Back of the Net(flix)

24 hours after the release of the trailer for its exclusive ‘Breaking Bad’ spin-off ‘Better Call Saul’, it’s clear that Netflix is the future of TV. Sure, Sky has ‘Fortitude’ coming up and all the HBO shows, not to mention Amazon coming up from behind with their own streaming service (and a commitment to movie production with their new film studio plans), but Netflix’s 2015 schedule of new and returning shows is a reminder that  we are in safe hands. For a small fee, of course.

better call saul

As well as ‘Saul’, which seems set to be a wisecracking companion piece to Heisenberg’s straight-up crack, there is a slew of streamable telly treats coming our way. New ‘House of Cards’ in Feb and ‘Orange is the New Black’ in summer have come to be expected now, but no less cherished; meanwhile, the increasingly eclectic mix of genres looks set to continue with dark US family drama ‘Bloodlines’ approaching in March, mere weeks after ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’, Tina Fey’s irrepressibly bouncy-looking new NY sitcom.

Fey’s new show looks unashamedly girly (more ‘Mean Girls’ than ’30 Rock’ perhaps?) and Netflix’s penchant for girl power shows looks set to continue with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in ‘Grace and Frankie’, which may be a gamble but a potential surprise hit if NF’s track record is anything to go by. And, of course, there’s movie-inspired mayhem from ‘Matrix’ minds, the Wachowskis, with their new original series ‘Sense8’ and the first in a promised run of Marvel off-shoots with a ‘Daredevil’ reboot come April. And I get the sense this is still just scratching the surface of a potent TV revolution – bring it on, Netflix!

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Happy Björk-day!

Those naughty hackers. Nowadays, a ‘leak’ isn’t necessarily a household disaster or an embarrassing bodily malfunction (Geek forbid!); nope, it’s just as likely to refer to the illegal file-sharing of new music from A-list artists, and not necessarily the intended final versions of the songs. Madonna found out the hard way when new tracks from this year’s  ‘Rebel Heart’ were first heard in demo form when she was the victim of one such leak late last year.

Björk Vulnicura
Sometimes though, despite the whole violation-of-the-artist thing, it does actually work out for music fans. Following pre-release circulation of songs from her new album ‘Vulnicura’, Björk today rush-released the album in its entirety on iTunes to beat the hackers at their own game – no doubt pleasing her legion of fans in the process. If the music is out there illegally, why prolong the wait for the genuine music lovers who still BUY the bloody stuff?

A ‘heartbreak’ album with the Icelandic singer’s usual sonic shape-shifting twist, ‘Vulnicura’ is one of the year’s must-listens. I know I’m off to iTunes right after I post this – you too?

Blue Monday, Little Green Men

Ah, January. Part of me feels you get a bad rap, part of me feels your detractors are fully justified in their hatred. Today is unofficially known as ‘Blue Monday’, the flip to Black Friday’s intoxicating blend of impulse sale buys and retail-based violence; what that means is we’re all poor, we’re all housebound, and we can’t see the impending summer through the SAD-inflicting pitch blackness of 2015’s cold snap start and bare, bare trees. Heck, if you were to look at this very blog, you’d guess Blue Monday got an early start, such is the lazy fugue state I’ve been occupying since the bell tolled midnight on Jan 1st. Write for pleasure? Pfft, there’s boxsets and leftover chocolates to gorge on. Chance is I might have been confused as one of these Smurf wannabes in the past coupla weeks.

blue myself january

But it’s not all bad. The Starks and co. would have you believe winter is coming (and that overblown fantasy saga happens to be back in April if that’s your bag o’ dragons) but the sun will shine on us once again. Case in point? On this very blue day, mere months after the Lynch legion were given an early Xmas prezzie in the shape of promised new ‘Twin Peaks’ episodes, Fox have confirmed they are intent on opening up ‘The X-Files’ once again.

mulder and scully

OMG!! That stands for Oh My Gillian btw, seeing as this tentative announcement is not merely pointing to a rebooted recast remake, but has creative minds hoping for a reunion between Duchovny and Anderson as the original. Now, the second movie in 2008 was lacklustre – and, before we start seeking the truth that is out there all over again, remember this is still rumour mill stage – but this could be up there with new ‘Jurassic Park’ and aforementioned ‘Twin Peaks’ (still never seen ‘Star Wars’ so can’t comment there) as a nostalgia nuke to get excited about. Push the button, Chris Carter and TV-land people!

