Entourage 7.4 – Tequila Sunrise

It was bad enough with one “Full House” cast member dropping by every season, but now we’ve got to deal with John Stamos too? What’s next, Eric revives Dave Coulier’s voice acting career? All kidding aside, The Stamos positively stole the show on tonight’s episode as a vainglorious parody of himself when he came to visit Drama regarding his sitcom. Stamos absolutely nailed the part – from referring to Drama as Jimmy, to almost completely ignoring him in favor of talking to Vince – but it was nice to see Drama get a few jabs in as well. I nearly fell off my couch from laughing when, after winning the serve at the beginning of their first ping pong match, he declared, “It’s going to be a long day for Uncle Jesse.”

The fun didn’t stop there, either, as Drama was challenged to a second match later in the episode at the ping pong club where Stamos trains three times a week. Stamos even promises Drama that he’ll do the show if he can beat him, but it didn’t matter, because even though Stamos won, he still agreed to read the script. Of course, Drama claims that he threw the match on purpose, but does anyone really buy that? I know Phil told him that he needed to stroke Stamos’ ego by letting him win, but with such big stakes on the line, it seems like too big of a gamble for Drama to take. Plus, he’s just as arrogant as Stamos, so I guess we’ll never know.

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At least we have one less rivalry to keep track of now that Eric and Scotty Lavin have made amends. Though it certainly took them long enough to man up and apologize to one another for being dicks, Eric had no choice after he discovered that the “Airwalker” script that Scotty was pushing him to read was actually pretty good. Even Vince likes it, describing it as a darker version of “Aquaman,” so it looks like that’s going to be his next project. And perhaps with no copyrights to worry about, we’ll actually see him in costume this time around. While that should make for an interesting subplot for next season’s premiere, the story I’m more curious about how Eric and Scotty’s new partnership develops. We haven’t seen Murray at all this season, so it’ll be interesting to see what he thinks of their plans for the future, or better yet, if Scotty is just playing Eric for his own benefit.

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Superhero movie madness, explained

Let’s face it, this superhero movie thing is in danger of getting out of control. On the DC side we have Batman, Green Lantern, possibly the Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and, assuming the studio can move faster than a speeding lawsuit, Superman.

Marvel, of course, is moving faster still with movies about Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, possibly Nick Fury, and who knows what else leading up to an “Avengers” film to be directed by geek fave Joss Whedon, we think. (In April, Whedon and Marvel were in “final negotiations.” Now one of Whedon’s brothers has apparently told MTV that he has “tentatively agreed” to do it…is that even different?)

So, what’s the big deal? A few movies have been extremely successful and Hollywood follows its historic tendency towards repeating a winning formula until such time as the audience completely revolts. Is this any different? No, actually, but also yes. You see, I haven’t read a Marvel comic in a very long time, but even now my closet fanboy heart goes faintly pitty-pat at the thought of an “Avengers” movie incorporating the same actors from the other films. Why? It’s called “continuity.” What’s that? I could just say, “It’s a fanboy thing, you wouldn’t understand.” But now, thanks to some random guy with a little musical ability and more wit, action figures, and time on his hands, I have an explanation. In song.

Big time h/t to Alison Nastasi of Cinematical.

  

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The League of Quality Superhero Animation plugs “Crisis on Two Earths” at Paley Center

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It’s an old story. You’re a superhero minding your own business and then you bump into someone who looks very familiar but, well, something’s just not right. Gee whiz but this person looks a lot like you and is even wearing similar clothes, but then you notice your new acquaintance looks like he or she is made from rocks, uses terrible grammar and does everything the opposite of you. (“Me want to not save world!”) Or the newcomer looks like one of your deadliest enemies, but turns out to be no Bizaaro, but as heroic as you are. What’s a superhero to do?

It’s an old superhero comic story that has yet to find its way into a big-time costumed-hero flicks — but at least it’s finally been used in a solidly entertaining and often slyly funny direct-to-DVD animated production. Rated a mild PG-13 for non-deadly “action violence,” Warner Home Video’s “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths” shows us the fall-out of an alternate universe where the equivalents of our most famed superheros are essentially costumed Mafioso, while a bald guy named Luthor and a joker named the Jester vainly fight the power of organized caped crime.

