Top 10 Favorite TV Shows of 2015

Just like my Top 10 Movies post, I’m going to put together my Top 10 Favorite Television shows from 2015. If you have any interest in just seeing the listed shows without any reasoning then you can go read them on the TV Overmind Top 10 List; however, I will warn you that my choice for the top spot has changed since I had to submit that! This list will also include my honorable mentions, because there are plenty of shows that were hard for me to cut and I’d still like to discuss. That being said, these shows are all my personal taste, and there is plenty of TV that I sadly haven’t been able to get around to this year! Let’s get into it then…

Honorable Mention

Review:

Review is a show that I wish more people were watching on Comedy Central. It stars one of my favorite comedians Andy Daly and is a crazily goofy show that has him reviewing anything related to life no matter how good or bad it might turn out for him. Season one of Review was awesome, but I thought that Season two got a lot crazier and even darker at points with its stories. The show’s episodic plots were tons of fun and a lot more drawn out but the seasonal arc was also a great development for the show and some of its supporting characters. I’m really looking forward for the next set of scenarios Forrest Macneil gets into and hope that this show continues to rise in popularity!

You’re The Worst:

You’re the Worst was a show that I picked up this year before the second season started and really enjoyed what it gave us when kicking things off. There was a bunch that I liked about the show, but also felt that some characters and plot ideas were a bit of a stretch for my taste. However, the second season of You’re the Worst took things into a completely different direction that was just as funny but also much more dark for great reasons. The show analyzed the characters on a whole new level and was probably the best display of what it’s like to have and deal with depression that I’ve ever seen. I really praise this show for it’s subtle display of emotions and being unafraid to explore these types of topics, which has me loving it more and more.

Comedy Bang Bang: 

I picked up Comedy Bang Bang this year on a recommendation from my cousin. He got me into both the show and the podcast and I immediately fell in love with both. Comedy Bang Bang is probably the most clever and hilarious sketch comedy show I’ve ever seen and I love how it has continued to stay fresh each episode. There are tons of great celebrities and comedians who come onto this show as well as familiar faces always showing up to play fun characters. This year lots of people questioned how the show would work with the departure of long time co-host Reggie Watts and how his replacement, Kid Cudi, would do in the role. The show suffered no problems and continued to flow onward like normal, which shows that more people should be watching.

Mad Men:

Mad Men came to a close this year and tied up its story in the most perfect way possible. This show has had a tremendous run and has definitely had ups and downs along the way, but moved towards its finale in a really strong fashion. I loved the way this show sent Don Draper off and basically summed up his back and forth on the inability to be happy despite having everything a man could ever want. The finale itself was perfect and I loved the ambiguous ending that allows you to decide what you think happened based on what you thought about the character and what he deserved. Mad Men was an amazing time piece that had great acting and brought us something we’ve never seen on television before.

The Americans:

I picked up The Americans this year after making a deal with a friend to each watch a show of the other’s choosing. He chose that I had to finally check out The Americans so I binged all three seasons relatively quickly and definitely a big fan of the show now. What I love most about the Cold War show is the amount of tension it can build, the great characters it has established and the music choices during some crazy scenes. The only reason The Americans probably doesn’t make my actual list is because I haven’t gotten to experience it on live TV yet, so all of the weekly tension builders and cliffhangers haven’t had the chance to set in fully, but don’t be surprised to see it pop up next year!

The Top 10

Silicon Valley/ iZombie

10. Tie: Silicon Valley & iZombie

Silicon Valley: This has been one of the most fun HBO shows in awhile and is definitely a top comedy favorite of mine. It probably deserves a higher spot on this list, but regardless it’s going to get talked about. Since season one the show really was the anti- Entourage that adapted the idea of a bunch of guys trying to make it to the modern generation. Nowadays everything is focused on the tech scene and trying to develop the next big app, which this show highlights extremely well. From living in an incubator to dealing with big companies, Silicon Valley is a pretty honest interpretation of what goes on out in California and continues to get better as the guys keep attempting to make Pied Piper work. Each character brings their own type of comedy to the table and as a whole they are awesome to watch, which has me looking forward to this as much as shows like Game of Thrones.

iZombie: This show was easily the best surprise in 2015 form me. I had heard of the comic series but it was one of the few that I hadn’t ever looked into or read before, which was kind of nice for a change. The cast has amazing chemistry and the show is a nice alternative take on the episodic mystery genre. It has fun with itself and is another entity making zombies and the supernatural creatures cool again. What really draws me to iZombie is the long-term plot and how the growth or destruction of the zombie population will impact the regular world. iZombie does a great job with the character relationships, the romance as well as the comedy which makes it an awesomely complete show.

Marvel and Netflix's Daredevil

9. Marvel’s Daredevil

Daredevil kicked off Marvel’s Netflix shows and really paved the pathway for what is to come. The show was much more adult to the MCU’s big screen counterparts and gave us a much darker look into a different part of the Marvel Universe. Charlie Cox was a great choice for Matt Murdock and the supporting cast all really killed it with their roles. Vincent D’Onofrio was another standout as major classic villain, the Kingpin, who brought tons of complexity to a villain. The biggest thing that the MCU lacks is villains who are actual complete characters and people that we can connect with. This was a great origin story and they have tons more to explore, especially now that we’ve been introduced to all of these important characters.

Doctor Who

8. Doctor Who

Last season on Doctor Who I really fell in love with Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor but thought the storytelling was extremely week and put too much focus on Clara and her relationship. This season was a lot better and gave the Doctor great two-part stories to expand the character to new levels. The show’s penultimate episode after Clara’s departure was one of, if not, the best episode I’ve seen since it came back in 2005 and Capaldi by himself brought forth tons of different emotions. Honestly, it was decisions made in the finale that place this so low on my list, because I am one of the people who think the writer’s loved their Clara so much that they needed to focus on her yet again. When Clara caused her own downfall with the Raven I actually respected how they wrote her out of the show, but when the finale brought her back and then left open the loop hole for her to pop up in the future I was pretty disappointed.

Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot

7. Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot was an awesome new show that felt complete original and took a page out of Silicon Valley‘s book to talk about modern technological topics. The main character Elliot, is a really cool dark anti-hero that has unique views on the world which makes him a cool and interesting person. The show reminds me a lot of Breaking Bad with how thrilling it is and basically not knowing what’s going to come next. There are a ton of very tense moments and I love how high the stakes are going forward. The creator of Mr. Robot has stated that this first season was pretty much all intro and things are really going to break open moving forward, which has me extremely excited, especially with more and more great shows finishing up.

Parks-and-Recreation-Final-Season

6. Parks & Recreation

Parks & Rec has created such an amazing legacy and sadly it finished for good in 2015. The show, which had a first season we will pretend didn’t happen, turned out to be the perfect transition after The Office finished up. Parks & Rec gave us such phenomenal characters to grow attached to and wrote them near perfectly through all seven seasons. The last season handled things pretty amazingly by time jumping and providing a little more insight into the end-game for the characters, which I believe was a smart decision. The final season had tons of fun with itself and made sure to deliver another unique plot while also building to an emotionally satisfying ending. Parks & Rec season seven had even more great writing with tons of terrific jokes and ended on the perfect note.

