Saturday, January 30, 2016


This year, one of the great film franchises of all time -- born in the 1970s as cinema as a whole was being reinvented and understood even then as a classic in the making -- returned with what's easily its best installment in thirty years.

The first film was a masterpiece -- building a world and defining characters who would live and breathe for decades, becoming beloved archetypes in the cinematic landscape.

The second? Arguably better than the first in some ways, although without actually recapturing the magic of being the first time you fell in love with these characters. But that ending...just wow.

In the third movie, things started to get silly. The rules of the film's universe were starting to bend under the weight of franchise expectations, but at the end of the day it was still better than most movies you'll see in any given year.

The fourth film was bizarre, but had promise.

The fifth? Awful, showing the excesses and poor decisions that people with far too much money and misplaced priorities can so often make.

The sixth wasn't perfect, but it was a satisfying ending, giving fans of the franchise a solid note to end on if there was -- as seemed possible at the time -- never another in the series.

And then, this year, the seventh movie. It's essentially just a remake of the first, with some contemporary twists and a focus on diversity, but it's still absolutely inspired, and stands up to the best of the bunch.

Of course, I'm talking about Creed.

...Why, what did you think I was talking about?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Episode 1 Show Notes

First, a couple of quick housekeeping notes:

Hey, it's Russ.

We will be releasing a remixed version of Episode 1 soon. When I was working in Audacity, the mix of my audio to the music and From Crisis to Crisis trailer didn't sound NEARLY as terrible as it does in the final version. I should have listened to it in another app before uploading to Libsyn, but sadly, I don't have the time required to remix it right now and won't probably until Thursday or Friday.

So there's that.

Speaking of From Crisis to Crisis, I guest-hosted an episode recently, which you can check out here.

ALSO, the Emerald City Video Podcast is now on iTunes.

Also, I know I had promised these show notes earlier, but I got swamped. That's likely to happen. In the future, there will be fewer show notes, but I'll also attempt to pre-write them so that by the time the episode hits is finished being edited, I'm ready to roll.

During Episode 1a, you hear me mention that I was taking some notes -- more or less in chronological order -- about specific beats, as you might do for a commentary track -- for Josie and the Pussycats. This fell by the wayside as I got distracted by the movie, and by trying to set up recording times and all that good stuff for the actual podcasts.

What notes I did take, you can check out below:

  • “Backdoor Lover” should probably have been a clue that this movie wasn’t going to take itself seriously.
  • This is obviously the second-­best performance from Donald Faison (after Scrubs). And his best comic book movie. Sorry, Kick­-Ass 2.
  • A few token mentions of Riverdale is pretty much the only nod to the fact that this is an Archie Comics adaptation. 
  • Well, that and “I’m here because I was in the comic book.”
  • I kind of want a t­shirt that says “DuJour means hygiene.”
  • I love “Take the Chevy to the levy” as code for crashing the band’s plane. That’s darkly genius.
  • For whatever reason, when I see a cute girl fixing a truck like we see from Josie in the first act, all I can think of is Diane Franklin in Better Off Dead.
  • “But they didn’t say they were dead; they said they were missing,” says Melody in what is probably the weirdest bit of foreshadowing in movie history.
  • Aww...there’s a record store scene. They’re like our brothers­-in­-arms!
  • Weirdly, there are at least two people in this film who would later appear in iZombie: one of the girls at the megastore played a minor character in “Real Dead Housewife of Beverly Hills,” and Hiro Kanazawa, the Japanese delegate to Parker Posey’s presentation, was Lt. Suzuki.
  • I love the fact that they gave us the only legitimate reason for Behind the Music to be a thing.
  • Also, I don't remember autotune being a hugely known thing when this movie came out, so probably there are people out there -- even though it had been around for years by this point -- who thought this movie gave the inventors a bad idea.
  • Melody’s Big Mac moment is the weak with the Force moment of the film. Just flat-out Jedi Mind Tricking these ladies.
  • It’s interesting to me that they make no real attempt to make the music videos interesting. Usually when they do a full­on music video in the middle of a movie — outside of Tapeheads or UHF — it’s the filmmaker trying to say something interesting. This just looks like what a Josie & the Pussycats video would probably look like.
  • I love the Charlie’s Angels stars-As-Pussycats joke in the “Pretend to Be Nice” music video. This movie came out right around the time that those three could have been cast in such a movie.
  • Nice that when the hysterical fans showed up now for THEM, they had them all dressed as the girls and the one person of color wasn’t automatically Valerie.
  • Okay, so when we get to Operation Big Concert, let’s just point out that it shares a plot with that boy band episode of The Simpsons.
  • I think the little stuffed Ronald McDonald doll next to the mirror where the warning for Melody is written, is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in a film.
  • doesn’t work anymore, and that makes me sad.
  • There’s a TON of “I caught your nonsense, but bought the transparently terrible excuse” in this movie.
  • I hate the “obligatory misunderstanding” plot thread they use with Alan M, but at least it’s fairly organic.
  • I kind of love the thing with the Matt Damon cut-out at the Other TRL stage.
  • “Puppies turn into dogs, who grow old and die.” I also want that on a t-­shirt.
  • What the fuck was going on with the clown eating from the garbage in Josie's hallucination?

