Superman, The Avengers and the (somewhat) baffling career of Keanu Reeves

Let’s try to get back on schedule here and start with some housecleanibatman, ng.

The Nooner with PopRox live chat is the first Friday of every month at noon, and that means we have another one coming up Friday. Just a way to make time go quicker at work where we talk about anything and everything pop culture related. I thrown out some topics, but the questions are up to you guys. So bring your lunch to your desk on Friday and we’ll hang out.

Second, you’ve probably heard or noticed by now that is a subscription site. You wanna play with us, you gotta pay. That is, except for PopRox. It will be one of the only locally generated information that will remain free, which is good news. Even if you don’t wanna pay, you can at least enjoy the ramblings of a TV-addicted madman. We’re trying to work it out so that Friday’s live chat will be available free to everyone, but we’re not sure about that yet. I’ll be sure to let you know.

We’re going to have a bunch of somewhat old news today because of all the TV reviews from last week, but there was some good stuff I didn’t wanna miss:

Tough to say whether Wall Street 2 making $19 million in its opening weekend is a good or bad thing. The studio probably wanted more, but really, how much more? Wasn’t $25 million about the ceiling on this thing? $19 million isn’t that bad considering it was more than 20 years since the first one and the only connection between the movies is Michael Douglas — not exactly the most popular name to the Twitter generation. It’s not like the original tore it up, it made $44 million and was the 26th highest-grossing movie of 1987. It’s certainly enjoyed a big life outside of the theaters, as it’s an Encore staple. If this one makes more than $60 million overall, that’s probably good.

can we all just agree this was the last superman on film? great, thanks.

can we all just agree this was the last superman on film? great, thanks.

The Superman news doesn’t seem to want to stop these days. Unless we’re talking about Jon Hamm though, I’m not interested. Nope, I’m not even interested for John Krasinski. It’s Hamm or nothing. The list of possible directors lining up isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, though. Tony Scott shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near this movie though. The best on the list here is Zack Snyder, who seems to have lost his shot at the big-time when Watchmen failed to impress. Snyder, however, is working with Hamm on the mega-buzzy Sucker Punch, so there’s a connection already. Sign ’em up and get ’em in the studio.

But there is another superhero movie franchise Chris Nolan has to worry about right now, and it looks like he’s putting the pieces of the next Batman together.

Joss Whedon says The Avengers is distinctly his — but is that good news? He hasn’t exactly been knocking it out of the park lately. Buffy wasn’t that good after Season 3, Angel didn’t get good until he turned the show over to friends, Firefly wasn’t very good and Dollhouse licked dirt. So that doesn’t instill me with mounds of confidence to say The Avengers is all his. Maybe there will be some kind of military coup, with Jon Favreau leading the rebellion to rip the project away from Whedon if things go south.  

In the category of movie and TV villains, you’ll probably get about 5,842 lists or opinions before you find Billy Mitchell in anyone’s top 5. But I’m not like most people, and am perfectly willing to put Mitchell in the same class as Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter, Annie Wilkes and Gary from Gary’s Old Towne Tavern. If I ever saw Mitchell on the street, I’d probably punch him in the face on general principle. Or cut his hair, one or the other. So it’s very, very pleasing to see Mitchell has once again been bitch-slapped by Steve Wiebe. And all is right with the world.

Molly Ringwald must, must, must hate the fact that she ever met John Hughes at this point. It’s not like she’s working anymore because of him, and now she can’t get through an interview without having to talk about him like he was her dad or something. This is what DeNiro and DiCaprio are going to go through in a couple years when Scorsese dies. At least they’ll have something else to talk about other than an ABC Family Channel show. It’s probably more like if Quentin Tarantino dies in a car crash or something, Michael Madsen is going to be giving these types of interviews all the time saying how much he owes to Quentin.

this guy's a big star. no seriously, he is.

this guy's a big star. no seriously, he is.

Consider the career of Keanu Reeves for a second. On one hand, he’s made some of the most inane movies ever and hasn’t brought more than a talking monkey mentality to a movie in years. But the guy’s movies have made almost $1.8 billion and he’s done his fair share of independent movies in an attempt — half-hearted as it may be — to get some sort of credibility. He got pigeon-holed as a stoner loser after Bill and Ted, having to play the exact character again in Parenthood and a highly inferior Bill and Ted sequel. Somehow, he pulled himself out of that and became and action star (?) while still making a good deal of indies before he completed his re-invention with Speed in 1994, a great action movie in spite of him, not because of him. Then he spent five years making complete garbage until the Matrix changed his life (again) and now he can write his own ticket. After seeing what that ticket brings him (Street Kings, The Lake House) he’s decided to head back to the well with (possibly) another Bill and Ted. Decide for yourself whether that’s a good or a bad thing. I’m saying yes, especially if Werner Herzog actually would direct it. I also think it’s cool that he still talks to Alex Winter, especially since no one else in Hollywood seems to.

