Monday, September 18, 2017

Gotham Season 4: Dawn of the Dark Knight!!!


Of all the current, superhero/comic-book adaptations on commercial television, "Gotham" remains the best and most honorable. It's not politically slanted in the sneaky way that "Supergirl" has become, nor does it get into the "I wanna marry my surrogate sister" motif of "The Flash", let alone pad itself with tiresome verbosity like "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."  


As promised from the get-go, "Gotham" concentrates on young Bruce Wayne, and we watch his development through the versatile guise of David Mazouz. "Gotham" is also Jim Gordon's story; and thanks to Ben McKenzie, it never fails to be a rocky, realistic and engaging one. 


In addition, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee); Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue); Oswald Copplepot/Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor); Edward Nigma/Riddler (Cory Michael Smith); Ivy Pepper/Poison Ivy (Maggie Geha) and Selina Kyle/Cat Woman (Camren Bicondova) are equally developing souls, each in search of something elusive, but with an implied, fervid hope of fulfillment, whether good or bad in the ultimate run.


I suppose the same will be said of Jonathan Crane/the Scarecrow (Charlie Tahan) when he psychologically enters, as well as Ra's Al Ghul (Alexander Siddig) when he expands his influence, or at least tries to do so on our adolescent hero-to-be. It also seems destined that other favorites, new and old, will surface during the interludes, even if they're not yet publicized: After all, secrecy and surprise are part of the show's crafty scheme. (All the same, I'd love to see the Joker indisputably established through Cameron Monaghan's Jerome. Heck, wouldn't we all?)


Regardless of the various characters and their varying ways, it's imperative that focus remain on the Dark Knight's inevitable ascent. The path seems secure. "Gotham" is inherently Batman's tale, even if the Caped Crusader has yet to be seen or mentioned. However, the producers appear intent in mounting his reveal, for Season 4 (labeled "A Dark Knight" for its first half and for its second, "Dawn of Night") are culled from the comic-book sensations, "Batman: Year One" and "The Long Halloween".


While other superhero shows skirt around what they've promised to be, it's ironic that the once thought series-on-the-cusp is now the most faithful to its mythological core, both in heart and spirit.


As a Batman fan--as a superhero fan--I'm grateful that Fox is continuing its noble campaign. My gut tells me the best is yet to come; the vibes certainly feel sharp (and dark) enough.

Season 4 commences Thurs, Sept 21, one week ahead of its otherwise projected debut: further proof of the network's commitment to reward and widen its popular program's viewership. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

APOCALYPSE: SONOLOGYST SIGNALS AN END TO ALL ENDS!!!


Raffaele Pezzella's Sonologyst (Italy's outstanding, experimental music project) offers a new, mood-setting anthology. Pezzella's electronic-kissed album (available via Eighth Tower Records) is entitled APOCALYPSE. Its atmospheric entries certainly live up to its label and then some...

Pezzella asked me (a fan of such unpropitious essays as "I Am Legend", "Mad Max" and "When Worlds Collide") to pen a lead-in to his latest, thematic concept, which I'm now honored to share...


Everyone predicted it would someday arrive, but so few believed in the inevitable, for within the deepest recesses of people's hearts and minds, the world's destruction was little more than a foolish and faraway myth. Nonetheless, the insinuations...the ghastly omens...were always there, whether in the way nature's wrath surfaced through disasters or in the manner in which tyrants continued to rise proud and tall, with no apparent consequence to their shackling actions. However, when Earth's cataclysmic conclusion finally hit, it manifested not so much through the rumblings of some inner, core force; tumultuous storms; famine; economic collapse; mind control...nuclear devastation. It came predominately from out the darkness of our soiled souls. We caused the end of the world by not caring, by letting charity, good will and compassion die. It was ironically our selfish obsessions for heartless conformity, for sadistic self-preservation that spawned our demise. This album's tracks represent and punctuate the ultimate end to all ends, with all the melodious sorrow and impetuous anguish that humankind's collective sins could ever dare conjure--and (bet your bottom dollar) will. Listen close. Listen hard. Learn and prophetically see and prepare, as each segment drags you deeper into the fetid, despairing annals of...the Apocalypse!


In actuality, Pezzella's track titles say it all in their own straightforward right: Abandoned city; Sulphurous rain; Hypnosis; Stay in your homes!; Global threat; Dying oceans; System collapse; Towers of sand; Prayers from nowhere

Pezzella's gripping, soul-searching chords are certain to build woeful and enraged images inside your head. It's your choice to enhance these moments as you see fit, with alien invaders, talking apes, volcanic explosions...the walking dead. Sonologyst has a special way of sparking a listener's imaginative uniqueness. I still maintain, though, that we remain our own worst enemy, no matter how awful the fringing upheaval, but I'm sure you'll decide for yourself upon listening to Pezzella's evocative selections. 

