Friday, May 30, 2014

Reviews: "Double date with Dad" and "Pushed Out"

I now continue my analysis of the second part of season 3 of the award-winning webseries “Out With Dad”.  “Double Date with Dad” picks up where we left off, as Claire drags Rose to talk to Rose’s dad while he is on his date with Angela.  This inevitable first meeting between the daughter and Dad’s girlfriend is light and entertaining and every bit as good as I hoped it would be!

To start with, we have Angela and Claire encouraging the group to sit all together, while Dad and Daughter are reluctant to do so.  It fits the personalities perfectly, as we know Claire isn’t afraid of much, or going to consider the consequences of something until after she has committed to the idea.  Angela, as we saw in the first part of season 3, is anxious to meet Rose and a bit miffed that Nathan didn’t tell Rose about his dating.  We don’t get to find out if Nathan mentioned that Rose knew about Angela before now, but I think it’s likely. So, the group gets together for desert, and…awkward silence…finally broken by a conversation about Nathan’s shirt design.  Then the conversation gets to interesting things, such as the pairings telling of how they met, and Rose admitting she didn’t even know Claire’s name. (And, of course, neither did us fans!) The incident with the tea is funny and another of those Miller-ism character moments.  One of the many little touches that make the characters seem so real.  I would be certain to follow the Miller tea rules, if I liked tea.
Rose gets a glimpse of something (Vanessa, which I’ll talk about later) and Angela gets a call, which leaves Nathan to express his feelings about Rose dating Claire.  Is there a little bit “I’m glad it’s you, and not that other girl who makes Rose upset all the time” in Nathan’s appreciation?  As a parent, I would probably see Claire as the best match for Rose.  Parents want happy children, not upset, crying children.  Finally, we have Claire being a total potty-mouth, and father and daughter discussing how much they both like Angela.  Which is good, because I like her a lot, too!

And speaking of crying children, we come to “Pushed Out”, the finale of the 3rd season’s second block.  That sounds confusing, so maybe I should just refer to it as the mid-season finale, as Jason does. Anyway, I need to get more serious, because this episode is quite serious.

First, you have the issue with the school dance and buying a “couple’s ticket” for a same-gender couple.  I never went to dances, and I never heard of “couple’s tickets” before watching this show, but it does stand to reason that a couple is a couple, no matter what the sexual orientation.  However, as Kenny notes, it isn’t entirely surprising.  They are in a catholic school, and it just happens that bigotry in the name of god is something a lot of people support.  I’m not an expert on religions, but I understand the bible calls for the extermination of homosexuals, though many Christians don’t agree with this policy.  I know laws are changing rapidly in the United States, and they are even more LGBT friendly in Canada, but changing a religion is something I think will take longer.

Anyway, Claire accidently starts something, Rose gets upset (probably heightened by her despair over Vanessa’s disappearance), Kenny awkwardly tries to comfort Claire, and then Rose gets assaulted by a homophobe.  While people stand and watch. Which is something we should think about. Because if you are supporting an organization that practices bigotry as an official policy, and I mean any type of bigotry against anyone or any group, you are standing there watching too.  You may not be watching someone get physically beaten, but you are aiding in the trampling of their rights as a human being. The human race has come a long way, and we are only going to get better if we refuse to put up with the bigots and their excuses.
And bravo Jason and all the actors and crew.  You got me thinking about some serious stuff

Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Authorized Biography of Jack Webb

When I was just a wee little lad, my favorite TV show was Emergency! The tale of paramedics and the amazing job they had rescuing people.  I recently finished reading “Just the facts, Ma’am: The Authorized Biography of Jack Webb”, and my favorite chapter was the one on the creation of Emergency!  But I want to talk more about Jack Webb and his life and legacy here, not about Emergency! So I’ll get to it.

First, a disclaimer: the primary author of “Just the Facts” is my friend Dan Moyer, so I am a bit biased I guess, but I’m going to be as honest as possible.  “Just the Facts” is a fascinating look into the life of someone who was one of the early pioneers of television drama.  Jack Webb started in radio and then transferred his talent, and his shows, into Television, while also acting and producing a few movies along the way.  The sheer bulk of his work is amazing, and most of it is very darn good, too!  I found it quite interesting how many shows Jack created that never made it past the pilot, or had very short runs on TV.  The key to his success was working very hard at what you believe in and eventually getting a break or two.

Jack’s life shows why he was such a hard worker.  Her grew up poor and never knew his father, and I think that’s the main reason he did so much once he found a way to make a living.  He didn’t ever want himself or his family to be poor like he was. His work habit resulted in many successes, but they also cost him in his personal life.  Jack had many marriages and was not a steady presence in the lives of his children.  I also think his lifestyle aided his demise.  He worked hard and also made sure he never lacked in food, drink, and tobacco.  Though no one area probably seemed extreme to him, the combination meant he was not to live to an old age.  But he has a huge legacy that lives on to this day, mostly through the success he built out of his trademark series, Dragnet!

Dragnet began as a radio series and then had two successful runs on television with Jack at the helm.  The idea behind the series was to depict police officers realistically, instead of following the extremes of the day which had them as violent vigilantes or comedic buffoons.  Dragnet began the genre of the “ripped from the headlines” realistic cop show that has been succeeded by shows such as Law & Order and CSI. Parodies, many poking fun at Jack’s character Joe Friday, due to his strange last name, copy cats, reboots, and a movie have followed, but none have been successful as the series that Jack made.  Jack was even working on a third Dragnet TV series when he unexpectedly died.

