Kyle from Last Man Standing = Jeff from American Dad

jefffischerandkyleanderson

A few episodes into Last Man Standing, I realized the character of Kyle Anderson reminded me a lot of Jeff Fischer on American Dad!. They’re both super-nice and kindhearted, have similar amounts of facial hair, are loyal partners to their women, have a noticeable lack of wit, are partial to Hackey Sack, and are more likable than most of the people around them. Oh, and I guess they’re both twenty-something white guys.

Of course, they’re not exactly the same, but listing differences doesn’t seem as fun.

After pointing out the similarity of these characters to my girlfriend, I jumped onto Google to see if anyone has written about it. Finding nothing, I decided I’d write this myself. My best guess as to why no one else has noted this (in an easily Googled space) is because the shows seem to appeal to different demographics (or, you know, something to do with American Dad!‘s recent ratings).

American Dad!, like other Seth MacFarlane shows, leans liberal and has a mostly “young” male audience. Last Man Standing is a bit closer to center thanks to a balance between Tim Allen’s conservative views and a somewhat-left writing room, and it’s probably more appealing to “older” folks (I watch it because I loved Home Improvement as a kid—whether or not I’m “old” may be up for debate). Ironically, the “liberal” American Dad! is probably less PC than the “conservative” Last Man Standing.

Back to my point: People who know Jeff Fischer have probably never heard of Kyle Anderson, and vice versa. Then there are weirdos like me who enjoy both shows and use Google to see if people notice the same crap I do.

Luke Cage! I’ll binge-watch you soon enough.

luke-cage-netflix-premiereDespite the somewhat disappointing Jessica Jones and second season of Daredevil, I’ve been looking forward to Luke Cage. The trailer they dropped a while ago did its job hyping me up to see Cage become a Hero for Hire (and beat a bunch of bad guys up in the process). So much bulletproof awesomeness.

Still, I somehow managed to forget about the launch of the series until NPR, of all things, reminded me it was available for streaming TODAY. When I heard the piece on the radio (discussing mostly race, the creation and evolution of Luke Cage, and how his bulletproof skin brings up certain thoughts in relation to current events), I was in the midst of running errands. I was too busy to rush home and watch.

I’m about to go out right now, too, so it doesn’t look like I’ll  get through a single episode tonight. I’ll probably burn through half of the episodes tomorrow, though. Then, perhaps, I can find some time to share my thoughts about the Defenders shows (Cage, Jones, Daredevil). Hm—I also have to finish blogging about my previous travels before I start traveling again.

Eh, one thing at a time. Luke Cage!

Note: I enjoyed Daredevil‘s second season and Jessica Jones but they weren’t as good as the first season of Daredevil (I really liked it).

Mini life update: I’ve been fairly busy working on re-writing last year’s NaNoWriMo project; I signed up for a writing class with UCLA Extension; and I’m setting things up to work abroad in 2017.

What’s this WB Writers’ Workshop?

wbwritersworkshopbanner

I realize I’m setting myself up for an unnecessarily public failure by posting this, but last Tuesday I submitted an application to the WB Writers’ Workshop.

The WB Writers’ Workshop is a program which takes writers looking to get into television, teaches them pretty much everything about being a TV writer and ultimately tries to find staff writings positions for the program participants. As I understand it, the program gets over two thousand applications a year and only has ten seats; it’s highly competitive.

The central piece of the application is the writing sample. At minimum, they want one spec script of a show on their approved list; and, optionally, you can include a second script (i.e., either an original pilot or a spec of another listed show).

When I decided to apply to the program in April, I set forth a plan: binge watch the second season of The Flash and write a spec about the adventures of Barry Allen; and, simultaneously, consider other shows for my second writing sample.

Weeks went by, and thanks to work (and my one-hour-each-way commute), I’d only watched five episodes of The Flash and hadn’t written a single word. On top of that, I had yet to choose a second show. At the start of May, I looked at the program’s website again and realized the list had been updated.