All together now…

A Classic Christmas

Zooey Deschanel doesn’t need another reason for us all to find her totes charming, but it must just come that easy to her.

Backed up by indie guitar maestro M. Ward, Zooey is set to sing her way into our hearts all over again in December with her fifth record as one half of She & Him. On December 1st, the duo’s new studio album is set to provide some respite from The X Factor and Crimbo #1 hopefuls thanks to Deschanel and Ward choosing to cover proven classics and deliver them under the catchy title, erm, ‘Classics’.

classics

A cynic could choose to term this musical move as lazy, but Zooey’s voice has always worked wonders with a golden oldie and the duo’s own originals have perfectly captured a sense of neo-nostalgia, thanks to various retro influences they will readily admit.

The tracklist is as follows:

1. Stars Fell On Alabama
2. Oh No, Not My Baby
3. It’s Not For Me To Say
4. Stay Awhile
5. This Girl’s In Love With You
6. Time After Time
7. She
8. Teach Me Tonight
9. It’s Always You
10. Unchained Melody (feat. the Chapin Sisters)
11. I’ll Never Be Free
12. Would You Like To Take a Walk?
13. We’ll Meet Again

Although we’re all overly familiar with a few of the above, I have faith that they will offer a credible spin on these songs. A recent US performance of ‘Time After Time’ (see below) supports this, so it looks like previous covers album ‘A Very She & Him Christmas’ may get fewer plays this Christmas season…

Welcome (Back) to Twin Peaks

Fancy some damn good coffee? Well, get the car loaded and logs at the ready because David Lynch’s seminal TV show (and pretty much the blueprint for all influential cult telly) is only getting the revival treatment.

return of twin peaks

^^^ That’s my excited face right now.

So yeah, after some cryptic tweets over the last few days, it has been officially announced that ‘Twin Peaks’ will return for a ‘limited series’ on Showtime in 2016, 25 years after the show ended after two seasons in 1991. Nine new episodes will be written by Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost, with Lynch directing all nine episodes – can I get a WOW or ten?!

All Mondays need news like this from now on – okay, TV gods??

Take Me to Church (and the Record Shop)

Hozier’s ‘Take Me to Church’ is undoubtedly one of the tracks of the year, introducing listeners to the soulful tones of Irish troubadour Andrew Hozier-Byrne via a dark, gospel-hued blues ballad. You may have heard it trailing the end credits of an episode of new cult TV fave ‘The Leftovers’, but the mainstream hasn’t ignored it either: it’s bafflingly been given the thumbs up by chart-crazed Radio 1, and a slot was given to Hozier on Jools Holland’s taste-making music show.

Anyone who missed two previous EPs will be happy to know Hozier’s self-titled debut album hits UK record shops (and, y’know, iTunes) tomorrow, after having already enjoyed success in his native Ireland, so we’ll all be able to listen to what lies beyond that haunting lead single. Until then, let’s bask one more time in the grizzled glory of his offbeat hymn to Sunday service:

Post-Comic Con Recon

So, now the geek dust has settled and San Diego costume shops have had their supply of superhero capes returned, it’s (perhaps past) time to reflect on the year’s biggest annual genre convention.

While there was nothing quite as awesome as last year’s impromptu Loki cosplay from Loki himself, Tom Hiddleston, there were some rather exciting announcements. Because I love lists – damn you, Buzzfeed! – here are the 15 things to emerge from SDCC ’14 that your McGeek is most excited about:

avengers 2

1. The new ‘Age of Ultron’ info, headed up by the insane poster above, is super news for fans of those super-sorts, The Avengers. Whedon, Downey, exciting new baddies – is it April 2015 yet?

2. Next year’s other Bigger-than-Big superhero team-up, ‘Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice’ revealed its feminine charms with shots of Gal Gadot in her Wonder Woman cozzy. Wouldn’t it be funny if she kicks both their asses?!

3. The ‘Warcraft’ trailer. Never played it, doubt I ever will – but looks pretty epic!

4. Following its glowing reviews and major box office, it was announced that ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is getting a sequel. Not too bad for a Marvel-lous gamble featuring a talking tree, huh?

5. Speaking of sequels, Gareth Edwards gets to play with his monster toybox some more with a second ‘Godzilla’ movie. After the somewhat muted reception to this year’s San Francisco-set rampage, maybe Edwards will deliver the monster movie to rule – and smash – all other monster movies with his second Godzilla outing.

