Rant: “Ghosts” (U.S.) S1 + S2 (2021-2023) [SPOILERS!]

Sheila Carrasco as 'Susan Montero' (aka "Flower") in "Ghosts" (S1) (2021)

When I read that Nichole Sakura would be appearing in the second season of the American adaptation of Ghosts, I decided to binge the first one, which the Beeb has kindly made available on the iPlayer! I bailed on the British original after a couple eps, though I don’t really remember why… something about the tone, I think… but I didn’t have any problems wolfing down this version, in short order. For those who don’t know, the series follows a New York couple (‘Sam’ (Rose McIver) and ‘Jay’ (Utkarsh Ambudkar)) who inherit a dilapidated country mansion which they hope to renovate as a bed-and-breakfast… though their plans are complicated when Sam has a near-death experience, and gains the ability to see and hear the many ghosts haunting the property, who don’t take kindly to the new interlopers. Tonally, the show’s quite an odd-duck, as the overall vibe is quite cosy and comforting, but the world-views and attitudes espoused by some of the ghost characters can be quite disturbing and malevolent, especially towards the “livings”, even if their archaic/misanthropic/homicidal outbursts are generally played for laughs.

At first the main draw for me character-wise was the eternally-spaced-out hippie-ghost “Flower” (Sheila Carrasco), but all of the ensemble cast/characters are fun to watch, individually or in combos, and they’ve really grown on me over the last few months… though the douche-y, Yiddish-slinging stockbroker-ghost ‘Trevor’ (Asher Grodman) still kinda looks/acts a lot like ‘Schmidt’-from-New-Girl, so it’s kinda hard not to compare them… and for the first few eps of S1, I was worried that Revolutionary-War-ghost ‘Isaac’s (Brandon Scott Jones) closeted homosexuality was just going to be treated as a cheap running joke, but thankfully in ep #1.8 (“D&D”) they actually gave him a ship-worthy love interest, and started nudging him towards accepting and acting upon his attraction. Yay!

Nichole Sakura as 'Jessica' in "Ghosts" (eps #2.11-13) (2023)

Obviously my fave eps were the ones that gave Flower the most screen-time, such as #1.7 (“Flower’s Article”), which revealed a little more about her past, allowing Carrasco to show her range, while also giving the character some affirmative encouragement. It was also a lot of fun seeing Ivers cosplaying as a fake Flower for a “dumb deaths” TV-show in ep #2.8! And, of course, I greatly enjoyed the (all-too-brief) arc where gossipy Native-American-storyteller-ghost “Sass” (Román Zaragoza) romanced the permanently-tipsy-“car-ghost” ‘Jessica’ (Sakura) (#2.11-13), even if her premature departure did leave a gaping hole in the series, imho. I mean, aside from my fondness for the actress, I was looking forward to seeing how Sam & Jay would deal with taking on a new employee (the haunted-car’s living owner, ‘Freddie’ (Mike Lane)), and when-or-if they’d loop him in on Sam’s powers and the existence of ghosts… but that was all given the shortest of shrift, and frankly the way Sam & Jay kept gaslighting* and manipulating Freddie made them look extremely dickish (and borderline abusive). Oh, and ep #1.6 (“Pete’s Wife”) actually made me cry a little, so there’s that.

Aside from Sakura, my fave guest-stars would have to be Odessa A’zion as ’80s-“mean-girl”-ghost ‘Stephanie’ (eps #1.17, #2.20), who hibernates in the attic, and only awakens once per season… Katharine Isabelle as ‘Liz’ an old (but still-living) “influencer” friend of Sam’s (ep #1.13)… Rachael Harris as Sam’s disapproving mother ‘Sheryl’ (ep #1.11)… and Crystle Lightning as Sass’s old crush ‘Shiki’ (now also a ghost, haunting a newspaper office) (eps #1.7, 2.4/21).


* I accidentally typed “ghostlighting” there at first!

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (4/23)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Quinta Brunson in “Saturday Night Live” (ep #48.16) (2023)

Quinta Brunson hosted ep #48.16 of Saturday Night Live, appearing in an uncomfortably revealing game show for couples (link), the trailer for a documentary exposing “the cult-like horrors of being a bridesmaid” (link), and a mime-based confrontation between two salty drivers stuck in traffic (link).

Michelle Rodriguez did a short (but revealing) “AMA” interview for Elle, and also chatted to People (magazine) about her current headspace.

