Even though all the die-hard SkyeWard shippers are still reeling from the recent MayWard twist, and FitzSimmons shippers are still swooning over "F.Z.Z.T," brace yourself for yet another ship: Skimmons.
Yep, it's true: one Redditor asked Chloe Bennet the following question as part of her AMA (which was pretty hilarious, by the way): "What do you think of Skimmons?" Bennet's response? "I SHIP THAT S**T SO HARD." It took me a second to get on board – after all, Skye and Simmons tend to share little screen time, and they have even fewer one-on-one scenes.
But when you think about it … they have arguably more chemistry than any of the other ships; they have more chemistry than Skye and Ward, that's for sure. And their respective "bad girl"/"good girl" personas (exemplified by leather jackets vs. Peter Pan collars) make for some great comedy; they play off each other wonderfully. After all, it stands to reason that two characters who often serve as polar opposites would play off each other in a more interesting manner than two who are very similar. (I'm looking at you, strong, silent, and baggage-ridden Agents May and Ward.)
Skye and Simmons' joint espionage arc in "The Hub" was some of the funniest material on the show thus far: the scene where Skye talks Simmons (who's pretty dead-set against illegal activities: "I can't be a part of your bad girl shenanigans!") into helping her hack S.H.I.E.L.D's computer mainframe was wonderful. Oh, and Skye trying to talk ultra-awkward Simmons through smooth-talking thorny Agent Sitwell? Pure gold.
This kind of relationship; this kind of rapport and back-and-forth is the cornerstone of a classic Whedon show; for better or for worse, that famous witty banter helped make Buffy into the huge success it was. As the show continues to struggle to find its footing, Skimmons serves as a reminder for what the show should strive for: real, human interactions with a bit of sass thrown in for good measure.
ABC via Getty
Who is Maurissa Tancharoen? She's an executive producer (along with writing partner-cum-husband, Jed Whedon) on ABC's Avengers spin-off, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Long story short? She's awesome, and here's why:
5. She played Kilo, the spitfire active on Dollhouse. She only made a few brief cameo appearances, but they were all extremely memorable – in one episode, she tells off Fran Kranz's Topher Brink, saying, "How do you wanna straight up lie to my face, white boy? You told me you were takin' me on a treatment; I ain't got time for no nerd convention." She's got sass to spare, that's for sure.
4. In her youth, she was part of an early '90s multicultural girls' R&B group called "Pretty in Pink." Enough said.
3. If you like her music, you'll love her rendition of "Sigh No More" (music by Joss Whedon, lyrics by William Shakespeare) which she sings along with husband Jed Whedon in my favorite film of the year, Much Ado About Nothing.
2. She co-wrote and appeared in nerd masterpiece Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. She played a Captain Hammer groupie, with this memorable lyric about Penny, Captain Hammer's altruistic girlfriend: "they say she works with the homeless, and doesn't eat meat – we have a problem with her." Yeah, I'd have a problem with her, too.
1. As if being a co-creator of Dr. Horrible wasn't enough, she also wrote this awesome commentary on the lack of Asian roles in film and TV. "Nobody's Asian in the Movies" unpacks difficult (and oft-unspoken) issues of racism and tokenization. It's especially interesting when you look at Joss Whedon's not-so-stellar diversity track record – before Tancharoen came along, he produced 12 episodes of a series based largely off of Chinese culture without featuring even one Asian character. I love Firefly, but dude: not cool. In contrast to Firefly's issues (heresy, I know), it's nice to see Tancharoen ushering in Asian and Asian-American actors to primetime TV.
Twentieth Century Fox Television
Marvel magnate (and nerd king) Joss Whedon is known for his habit of reusing his favorite actors. With his popular new drama, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D lighting up primetime, we're looking forward to seeing some familiar faces. Firefly alum Ron Glass already made an appearance in the pilot; now who else?