Also, if you haven't seen iZombie, Tapeheads, UHF, or Better Off Dead, you should rectify that immediately. The latter three would actually be great recommendations for anyone who liked Josie and the Pussycats.

So, you want to keep tabs on your friendly hosts? Here's how you can:

David Nielsen

And the archives, which have some good stuff: (first thrift store blog) (first taste test blog)

My Twitter and FB are private, and will be staying that way. If people want to contact me directly (HAH), maybe we can set up something through the group page or whatever.

Oh, and just for pure writing: although that one's not for the faint of heart. It gets pretty heavy. The other ones are at least marginally joke-based.

Russ Burlingame

My Twitter handle is @RussBurlingame, and my Instagram is @Russ.Burlingame. I have a Facebook page where I'm verified, but if you're one of our old customers or co-workers and we aren't friends on Facebook yet, either look me up as Russell Burlingame or drop me a DM on the professional page if you want.

Daniel Fecteau

Also Logan and I have a WIP board game channel here:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

BOARD GAME EMPIRE with Logan and Dan

Just a reminder, folks: Don't forget to check out Board Game Empire, which features Emerald City Video's own Dan Fecteau and Logan Bretschneider. It's their new tabletop gaming-themed webseries.

We'll include some information on Board Game Empire in the in-depth show notes for Episode #1, which will come later today, but in the meantime, here's the first episode:

Friday, January 15, 2016


Yes, I know that Welcome to the Dollhouse is a different movie from House of Yes.
Other than that, I'll just say that this took a long, long time to edit and while it's still not perfect, it's going to be good enough for today.
I'll update the show notes with plenty o' crap tomorrow, but for now...uploading. Then sleep.

Episode 1a: David Nielsen, Kevin Murphy and Tommy Wiseau

So...funny story.
Logan, Dan, and Russ recorded our first episode this week, and David wasn't able to make it. Immediately after we all hung up, having finished the episode and feeling pretty good about ourselves, Dave contacted Russ.
We decided to record David's part separately, so that our audience still had a chance to hear what he had to say and get acclimated to him. It was shorter and easier to edit, so it gets to go up first -- even though it makes frequent references back to the "real" first episode.
Also, to round out the close-to-an-hour that the episode runs, we've included about ten minutes of an interview Russ did earlier this week with Mystery Science Theater 3000 and RiffTrax's Kevin Murphy alongside The Room's Tommy Wiseau.
I didn't do any kind of intro or music or outro here, so think of this as a kind of no-frills pilot for the series. The "real" episode is still coming along tonight, assuming I can finish the editing in time.
In the meantime, check out Episode 1a HERE.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Best of 2015

This is actually later than most people would have done this.

It's January 5 as I write this, which means that most of the End-of-Year lists have already been written. That's part of why I'm looking forward to 2016...but also just because it's a year I'm excited about.

This is Russ Burlingame, of course. So far, I'm the only one who has blogged here...although this week, my co-hosts will each get their own login.

I don't really do lists. There's a lot of stuff I don't see and a lot of stuff I don't care to see, so if I omit, say, a major blockbuster that got both critical and audience acclaim, you can either assume it's not to my taste or that I haven't seen it.

Or that I haven't seen it because it didn't appear to be to my taste.

In any event, here's my list of the best stuff from 2015. One of the reasons I'm making no effort to plant this at a place where I could get paid for it is simple: communicating with my audience directly will likely be easier at the Emerald City blog than at, say, (my day job).

