

Featuring mainly a long promenade which included an arcade where fans could play video games both old and new (there were several actual arcade games there, along with games on laptops and larger screens for console games), the area also had some nice seating that allowed fans to sit and look out at the field if they wanted to, possibly while eating the food available for purchase nearby. One very nice feature is that the area was covered but open, so fans could get a little fresh air while nerding out during the weekend; which is a great way to decompress after a stint on the con floor or in con program rooms. Just walking around for a few, still immersed in “my people” having a good time but also away from the intensity of the con, certainly did me good when I went over on Saturday.

There was also a stage at the end of the promenade where a YouTube channel (GeekWeek, I believe?) was filming events such as a costume contest and a puppet show to stream throughout the weekend. On the nearer end, a photo area was set up so that fans could get photos with celebrities who dropped by sporadically throughout. Zac was there taking photos when I walked in, and apparently greats such as Stan Lee had also been there at various times. Although the very efficient security whisked me away from stopping to watch the photo experience for too long, I did witness a happy fan on the phone with a friend afterwards, literally in tears because she’d gotten a photo with Zac. So that feature of Nerd HQ was definitely a success in fan enjoyment.

Another great part of Nerd HQ is the Conversations for a Cause; small panels limited to 250 fans, which generally feature guests who are in town for the con anyway. The Conversations took place in a glassed-in area overlooking the field (possibly in the VIP boxes? It was hard to tell with the setup, but it was nice), and (happily for me, after my mad dash from the convention center for the panel I attended) had fans or air conditioning of some sort keeping the area cool. Although the tickets for some of these panels sell out in a hot minute (the Joss Whedon one sold out in 30 seconds or less, along with about three-fourths of the others in the first flight of panels announced), I was able to get a ticket to the Zac Levi & Mystery Guests panel. It would have been fun just to see Zac on a panel, of course; but the mystery guests for the panel turned out to be ace too; being Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk (which made my Firefly shirt especially appropriate attire), and Rob Kazinsky (who turned out to be perhaps the biggest geek of all, and was a great panelist).

Zac both moderated and participated in the panel, which mainly consisted of people asking questions from the audience. The answers were often hilarious and well-worth the $22 ticket price, and Alan Tudyk made things infinitely cooler for the question-askers by bringing along a bag of neat swag to give them (and now I know that if I ever see Alan Tudyk again, I should not give him anything, because he is the World Champion of re-gifters). Possibly the coolest prizes (in my opinion) were several clothing items he had from various places, such as a couple of Dollhouse-related coats, and a giant duster that Russell Crowe and Christian Bale had apparently bought during filming for 3:10 to Yuma and given to him.

Along with being highly entertaining, we learned some new things about the panelists, such as how they got their first big breaks (and with no context whatsoever, because Gondor needs no context, I present this quote from Zac regarding Alan’s story: “Alan, as much as I appreciate your tranny bar story, what was your big break?”). We also learned that Zac’s favorite superhero is Deadpool, which, as anyone who reads my column (or @Ask_Deadpool) will know, automatically raises his coolness factor by infinity; and that Rob Kazinsky manages to be both badass (having been a stuntman and trained extensively with swords) and a nerd to outnerd all nerds, possibly including Zac himself. And Nathan Fillion showed himself to be the sweetheart I already suspected him to be by offering to buy several meals for a poor fan from Australia (I think) who’d had her bags stolen while in San Diego (yikes!).

I did mention that there’s a ticket price for the Conversations; and the photo ops cost money as well. However, the prices are reasonable, and even better, the proceeds go to charity, or more specifically to Operation Smile, which I first learned about from voice actor Rob Paulsen, who also supports them. Operation Smile provides free surgeries for kids with cleft lips, cleft palates, and other facial deformities; and how could anyone not think that’s a worthy cause?