Marvel’s Daredevil was an option.

I changed my plans. Rather than attempt to catch up on The Flash, I went with Daredevil, a show I enjoyed (well, the first season more than the second) and was entirely caught up on. Also new on the list was another Netflix Original, Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, and I had that queued up to be the subject of my second spec.

My first step in writing a Daredevil spec was re-watching the latest episode and reading up on the character’s comic book rogue gallery to find a proper villain. It took me at least a full week (again, thanks to work and other obligations) to finally decide on a villain. When it came to the weekend before applications were due, I only had ten pages of script: less than 25% of what I needed. So writing a second spec was out of the question, and I focused entirely on Daredevil.

Around 11:30 P.M. on May 30th, the night before the submission deadline, I had twenty pages done. As a break from writing, I logged onto the writing program’s submission page. There, the submission deadline was stated to be at 11:59 P.M., May 30th.

I was screwed. I had less than half my script finished, and only half an hour until the cutoff time. I gave up.

Within minutes, I received an email from my supervising attorney for whom I’m doing contract work at a fancy high-rise office in Downtown Los Angeles. He wanted me to come in the next day to handle a quick assignment. I told him I’d be there.

As I sent the email, I tried to reconcile the different deadlines on the program’s website. The login page said it was due before midnight on the 30th, and the information page said it was due at 5:00 P.M. on the 31st. I decided one of these was a mistake, and it was likely the earlier deadline was wrong. If so, I could sleep, go to work, and finish the rest of my script before 5 o’clock.

Sure enough, the next morning, I checked the program’s Facebook page which reiterated that the submission deadline was at 5:00 P.M. on the 31st.  I still had hope. However, I couldn’t start writing again until I drove from Orange County to Los Angeles and finished my work assignment. I got to the office at 7:00 A.M., did my job, and finally got back to my script.

Five or so hours later, at around 3:00 P.M., I had an unpolished spec script done. In order to submit my application to the program, though, I needed to print and sign a release form. And, in order to even print the form, I needed to upload my script. So I uploaded the damn thing as it was, emailed the release to myself and headed down to the nearest FedEx to print it. There, I was informed that this particular FedEx did not have a scanner. So then I had to run to the next nearest FedEx, two city blocks away in the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. After scanning the signed release, I picked up my first meal of the day from McDonald’s and went back into my office and submitted my application at around 4:30 P.M.

All of that, and I am 99% sure I am not getting into the WB Writers’ Program.

Yep.

My script is slightly shorter than average and barely more than a first draft, it would be a wonder if I beat out 2,000 other applicants. Still, I learned a lot about writing television scripts, and a valuable lesson: get $@#% done early. Time to plan for next year.

Flash VS Arrow (Season 1 VS Season 3)

flashandarrow

A few days ago I finished speeding through the latest Netflix-available seasons of The Flash and Arrow, seasons one and three, respectively. I enjoyed both but found The Flash‘s freshman efforts to be more enjoyable than Arrow’s third year antics.

Here’s my courtesy *SPOILER WARNING* (though they my randomly ordered topics below probably won’t reveal anything major).
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Don’t Worry (or Rejoice) Just Yet, I’m Still Here

letireddog

I’ve been distracted for a while, and I’ve been busy with non-writing work for the last two weeks. Though I haven’t been writing and posting as much as I’d like, I’m definitely not throwing in the towel yet.

Novel #1: Still working on polishing the first novel. After the last revision (which, as I may have stated elsewhere, was the final major revision until I get an agent or professional editor), I sent the manuscript out to beta readers: two re-readers and five new folks; all writers. Waiting to get feedback from at least half of them before I apply some changes and make a final Hail Mary pass for traditional publishing; if no one has the hands to catch the damn ball (perfect spiral and all), I’ll finally invest in going indie by hiring an editor.

