Thursday, May 28, 2020

Coronavirus, Sports, and Me by Big Hutch

                                          Coronavirus, Sports, and Me


I am the only person on the planet that didn’t watch Tiger King. I try my best NOT to Keep Up with the Kardashians. What I miss is the competition provided by sports March was not the same without the Madness of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. April’s Master’s Golf Tournament with the real Tiger King, Eldrick "Tiger" Woods was postponed until November 12 -15 2020.   

So, what does the present and future hold for sports in the United States and around the world during a global pandemic?  I’ve been watching old football games on the NFL Network. The local Sports Talk radio station in Atlanta, 680 the Fan, is simulating the 2020 Atlanta Braves regular season on their YouTube Channel until Major League Baseball starts the real season in July? The Braves are 36 –21 but Ronald Acuna Jr. is only batting .240 and Freddy Freeman is on Injured Reserved. I hope the real-life Braves win the East and make it the playoffs. I predict the Los Angeles Dodgers will beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. 

The NBA is drawing up plans to either finish up the 2020 regular season or start the playoffs by mid-July 2020. Atlanta Hawks’ Superstar Point Guard Trae Young participates in Playstation 4 NBA 2020 celebrity tournaments versus other NBA players. He is a better player in real life. I think the Milwaukee Bucks will play the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals. Lebron James dedicates his MVP to Kobe Bryant and wins his fourth title. 
In Tennis, Wimbledon has been canceled and the French Open is trying to get their two weeks of red clay matches in by early October. Will 12-time French Open Men’s Champion Rafael Nadal boycott the event?  What about 38-year-old Serena Williams trying to win one more Women’s Grand Slam title before she calls it a career? 
The 2020 Summer Olympics were postponed until 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Will athletes have to requalify? American gymnast Simone Biles might retire. What about the U.S. Men’s Soccer team? We will have to wait to see what happens. 

Now the National Football League just completed its Draft. They get to watch the other professional leagues try to play meaningful games with either very few or no fans. There is no such thing as Social Distancing when you have a pile of grown men diving on top of each other for three hours.  

College Football also has the same problems and amateur student athletes trying to show their skills so they can get paid in the NFL. University of _ichigan President, Dr. Mark Schlissel, an immunologist, says that his school will not have a football season until on-campus instruction is permitted. Even though I HATE scUM, I actually agree with him. I also acknowledge that College Football finances several other sports on campus, but safety should be made priority. Go Bucks !! 

So, what are you doing to deal with this situation? Let me know …......

Big Hutch

Friday, May 15, 2020

Upload Series Review








As the pandemic and self quarantines continue, we are all searching for new shows to watch. Its very easy for me to continue to re-watch Chuck and Orphan Black, but while loading up Amazon Prime, they often hit you with a new show promotion that may spark your interest.  Amazon had been pumping up Upload for a minute now and  they previews seemed very interesting so when it finally became available, I wound up binge watching the show in two days.  Before the review, I will let you know the show is 10 episodes and each episode is under 30 minutes.  Lets begin


Upload tells the story of the afterlife in 2055.  Things have changed... alot.  While the idea of heaven and hell and religion are not dead; the future of the afterlife has moved on line.  When a person dies, and if they paid for it, their consciousness will be uploaded into their own heaven( which they paid for).  And, heaven aint cheap and it even has layers based on how much you can pay.  This is a Matrix level event in terms of the premise of the show, but its  layed with humor and uncomfortable truths about our own mortality, our thoughts about life after death, and are ever increasing dependency on electronics for attention and gratification.