Besides, by doing it here, I can reserve the right not to write about a particular category. Once in a while, I draw an assignment at work where it's like "Hey, can you come up with the five best [insert thing here] of 2015?"

And I say, "...Not really."

But that's alright. I've already got the assignment.

So, anyway, here goes. I'll list TV, movies and comics -- and then if there's something else that I want to talk about, I'll probably veer into it at some point.


Best Series: The Flash (?)
Honestly, I only really watch a handful of shows, and all for work.

Some of them -- like Arrow, which I generally enjoy -- weren't at their best for a big chunk of 2015. But we got The Flash, iZombie and Supergirl, all three of which were firing on all cylinders for most of the year.

The thing that makes me name The Flash the "winner" is that it had to do so over a longer span of time and manage more variables. Supergirl had only eight episode in 2015, and while iZombie had about 20, it was more or less riffing on the same notes. It's an excellent show that I'll talk more about below, but The Flash just managed to do such a wide variety of cool shit over the life of 2015 that it's hard not to love it.

As a comic book fan for over 20 years now, it's amazing to see The Flash bring the DC multiverse to a mass audience. We had Victor Garber talking about "Earth-2" in primetime. When I was a teenager and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman is what passed for comics adaptations, that was unthinkable.

Ironically, it was Arrow that -- both last year and this year -- totally nailed the crossover episode in a way that surprised me. There's apparently another crossover in the offing for early 2016, before this season of The Flash is even over, so we'll see whether they can step up their game to catch up with the older sibling.

Best Actress: Rose McIver

I'm actually not a huge fan of the brain-a-week thing where Liv Moore has to play a radically different (and usually cartoonish caricature of a) character every time she gets a new brain.

That said, it's impossible to deny that McIver nails the difficult task and makes it not only entertaining, but believable. If she didn't, it's likely the whole show would fall apart. No kidding; it's that important to the world.

She's effortlessly charming and incredibly relatable, even as she's forced to convince us that she's about 30% tortured artist or stoned-out fratboy. And, yes, McIver is believable when she goes full-on zombie and has to kick the ass of some dude who weighs more than twice what she does. She's an incredibly versatile actress who likely doesn't get enough credit for the range and imagination she leaves on the screen every week.

Best Actor: Rahul Kohli

Yeah, technically he would be a "supporting actor" if this were a real awards thing, but I don't have a leading man who stands so head and shoulders above the others I watch regularly that I want to recognize him here.

Kohli, meanwhile, is the effervescent heart of iZombie. His Ravi is probably my favorite character on TV, and about 80% of that is down to his portrayal more than the actual writing.

That's high praise, considering that I find the show's writing to be pretty exceptional.

I've often said that despite initial skepticism, I fell in love with iZombie before I'd ever seen a frame of the show because the cast were so incredibly witty, funny, charming and committed when I met them at Comic Con International: San Diego in 2014. Kohli, in particular, left an impression. I'm a huge fan of his work, so much so that while I hope iZombie has a long and happy (after)life, I can't wait to see him take on other challenges as well.

I could obviously do a whole post on just how much I adore iZombie, but I'll leave that for another time.

Other notables: Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen on Supergirl -- as well as Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist as Alex and Kara Danvers -- sticks out. I love the earnestness of that show, and can't wait to see how it evolves now that we've had the big Hank Henshaw reveal. Both David Harewood (Henshaw) and Calista Flockhart (Cat Grant) bring gravitas and texture to characters who could easily be pretty dull. Constantine was another great comics adaptation, with exemplary performances around the cast and some really great ideas and visuals. It just got off to a slow start and frankly was likely too expensive to survive without bigger numbers than it was ever going to draw on a Friday night slot.

What did I miss? Psych. God, do I miss Psych. A funny, dopey show that never disappointed, it was one of my favorite turn-of-your-brain-and-watch series of all time...and that it ended in 2014 still has me wishing there was something else I could watch not-for-work that's as good.

What won't I miss? There's always something you end up seeing too much of, don't dig or just would like to burn. For me, Gotham and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. -- both of which have supposedly improved -- wore out their welcomes early and really never won me back. That the second season of Gotham started this fall by making Jim Gordon a literal murderer -- he shot a guy while suspsended from police duty and while on an assignment from The Penguin -- was just a bridge too far for me. I don't want Commissioner Gordon to be Vic Mackey.

