A Drive-in Premiere for ‘The Boys’

Amazon Prime Video Sept. 3 hosted a drive-in screening of “The Boys” season two ahead of its Sept. 4 premiere. Stars Antony Starr, Jack Quaid, Erin Moriarty, Karen Fukuhara, Shantel VanSanten, Claudia Doumit, Langston Kerman and Abraham Lim arrived at Level 8 at The Grove in Los Angeles to celebrate the new season. Guests arrived in their cars through Lucy the Whale, who makes a special appearance in the third episode of season two. Ahead of the drive-in special screening, guests were invited to a socially distant pre-party in their cars, where they had their pictures taken at the drive-through photo op activation, danced in their cars to the music of DJ Michelle Pesce, and enjoyed Umami Burgers, Popcorn and Swedish Fish. Before the two-episode screening, fans enjoyed a pre-taped introduction from the cast and executive producers Eric Kripke, Seth Rogen and Evan Greenberg. A special encore drive-in screening for cast and fans is also being held Sept. 4 and is at full capacity.

The first three episodes of season two premiere Sept. 4, with new episodes available each Friday following, culminating in a season finale Oct. 9. The eight-episode Amazon Original series will be available exclusively on Prime Video in more than 200 territories around the world.

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Based on the New York Times best-selling comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, “The Boys” is an irreverent take on what happens when superheroes — who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as gods — abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. The Boys continue on a quest to expose the truth about The Seven, and Vought — the multi-billion-dollar conglomerate that manages these superheroes and covers up all of their dirty secrets.

Wonder Woman: The Complete Collection

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Action;
$64.99 Blu-ray 10-disc set;
Not rated.
Stars Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner, Beatrice Colen, Richard Eastham, Debra Winger, Cloris Leachman, Carolyn Jones, Beatrice Straight, Norman Burton.

To speak of the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV series immediately brings to mind Lynda Carter’s portrayal of the title character, which became so iconic that she is indelibly compared with any subsequent depictions of the DC Comics heroine. That’s a fortunate legacy for a series to have, as over time the fondness for her in the role seems to have overwhelmed the collective memory over specifics of the series, which is unmistakably a product of its decade.

The series was undoubtedly hampered by a haphazard production schedule in which the series’ format was constantly tinkered with. It began with a 1975 TV movie that more or less recounts Wonder Woman’s classic comic book origin: she becomes an emissary from the Amazon women to the United States after pilot Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner) crashes his plane into the hidden Paradise Island during World War II.

The subsequent 13-episode first season of the series, which aired on ABC from 1976 to 1977, maintained the period setting, with Wonder Woman in her alter ego of Diana Prince serving as Trevor’s yeoman at the War Department and assisting him in thwarting a ridiculous new Nazi plot each week.

After the first season, the show switched from ABC to CBS and was retooled to a modern-day setting, taking on the name “The New Adventures of Wonder Woman.” Fittingly, the first episode of season two is like a second pilot, as an envoy of secret agents led by Trevor’s son (also played by Waggoner) accidentally wanders into Paradise Island airspace. The Amazons learn that, 30 years after the defeat of the Nazis, that the world is plagued by a vague underground group of criminals seeking global domination, and send Wonder Woman back to America to keep an eye on things.

Thus, the second and third seasons find Diana rising up the ranks of a spy agency in Washington, D.C., foiling some goofy criminal plots, such as infiltrating a health spa whose owners are hypnotizing politicians’ wives into leaking government secrets, or investigating a comic book convention to find jewel thieves, or stopping mad scientists from cloning Adolf Hitler. With Diana subtly battling sexism while encouraging the male gaze, the influences of “Charlie’s Angels” and “Mission: Impossible” on the series’ writers are obvious.

Over time the trappings of the fictional spy agency became sillier, such as with the introduction of a little roving robot messenger that scampers around the office, the show’s version of R2-D2 of the recently released Star Wars, or K-9 from “Doctor Who,” another genre show with a very similar tone as “Wonder Woman.”