Game of Thrones

5. Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones continues to get more and more interesting after every season. The program is moving forward with awesome stories and continues to build the characters well while also bringing new ones into the fold each season as well. The latest season of Game of Thrones gave us some pretty crazy scenes from things like the White Walkers and events on the Wall, incorporation of the dragons, and has most of the characters involved with unique story lines that are all fun to watch. The fifth season of this show continues to display how strong of a group works on it because the writing, acting, visual effects, and everyone involved continue to be fantastic.

Master of None

4. Master of None

I had high hopes for Master of None from the moment that I heard it was announced. When the show finally came out, I was pumped to check it out, especially seeing early bingers and reviews calling it the Louie for 20-30 year old people. I still think that is the best description because the show is simply about life and delivers powerful comedy, drama and romance throughout the ten episodes. The show gets into topics about gender differences, cultural and racial differences, as well as tons of relationship ideas that all feel relatable and realistic. Aziz Ansari has made all of the right choices for this show and found a way to bring back a normal version of Tom Haverford just as Parks & Rec finished up. Master of None has immediately become one of my favorite new shows and I’m hoping that it can continue to be as strong as its first season. Going forward, if they can create more episodes like “Nashville,” “Mornings,” and “Finale,” then I have no fear.

South Park

3. South Park

South Park has been such a long running TV show at this point that I am always excited and worried for it at the same time. It’s a show I can rely on and know it will always be hilarious, but worry at the idea that they have to find a new way to stay fresh and relevant. The 19th season took the show in a new direction where it finally used a serialized plot over the entire season. It brought tons of amazing new things like PC Principal, who is such a great addition to the show, as well as Caitlyn Jenner. While each individual episode still had its own story, Parker and Stone found a great way to attack the nation’s overly politically correct nature for what was a great arc. To me, this season of South Park just showed that the show can do whatever it wants because the creators are experienced and smart. I’m not sure what will happen for the show’s 20th season, but I think with the timing of the 2016 election they will continue to roll with the Garrison/Trump idea.

Fargo

2. Fargo

After its first extremely successful season, Fargo returned by taking us to a different time period with some new characters. The show continued to reveal why it’s one of television’s best by taking things to a whole new level of weird and random. I love what Fargo accomplished in its second season, especially for a cast I might have somewhat doubted before the show began. Each episode became more intense than the last and the story only got better and better as things progressed.

The Leftovers

1. The Leftovers

When most of the shows that I watch went on their winter hiatus or finished for the year, I finally decided to binge The Leftovers like I had been planning to. This show was one I knew I had to watch, so I decided to jump in and not stop until I was caught up. I loved everything the show did with its first season, but was completely blown away with what it followed that up with. I feel like the show took a really bold step forward by deciding to change things so much, but it paid off because of the conclusion that really tied everything together. “International Assassin” was my favorite individual episode of television for all of 2015 and the show’s finale, “I Live Here Now,” brought me to tears with how much heart and emotion it created. Justin Theroux continues to blow me away with his performances and the rest of the cast all do phenomenal jobs with their roles. I’m so happy that there will be one more season of this show, because it is masterful and I’m excited to explore this world a little further while tying up story lines for the characters.

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My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2015

2015 has been a pretty great year for movies that brought us a ton of great adaptations, revivals and sequels. While every year has its fair share of bad movies, 2015 was one filled with plenty of good to outweigh the bad. While there are tons of films I want to give recognition, the list only contains ten spots, and it’s been tiring to condense everything down and make these hard choices. Some movies on this list might not be critically acclaimed or Academy Award worthy, but that doesn’t matter. These are the motion pictures that gave me the most enjoyment while sitting in the theater during 2015. That said, let’s kick things off with my honorable mentions.

P.S.: I unfortunately haven’t seen The Hateful Eight yet… I’m planning on seeing it 1/2 or 1/3 but have been away and didn’t want to watch it on my computer for my first viewing. Might ninja edit it in later. 

Honorable Mentions

 Furious 7:

Furious 7 is the seventh installment to the Fast & Furious franchise that began back in 2001 as an action movie with cool cars that borrowed the plot outline of Point Break. The series dragged along with some mediocre movies, eventually dying after fan interest disappeared after the third movie Tokyo Drift. This series has always been a guilty pleasure for me; growing up Vin Diesel was the coolest guy around and I loved watching him be cool while driving fast cars. I was thrilled when the series picked back up and decided to have fun with itself, moving towards the direction of being filled with absurd action. Two years ago, the series’ second leading man (and Diesel’s real life best friend), Paul Walker, unexpectedly passed away leaving the future of the F&F franchise up in the air. Yet, Diesel and the crew moved on to complete what was one of the best Fast and Furious movies to date that included a beautiful and tear jerking sendoff for Paul Walker’s character, Brian O’Connor.

The Gift:

The Gift was a movie that I originally had no intention of seeing. I would catch the trailers on TV and almost laugh at how goofy the movie looked each time I saw Jason Bateman’s character say, “OH GOD!” However, The Gift turned out to be a classic case of terrible trailer – great movie, and it turned out to be one of my favorites in 2015. I’m a big fan of Jason Bateman and Joel Edgerton and was delighted to see them both in such a great serious thriller like this. The Gift was an awesome directorial debut for Edgerton who, along with Bateman, gave a great acting performance in what was my most surprising film of the year.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation:

The Mission Impossible franchise has never been a series that I’ve fully hopped on board as a fan of until more recently. i saw the first two movies when i was younger and thought that they were cool, but wasn’t blown away with them like others had been. M:I3 came out and I enjoyed it, but again, wasn’t as into it as others that I knew. Ghost Protocol came out and completely changed my mind about the movies. I wasn’t sure they could top what they had pulled off in the fourth installment, but, to my surprise, Rogue Nation pulled it off and delivered a movie of equal quality. The cast in the more recent Mission: Impossible movies has been the main draw for me and the addition of Rebecca Ferguson only made it stronger this time around. Hopefully Mission: Impossible can continue to be over the top action spy movies that are well made, because Rogue Nation showed that they know what they are doing and Ghost Protocol wasn’t an accident.

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl:

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl was a movie that I really had no expectations about going into the theater. I thought that it looked pretty cool but, again, didn’t know what to expect. What I was given was a super artsy, super emotional, awesome movie that even made me tear up by the time it was done. Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke really stood out in this movie and it really nailed high school stereotypes and what it’s like to feel out of the loop. Jon Bernthal, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, and Molly Shannon each brought some necessary experience to the cast in their supporting roles to really round things out and make this a complete film. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl had a bunch of heart and fun while delivering a very emotional finish in what was a great artistic movie.

What We Do In The Shadows:

What We Do In The Shadows was easily the most underrated comedy of 2015. I hadn’t heard about this film until my cousin recommended it to me and I immediately knew I would be on board. I’m a Flight of the Concords fan and love Jermaine Clement, who was hilarious in this movie. What We Do In The Shadows took a step into the supernatural genre that has been polluted by movies like Twilight and while the movie wasn’t scary, it at least made these types of characters fun again. The film was ridiculous and over the top but a clever comedy with a solid story. The last I heard, there is definitely a sequel in the works, which would be amazing.

Steve Jobs:

Steve Jobs was a movie that I had hoped would be good enough to possibly contend for best picture this year, especially with my favorite actor, Michael Fassbender, leading the way as Jobs himself. I really loved how Steve Jobs was structured and the entire film felt like a play with different acts rather than a flowing movie. We watch the genius become the genius as he goes through the different stages of business and life. Fassbender was absolutely phenomenal and I think he definitely deserves a nomination for Best Actor because he not only looked enough like older Jobs, he had the mannerisms, tone and demeanor of the man as well. This was definitely not a perfect movie and I know plenty of it was exaggerated or changed to be more appealing to an audience, but I loved how they displayed the character and it was just barely pushed off of my actual top 10 list.