Overall, Nerd HQ is a pretty chill place to go for a break from the SDCC madness, and I had a great time at the panel and a fun time briefly wandering the promenade. I would suggest better availability of both directions (like noting that 7th St. has two names for the stretch next to the con!) and information overall. For instance, visiting fans who haven’t been to Nerd HQ before might not know what-all is available to do for free there; or might not realize they can get photos with celebrities or sometimes walk right in and go to a panel that’s not sold out. Having one of the cheerful volunteers already on hand give out a one-page flyer as fans enter, explaining the set-up of Nerd HQ (and including URLs for things like the YouTube stage, which I can’t find listed anywhere), wouldn’t go amiss, especially since the website doesn’t have really specific information, and cell service can be spotty near the con anyway. There’s also apparently a NERD party sometime over the weekend; and I love a good party, but have no idea where I should have looked to find out more about it. I totally would have considered it if I knew anything more about it!

But don’t take these small critiques to mean I don’t think Nerd HQ is a great thing! It’s pretty rad; and being something that started in a sort of spontaneous way, is bound to have some growing pains. Apparently this year’s HQ was bigger than last; so I’m looking forward to seeing what next year’s is like (while hoping it doesn’t get too big and unwieldy, or it may lose its charm). If I get to SDCC again, it will definitely be on my list of places to go!

In the meantime, stay tuned for all of my other SDCC coverage; and since there’s so much of it, it’ll be coming through as fast as I can get it done, rather than just on my regular Tuesday column schedule. So keep an eye out here to hear about all the other cool stuff I saw and people I talked to at SDCC.

And until then: Viva La Nerdolution! And Servo Lectio!




REVIEW: Cabin in the Woods

Sitting around brainstorming a movie sounds like a great way to spend a few days. According to Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, they fell into their fever-pitch pace after years rewriting episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As a result, they concocted the screenplay for Cabin in the Woods over little more than a weekend. And just the hit series turned tropes and stereotypes on its head; this fright fest also explored, celebrated and inverted the conventions of countless horror films, making for a fresh, funny, original thriller.

You have to pay attention to the film because its smart and do not be lulled by expectations, as is evident from the opening sequences as Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins appear to be going to work at some high tech underground bunker and then we swiftly cut away to your central casting collection of college kids clearly marked for gruesome deaths. As they drive away and a cameo from Nathan Fillion turns up, this is evidently a very different kind of film.


Unfortunately, after it was financed and filmed, the movie languished, a victim of the MGM bankruptcy until it was rescued by Lionsgate which finally released it this spring. Unfortunately, their marketing department didn’t adequately tell the world and most missed it. Thankfully, the home video edition is coming out this week and is well worth your time and attention.


The quintet is made up of comely Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams, Chris Hemsworth, and Fran Kranz. Williams was already a regular on Grey’s Anatomy, Hutchison was an Australian star, and Kranz was known for Whedon’s Dollhouse, but this was a pre-Thor Hemsworth and seeing this, it’s hard to see anything godly in his studly athlete. Yet, he impressed Whedon during filming and he recommended him to Marvel, which proved wise. Still, the five friends go to cabin for a vacation and as one would expect, horrible things happen and secrets are uncovered.


All along, they are monitored and manipulated by the guys in the underground bunker, overseen by Whedon stalwart Amy Acker. There are hints that their work ethic may smack of Office Space but their mission is a serious one and as we shift into the final act, we’re treated to an assortment of nightmares and monsters that echo every horror movie you’ve seen since birth. The CGI effects ran rampant throughout as several of the quintet defy the odds and survive. Worse, they find the bunker and go exploring to learn why they were targeted and some surprise news spells survival or global. Just when you think you know what’s happening, they cleverly toss in a twist, be it a story point, a visual, or some stunt casting to keep you alert.


It’s tremendous fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously at all, which is just fine with me. The movie looks fabulous with the screen transfer and it sounds nifty, too.


The Special Features some engaging commentary from Whedon and Goddard as we learn about the travails of shooting in Canada. They appear in awe of how game Hutchison was for her various spotlight moments and talked about everything from writing to special effects and time sitting around the sets waiting for something to happen. Whedon apparently shot second unit work which meant he did more than script and produce.

The remaining pieces on both the Blu-ray and DVD are pretty much what you have come to expect these days, including “We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin in the Woods” (28:33) which covers the basic behind the scenes info; “The Secret Secret Stash” (13:07) featuring “Marty’s Stash” with Kranz talking about his stoner character, and “Hi, My name is Joss and I’ll be your guide”; the Wonder-Con Q&A with Joss and Drew (27:30), ‘nuff said; “An Army of Nightmares: Make-Up & Animatronic Effects” (12:10) is about the cool effects; “Primal Terror: Visual Effects” (12:07) focuses on the developmental aspects of the effects; “It’s Not What You Think: The Cabin in the Woods” Bonus View Mode (Blu-ray exclusive). You can also access online the “It’s Not What You Think: The Cabin in the Woods Bonus View Mode”, which is sort of interesting but offers little new.