Short Stories and Breadth of Style: Starting in June, I’ve been trying my hand at short stories and have churned out a bunch of crap and several pieces which I think are pretty darn decent. For some of these, I deviated from the PG-13-esque style of writing I use in Novel #1 in favor of something darker. This came about from a mix of influences, including but not limited to: On the Road which I’m rereading for the first time since college, bits of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and the unfiltered language of the television show Californication (Hank Moody’s writing seems a bit on the purple side, so I’m trying not to pick up too much of that).

Other Novels: I should update the “My Novels” page. The so-called Urban Fantasy novel I was outlining has changed drastically, and the original intended title no longer makes sense. I’m about 6,000 words into the first draft (i.e., “zero draft” or “junk draft”) and I’m hoping this novel will be more of an obvious high concept work than Novel #1. The superhero project is on the back burner; and I’ve gotten several thousand words into a contemporary (non-genre) novel. Notably, none of these projects are YA (whereas Novel #1 is).

Sense8 – Season 1 – Diverse & Fun Despite Iffy Pacing

Sense8

The first season of Sense8, for the most part, is action and emotion-fueled entertainment. The biggest problem is the pacing of individual episodes and, perhaps, of the entire season.

For those who don’t know, it’s about people who live in entirely different parts of the world but whose minds are linked so they can get essentially experience each other’s lives, and then some. The primary theme seems to be diversity, similarity and inter-connectivity; that despite our differences, we are the same where it matters, in our capacity to feel. Well, that’s what I surmised knowing the premise and watching the first episode (haven’t changed my mind after finishing the season).

Warning: There are some *SPOILERS* below.

Action aka Deus Ex Machina

Hands-down, some of the most satisfying scenes are the action sequences wherein the sensates, the mind-linked folks, hand over control of their bodies to one another to beat up the bad guys. Though this is sort of a repeatedly used deus ex machina in the show, used so the characters who can’t fight can get out of difficult situations, it’s still satisfying to watch due to the superb tension building.

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“I’ll chop you good” (not actual dialogue from the show, in case you were wondering).

Super Diversity

It’s obvious that the Wachowski Siblings (I didn’t know they’d stopped going by the “Wachowski Brothers” until I started watching this show) and Straczynski intended to fill the cast with characters of varying gender, sex, race and nationality. This is also reflected in the settings which, going from the most western countries first, includes: the United States, Mexico, Iceland, England, Kenya, India and South Korea (I’ve been to five of these seven; sorry, couldn’t avoid mentioning it).

Despite the great range of representation, the Wachowskis play it somewhat safe by having the season’s finale center around a straight, white cisgender couple (with the male being American to boot). While there are other sex/gender/race romances prominently featured, given the heavy doses of diversity throughout Sense8, I was surprised that the finale focused on the old school pairing. Sadly, this particular couple felt like the least developed of all the romances.

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Yep. That’s pretty diverse.

Iffy Pacing

Let’s just get this out of the way. The pacing, at times, isn’t perfect. Having so many characters to juggle makes pacing very difficult. Given the number of main characters, the show does a decent job but is far from perfect.

Feels odd to say, but the pacing might have worked better if there were commercial breaks so the abrupt transitions between the mini-climaxes and slow build-up scenes wouldn’t be so pronounced.

The first episode dragged on with a lot of exposition, jumping from one sensate character to another. This made it difficult to develop sympathy. It took me three or four episodes to start caring.

The series benefits greatly from having what is essentially a captive audience. As a Netflix Original by the Wachowski Siblings, it was almost a guarantee that a large number of people would watch the show beyond the first few episodes even if they dislike the beginning; Netflix viewers are binge watchers and Wachowski fans are Wachowski fans. Had the show been on another medium with an unknown team at the helm, many viewers might have stopped with the first episode.

Overall, though, the first season is good. So, let’s continue to stuff I like—

Best Sensate/Main Character

Van Damme!

Van Damme!

Winner: Capheus aka Van Damme (Aml Ameen). Something about a goodhearted guy working to get medicine for his mother and being super nice to everyone appeals to me. He’s the guy who teaches the other sensates (who are all considerably well off in their first world countries and telenova star house) to stop being depressed.