A Whedon favorite if there ever was one. He played the ruggedly handsome Mal on Firefly and the also-ruggedly-handsome, but much-less-intelligent Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and the similarly dim-witted Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing. I'd love to see him put his stupid cap back on for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – maybe he could play an old flame of Agent May's? That's mostly because I want to see him and Ming-Na Wen sharing screentime.
And speaking of Firefly – come on, we already know that Gina Torres makes a literally kick-ass action hero from her stint as Zoë Washburne. She might not make the best field agent, because of some overlap with existing character, Agent May – both are utterly unshakable women-of-few-words that know to get things done. She would make an excellent villain, though: maybe she could be part of the mysterious Project Centipede.
Fran Kranz is probably best known for playing the socially-challenged super-genius Topher Brink on the short-lived Dollhouse, and he recently appeared in Whedon-helmed projects Cabin in the Woods, and Much Ado About Nothing. He was brilliant as the oft-unlikable Claudio in Much Ado, and his portrayal of consummate stoner Marty was downright awesome. He could fill pretty much any shoes on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (though unfortunately, the tech-speaking über-nerd role has already been doubly filled by Agent Fitz and Agent Simmons).
And while we're bringing back Fran Kranz, can we also invite Summer Glau to the party? Topher Brink and Bennett Halverson deserve a second chance at love.
She's a slamdunk for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, right? We've seen her as bad-ass (yet slightly evil) Faith on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and as equally bad-ass (and decidedly less evil) Echo on Dollhouse. Though, like Gina Torres, her Whedonverse characters share a lot in common with Skye – it's that quippy, devil-may-care attitude and awesome hair. Maybe she could play a double agent who befriends Skye then betrays her, thus double-agenting the (kind of) double agent!
Alan Tudyk – possibly one of the funniest people in the history of ever
Sarah Michelle Gellar, if she's not too busy on The Crazy Ones
Nicholas Brendon – where has he been??
Moneyball is a movie about baseball...but it's not a sports movie.
Grouping the latest film from star Brad Pitt with heartwarming Americana it-all-comes-down-to-the-big-game films doesn't quite make sense—no matter how much Pitt looks like Kevin Costner or Robert Redford. Moneyball is an underdog tale of a different kind one that questions the enchantment of the game rather than embraces it. While a film driven by sports statistics and business may sound drab Moneyball manages to discover its own unique sentimentality thanks to strong performances and a restrained style.
We pick up with Billy Beane (Pitt) GM for the Oakland A's after yet another disastrous season. Surrounded by aging scouts convinced of their ability to hone in on a player's intangible skills the keen manager grapples with the loss of his best players a recruiting budget dwarfed by his competitors and no solution in sight. After all baseball is a game of the coin—buy the talent buy the wins buy the championship. Wheeling and dealing across the country Beane realizes the A's need a new strategy or they'll be forever at the bottom. He finds that innovation in Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) a statistics wiz who introduces Beane to the baseball equivalent of counting cards: the theory of sabermetrics.
Thankfully watching and enjoying Moneyball doesn't require an extensive background in math as Beane allows the stuffy subdued Brand do the number-crunching. Much like writer Aaron Sorkin's Oscar-winning The Social Network the script (co-written with Schindler's List and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo writer Steve Zallian) pulls back the curtain on a complicated process but makes it easily digestible and more importantly emotional. Beane puts his job and reputation on the line for Brand's theory which boils down to the idea that all you need to win a baseball game is runs. Who needs star players when MLB rejects can make it to home base?
Pitt's depiction of the real life Beane isn't a showy star performance—but it's one of his best to date. The character is reserved and hushed; he explodes when the gravity of his situation hits a boiling point but quickly pulls himself back into professional mode. In order for Beane to enact Brand's plan he has to de-romanticize a game that means everything to him. Beane goes to great lengths to remind himself that baseball can't be fun—he doesn't watch the games he commands his team to hear the sorrow-filled silence of a loss and he emphasizes that no matter how many games he wins the only one that matters is the last. Beane keeps this light and cool with his co-workers but underneath—where Pitt shines—he struggles.