Dan and his collaborators do a much better job telling it that I have, though Dan has told me he wishes more anecdotes had made it past editing. You can get more info from Dan himself if you pick up Dragnet on DVD, and Dan produced and directed the DVD extras on season 2!  In conclusion, let me recommend anyone interested in the early days of television, cop shows, or pop culture to buy this book and give it a read!  It’s full of great information!

Also you can check out lots of Jack Webb pictures and other vintage stuff at the Facebook group, Jack Webb Archives!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Reviews: "Catching up with Dad" and "Going Out"

I am finally getting around to writing my thoughts about the second block of episodes of the third season of Out With Dad. I have been thinking a lot about these episodes, as I always think a lot about Out With Dad because the series, in general, makes me think.  It’s just that type of show. I also thought about how to post my little reviews of these episodes, and I decided I would try to review the Rose episodes first, and save Vanessa’s story for later.

Rose’s story continues with episode 3.08, “Catching up with Dad”.  Rose and Nathan play catch while talking.  The first thing they talk about is not talking about Rose being gay.  While I can sympathize with Rose, discussions about other things aren’t going to advance the story, so they do end up talking about Rose and Claire and that they’ve been outed as a couple. Rose is able to claim that is isn’t a big deal, so they talk about Angela.  Okay, this is a moment I’ve been waiting for!  And the moment does not disappoint.  The discussion about Nathan and dating in the past answers some questions and, because he admits things are becoming serious, advances the story.  By the way, the setting at the park and having Nathan and rose playing catch works great, making for some cute moments during their conversation.  I also noticed Rose had her hair in a ponytail.  Until I drew the comic adaptation, I never noticed that she sometimes has her up.  It might be easier to draw than her normal hairdo.

Finally they reach home and encounter Mr. Lemay, who tells them about Vanessa being missing.  I’ll discuss the LeMays when I write about Vanessa’s story.  Rose and Nathan’s reactions are understandable and expected.

“Going Out” begins with a serious conversation between Rose and Kenny about Vanessa’s disappearance.  It’s interesting to see Kenny serious in this scene and his question to Rose: “Do you love her?” was very profound.  That is, if Kenny meant it to be vague.  If he didn’t, who was Kenny talking about: Claire or Vanessa?  I would think Vanessa, because Kenny is her friend and knows her well, though he shouldn’t forget how Rose and Claire connected at the museum. Kenny does show that his true strength as a good friend is his caring, not his goofiness.

The scene shifts to a conversation with an upset Rose and Nathan about not knowing Vanessa’s fate and the need to go on and worry less about things they cannot change.  This scene transitions between the more serious beginning and the lighter scenes that follow.  And it’s a great display of character interaction and acting.

Nathan’s difficulty asking Angela out lets us all laugh at Out With Dad again.  One of the great aspects of this show is the ability to tackle serious situations without getting too serious all the time.  Jason lets us all breathe a little and have some fun. In my case Nathan’s predicament reminds me of times I've gone through the same sort of thing.  Except I never tried to ask anyone out via e-mail.  Because I’m old.

The scene with Nathan getting ready is another situation that reinforces that this show is really about the relationship between a Father and Daughter more than anything else. The repeat of the “really nice” line works great, and Nathan’s reaction to Rose telling him not to stay out too late because it’s a “school night” is priceless!

The final scene with Rose and Claire has some good information about Claire’s family life.  It seems her family will not go the direction of the LeMays, and Claire is very “bubbly Claire” about this development. She’s also very “Claire” putting on the shirt in the middle of the street, and her talking-not-thinking statement about her love for Rose.

And then…

The horror….

Rose sees her dad, on his date, and KISSING Angela!!!!

To be continued!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Post-Motor City Con 2014

I wanted to share some pictures and thoughts from Motor City con.  It’s not much, but I didn't have a lot of time to sight see!  Motor City is a very big convention, with lots and lots of attendees, and I spent almost all my time at my table interacting with wonderful nice people, many of whom made purchases from me, for which I can only say: Thank You, thank you, thank you!!

I did a couple sketches during downtime, and I bought a couple trades, a print, and a game.  I am still tired from the show, but I wanted to get something out on the FEDSblog just to express how much fun I had and how appreciative I am of all the people who put the show together, all the nice artists surrounding me, and (again) all the really nice people who stopped to chat and/or bought something from my table!

Hope to see you all next year!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Pre-Motor City

I made some new statues for Motor City Con this coming weekend.  I have other stuff I'm working on, but I doubt I'll get to post it before the show!  Well, I've gotta get back to work!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Review: Sam the Dragon

I recently caught up on my reading of the webcomic Sam the Dragon and it’s about time I wrote a review!  Sam the Dragon can be viewed here, and is written and drawn by Steven Reardon.  New installments are posted regularly thrice weekly.

The main character is, of course, a dragon named Sam.  Sam lives with a unicorn named Corny and a fairy named Mrs. Flutterby. The fantasy characters live in our world, and have rather normal problems, which get complicated and solved in extraordinary ways.  Sam is mostly a really nice guy, while Corny is the troublemaker.  However, they are great friends and it’s a challenge for Mrs. Flutterby to keep things from getting out of hand.

Steven has a great cartoony style for the strip, and the art and colors are very clear which helps the storytelling flow smoothly.  The characters have very different personalities, and even without seeing them you can tell them apart from their speech patterns.  I like Sam the best, as it’s always nice to see a good dragon, and he has sweetness without being dull.  Corny tends to contrast Sam’s attitude, being more selfish and hard-core, which works nicely.  Other characters, such as Sam’s goldfish Zen are nice, and starting to get developed.

Sam the Dragon is a nice, light comic that’s easy to read and everyone should give it a quick look.  I think it will make you smile!