Twas the Night Before — Hold It Right There, Fat Man!

The modern version of Santa Claus derives a lot of its imagery from Clement C. Moore’s 1822 poem, “The Visit From St. Nicholas” (known today as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”), and one of the enduring images of Santa is “a right jolly old elf” who smokes: “a stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth/ And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.”

St. Nick’s association with tobacco goes back a long way, and is even more closely linked to cigarettes than pipes; good ol’ Santa has long been an advertising icon for coffin nails in the USA.


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WALKING DEAD Renewed, But Show-runner Walks

Glen-MazzaraAMC has ordered a fourth season of the zombie thriller THE WALKING DEAD, but Glen Mazzara, the executive producer who took over the series early in the second season and guided it to unprecedented ratings this season, will not be back next year.

This despite the fact that TWD won the adults 18-49 demo over every other show (cable and broadcast) on TV this fall. In fact, TWD is the first cable show to outright beat the broadcast programs in its time slot.

You can blame that old standby, creative differences. (TWD seems especially vulnerable to that condition, since original show-runner Frank Darabont barely lasted into the second season.) The network cited “differences of opinion” on where the show should go next.

Mazzara will be sticking around to finish postproduction on season three before moving on. The second half of the third season kicks off on Feb. 10. About 15.2 million people watched the Dec. 2 midseason finale of TWD — a number most broadcast execs would eat human flesh to attain.
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The New Mad Max Looks Like…

tomhardymaxLeave it to Twitter to source the “first look” image of Tom Hardy as the title character from Mad Max: Fury Road, in which he replaces Mel Gibson as former cop Max Rockatansky for the fourth film in the Mad Max franchise. Looks to be an autographed photo for a fan.

Director George Miller has been placating fans with images of the incredible vehicles to be featured in the movie, and while some industrious spies have been able to peep shots of Charlize Theron’s crew-cut hairstyle her character sports, until now, Hardy’s “new look” Max has been kept completely under wraps.

After seeing it, I have to wonder why they bothered. Hardy just looks like a dusty Gibson, with the scarf and the big knife in the holster being the obvious costume differences. Max sill looks to be wearing leathers to me. It’s kinda disappointing, actually. Of course that could be because, honest to Cthulhu, I don’t know what Tom Hardy looks like in real life! This could be his stunt double, for all I know. I do want to know if Hardy will he recite his lines in a muffled, Bane-like mumble?

Here’s the studio synopsis of the flick:

“Mad Max is caught up with a group of people fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven by the Imperator Furiosa. This movie is an account of the Road War which follows. It is based on the Word Burgers of the History Men and eyewitness accounts of those who survived.”

Mad Max: Fury Road opens in 2013, but an exact date has not been revealed.

Looking Back — 2012: The End is Not Near

Now that Dec. 21, 2012, has come for us all (already passed for our friends Down Under) with no apocalypse — Mayan or otherwise — I’d like to congratulate everyone who didn’t fall for the manufactured Doomsday crap. Here I represent my very first post of the year, dated Jan. 1, 2012, in which I explained it all. Enjoy this blast from the past (okay, rerun)…

On this first day of 2012, what could be more appropriate than to address the impending end of the year – and the world – on Dec. 21, 2012? I’m referring, of course, to the end of the imminent end of the Mayan Long Count Calendar, which some believe heralds the end of the world. Don’t worry, dear readers, I haven’t gone soft in the head and succumbed to superstition; I want to address the so-called “prophecy” in a bid to debunk it.

First, and foremost, there is no “Mayan prophecy” about the world ending when the calendar does. That’s a myth conjured by fools and con men out to exploit the foolish. The calendar indicates nothing of the sort. You will be seeing a glut of books, DVDs and probably even TV specials designed to appeal to the base instinct of fear of the end of the world.
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Introducing Burt Wonderstone

Well, the apocalypse of stupidity swirling about 12/21/12 has come to naught, so that means there will be movies to watch in 2013.

In a switch (for me), this trailer for the new comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone looks kinda fun, and this clip actually contains a couple of funny lines — which is rare, as far as I’m concerned. I am rarely impressed by comedy trailers, so this one is worth a look.

I’m starting to get tired of Steve Carrel’s gallery of “funny because they’re totally oblivious” characters, but it looks like Burt could be a funny satire of those glossy Las Vegas magicians. And I like seeing Steve Buscemi back in a comedy role. Jim Carrey hasn’t done anything for me in years, so I’m hoping this will be a comeback of sorts for him. And Olivia Wilde ensures that any movie she’s in is never a total waste.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone opens March 15.

The TARDIS Changes (And I Don’t Like It)

tardisorangeinsideYesterday was a dark day for this DOCTOR WHO fan, because there has been a change in the series that I really do not like at all. Not one bit, actually. Such occurrences have been few and far between since the series relaunched in 2005, but now is one of those times. I do not like the new TARDIS interior.

I can see what was intended – a shout-out to the olden days of the classic series, and that’s admirable, but it reminds me of one the (negative) hallmarks of the classic series: It looks cheap.

Now, I’m sure that was at least part of the intention – to make the new console room remind folks of the old, low-tech-future version of the control room, but it just… makes me cringe. The bare floor especially cries out cheap (looking like the floor of the studio), as does the dinged-up gray “metal” of the main console, looking like the pieces were salvaged from some BBC junk room. The simplified allotment of oversized controls is very “Tom Baker,” isn’t it?

I’ve hidden the new image beyond the jump in case you don’t want it to be ruined spoiled…
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‘The Universe Doesn’t Care’

Oh, Doctor, you’ve really taken the loss of companions Amy and Rory to heart, haven’t you? Your dejected, depressed persona now just sees a dark and uncaring existence where once you saw light and life and adventure…

In this new clip from next week’s DOCTOR WHO Christmas Special, “The Snowmen,” Strax (Dan Starkey) tries to convince the Doctor (Matt Smith) to investigate the fresh alien snow that has fallen on Victorian London. Only… when has the Doctor ever needed to be convinced to investigate something otherworldly? Or as fun as snow – think of the snowballs!

“The Snowmen” airs Dec. 25 at 9 p.m. on BBC America.