Jokershorts — the pop culture round-up for 12 July 2017

What went wrong for the Amazing Spider-Man

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What’s caught the blog with long-reads, cartoons and a smirk’s eye over the past half-month?

This Jokershorts: Pepperland lives on, Marvel stumble on page and screen, DC soar in some unexpected tangents, Guy Ritchie has some Aladdin pain, the King falls, Aliens struggle on, smileys get shorty, Asimov’s finest hour may be behind the corner, an Umbrella shadow falls over Netflix, Riker almost returns and Doctor Who reaches another of its famous endings…


50 years of numbers: We’re still consuming Giles Martin’s glorious remaster of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. More on that later, but here’s an infographic with not quite as many Pepper numbers as holes can fill the Albert Hall…

Marvel fans might want to sit down. There’s no secret that something’s gone a bit wrong on the four colour side of Marvel…

Creating a new Legacy: Marvel relaunch is almost upon us…

Fourgotten? Curious by their absence is the once glorious property that was Fantastic Four… About that sabotage… Surely it’s not still going on…

Inhumane: If Marvel are prioritising their first party screen franchises, there’s a worrying sign in the state of Inhumans, see Trailers of the Now! for that…

Fantastic Three? But it’s clear Marvel need to align some Skrull and Kree for the fast-approaching new phase. while fox show no intent of giving up their rights to marvel’s premier family (and actually, bear with this — it might be a move as shrewd as the accidental wealth of variety they’ve found with the X-Men)…

Infinity’s end date: The signs are up for the longest storyline in Hollywood history, the 22-part epic has an end date, and a lot is riding on the shared rights shoulders of Peter Parker. Anyone else mildly perplexed?

A new web: Of course, Peter Parker’s the future. To get a bit Hellraiser about it, he always has been…

What went wrong for the Amazing Spider-Man? As we ready for the new Spiderman this week, take a peek back at the missing link, the vastly underrated Amazing Spider-Man double-bill:

Still tingling: And stop worrying about Spider-sense, seriously…

Hans on: On the other lots at Disney, UK y’know, with almost indecent, but highly sensible pace, Ron Howard stepped into the breach to hack Star Wars’ riskiest hour back on track.

Solo warning: And the news got worse. Seldom has so much spilled so quickly from a tent-pole film’s production. It seems like only a few weeks that we saw those shiny production jackets (it was). Everything seems just a bit last minute, so no wonder it’s making the business pages:

Ace Solo: But did those creative differences — did they promise some thing this good?

Gleaming Lantern:In the new DC Universe, Hal’s gone space age too — first glances look stunning.

Watching the trademark: Things are not so smiley in the world of universe-smashing variant covers:

Dark clouds forming: A new pretender, Gerard Way’s series looks to be heading to Netflix:

Golden lassos: On the big screen, Wonder Woman’s journey into the stratosphere continues. Some great stats for the biggest instant-super super since Iron Man. Superman’s position once again looks a little adrift…

Mask off: Even Deadpool’s impressed — as his haul disappears in the distance…

Seeing Red: But that may change for the Big Blue — Mark Millar’s on point with some of his usual gusto stirring. Interesting idea. Huge implications for the connected DCEU, or acceptance of the growing media-multiverse. And if you haven’t read it you really should… At the very least, some great suggestions for the films in the unsplintered DCEU…

Forging alloys: Meanwhile, let this be the summer of DCEU fan theory (we’re still justifying Man of Steel four years on).

Hanging on to the capes: On the small screen, the Super family grows with more Super-alumni. It’s really quite the gang.

Aladdin pain: Guy Ritchies’ magic is struggling to rub off. Some days you just can’t find an Aladdin

Credit: Empire Magazine

Hawkish makeover: Really, Empire’s sparkling new Blade Runner cover makes you look twice. How have they managed to make Harrison Ford look so different? Hawkish, weary. perhaps he’s just told Ryan Gosling a weary, sweary old joke — the kind they used to tall back in the 2020s. That’s the only answer. Or perhaps just because If they can, they Replican.

