Dragon Con 2019 Photos #1: The Stars Our Destination

Freema Agyeman!

Us with Freema Agyeman, a.k.a. Martha Jones from Doctor Who, one of the Doctor’s few companions we hadn’t met. Thanks, Dragon Con!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

Longtime MCC readers know our frequent ventures to entertainment and comic-book conventions around the Midwest have their staples: the cosplay photos, the sojourns through Artists Alley, the pile of newly acquired graphic novels at the end, and, of course, photos with actors and other celebrities in attendance, often featuring our favorite jazz-hands motif. We don’t perform for every con photo-op, but those that meet the standard are kept on a dedicated Pinterest board so future generations can look upon our assembled montage and think to themselves, “…oookay.”

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ABC Family Consigns “Bunheads” to One-Season-Wonder Status

Bunheads, ABC Family

One last Bunheads pic for the road: Bailey Buntain, Kaitlyn Jenkins, Emma Dumont, and Julia Goldani Telles.

It’s never easy when one of your favorite shows ends prematurely without a chance for a tidy series finale.

After months of stalling on a decision, ABC Family finally revealed on Monday that Bunheads has been officially canceled. Despite internet buzz among select circles that now qualify for collective relabeling as a “cult following”, ratings among the Nielsen commoners were never great, especially compared to the performance of the rest of ABC Family’s mostly teen-soap lineup.

As created by Gilmore Girls mastermind Amy Sherman-Palladino and a talented staff working with minimal resources, Bunheads was a literate, tragicomic fusion of ballet, Broadway, a female-majority cast, Sorkin-speed dialogue, showtunes, obscure entertainment punchlines from previous decades, dexterous back-and-forth rhythms, and musical numbers not set to the tune of current Top-40 hits or overplayed ’80s oldies. On a broadcast network, a show containing any two of these elements would’ve been lucky to reach episode three, even on the CW.

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ABC Family Orders Spelling Bee Game Show, Leaves “Bunheads” Rotting in Limbo

Alfonso Ribeiro

Former child actor Alfonso Ribeiro knows about gamesmanship. (photo credit: RangerRick via photopin cc)

If it were up to me, I’d be spending my Monday nights the same way I did last summer: watching and recapping ABC Family’s Bunheads. When I took advantage of a free advance preview of the pilot last year, I was unprepared for a show about a California dance studio to become appointment viewing for an old man who’s never before had any interest in shows about dancing, teens, or dancing teens. (I’d never even followed an ABC Family series before, unless reruns of Whose Line Is It, Anyway? count.)

Full credit for my Bunheads fandom goes to an atypical cast, talented crew, shrewd choices in songs and routines, the constant flurry of unpredictable pop-culture riffs, and Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, who had to know that a ballet dramedy would a hard sell in today’s TV landscape. Alas, too few Nielsen commoners supported its first season to guarantee its renewal, but it beat enough late-night infomercials to merit extended reconsideration by the Powers That Be…who, four months after the season finale, have yet to decide whether it lives or dies.

This same management team had no compunction announcing their latest approved acquisition this week: a weekly spelling bee! Because certified TV scientists have proven in their shiny corporate labs that America loves its game shows, erstwhile Fresh Prince sidekick Alfonso Ribeiro will be hosting the upcoming Spell-Mageddon, in which contestants must refresh themselves on their old high-school vocabulary tests and enter the low-stakes world of competitive spelling, without benefit of Auto-Correct or even Auto-text. Truly this promises to be like an aerial death match without a net.

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“Bunheads” 2/25/2013: Secrets Not for Everyone

Bunheads

Left to right: Sasha, Ginny, Melanie, Boo

Tonight’s Bunheads winter finale, titled “Next!”, needed a very special TV rating to warn away older male viewers who might feel more than a little creepy watching scenes of teenage girls discussing their plans to go to the library and check out the entire sex education bookshelf. Sasha (Julia Goldani Telles) is the instigator here, in full overintellectualization mode. She demands her boyfriend Roman (Garrett Coffey) provide her with a list of all his past relationships, well aware she’s manifesting an Anna Karenina sort of paranoia. She commands Boo (Kaitlyn Jenkins) to accelerate her relationship schedule with Carl for no justifiable reason. She likewise includes Melanie (Emma Dumont) and Ginny (Bailey Buntain) in her orders, but Melanie deflects Sasha’s bizarre projection: “We’ve got ‘potential spinster buddy comedy’ written all over our faces.” Sasha even corrals all her Bunhead buddies into a montage of R-rated book-learning.

