Series Review: “Shadow and Bone”

My review for Shadow and Bone for Film Festival Today is up!

One’s enjoyment of this series may vary because familiarity with ­and affinity for the source material will undoubtedly affect the overall viewing experience here … performances across the board are fantastic … the visual effects are stunning, and the music and sound design are tremendous. From the jump, the world feels grounded without being exorbitantly gritty … Sadly, what kills the show’s momentum – repeatedly – is the cutting away to the city of Ketterdam and its characters … Many of their scenes, setups and lines of dialogue are rehashed from Six of Crows and cobbled together in this new context for surface-level fan service that … implies that they are not worthy of the same time and effort as the Shadow and Bone characters, story, or screen time…

After reading a smattering of other reviews, it seems I’m a little harsher on the series than other critics, but I stand by what I say here. I wanted to love this series, and there are many aspects of it that I did adore, but others – the ones that meant a lot to me as a fan – really let me down. It all leaves me wondering, with the choices they made, where do they go from here?

Source: Series Review: “Shadow and Bone” Is a Paradoxical Mix of Opportunities Won and Lost

Having Way Too Much Fun

One of the unexpected delights of working on a podcast has been creating the audio previews. I enjoy making captions anyway – even for my professional video work – and mining each episode for snippets, choosing backdrops, and creating these little sneak peeks is way more fun than it should be.

Our listenership is small at this point, but I’m having a blast with the project, and it’s proven to be a healthy distraction during such a turbulent year, which, in my estimation, deems it worthwhile investment.

That said… [shameless plug incoming]…if you haven’t checked out the podcast but have even a smidgen of interest in Stranger Things, 80s pop culture, nerdy stuff, or intellectual tv/film analysis, wander over and check out Coffee & Contemplation!

“Mornings are for Coffee & Contemplation.”

I’m a podcaster! The first episode of my new podcast, Coffee & Contemplation is now live. It’s a journey back through the world of Stranger Things from a post-season three perspective. Expect spoilers, in-depth, close readings of the story and technique behind the series, and gushing over our favorite moments and characters.

You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and more, and join the conversation on Facebook and Tumblr.

“Stranger Things 4 Will Not Be the Show’s Final Season”

ScreenRant Article by Rachel Gibson: 
Matt and Ross Duffer…announce they are not ending the series after season 4 and know how it will conclude.

If you know me at all, you know how much I love this show. Including season two, unlike the rest of the world, apparently. However, I did not love season three (also unlike the rest of the world). The seasons have grown steadily less restrained; from season one’s cool, austere tone and brilliant efficiency in its storytelling, to season three’s broad humor and presentation. Personal preferences may vary, but from what I’ve gathered, the general response from both the fandom and casual viewers alike seems to be that season one continues to reign supreme among the three. I’m left to wonder if the show overall has strayed into “too much of a good thing” territory. That said, when the credits rolled on the final episode of season three (prior to the post-credits scene), I was a bundle of mixed feelings.

*minor spoilers ahead*

The thought of never seeing the characters again – leaving most of them suspended in circumstances that ranged from bittersweet and sad to disheartening and inconclusive – the idea of never returning to wrap up certain arcs? It stings.

At the same time, I also found that the massive reveal in the season four teaser trailer did not generate excitement or relief, but frustration. I’m glad that a certain character will make a return – that he’s not, yanno, dead – but I feel unnecessarily emotionally manipulated. Almost resentful over the emotional turmoil we were put through last season, just to have it get magically undone. Somehow. Because reasons. Meanwhile, I  can also appreciate the difficulty the creators were faced with because it’s been my belief that the show had neither reached a natural conclusion nor has it struck an organic flow to continue.

So, the ScreenRant article’s headline may have induced a heavy sigh from me, but the content therein actually led me to be cautiously optimistic. I still think the sentiment of “know when to walk away,” is called for, but this specific quote jumped out at me:

Ross [Duffer] went on to explain that the Covid-19 pandemic has given them the time to reflect on the direction they want to take the show in. They have been able to fill out more of the story’s plot and have discovered just how long they will need to finish the story while giving the series the best possible ending.