Band-Maid released a couple clips from their forthcoming DVD/BR (“Band-Maid Tokyo Garden Theater Okyuji”, filmed in January 2023), featuring live performances of “Sense” (link), “Puzzle” (link), and “No God” (link)… though sadly Akane doesn’t get a drum solo in any of them, so you barely get to see her at all, hidden behind her kit… tch!

Consequence posted a great interview with Jackie Hoffman about several recent projects, including her role as ‘Vice-Principle McGee’ in the musical prequel series Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies*, while the Chicago Tribune coaxed her into revealing the “worst moment in her career” (a truly shocking tale of self-sabotage).

– In a hat-trick of short skits titled Ayo and Rachel Are Single, the eponymous stars Ayo Edebiri (who also wrote the scripts) and Rachel Sennott discuss/experience modern “dating trends” (link), go on a disastrous “double date” of their own making/ruining (link), and face the horror of a room filled with “Shitty Guys” (link).

Aubrey Plaza repping “Wood Milk” (circa 4/23)

Aubrey Plaza filmed a faux-mercial (?) for “Wood Milk” (i.e., milk made from squished-up trees), which seemed to be a stealthy advert for actual cow’s milk, and a snarky slam on dairy-free alternatives…? Not sure how to feel about that, but Plaza’s very funny in it, so I’ll have to give the ad a couple more plays before I condemn it…

– Channel 4 chose to anticipate King Charles’s crowning (meh) with two satirical comedies: The Windsors: Coronation Special, which cheerfully mocked the current crop of royals (in advance of a fourth series scheduled for later this year)… and Frankie Boyle’s “Farewell to the Monarchy”, which shone a scathing light on some of their predecessors’ darker deeds.

– Perennial faves include Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link)Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link)Star Wars Explained (link)Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!


* Which I’m enjoying for the jokes and musical numbers, even if some of the ongoing storylines can be a bit of a drag… also three of the major characters are “geek-girls” with glasses, so that’s a big plus in my book!

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Rant: “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” (2023)

Michelle Rodriguez as 'Holga Kilgore' in “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” (2023)

I hadn’t been to the cinema for years (possibly decades) but the lure of Michelle Rodriguez playing a bad-ass “barbarian” in a (well-reviewed) “D&D” movie was too strong a lure for me to resist! To quote the official blurb, Honor Among Thieves is a “Fantasy heist action comedy film” in which “a charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers embark on an epic quest to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people.”

First of all, I love the fact that ‘Edgin’ The Cynical Bard (Chris Pine) and ‘Holga’ The Blunt Barbarian (M-Rod) start the movie as (platonic) besties already, and remain that way throughout the story… they have the occasional dig at each other, but are otherwise on very chummy, supportive terms, which was a welcome relief from the many movies that just have everyone constantly quipping/sniping at each other like bitter divorcees, instead of people who would actually choose to spend time together (and who we viewers would also choose to spend time with). Then the story introduces ‘Simon’ The Timid Sorcerer (Justice Smith), an old colleague of theirs who was new to us, and he introduced them to ‘Doric’ The Distrustful Druid (Sophia Lillis), who he’d (very briefly) dated and then been dumped by, so there was a nice variety of powers, personalities, histories, and arcs, to keep everything fizzing along. Meanwhile, Daisy Head‘s ‘Sofina’ made for a fantastically creepy antagonist, with her evil-wizard-y powers and treacherous schemes.

Michelle Rodriguez as 'Holga Kilgore' in “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” (2023)

To be fair, there were a couple of cringingly convenient plot-contrivances, but I was so busy laughing and crying and cheering (and patting myself on the back for spotting the various “easter eggs”), that I was more than willing to forget/forgive the weaker links. Overall, the movie was a super-fun thrill-ride, with spectacular action sequences and genuine heart, and it gave a lot of quality screen-time (and emotional importance) to M-Rod’s character, so I’m very happy I made the effort to go and see it on the big screen… and still felt a little sniffly when I thought back to some of the more sentimental scenes, even as I was riding the bus home! It’s definitely a movie I’ll have to buy/re-watch on “video”, if only to figure out what the hell was happening during that mind-bending carriage-portal scene…

P.S. It took a couple weeks, but it looks like the movie’s started going into profit now, so that’s a relief!

