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WWE SmackDown Results: July 14, 2016

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The Final Fight on Thursday Night.

Ten nights before Battleground, the 882nd edition of WWE Thursday Night SmackDown and the last SmackDown before next Tuesday’s WWE Draft came to you from the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI. Over the past few months, we have seen vignettes during RAW and SmackDown featuring Darren Young and WWE Hall of Famer Bob Backlund with Backlund vowing to “make Darren Young great again” and, this past Monday night on RAW, that proclamation would take one big step towards becoming a reality as Darren Young did the improbable by winning a big battle royal to become the new #1 Contender for the Intercontinental Championship as Darren Young will challenge The Miz for the Intercontinental Title a week from Sunday at Battleground! With the biggest opportunity of his career coming up at Battleground, Darren Young and his mentor Bob Backlund would be on SmackDown as the new #1 Contender would join Intercontinental Champion The Miz and his wife Maryse on Miz TV. What will Darren Young have to say about becoming the new #1 Contender for the Intercontinental Title? What will The Miz have to say about defending the title against Darren Young?

Match Results

  • Sasha Banks def. Dana Brooke (with Charlotte) by submission to the Bank Statement.
  • Non-Title: Dolph Ziggler def. Rusev (with Lana) by roll-up following a distraction from Zack Ryder.
  • AJ Styles & Karl Anderson (with Luke Gallows) def. Enzo & Cass by Enzo Amore tapping out to AJ Styles’ Calf Crusher following a distraction from Luke Gallows.
  • Kalisto (with Sin Cara) def. Tyler Breeze (with Fandango) by pin with the Salida del Sol.
  • Non-Title: Dean Ambrose def. Kevin Owens by DQ after Seth Rollins interferes.
  • Seth Rollins & Kevin Owens def. Dean Ambrose & Sami Zayn by Seth Rollins pinning Sami Zayn following the Pedigree.

See page 2 for detailed results.

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WWE SmackDown Results: July 14, 2016

Preacher S01E07: He Gone – Jessie’s no longer one of the good guys

Now that we’re going into the final part of Preacher’s first season, it’s easier to see what this show is really about. The pilot, and second episode, would have us believe that Preacher was going to be a high concept adventure show, full of creative action set pieces, coffin black humour, and larger than life characters. Since those first two episodes the show has kept two of those aspects. There’s a slight whiff of budgetary concerns over the reason there’s been less action than first thought, but in its place we have been given a, slightly askew, study of three characters (four if you count Eugene) who once prided themselves as being outsiders, but are now looking for a connection.

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Why else would Cassidy stick around Annville, become hopelessly in love with Tulip after one eventful encounter, and be the worst (and this week, the best) surrogate for Jessie’s conscience? Why else would Tulip stick around Annville, help out at the church, and put her plans for vengeance on pause as she waits for Jesse? Finally, why else would Jesse stick around Annville?

He Gone finally gives us some clues to Jesse’s connection to, as Diamond Joe Quimby would put it: this jerk-water burg. Last week’s excellent Sundowner ended with Jesse hitting rock bottom, using the word of Genesis to send Eugene to hell. A slip of the tongue, or hubris? Now that he’s hit rock bottom he spends the entire episode rolling around in it. Instead of trying to deal with what he’s done to Eugene, Jesse goes ahead with his plan to cure the town, and in a very neat piece of direction, in an episode full of them, he walks out of the church as the light from under the door transforms into a cross as he passes through. This is an action that defiantly says “damn the consequences, this is surely Gods plan”. Except when he has the undivided attention of his flock, both inside and outside the church thanks to the nifty new PA system, he holds back. Sure he tells everyone to serve God, but his words don’t have the power of Genesis behind them, and now the rot starts to set in. As this very long day continues, full of bible plays, and hash browns with vanilla extract (more on that later), all of Jesse’s plans go sour.

Just like last weeks episode, He Gone is concerned with communication and the power of words, and their effect on who hears them. Everyone was talking last week, but no one was communicating. A few wrong words sent Eugene to hell and, as week see this week, Jesse’s got a bad history with this.

It turns out Jesse blames himself for his father’s murder because, after his father sends a young Tulip into foster care, Jesse prays that God kill him. As if right on que his father dies at the hand of someone who has the same tattoo on his arm that Jessie has on his back in the present. In Jesse’s mind he’s done the same thing again, damned someone he cared for through a few angry, but powerful, words.