I personally felt that season three felt uncharacteristically rushed, even a bit bloated. There were definitely aspects that I enjoyed – I continue to be impressed with Steve Harrington’s growth as a character, I’m completely on board for more of his friendship with Robin (not to mention Robin as a character overall), and the scenes between Karen and Nancy Wheeler are some of the best scenes in the whole series. I loved getting to see Lucas land some seriously impressive blows with the wrist-rocket, Alexei was a delight, as was Murray speaking Russian and his eventual bonding with Alexei, Dustin calling Erica out for being a nerd was super satisfying, and – separate from the “Neverending Story” sequence – I love Suzie and hope to see her return in the seasons to come. 
Still, those positive pieces felt outweighed by the bigger missteps, where it seemed to lose focus, lose the emotional connection with some of the characters (namely with Mike and Hopper). So I’ve got my guard up. Reading the SR article, though, if the Duffers really mean what they say, if they’re sincerely taking advantage of this forced pause in the proceedings and they’re actually building towards a deliberate conclusion rather than just keep barrelling on ahead without any clear finish line, then I’m on board to at least give it a chance.

New Harry Potter Pop! Vinyl Figures in March

Graphic Policy

The latest series of Harry Potter Pop! figures are here! Funko has announced the next series that will be out in March.

The new series introduces new looks and additional fan-favorite characters to the assortment, including Harry Potter in his Triwizard Tournament uniform, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger in their Yule Ball garb, Dobby the house-elf with a freeing sock, Harry’s godfather Sirius Black, quirky Ravenclaw Luna Lovegood, Harry’s arch-rival Draco Malfoy, a soul-sucking Dementor, and Albus Dumbledore.

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A Whovian Adventure

ImageAt the end of March, a friend of mine celebrated his 25th birthday and it was one of the most memorable and uplifting event I’ve had in a long time.

I’ve recently joined the ranks of the Doctor Who fandom.  I’m not entirely caught up with the series; I’ve just begun the fifth season of “New Who,” and just met the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith).  I’ve loved every part of the series so far; even those devastating moments that have left me an emotional wreck.  Bad Wolf Bay, anyone?

I didn’t expect to get into this series as much as I did.  On the whole, I still think I prefer Sherlock when it comes to the work of Steven Moffatt, but, as they say, first impressions are lasting ones and Sherlock was part of my world long before Doctor Who.  I dug the more quirky, silly tone of the first season and I fell pretty hard for Christopher Eccleston‘s ninth doctor and sincerely would have loved to have seen him there for another season.  However, it wasn’t long until I was just as enthralled with David Tennant‘s tenth doctor.  So, when it turned out that the plan for Ben’s birthday outing was going to be Who-themed, I was intrigued.  He is, after all, a massive ImageWhovian himself and has seen the show in its entirety (New Who, anyway).  Almost every gift was Who-themed (including several sonic screwdrivers) and off we went into downtown Ellicott City for a Doctor Who Scavenger Hunt.


The suggestion was made that we dress up as the various characters.  Just for fun.  Undeniably, photo shoots ensued.


Photo taken by Michael Mongeon.


We had all three Doctors present.



Photo taken by Michael Mongeon.

As well as Donna Noble and Rose Tyler . . . and an honorary Tennant himself.


Photo taken by Michael Mongeon.

Donna is my favorite Companion.  “Best Temp in Chiswick.”  I love her interaction with the Doctor and the friendship between them.  It was so much fun pretending to be her for the day (I only wished I’d had more time to put a better costume together).  I may Cosplay as Donna again at a future con!  (I’ll be at Awesome Con D.C. this weekend, but I’ll be representing Genre Wars: Resistance Rising.)


“Stop bleepin‘ me!”
Photo taken by Michael Mongeon.

We may have created a paradox . . . or two . . .


Photo taken by Michael Mongeon.


Photo by Robin C. Farrell

It was a great day.  Many happy returns to Ben and the Doctor.
Maybe next time we’ll have a Captain Jack Harkness, an Amelia Pond, a River Song…who knows?


Photo taken by Michael Mongeon.


Pictured in Photos (in order of appearance/L-R): Nathan Moe, Ben Hart, Justin Moe, Michael Mongeon, Robin C. Farrell, Jessica Mongeon, Tiffany Mallett.  And David Tennant.