While Moneyball is Pitt's show his ensemble of co-stars deliver equally impressive work. Hill plays against type keeping his usual fast-talking humor in his back pocket and letting the larger-than-life Pitt properly wow him. Philip Seymour Hoffman appears briefly as the A's manager Art Howe who butts heads with Beane over the direction of the team. What could have been a surface-level villainous role is elevated by Hoffman who makes the old school way of thinking sound perfectly reasonable.
The film directed by the Oscar-nominated Bennett Miller (Capote) is slow and methodical paving the way for exhilarating moments between Pitt and Hill as they juggle phone calls fire off statistics educate their players and compile the misfit team. Miller intertwines flashbacks of Beane's early career and real life footage into the main narrative capitalizing on a variety of filmmaking techniques that organically stem from Beane's perspectives. This isn't squeaky clean Hollywood filmmaking but it's slick. Mychael Danna's score stands out as a thrilling companion to the visuals ethereal tunes that add a touch of humanity to a bookish drama.
Moneyball isn't this year's Field of Dreams or The Natural or Little Big League but it is great drama. Compelling and sweet the film takes a relatively unknown aspect of a well-known sport and turns it into something grand. Baseball's always made for a great life metaphor but Moneyball shows us one we've never seen before.
A truck carrying hazardous materials accidentally drops one of its containers into a small lake contaminating it and its delicate ecosystem. Trouble arises when the wacky town entomologist feeds his collection of exotic spiders contaminated crickets which act as a sort of spider "steroid." The result is a horde of giant hairy spiders that prey on the town's unsuspecting inhabitants. Sheriff Sam Parker (Kari Wuhrer) doesn't believe her son Mike (Scott Terra) when he tries to warn her about what's going on but blames his "media-induced paranoid delusional nightmare" on too much boob-tube watching. Then when mining engineer Chris McCormick's (David Arquette) aunt gets spun--literally--into one of the spider's webs he enlists the help of Sheriff Parker and paranoid radio announcer Harlan Griffin (Doug E. Doug) to fight off the eight-legged freaks. Armed only with rakes ski poles and chainsaws the townspeople fight off the spiders in a losing battle before Chris comes up with a master plan that will blow the arachnids to smithereens.
Prankster Arquette (See Spot Run) tones down his funnyman routine in Eight Legged Freaks and takes on the role of the humble hero. It's refreshing to see Arquette playing a more subdued character with less of a slapstick edge although I half expected him to start yelling at people to "dial straight down the center." As the sheriff Wuhrer (Berserker) plays her dual role well as a headstrong single mother of two and the town leader. Sure she looks a little too hot to be a chief law enforcement officer but maybe some sheriffs really do look like that in small-town America. While the laughs may not have been coming from Arquette there were enough to be had thanks to Doug whose most memorable role to date has to be Sanka Coffie from the 1993 comedy Cool Runnings. His radio announcer in this film believes the government is conspiratorial and that the spiders are the alien invasion he has been warning people about for decades. Doug delivers some of the movie's funniest lines.
New Zealander Ellory Elkayem (Larger Than Life) wrote and directed Eight Legged Freaks a sort of homage to mid-1950s B-movie sci-fi thrillers like Tarantula or Earth vs. the Spider. But while these cult films were funny merely by accident--Tarantula director Jack Arnold probably wasn't being intentionally campy--Eight Legged Freaks at times seems to try too hard. Packing in one joke after another takes away from the spiders' scariness making them seem more like a practical joke than a potentially annihilating threat. The special effects are extremely slick however and the spiders are well done with techniques approaching those in the 1997 sci-fi actioner Starship Troopers (but none of the gigantic CGI spiders are as scary as the real-life tarantulas caged up in terrariums at the start of the movie). Although at 99 minutes the film moves quickly the final scene in which the townspeople are being chased through a labyrinth of mining tunnels drags on a bit too long.