At the end of this episode everyone seemingly knows where they stand but it’s Jesse’s guilt and judgement that gets them there. Tulip, who enjoys a free-running sequence in order to get her uncle’s pants back, continues to help out at the church, and rebuke Cassidy’s advances. She’s here for Jesse, and Jesse makes clear, at an uncomfortable dinner in which The Big Lebowski is dragged through the mud again, that he doesn’t want her.?

Cassidy finally reveals his supernatural origins in a typically weird scene that begins with him hitting Jesse with a fire extinguisher. Cassidy saw what happened to Eugene, and after Jesse’s half-hearted attempt to justify his rash behaviour, Cassidy proves that Jesse is not fit to decide who is judged by walking into the sun and setting himself on fire. It’s unclear exactly what happens to Cassidy, but it’s safe to assume that Jesse saved him thus proving Cassidy’s point.

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Now to the case of the vanilla extract which, as it turns out, is very flammable. It’s quite fitting, especially for this show, that something so mundane as a cooking screw-up perfectly encapsulates the philosophical problem of its lead character. The power of Genesis has given Jesse an opportunity to be one of the good guys, a mantra that has an all new meaning after the circumstances of his father’s death are revealed. Tulip keeps saying that Jesse is really a bad man, but he’s been trying so hard to be good. You could even say that he is trying to be vanilla. But his best intentions go up in flames, just like those hash browns, with Jesse frozen in contemplation over the sins he has committed. The path to hell is paved with good intentions, intentions just as flammable as that vanilla extract.

This is particularly felt through Eugene’s absence, whether it’s his empty room, or the empty seat his father keeps for him in church. Sure he shot the Loach’s daughter, and then himself, but his path? to redemption was on his own terms. In the last few weeks Jesse took that path away from him with an easy fix, and then damned him when Eugene confronted him. The penny has dropped for Jesse. Despite the fact that he still won’t give Genesis up, he is beginning to repent for what he’s done to Eugene. Although, ripping up the floorboards, and trying to dig into hell yelling “come back” seems like another accident waiting to happen.

8/10 He Gone doesn’t have the fireworks of last? week’s? episode, but the way this episode, and the show itself, is tearing their hero down has to be commended. Now with Quincannon on the warpath, and Jesse turning a corner, the end of this first season is looking to be an exciting prospect.

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Preacher S01E07: He Gone – Jessie’s no longer one of the good guys

American Gothic Review: S01E01-02 – Arrangement in Grey and Black & Jack-in-the-Pulpit

When I was writing the post about shows that should be rebooted, one of my original choices was American Gothic, the 90s series with Gary Cole, Lucas Black, and a ghostly Sarah Paulson. I nixxed it upon finding out that CBS, the home of the original series, was airing an unrelated show of the same name in summer 2016. Well, it’s here, but is it worth watching? Let’s go see. There will be spoilers for the first two episodes.

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This new American Gothic is set in Boston and focuses on the Hawthorne family, who made their fortune in concrete. At the start of the series, a tunnel in the city collapses. Guess who made the concrete for it? This is bad enough news, as daughter Alison (Juliet Rylance) is in the middle of a mayoral campaign, but then when city officials begin digging through the rubble, they find a belt lodged in a slab of concrete. It seems as if the city has been haunted for years by a now-dormant serial killer known as the Silver Bells Killer–yes, SBK, as in shades of BTK–whose MO is a little strangulation and the gift of a wee silver bell. The belt is traced to an SBK victim. The Hawthornes are having a bad week.

And then it gets worse. At a press conference for Alison, her father Mitch (Jamey Sheridan) suffers a heart attack. Believing that the subsequent stress may cause her addict brother Cam (Justin Chatwin) to relapse, Tessa (Megan Ketch) goes looking for the rainy day drugs she’s sure he’s squirreled away somewhere at their parents’ house. She doesn’t find them, but she does find a cache of articles about SBK. Oh, and a box of little silver bells.

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Welp. Tessa and Cam seem to jump pretty quickly to OMG OUR FATHER’S A SERIAL KILLER!!!, but he’s not the only suspicious character in the bunch. First of all, there is the final sibling Garrett (Antony Starr), whose leaving home years ago has left lingering bad blood. Then there is Cam’s own young son, whose interest in anatomy and related sciences seems precocious and quirky until it involves the neighbor’s cat, poor Caramel. [Don’t worry, tender hearts–you don’t see anything.] Obviously the kid is no serial killer (yet), but is he living proof of something rotten in the Hawthorne gene pool?

And while Tessa and Cam are trying to figure this out, with Alison’s help, Tessa’s detective husband Brady (Elliot Knight) is assigned to the reinvigorated SBK case. I know it feels like I should start making a string theory wall at this point, but it doesn’t come off that convoluted while you’re watching the show. That’s one of its strongest points, especially in the pilot. Like all pilots, it has to communicate a lot of information to get you up to speed and it does that well, without making you feel like you’re at the bottom of an exposition avalanche.

