Binge Theory 101: A Look At Inhumans, The Gifted, The Punisher and The Mayor.

Twas the season to…ignore Thanksgiving, dive straight into Christmas, and then ring in the New Year. The calendar has gotten shorter every year and here we are in just the second week of 2018. Holidays seemed to be focused more and more on holiday deals rather than gathering with friends and family. The great thing about the season is just staying home, avoiding crowds, purchasing online, and then having it all end. 2017 left as quickly as it came. I’ve made the great big change, and that’s disconnecting from my cable service after being held hostage for the last few years. Thankfully, with the expanse of smart TVs, life’s gotten better, both for my wallet and spending less time in front it, watching mindless programming that are nonsensical.

That in of itself seems to put me ahead of the game as BRG Media has shared that by 2030, cable television won’t exist anymore. With the buyout of DirecTV by AT&T, the cable giant has already shifted into the streaming game made popular by Netflix and HULU, with DirecTV Now at $35 (which from my understanding will eventually be phased out. So much for the Johnny-come-lately’s attempt at streaming.) According to Clark Media, those changes will continue.  There are obvious problems in the early stages though.

But now, a few weeks into the new year I’ve gotten around finishing seasons of shows but didn’t get a chance to give my thoughts on a couple of others that I, um, binged on. I’m not going to dwell too much on those but they were. Guillermo Del Toro’s Troll Hunters, Season 2: Tales Of Arcadia (Netflix) and Marvel’s Runaways (HULU). I’m a fan of the animated series Troll Hunters but of course, I’m still saddened about the death of Anton Yelchin who handled voice-over duties for the Dave Bradley character but we’re all fortunate the voice work was all in the can before his passing. The Runaways started off slow but it picked up and yes, interest is piqued there. But lets get on with this.

The Gifted – Mutants, taking a page out of the X-Men.  (FOX)

Talking to friends about this one I realized after watching the pilot that everyone should make their own judgments about this show. The Gifted takes a page out of the X-Men universe where mutants are left of their own volition because no one knows what happened to the X-Men or Magneto’s Brotherhood. Apparently, nothing has changed, or rather everything has because it seems the Mutant Registration Act is a reality and coming to fruition. The story follows one family struggling to cope with the changing times and growing dissent against mutants. The family, made up of Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer), Kate Strucker (Amy Acker), Lauren Strucker (Natalie Alyn Lind), Andy Strucker (Percy Hynes White) have to come to grips with mutant powers surfacing in. It doesn’t help that the patriarch of this young suburban family is a government prosecutor that helps put away dangerous mutants who are a threat to themselves and others. It all goes to hell when he becomes part of society’s problem, switching sides in order to protect his mutant children. There’s an ever-growing cast of characters that show up throughout the season, some human, others mutants with varying gifts. The storyline of The Gifted is able to shift and turn varying degrees, always leaving one to wonder if the show’s heading in a direction of Days Of The Future Past. The first season has a lot to offer here; enslavement, death, money, drugs…It mixes reality with fantasy and I can dig it.

Inhumans – The series based on the Marvel comic. (ABC)

I had such high hopes for the new Inhumans show, which was adapted from the Marvel comic of the same name. The race of Inhumans first appeared in Fantastic Four #45 back in 1965 and as a kid, I used to love reading about this group and how they were separated from humans because they were more than. Now the show? It’s pretty cartoony and the humanity that’s shown in these episodes don’t work simply because it’s lacking. Sure they do their best to capture the same magic that Agents Of Shield has but simply put, it’s corny. Where movie franchises like the Avengers and X-Men were able to do so much more and develop characters, Inhumans is pretty grim and bleak leaving no room to grow. I wanted to like this show but no, I can only surmise the writers of the show were fired halfway through production. There’s no reason to go further into this because the season was pretty bad.

The Punisher – Frank Castle finally gets his own series. (Netflix)

The season was insanity! The Punisher was one of the most anticipated shows for hardcore fans.  As I think back at the three films and the actors that portrayed the Frank Castle character – Dolph Lungren (1989), Thomas Jane (2004), and Ray Stevenson (2008) – none came closer to fitting the emotionally agonized war vet that he was then Jon Bernthal (Walking Dead, The Accountant, Fury, Sicario.) The Punisher first appeared in Spider-Man #129 where he was introduced as a hit-man. The show’s brief synopsis: Castle’s life is torn apart when he returns home after serving his last military tour in the Middle East. His family is gunned down in front of him at the merry-go-round in Central Park. That’s pretty much the gist of the Punisher’s birth. But when Castle made his appearance in the second season of the Netflix Daredevil show, Bernthal’s character surpassed all the other versions. On his own series, Castle exacts revenge on the people responsible for the death of his wife and kids. But it goes much deeper than that as he uncovers the truth about his family’s death and the long list of enemies that need to be eliminated. Along the way he finds allies within government agencies, Dinah Madani played by Amber Rose Revah, and a former NSA analyst, David Lieberman played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach, who both work with Castle in an attempt to topple black-ops operation leaders and their cohorts. There are a number of subplots within the framework of the show but everything obviously reverts back to The Punisher, punishing evil-doers. Mind you, Bernthal plays the Frank Castle perfectly. If he’s not wounded from bullet or stab wounds, he’s recovering from them. The show portrays his own mortality at the forefront leaving The Punisher, Frank Castle, all too human. While The Ghost Rider and The Punisher share similarities, Castle has no superpowers in the Marvel Universe, and survives & is driven by his anger/love/fear/hate. I’m already frantically pacing for at least a teaser on the next season.

The Mayor – Rapper runs for mayor? (ABC)

I was playing catch on a few shows and came across The Mayor (ABC), a TV show that kind of mirrored reality as Lords Of The Underground member Dupre “Doitall” Kelly announced he was running for public office back in September in Jersey City, NJ. The premise of this show? Young aspiring rapper going nowhere comes up with an idea to get his new mixtape to go viral; run for mayor in his hometown. The scheme is perfect for the young Courtney Rose, played by Brandon Michael Hall until he actually wins! He then has to prove to his constituents that he’s more than a young 20-something rapper, and comes up with ideas and schemes to make his hometown a better place to live, work, and play. The show also stars David Spade, his nemesis, who plays a shady politician that occasionally shows semblances of integrity. The series grabbed my attention, but the demand wasn’t great ‘cause ABC canceled it this month. Though it’s been reported the producers of the series are intent on showing the show to other networks, and it looks like HULU, where I’ve watched it anyway, is a possibility. I’m down with another season if they are. The show was witty, smart, funny, and stayed away from the stereotypical view of young black men.