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (3/23)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Babymetal (circa 2023)

Babymetal made a triumphant return with their new (fourth) album, The Other One. When I first saw that title announced, I was hoping it meant they’d be introducing a third permanent member, to replace the much-missed Yuimetal, and restore the symmetry of their original line-up*… but, no, it apparently refers to other worlds/sides/selves, in line with the album’s theme of exploring different dimensions (one for each of the ten tracks). Personally, I miss the “kawaii-metal” days when their songs were crazier/funnier, though I have to admit that after one cursory listen (and a couple promo videos), the new tracks are already starting to worm their way into my brain. The album has certainly scored great reviews, as well as bagging them the cover of the latest issue of Kerrang! magazine (the second I’ve bought so far this year, so fair play to them!). Oh, and they also recorded an acoustic “piano version” of their single “Monochrome” for The First Take, which is well worth checking out.

– I was wary of watching St. Vincent (and The Roots) cover Portishead’s “Glory Box” on The Tonight Show, because that band’s first album (Dummy (1994)) is sacrosanct to me… but it turned out this version was a well-balanced blend, offering the best of both worlds. Phew!

Audrey Fleurot (L) with her “waxwork” statue (R) at the Musée Grévin, Paris (3/23)

Audrey Fleurot was honoured with a “waxwork” statue in the Musée Grévin, Paris. Sadly I’ve no idea what she’s saying in any of the news reports/articles about it, but she seems pretty happy, and the replica is remarkably lifelike… so that’s yet another reason for me to want to visit the city someday… sigh…!

– I don’t usually bother watching the Eurovision Song Contest these days, but I do still get curious about the artists that are entering… and I genuinely enjoyed this year’s Czechian entry, “My Sister’s Crown” by Vesna. It’s a folky-feminist anthem, with an eye-catching Tim-Burton-esque video (in the sense that there’s a lot of pastel colours and oddness), and some very catchy English lyrics (“We’re not your dolls … You can’t steal our souls”).

– Following on from watching Taylor Tomlinson’s stand-up special Quarter-Life Crisis last month, I found an old ep of the Build series (also from 2020) where she talks (very self-depreciatingly/amusingly) about her career, her family, her inspirations, and such.

– I don’t know Travis Kelce from a hole in the ground, but I thought he did a pretty good job of hosting ep #48.14 of Saturday Night Live… and especially enjoyed the American Girl Café sketch.

Jenna Ortega hosting "Saturday Night Live" (ep #48.15)

– I was much more excited about Jenna Ortega taking the SNL spotlight for ep #48.15, and there were several stand-out sketches for me, starting with the X-Men parody in which a trio of histrionic mutants participates in a “friendly” scholastic game-show against some unfortunate normies (link), a spoof remake of The Parent Trap co-starring Fred Armisen as Ortega’s ill-prepared “body-double”/scene-partner (link), a “viral video” commentary show where Ortega’s character cheerfully recounts disturbing anecdotes inspired by the clips (link), and a mock teen-melodrama playing out in front of an increasingly chaotic Waffle House (link) (props to Ortega for how seriously she takes her role in that one, delivering a fully invested dramatic performance, despite frequently being drowned-out by the background shenanigans). She also aced her Hot Ones interview, working through the insanely-spicy wings with impressive poise (though she does express some very strong/sweary opinions about guacamole!).

Anna Kendrick and Jake Johnson stopped by the 2023 SXSW Studio to chat about their new comedy film, Self Reliance, which Johnson also wrote and directed!

– Ahead of the 15th Series of Taskmaster (which started on March 30th), the show’s creator/co-presenter Alex Horne answered a bunch of behind-the-scenes questions as part of a “Reddit AMA” (Part 1 and Part 2).

Ayo Edebiri for IMDb (3/23)

Ayo Edebiri eagerly accepted an IMDb “Breakout Star” STARmeter Award, and chatted to them about her comedy inspirations, collaborations, and TV-viewing obsessions in return.

Three Busy Debras won the 2023 Writers Guild Award for “Short Form New Media”, with Sandy Honig, Alyssa Stonoha, and Mitra Jouhari dancing up to the stage to make their acceptance speech. The clip the WG posted also features a funny introduction by Jenny Slate, who was presenting the category, so that’s a cool bonus!

Diane Morgan made a surprising (but warmly received) appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, discussing Cunk on Earth… which I didn’t really enjoy as much as her previous shows, but it’s got a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so what do I know?

– I marked St. David’s Day by revisiting my crush on Cerys Matthews, former lead singer of Catatonia, via a BBC special featuring archive performances from her old band, as well as Manic Street Preachers, Dame Shirley Bassey, and Marina Diamandis (aka “Marina and the Diamonds”).