Indulge now at ... https://eighthtowerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/apocalypse.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

SO LONG, HARRY DEAN STANTON...


As a top-notch, character actor, you weren't afraid to roam all genres, from westerns like "Ride the Whirlwind" and the "Missouri Breakes" to prime dramas like "Cool Hand Luke"; "Wise Blood"; and "Paris, Texas". To fans of the fantastic and the macabre, you'll be best remembered for your roles in "Alien" (as good ol' Brett); "Alien Autopsy"; "Christine"; "Death Watch"; "Escape From New York" (as the crafty Brain); "The Green Mile"; "Marvel's Avengers"; "One Magic Christmas" (as the angelic Gideon); "Rango"; "Repo Man"; "Twin Peaks"; and "Wild At Heart".

There was only ever one Harry Dean Stanton, and the cinema has never been the same (or better) for it. 

RADIO ARCHIVES/AIRSHIP 27 PRESENTS SCOTT GLENNON'S READING OF MICHAEL F. HOUSEL'S THE HYDE SEED

It's here, folks (drum roll, please)...from Radio Archives...actor Scott Glennon's dramatic reading/performance of my Airship 27 Productions novella..."The Hyde Seed"!!!


In case you've not yet read "Hyde Seed", the story details the emotional fall of a boxer, Pepe Rodriguez, and his big bout with an inner demon: a strange, weed-like formation that grows through reveries and craves an existence beyond its host. Will the old pugilist defeat his Hyde or succumb to his counterpart's insidious ambitions?

Glennon gives my tale a crisp, combative edge, which immediately draws one into the woeful action. As "Hyde Seed'"s author, I'm more than pleased with the results.


You can purchase the audio version of "Hyde Seed" (as well as the paperback and Kindle editions) at ... https://www.amazon.com/Hyde-Seed-Michael-F-Housel/dp/1946183105/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505519781&sr=1-1&keywords=the+hyde+seed

God bless and thanks for your support!

Friday, September 15, 2017

AIRSHIP 27 PODCAST #31 (SEPT '17): READY FOR TAKEOFF!!!


Airship 27 Productions' Captain Ron Fortier and Chief Engineer Rob Davis are at it again, bringing us their jovial insights on the New Pulp scene in Podcast #31. 


Gear up your ears for cool scoops on Fred Adams Jr's "C.O. Jones #2: Skinners"; Richard Kellogg's latest "Barry Baskerville" entry; Jim Beard and Barry Reese's "Captain Action #3: Cry of the Jungle Lord"; plus exciting details on the Captain's "Tales of the Macabre, Vol 1": a new, comic-book compilation from Redbud Studio!!!



Listen now at ... https://player.fm/series/zone-4/airship-27-podcast-31-skinners.

Don't delay!!! Take your fun-filled, hour-long flight today!!!

FAREWELL, BASIL GOGOS...


I can't tell you how many times your wonderful work uplifted me, with colors that thrived, pulsated and inundated my dark soul. You covered amazing, sacred and macabre ground, Mr. Gogos, paying homage to so many of my monstrous friends, from the Frankenstein Monster to Count Dracula, from King Kong to Godzilla. You were one of the true, deserving, celebrated masters of your field. That you will no longer paint another portrait or imaginative scene upon this Earth is a tremendous loss to us all, but your marvelous legacy is carved in proverbial stone--your name destined to spawn sighs of gratitude among those of us who savored your work through Famous Monsters of Filmland and beyond. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

RIP LEN WEIN...


You co-created Swamp Thing with the late Bernie Wrightson, and without you, such legendary names as Lucius Fox; Wolverine; Storm; Colossus; and Nightcrawler wouldn't cross our lips. Your contributions to Green Lantern; The Incredible Hulk; Spider-man; Fantastic Four; Justice League; The Avengers; Watchmen (to name but so few) have been nothing short of monumental, not to mention your work on "House of Secrets" and "House of Mystery": two of the greatest, horror-comic anthologies ever produced. 

You covered unbelievable and inspiring ground, Mr. Wein: a behind-the-scenes giant who lovers of the imaginative will respect and adore for lifetimes to come. 

Time Travel Time #18: Star Trek IV The Voyage Home


“Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home” is nearing its 31st anniversary. A huge hit in November/December ’86, the film has become arguably the most cherished of the “Star Trek” movie franchise (old, new or in-between) and one of the most profitable time-travel pictures ever produced. It also continues to gain in popularity: a remarkable feat, considering its age and current, razzmatazz competition. 