And, as always, The Big Bang Theory can cease to exist at any time. It's the only show on TV that I just shake my head and go, "...why?"


This was a slow year for the comic book movie, which is good because anybody reading this who isn't a personal friend of mine or a serious comic book fan themselves probably doesn't want to hear anymore about those things (some bad news on that front...).

What did I dig? Creed.

I'll mince no words here: I fucking adored this movie. If I had to pick my best picture, actor, actress, writer, director, etc., it would all go to Creed. There was no movie I saw this year that I liked even half as much.

Particular strong spots: The score, which brilliantly melded a contemporary, hip-hop-inspired theme with the traditional Bill Conti orchestration. The performances by all three principal players: Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson/Creed and Tessa Thompson as Bianca.

Thompson, by the way, is just amazing in this movie, and absolutely charming in person.

Not to mention that awesome second fight that was shot all in one take, really capturing the manic energy of boxing in a way I haven't seen done before. Which is hard, since there's been a lot of good boxing movies over the years and everyone's always looking for a new way to film that stuff.

At $100 million, it's the highest-grossing Rocky movie at the domestic box office, and officially helped Michael B. Jordan steer out of the skid of Fantastic Four -- a movie that was pretty mediocre, but not even the worst superhero movie this year.

That, ahem, "honor" would go to Ant-Man. I know a lot of people enjoyed this movie...but I'm not one of them. The last 15-20 minutes were pretty good, but the build-up was boring as hell, not a single word escaped Michael Douglas's lips that wasn't forced exposition and it was so full of faulty logic that there was basically no way to take the third act seriously, even as it entertained you.

Also -- and frankly this scares me for DC's Legends of Tomorrow a little bit -- there hasn't really been a marked improvement in the handling of the shrinking scenes since Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

And, yes, I liked Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It wasn't my favorite movie of the year -- but it shared a lot in common with Creed. People criticize it for being too familiar and drawing too much on nostalgia and history, but I understand why the filmmakers did that. I also think it worked pretty well.

But let's not get too far into that before the January episode of the podcast...!


This is, of course, the least "video" thing about the post, but it works for me since comics are the source of so much TV and movie revenue and attention right now.

Also, if I were talking to you at the video shop about my favorite things at the end of the year, comics would absolutely come up.

Best Ongoing Series: Superman: Lois and Clark

We only got three issues of Dan Jurgens and Lee Week's Superman: Lois and Clark in 2015, but that was enough for me to fall completely in love with it.

It's always hard to say the best series of the year was a mainstream superhero book...and all of my picks this year fall into the "mainstream" range. But it is what it is: This is the comics equivalent of Creed for me this year: everything just worked.

Best Single Issue: Convergence: Superman #2

Setting the stage for Superman: Lois and Clark, Dan Jurgens wrote and drew the story that saw the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, pre-Flashpoint Superman watch as his wife, Lois, gave birth to their son, Jonathan. From the man who drew the death and return of Superman as well as his wedding, it was a great story and an emotional moment you rarely get from corporate superhero comics.

Best Event Book: The Valiant

While I enjoyed Convergence more than most, The Valiant is a beautifully-executed book that managed to feel huge and intimate at the same time, with stakes both global and personal. Pick up the deluxe hardcover edition; it's totally worth it.

Other Notables: This one could fill a fucking book.

The reality of it is, there are a few things that could easily have taken the Best Ongoing Series for me. The reason they didn't is simple: I fell in love with Lois and Clark right away. I'd been re-reading my '90s Superman books and have always loved how Dan Jurgens writes the characters.

So...what might have been in that spot if Lois an Clark didn't exist?
Amelia Cole is one of my favorite comics. Gorgeously illustrated and written by a couple of guys who have a great sense of pacing, character and dialogue, this digital-first series from Monkeybrain is the kind of thing you really should just give up and buy ALL of in one fell swoop. It would be less than $50 for 24 issues (and another one coming tomorrow):

Another great series that's digital-first with a collected edition on theway is The Only Living Boy. You can check it out here:

Want some superhero action that's a little bit more hardcore? Well, Savage Dragon has been firing on all cynlinders since I jumped back onto it at #150...that means more than five years now of general kick-assery. This year saw the 200th issue of the comic and had the main character graduate high school, join the police force, get married and more.

...Wow, that was a lot of writing. Lemme get on the whole "looking forward to 2016" thing later.