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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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??

Never Seen Star Wars?

star wars

We all have that friend who shakes their head at us when we tell them we haven’t watched that TV show/seen that movie/read that book/played that game that they’re so enamoured by. We’ve all felt inadequate and out of the loop when receiving this reaction, so much so that we rush out to buy the raved-about boxset or whatever it is to appease our friends and sate our souls.

Exhibit A: the droves of people inhaling ‘Breaking Bad’ via Netflix after the slow-burn cult fave suddenly exploded into ‘Homeland’-style watercooler TV during its final season. Walter deserves the following, sure, but when did friendly critical recommendation turn into guilt-trip binge watching in an effort to bridge the cred-diminishing gap?

The thing is, in this media-blitz age, we can’t all have watched/played/read every well-received entertainment property – unless you don’t have a job (even then), it’s just not realistic. Sure, you can spend your weekends devouring ‘Mad Men’ boxsets but for every Don Draper, you’ll have to sacrifice a Tony Soprano or an 8-hour ‘Skyrim’ blitz.

So, as McGeek, what is my dark and dirty secret? There’s plenty on my Sky planner and Netflix ‘to watch’ list, plus a small fortune of CDs, books and games on my Amazon wishlist (even prior purchases on my shelves that I’m yet to touch). As a self-professed geek, I should probably feel slightly ashamed – heck, you may even spurn this blog upon discovering – that one small little space saga sits at the top of my unwatched list.

Yup, that’s right: I’ve never seen ‘Star Wars’.

Holy shit beans. Put down your lightsabers though, guys; my geek ignorance may astound you, but it’s just something I haven’t gotten round to. I haven’t wilfully spurned the series, instead simply going through life without returning to the Jedi after a primary school showing of ‘A New Hope’ had me glued to my seat but not necessarily crying out for more.

star wars stormtroopers

Of course, as a wisened geek, the original saga is definitely something I intend to catch at some point, especially now the franchise is getting the JJ/Disney treatment in the next few years. One weekend awaits in my future where I’ll sit down with a family-sized box of Maltesers and gorge on both that and George’s galaxy.

Of the new trilogy, through some mishap I ended up seeing ‘Attack of the Clones’ at the cinema but I admit to having no idea what was going on during its flurry of a final hour. Maybe I wasn’t invested enough, maybe my ignorance of the originals rendered a prequel redundant, maybe it was just a bit shit (surely, some ‘Star Wars’ fanatics agree here?); whatever the case, I’m sure a sit-down with the most recent entries will occur at some point too but maybe without quite as much as guilt on my side that it’s my first time.

The thing with ‘Star Wars’ is that it’s one of those few cultural entities that is so all-pervading that perhaps part of the reason I haven’t seen it in full is because I feel I don’t necessarily need to. Storm troopers, ewoks, the Death Star, the true identity of Luke Skywalker’s father… I feel like I’ve been there and back already, such is the frequency that the universe’s iconography is referenced in all manner of TV, film, games and music.

With the new phase of ‘Star Wars’ looking like a mighty Marvel makeover – a new film every year, character standalones, etc. – it’s an apt time for any newcomer like me to make nice and get acquainted. The casting rumours are flying thick and fast, with relative unknowns like ‘Girls’’ Adam Driver to the original Hamill/Ford/Fisher cast, being bandied about.

However, before I get all excited and offer opinions about what the new movies should or shouldn’t be, I should really visit a galaxy far, far away. Anyone got a boxset they wanna loan me??

14 for 2014: New on Netflix

netflix original content

Following in the footsteps of last year’s Emmy Awards, last night’s razzle-dazzle Golden Globes saw Hollywood recognising the influence of online streaming service Netflix. The international entertainment platform is reaping the rewards of its decision to produce original content; while Robin Wright grabbed a gong for her role in ‘House of Cards’ yesterday, David Fincher’s political thriller was nominated alongside other Netflix productions including ‘Orange is the New Black’ and the new season of ‘Arrested Development’.

So, a new year promises to bring more Netflix shows – and potential future nominees. As well as new seasons of ‘House of Cards’ (which starts next month), ‘Weeds’ creator Jenji Kohan’s black comedy ‘Orange is the New Black’ and Eli Roth’s barmy supernatural series ‘Hemlock Grove’, there’s even more to look forward to.

netflix 2014

From cult-bait comedy animation ‘Bojack Horseman’ to new shows focusing on Marco Polo and Pablo Escobar, there’s something for everyone. Geeks in the room? You’ll be back-to-back downloading ‘Sense8’, due in late 2014 and the brainchild of the Wachowskis. I’m hoping for the same gasp-inducing sci-fi showmanship that left me floored a decade ago when I first saw ‘The Matrix’. Let it be Netflix, let it be.