The story follows two main characters.  The first is Nathan, played by Robbie Ammel.  Nathan is a computer coder, and along with his coding partner, is on the brink of making big money with a program they have created.  However, he is in a toxic relationship with his girlfriend and on a random night, he is injured in a car accident and is uploaded into the heaven that his girlfriend picked and paid for him.  Nathan's death is sudden and it takes a while for him to adjust being deceased.  However, he has an "angel" named Nora, played by Andy Allo who works at the off line site for when people die and these angels assist the newly deceased adjust to their new on line heaven.  Nora is single and spends much of her time off work taking care of her sick father and trying to convince him to upload against his wishes( he wants to be with his deceased wife in regular heaven)

Nathan and Nora get to interact alot as you can imagine and their burgeoning love story is told with wit and angst as each try to balance the feelings they have for one another along with the balancing their other relationships.  Nora is especially torn emotionally for having feelings for one of her clients, but also trying to balance her life off line and her personal relationships.  While Ammel is the bigger star name, Andy Allo is the true star of this series giving it the emotional weight to ground the show in reality.

This is the best review I can give without dropping major spoilers.  While their love story is a major A plot, the subplots of the show are excellent and there is a mystery unfolding that is being played behind the scenes on earth and in heaven.

Overall a very well written and well acted series.  This series is full of language and partial nudity so be very wary of watching around your youngsters.   Highly recommended!!

The Producer

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Bad Boys For Life Review





For those of you that know me, you would know that Bad Boys (1995) is one of my favorite movies of all time.  It truly is a perfect buddy cop/action comedy with two great leads and its a wonderful mix of comedy and action.  On top of that, it is so rare to see a buddy copy movie with 2 Black leads and both Will Smith and Martin Lawrence shine brightly in this movie.

Now if you also know me, you know that I hate( might not be strong enough of a word) Bad Boys 2.  Whereas the first movie played to the strengths of each of the lead actors, Bad Boys 2 is an overbloated Michael Bay crapfest with a thin plot and an even thinner since of purpose and direction.  The 8 years between the movies might as well had been 80 years as nothing survived from the original that made it special.

So when I heard there was going to be a Bad Boys 3, I was 100% against it.  There are reasons: One this seemed like a Will Smith vehicle to try to get back to his movie star status which had been diminished greatly over the past 10 years.  Also, have you seen Martin Lawrence recently?  I love the dude but he looks like the dude that ate Martin Lawrence.  It just seemed like a desperate money grab for dudes looking for a payday so I dismissed this movie from the jump.

Well the quarantine and pandemic will have you watching anything and everything for new content and Bad Boys 3 was up to stream so I gave it a watch and I was terribly wrong about the movie.  Thankfully they left Michael Bay somewhere in Miami and out of this movie as the director and this new direction gave Bad Boys 3 and more grounded feel; much like the original.

The plot, Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowery been partners for over 20 years cleaning up the streets of Miami.  And much like their real life counterparts, they are old; well at least Marcus, played by Martin Lawrence, is old.  Its time for him to retire, especially now that his daughter just had his first grandchild.  Lowry, played by Will Smith, is that Peter Pan dude who, no matter what, refuses to get old.  He still wants to drive fast cars, date all the pretty women, and feels that he is bulletproof.

Well, Mike is definitely not bullet proof as a tragedy bring back old enemies who are targeting Miami Police officers who were involved in case that was solved over 20 years ago.  After Mike recovers from his shooting, he wants to get revenge and seeks out his partner who refuses to help. Marcus is on a new path now enjoying his life as a retired cop.

The movie hits levels of emotional depth missing from the previous two entries and you can see the active parallel; especially with Will Smith in the sense of: If I don't have this, what do I have? And with Martin, who in real life, is perfectly content with where his life is and doesn't feel the need to upset that by getting involved in any more craziness.

Of course they get back together and of course they look to track down and take out the people behind the assassinations.  Along the way, the new task force(AMMO) is helping track down the killer.  There are cameos from previous movies, cameos from some of Miami's most famous residents, and all the shootings and explosions you come to love from Bad Boys.   Its just not so over the top as Bad Boys 2( this is a good thing)

There are jokes all around about being old and getting old and how to transition from being the young hot shot to now being the old man on the block.  The movie hits on an action, comedic, and emotional level.  There is a plot twist that I hate so much that it almost ruined the movie for me, but I will allow you to make that decision on your own.