The Top 10 

Spotlight-Sicario

10. Tie: Spotlight & Sicario:

I actually feel bad having to stick both of these movies in my number ten spot because they are easily deserving of a higher position, but I wanted to make sure they both got some recognition.

Spotlight:  Spotlight was a movie that I knew was getting a lot of critical acclaim, but I wondered how much I would personally like it. The cast was about as well rounded as I could have asked for but the topic seemed like it would be a lot of talking with a known outcome; however, I really loved this movie. I’m not really a religious person, and during the time in 2001 that the Spotlight team was breaking all of this I barely remember it happening. 9/11 really clogs my memory from the time, but there was always news popping up throughout the following years about church rape scandals. Spotlight does a great job of presenting a tough topic and showing how much it impacted people because it was the first time that people were willing to speak up about the truth that had been shoved under the rug until then. The one line in this movie that really stuck out to me the most was that, “this wasn’t just physical abuse, it was spiritual too.” It really bothered me to think that these priests knew they were taking advantage of people’s faith to do these horrible things. Spotlight was an amazingly put together film that shows some great traditional film making as well as good investigative journalism that seems to have disappeared in 2015.

Sicario: Sicario was something that I assumed I would love when I saw all of the pieces put together. You get an all-star cast that includes Josh Brolin, Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro as well as recent king of directing dark thrillers, Denis Villeneuve. I was most excited to see Villeneuve return after his other successful movies Prisoners and Enemy and he was able to outdo himself again. Sicario steps into an extremely dark part of the world that most people probably have no clue exists where the government is walking on the edge of their power and jurisdiction to control and influence the war on drugs. I absolutely loved the mysterious aspect that this film had by keeping viewers in the dark on the full scope of the plot. They attach us to Emily Blunt’s character because she is just as much in the dark as we are until we realize that she is being used for some morally questionable things. Everyone absolutely loved Benicio Del Toro, who plays the Sicario, Alejandro, who is just an absolute badass. Benicio really steals the show in Sicario and the film is an all around win that is dark, thrilling and crazy in the best ways.

Side note: There are rumors about a sequel to Sicario that focuses solely on Benicio’s character. I’m definitely interested in this, but don’t care whether it gets made or not, because the movie by itself was amazing and I almost don’t want to know more about these characters.

Inside-Out

9. Inside Out

Inside Out is another film that clearly doesn’t deserve this low of a position on my list, but here we are. You can always count on Disney Pixar to put out a good film that instantly has a chance to become a classic. Inside Out did exactly that. This movie found a way to connect with just about everyone, because it’s a universal experience to grow up. The clever way to analyze the mind of a child going through a series of big events in her life was phenomenal and each of the voice actors chosen for their roles were absolutely spot on. The biggest thing I took away from Inside Out is how well the movie communicated that it’s okay to address all of your feelings and there is never any reason to ignore or bury who you are. It was an original and creative adventure movie from Disney Pixar that is easily on par with the likes of Toy Story for this new generation of kids growing up. I loved this movie, and whether the studio decides to do sequels or not doesn’t really matter to me; however, I think that there are infinite possibilities they could take advantage of and really grow these characters through different stages of life in a similar way that Toy Story did.

Creed

8. Creed

Creed was a movie that I was initially skeptical about last year when I heard they wanted to move forward with the Rocky franchise at all. Being from Philadelphia and watching the original Rocky films with my father when I was growing up, they have a special place in my heart. While the back half of the series really dropped the ball and never lived up to the original two, they slightly brought things back to glory with 2006’s Rocky Balboa. I really enjoyed that film but never expected to see them continue things at all, and I really didn’t know what to think about Creed. Yet, as soon as I heard Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan were attached, I was on board and had faith it would, at the very least, be an acceptable installment that carried on the legacy of the Rocky films. This film completely exceeded all of my expectations and delivered a movie that had the most heart out of anything in 2015. Michael B. Jordan was phenomenal and Sylvester Stallone gave one of, if not, his best performance ever. Creed is an emotional underdog story that fully captures the heart and feeling that the original Rocky and continues the story and series in the best way possible.

7. The Martian

I was initially turned on to The Martian when my cousin recommended I read the book (yes, same cousin mentioned earlier). He brought up that it was being adapted into a movie, which I had heard about, but didn’t know it was such a recent book. Upon finishing the book I looked up the cast list and was in disbelief because I knew that they had perfectly cast each character for the film. Matt Damon was terrific in this role and had the perfect personality to deliver the smart but relaxed fun guy. In fact, I described Mark Watney as if Will from Good Will Hunting grew up. For being an isolation movie, this is one of the best, because the character is written so well that you can easily get behind him and his interesting quest for survival. The Martian really nails its adaptation and pretty much incorporates all but two or three major parts of the book but nails the tone enough to condense it down to a reasonable time amount. The Martian was an all around fun movie and each actor thrived in their role to deliver a great time in the theater with some laughs while a guy was stuck on Mars.

Ex Machina

6. Ex Machina

Ex Machina was another extremely underrated movie of the year. While What We Do In The Shadows flew under the radar as a comedy film, Ex Machina was one that is definitely Oscar worthy but won’t receive the full praise it deserves. This movie was able to create a completely original take on the dystopian sci-fi genre and there were only three characters the whole time. Domhnall Gleeson is 2015’s most underrated actor having been in some of the year’s best films and he delivered another great performance in this. I’m so happy to see him getting praise and slowly sliding into roles that will get him bigger notice. Domhnall is sort of in the position that Oscar Isaac has been the past couple of years, but now Isaac is a full blown movie star, having lead roles in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as playing Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse. Oscar Isaac is another main character in this movie and boy does he put on a show; his character, Nathan, is this interesting yet creepy guy who lives in isolation and you are worried could snap at any point. Isaac is one of my favorite actors and I love seeing how diverse he can be, his performance in Ex Machina shows another side of his wide acting ability and his coordinated dance scene (you know what I’m talking about) is possibly the best scene of 2015. Alicia Vikander also deserves a huge shout out for her role in Ex Machina because she has had a breakout year as well, and her portrayal of the A.I. character, Ava, was awesome.

Room

5. Room 

Room was easily the most fucked up movie I saw in 2015, but for all of the right reasons. This story was amazingly emotional and upsetting while also being beautiful at the same time. The films is about a girl who gets kidnapped and is raped and kept in captivity in a backyard shed where she raises her son under protective circumstances. The mother creates a whole creation story to explain everything in the “Room” and keep her son from wondering why he can’t go outside. The movie is horribly sad but wonderful at the same time because it displays how far a mother is willing to go in order to save her son. There were extreme high tension moments in this movie and I didn’t know what would happen next. During the climactic scene I even found myself holding my breath in the theater, ready to break down because I wanted these two characters to break free and survive. Brie Larson gives a wonderful performance of someone who has borderline given up all hope in life yet still has something to live for in her son. On top of this, Jacob Tremblay gives an amazing performance for only being nine years old and I wouldn’t be shocked or disappointed if he received a supporting actor nomination at the Academy Awards this year.