Keeping up with the xenomorphs: On a kind of segue: Blomkamp returns, his Alien dream apparently in quiet tatters…

Oh, and takes on God:

Added face hugging: Meanwhile, the world struggles to see how much better an extra 18 minutes can make Alien Covenant.

Keeping close: And isn’t it time for the return of some nice aliens?

Tarantino treads carefully: The latest rumours, could it be…

End of a chapter? Sometimes it feels like the War of the Rings never ends…

Hire a Riker: We’re not close to running out of worst kept secrets in the Trek franchise. Still, plenty of mystery left around the new show…

A Stark Enterprise: Except perhaps the new pretenders that will influence the show (hold on to your phasers)

Crossing the streams: And particularly acute new pretenders…

Deep Space Birthday: That reminds us, It’s 18 years this week since the conclusion of, whisper it, Star Trek’s finest hour. And that can only mean, next January is the 25th anniversary of its beginning. No pressure on Discovery to fill the gap.

Strong Foundations? Could that old but far-too-little-known mentalic the Mule be closing in…

Cost of a thousand planets: Risky stuff on the big screen… And they put Clive Owen in it.

Vindicated in La Mancha: There’s been some unfortunate accusations and bile amid the happy news that Gilliam’s ode to Don Quixote has finally wrapped. But it seems the big ol’ auteur is vindicated:

Nihilistic ape: Landis gets his kaiju on Skull Island — which rather inevitably split the watching Twittersphere with monstrous inevitability…

Power to the people: Where’s James Cornwall been?

Cold Feet? And actually, whatever happened to Rob Lowe? Well, HE MET BIGFOOT (AND DIDN’t ENJOY IT!). Woah.

Closing on the wider arts, and as we began, some music.

Framed again: We’re ramping up for visits to Tate Modern’s Giacometti and the BP Portrait Prize, whose bold winner was announced before its opening late last month:

Fading King: And some worrying news for the legacy of Elvis (everyone, watch the ’68 comeback special)

Imagine no more… While, no doubt utterly unrelated to Donald Tusk’s appropriation the other week, Yoko’s credit soars…

Trailing Karma Police: And when it was all going so well for the legendary five-piece, an unshakable argument’s emerged. They’re robustly refuting, but doesn’t look like it’ll settle down anytime soon.

Trailers of the NOW!

Inhumans: Wow. When you have a lead character who can’t talk, you’ve got issues. In the comics, but when the trailer’s almost entirely dominated by Ramsay Bolton being Ramsay Bolton (no offence to the acting or casting) it’s very difficult to see any hidden depths. Rather than lead with the intrigue and ig those Game of Thrones vibes in stainless steel surroundings, how about leading with the character’s powers. May avoid the collective Black Bolt impression.

Good luck with this, chaps. Just need a bit more than the dog to hang on to...

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle: Well, I laughed out loud. And that’s a strong sense of reboot right there. It’s a wholly different fish to the superb Joe Johnston original, but some things just can’t stay the same.

Harley and Batman: Got to say, this trailer doesn’t have me convinced. It was happening in the comics long before the live action, but Harley Quinn’s dominance is something to be very, very cautious about.

“The red-headed nephew of Batman The Animated Series”. Apparently.


Michael Bond: 35 million book sales over 59 years, Paddington Bear is an utterly marvellous patch on the fabric of Britishness, and author Michael Bond a national treasure. What a marvellous legacy, of a kind and gentle soul that’s eminently timeless in its supreme datedness. A kindly, naive immigrant absorbed into a welcoming if stuffy British culture. Could the bear from darkest Peru be any less relevant and welcome in these uncertain times? The latest Paddington book was published last year. Michael Bond CBE will be missed, but how good to know that in the last few years of his life he saw his gloriously kind and lovable creation grasp a whole new lease of life on the big screen and reassure his legacy.

* Say what? Spoilers here on in *

Been Watching

It’s that time of year when cramming American TV series finales is de rigeur, stay-tuned next week for the latest on Supergirl and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This week, it’s distinctly European..