Overall, lots of fun playing in a very familiar sandbox with old friends.  A great piece of nostalgia that left just enough crumbs for another sequel.

The Producer

The Wedding Year Review







During this Coronavirus lock down we have all been watching more tv than usual.  Whether you watching cable tv, Hulu, Netflix, or Disney Plus, the search for content is continuous as the lockdown has stretched from days, weeks, and now a month plus.

So as I was loading up my Amazon Prime a few weeks ago, the preview for this movie, The Wedding Year popped up and it caught my interest.  For one, it was a romantic comedy; a genre that is pretty much dead in movie theatres now and only exists on streaming services.  Second, there was an interracial couple; something you never see in a romantic comedy. Lastly, I immediately recognized the stars as Tyler James Williams, from Everybody Hates Chris and Sara Hyland, from the recently ended Modern Family, were the stars.

The trailer seemed kinda cute and dumb in the classic romantic comedy way so I set aside some time to watch this.  Confession: I love romantic comedies. I do!  Its probably a by product of loving my wife and her love of these movies, but I lean into them pretty strong with her as a moment for us to bond and laugh.  Throw in that we watched both Everybody Hates Chris and Modern Family and this was a bonus to watch two kids we saw grow up on television stretch their acting wings and move into more adult roles.

The plot of The Wedding Year is that of a typical Romantic Comedy:  Two people from different backgrounds meet up and fall in love.  Mara, played by Hyland, is a aspiring photographer in LA who is biding her time working in a fashion boutique.  Her life consists of getting high and looking for men on Hook Up apps to take her out to expensive dinners.  Jake, played by Williams, is a southern kid who moved to LA to open up his own restaurant but for now is working at a local diner.  They meet on this Hook up App and try to have dinner but its way too much money for Jake and they wind up leaving having pancakes at Jake's diner.  The hook up leads to dating, dating leads to moving in together, and into a relationship that neither expected.

And being in a relationship brings couples expectations and a part of that is attending weddings together and in the course of one year, they have to attend seven weddings of various friends and family.  Each wedding brings out a different side of their growing relationship but also begins to pull apart their closeness as Mara actively seeks out to sabotage her potential relationships before they become too serious.

This all comes to a head at Jake's brothers wedding as his family presses Mara about when her and Jake are going to get married, have babies, and move back to Virginia.  This is not the life Mara has planned for herself and when she and Jake talk about it, it leads to them breaking up.

Of course this is a romantic comedy and they wind up back together, but I am not going to spoil how that happens.  The Wedding Year is fun and cute and will definitely appeal more to the 20-30 something audience.  The jokes are typical and it the movie stays in its lane as a light comedy to help you get a laugh.  Overall, a fun movie for lovers of classic romantic comedies.

The Producer

Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey Review





Confession: I did not like Suicide Squad.  That is probably not that shocking of an admission if you have listened to our podcast or read anything I ever written.  I am a Marvel Hack and a MCU stan so for me, DC is always playing from behind( outside of their animation which is far superior to Marvel/Disney superhero animation).

With the DC movies, I kinda liked Wonder Woman and Aquaman.  I really liked Shazam, but the rest have been trash to me.  From Man of Steel, to Justice League, its been an endless stream of disappointment and I never go out of my way to see/watch those movies.  Suicide Squad was the same way. I saw it on a bootleg copy first and then later saw it on DVD and both times I was extremely underwhelmed.  But out of that, if there was a silver lining, was the portrayl of Harley Quinn by Margo Robbie.  Her and Will Smith were the only true standouts in that 2 hour crap fest so it was no real surprise that there was talk of spinning Harley off into her own movie.

