March 24, 2013 | 4:00 a.m.
The signs of a seismic shift became clear a year or so ago, in even the nonhipster communities of Los Angeles: a tween boy in a “Bow Ties Are Cool” T-shirt, a silver Camry with a license plate holder reading “My other car is a TARDIS,” a girl at an elementary school Halloween costume parade dressed in a homemade blue police box and bearing a sonic screwdriver. By the time TV Guide got around to putting Matt Smith on its cover, it seemed almost old news: The Doctor, ancient and perpetually regenerating Time Lord, savior of multiple universes, wearer of classic bow ties and trench coats, wielder of the multi-purpose sonic screwdriver and intergalactic protector of Earth, has at long last jumped the pond. It’s a triumph for long-term fans, the newly high profile of “Doctor Who” — now celebrating […]
March 17, 2013 | 5:00 a.m.
COMMENTARY Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent decision to return as executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex magazines makes one thing abundantly clear: The former bodybuilder, movie star and California governor can’t seem to grasp the simple fact that his era is over. He tried to ride out the revelation that he had secretly fathered a child with his housekeeper by penning an autobiography that was long on self-aggrandizement and short on introspection. Then he ventured back to the big screen with “The Last Stand,” prompting critics to declare him too old, too odd-looking (who knew Austrians turned orange as they aged?) and too mired in scandal to resurrect his action hero career. Now he plans to return to his bodybuilding roots because he just doesn’t get it: The He-Man is dead, and few mourn his passing. While Schwarzenegger was governating, […]
Dec. 17, 2012 | 10:00 a.m.
This post has been corrected. See below. COMMENTARY It started with The Big Bang. Not the still somehow controversial theory of the universe’s origins, the CBS comedy, “The Big Bang Theory.” Before those two wacky physicists and adorably mismatched roommates Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) began wooing hearts and winning Emmys, the term “geek” was something of a pejorative. Proudly worn, perhaps, by those to whom it applied–comic book collectors, math heads, Trekkies, sci fi and fantasy fans and other obscure genre devotees–but certainly not in any way synonymous with popular, or influential or, heaven forbid, hot. Now, of course, we live in a Brave New World. San Diego’s Comic-Con International is a pop cultural touchstone/marketing platform, video games are truly the next new art form and Stephen Colbert proudly brandishes his pricey replica of the Elven blade […]
Dec. 07, 2012 | 7:00 a.m.
“There and Back Again” is the subtitle of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” and it would certainly serve handily for a biography of many of those involved in taking the book to film, though none perhaps as well as Philippa Boyens. Asked one day in 1997 if, as a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, she might have any interest in helping out friends and fellow New Zealanders Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh adapt “The Lord of the Rings” for film, Boyens, a former teacher and then executive director of the New Zealand Writers Guild, shrugged and said, “Sure, why not?” “I figured it would last a couple of weeks,” she says now, laughing at the memory, “maybe a month.” Instead she, like so many Tolkien characters, was swept away on a life-changing adventure, down roads long and sometimes perilous. Fifteen years later, […]
Oct. 05, 2012 | 7:30 a.m.
COMMENTARY We’ve come a long way, maybe. Although no doubt meant to inspire, and tap into the delectable demographic of comic-book culture, the appearance of Wonder Woman on the 40th anniversary edition of Ms. magazine, available on newsstands this week, is just as poignant as it is empowering. For the official debut issue of the magazine, Gloria Steinem and the editors put her under the cover line “Wonder Woman” for president. Forty years later, we’ve had no woman president, the myth of the Super Woman continues to dog us and poor old Diana of Themyscira remains the only major DC Comics hero without a feature film to her name. (Seriously? Green Lantern before Wonder Woman?) Although Joss Whedon thoughtfully included a gal in “The Avengers,” and Scarlett Johansson did a fine job as the Black Widow, the self-described feminist filmmaker […]
July 13, 2012 | 12:51 p.m.
