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Thoughts on Netflix’s Marvel’s “The Defenders”

Defenders!

That magical moment when Our Heroes meet but aren’t sure they can take orders from the Stupendous Scarfman.

Let the record show The Defenders is an exceedingly rare event, by which I mean it’s a Netflix series I finished watching within a week of release. Normally it takes me six to eight weeks to catch up with the cool kids. Don’t ask which of my work days suffered most from accomplishing that.

It helps that season 1 is only eight episodes, much more tightly edited, averaging 45-50 minutes each — a more concise spectacle than the padding and plodding that frequently dragged the other series to the 60- to 65-minute mark for indulgent purposes. I hadn’t planned to bulldoze my way through like this, but we have a convention this weekend where we know fans will be chatting about this brand new show to pass the time in the long lines. I’d rather not have to keep cutting them off with yelps of “AHHH! SPOILERS!” while stuffing my head into my carryall so I can’t hear them.

Additional motivation struck me when episode 3 — the one where all four main characters have their first rendezvous — turned out to be such an addictive, headlong rush of comic-book excitement in the mighty Marvel manner, despite the mandatory but middling Hallway Fight. Differently impressive was part 4, directed by ace TV veteran Phil Abraham (The Sopranos, Mad Men), basically a bottle episode in which Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist finally share moments, snipe, posture, threaten to walk, connect, and subtly weave all the threads and tones from their respective, disparate corners of the Marvel Netflix Universe into a coherent tapestry over a sumptuous if mostly ignored Chinese dinner. The characters’ flaws were laid bare with self-aware candor, the overlaps between their shows were extricated, dumplings were shared, and both humor and personal drama each found their entry points.

Results after those episodes were, uh, a bit more varied. The short version: generally a wild ride, but not without its sudden bumps and occasional missing pieces of track.

Fair warning: major spoilers lie beyond not only for The Defenders but for the preceding shows as well. If you haven’t watched those other five seasons first, parts of this show will be incomprehensible. That’s a disappointment to anyone who prefers self-contained stories to these interlocking continuities that marketing departments love to pieces nowadays, but that’s how the super-hero game is played on screens nowadays, for better or worse.

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Adam West 1928-2017

Adam West and Burt Ward!

That time two Dynamic Duos met at Awesome Con Indy 2014.

Saturday morning, Anne and I were at a major event waiting to meet TV’s Dean Cain when news broke that the Adam West had passed away at 88 from leukemia. At first we didn’t believe it. Whether we’re in a small town or a big city, whether we’re among fellow geeks or ordinary folks, that’s the kind of allegation we don’t accept at face value.

“To the phones!” I half-jokingly shouted as we both clicked to our most trusted sources for confirmation. Alas, it was true. The moment was depressing yet sublimely absurd — here we are in line for Superman only to have someone tell us Batman is dead.

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Late Thoughts on “Iron Fist” and the Comedy That Could’ve Been

Iron Fist!

Y’like super-hero tales with costumes and exotic locales? Ha. SUCKER.

Netflix’s Marvel’s Iron Fist, based on the kung-fu super-hero I’ve followed off and on since childhood, is the first time I’ve watched a TV series and wondered to myself if it might’ve worked better as a mid-’90s Pauly Shore vehicle.

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The Adventures of Alex & Maggie and Their Flighty Sidekick Supergirl

Supergirl!

“Hey, everybody, come look! Alex and Maggie did a cute thing again! Awwww, I love their show!”

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife and I thought so highly of that new CBS series Supergirl that we met four of its stars at two different events last year — Mehcad Brooks and Peter Facinelli at Metropolis’ Superman Celebration; and before that, Chyler Leigh and the Melissa Benoist at Chicago’s C2E2. Fun folks from a fun show.

At launch, Supergirl was a bright, optimistic series about one of the most frequently mishandled members of the Superman family, of which Anne has been a lifelong fan. As an adult she’s been to the Superman Celebration five times with me; as a girl she read all the Superman-related books she could find at our local library and watched Superman: The Movie on videodisc so many times that she memorized it. Literally. All of it. Could recite the entire movie line-for-line from beginning to end. She never could say the same for Supergirl’s movie, which was…well, I haven’t watched it in thirty years, so I can’t fairly say how it ranks compared to Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, but it’s down there. She hasn’t kept up with any of DC Comics’ other TV shows since Smallville, but she was intrigued at the idea and generally happy with season one. Same went for me, despite the intermittent bits of cheesiness I was fine with shrugged off.

Then the series moved to The CW.

(Housekeeping note up front: this entry dives into developments from the March 6th episode. Consider this your courtesy spoiler warning.)

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MCC Home Video Scorecard #9: Catching Up with 2016

Deadpool!

For old folks like me who saw Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in theaters and sat all the way through to the scene after the end credits, the final minute of Deadpool is ours to claim.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: the recurring feature that’s me jotting down capsule-sized notes about Stuff I’ve Been Watching at home. In this entry: four 2016 releases I missed in theaters because I can’t see every movie ever. Blame work, Netflix convenience, internet shenanigans, and The CW’s unwieldy yet not-bad DC Comics lineup for hogging my weeknight attention.

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Memories of Brady and Book

Ron Glass!

I promised myself five months ago I wouldn’t hop on the “2016 SUCKS” bandwagon, but celebrity passings dominated this weekend’s apolitical headlines, at least two of which merit a few personal side notes.

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