Kudos to Lionsgate for giving this a spiffy lenticular sleeve, showing some TLC the film deserved.

Marc Alan Fishman: Whedon’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Has Already Been Canceled!

OK, no it hasn’t. But I bet I sure got your attention. Let’s have a quiet chat here, nerds, shall we?

Joss Whedon, Emperor of the Nerds, has ascended to the top of the mountain in Hollywood. Who knew all it took was a couple billion bucks behind the largest franchise film in history to get there? With that being said, Disney / ABC / Marvel has officially dropped the proverbial “dump-truck of money” at Joss’ gilded doorstep. And with it comes his triumphant return to television. And every geek in America (and parts of Europe and Asia, I suppose) holds its breath in anticipation.

The S.H.I.E.L.D show, as we’ve gleaned from what few words have graced us from St. Serenity, will take place in the Marvel Movieverse, but will not be sequel to The Avengers. Aside from that? Well, there’s not much else being said. So what are we to do? Speculate of course! Consider this my open air wish list for the show itself. What it could be, and what it shouldn’t.

First and foremost? I want continuity. I want the show to play in not just New York. I want weekends in Wakanda, layovers in Latveria, as well as trysts in the Triskelion. Marvel has a rich tapestry to explore, and a series that gets too many kicks in a single environment ends up becoming predictable. I’d like to think of the helicarrier as our Serenity, and the 616 provides us a new and cool place to explore every week.

And while we’re on that topic, who, prey-tell, should be doing the exploring? If I had my way, I’d free Colbie Smulders from How I Met Your Mother (which I truly love) in lieu of a permanent station as the show anchor. Whedon is known for his strong portrayal of female characters. Sadly, the movie was too pumped full of testosterone to really have much for Maria Hill or Black Widow to do beyond get a little scuffed, and pouty. I say play to your strengths, Master Joss. Maria Hill would not only be recognizable to the masses, but she (Ms. Smulders) has the depth and chops to carry a show on her shoulders with ease. And beside her? Well, I want all the S.H.I.E.L.D. stalwarts. Dust off Falcon, Quartermaine, and the offspring of Dum Dum Dugan (since I believe he was in the Cap movie and is quite not-amongst-the-living).

And what good guy is good without a bad guy to combat? Marvel’s bench is deep with cool villains perfect for the silver screen. Obviously no spy-based show in the 616 would be worth its’ salt without the perfunctory associations of ne’er-do-wells: Hydra, AIM, the Hand, etc. Heck, bonus points if they incorporate “The Ten Rings” from the Iron Man franchise. But aside from the machinations of large criminal organizations comes a bevvy of singular baddies that S.H.I.E.L.D. could be responsible for removing from the picture. Who here wouldn’t giggle a little if they saw the Purple Man, Baron Zemo, or dare I suggest the Hood making their way onto the teevees? No one, that’s who.

And would it be too much to ask for an occasional cameo? Yes, we know that all the Avengers are going to have full dance cards for a while. But nothing, and I mean nothing keeps fans (casual and crazy) coming back for more than the off chance the real Dr. Banner, Dr. Stark, or Captain America shows up to shoot the breeze. And if not for our “actual” movie stars, maybe a secondary cameo from Dr. Selvig, General Ross, or Agent Coul – err… never mind. The point remains the same. After five-plus feeder movies? There’s a metric ton of characters in the toybox that will help keep the show fresh.

And if I have only one wish fulfilled for this show-to-be… it’s all in the presentation. Smallville started strong, but quickly degraded into predictable schlock. The tendency for all TV (dramas and sci-fi shows alike) is to become machines of procedure. S.H.I.E.L.D. can’t bode well if it quickly becomes “case of the week.” Same could be said if it goes the direction of Lost or Heroes… and becomes obsessed with serialization. The key is, was, and will always be balance. Have an overarching storyline peppered with great single episodes to chew on. With an ensemble cast in place, this will all fall in line.