This helps a lot when everything really kicks into gear, with the cat and Garrett’s return. He’s been living a very basic lifestyle and I don’t mean Uggs and Starbucks–more like, the Unabomber’s cabin. When he arrives at the hospital, he immediately shares a private thought with dear ol’ Dad. If you were hoping like his family that it was something conciliatory, you’re all out of luck. According to Alison’s daughter, who was hiding under the bed, he told Mitch, “I’m gonna tell them it was you.” Intrigue!

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There are a lot of secrets in this family, obviously, but it seems as if Mitch, at least, wants to be rid of some of them. He tells his wife Maddie, (Virginia Madsen), “We have to tell the truth,” and that’s enough for her to close off his oxygen. What he wanted them to tell the truth about is unknown as of the first two episodes, but like Brady, we’re hot on the trail. Unfortunately, Maddie seems to be one step ahead of everyone. When the kids go to check out the box of bells and clippings, it’s gone. It’s then that Mom tells them a new truth: their father had dementia. He seemed fine when they were around him during the day, because he was sundowning. The box? Just part of his interest in true crime. And that’s the end of the story, until they talk to the groundsman and find out their dad was still playing bridge? and chess regularly, at night. Mom has another truth for that, too. In fact, Mom’s got an answer for everything. So when Brady goes to retrieve a DNA sample from the now-departed Mitch–employees of Hawthorne are being tested because of their access to the tunnel–it’s not a surprise that Maddie’s already had him cremated.

Such a sad (literal) dead end, until Brady’s boss calls with the news that the belt didn’t belong to the last murder victim. It likely belonged to SBK. Since it’s a pricy piece, it destroys their profile that SBK is some kind of Robin Hood gone awry scenario (all the victims were rich). Brady’s contemplating this when he sees the belt in a photo at his in-laws’ house. And Cam is wearing it. Intrigue again!

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You may be reminded of the recently-canceled ABC program, The Family, as both involve political aspirations, the return of a son, and painful secrets. Unfortunately, it suffers from some of the same problems, like a tendency to slide into soapiness and uneven pacing. And if you’re interested in checking it out because of the name, trust that it’s not all that gothic so far. The name does give them an excuse to name episodes after great paintings, though. Still, I am curious about the real identity of SBK. Is it one of the Hawthornes? Is it Caramel? I’m going to tune in to find out. (And I better find out. This is supposed to be a thirteen-part series, but that’s never stopped CBS before [see also: Under the Dome].)

7/10 – The show is enjoyable for the most part, although I got bored during the second episode, and the mystery at the heart of the series is interesting enough to keep me watching. However, the dialogue can get a little cliche and the pacing needs to be more consistent. And if they pull a The Killing and the audience doesn’t know whodunnit at the end of this season, this will have been a terrible waste of good actors. And I will be livid, for seconds on end.

Continued here:

American Gothic Review: S01E01-02 – Arrangement in Grey and Black & Jack-in-the-Pulpit

WWE RAW Results: July 4, 2016

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Winning One for Old Glory.

The 1206th edition of WWE Monday Night RAW came to you, live on Independence Day, from the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH. On a special 4th of July edition of RAW, the WWE Champion would be in action as, in a rematch from last week’s SmackDown, WWE Champion Dean Ambrose would go one-on-one with Intercontinental Champion The Miz in a non-title, Champion vs. Champion match! Also, in a match very befitting of the 4th of July, Rusev would put his United States Title on the line against rival Titus O’Neil and, in a gigantic 16-Man Elimination Tag Match, eight American Superstars would team up to form “Team USA” to face “The Multi-National Alliance”, comprised of eight non-American Superstars! Who will be involved in this tag match and what else is in store for America’s birthday live on RAW?

