The Exorcist is one of the best shows nobody’s watching

So why hadn’t I seen the television version of The Exorcist yet? Because I had no idea it existed until earlier this week. And when I did find out, I rolled my eyes and started the first episode on Hulu just to see how bad it was so I could move on.

Fast forward to this weekend and I’m all caught up on the eight episodes (episode 9 of 10 doesn’t air until December 9th, by the way). Putting aside some terribly distracting CGI moments and a questionable plot twist, The Exorcist is kicking all kinds of ass. 
Here are some of the pros:
1. It’s not a reboot like Lethal Weapon, it’s a respectful continuation. 
2. This is one of the strongest casts I’ve seen on TV in a very long time. Ben Daniels as the exorcist is the closest you can get to topping Max von Sydow.
3. While not as graphic as the film (or the stuff AMC frequently gets away with), the extra crazy stuff is still implied. You just have to pay attention or you’ll miss it sometimes.

I wish the show would catch on, but it’s probably not going to. It’s a damn shame, too.

Altered Carbon Netflix adaptation is in the works

Richard K. Morgan reportedly quit his day job when Joel Silver purchased the rights for an Altered Carbon film back when movie options could cost ridiculous amounts of money. Now the project is reportedly being made into a Netflix miniseries and I don’t know what to think, exactly. I guess my usual cautious excitement will have to suffice.

Although I never read the sequels, Altered Carbon is something I think is almost as good as Neuromancer and Snow Crash, the landmark novels which—in my mind—respectively created cyberpunk and more or less put it to bed. My knee-jerk reaction to the news was eye-rolling, but this is Netflix we’re talking about here. I haven’t seen all of their original programming, but what I’ve seen is pretty much on par with HBO’s quality. Even though I find The Expanse to be more than agreeable, I’ve never trusted SyFy with projects like this, so I’m glad Netflix got it instead of them.

What do you think?

First impressions: Ash Vs. Evil Dead

Like I said, I don’t really want to talk about horror right now after doing nothing but horror movies last month. Still, I can’t very well say nothing about Ash Vs. Evil Dead.
I loved most of it. I laughed quite a bit (“You like my wooood?!“). I’m quite pleased that, once again, the entire reason Ash has to save the world is because of his own stupidity. I’ve always preferred the visual tone of Evil Dead 2 over Army of Darkness, so I’m glad the showrunners appear to be going back to that. I’m tickled to death Lucy Lawless is in it because… well, it just makes so much sense to me.
Otherwise, not all the gags worked for me and I don’t care too much about the subplot yet. I’ve seen and heard nothing but good things about Ash Vs. Evil Dead, but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed it’s only thirty minutes long. Sure, it’s good to be left wanting more, but I wanted so much more. Ultimately, though, I think that’s pretty high praise, right?
I’ll have more to say later on. 

Seth Rogen posted this on Twitter (AMC’s Preacher)

From Seth Rogen’s Twitter, which has some other Preacher relics:
There are three things I can’t wrap my head around involving AMC’s adaptation of Preacher. One: that it’s actually being made. Two: that Seth Rogen is involved. And three: that it will be any good.

Yeah, I know the comic I love so much will still exist even after AMC has their way with it. Hell, my favorite ongoing comic right now is The Walking Dead and I’m not a huge fan of the TV show. Sure, the television version of TWD has shown AMC can deliver on the violence, but violence isn’t the only thing Preacher has going against the likelihood it’ll get a faithful adaptation.

Those who’ve read Preacher already know that a lot of its subject matter just doesn’t jell with network television’s desire to sell us Walmart and McDonald’s. Adult situations have managed to creep into TV as of late, but can Preacher’s depiction of Christian gods and angels (spoiler: they ain’t the good guys) really be pulled off? I can’t imagine AMC would greenlight a project if it had all that juicy, blasphemous stuff in there, and if it doesn’t, would it really be Preacher?

I can’t imagine any flesh and blood actors looking this cool

Nonetheless, I’m (cautiously) looking forward to this one. How could I not be interested in seeing it? It’s fucking Preacher. Something tells me Seth Rogen’s the right guy for the job and maybe—just maybe—someone at AMC is trying to pull off the unthinkable: a Hail Mary pass at making AMC the new HBO. Walls like this have to be broken sooner or later.