Mad Max: Fury Road

4. Mad Max: Fury Road

I’ve seen all of the old Mad Max films and while I liked them, I was never as huge a fan as others are, but I was pretty excited to see that they would be bringing the series back with George Miller intact. I loved the choice of Tom Hardy for Max, and was happy with the way he presented the role. It’s funny, because Hardy does a lot of grunting and this is one of the few roles where that is fully acceptable. The first thing that immediately stood out to me in Fury Road was the scenery and the world that they were able to create and immerse us in. Everything looked stunning and when I saw the movie for a second time in IMAX 3D it added even more depth to the beautiful sequences. The big wide landscapes were breathtaking and I just loved all of the different color palettes this movie brought out. The second thing was Charlize Theron’s performance as Furiousa, which I believe was one of the best female lead roles in all of 2015. Otherwise, the film delivered a ton of great themes that felt extremely real for an end of the world scenario where things like bullets, fuel and water are the biggest and most important forms of currency. I haven’t even talked about the religious themes or the character of Nux, which is a whole other fantastic part of the film. I’m curious to see if Mad Max: Fury Road will receive any praise from the Academy, but I would hope it can at least qualify for a couple of nominations, even one for Theron would be amazing.

The End of the Tour

3. The End of the Tour

The End of the Tour is a movie I was extremely excited to see and pretty intrigued about. I really discovered David Foster Wallace during 2014 through a friend during our final year of college. I was blown away by the complexity of a single man and was pumped to see how they could bring him to the big screen. Jason Segel was really phenomenal in this role and seems to have nailed the demeanor and tone of Foster Wallace down to the mannerisms. His interaction with Jesse Eisenberg was awesome and the two worked really well together on screen. The End of the Tour was a really interesting look at life and how unique people can truly be, especially writers. David Foster Wallace was a super interesting guy and it’s sad that the world lost him so young, but the ideas he expressed through his writing were pretty great and I loved that this movie helped raise awareness about who Wallace was.

Brooklyn

2. Brooklyn

I had been excited to go check out Brooklyn when I saw the cast and the trailer, which seemed super interesting and romantic at the same time. Saoirsie Ronan was great as the lead and I was thrilled to see her in such an amazing role that will get her tons of notification. Brooklyn is a love story in multiple aspects because not only does it deliver the growth of a strong relationship but it also is a love story between a girl and the places that she calls home. Eilis has the chance to immigrate to America and leaves her entire family and life behind to make something of her life, which is not an easy task for anyone, even now with all of the technology and ways we still have to stay connected. Yet, she goes and eventually falls in love with a young Italian boy named Tony. Emory Cohen, an actor I was not familiar with before this movie, really stood out to me and delivered a great performance as Tony. The chemistry he had with Ronan was great and I really bought into their romance during the entire film. When Eilis has to return home for a month or two for unfortunate reasons, she begins to fall back in love with the place she grew up and even has a young Irish man, Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson), who takes an interest in her. It seems like Eilis could have just as good of a life back in Ireland, which causes tons of conflict in her. The movie really shows off the beauty of both countries with some fantastic shots of Ireland and creative ways to make city life in Brooklyn look wonderful as well. All of the acting was amazing from Ronan, Cohen, and, once again, Gleeson. Brooklyn really put an emotional toll on me, because if you are in a serious relationship or have a spouse (like I am), you know how much they mean to you, and really being in love with someone can become more important than anything else in the world, and sometimes that might require the sacrifice of other important things, which comes down to making the decision of whether or not it’s truly worth it.

The Force Awakens

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This probably doesn’t come as any surprise, but yes, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is my favorite film of 2015. Like most people, it’s mind-blowing to me that we actually got a seventh installment to the Star Wars franchise. This was something I’ve dreamed about for years and it was near perfect. While the film definitely suffers from some plot flaws and can get away with other plot points knowing there will be two sequels, it easily gets 95% correct in this movie. Not only did it include four upcoming actors I’ve been a huge fan of four the past five years (John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson) but it took an unknown in Daisy Ridley and showed off how great of an actress she is. Star Wars did a great job in paying homage to the original trilogy while being it’s own entity and a new chapter in this series. J.J. Abrams did a great job bringing Star Wars back to the big screen and I love that he didn’t go overboard with the motion capture or go completely off the path. The movie had an insane amount of heart and made each person an actual character, even the villain, Kylo Ren. I could talk about this movie all day long, but all I have to say is go see it if you already haven’t.

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Game of Thrones Season 6 Teaser Trailer Review

Wow, well, I never expected to get any Game of Thrones related content until next year, but this is a brilliant surprise! I pretty much always feel a pain when the show finishes and goes off the air knowing I have to wait a long time to see it again, but stuff like this gets me extremely hyped for what’s coming.

Game of Thrones has been an amazing adaptation of the books, and even for readers, we are entering into unknown places as the show is slowly beginning to move past where George R.R. Martin has written to.

The teaser is relatively short, but we get two voices talking:

Bloodraven (Max Von Sydow) and an older sounding Bran.

Holy crap.

Not only does the teaser give us a quick montage of clips from the show’s past, but it teases us to our faces that “we have no idea what’s going to happen.” This is extremely exciting because I feel like Game of Thrones is just getting into what will be some of the story’s most epic moments.

Lots of the clips showed the Stark family members, which really has me feeling like this is the breaking point for the family to rise back up again, each in their own individual ways. Bran has been a very mysterious character in the books, and his journey gets more interesting each step of the way, and I am one of the believers that he will easily end up being one of, if not, the most powerful characters by the time everything is finished (dragon warging am I right?!).

I’m extremely excited to see Max Von Sydow in the Bloodraven roll, because he seems like a perfect choice for it and his voice gives me chills in this teaser. I can’t wait to see what happens with Bran, Jon and the entire Stark gang because they all have chances to move back into power. The teaser shows Jon being stabbed followed up by Bran warging, which might imply that a more similar path from the books will help save Jon thanks to his magical abilities.

I also am most excited to explore the White Walkers and the Night’s King. There are the clips of him with the baby, which implies we will be getting more of that. The White Walkers are one of the most interesting aspects of Game of Thrones and it will be interesting to see how far things go with them, because we clearly are in the dark on that one.

The teaser is just a bunch of clips from the past seasons, but it’s still extremely exciting! I don’t care about the holidays, the new year, or even my birthday in March.

Give me April. I need April.

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Reflections on Quas

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Team Liquid recently announced that their top laner Diego ‘Quas’ Ruiz was temporarily suspended from the team for undisclosed reasons. It was sad news to hit the League community because Ruiz has been a dominant player in his position during his time with Team Curse/Liquid.

I only just began watching and following the NA and EU pro League scenes during the 2014 Summer Split, so for me, Quas has been a staple feature in the top lane. While I was never a Team Curse or Liquid fan, there was no denynig that this guy was a beast at what he did and helped carry his team plenty of times.

Despite Team Liquid announcing that Ruiz was only suspended temporarily, the top laner’s own statement sounded like he might be departing from the team for good, which had me confused. Unfortunately, the suspicion was correct, and today Ruiz announced that he has decided to retire from Team Liquid and the pro gaming scene.

The scene will definitely miss Ruiz, but he stated in his TwitLonger post that he has been suffering from depression and anxiety growing up and gaming was one of the few things to help him get through it all. Depression is really no joke, and it’s sad to see someone so impacted by it.