Jamie-Lee O'Donnell and Saoirse-Monica Jackson in "World's Most Dangerous Roads" (#1.6)

– I then celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by watching a recent ep of World’s Most Dangerous Roads (#1.6) in which “Derry Girls” Saoirse-Monica Jackson and Jamie-Lee O’Donnell tackled some bum-clenchingly narrow/rutted/precarious Romanian roads in a rented 4×4. Thankfully the tension was leavened by their friendly, supportive banter, and the sight of Jackson touring Dracula’s castle in the world’s cutest hat. Bless.

– The main cast of Monster High: The Movie (2022) attended the Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards (March 4th), where they were nominated in the “Favorite Movie” category. Sadly they didn’t win, but they did take the opportunity to record an introduction to a teaser trailer for the sequel, which they’ve already finished filming! The screen at the end reads “coming soon”, but I’m not going to put too much stock in that, despite the speedy turnaround… surely they’re going to wait for an October release…?

– Perennial faves include Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link)Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link)Star Wars Explained (link)Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!


* Breaking news: On April 1st (a week after the album’s release), back-up dancer Okazaki Momoko was promoted to become a full-time member, under the name “Momometal”, to re-establish the trio… which kinda undercuts some of what they said in the K! interview, but whatever…!

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (2/23)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Nova Twins (circa 2/23)

Nova Twins answered a bunch of random questions for Kerrang! Radio.

Alison Brie and Dave Franco hit the publicity trail hard, participating in a “Couples Quiz” for GQ (link), taking a “Taste Test” for Cosmopolitan (link), reading “Thirst Tweets” for BuzzFeed (link), and guessing “Who Said That?” for Elle (link)… while Brie also went solo to share her “Beauty Secrets” with Vogue (link).

Bish posted a live performance of “Pyo”, taken from their new CD/DVD/BR Out of the Blue, recorded at Fujikyu Highland Conifer Forest last October (2022). Heavy guitars, pyrotechnics, inexplicable mimes, and super-cute smiles abound! They then released their last ever (slightly off-putting) music video, for the appropriately-named ‘Bye-Bye Show’ (sniffle), along with a 23min peek “behind the scenes” at the recording of the track. As far as I can tell from their socials, the current members are also helping to interview/audition their younger replacements… which seems a little cruel, but I guess that’s how things go with Japanese idol groups…? Still, Aina The End is pretty much irreplaceable to me!

Sarah Silverman guest-hosted The Daily Show for a “week” (technically four days)… and while I’m not a huge fan of the show itself*, I did enjoy seeing her sat behind that desk delivering gags, and acting in skits again.

Mia Berrin of budding “indie rock” band Pom Pom Squad went shopping for records and merch at Amoeba Music in Hollywood.

Chloe Fineman as ‘Princess Peach’ in “Saturday Night Live” (ep #48.12) (2023)

Pedro Pascal proved to be game-for-a-laugh when he hosted ep #48.12 of Saturday Night Live, appearing in several The Last of Us spoofs, including a “Clicker”-stalking promo, and a mock trailer for a gritty HBO-style Mario Kart adaptation (co-starring Chloe Fineman as ‘Princess Peach’) that looked surprisingly polished, and actually had me hankering to see the (non-existent) series it was plugging! Weeks later, they released a fun little “making of” featurette. The increasingly aggressive chicken-wing commercial (fronted by Heidi Gardner) was also a highlight for me.

– I finally got around to watching Taylor Tomlinson’s 2020 Netflix stand-up special Quarter-Life Crisis… though I didn’t find it quite as resonant as Look At You (2022), it was still very funny, with some great lines and physical bits.

Vanity Fair coaxed Anna Kendrick into re-watching scenes from a few of her old movies, which inevitably covered some of the same territory as the 2020 video where they got her to “break down” her career up to that point, except that here she also discusses her latest release, Alice, Darling.

– Perennial faves include Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Star Wars Explained (link), Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!


* The pandemic lockdown made me realise I actually prefer it when satirical news-based shows *don’t* have a live studio audience loudly reacting (or not) to every beat in a joke. Bring back social-distancing…?

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (1/23)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Cassandra Peterson with her Monster High “Skullector” doll of ‘Elvira’ (circa 1/23)

– Mattel released an exclusive Monster High “Skullector” doll of Elvira… which is cute as hell, but maybe a little *too* exclusive for many collectors, who were complaining that it sold out in the blink of a newt’s eye!