Blunt Talk is free on

Although Blunt Talk doesn’t officially premiere until later tonight, Starz put up the first two episodes on their website. Hopefully more and more networks will do the same. It only makes sense to get us addicted to the product before asking us to pay the unreasonable price for premium cable packages.

The washed-up television personality Walter Blunt (Patrick Stewart), who seems obsessed with one-upping Anderson Cooper, has found himself at the center of a media scandal following his arrest for drunk driving. The network has been waiting for an excuse to cancel Blunt’s show for a while now and forces Blunt to see a psychologist to make sure he’s stable enough to put on the air. The psychologist, as it turns out, is played by Richard Lewis.

If the mere idea of Richard Lewis playing a psychologist is funny to you, then you’ll probably want to see Blunt Talk. I don’t think anyone who’s familiar with Stewart questioned whether or not he can be funny (if it’s any doubt, see this clip, this one, and countless interviews), but I’ve never seen him in a leading comedic role. Although I don’t think the series starts out as strongly as Better Call Saul, it’s definitely worth watching the two episodes, especially for free. Maybe a third episode would have gotten me hooked, but I’ll probably pass on this one until it hits Netflix or Amazon Prime’s streaming service.

Seinfeld, Witcher 3, and… well, that’s about the extent of my life lately

Since all of my old drinking buddies have been missing in action lately, I’ve been dividing my free time between writing, The Witcher 3, and Seinfeld on Hulu. Despite it being my favorite sitcom, I haven’t seen Seinfeld in over a decade. I’m surprised by what I remember, but even more surprised I forgot all about ASSMAN….

The Witcher 3 is awesome, by the way. I haven’t found the time to play it since Sunday, but it may even be my favorite single player game ever. I honestly don’t think Fallout 4 can top it. Here’s hoping Cyberpunk 2077 will.

Just some bad weather and some Shawshank shit

Just dropping in to let you know I’m still alive…

Better Call Saul is pretty great. Reminds me why I loved Breaking Bad so much. It’s exciting to have a spin-off that doesn’t suck.

I’m loving The Escapists, too, which I purchased on a whim. It took me nearly thirty (in-game) days to escape from the first prison level, but in my defense I haven’t been consulting internet guides and I got lured into the surprisingly pleasant monotony of working out with my homies and making license plates all day. 

I’ve been rereading a lot of my favorites lately. Neuromancer is a masterpiece any way you look at it and I’ve been looking at it from a host of different angles recently. It blows my mind Gibson was around my age when he wrote the novel. Every time I think about it I feel self-conscious about my own work. I try hard to bring the same level of texture to my own fiction. Neuromancer isn’t a book that merely goes out of its way to avoid flowery prose, it throws it in a dungeon and tortures it.
* * *
What sucks about living in Oklahoma is the local news really oversells how bad the winter weather’s going to get, presumably to boost ratings, so nowadays you never know when it’s the real deal. A local hardware store is usually selling a ton of salt, sand, and shovels at this point, but an interview with the manager claimed only one person has stocked up on such supplies. When I was at the grocery store earlier I noticed a shocking abundance of bread and milk.
And guess what? I just heard thunder. I can hear sleet pinging the outside of my window unit. Time to curl up with some comics, I suppose. Speaking of which, I like Marvel’s new Star Wars comics, but at the same time I refuse to believe Luke and Vader came face-to-face between Episodes 4 and 5. It just skews the pre-existing stuff and, if one were to take it as canon, disrupts a bit of the overall rhythm. Or something. I don’t know.

Fade In: Michael Piller’s unpublished account of Star Trek Insurrection

From the book:

I wish I could have been there back in 1987 when Gene Roddenberry went to the studio and announced he’d found the perfect actor to play the new Star Trek captain — a middle-aged, bald Englishman.

If the show had been scheduled on CBS, NBC or ABC, Patrick Stewart would never have been Picard. Give us another Shatner, they would have said. Youthful, bold, swashbuckling. Young demographics! But Star Trek: The Next Generation was to be syndicated, that is, sold on a station by station basis. What that meant was that Paramount could mount the show any way they wanted to and if they wanted to cast a middle-aged, bald, Englishman, so be it.

