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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 33: “Homicide” Hometown

Fells Point!

Our first sighting of Fells Point back on Day Three, after the water taxi finally picked us up from Fort McHenry.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

After our stops at the African American History Museum and the Star-Spangled Banner Museum, we were effectively done with Baltimore museums for the year. Day Five continued to the southeast, past our hotel, and away from the the Inner Harbor’s major tourist magnets. We walked east on Fleet Street and, the very next block after Eden Street, passed the end of shininess and treaded into the blue-collar grit of the neighborhood they call Fell’s Point.

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Subgenius in France

Les Témoins d'Outre-Mer!

Look, ma! I’m a talking head on live TV!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last December after the untimely, tragic, wholly unfair death of Carrie Fisher, a reporter from our local ABC affiliate asked me for an on-air interview about the time my wife Anne and I met her at Indiana Comic Con 2015 and had the most unforgettable convention experience of our lives. My evening news interview was unexpected, it was surreal, and it was effectively my television debut.

This week, for another unexpected and surreal minute, I found myself on TV again. But this time, Midlife Crisis Crossover took to the international airwaves.

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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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