Confession #2:  I am not really much of a Harley Quinn fan( with one exception).  So since Harley Quinn got this huge push( wrestling term) from Suicide Squad, the comics reacted in a way that tried to bring Harley Quinn to a level that she was not ready for, in my opinion.  She headlined the awful Heroes in Crisis Event and DC had her even defeating the Trinity which is just ridiculous.   But I chalk that more up to writer error, than the character.






So a movie starring Margo Robbie as a character I do not like, made by a company whose movies I do not like... this seemed like a recipe for disaster.  But it wasn't.  Now do not get me wrong, I think Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey is a movie with severe flaws.  The first being that they made it rated R; under the assumption, much like Deadpool, people would buy into the kooky character who uses overt violence and jokes to become popular.  I think this limited the number of people( young girls in particular) who could go and see the movie.  But to me, that is one of its minor flaws that's not related to the content of the movie.  The larger flaw, is that they movie could not decide what it wanted to be.  Is the movie, Camp, playing into and with its over the top character and allowing the audience to get in on the laugh and shenanigans? Or is this a serious movie, with an over the top character and you are not sure where to laugh or how serious you should take this movie? Birds of Prey landed somewhere in the middle for me and I was unsure when I was to laugh and when I should take the movie seriously.

The plot, Harley finally breaks away from the Joker and sets out on her own to be taken seriously.  She falls into this plot to steal a diamond that has account information of a former crime family that was killed in Gotham.  Then a little kid steals the diamond and pandemonium breaks loose as we get introduced to the supporting characters: Black Canary and Huntress, along with Rene Montoya. Whereas Black Canary's intro is played very seriously, Huntress, the more serious character of the two, is played for laughs throughout and it was head scratching as to why.  On top of that, each of the supporting Birds of Prey get very little to do in this movie and the acting is so over the top in some points that its almost laughable.  Ewan McGregor, plays our villain, Black Mask, so over the top you would think he was being bad on purpose with his acting.

Regardless, the movie has some great action pieces with Robbie as Harley Quinn and there are some genuine big laughs as the movie plays out.  The set pieces are gorgeous and you really get a different feel of Gotham than the typical Batman's Gotham that we have seen for the past 30 years.  But overall, like most DC movies, you get the feeling that there is a better version of this movie somewhere.  Now I am not talking release the Snyder cut nonsense, but a much tighter version of the movie with better pacing and editing.  A movie with a more singular vision as opposed to trying to put everything in the movie and seeing that sticks.  Or a version that went full Deadpool with it being way over the top, much like the Harley Quinn show on DC Universe streaming.  THAT show( my one exception for Harley Quinn) gets who  Harley Quinn is  and runs head first into the insanity the character lives in and allows that to play for laughs and is a much better representation of the character.



I waited to see this movie on streaming because I had been burned so much by DC.  The early reviews from people I know/trust/love were over the top on how much they enjoyed the movie.  I did not see the same movie, I guess.  Is it fun and enjoyable? Yes at times, but mostly is bland and boring and could've been better.  If you really enjoy Harley Quinn, watch the DC animated show.  Its so much better!

The Producer

Farewell to Con Season








SDCC Cancelled


With the news yesterday that San Diego Comic Con was cancelling itself for the first time in 50-plus years, it was the strawberry on the top of the end of comic con season for 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

It was the right call and no matter how disappointed you or your crew of nerds are, there is no way you could pack that many con goers into that convention center and not expect an outbreak of sick people.  Add to the fact that comic cons, under normal circumstances, are incubators for illness( Con Crud, anyone?), this is really was a no brainer.  The people to most feel sorry for are the creators who use the conventions to make money selling their drawings, writings, etc.  Plus the vendors who use the conventions to sell merchandise.  This is a true loss for them in their pockets.

All across the country, cons have been either cancelled or postponed.  My two local conventions, MegaCon Orlando and Florida Supercon, both moved off their original start dates and, honestly, with a later start date in the summer, I am not sure I will risk being around thousands of people just to satisfy my geekly habits.  I have the Con of Thrones(Game of Thrones Con) this summer in July and I wonder if that will even happen or if I will even go at this point.  As consumers, we have to way the risk v reward in these situations. Yes, I would love to mingle and hang with fans of a show that I love.  But is that worth risking getting sick and bringing that illness back to my family; no matter how small the chance is.