By the end of the third season, the show was retooled again to relocate Diana to Los Angeles. In addition to a new boss, her work as a secret agent would have been aided by a man genetically engineered to be indestructible, as well as a super-powered chimpanzee, plus a kid who kept sneaking into the office to sell the agents overpriced food and other knick-knacks. The “Arrowverse” it wasn’t.

Mercifully, the show was canceled so CBS could make room for “The Dukes of Hazzard” on the schedule.

It should be noted that the two-parter that ended up as the series finale was aired out of order, as it takes place before the L.A. episode. The airdate order is preserved on the Blu-ray.

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Another fun aspect to the series from a historical perspective is spotting a lot of recognizable faces of performers who would go on to bigger things. Of particular note in this regard is a young Debra Winger, who appeared in three first-season episodes as Drusilla, Diana’s younger sister who assists her as Wonder Girl.

Their mother, the queen of the Amazons, would end up being played throughout the run of the show by three different actresses, two of them Oscar winners: Cloris Leachman (Best Supporting Actress for 1971’s The Last Picture Show) in the TV movie pilot, Carolyn Jones in the first season, and Beatrice Straight (Best Supporting Actress for a five-minute scene in Network a few years prior) in the CBS years.

Jones, best known as Morticia in the 1960s “The Addams Family” TV series, also appeared in a handful of episodes of the campy but classic Adam West “Batman.” Likewise, keep an eye out for Frank Gorshin, who played The Riddler on “Batman,” as an old toymaker who creates an android duplicate of WW.

But the highlight of the series is definitely Carter, who quickly settles into the role and ably anchors the series throughout its many changes. Notice how quickly she adapts to performing Diana’s iconic spin to transform into Wonder Woman, a time-saving costume change invented by the show that has become a trait of the character in subsequent portrayals. Carter eventually perfects the spin into a graceful maneuver. Compare her twirls with Winger, who seems rather ungraceful in her spins to transform into Wonder Girl, since she didn’t get much chance to practice having appeared only in a handful of episodes.

With the introduction of the twirl as Diana’s quick-change method of choice, it’s interesting to see how the series develops rules for her powers. While the initial implication is that her powers stem from her Amazonian heritage, the second season retcons this a bit by suggesting she has no powers off the island without her magic costume on. Given how minimal the suit is, it makes one wonder why she doesn’t wear it under her clothes just to be safe. (Or maybe she does, given that she still tosses grown men across the room in a few episodes while still in her Diana garb).

The series also stretches the credulity of no one figuring out that Diana is Wonder Woman, her disguise of a pair of glasses apparently as effective for her as it was for Clark Kent. Somehow the ruse holds up even after Wonder Girl arrives at the same time as Diana’s sister, with both being the same size and neither wearing a mask. (In a recurring gag, the agency supercomputer seems to have figured it out, though.)

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This new Blu-ray compilation of the pilot movie and 59 episodes provides a nice restoration of the series given the source materials that must have been available, and production values that varied widely in quality, from mismatched stock footage, obvious edits to hide stunts, and visual effects that, while adequate for television in the 1970s, are a bit rough in retrospect.

Wonder Woman’s invisible plane, for example, is very obviously a model of a clear plastic airplane with a doll in it.

Indeed, very little is hidden in HD, and viewers will get the occasional peek of the edge of the soundstage in some shots.

Another gimmick of the series was the use of comic-book like title cards that pop up on the screen to explain transitions, though these are often riddled with typos and misspellings (such as Carribean instead of Caribbean in the first episode).

One episode, meant to take place in Hollywood in the 1940s, establishes the setting by using stock footage that switches from black and white to color as it tries to be period appropriate. Switching from WWII to a contemporary setting must have cleaned up a lot of production headaches for the producers, not to mention saved the network a pretty penny.

In some ways, though, the show may have been ahead of its time, exhibiting a scope and ambition limited curtailed by the logistics of television production. Despite these potential obstacles, Warner has done a great job cleaning up the show for high-def. The colors really pop and the 1970s of it all is part of the charm.

While the Blu-ray set includes a booklet with an episode guide arranged by season, it doesn’t indicate which episodes are on which disc, which can be annoying.