Anna Kendrick got high on hot sauce, while enduring her Hot Ones interrogation.

– Despite having been a “fan” of Sandra Bernhard since my early teens, and listening to her album Excuses for Bad Behavior (Part One) (1994) on a weekly basis back at uni, for some reason I’ve only just become aware that she released a video for “Manic Superstar” (1994), back in the day. The song is a glorious mash-up of “Everything’s Alright” from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar with “Manic Depression” by Jimi Hendrix, and the suitably-“schizophrenic” promo looks incredible, even if it is just a low-res rip from an old VHS tape!

Joy Sunday gave Seventeen magazine a surprisingly emotional show-and-tell, explaining the stories behind some of her most treasured possessions/mementos. Turns out she’s kind of a “dork” (her words, not mine!), with a longstanding love of Fantasy fiction, and an ambition to be cast as a live-action-Anime (?) heroine!

Geraldine Viswanathan as ‘Freya Exaltada’ in “Miracle Workers” (S4) (2023)

– Somehow I was able to watch the first ep of the new (fourth) season of TBS’s Miracle Workers, even though the actual air-date has been delayed. I really enjoyed the post-apocalyptic “End Times” setting, and was simping hard for Geraldine Viswanathan‘s aggressive/intimidating goth-punk warlord ‘Freya Exaltada’… even if Jon Bass did steal every scene he was in as her dog-like sidekick, ‘Scraps’. I hope the rest of the eps get released soon… the jokes are kinda “out there” and often in “bad taste” (we first meet Daniel Radcliffe‘s Mad-Max-esque ‘Sid’ gnawing the dry flesh off a human arm-bone, for example), but the cast have such great chemistry/charm.

Meg Tilly posted her first “Cozy Tea Time” chat in several months, after a break from social media for health reasons… but she seemed to be in high spirits here, and had plenty good news to share!

Sadie Sink made an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, discussing the high-points of her career so far.

Anya Taylor-Joy revealed the mildly terrifying contents of her “Lady Dior” bag, for the official YT channel.

Jenna Ortega as 'Wednesday Addams' in "Wednesday" (S1) (2022)

– I finished the first season of Netflix’s Wednesday series, after rationing myself to one ep a week (which I always watched on Wednesday, obvs), and have rather mixed feelings about the experience overall. Jenna Ortega is absolutely incredible as the eponymous uber-goth, and totally deserves some sort of award (or two) for her unblinking commitment (and iconic dance moves). Gwendoline Christie, Hunter Doohan, Riki Lindhome, Emma Myers, Christina Ricci, and the aforementioned Joy Sunday were also a lot of fun in their respective roles, so no complaints there. But, as I said in a previous post, the premise and plot-line of this season were just too similar to Monster High: The Movie (2022) for me to fully enjoy and engage with… I kinda felt like I was watching a premature remake, where I already knew whodunnit and why! Sigh… hopefully the second season will bring something fresher to the table…? If it somehow turns out to have the same story as the forthcoming MH sequel, I’m going to be mightily suspicious/upset!

– Meanwhile, Ryan George‘s “Pitch Meeting” for the series did a great job of nailing/expressing the concerns I also had over the slightly inconsistent characterisation at the heart of its premise… i.e., Wednesday has always seemed like the sort of girl who’d fight *alongside* a murderous monster, not against them!

Aubrey Plaza hosting “Saturday Night Live” (ep #48.10) (2023)

Aubrey Plaza hosted ep #48.10 of Saturday Night Live, kicking off her reign by demonstrating her “impersonation skills” (and maybe some other skills as well, wink-wink) to Chloe Fineman in a promotional skit,* followed by one of the (very) few host/guest-announcement vids I’ve ever actually laughed at. As for the show itself, my highlights were Plaza’s opening monologue/set-tour (link), the “Miss Universe” pageant (link), the “Film Noir” parody (co-starring Sharon Stone!) (link), the increasingly horny “game night” (link), and the Black-owned “White Lotus” spoof (link) (which gave Ego Nwodim another chance to shine, and Fineman the perfect excuse to break out her officially-approved Jennifer Coolidge impersonation). This was probably the first ep in recent memory that I’ve watched from beginning to end without skipping one-or-two sketches, and that’s solely because of the awesome/intense star-power of Plaza!

– Perennial faves include Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Star Wars Explained (link), Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!