Quas was someone who had a diverse champ pool and could pretty much do it all; tanks, damage carries, assassins, mages, you name it. It will be interesting to discover who Liquid replaces him with, because he’s been a staple part of their team.

It’s good that he’s going to pursue his other passions, especially if gaming doesn’t help or fulfill him like it once used to. Everyone is going to miss him, and if you don’t think you will, here are some reminders…

Thanks for the great play Quas, you made top lane extremely appealing for someone just getting into the game.

Got any theories or ideas about who might replace Quas for Liquid’s top lane? Let me know!

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Pros and Cons to the Batman v. Superman Trailer

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Last night the full length Batman v. Superman trailer was released during Jimmy Kimmel Live! When I initially discovered that this would be the followup to MoS, I was pretty pumped that we were going to get Batman back in the DCMU so quickly. Although I’m not the hugest Zack Snyder fan, I do like a lot of his work; Watchmen was amazing and even 300 was super cool. Yet, his take on Superman was definitely different from what we’ve seen before.

I’ve loved the dark tone that is being established for this universe because it worked for the Nolan Batman trilogy and brings a unique style to these classic heroes and their stories. Henry Cavill is a pretty solid Superman in my opinion (although I’m not the biggest expert on the character) and I have enjoyed his performance so far. I was on board with Battfleck from the moment it happened, and have really only questioned the Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor decision although I can understand what they saw in him (see Social Network).

When the San Diego Comic-Con trailer was released, I was actually more on board for BvS than I ever had been. It was just like seeing the first clips for The Avengers where I was just mind blown to see these characters on the big screen together. I loved everything it had set up and actually thought the movie looked pretty badass; however, last night’s full trailer was a huge let down to me, and it seemed like the bad outweighed the good.

The Pros:

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  • The DC holy Trinity: Holy crap! We got to see the DC Holy Trinity lined up on screen. That was pretty amazing. It was a comic nerd’s dream in the same way we saw The Avengers together in one place. I love this, they looked so good, and it’s not even the full Justice League!

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  • The Clark vs. Bruce Dynamic: I loved that the trailer opened up with Clark and Bruce meeting. This was awesome and their interaction was perfect. Bruce’s brooding criticism of how the Daily Planet writes puff pieces praising an alien yet calls Batman a vigilante. The movie is Batman vs. Superman, so I’m pumped to see these two constantly interacting and how their relationship develops.

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  • The Dark Tone & Setting: The one thing I loved about MoS was its dark tone and setting. Although a very nontraditional looking Superman and setting, the DCMU is really diversifying itself with a gritty more realistic feeling take on superheroes. While there was too much destruction in MoS, I definitely didn’t mind the tone it created. I love the look that BvS is establishing so far and am excited to see this world expanded.

The Cons:

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  • Alexander Luthor Jr.: We heard that Jesse Eisenberg was cast as Lex Luthor, or, apparently, Alexander Luthor Jr.. While I’m glad to hear that he isn’t his father, the portrayal of the character has me scratching my head a bit. As many have already stated, the trailer makes him feel like the Joker and he’s a little too quirky for my taste. The trailer reveals that he seems to be the one pushing Batman and Superman to fight one another, but we’ll see his full plan in the movie. What really bothered me about Eisenberg was that we saw too much of him. I would have loved to have seen the quick clip of his excitement that Clark and Bruce have met and how he loves bringing people together, but cut it there. I know and believe that Eisenberg can pull off the dark brooding evil moments like in the Social Network, but this trailer was definitely not what I had been expecting from the character.

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  • The Doomsday Reveal: Along the same lines as seeing the holy trinity together on screen, seeing Doomsday was amazing. Seriously, it’s crazy to think this character is going to come to life before our eyes; however, I’m disappointed they revealed it now. We were under the impression that Luthor was the main villain and from previous clips knew he recovered Zod’s body, but just gives us the Doomsday roar and leave the mystery for the actual film. The character felt a little more CGI that I would have liked, but he still looked cool nonetheless. I’m just disappointed that they showed him because it would have been a phenomenal reveal that I would geek out on in the theater.
  • It’s a Long Revealing Trailer: The movie trailer standard has turned into releasing long theatrical mini-movies that usually reveal too much. The Batman V. Superman trailer does exactly that, and is what really put a sour taste in my mouth when it was all said and done.  The editing was off and chose to display a long string of moments that sort of spell out the plot of the movie. The theme of this is Batman and Superman seeing each other as threats only to realize that they are better off working together because they believe in the same cause. This trailer sort of kills that whole idea. As I said before, I loved seeing the holy trinity on screen, but I think it would have been smarter to just keep Doomsday out and show Wonder Woman drop in. In my opinion, that would make the comedic line, “I thought she was with you,” land better because it doesn’t disrupt the tension that the Batman & Superman vs. Doomsday establishes. I really loved the teaser and the SDCC trailer, but felt like this was too much.

 

I really want this movie to be good. I don’t see anything as a competition between Marvel and DC, because both are so amazing in their own right. The DCMU is definitely diversifying itself with a darker more realistic tone, and I’m hoping it can accomplish that look and feel within all of the characters. I almost wish I hadn’t seen this trailer because I loved the idea that anything was possible in this movie, and no matter what, it would be about the entire dynamic between the Batman/Superman relationship. It would have been nice for them to not give us a skeleton of the plot and save all of the fun stuff like Doomsday and Wonder Woman for the actual movie. The scenes look pretty cool, but this was just a classic case of a trailer that is too long and revealing.

What did you think of the trailer? Let me know!!

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First Trailer for Creed

The first trailer for the upcoming continuation of the Rocky series, titled Creed, has released its first trailer. Creed will focus on a new fighter named Adonis Johnson, who his the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s old friend and competitor.

The movie stars Michael B. Jordan as Adonis and he eventually turns to Philly’s greatest fighter to train him when he most needs it. The movie is directed and written by Ryan Coogler, who was the man behind Fruitvale Station where he originally worked with Jordan.

I’m a big fan of Jordan as an actor, and I really want to like this movie. I enjoy the old Rocky movies and think that this is definitely a solid concept to include in the overall franchise. Although I believe the trailer is trying a little hard, I’m definitely going to give this movie a shot, especially with Coogler handling things.

Creed is set for a November 25th release. Between this and Fantastic Four, Jordan could have a pretty good acting year.

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The Disappointment that has Become SK Gaming

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Back during the S4 Summer Split was when I first got into the League of Legends pro scene. I wanted to better myself at the game and was amazed by how professional and big of a following there was for League. At first, I did some research and just tried to find out which teams my favorite streamers were a part of. For the NA scene, I latched onto CLG because I first played support and had grown with Aphromoo; however, watching the two days of NA games each week wasn’t enough… I was hooked, I needed more.

This caused me to turn to the EU scene and add an additional two days of watching that extended my days with League on to four. It was awesome. I remember watching my first two days of EU not knowing anything about the teams, but I was ready to explore the scene. After my first two days of watching, I immediately fell in love with SK Gaming. I remember being amazed at some of the plays made by their jungler, Svenskeren, which is really what attracted me to the team. That pretty much decided it; I was prepared to support CLG and SK Gaming as the split moved forward.