6. Here’s some more sequel news for you – or sorta-sequel prequel news, anyway. King Kong’s prehistoric island home will be a destination for summer cinema audiences soon with a newly announced trip back to ‘Skull Island’. Joe Cornish is in the frame to direct.

7. Oh, and Christopher Nolan unveiled a new trailer for ‘Interstellar’. Thinkings, space travellers?

8. Summer means an impending new season of TV, so many of our favourites were in the frame. ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ happily gets a second season despite a tail-off in viewership, so with that we get rumours of new characters like super agent Mockingbird as well as new cast members, including Lucy Lawless and ‘Dollhouse’s Reed Diamond.

9. Keeping it Marvel, an interesting expansion of the property’s TV portfolio comes with a rebooted ‘Daredevil’ for can-do-no-wrong Netflix. Will the platform’s creative freedom allow for the edgy, dark incarnation that the Ben Affleck vehicle so sadly wasn’t??

10. Didn’t think Homer would ever meet Peter Griffin? Erm…

homer meets peter griffin

11. Still reeling from the second season finale of ‘Hannibal?’ The third course will be set a year after that shocking bloodbath – and, as a Bryan Fuller buff and avid fan of the show, I can’t wait to see who lives, who dies and what the cannibal concocts next. The Red Dragon himself, Francis Dolarhyde, is set to make an appearance. Nightmares at the ready.

12. TV/game crossovers can be tricky to get right (‘Defiance’ anyone?) but the news that the cast of ‘Firefly’ are reuniting for a new online game is just, well, SHINY. She keeps on flying… *happy sigh*

13. Sam Raimi, in attendance to announce ‘The Last of Us’ film adap, also teased a possible new ‘Evil Dead’ series with Bruce Campbell also possibly involved. Can post-watershed handle this?

14. Horror buffs can also look forward to a return-to-form Guillermo del Toro, who takes a pause from pitting robots against giant monsters to deliver in ‘Crimson Peak’ the type of elegant, scary-as-hell pic with which he first made his name. Jeepers creepers.

15. Finally, Christmas soon which means mince pies, Santa and one big ol’ present in the final (for now) trip to Middle-earth for Peter Jackson’s ‘Hobbit’ trilogy. Sniff.

Until next year! Someone buy me a ticket??

The Last Picture Show

I’ll be bringing you news of 2014’s San Diego Comic-Con later this week, following its weekend wrap-up today.

However, news of an official movie adap of PS3 survival horror hit ‘The Last of Us’ is too exciting not to babble about before then…

maisie williams ellie

Announced at the start of the annual event, which attracts an ever-increasing geek pilgrimage year on year, a movie version of 2013’s ‘Game of the Year’ will be written by the game’s original scripter, potentially star Maisie Williams (Arya Stark herself!) as heroine Ellie, and – most notable for fans of cult movies and gore – will be produced by ‘Spiderman’ and ‘Evil Dead’ helmer, Sam Raimi.

Could this be the turnaround video games have been waiting for when it comes to game-to-screen updates? Sure, it would be nice if the original voice cast could translate to the movie, but the difference in age unfortunately means Ashley Johnson won’t work out as a teen Ellie in Hollywoodland.

Still, the credibility suggested by the CC announcement is enough to get fans tensed up for the nerve-jangling human vs fungus-people zombie apocalypse – even if it’s not out for another couple of years!

What a Marvel

clark-gregg-agent-coulson

Tonight, UK fans of Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ finally uncovered the truth about the mysterious Cellist (and discovered she looked a lot like Amy Acker – yay!) but, after all the shocks and surprises as Whedon and his team lead to an end-of-season climax, it’s reassuring to find out today that Coulson’s team is getting a second series.

Yep, despite the ratings dip that has followed the sterling season opener, the Marvel brand holds a lot of weight and luckily the TV spin-off is getting another run – bucking the curse of Whedon’s ‘Firefly’ and ‘Dollhouse’ for now.

hayley-atwell-agent-carter

Not only that, but Marvel continues its transition to the small screen with the newly announced ‘Agent Carter’ which, following Hayley Atwell’s character revival in the ‘Captain America’ sequel and a short that accompanied ‘Iron Man 3’, has been picked up for a series that will follow Cap’s former ass-kicking love.

So, with Phase 2 of the Marvel legacy soon to close, exciting times are ahead – and not just in the cinema. Overkill could be a danger here, but so far Kevin Feige and his team have hardly put a foot wrong (although I still haven’t seen Norton’s pre-Ruffalo ‘Hulk’) so hopes are high. What a Marvel!