So, here’s a thing I thought would be fun. Every month, I’m going to prepare a quick look at ten or so things coming out that month that I’m excited about. Mostly TV, probably, but also movies, books, comics, video games, podcasts, whatever. Usually I’ll try to do it right at the beginning of the month, but we had some problems with posting last week. Here’s the first installment of the Enthusiasm List!
In release order….
From a Certain Point of View – This came out last week, and it’s great. And yes, it’s a Star Wars book. I never thought I would ever buy a Star Wars book again, but this is special. It celebrates the fortieth anniversary of Star Wars with forty short stories from different writers retelling scenes from the original movie through the eyes of a supporting character. The lineup is fantastic. Gary Whitta, who wrote Rogue One, has a story, But so does sweet baby brother and 30 under 30 media luminary Griffin McElroy. In addition to some established genre names, there are comic people like Paul Dini, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Greg Rucka, and Matt Fraction. Thrilling Adventure Hour creators Bens Acker and Blacker bring us the story of the Stormtrooper who bumps his head in the first scene. There are stories about new characters like a Jawa named Jot, the Sith of Datawork, and the once-referenced Captain Antilles who previously owned C-3PO and R2-D2. Briefly glimpsed characters from the Cantina get their own stories along with notables like Greedo and Aunt Beru. We even get stories from the point of view of characters who aren’t in the first movie like Yoda, Lando, and Qui-Gon Jinn. I’ve only dipped in so far, but it is great so far and all proceeds go to First Book. And if you’re one of those audiobook types, know that Jon Hamm reads Batman: The Animated Series writer Paul Dini’s story about Boba Fett.
The Foreigner – (October 13) Martin Campbell, who directed Goldeneye and Casino Royale (and also Green Lantern but everybody has a blemish on their record) is back for this movie starring Jackie Chan and my favorite Bond, Pierce Brosnan. Chan plays a man looking for revenge after his daughter is killing in a terrorist attack and Brosnan is the government official with IRA ties who’s trying to hide the truth. The trailer is really good and Chan seems surprisingly effective in a serious role. This could be him joining Liam Neeson and Denzel Washington in the Old Man Action genre, and I’m into it.
Patton Oswalt: Annihilation – (October 17) Oswalt’s new Netflix special focuses not only on the current political climate but his struggles to deal with the unexpected death of his wife last year. Patton’s always been very good at baring his soul in unexpected ways and this could be absolutely devastating. I’m almost afraid to watch it because I know I’ll cry, but there’s no way I’m going to miss it.
Justice League International Omnibus Volume 1 – (October 17) Justice League International is my favorite comic book series of all time. Writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis along with a host of great artists rebooted the Justice League from a team of Earth’s greatest heroes to… whoever they could get. This was largely due to real world reasons where the top characters were all getting their own reboots and weren’t available, but they turned it into gold. It was part sitcom, part superheroics, and it was incredible. It’s the reason Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are two of my favorite characters. It’s the series that made magic from “One Punch!?! ONE PUNCH!!!” and “Bwah-ha-ha!”. But it’s deadly serious when it needs to be so you can bounce from Beetle and Booster opening an island casino to Despero tracking down and killing the loved ones of former League members. This thousand page hardcover collects the first thirty issues of Justice League International, the first six of spinoff Justice League Europe, the first three annuals, and the Suicide Squad crossover. And that “Volume 1” gives me hope because by my reckoning, it would take three volumes to get the complete run collected, including all the spinoffs and follow-ups. And I need that to happen because it’s insane that that only way to get the story of Kooey Kooey Kooey or Mr. Nebula or Justice League Antarctica is to track down the original issues from thirty years ago.
Too Funny to Fail – (October 21) Man, Hulu keeps making documentaries about my obsessions. In the last year they’ve released docs about Bill Finger’s role in the creation of Batman and George Lazenby’s tenure as James Bond. And here’s another one that I’ve spent a lot of time researching on my own time – It’s about the very short lived The Dana Carvey Show, a failed network sketch show that had what is, from a current perspective, one of the all-time great writing staffs. Louis C.K., Robert Smigel, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Charlie Kaufman, Robert Carlock, Jon Glaser, and more now-big names. And it flopped. This is fascinating to me and Hulu has my back once again.
The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror XXVIII” – (October 22) Yes, this is their 28th Halloween special, and I still look forward to them all year. In addition to an Exorcist parody (have they really not done one of those in the previous 27 installments) and a story of Homer eating himself, there is an homage to Coraline featuring author Neil Gaiman as the voice of Snowball II. The Treehouse specials may not have the kick they once did, but they’re still consistently fun and weird.
At Home with Amy Sedaris – (October 24) Sedaris is one of the funniest people in the world, and she’s launching this new show with TruTV. It’s a Martha Stewart parody and I know that doesn’t exactly seem cutting edge, but funny is funny and this is the kind of thing Sedaris can turn into gold. She’s actually written a couple of satirical how-to books in that genre and they’re very funny. When TruTV is good, it’s really good (Jon Glaser Loves Gear, I’m Sorry, The Chris Gethard Show) and I’m looking forward to this being one more step on their path to being a consistent source of good comedy.
Vacationland: True Stories from America‘s Painful Beaches – (October 24) After writing three books of false information, deranged millionaire John Hodgman is turning to truth with this memoir about growing up as an only child in Maine and also facing his forties and settling into being a weird dad. Hodgman is one of my favorite dudes whether he’s dispensing podcast justice, talking money with Jon Stewart, or doing strange theatrical standup. I love what he does and I’m really excited for some long form work.
Super Mario Odyssey – (October 27) Mario is back and his first adventure on the Switch brings him to the real world (or something similar). In an open-world environment, Mario leaves the Mushroom Kingdom and interacts with a version of New York City. It looks crazy and beautiful and unlike anything Nintendo has done with Mario before. After all these years, Mario has a near-perfect track record (putting aside cheapo spinoffs. We’re talking mainline Mario games and heck, let’s throw in the RPG stuff because those have been really fun) and switching up the formula has typically worked out pretty well. After they created the most expansive and impressive Zelda game earlier this year, Nintendo is poised to do the same with Mario and I can’t wait.
That’s October! See you in a month when I get to be excited about November stuff. Here’s a sneak preview…. Thor: Ragnarok.