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At the time, the SK Gaming roster consisted of Jesiz in the mid lane, Fredy in the top lane, Sven in the jungle, and the bot lane duo of Candy Panda and NRated. It was clear that Svenskeren and Fredy were the immediate standouts on the team, and I loved their play-making ability and dominance. I didn’t mind Jesiz, but it was definitely clear that he could not be a carry laner and had a limited champ pool. Being unfamiliar with the scene, players in the Challenger Series, or what a real dominant mid laner could do, I didn’t mind Jesiz at first and was willing to give him a chance because he was new. Then there was the bot lane… I was never against Candy Panda and NRated, but I believed that they were easily the weakest link on the team, and really just never felt like they were pulling through for the team.

SK made it to Worlds that split, and after the Svenskeren debacle, fans of SK and supporters of EU never got an honest showing from the team until their final game when Sven returned. As disappointing as this was, I wasn’t too upset because I was new to it all. During the long off-season, SK made a decent amount of moves; they dumped Jesiz, dropped Candy Panda and brought on a new coach. This thrilled me because I felt as though they were directly addressing the teams biggest needs and were willing to do what it takes to be the best and return to Worlds.

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This new era of SK Gaming, which starts in this year’s S5 Spring Split, featured the relatively unknown newcomer, Fox, in the mid-lane, as well as the much hyped Forg1ven in the ADC role. With the upgraded role of coaches, SK had InnerFlame helping the team with their picks and bans on stage for the split. After reading up on all of the hype about Forg1ven, I was pretty confident in SK coming into the Spring Split and was excited for this new roster. While Fox seemed relatively unknown, I trusted the decisions made.

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As the split began and progressed, SK was dominating, and the team seemed to be in a very good place. Forg1ven was a farming master and seemed to be playing very smart by making an impact in every little place he could. Fox took a little longer to come out of his shell, but when he showed up, it was awesome, because he revealed that he could easily carry as well. SK really seemed to be on top of the world; not only were their newcomers putting on a show, but Fredy seemed to be playing at the complete top of his game with Sven coming through like always. While the team dynamic seemed confident on the surface, it turned out behind the scenes there were some problems.

After some hiccups towards the end of the season and a disappointing showing in the playoffs with a surprising loss to H2K, SK had crumbled on par or worse than CLG. I was really let down as a fan because I thought this was the year for them to establish dominance moving forward. As the season closed out, the news reports began to come out and reveal that the team chemistry wasn’t working out; Forg1ven was unhappy with NRated as a support and wanted him replaced for someone younger and fresher, possibly with a deeper desire to win at all costs.

In the end, it left the organization with the ultimatum decision of Forg1ven or Nrated.  It’s a tough position to be in, because choosing one could easily ruin the entire team dynamic or player’s feelings, it happens all the time in all sports. After discussion with the individual players, management decided to choose loyalty over business, which is the biggest problem I have with the LCS at this point. The team opted to drop Forg1ven and keep NRated due to his history with the team and long time friendship with guys like Fredy and Sven.

As a result of this decision, InnerFlame departed soon after because he saw the team moving into a new era that centered itself around these new, carrying players. I thought that he was correct in realizing the opportunity that SK had right in front of them, and never blamed him for leaving. As the Summer Split approached, SK decided to bring back friend of the organization, Candy Panda, to work with his former support and hopefully give SK the same roster that allowed them to make Worlds with an improved mid laner.

As the Summer Split began, I had a bad feeling that SK would flop and not return to their status in the top three of the EU LCS because of their changes. Through five weeks, it has been a huge struggle, and the team currently sits in a tie for last place with a 2-7 record as they head into the second day of Week 5. While there are sometimes glimpses of completeness and a return to their former dominance, the team somehow discovers a way to drop the ball, which clearly happened in their game yesterday versus Elements.

The game versus Elements was completely controlled by SK; Fredy was confidently playing Shen top lane, they were winning team fights, they had control… but could never close it out. The team seems to have no dominant shot caller and there is no more Forg1ven to either be split pushing or contributing to team fights. It was a mess, and a complete throw as they lost in an extremely long 55 minute or so game.

It really pushed my frustrations over the edge.

You would think that if a team had a superstar talent (Forg1ven), they would want to build around him for the greatest chance at success. If Lebron James tells the Cleveland Cavaliers’ management he doesn’t want this player on the team because they can upgrade to someone with better skill, they aren’t going to say, “sorry Lebron, but player X has been here for awhile now and we are loyal to him, so you can take a walk.” No. These organizations will do whatever it takes to win.

This really struck a sour note with me, because I think throughout all of the NA and EU scene, the biggest problem with organizations is that they are still too young and too close to the players to make good business decisions. While the League of Legends scene is still very young as a whole and learning as it goes, I think organizations are too close to their players to make honest and adequate business decisions. It’s tough right now, because these coaches and managers are all around the same age as their players, and have emotional friendships with them. The scene hasn’t existed for long enough to have established and experienced coaches who were former players.

When you look at some of the top coaches, like Delior for Fnatic, they are older and have experience in another type of strategic game, poker. Fnatic seems to trust and listen to their coach; he understands they are better at the game, but he has great macro strategic knowledge. Whereas as teams like Dignitas and CLG took a chance hiring Scarra as their coach, who is now back competing, young, and good friends with most players.

I think SK falls into the Dignitas/CLG side of that comparison and missed the opportunity to really build their team for the future. I’ve come to fall in love with Reginald from a business perspective, because he founded TSM, realized when younger talent surpassed his skills, and was able to confidently step down so he didn’t selfishly jeopardize the team’s future. It was his team, so he still had ultimate control, but he turned into one of, if not, the best manager in the scene. The reason TSM stays dominant is because they function like a true sports team; if something isn’t working as well as it should, they will replace the player or at the very least, hold a tryout with hopes that it can re-motivate the veteran.

When Xpecial no longer fit in with the overall team chemistry, they replaced him with Gleeb. When Gleeb suffered from lack of experience and personal illness, they replaced him with superstar Lustboy. After their poor showing at MSI, Reginald recognized that their weak points came from long time members Dyrus and WildTurtle. Dyrus became motivated and put in the dedication to show he was still relevant while the team currently finds themselves holding an in house tryout with Keith to possibly replace WildTurtle.

These aren’t easy decisions, and if you watch the amazingly professional and informative videos that TSM releases, Regi doesn’t find pleasure in having to possibly get rid of a longtime friend and player who has done so much for the team; however, he recognizes that business is business, and if something isn’t working, you can’t feel bad and dwell on it for too long or else the team and organization as a whole will be hurt by it.

I understand and respect loyalty and friendship; they are two qualities I love about people, but when it comes to sports and business, those can only exist to an extent. Being a CLG fan, I know everything about “hype,” around a roster, but I always felt that HotShots closeness to his players held the team back. Yet, he seems to get it now. The team dropped Scarra for a more analytical approach with their coaching and replaced longtime mid laner, Link, who many believed was no longer dedicated or focused on the game.

While only time will tell with CLG, it’s sad to see my favorite EU team fall victim to this process. While Forg1ven isn’t finding anymore success with Gambit than SK is this split, at least their team was immediately ready to add the ADC and drop P1noy. There are only nine games left in the Summer Split, which means if SK somehow found a second half surge and won all of them, they would be able to achieve an 11-7 record which would probably land them in the playoffs and the top half of the standings. We know that won’t happen. Realistically, the team will hopefully find their chemistry and at least avoid having to play for relegation.