The ratings aren’t in yet (as of noon) for last night’s Lone Star episode, but it doesn’t look good at all. At all. Ratings rarely improve after a premiere episode, so if they go any lower, Lone Star could be one of the first shows to get canned this year. Maybe even the first! Fox was short-sighted to throw it to the wolves, leaving it on one of the most competitive time slots of the year (9 p.m. Mondays). It didn’t want to blink against The Event, but it should have. Lone Star stinks of something that should probably be on Friday nights. I already gave up on it, knowing it’s going to be almost impossible for it to stay on the air.

Want something more stable to watch? Try USA. Like, anything on USA. It’s got seven original drama series on its roster right now — and all of them have been renewed for more seasons. We found that out when three of its shows — Royal Pains, Psych and White Collar — all got renewal notices. It’s tough to distinguish one USA show from another, they’re all pretty much the same “crime of the week” procedural-type shows. But at least you know if you get locked into whatever story arc they try, you’ll probably be able to see it through. Even if it doesn’t really have an end.

No word yet on whether the Stroud Mall will be one of the AMC theaters that gets the Back to the Future 25th anniversary special showing. I’ll see what I can find out in the next couple days. In the meantime, this is the best reason I can think of to see it again in the theaters:

Just a couple more quick reviews of new shows:

OUTSOURCED (9:30 p.m. Thursdays, NBC): You’ve heard it all summer — is the new NBC comedy Outsourced racist? It’s drawn the ire of just about everyone before it even aired for everything from living on the coattails of Slumdog Millionaire to taking the spot of the much-more-deserving Parks and Recreation to being anti-American. That’s without even airing an episode, but the critics that did see it slammed it. But I was pleasantly surprised by the pilot, only because I was expecting it to be the worst thing I’d ever seen. It’s completely lazy at times, but it’s somewhat saved by the short moments of comedy from Diedrich Bader. That doesn’t mean it’s good, it just means it’s not the worst thing I’ve seen this year. That distinction still belongs to Hellcats. While the premise of Outsourced is easy to understand, the execution is flawed, mainly in how new boss Todd Dempsy goes about his job as an American in India trying to teach a room full of Indians to comprehend the use of a cheesehead. He then gets frustrated when they don’t immediately grasp it. Or whenever his new employees who barely speak English don’t fully understand a completely American ideal. He is shocked — SHOCKED, I tell you! — when they don’t get a Bad News Bears reference. I haven’t done a full head count, but I’d say 50 percent of Americans might not get a Bad News Bears reference. It’s not like it’s Star Wars or something. So for some dude to just head to India and think everyone should know everything about American culture is just stupid. The show may be making jokes at India’s expense, but at its core it’s making fun of Americans — or at least perpetuating the American stereotypes much of the eastern world has about Americans. The sad part is it doesn’t know it, or just doesn’t think it is. GRADE: C+. KEEP WATCHING?: Up for grabs. It doesn’t seem like appointment TV.

do you like me or not?

do you like me or not?

THE INCREASINGLY POOR DECISIONS OF TODD MARGARET (10 p.m. Fridays, IFC): If you’re deciding whether you want to watch this offbeat sitcom when it premieres this week — the first episode already is OnDemand as a preview — all you have to do is ask yourself one question: Do you find David Cross funny? If you do, this show is for you. If you don’t, do not, and I can’t stress this enough, do not watch this show. The show is built entirely on Cross and his sense of comedy, which is hysterical to some and annoyingly grating to others. I’m a Cross fan, so I thought this show was actually kind of funny. It moves fast, there is a good mix of sight gags and clever writing, and Cross is … well, he’s David Cross. If you liked Mr. Show, if you liked Tobias on Arrested Development, or if you like Cross’s off-kilter stand-up, by all means check out this show. If you don’t like him, avoid it like the plague because you will walk away from it very, very angry. GRADE: B for Cross fans, D- for non Cross fans. KEEP WATCHING?: I will.

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