Ultimately, Whedon’s return to the medium that has raised him up as much as it’s let him down stands to be a great reckoning for our king-nerd. Where Firefly and Dollhouse were quickly dispatched due to poor schedule placements and too-small-of-a-fanbase-to-keep-it-on-the-air, S.H.I.E.L.D. stands the most promise to succeed if only for it’s parent franchise feeding the masses now hungry for more Marvel. You know, all those people who loved the movie(s) but were way too afraid of going to a comic shop to read about their new favorite characters. So long as the show can walk the line between “cool spy adventures” and “snarky fan-service”, and Marvel backs the show up with continually successful movies… the sky is the limit. And in that sky? A gleaming CGI set for the Triskelion.

Marc Alan Fishman and fellow ComicMixers Emily S. Whitten, Mike Gold, Glenn Hauman and Adriane Nash will be at the Baltimore Comic-Con today and tomorrow, mostly hanging around his Unshaven Comics booths, selling his wares to the unwary, and screaming obscenities at nearby Yankees fans. Drop by and say hello.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander and George Bernard Shaw, Shakespeare, Del Close, and Stan Lee.


ABC Greenlights ‘S.H.I.E.L.D’ Marvel Pilot Co-Written by Joss Whedon


ABC has ordered a pilot for S.H.I.E.L.D, a live-action series from The Avengers writer-director Joss Whedon, Marvel TV and ABC Studios. The project is based on Marvel’s peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D (which stands for Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate or Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) found in both the Marvel comic book and feature film universes, including the blockbuster 2012 movie The Avengers, in which S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury, recruits Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor to stop Thor’s adoptive brother Loki from subjugating Earth.

S.H.I.E.L.D. will be written by Whedon and frequent collaborators, his brother Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. Joss Whedon also is set to direct the pilot, schedule permitting. Production on the pilot, which marks the first live-action Marvel TV project to get a green light, will start immediately. Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon and Tancharoen executive produce with Jeffrey Bell and Marvel TV’s Jeph Loeb.

The project had been in the works at Marvel TV and ABC Studios for some time. Earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that it had signed an exclusive film and TV deal with Joss Whedon, which included him writing and directing The Avengers sequel and develop a live-action series for Marvel TV and ABC, both owned by Disney.

This marks a return to series television for Joss Whedon, creator of cult favorites Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Dollhouse. Husband and wife writing duo Jed Whedon and Tancharoen co-penned with Joss Whedon Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and also have worked on Dollhouse and Spartacus.

In addition to S.H.I.E.L.D, Marvel TV has a couple of other projects in development at ABC Studios, including a Hulk series.

Martha Thomases: Whedon and Women

Summer’s here and the time is right for geeking in the street. In a triumph of nerd culture, The Avengers may be the most successful movie of all time. Certainly, with the second week box office results breaking all kinds of records, there is more going on here than people who read comic books going opening day. There aren’t enough people who read superhero comics to make a movie that successful.

There are, however, enough shared values among comic book creators and movie creators to make a hit. In the case of The Avengers, a lot of the credit must go to Joss Whedon. Whedon earned his cred not only by writing awesome comics, but by producing Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dollhouse.

Those shows had loyal fan bases (which didn’t overlap enough, or we’d still have the latter two on the air). They also shared a marvelous, matter-of-fact feminist sensibility.

The critical response? Not so much.

Most of the critical reviews single out Scarlett Johansson, saying she can’t act, or she’s only there to look pretty. One comment called her a female Keanu Reeves, which irked me for multiple reasons. I enjoy Keanu Reeves. I thought he was brilliant in My Own Private Idaho. And I really like Johansson in The Avengers. I believe she, like her character, has a brain in her head.

What I mostly enjoy about her character is the fact that her motivations are similar to those of her teammates. She wants to rescue her colleague, Hawkeye. Being on the team is part of her job, which she takes seriously.