While SK will always have a place in my heart, I have been following Origen since Xpeke initially revealed his new organization. When Origen announced their roster, I hopped on board and routed for them from the beginning. Although I’ve been more interested in Origen this split, I still pull for SK just as much. Hopefully this will be a wake up call for everyone and the organization can figure things out in the off season. Personally, I think they need a better bot lane, but I’m no expert; but it’s clear something needs to change. There’s definitely a chance SK has to play for it’s spot in the EU LCS, which might help management realize changes need to happen like with CLG.

I won’t stop supporting SK for now, because as I mentioned earlier, I value loyalty; but my interest is definitely waning due to how their management seems to be run, and sooner than later, I don’t know if I will be a fan anymore.

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Draft Day Possibilities for the Sixers

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The NBA draft is only a couple of hours away, and things are getting extremely interested at this point. While everyone is aware that teams are throwing up smokescreens and false rumors left and right, there is still plenty of realness coming out of the news that should raise some concerns. Being a Sixers fan, the rumor mill is stressful because of our magician GM, Sam Hinkie. Hinkie is amazing, and I love everything that he’s done to this point, but he is definitely a mastermind of playing the game.

While I’m not too worried about what the Sixers will do with their third pick tonight, I’m nervous about the way the first two picks will play out, and I honestly think it could really screw up the straightforward pick for the Sixers. It seems like the majority of the fan base is hoping to see the former Buckeye, D’Angelo Russell hold up a 76ers jersey tonight, which would be my preference as well; however, I’m growing more and more convinced that someone will nab him at #2.

Let me make it clear, I would be perfectly fine if the Sixers ended up with Jahlil Okafor, but I would hope that Hinkie could work more magic and package Embiid and our slew of picks to someone for another solid first round selection. Ideally, this would be to somehow grab Emmanuel Mudiay and fill in our guard role.

Although it has seemed like the two first picks would more than likely be Duke’s Jahlil Okafor or Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns, leaving Russell safely available for the Sixers, things are beginning to heat up and speculation is moving towards Russell coming off the board at #2. While I would normally be one to brush off the rumors and sit back knowing there is no true way to predict what will happen tonight, I’m beginning to get this bad feeling in my stomach.

Scenario #1

The most recent news has been that the Lakers are trying to acquire a big man through trade or free agency. They have apparently been pursuing a trade for DeMarcus Cousins, but the Kings have a high asking price that includes the #2 pick. The current asking price for Cousins seems to be the second overall pick, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. Whether this deal goes down or not, I don’t see the Lakers giving up their pick without acquiring the Kings’ first round #6 selection as well.

Were this to happen, it would probably point towards the Kings wanting to take Russell at #2 while having another young first round talent in power forward Julius Randle to be paired with the guard and usher in a new era for the Kings with promising young players.

This would leave the Lakers with one of the league’s best big men in Cousins as well as the ability to nab the other top guard prospect, Emmanuel Mudiay, in the #6 slot while the Sixers are awkwardly left with three big men and no guard.

Scenario #2

The other possibility is the Lakers just take Russell at their current draft spot. The other reports that have been coming out is the Lakers are also very interested in acquiring LaMarcus Aldridge if he chooses to depart from Portland. This is much more of a gamble because Aldridge is not completely committed to leaving the Trail Blazers yet and other teams would also be in hot pursuit.

San Antonio is apparently still his personal number one destination choice.

Should the Lakers be so confident that drafting Russell would boost their appeal to Aldridge, it could easily be grounds for them to draft Kobe’s replacement at #2. I’m sure that they believe these pieces could land them in the playoffs for one or two more championship runs before his retirement.

So what about the Sixers?

So where does this leave the Sixers when all is said and done? As I mentioned before, I think it’s a no-brainer that they take Okafor if Russell disappears. While this would leave the team with three big men and some decisions to make, Okafor offers you younger, healthier, more proven talent. The college standout is praised for his post movements with people claiming he has immense talent for the role.

Yes, Embiid was the correct pick last year because the prospects after him just didn’t seem worth it. I was totally down with taking the risk and seeing if it plays out and lands the Sixers with “the next Hakeem Olajuwon,” but it has definitely been horrible to hear that his progress towards a return has been delayed even longer.

I think it’s clear that the Sixers only have two moves should Russell go at #2. They either stick with what they have in Noel and Embiid and draft the second top guard prospect, Mudiay. Or they take the big hyped center in Okafor and try to move either Embiid or Noel for a player or future pick(s).

The safe play is to take Mudiay. You fill the top need on your team and acquire a guard that has tons of positive reviews so far. I would be fine with this, but I don’t know a whole lot about Mudiay and would easily admit that it would feel like a consolation prize after losing out on Russell who is apparently the whole package. Mudiay apparently has great ball handling skills combined with speed at an appealing height of 6’5″, but lacks a jump shot. After dealing with Michael-Carter Williams, another player that couldn’t shoot, Mudiay seems like a consolation prize compared to Russell, who has great shooting and passing abilities as well as an ability to find the lane.

It would feel like a consolation prize that I wasn’t entirely sold on.

The other option is Okafor. While there would be complaints about drafting big men three years in a row with another year of possible tanking ahead, the pick would at least guarantee the Sixers a healthy proven pair of big men when sticking him on the floor with Noel. This would also mean Embiid would become a solid trade piece.

The one thing I hope doesn’t happen is the Sixers taking Kristaps Porzingis. While I think this is nothing more than a smokescreen to put pressure on the Magic, it’s the least favorite speculation I have heard. I don’t think there is any chance the Sixers grab Porzingis with Mudiay or Okafor still on the board, but you never know.

Who do they take?

After doing some research and discussing the draft with friends who know more about it than I do, it seems like with Russell gone Mudiay would be the pick. He has huge hype, lots of superstar potential, and would fill their big need of a guard. The organization apparently likes him a lot, and I think it would create the least amount of backlash with the local press and fans.

Yes, I said Mudiay would, to me, feel like a consolation prize; however, that would fade quickly because I understand there would be nothing else I can do aside from be excited to see what he can do when the season rolls around. The Sixers need a guard, and although there is still tons of worry around the Embiid situation, drafting Mudiay would safely fill a need with a good prospect rather than complicate our big man situation and leave us fans wondering if we have to watch another season of full on tanking.

In the end, I have absolutely no idea what will happen (obviously). I think the Sixers will definitely end up with one of the two guards mentioned and everything else stays the same with little to no panic moving forward. There’s definitely a chance they take Okafor if they believe he brings more value to the table, and although it would definitely be more worrisome, I’m okay with that pick as well.

No matter what, it seems like this draft will leave us with one, if not more, talented players moving forward.  There is roughly seven hours or so until the draft begins on ESPN tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern time, and who knows what news stories will come out.

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Ballers S01E01 Review: “Pilot”

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Episode 1: “Pilot”

Grade: B

As the season of Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley disappears, HBO looks to its second round of Summer shows to keep viewers tuning in. While there is much excitement surrounding the sophomore season of last year’s hit, True Detective, HBO is also bringing us a new show titled Ballers that stars The Rock and Rob Corddry. Ballers focuses on recently retired “golden boy” Spencer Strassmore (The Rock) who seems to have retired early from what was a successful career and has moved into the financial management business. I’ve been pretty excited to check out Ballers ever since I initially saw the previews for it because it seemed fun and similar enough to a sports version of Entourage. I really enjoy The Rock as an actor and think he is good enough to carry a show like this. He and Corddry seem like an odd couple that weirdly work on screen and I could easily see them having great chemistry. Ballers premiered on HBO last night, and while it was different from what I was expecting, I definitely enjoyed the episode and thought the show offered a lot looking forward.