Personally, I feel he missed a perfect opportunity to replace “so be it” with “make it so,” but that’s just me. Here’s the complete .pdf. If I could link you to a source where the book is purchasable, I would, but it was never officially published. It’s my understanding Michael Piller really wanted to give this book to fans and aspiring writers. So go, spread it like wildfire. It’s not a great book, but there is some good stuff in it. Like this:

Paramount had Patrick’s toupee overnighted from England and he returned the next day, this time with hair. Roddenberry took one look and said, “Take it off.” Everyone in the room realized that Patrick’s bald head carried a certain power.

I’m halfway through reading it and so far the book is more about writing than the fun bits of trivia. Writing is a lot like knitting. For people who are into that kind of thing, nothing is more rewarding than sitting down in a zombie-like trance and getting to work. But let’s face it: talking about the craft itself is almost as dull as listening to someone go on and on about the meaning of the dream they had last night. If you spent all day cleaning the house, you’d probably have more interesting stories to tell than if you had spent your day telling an actual story.

The point is a good book on writing is rare these days. Fade In almost qualifies. In it, Piller writes about writing the screenplay to a movie only a die-hard Star Trek fan could like. More importantly, he (sometimes) makes it interesting without resorting to “tell-all” drama and tabloid controversy. The Kid Stays in the Picture it ain’t, but it’s honest and shows a side of Hollywood that rarely sees the light of day. When was the last time you read a book about Hollywood in which everyone was A) acting so professional and B) hard drugs weren’t mentioned at all?

This is still brain candy, through and through, and I’m not convinced anyone but Star Trek fans would like it. And if you are a fan, you’ll shake your head as Piller enthusiastically relates how he and other forces conspired to craft a film that was a letdown for most viewers. The previous film in the series, First Contact, had a lot of goofy stuff in there (“Assimilate this!”—Worf), but it’s still one of the best and most lighthearted Star Trek films. 

Why Paramount would want to move away from that, why Piller would want to move away from that, why producer Rick Berman would want to move away from that, is beyond me. Usually with these kinds of franchises we wonder why they didn’t deviate from the formula. Here, we wonder why they decided to deviate so unanimously when so many of us actually wanted more First Contact. Piller’s book has many answers to questions like these, but they’re not as satisfying as expected.

For instance, in the film Data is back to being the Data we knew before he installed his emotion chip. We saw him temporarily deactivate the chip when he and a security team fought the Borg in the previous film (Picard: “Sometimes I envy you, Data.”), but why didn’t he ever turn it back on? Piller, demonstrating good attributes for an episodic television writer but not necessarily a movie writer, says he wanted to avoid what he calls “The Rhoda Effect.” He says audiences became uninterested in Rhoda after the titular character was married on the TV series. Well yeah, that’s true, but I kind of became uninterested in Data after he fell down a few rungs of his character arc.

Another annoyance with books about screenwriting is the unnecessary amount of filler material they employ. Early on, Piller includes a treatment for the screenplay in its entirety. Not much of it ends up in the final product. While some die-hard fans will find its inclusion interesting, I found myself skimming. By Piller’s own admission, when Berman read the treatment he said, “Who cares?” When I got to the second treatment Piller includes, I skipped it altogether. That’s not the stuff I personally wanted from a book like this, but a greater fan than I might appreciate it.

I think the most fascinating thing about the book is it makes you realize that sometimes there’s not really any one person or group to blame when a movie turns to shit. Whenever a movie in a series turns to shit, fans are always looking for excuses: “Oh, the studio ruined it,” or, “Their creative decisions were all about money,” etc. But everyone involved with the project was concerned with making an honest Star Trek flick, something that stayed true to the spirit. On the chairman of Viacom at the time, Jonathan Dolgen, Piller says:

As a rule, Dolgen doesn’t involve himself in creative decisions. But he breaks that rule for Star Trek. And it’s not (just) the money. He happens to be a huge fan. Dare I say, a Trekker?

Despite good intentions all around, it fell apart anyway. Apparently Piller didn’t get that memo. You can tell he feels the film turned out great despite the mixed reception. I think my biggest problem with Insurrection is Brannon Braga and Ronald Moore had just proven a Star Trek movie works best when it resembles a bonafide popcorn movie more than a television episode. Piller (and even Patrick Stewart, as indicated in correspondence reprinted in the book) seemed more interested in making a two-hour episode of The Next Generation. And on the big screen, that’s just kind of out of place.