For me, my year is built around attending DragonCon in Atlanta on Labor Day Weekend and I have to wonder if by late August/ early September we will be past this.  DragonCon is like a family reunion for me as I get to see people I have not seen in a whole year.  We laugh, we drink, we takes pictures, and hang out for 3 whole days and just celebrate our Black Nerdness. Missing DragonCon would hurt more than the others.  Regardless, the safety of all trumps the wants of many and I hope the people of DragonCon make the best decision for all in this instance.

The Producer

Sunday, March 8, 2020

When the Lead Leaves the Show: John Amos and Esther Rolle





This is going to be a series of articles about when a Black lead character leaves a television show and the aftermath of that event.  I will look at the events leading to the departure, how the character was written off the show, and the aftermath to the show they left.

First up, John Amos and Esther Rolle, stars of Good Times that ran on CBS from 1974-1979 and was a huge ratings hit for the network.  Created by Mike Evans and produced by Hollywood heavy weight, Norman Lear, this spin-off of Maude focused on the Evans Family and their daily struggles living in the projects in Chicago.  The Evans family consisted of patriarch James Evans, played by John Amos, matriarch Florida Evans, played by Esther Rolle, and their three kids JJ, Thelma, and Michael.

Rating Success

The show portrayed the typical struggles of a family living in poverty.  Shows about unemployment, hustling, and surviving, were not just in the theme song, they were the theme of the show, but told with humor and heart. The show, much like All in the Family, was to examine taboo topics with humor and looking to build a dialogue about difficult topics. The show was a ratings hit ranking in the top 25 shows on network television in year one and in the top 10 shows by year two, and not appearing outside the top 30 through season four.

John Amos Departs

So what went wrong?  While the show was a hit and tackling topics rarely seen on network television, the shows focus started slowly moving away from Florida and James Evans and focused more on JJ, played by Jimmy Walker.  JJ had become such a popular character on the show and him screaming DY-NO-MITE became a huge cultural phenomenon and JJ often became the focus of the show; not the serious topics the show had been dealing with.  Amos voiced his frustrations to the producer Norman Lear which lead to constant arguments about the script and the shows direction.  At the end of season 3, the decision was made to kill off James Evans off camera as he was looking to get a job and finally move the family out of the projects.  His death lead to this great bit of television and now meme/gif history.



Esther Rolle Departs

Rolle was much more verbal with her disgust with the JJ character becoming the focus of the show. Rolle, in an interview, called  the JJ character, "stupid" and thought he was bringing negative racial stereotypes to young Black youth watching on television. After John Amos was not brought back, she worked to get herself written off the show and by the end of season 4  she married character Carl Dixon and moved off to Arizona leaving the Evans kid to live on their own.



The Aftermath

Losing the two leads of the show tanked the ratings as the producers decided to have the show continue without the two parents who provided much of the heart of the show.  The show shifted its focus to Wilona, played by, Janet Dubois,  looking after the kids who now lived alone and stories focused on JJ and the kids and Wilona.  After Amos leaves, the shows rating dropped to 26.  After Rolle leaves, the rating drops to 55 for season 5.  Producers realized they made a mistake and did everything they could to get Esther Rolle back to give the show back its heart.  Rolle reluctantly agreed to return with a list of demands which included more money and to make JJ less of a buffoon and knock off the racial stereotypes.

Rolle comes back for season 6 and even with the focus on new characters and her return, the show was too far gone to come back.  Season 6 tanked and ranked 91 on broadcast television shows and was cancelled.

So what do you think?  Should they have cancelled the show after John Amos left? After Esther Rolle left?  Leave a comment in the comments section.

The Producer