The Black Widow is not on the team because she’s somebody’s girlfriend or sister. She’s not there to provide a love interest for a more important male character. She’s not there to be taken hostage by the bad guy (a role played, too some extent, by Hawkeye). She is not murdered and stuffed in a refrigerator. She doesn’t wear a costume that is more revealing than anyone else’s, or that defies the laws of physics to keep the film’s PG-13 rating. That’s reserved for the Hulk’s pants, which seem to grow when he does during the New York City battle.

Of course, she must be vilified.

In our popular culture, we’re very threatened by women who consider themselves to be just as able and just as interesting and just as important as men consider themselves to be. If women find meaning in their own lives, a huge market in cosmetics, plastic surgery, fashion and hair color dries up. If women think they can find meaning and value within themselves, they might only wear stiletto heels as a lark, and not proof of their femininity. They might have relationships with men they like, and not for status or validation.

The powers-that-be don’t enjoy that possibility. They’ve kept it out of almost all the other super-hero stories.

As fans and as feminists, we have an obligation to hold their feet to the fire when the inevitable sequels arrive. Joss can’t – and shouldn’t – have to do it alone.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman 

Dennis O’Neil: So, Who Didn’t Like The Avengers?

Yeah, yeah. I know it’s early in the summer movie season – I do have a calendar, after all – and two of the three big superhero flicks won’t be on screens for weeks yet. But for now, let us proclaim; Joss Whedon is king of the superheroes!

A couple of days ago, Mari suggested we go to the movies and I said no, I had work to do, and then, about ten minutes later I said yes, let’s go to the movies, and we did.

Marvel’s The Avengers, of course.

I don’t attend the 21-plex to criticize – to pry faults out of what’s intended to entertain me and maybe convince myself that I’m really a smart guy. I used to do that for money – the fault-prying part – and though it was okay for me then, it wouldn’t be okay now. I don’t want to criticize, I want to get out from under it. Not to have to think for a little while.

And yet… I don’t want my intelligence insulted, either. When that happens, the magic is gone and there I am, right back under it. So, for example, I loved the Indiana Jones flicks because they delivered the escapism I sought and didn’t expect me to forgive plot glitches, which tend to get in the way of enjoying the escapism. Anything that pulls me out of the story, that makes me question did he director and writer intend what I just saw or is it a mistake? – anything that does that sabotages the experience.

The Avengers verdict: not guilty.

Mr. Whedon understands the appeal of the early Marvel comics, the ones he read as a kid, and what made them work: the broad, extravagant action, the rough edges on the heroes, the occasional flashes of humor, the juxtaposition of larger-than-life characters with realistic settings. (That sure looks like the real New York City the villains are trashing.) He’s translated these from the language of comic books to the language of movies, filled in some blanks, provided some motivations, hired good actors who didn’t condescend to the material any more than he did, gave them decent dialogue and then put the special effects wizards to work and…

Presto! Behold what I think is the best Marvel movie yet (though the first Iron Man might also be worthy of that title).

Did I mention that Joss Whedon, of teevee’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Dollhouse and Firefly wrote and directed The Avengers? No, I didn’t – my bad – but you figured that out, if you didn’t already know it before you started reading this. Well, that same Joss Whedon had this to say to a Time magazine journalist: “I love fantasy…I love it because of the scope and the chance to talk about humanity that is very close to the heart but not wearing the same skin.”

Go buy yourself a movie ticket and see what he’s talking about.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases On Alien Sex


Dan Schaffer’s “The Scribbler” Starts Filming This Week

Filming on Dan Schaffer’s graphic novel The Scribbler begins later this week in Los Angeles for a live action theatrical film release.

Schaffer’s graphic novel was originally published in 2006 by Image Comics.  A new “director’s cut” of the graphic novel is being prepared by the recently re-launched First Comics™ for release in conjunction with the film’s opening. Schaffer penned the screenplay adapted from his graphic novel.

The thriller centers on Suki, a young woman confined in a mental institution and being treated with an experimental machine dubbed “The Siamese Burn, designed to eliminate multiple personalities.  As the “treatment” progresses, Suki starts to be haunted by the realization that if “The Siamese Burn” is successful, which one of her personalities will be the survivor?