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“Bunheads” 2/11/2013: Heavy Hangs the Head That Wears the CAP Cap

Bunheads, Sutton Foster, Sean Gunn, cap capTonight’s new Bunheads episode, “It’s Not a Mint”, begins with Sasha experiencing every new renter’s worst nightmare: a possible burglary. Maybe. She arrives home with groceries in arms and finds her front door standing wide open. She smartly opts not to go inside, clumsily drops her groceries, and calls for help. The other Bunheads’ phones all go to voice mail. Her neighbor Mrs. Weidemeyer won’t answer the door. Sasha even turns to Siri to dial 911 for her because dialing three whole digits is too much work. Unfortunately her iPhone comes preloaded with the standard sitcom version of Siri that’s equipped with the hearing of a senile grandmother. (To be fair, it’s for the best that every fictional version of Siri malfunctions. If it worked according to specs, I’d roll my eyes and accuse the show of product placement. Siri just can’t win.)

Rescue arrives in the form of her dashing suitor, Roman. Sasha directs to him of numerous weapons of choice to arm himself against intruders — baseball bat under the couch, tennis racket by the fireplace, My Pretty Pony umbrella in the closet, backup baseball bat in the bedroom closet, or crowbar under the bed. Sasha has surely taken all those true-crime stories to heart and prepared her defenses well. One flaw in her plan: there’s no intruder — she apparently failed to shut the front door on her way out. Then more rescuers arrive — Boo and her parents. Boo’s dad even brought his own sledgehammer. They charge about the place, triple-checking and securing and shouting confirmation at each other from opposite rooms. Everyone agrees on two things: there’s no intruder, and there’s a spider in the bathroom that may be powerful enough to kill them all, weapons or not.

Otherwise, tonight was a special “bottle episode” — another sitcom tradition in which the whole story takes place in a single setting, either as a creative experiment or as a budget-cutting measure. In this case, what wasn’t spent on sets and camera setups was instead spent on bringing in the supporting cast all at once. The premise: a forest fire has sent the entire town of Paradise into emergency mode. Every citizen except Michelle naturally knows the drill: west-siders and east-siders each have their own assigned evacuation centers. For east-siders, said center is the dance academy. The designated captain of the east-side center is Bash (Sean Gunn), the eccentric barista last seen sparring with Michelle at his coffee shop. Bash wears his role well and boldly wears his cap that says “CAP” to signify to ordinary folks that he’s the captain. He’s very proud of his CAP cap. Someday when Bunheads merchandise becomes all the rage, I hope to see a hat sporting a photo of Bash in uniform, so I can buy my very own “CAP cap” cap.

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“Bunheads” 2/11/2013: No One Expects the TAFT-POKI-RIP Inquisition

Sutton Foster, Angelina McCoy, BunheadsOn tonight’s new episode of Bunheads, “There’s Nothing Worse Than a Pantsuit” (that’s the episode title, not the main clause of this sentence), our heroine Michelle is forced to cope with two (2) formidable challenges. First up, as spoiled in the episode title: pantsuits! With Fanny MIA from an episode once again, Michelle is left alone to work with Milly on the next step of the Millicent Stone Performing Arts Center process: zoning approval from the town committee. Michelle nearly tries to go it alone, but Milly scolds her for not keeping her in the loop on any important issues. (“Anything that can’t be answered by reading a Judy Blume novel? CALL ME.”) Such formal requirements, in Milly’s estimation, cannot be completed while wearing anything except a pantsuit. Leave it to Truly and the magic of Sparkles to provide Michelle with options, all equally businesslike and hard to tolerate, even with meatball-sized beads and whatever “color blocking” is. Later in the episode she comes to terms with this temporary fashion detour and recognizes the inherent advantages — fewer wardrobe malfunctions; more pockets than dancewear has; and, on a metaphysical level, the pantsuit is “binding, so it keeps all your powers in.”

Michelle needs all the pantsuit power she can summon, for this very important meeting (held on an accelerated schedule per Milly’s wishes for control-freak purposes) is no less than a rematch with Sam (Rose Abdoo), Sal (Homicide‘s Jon Polito), and the other members of The Association For The Preservation Of Keeping It Real In Paradise (a.k.a. TAFT-POKI-RIP), last seen in episode nine, “No One Takes Khaleesi’s Dragons“. Already indignant because Milly lied about providing snacks, TAFT-POKI-RIP finds one major flaw with the amphitheater construction: all the innocent squirrels that will be left homeless and starving as a result of the slight deforestation that will be key to the plans. Somewhere out there in Paradise, someone asked plaintively, “Won’t someone think of the squirrels?” And like a bunch of screwy busybodies, TAFT-POKI-RIP answered the call, displaying all the acumen of the Vermont townspeople from Newhart. Fortunately for sensitive eyes, this environmental debacle is settled entirely offscreen by Milly in full-on rage mode. Somehow the day is saved and the MSPAC proceeds on schedule.