* It took me a while to adjust to seeing Plaza as a blonde… and Fineman as a brunette… the whole world’s gone topsy-turvy!

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P.S.A.: Holocaust Memorial Day 2023

Annelies Marie Frank (1929 – 1945)

In the run-up to HMD, various news-sites published survey results suggesting that successive generations are becoming more forgetful/sceptical about what happened 80 years ago… which is pretty dire considering how easy it is to access this information via most computer/online dictionaries:  

“The Holocaust: The mass murder of Jewish people under the German Nazi regime during the period 1941–5. More than 6 million European Jews, as well as members of other persecuted groups such as Romani, gay people, and disabled people, were murdered at concentration camps such as Auschwitz.” … “Concentration camps: A place in which large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities, sometimes to provide forced labour or to await mass execution. The term is most strongly associated with the several hundred camps established by the Nazis in Germany and occupied Europe 1933–45, among the most infamous being Dachau, Belsen, and Auschwitz.”

Incidentally, there’s a fascinating documentary series on the BBC’s iPlayer at the moment called “The US and the Holocaust”, which (among other things) explores how and why “the land of immigrants” resisted granting asylum to Jewish refugees like Anne Frank and her family. Not that the UK was much more welcoming, of course… “we” would’ve only accepted the children, and not their parents, apparently…!

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Rant: “Wednesday” S1 vs. “Monster High: The Movie” (2022) [SPOILERS!]

Jenna Ortega as 'Wednesday Addams' in "Wednesday" (S1) (2022)

I don’t believe anyone really needs to read this, but I desperately need to write it, so here goes! Having enjoyed the live-action Monster High movie a couple weeks before I started watching Netflix’s Wednesday Addams series, I couldn’t help being distracted by the striking similarities between them:

1) They both begin with the lead character (a teenaged female “monster”/“outcast”) freaking out a bunch of human/“normie” boys, and being sent away by their parent(s) to a secluded boarding school (which their mother also attended, back in the day), to be among their own kind.

2) They’re quickly befriended by a seemingly-sympathetic bespectacled teacher (the only one we spend any real time with, or actually see teaching a class), who’s also a relatively recent arrival at the school, and turns out to be the secretly-evil villain of the story.

3) The heroine’s unique blood-heritage is vital to unlocking a crypt/coffin, to further the villain’s nefarious scheme. In both cases the girl’s hand is used, though that wasn’t strictly necessary in Wednesday’s case.

4) The villain is intent on destroying the school, to avenge an ancestor they believe was ill-treated by the monsters/outcasts.

5) The heroine flees the school after receiving a cryptic warning regarding the danger she supposedly poses, before returning to help save the day.

Miia Harris as ‘Clawdeen Wolf' in "Monster High: The Movie" (2022)

6) The villain’s plan involves a gawky guy turning into a beefed-up “Hyde” monster… though in Wednesday they’re more of a henchman/attack-dog*, while in Monster High the evil teacher is also the Hyde.

7) The heroine is aided by a loyal friend with stitched-together “Frankenstein” flesh, who’s revived using electricity.

8) A sub-plot involves an insecure-but-upbeat werewolf-girl with colourful hair romancing a gorgon-boy who conceals his head-snakes under a knitted cap…. though again, in Monster High they’re both main characters, while in Wednesday they’re side-kicks.

None of this is to imply that Wednesday’s creators, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, ripped off Monster High… I’m a firm believer in “simultaneous creation”, having seen plenty coincidences like this crop up in my own life as a writer, and of course there are countless differences between the two**… I just needed to vent my frustration over how one unrelated mystery-based production inadvertently spoiled the other for me!


* Incidentally, as soon as Wednesday started talking about a hidden Hyde, I guessed it was probably ‘Tyler’ (Hunter Doohan) the barista, because he looked the most like Jason Flemyng, who played ‘Dr. Jekyll’/‘Mr. Hyde’ in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003). Not sure if that was intentional or not, but once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it!