Katie Cassidy, already with comic connections as Dinah Lance in the CW pilot Arrow, stars as the title character Suki.  The cast also includes Garret Dillahunt (Winter’s Bone), Michelle Trachtenberg (Gossip Girl), Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse), Gina Gershon (Killer Joe), Michael Imperioli (The Lovely Bones, The Sopranos), Billy Campbell (The Killing, The Rocketeer), Sasha Grey (The Girlfriend Experience, Entourage) Ashlynn Yennie (The Human Centipede), Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory), and T.V. Carpio (Limitless). NightSky Production’s Ken F. Levin is producing with New Artist Alliance’s Gabriel Cowan, with Cowan’s NAA co-founder and partner, John Suits, directing. Caliber Media’s Dallas Sonnier and Jack Heller will executive produce the film alongside NAA’s Kerry Johnson.

This is Daniel Schaffer’s seventh screenplay to be optioned, and the second to be filmed so far; the first, comedy/horror film Doghouse from Schaffer’s screenplay, was released in 2009 by Carnaby International and distributed by Sony Pictures (Jake West directing).   Schaffer is also known in the comics world for his comic series Dogwitch and his graphic novel Indigo Vertigo (with Katiejane Garside).   NightSky is a production / management firm which also reps Schaffer as a writer client.

The Scribbler is the first of four films in a co-production between New Artist Alliance and Caliber Media.  The two companies have previously produced two movies together, which are both currently in post-production: Static, a horror-thriller starring Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes), Sarah Shahi (Fairly Legal) and Sara Paxton (Darcy’s Wild Life), and 3 Nights In The Desert, starring Amber Tamblyn (Joan Of Arcadia), Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games, American Beauty) and Vincent Piazza (Boardwalk Empire), which Cowan directed.  NAA, known for making over 2000% profit on their first film Breathing Room, premiered their latest feature Extracted at this year’s SXSW.  Growth, another NAA film directed by Cowan, went to #1 on iTunes and has its worldwide television premiere this weekend on The Syfy Channel.

Schaffer has a 7-page preview of The Scribbler on his website.

Batman Year One Video Details Revealed

We all knew about this, but with the film debuting at next week’s Comic-Con International, Warner Home Video has shared the details. We’re kind of excited to see the classic story adapted for the screen, but we might be even more excited about the spot-on vocal casting for the Catwoman that accompanies the feature.

BURBANK, CA, (July 13, 2011) – Comics legend Frank Miller’s classic retelling of Batman’s gritty, formative days makes its full-length animated debut in Batman: Year One, the next entry in the popular, ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies. Produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, the all-new, PG-13 rated film arrives October 18, 2011 from Warner Home Video as a Blu-ray™ Combo Pack ($24.98 SRP) and DVD ($19.98 SRP), On Demand and for Download. Order due date is September 13, 2011

Batman: Year One is based on the landmark 1987 DC Comics titles from 12-time Eisner Award winner Frank Miller and illustrator David Mazzucchelli. The film depicts young Bruce Wayne’s return to Gotham City in his first attempts to fight injustice as a costumed vigilante. The playboy billionaire chooses the guise of a giant bat to combat crime, creates an early bond with a young Lieutenant James Gordon (who is already battling corruption from inside the police department), inadvertently plays a role in the birth of Catwoman, and helps to bring down a crooked political system that infests Gotham.

Prime time television stars Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Ben McKenzie (Southland, The O.C.), Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) provide the core voices for Batman: Year One. Three-time Emmy® Award winner Cranston gives voice to young Jim Gordon, while McKenzie makes his animated voiceover debut as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Fanboy favorites Dushku and Sackhoff fill the roles of Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Detective Sarah Essen, respectively. Alex Rocco (The Godfather) is the voice of crime lord Carmine Falcone.

Animation master Bruce Timm is executive producer of Batman: Year One. Directors are Lauren Montgomery (Superman/Batman: Apocalypse) and Sam Liu (All-Star Superman) from a script penned by Academy Award® nominee Tab Murphy (Gorillas in the Mist, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse).

Batman: Year One offers fans and newcomers alike an animated perspective on one of the true benchmark works in Batman comics history,” said Hersin Magante, Warner Home Video Marketing Manager, Family &, Animation.. “Bruce Timm and the Warner Bros. Animation team have gone to great lengths to realize Frank Miller’s ground-breaking, influential vision. Batman: Year One stands tall as the next DC Universe Animated Original Movie.” (more…)