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“Bunheads” 2/4/2013: Millicent Stone Presents “Sleeping Beauty and the Seven Dwarves”

Sasha, Julia Goldani Telles, "Bunheads"Sasha’s parents may be divorcing and deserting Paradise in separate directions, but judging by the evidence presented in tonight’s new episode of Bunheads, “Take the Vicuna”, their forgotten credit cards are keeping their daughter company in their absence. Their magically limitless credit line is enough to secure her new luxury apartment, cover the utilities bills (and hopefully the learning curve that goes with those), provide two carts’ worth of startup food and accessories, and still have thousands left over to throw a righteous housewarming party for her core friends, several classmates, the grownups who didn’t abandon her, and for reasons unknown Aubrey (Victoria Park), her onetime cheerleading captain. The snacks are plentiful, the guests receive parting gifts, and the decor is so over-the-top ornate, you’d think Sasha shares an interior decorator with Tom Haverford from Parks and Rec.

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“Bunheads” 1/28/2013: the Brother from Another Musical

Bunheads, Sutton Foster, Hunter FosterIf you’re among those fans rooting for Michelle to remove foot from mouth and get back in good graces with her surfer bartender oceanographer near-beau Godot, this week’s new episode of Bunheads, “The Astronaut and the Ballerina”, may have been a disappointment for you. Michelle approaches, makes bad jokes, digs her hole a little deeper, gifts him with a copy of Finding Nemo because of oceanography, but then watches her baby steps to forgiveness interrupted by a surprise visitor: her deadbeat brother Scotty!

For value-added meta-fun, Scotty is played by Sutton Foster’s real-life brother, Tony Award nominee Hunter Foster (2003’s Little Shop of Horrors). In mere minutes we find out what Scotty and Michelle have in common: they’re terrible at life decisions. Scotty retreats from a Madison (Wisconsin’s, I presume) to our little town of Paradise as a four-time runaway groom who needs a place to crash and a fellow loser with whom to hang out so he can feel better. Unfortunately Scotty drops by just in time to ruin Michelle’s plans and further delay the reunion of “Godelle” or “Michot” or whatever we ought to call their attempted pairing.

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MCC Q&A #2: Terms of Befuddlement

Casey J. Adler, Carl Cramer, Bunheads

Is this actor 15, 25, or 55? The world demands an answer.

Just so we’re clear, I’m grateful for my readers no matter how they discovered Midlife Crisis Crossover — whether you’re a fellow WordPress user, a fan of the MCC Facebook page, part of my Twitter contingent, a longtime ‘Net-community neighbor, or one of the very few people I know in person who’re aware of MCC’s existence. Thank you for your comments, your Likes, and your various forms of intangible support, even the forms I can’t perceive.

Also crucial to MCC’s everyday traffic patterns and my daily motivational requirements are the most silent and transient visitors of all, those unknown passersby who drop by MCC momentarily in their pursuit of their diverse search engine results. No matter how interface technology progresses, no matter which social platforms succeed which obsolete circles, even if microblogs killed the blogosphere star, rest assured the Internet will always be filled with people questing for knowledge, seeking answers to life’s hardest questions, or just needing someone to talk to. I welcome those occasions for MCC to provide those answers, that trivia, or this shoulder to cry on. If even one of those bystanders is an angel entertained, so much the better.

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“Bunheads” 1/21/2013: Financial Alternatives to the Small-Business Loanie-Thingie

Sutton Foster, BunheadsTonight’s new episode of Bunheads, “I’ll Be Your Meyer Lansky”, saw the return of one of Michelle and Fanny’s most dreaded mutual enemies: their accountant, Eric (Ron Butler). Though they ostensibly “run” a dance studio as an awkward partnership, neither of them is big on bookkeeping, finances, profit margins, simple math, or numbers in general. Consequently, the studio is tanking hard, thanks to the Nutcracker fundraiser disaster, Fanny’s reluctance to bill many of her poorer students, and both instructors’ penchant for canceling classes on a whim and/or plot device.

Presumably before Hubbell’s death he managed his own money as well as his mother’s studio, but apparently didn’t leave her enough of a fortune to fund it on auto-pilot in perpetuity. Eric’s base-level fiduciary jargon reminds me of my day job, but is useless against a pair of flighty dance instructors, even though they prefaced their office visit with several rounds of energy drinks and a dedicated physical training montage set to faux-Rocky fanfare. Had they spent their formative years double-majoring, they wouldn’t be in this mess or, one hopes, overdosing on Red Bull. As it is, the best business proposition they can muster is a shaky plan involving a donkey, a sluice box (or “sluicer” in Michellespeak), and some gold in them thar hills.

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