When the alternate Luthor (Chris Noth) manages a reality jump into the original DC Comics Universe, he enlists the aid of  most of the Justice League. And so, Superman (Mark Harmon), Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall), and a less than cooperative Batman (William Baldwin), become involved in a desperate quest to free Good Luthor’s universe from super-powered criminal domination by the vicious Crime Syndicate and it’s Jersey-thug-like leader, Ultraman (Brian Bloom) — and also to stave off the possible destruction of all existence by an off-his-evil meds Dark Knight of the Soul, Owlman (James Woods), and his only slightly more sane GF, Super Woman (Gina Torres).

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The 72 minute direct-to-video feature was premiered at both of the coastal outlets of the Paley Center, and I attended the one located on Earth Prime’s Beverly Hills. Us members of the local geek press were allowed to commune with members of the cast and crew and, in my case, that started with the extremely busy animation casting and voice director, Andrea Romano. The loquacious performer and voice director, whose work includes everything from “Animaniacs” to “Spongebob Squarepants” and “Ben Ten,” is held in as high esteem by super-animation fans as any actor, writer, or director. Her work on DC superhero projects goes back to the early nineties and “Batman: The Animated Series,” which revolutionized superhero cartoons with quality writing from creators like Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, animation, and, thanks to her efforts, acting.

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The All New Super Friends Hour: Season One, Volume Two

With each subsequent “Super Friends” set that emerges from the Warner Brothers vaults, my childhood memories are tarnished a little bit more. I spent more Saturday mornings in front of the television that I’d care to count, held rapt by the adventures of Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the Wonder Twins, but as I revisit those adventures now, I’m really, really disappointed with how poorly they’ve held up for me. Maybe it’s just because the world of superhero animation changed so dramatically with the premiere of “Batman: The Animated Series” in 1992 that it’s hard to take the Super Friends’ adventures seriously anymore. That’s not to say that you won’t find yourself experiencing plenty of fun flashbacks with the heroes’ various puzzles, magic tricks, and safety lessons, but the segments with actual storylines will result in little more than giddy laughter at their ridiculousness.

There’s only one special feature, but as ever for these “Super Friends” sets, it’s a good one: “The Wonder Twins Phenomenon,” which features talking-head contributions from Doug Goldstein and Tom Root (“Robot Chicken”), Kevin Pereira and Olivia Munn (“Attack of the Show”), super-writer Paul Dini, original “Super Friends” writers Alan Burnett and Rich Fogel, and animation historians Jerry Beck and Andy Mangels. Everyone offers their usual blend of childhood reminiscences, first-hand experiences from the animation trenches, and complete and total snark…and, in truth, the combination is exactly what The Wonder Twins deserve. There’s even a brief discussion about Zan and Jayna’s predecessors, Wendy and Marvin, and how inappropriate it was for a couple of powerless teenagers to follow these superheroes around. Say, where did Gleek always manage to pull that bucket from? Never mind. I don’t really want to know.

Click to buy “The All New Super Friends Hour: Season One, Volume Two”

  

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Greetings to the New Series: “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”

You can never have enough “Batman” cartoons…or, at least, that’s what Cartoon Network is hoping.

It was only March of this year when the most recent animated incarnation of The Dark Knight – “The Batman” – ended its five-season run, but with the billion-dollar success of the most recent feature-film adventure of Gotham City’s most famous crimefighter, it’s no surprise that Bats would turn up again. What is surprising, however, is the decision to bring him back via a concept that completely dismisses the darkness and “forever a loner” feeling of “The Dark Knight” in favor of a bright and colorful weekly team-up series.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you. As someone who grew up reading comics in the 1970s, I loved Batman’s team-up title, “The Brave and the Bold.” And Superman’s “DC Comics Presents.” And, hell, as long as I’m geeking out, I regularly bought “Marvel Team-Up,” “Marvel Two-in-One,” and even “Super-Villain Team-Up.” It was always a blast to see who was going to turn up in these comics, and the more obscure the hero, the better. Batman and the Metal Men…? Check. Superman and Air Wave…? Sweet. The Thing and Brother Voodoo. Awesome. Spider-Man and the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players of “Saturday Night Live”? Oh, hell, yes.

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