The Blu-ray also carries over the extras from the previous DVD season sets released in the early 2000s, without any new material.

These include a couple of episode commentaries, and a retrospective featurette for each season, which are presented in standard-definition.

For season one it’s the 21-minute “Beauty, Brawn and Bulletproof Bracelets: A Wonder Woman Retrospective”; season two has the 11-minute “Revolutionizing a Classic: From Comic Book to Television”; and season three offers the 14-minute “Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Feminist Icon.” All of which are self-explanatory given their titles, but are fun to watch nonetheless.

The old commentaries also are interesting to listen to, especially when Carter begins speculating on how a future movie might deal with the character. This is years before Gal Gadot took on the role for the big screen, though one gets the sense that Carter hasn’t given up the notion of playing her again, either.

The Umbrella Academy: Season 2

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Action;
Not rated.
Stars Ellen Page, Tom Hooper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Colm Feore, Justin H. Min, Ritu Arya, Yusuf Gatewood, Marin Ireland, Kate Walsh.

Season two of the Netflix series “The Umbrella Academy,” which debuted July 31, is a binge-worthy, action-packed, emotional roller coaster, although it suffers from a few contrived plot points.

As the season begins, the time jump that left us on the edge of our seats at the end of season one goes awry and scatters the superhero siblings in time in and around Dallas over a three-year period starting in 1960. Some, having been stuck in the past for years, have built lives and moved on, certain they’re the only ones who have survived.

The villains this time around are a trio named “The Swedes” who are there to prevent Five from again changing the timeline as it seems the siblings brought the apocalypse back with them. “The Swedes” fulfill the same role as the iconic Hazel and Cha-Cha from season one, but they lack the same charm and comedy that made the original duo such a great part of the show. This new trio seems to have a greater history that unfortunately doesn’t get explored, leaving us with little attachment to their story.

While we may not get much in terms of backstory on “The Swedes,” season two isn’t lacking in expanded history for the members of the Umbrella Academy. We get to see more background behind the interpersonal connections of the different siblings, as well as how it affects their interactions now. The characters we already grew to love in the first season only become more fleshed out.

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However, the plot sometimes bogs down in order to present the emotional aspect of the show. Some episodes seem stretched to fill the season, as certain conflicts feel unnecessarily manufactured.

Still, despite a few weaknesses, season two is a satisfying continuation to season one of the comic book-based series, and it leaves us waiting in anticipation for the future of the Hargreeves siblings and the Umbrella Academy.

Season Two of “The Umbrella Academy” (Christos Kalohoridis/Neflix)

Warner Releasing 1970s ‘Wonder Woman’ Series on Blu-ray July 28

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Wonder Woman: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray Disc July 28.

The 10-disc set will include the original 1975 pilot movie, The New Original Wonder Woman, and all 59 episodes of the 1977-79 live-action series remastered in high-definition.

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The show starred Lynda Carter as the Amazonian superhero. The first season on ABC was set during World War II, while the second and third seasons on CBS brought Wonder Woman to the modern times of the 1970s.

The cast also included Lyle Waggoner as Steve Trevor, Debra Winger as Wonder Girl, Beatrice Colen as Etta Candy, and Richard Eastham as General Philip Blankenship. Guest stars included Rick Springfield, Red Buttons, Roy Rogers, Roddy McDowall, Frank Gorshin, Celeste Holm, Martin Mull, Dick Gautier, Ron Ely, Gary Burghoff, Leif Garrett, Ed Begley Jr., Dick Van Patten, Eve Plumb, Philip Michael Thomas, Cloris Leachman, Gavin MacLeod, Carolyn Jones, Joan Van Ark, Robert Reed, Anne Francis, John Saxon and more.

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Extras include audio commentary on the pilot movie by Carter and executive producer Douglas S. Cramer; commentary by Carter on episode “My Teenage Idol is Missing”; and the featurettes “Beauty, Brawn and Bulletproof Bracelets: A Wonder Woman Retrospective,” “Revolutionizing a Classic: From Comic Book to Television” and “Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Feminist Icon.”