Runner-up: Wolfgang. Mostly because he delivers my favorite line in the show (see “Best Lines” below). Random side note (with a spoiler): Watching the scene when young Wolfgang murders his abusive father reminded me of the anime Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle in which the character of Wolfgang Krauser does the same.

Best Couple (This review/recap is devolving into a yearbook thing—but, it works given the number of primary characters.)

So serious looking.

So serious looking.

Winner: Though there are a number of romantic pairings in Sense8, I thought the chemistry was strongest between Lito Rodriguez (Miguel Angel Silvestre) and his boyfriend, Hernando (Alfonso Herrera). Most likely, it’s because Lito’s entire story arc was focused on his relationship with Hernando (and the problems which arose from his unwillingness to come out of the closet). Perhaps their relationship was made more entertaining to watch due to the near-constant presence of Daniela Velasquez (Erendira Ibarra).

Runner-up: Kala Dandekar (Tina Desai) and Wolfgang Bogdanow (Max Riemelt). This relationship seems to have more passion than most of the others; sort of a we want to, but we shouldn’t kind of deal. That’s always fun.

On a somewhat related note, the character of Sun Bak (Doona Bae) is a giant East Asian stereotype: no romance, emotionless, martial arts expert. To top it off, her male relatives are chauvinist/misogynist assholes—another stereotype reminiscent of the initial portrayal for Daniel Dae Kim’s character on Lost not too long ago.

Best Sidekick(s)

Winner: As a team, Hernando and Daniela Velasquez. Lito’s story arc was one of the more interesting ones because of these two. Attractiveness aside, Hernando is smart and insightful-ish while Daniela is bubbly and kind of a pervert. What’s not to love?

The best sidekicks workout to look good; not to fight.

All good sidekicks lounge around in exercise gear.

Runner-up: Amanita. In the early episodes, her sass seemed a bit forced but after a while it started to work; I’m a fan of sass.

Best Non-Combat Scene

Winner: The birth sequence with cute self-referential jokes is pretty nice (e.g., Lito’s family watching television as he’s born; Wolfgang’s water birth to match his nude swimming scene). I thought it was a nice touch if a bit cheesy. I’m not including an image for the birth scenes; those images were burned into my mind. I feel like Chandler Bing in “The One With the Birthing Video.”

Runner-up: The “accidental orgy” (as a writer I know calls it), particularly for Will Gorski’s (Brian J. Smith) comedic response. Gorski making out with the air was also pretty funny.

Best Lines:

Winner: “He’s my brother. And not by something as accidental as blood; something much stronger—by choice.” -Wolfgang (emphasis added).

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Yep. More serious moments.

Runner-up: “Van Damme always comes back.” – Several characters.

In Conclusion—

Like every other Netflix Original series I’ve seen, Sense8 is definitely worth a watch (assuming you’re okay with nudity and violence). Just be prepared for a slow start.

Annie Hall – Movie Review

Annie Hall

I don’t think she ever wears this outfit in the film.

I finally got around to seeing Annie Hall (1977) and I was not disappointed.

The film follows Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) through several romantic relationships, from what seems to be his mid-twenties to his forties, focusing on his relationship with the titular character, Annie Hall (Diane Keaton).

It reminded me a bit of Seinfeld; not just because the male leads are Jewish comedians in NYC, but because much of the humor draws on the protagonist’s mild dislike of other people and certain occurrences in everyday life. The dialogue and rants in Annie Hall are entertaining to watch, nicely bolstered by the neurotic mannerisms of the lead characters.

Having seen numerous references to this movie growing up, I was unable to detach myself from said references while watching the film. My mind kept going back to How I Met Your Mother (there’s an episode in which Ted determines how cool his dates are based on whether they like Annie Hall; the HIMYM writers, inadvertently or not, also draw a parallel between Ted and Alvy who both spend years upon years figuring out and finding love) and That 70’s Show (which sort of “parodies” a particular scene). Continue reading