** For one thing, Monster High had much better LGBTQ representation than Wednesday, despite ostensibly being aimed at a younger audience…

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (12/22)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Odessa A'zion as ‘Riley McKendry’ in “Hellraiser” (2022)

– After spending several weeks sampling various wholesome Hallmark-y holiday flicks, and invariably tapping out after the first few corny scenes, I somehow ended up spending Christmas evening watching the 2022 Hellraiser reboot/remake, starring Odessa A’zion. I can’t remember the last time I saw the 1987 original, but I definitely enjoyed this version more, and got quite hooked (pun!) into all the lore, even though I was flinching/looking away during the gorier parts! The performances were great, and the scenes of the “real world” intersecting with the Cenobites’ dimension were very unsettling… I mean, on a conscious level I know it’s not very spooky for a film-set to split apart like a film-set, but the sound design, direction, and acting really sold it to me. Meanwhile, the casting of trans actress Jamie Clayton as iconic villain “Pinhead” inspired LGBTQ Nation to explore the character’s more “androgynous” appearance in the 1986 source-novella The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker (embarrassingly, I didn’t realise he was gay until I read this article… even though he’s been out since the 1990s!).

– “Weird Al” Yankovic discussed some of his most “Iconic Tracks” for GQ… though sadly he didn’t explain how “Dare To Be Stupid” came to be included in The Transformers: The Movie (1986) during the Junkion chase-scene, which I was fully obsessed with as a kid. “Bah-weep, grannah-weep, ninny-bong!?”

– Paramore released their timely new single “The News”, which deals with doom-scrolling-induced-despair, accompanied by an appropriately anxious/off-kilter video.

Cent Chihiro Chittiii for Bish’s “Zutto” video (2022)

– Bish completed their epic endeavour to release twelve consecutive singles over the course of a year, before their scheduled break-up in 2023 (sniffle). The video for their new track “Zutto” features several flashbacks to previous promos, as if to say “sayonara” to us all, but is very upbeat and colourful overall. They also posted the now-expected dance-y version, and a surprise behind-the-scenes video too! Meanwhile, Elle Japan coaxed members Cent Chihiro Chittiii, Lingling, and Ayuni D into revealing “What’s In [Their] Bag[s]” (the descriptions/explanations were in Japanese, and therefore incomprehensible to me, but the onscreen captions identifying the items were in English (or French, as applicable) so I still gained some insight from it).

– Lizzy Caplan appeared on Conan O’Brien’s “Needs A Friend” vodcast, where she (gently) mocked the host’s fascination with “real” British pubs (link), discussed the weirdly confrontational way that some people approach famous actors (link), gushed over Jesse Eisenberg (link), analysed the enduring appeal of Mean Girls (link), learned what a killjoy Conan was back in college (link), lamented the transitory nature of film-set friendships (link), and suggested that “celebrity wealth” websites might not be 1000% accurate (link).

Nova Twins with their “band of the year” issue of “Kerrang!” (12/22)

– Kerrang! anointed Nova Twins as its “band of the year”, and put them on the cover of the December issue, which also included some great full-page photos to accompany the interview celebrating all of their recent accomplishments.

– The YT channel Dust debuted a sweary sci-fi-comedy-short called “Eureka!”*, starring Karen Gillan as a “couch-surfing” slacker who’s contacted in her dreams by an impatient alien muse claiming to have gifted her with a brilliant idea several years ago, that she’s just been sleeping on this whole time. Hilarity (and hastily-animated copyright-infringement) ensues! Also co-starring Jon Bass as the human incarnation of her extraterrestrial benefactor, Jillian Bell as her disappointed-but-financially-supportive sister, and Betsy Sodaro as the leader of a sobriety support group that gets guilted into helping out.

– Izzzyzzz took a very entertaining (and informative) “deep dive” into the history of the Monster High doll line, though sadly it was posted prior to the release of the live-action movie and new animated series, so they weren’t covered.

– The Letterman YT channel dusted off a vintage clip of “Sandra Bernhard’s First Appearance With Dave” (on his “Late Night” show), which was recorded shortly after the premiere of The King of Comedy (21/2/83).

Pom Klementieff as ‘Mantis’ in “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special” (2022)

– Disney+ desecrated the holiday season with a surprisingly subversive Guardians of the Galaxy special, in which the hilariously clueless odd-couple of ‘Drax’ (Dave Bautista) and ‘Mantis’ (Pom Klementieff) erred towards becoming terrifying super-villains, as they drank, brawled, and thieved their way across Hollywood, intent on abducting the actual Kevin Bacon as a “present” for ‘Peter’ (Chris Pratt)! Despite all the overturned cop-cars, it’s ultimately a very heart-warming story, with plenty big laughs, and even a couple tears at the end, dammit! Oh, and the soundtrack was great (as usual) too, with seasonal tracks from The Pogues/Kirsty MacColl, Hanoi Rocks, Low, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Little Jackie… as well as an original song co-written by James Gunn and Old 97’s (“I Don’t Know What Christmas Is (But Christmastime Is Here)”) which has proven to be a very infectious ear-worm!