Versailles: Don’t get me wrong, there’s still something insufferably irritating about Versailles, having ended its second series and production well under way on its third. It’s the sense that we’re seeing a mere snippet of the wealth of intrigue and circumstance and all sorts of other things that unfolded in Louis’ great experiment. The rooms just feel silly, the drama, a little soapy under the weight of its mingled European accents and ridiculous hair. But something happened in the middle of its second year: I think I got it. Finally. Wrapped up in the odd pacing, and devilish mix of the predictable (sack Fabian Marchal, reinstate him) and the unpredictable (the episode long meeting of Louis and his great rival William of Orange) there really are moments of utter genius in there. Often you really have to search as it seeks to bury stuff away under a mass of style, but regular viewing certainly pays off. And particular props to Alexander Vlahos who’s constantly, entertainingly riveting to watch as one of the show’s most sympathetic and interesting characters.

Kat and Alfie in Redwater:

“Dermot, I’m gonna get me trousers wet”

Or Kat and Alfie in Deep Water. Or Kat and Alfie dead in the water. Really, they weren’t in this Eastender’s spin-off very much at all.

What a curious beast Redwater was. During a long lead time, from producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins leaving its parent show, it promised to be an extraordinary mix of Twin Peaks, Broadchurch and Eastenders itself. It turned out to be just as odd, but surely not in the way anyone was expecting. Shane Ritchie’s presence was almost negligible, while Jessie Wallace disappeared for episodes at a stretch as some of the quite extraordinary, familial, dark soap unravelled in the small Irish village of the title. The viewers abandoned it early on it appeared, caught between its brewing confusion and some tough scheduling(on the one night it was pulling three million less viewers than the episode of Eastenders that preceded it) It was a bold experiment and watch. The last time the BBC’s produced such a tonally strange spin-off was Torchwood and that took three years to end up on prime time BBC One. Yet, while the pitching tone was dark, Redwater barely dropped anywhere beyond its famous soap mother.

The first episode was glorious, a Wicker Man trip full of promise. The reveal pitched extraordinarily early. and it ducked and weaved through a tight and preposterous story line until it’s quite unbelievable multi-cliffhanger ending six hours later. Most of it occupied with a wonderful group of mainly unlikable characters, a family hanging by such thin threads that manged to swing between the bizarre and other times the sublimely mundane.

Somewhere in there was a bit of a magic trick And I hope the mild failure the ratings suggest hasn’t put Auntie off a second round of the experiment.

After all, two Eastenders legends cant simply walk back into the soap after that ending…

Been listening

Pepper turns 50:

Hats off to the BBC’s brilliant coverage of the Beatles for Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’s 50th.

A highlight was the rather audacious four part attempt to draw out an alternative history of the Beatles. Hosted by Paul Merton, it expanded on the format set by Rob Brydon’s Elvis Dream concert but stretching the Beatles dream to a reunion in 1974 (just between the litigation and Lennon’s 1975 retirement) that not only spawned a concert but new double album. Both are curious things, the step of popular radio into a parallel worlds. Undoubtedly the perfect fit for comedians second, fans first.

Add into that the archive revisits to the album, including Annie Nightingale’s and the sprawling two-part summary hosted by Martin Freeman on Radio 2 (to the palpable, ribbing jealousy of other presenters). And Radio 4’s full day exploring the stars of the famous album cover. Highlights included Diana Doors’ Desert Island Disks, a curious documentary trip into the chilling world of Aleister Crowley and Tracy Ann Oberman’s first radio play, a rather superb glimpse into the rivalry of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, ‘Bette and Joan and Baby-Jane’.

In-depth: Doctor Who Series 10 reviews

And of course, Series 10’s concluded. And in rather scintillating style. Wile away the six months until the Twelfth Doctor’s truly final hour by digging into every Series 10 review on our special reviews page. Keep an eye out for the series summary coming soon.

Not long surely until the big new reveal… Perfect time for a nice slice of Newsnight trolling, or is it?

That’s been our rolling half month… Fill the gap until your next fix with just about 200 long-reads, cartoons and features running the gamut of Pop-Culture at See you in two! :)

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