As Trekkies well know, time travel isn't alien to their sacred universe, with the likes of "City on the Edge of Forever"; "All Our Yesterdays"; and "Tomorrow is Yesterday" being prime examples of the acclaimed, Desilu incarnation, not to mention the thematic variations found in its popular offshoots. With the theatrical "Trek" franchise expanding into the '80s, it was only logical to introduce a big-screen version of the tried-and-true formula.


Directed by Leonard Nimoy, whose directorial finesse made "Search for Spock" a box-office success, "Voyage Home" is actually the third part of a trilogy, which commenced with the celebrated "Wrath of Khan". 

The script, written by Nimoy and Nicholas Meyer (who directed/penned the highly acclaimed “Wrath”, in addition to the time-travel gem, "Time After Time"), "Voyage Home" offers the resurrected Commander Spock (Nimoy), retrieved from the defunct Planet Genesis by his fellow, classic crew mates: now unlikely outcasts due to their daring rescue. The Enterprise has been destroyed, so our crew must "borrow" a Klingon Bird-of-Prey, nicknamed (appropriately enough) the Bounty, to skip intergalactic town. Indeed, circumstances look bleak for our heroes, but fate grants them redemption through an unexpected, world-shaking event.


A "distress" signal has sprung from Earth, the result of a mysterious, extraterrestrial vessel, which stirs upheaval as it searches (and begins to vaporize) the oceans. The probe wants to reconnect with a life form it (or something akin to it) encountered during a long-ago visit: humpback whales, to be precise. Alas, humpbacks have grown extinct, which prompts the crew to warp back in time to find some, presuming the results will quell the probe’s frantic sweep.

Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) catapults the Bounty to 1986 San Francisco, within the proximity of a couple "Cetacean Institute" humpbacks, George and Gracie, who are contained and cared for by the compassionate Dr. Gillian Taylor (Catherine Hicks).


Kirk and Spock realize that in order to transport the whales, they must first convince Gillian that their mission is sincere. What ensues is an often comedic set of circumstances, with Gillian eventually embracing their cause. 

Throughout the good-natured shenanigans, the plot gives our regulars moments to shine: Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) bumbling about as they seek nuclear empowerment for their craft; McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and Scotty (James Doohan) conning their way into constructing Transparent Aluminum to contain the whales; and Sulu (George Takei) assisting with the transportation of the latter's ever-so-essential panels. (Vulcan and Federation sequences also establish a nostalgic feel, which feature Robin Curtis' Saavik; Jane Wyatt's Amanda; and Mark Leonard's Sarek. Majel Barret and Grace Lee Whitney cameo as Christine Chapel and Janice Rand; and John Schuck's Klingon Ambassador reinforces the film's underlying, Cold War slant: apt for '80s cinema.) 


This wonderful, character blend (so vital to "Trek" storytelling) makes "Voyage Home" a heartfelt, fish-out-of-water romp, with ’86 San Francisco proving more daunting to our heroes than any aggressive, otherworldly expanse. What we'd otherwise take as common concerns in '86, or even at present (e.g., having correct bus fare or attaining proper medical care), strikes Kirk and crew as perplexing, but never unconquerable. 


Also to the film's credit, Kirk and Spock's reestablished relationship occupies much of time, with the reborn, cleric-attired Vulcan assimilating in a dry-humored way to any set of surroundings: a stance that meshes well with Kirk’s supportive zest. Kirk’s relationship with Gillian holds equal grace, with the spunky scientist fitting seamlessly into the calamity. (It seems strange why her congenial presence hasn't entered another, cinematic or television adventure, whether traditional or alternate reality.)


Along with the distinguishing save-the-whales theme, "Voyage Home" solidifies the significance of friendship and duty, handled deftly in "Wrath" and "Search" (and for that matter, "Trek--The Motion Picture", which presented the notion poignantly through Spock after his V'ger meld), but it also promotes the necessity of second chances. And second chances come to those who make the effort, as our dynamic crew demonstrates not only in "Voyage Home", but in their prior, theatrical outings, with Spock having sacrificed his life for his friends and then his friends risking theirs for his. Specifically with "Voyage Home", we find our principals going the ultimate mile to give the humpbacks their second chance, while saving Earth, and along the arduous way, salvaging their reputations (all symbolized by a rousing Leonard Rosenman score that smacks of an epic Christmas carol, underscored with a favorable, nautical rush). 