– And if you’re curious to see what Klementieff’s real human face looks like when she’s doing comedy, she appeared in a Funny Or Die skit back in 2016 where she tormented her agent (Sheila Carrasco) with a series of (belated) self-tape auditions for inappropriate roles!

– I dug up an old-ish video on the Nickelodeon channel from June 2022 (aka “Pride Month”) in which Ceci Balagot (billed as “Frankie From Monster High”) chatted with “Tik Tok Dancer” Conrad Rocha about gender expression, casual representation, “coming out”, and the importance of being yourself, in-between learning funky new dance moves!

Ceci Balagot, Nayah Damasen, and Miia Harris for “Monster High: The Movie” (12/22)

– This then led to me bingeing a bunch more MH clips, including one where the main cast (Balagot, Miia Harris, Nayah Damasen, and Case Walker) talk about inclusivity (link), one where they relive their auditions (link), one where they introduce their characters (link), one where they sing acoustic “unplugged” versions of a couple songs from the movie (“Three Of Us” / “Trust”) (link), and one where the extended cast (including Jy Prishkulnik and Marci T. House) play a punny word-game (link).

– Perennial faves include Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Star Wars Explained (link), Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!


* As far as I can tell, this actually premiered at the Tribeca Festival back in 2019, and is listed on IMDb as the pilot for an anthology series called “neurotica” that never came to be!

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (11/22)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Sandra Bernhard as 'Masha' in "The King of Comedy" (1982)

– Sandra Bernhard generously answered every question Vulture had about Martin Scorsese’s “uncanny cult classic” The King of Comedy (1982), which remains one of my fave films of all time, and certainly my fave Scorsese flick (though Taxi Driver is a close second, no question).

– Sarah Nixey released her bleakly beautiful, scathingly satirical new single “Lies of the Land” via Bandcamp.

– Jenny Nicholson finally unleashed her epic exposé of Evermore, aka “The Theme Park That Wasn’t”. Apparently she originally planned to dash off a quick, half-hour travel-vlog about the place, but during her research she stumbled down a deep, dark rabbit-hole of deception, disappointment, and despair! At this point it’s already racked up nearly 3x million views (that’s roughly 1 million per week!), despite its epic length.

I dug up an old-ish video (from 2019) in which Miriam Shor chats to Playbill about how she was first cast in the off-Broadway version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and considers the show’s legacy.

I celebrated “Life Day” by re-watching The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special (2020), which is set sometime after “the sequel trilogy”, but involves ‘Rey’ (Helen Sadler) using a magical McGuffin to travel back to the “original” and “prequel” eras, in order to study past Jedi master/padawan dynamics, while her friends attempt to put a Wookiee-worthy feast together. It’s very silly and “cartoon-y”, but I really enjoy it … and ‘Rose’ (Kelly Marie Tran) gets more dialogue in this 45-min cartoon than she did in the whole of The Rise of Skywalker, so that’s a big plus in my book!

Ashley Eckstein meditating in "Mindful Matters: Breathe, Just Breathe" (2022)

– Meanwhile, SWE tipped me off to the existence of a Star Wars Kids channel, offering almost an hour’s worth of animated seasonal (Winter/Spooky/Summer) shorts, as well as “mindfulness” vids fronted by Ashley Eckstein (the voice of ‘Ahsoka’ in various animated series)! Yay!

– Chloë Grace Moretz took the Wired Autocomplete Challenge, answering “the internet’s most searched questions about herself”, and also offering a totally unprovoked critique of her own name!

The Monster High channel posted another behind-the-scenes clip from the live-action movie, this time giving a glimpse into the soundtrack recording with the cast.

– Bish posted a crazy, colourful collage of a video for their new single “Datsu Kisei Gainen” (De-conceptualisation?), followed over a week later by the customary dance version. Phew! Then for #YouTubeMusicWeekend (!?), they shared the first half-hour (7x tracks) of their latest live show, the “Colonized Tour”, which is due to be released on DVD/BR on December 21st (for the Solstice?)!

– Lupita Nyong’o broke down 13x “looks” for Vogue, from a student production at Yale School of Drama, all the way up to the new Black Panther sequel, Wakanda Forever. Then she answered a bunch more questions about that movie for Elle.

– Perennial faves include Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Star Wars Explained (link), Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!

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