Think of it as TV’s Comic-Cannes. Since its inception 42 years ago, Comic-Con International has been a celebration of fanboy culture. When geek became the new cool, it also worked as a marketing platform for Hollywood and video game makers. Now, it’s the place where the television industry comes to build buzz for new shows and reward the audiences of established ones. More than 80 television series courted the crowds at Comic-Con last year with premieres, panels and promotional events. This year in San Diego, the numbers are just as high – and the visibility even greater. From the poster-plastered pedicabs to the building side displays, TV is taking center stage. NBC has overtaken Gaslamp Square Park and created interactive experiences with its fairy tale series “Grimm” and new J.J. Abrams thriller “Revolution.” Inside the Convention Center, AMC’s wildly popular […]
July 11, 2012 | 10:54 a.m.
“Bones” is among the network shows headed down to Comic-Con, and the moderator of the panel — Los Angeles Times television critic Mary McNamara — invites fans to join in her on-stage investigation. The cancellation of the “Bones” panel at last year’s Comic-Con International left many fans disappointed and distraught. But fear not; “Bones” is back, Friday at 1:45 p.m. in Ballroom 20, and I, lucky girl, will be moderating. What the seventh season lacked in length (only 13 episodes ran due to star Emily Deschanel’s pregnancy), it made up for in intensity. Not only did Bones (Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) become parents (in a stable, no less), but criminal-tech genius Christopher Pelant (Andrew Leeds) managed to frame Bones for murder. Result: in the season finale, Bones and baby Bones went on the lam. Not exactly what to […]
April 15, 2011 | 9:16 a.m.
For fans of fantasy, the arrival of HBO’s “Game of Thrones“ is a massive moment of anticipation and anxiety — few films, shows or games will arrive this year with more pent-up interest or potential, but Hollywood has been a heartbreaker before, so there’s a healthy anxiety amid the emotion. I watched the first three episodes and (for me) the show absolutely delivers. Los Angeles Times television critic Mary McNamara was also swept up by the conquests and conspiracies of Westeros. Here’s an excerpt from her review: The first 10 minutes or so of HBO’s new epic fantasy series “Game of Thrones” are spent celebrating the glories of cable, i.e. bloody violence (beheadings, hacked off body parts, eviscerated guts steaming in the snow) and HBO sex (female semi-frontal nudity, non-missionary position intercourse and unnecessarily graphic sound effects). Unless you are a minor, you should not be […]
Oct. 30, 2010 | 6:59 a.m.
Los Angeles Times television critic Mary McNamara says its a special time for the moaning, shambling corpse crowd… Zombies are back in a big way this Halloween, with “The Walking Dead” premiering on AMC and the British miniseries “Dead Set” on IFC. Frankly, it’s not a moment too soon. We’ve all but ruined all the other good monsters, turning perfectly decent vampires and werewolves into sad-eyed pin-up boys (and girls), reducing the dimensions of evil and corruption they once represented to eternal adolescent angst. But zombies, well, there’s not much you can do to a zombie. You can fiddle with their land speeds and their raison d’être (Worldwide pandemic? Overbooking in hell?) but there ain’t no way you’re going to make a zombie sexy. Not even the mopey, seasonal-disorder-plagued Bella could fall for a guy whose jawbone is hanging by a decayed thread. […]
Sept. 20, 2010 | 6:03 p.m.
Times TV critic Mary McNamara reviews one of the more highly anticipated and mysterious new shows of the season. “The Event” happens Monday night, and according to McNamara, you should be there. Welcome back to the big leagues, NBC. With Monday night’s premiere of “The Event,” the network that as recently as last year seemed hopelessly mired in creative and financial chaos has finally located a tent pole, a new show as big, brash and promising as “Heroes” was a few years back. Though flashing the post- 9/11 mythology of “24″ along with the fractured time frames of “Damages,” “The Event” unfurls a much larger canvas on which a disparate cast of characters, from Jason Ritter’s engaging young Everyman, Sean Walker, to Blair Underwood’s recently elected President Martinez, are caught up in a net of mysterious and lethal situations all […]