The episode opens with Strassmore painfully getting out of bed and immediately popping some pills. He struggles with flashbacks to his pro days where it seems like he hit a quarterback so hard it ended the guy’s career and possibly left him with a serious injury. Although the show only provides a quick glance at this, I really thought it was a unique way to open the show because it immediately provides more depth to what could be a shallow surface character. In the previews it seemed that Ballers would be very similar to Entourage and toss us into the life of a glorified person who is “living the life” and always has fun, but I couldn’t be more wrong.

While the show does have that Entourage vibe, it’s not all glitz and glamour for this character. He was only hired by Corddry’s Joe due to his connections with professional players, and we discover it’s been a year since Strassmore started as a financial manager but has yet to monetize anything and could be let go soon unless he makes something happen. I really like the idea that the character is going to have to earn his success once again after being a football star, and that’s what makes shows so rewarding, when we can latch onto a character and watch them earn their success.

Strassmore’s two best friends are also retired football player, Charles Greane (Omar Benson Miller), who wasn’t as big of a star and is struggling to find work, and eight year veteran slot receiver Ricky Jerret (John David Washington), who has a short temper and ends up on the wrong side of a scandal that leads to him being cut from the Green Bay Packers. The three characters round everything out pretty nicely with a player still in the league, a retiree on the brink of success, and another retiree showing the reality of not being a star.

This pilot episode of Ballers is definitely all set up, but that’s okay. Every show needs to establish itself to the viewers and create the foundation of everything to come. While I was happy with The Rock’s performance, I was surprised to see Corddry with barely any screen time in this first episode; however, I’m glad that these two will begin with a business relationship that grows into friendship. I hope that with Strassmore beginning to cash in on his friendships, Corddry becomes a more active player in the next episode and moving forward, because it would be a shame to have the first season go by with him underutilized.

Overall, Ballers isn’t exactly what I was expecting, but that’s funnily a good thing. I thought the show would be stupid fun, comedic, and relaxed, but it looks like we are going to have to wait and earn that part of the show. There is an uphill climb ahead for Strassmore and he is learning to transition from a professional player to a businessman, which I’m excited to watch. This guy seemed to have it all, but finds himself back on the grind of earning a glamorous lifestyle. In Entourage, Vince just sort of stumbles into his success and enjoys the ride, but Ballers is showing us the climb to that point. I’m probably the most interested in Strassmore’s past and seeing what led to his early retirement because he clearly struggles with hearing himself be called the “golden boy” by everyone as if he never lived up to those expectations during his time in the league. While Ballers looks to be a fun 30 minute show each week, I think there is a chance here to explore some great dramatic topics as well. Seeing Strassmore’s character struggle to get out of bed and pop pills throughout the episode already addresses that we will be seeing the impact of professional football and how much stress it puts onto your body by smashing into other 300 pound men week after week for multiple years. I would really love to see the show continue to incorporate the idea of injury and concussions because although we hear about it all, none of us truly know what it’s like or how it is handled.

Ballers pilot was a lot less funny than I expected, but I’m actually glad about that. I want to watch this be a success story, and I think there was a lot of good set up for that going forward. I really enjoyed The Rock’s performance in this pilot episode but definitely want to see more of Joe and Strassmore’s two friends. If Ballers can develop these characters in a believable way, then I think the show will have no problem finding viewers each week because a sports version of Entourage sounds fantastic.

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Superior Spider-Man 28 Review

Well, I finally was able to catch up with the Superior Spider-Man series just as it’s heating up towards what should be a huge finale this spring.  The most recent issue, #28, totally flipped SpOck into an unusual world of chaos with him being the one to scramble for his life.

The issue opens with Spider Island up in flames. How? The last we saw of SpOck he had outsmarted the Goblin King and discovered his underground hideout with a projection of himself. Right?

It turns out the Goblin King was one step ahead of Otto and sent his three goblin glider warriors to blow up the entire island complex. This is the first time that SpOck has really been in trouble; he literally has to flee everything he has built on the back of Automaton (the magnificent whirr-klikk-iking robot).  He barely gets away, but damn, this was really an intense start to the issue.  The Goblin King doesn’t even care that Otto got away because he already has established plans to go take everyone close to SpOck hostage.

Meanwhile Mayor Jameson, of course, rolls out his newest line of “Goblin Slayers” which are really just Spider Slayers — which remind me of the navy Star Wars battle droids repainted to look like a Portal turret with a hologram of Jonah’s face in the center. Jameson has been pretty frustrated about being controlled by SpOck, so there was no surprise to see him make a prideful power move like this; although, I’m totally expecting it to just create more problems.

As I mentioned, the Goblin King had already sent out some thug units to go kidnap all of the close known associates to SpOck, starting with Mary Jane, who decided to become super badass in this issue.  Three of the flying child goblins come crashing through window; poor firefighter Ollie is helplessly swinging a chair in the air to ward them off, and all of a sudden, THWIP! TWIP! That’s right, Mary Jane pulls out some web shooters and traps the 3 mini goblins to the wall.  She understands exactly how the Goblin plays games and out of nowhere grabs Ollie and pulls him out the door like she had some Emergency Goblin Protocol ready.  It’s great, she gathers up May and Jay while telling her own mother to take the first flight out of town. I think Mary Jane is the reason SpOck will be able to win this one, by “removing pieces from the board.”

We find out that Otto made it back to Parker Industries safely, but he was tracked down and confronted by Monster, who pulls off her mask to reveal that she is a Goblinized Carlie.  She forces her way through all of Parker Industry’s defense mechanisms, eventually getting her desired one on one time with Otto.  Even though this looks like it could be pretty bad, Carlie is still able to somehow temporarily take control of Monster and tell Otto that he better cure her before it’s too late.  She says that Otto has no idea what the Goblin King has in store for him,

but no, oh no, the worst thing that could happen, the issue ends with the Goblins capturing the one person that truly matters to Otto;

Anna Maria.

Damn. I really love this series, I think it’s one of the coolest original and unique ideas that I’ve ever read.  I’ve loved SpOck from the beginning; he was a fun and cool change to the character and a great break from Peter Parker.  I definitely want Pete back, but am really really going to miss the professionally serious and technical approach that Otto’s character brings to Spider-Man.

The only thing that I didn’t like in this issue was the two full page panels that showed ghost Peter slowly losing himself having to relive Otto’s memories.  While the full page layouts were nicely designed, I thought it interrupted the flow of the main story. I’m definitely interested in what happens to Peter and how he comes back, but honestly, I don’t want it to take away at all from this Goblin Nation story and how awesome and crazy it’s getting, especially with only 3 issues to go.

Overall, I thought this was another awesome issue of the Superior Spider-Man, and obviously cannot wait for issue #29, especially because Spidey 2099 appears in his costume again!

Going forward, my one big theory or expectation is that Anna Maria, sadly, will die before the series is over.  We know that Peter is coming back, and she’s Otto’s love interest, not his. Now she’s been kidnapped, and while Otto would probably do or give anything to protect her, it would be a really tragic way to show him that he’s not superior.  It’s the easiest way for the writers to eliminate the relationship and totally wreck Otto for good, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

How did everyone else like this month’s issue of the Superior Spider-Man?  Let me know!

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