Season Two of ‘The Boys’ Arrives on Amazon Prime Video Sept. 4

The superhero satire “The Boys” will return to Amazon Prime Video for its second season starting Sept. 4. Three episodes will be available the first day, with new episodes each Friday through the finale on Oct. 9.

The next eight episodes of Amazon Original series produced by Amazon Studios, Sony Pictures Television Studios with Point Grey Pictures, Kripke Enterprises and Original Film will be available on Prime Video in more than 200 territories around the world.

“We cannot wait to show you season two. It’s crazier, stranger, more intense, more emotional,” creator and executive producer Eric Kripke said in a statement.

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Based on the comic book by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, “The Boys” is an irreverent look at what happens when popular superheroes, known as supes, abuse their powers, as an activist group known as The Boys tries to expose the truth about the superhero team The Seven and their corporate sponsors, Voight.

Season two finds the members of The Boys on the run and hunted by the supes. In hiding, Hughie (Jack Quaid), Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) try to adjust to a new normal, with Butcher (Karl Urban) nowhere to be found.

Meanwhile, Starlight (Erin Moriarty) must navigate her place in The Seven as Homelander (Antony Starr) sets his sights on taking complete control. His power is threatened with the addition of Stormfront (Aya Cash), a social media-savvy new supe with an agenda of her own. On top of that, a supervillain threat gives Vought an opportunity to capitalize on the nation’s paranoia.

The supes of The Seven also include Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), The Deep (Chace Crawford) and Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell). Recurring stars in season two include Claudia Doumit, Goran Visnijc, Malcolm Barrett, Colby Minifie, Shantel VanSanten, Cameron Crovetti, PJ Byrne, Laila Robbins and Giancarlo Esposito.

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Prime members can stream “The Boys” exclusively via the Prime Video app for TVs, connected devices including Fire TV, mobile devices and online. Members can also download it to mobile devices for offline viewing at no additional cost to their membership.

Warner Archive Releasing ‘Legion of Super Heroes’ Animated Series on Blu-ray

Warner Archive Collection on July 14 will release Legion of Super Heroes: The Complete Series on Blu-ray Disc.

In season one, Legionnaires Bouncing Boy (Michael Cornacchia), Brainiac 5 (Adam Wylie), Saturn Girl (Kari Wahlgren) and Lightning Lad (Andy Milder) travel back in time to convince an awkward teen named Clark Kent (Yuri Lowenthal) to join the Legion and battle their archnemeses, the Fatal Five. Season two presents Superman and the Legion with an even greater challenge: Kell-El, the Superman of the 41st century.

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The Blu-ray will include all 26 episodes from the 2006-08 animated series, plus the featurette “We Are Legion” and an exclusive audio commentary on the series’ two-part finale, “Dark Victory,” with producer James Tucker, director Brandon Vietti and Wahlgren.

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The first season was previously released in three DVD volumes. Warner Archive will also be releasing a DVD of the second season.

HBO Max, DC Partner For Digital Comic Book Series Promotion

Upstart SVOD service HBO Max is partnering with sister company DC Comics for three new original digital comic book series promotions titled “To the Max.” The series features animated stories about ordinary people achieving their maximum potential when they transform into extraordinary superheroes with the help of another new character, Max the dog.

The free comics launched June 15, cross-promote the recent launch of Max and are full of Easter Eggs and nods to much of the 10,000 hours of content currently available on the streaming platform, including “Friends,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Sex and the City” and “Scooby-Doo,” among others.

The initial launch of the digital comic includes three eight-page chapters featuring “Hector,” “Brian” and “Olivia” (HBO), who meet Max the dog, gain access to different superpowers and become able to teleport, shape shift, fly and save lives around the world.

“These fun, original stories depict a diverse range of ordinary individuals who are symbolic of the depth and breadth of programming that is available on the platform, driving home the message that HBO Max has something for everyone,” Robert Greenblatt, chairman, Warner Media Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer, said in a statement.

DC Chief Creative Officer and Publisher Jim Lee said the superhero are also a pop culture scavenger hunt for media savvy readers.