"Voyage Home" isn't merely a euphoric, time-travel tale, but a metaphoric triumph of the spirit. It demonstrates what humans can accomplish when faced with mounting troubles, when they dare to reach their potential and pursue good deeds, no matter how seemingly impossible. This makes the film one of those unique examples that transcends its genre, fating it to remain fashionable and beloved, no matter what the time or place. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Star Trek Inspirations Sail Forth This Season...


Two "Star Trek" inspirations sail forth this home-viewing season. One is an official prequel/sequel in the "Trek" franchise, while the other is a "Galaxy Quest" variant, and the latter (as everyone well knows) kept Gene Roddenberry's vision close to its heart...


CBS launches "Star Trek: Discovery", which premieres not only on the primary network, but via such streaming sources as CBS All Access, Cave TV, and Netflix. (A new episode will dispatch each Sunday.)

There's been a fair sum of controversy surrounding "Discovery", which I won't delve into here, since it's been beaten to death, but the dramatic gist of this new incarnation links to the "primary universe" and therefore isn't part of the alternate-reality track contained in the recent, theatrical films. 


"Discovery" will take place a decade prior to the '60s Kirk mission and mirror "Voyager" in having two crews merge: one from the USS Discovery NCC-1031 and the other from the USS Shenzhou NCC-1227. (Wonder which one gains dominance--ha, ha.) The story line is serialized and focuses on a previously unseen branch of Klingons. The classic antagonists will look different than those who've come before, but likely behave as expected.


The cast is impressive, consisting of (now take a deep breath) Sonequa "Walking Dead" Martin-Green as First Officer Michael Burnham (who holds a surprise connection to Spock's clan); Jason Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca; Michelle "Tomorrow Never Dies" Yeoh as Captain Philippa Georgiou; Doug "Pan's Labyrinth" Jones as Science Officer Saru; Anthony Rapp as Science Officer Paul Stamets; Maulik Pancholy as Chief Medical Officer Nambue; Terry Serpico as Admiral Anderson; Wilson Cruz as Medical Officer Hugh Culber; Chris Obi as T'Kuvma, the prime Klingon leader and possible clan unifier; and Kenneth Mitchell as Kol, the latter's protege, who's linked to John Colicos' legendary Kor from "Errand of Mercy". Incidentally, genre favorite James Frain portrays Spock's father, Sarek (originally embodied by the exalted Mark Leonard) and crafty ol' Harry Mudd will be played by Rainn Wilson (popularized in the '60s by Roger C. Carmel). 


On the lighter side of interstellar (mis)adventure, Fox serves up Seth MacFarlane's "The Orville": that's the name of the ship, of course...the USS Orville, to be exact. The Orville's odyssey takes place approximately four centuries into the future. 

Per publicity, "The Orville" isn't so much a "Trek" spoof as it's a heartfelt, humorous homage, where reflections of current events will be analyzed. For the record, former "Trek" producer Brannon Braga is on board, with Jonathan Frakes and Simon Pegg set to guest star. 


The cast is as impressive as "Discovery'"s and includes MacFarlane as Captain Ed Mercer; Adrianne "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Palicki as First Officer Kelly Grayson (who just happens to be Mercer's ex); Penny Johnson Jerald as Dr. Claire Finn; Peter Macon as Lt. Commander Bortus; Chad L. Coleman as Klyden (interesting that "Discovery'"s Martin-Green played his "Walking Dead" sister); Scott Grimes as Helmsman Gordon Molloy; J. Lee as Navigator John LaMarr; Halston Sage as Alara Kitan; and Mark Jackson as Isaac, an artificial life form with a Nomad/V'ger complex. To ensure guffaws, Norm MacDonald will manifest every so often to voice a blob-like creature called Yaphit. 

As a science-fiction satire, "The Orville" appears to be as much "Futurama" and even more so "Quark" (the cult, NBC '77-'78 series starring Richard Benjamin) as "Galaxy Quest". On this basis, one must wonder if "The Orville" might not reference similar productions as "Quark" did, perhaps tossing in some "Battlestar Galactica", "Buck Rogers"; "Babylon 5" and "Space: 1999" for good measure.


Considering MacFarlane's penchant for snarky humor, the series will probably push the envelope at times. On the other hand, MacFarlane has expressed what seems to be a sincere respect for Roddenberry's creation and even references "Twilight Zone" as one of his series' inspirations: an encouraging sign. 

Whether either show hits a cultural chord is up in the air, but I imagine we'll know fairly soon whether longevity awaits. 


"Discovery" premieres Sept 24; "The Orville" Sept 10.