To the Max: Hector features a schoolteacher finding a mysterious device that sends him flying into an incredible outer-space rescue mission. The issue is written by Ivan Cohen, with cover art by Jim Lee and pencils by Scot Eaton.

To the Max: Brian is about a scuba instructor who is transformed into a superhero who must save innocent people from a deadly storm in Singapore. The issue is written by Ivan Cohen, with cover art by Jorge Jimenez and pencils by Hendry Prasetya.

To the Max: Olivia presents a down-on-her-luck stand-up comic who is all that stands between her audience and gun-toting criminals who plan to rob a Las Vegas casino. The issue is written by Ivan Cohen, with cover art by Amanda Conner and pencils by Laura Braga.

“To the Max” comics are available on DC Universe, DCComics.com, Apple iBookstore, Google Play Store, Kindle, Nook, Hoopla, Overdrive, and in the DC Comics app, ComiXology app and Madefire app for iOS and Android.

‘Supergirl’ Season 5 on Disc Sept. 8

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Supergirl: The Complete Fifth Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Sept. 8. The season’s 19 episodes are available now for digital purchase.

In the CW’s show’s fifth season, Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) confronts a shadowy organization called Leviathan, while National City becomes enthralled by an addictive new virtual reality program. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) returns as a global hero thanks to the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover with the CW’s other superhero shows.

The cast also includes Chyler Leigh, Katie McGrath, Jesse Rath, Nicole Maines, Azie Tesfai, Andrea Brooks, Julie Gonzalo, Staz Nair, Mehcad Brooks and David Harewood.

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Home video extras include deleted scenes, a gag reel and highlights from the DC TV 2019 San Diego Comic-Con panels.

The Blu-ray will also include a limited-edition bonus disc that includes all five “Crisis” crossover episodes, plus six “Crisis” featurettes.

Indonesian Superhero Feature ‘Gundala’ Coming to Digital and Disc July 28 From Well Go

An Indonesian comic book superhero and his alter ego enter the cinematic universe in the actioner Gundala, debuting on digital, Blu-ray and DVD July 28 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Based on a popular comic book first published in 1969, Gundala is the first film in a proposed eight-film franchise launching a new superhero cinematic universe (in the vein of Marvel). In the origin story, Sancaka (Abimana Aryasatya) is a security guard who was struck by lightning, giving him superhuman powers and turning him into the superhero Gundala. An Indonesian orphan, Sancaka spent his life on the streets trying to attract as little attention as possible, but when greed and violence reach a fever pitch in Jakarta, it soon becomes clear that he is the people’s only hope for peace.

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Written and directed by Joko Anwar (Impetigore) and based on the comic by Harya Suraminata, Gundala stars Abimana Aryasatya (12:00 A.M.), Tara Basro (Impetigore), Bront Palarae (Belukar), Ario Bayu (Java Heat) and Lukman Sardi (Abracadabra).

Gundala had its international premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, and the release features an all-new English dub, in addition to its original subtitled soundtrack.

‘The Flash’ Season 6 on Disc Aug. 25

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Aug. 25. The season’s 19 episodes are available now for digital purchase.

In its sixth season, the top-rated series on the CW finds its heroes dealing two villains: Bloodwork and Mirror Master, as the Flash (Grant Gustin) prepares for the potential sacrifice he must make in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover with the CW’s other superhero shows. After surviving Crisis, Flash learns he is losing his speed powers, and must find a way to restore them just as his wife, Iris (Candice Patton) finds herself trapped in a mirror universe.

The cast also includes Danielle Panabaker as Frost, Carlos Valdes as Vibe and Hartley Sawyer as Elongated Man, plus Danielle Nicolet, Efrat Dor, Tom Cavanagh and Jesse L. Martin.

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Home video extras include “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach — Noir,” a special version of the fifth episode with optional commentary by showrunner Eric Wallace. Other extras include deleted scenes, a gag reel and highlights from the DC TV 2019 San Diego Comic-Con panels.

The Blu-ray will also include a limited-edition bonus disc that includes all five “Crisis” crossover episodes, plus six “Crisis” featurettes.