Match Results

  • United States Championship: Rusev (c) (with Lana) def. Titus O’Neil by submission to the Accolade to retain.
  • Enzo & Cass def. Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel (with Heath Slater) by Enzo Amore pinning Bo Dallas following the Bada Boom Shakalaka.
  • Champion vs. Champion: Non-Title: Dean Ambrose def. The Miz (with Maryse) by pin following Dirty Deeds.
  • Seth Rollins def. Dolph Ziggler by pin following the Pedigree.
  • The Golden Truth def. The Vaudevillains by R-Truth pinning Aiden English following Solid Gold.
  • Becky Lynch def. Summer Rae by submission to the Dis-Arm-Her.
  • 16-Man Elimination Tag Match: Team USA def. The Multi-National Alliance with Big Show & Zack Ryder as the surviving members.
    • Bubba Ray Dudley elim. Sin Cara by pin following the 3-D.
    • Kalisto elim. Bubba Ray Dudley by pin following a springboard frog splash.
    • Cesaro elim. D-Von Dudley by submission to the Sharpshooter.
    • Chris Jericho elim. Jack Swagger by pin following the Codebreaker.
    • Mark Henry elim. Kalisto by pin following the World’s Strongest Slam.
    • Kevin Owens elim. Mark Henry by pin following the Pop-Up Powerbomb.
    • Kevin Owens elim. himself by DQ after hitting Sami Zayn with a steel chair.
    • Kane elim. himself by DQ after hitting Kevin Owens with a steel chair.
    • Apollo Crews elim. Sami Zayn by pin following a standing moonsault.
    • Sheamus elim. Apollo Crews by pin following the Brogue Kick.
    • Zack Ryder elim. Cesaro by roll-up.
    • Big Show elim. Chris Jericho by pin following the Knockout Punch.
    • Big Show elim. Alberto Del Rio by pin following a chokeslam.
    • Zack Ryder elim. Sheamus by pin following the Rough Ryder.

See page 2 for detailed results.

See the article here –

WWE RAW Results: July 4, 2016

The BFG Review: For a rainy day recess

I have vivid memories of being a kid in school and hating the rain. It always made the day gloomy and seem to drag endlessly longer than a typical—sunny—day would have. And the tile floors would always become slippery, with speckles of dirt on the floor (tracked in from students who refused to wipe their feet after coming in) that seemed to cling to my trapper-keeper like a magnet. It wasn’t all bad, however. If there was one silver lining to a rainy school day it was the fact that recess was spent indoors.

Sure if you were the athletic type this might have been a drag, but I was in the band. Let’s just leave it at that.

Denied the “privilege” of wandering up and down the school’s grounds during recess, students instead spent their break in the classroom. Thankfully our teachers didn’t force us to continue working. Instead they wheeled out this bad boy:

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This was the Holy Grail of school equipment.

Growing up my school had two fifteen minute recess periods (one on each end of the day), with a thirty minute recess in between. That’s one hour of movie time spread across the day. I watched the first halves of many kids-movies that way. Many of them were direct-to-crap movies that Disney was churning out, straight-to-VHS in the 90’s (Aladdin 2, Lion King 2, etc). Every now and then, though, we’d be treated to an actual, honest-to-goodness well-produced Hollywood movie, albeit ones that usually came out in the 70’s.

It was during these recesses that I discovered Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. If not for a rainy day recess I never would have sought out more Wilder movies and I never would have experienced the joys of Young Frankenstein or Blazing Saddles. During these recesses I first watched Charlotte’s Web, The Brave Little Toaster and The Mouse and the Motorcycle. Those movies led me to the books on which they were based. My love of reading, that I still have two decades later is all thanks to those rainy day recesses.

Everyone has been comparing The BFG to a previous Spielberg kids-movie, and there are obvious connections to E.T. to be found (both are penned by Melissa Mathison, both feature a child lead, both are fantasies based in the real world), yet the movies are quite different. E.T. was a parable about a child growing up and being thrust by circumstances (being abandoned by his father; being abandoned by his mother-ship) into maturity. E.T. had a powerful center to its story and much more depth than is obvious when watched with a child’s eyes. By contrast, The BFG is a simple—to the point of being “thin”—children’s story, lacking a moral at the core or any kind of “lesson learned” for either of the main characters (the orphan girl, Sophie and the titular Big Friendly Giant). It’s very much a Roald Dahl story, in that it has charming characters, some memorable settings and scenes, but ultimately lacks much of a point beyond the fun and escapism it briefly offers.

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Steven Spielberg—in this, his first “children’s” movie since Hook (not counting the animated TinTin film from 2011)—directs the movie as though his goal is simply to bring the story to life. The acclaimed director has said that his interest in the project was based on his love of the book (which he read to his kids at night after he first acquired it).? Mathison’s screenplay tweaks a few things here and there, a few things are cut and a few things are added, but for the most part the script is extremely faithful to the source material. Fans who grew up loving the book will be thrilled to see so many parts translated from page to screen: The BGF himself looks exactly like the book’s illustrations; snozzcumbers and frobscottle are given their moments to shine; the meeting with the queen, breakfast at Buckingham Palace, Dream Country and more are all brought to life exactly like they were described by Dahl and drawn by Blake.

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But faithful translations work both ways. The weakness of Dahl’s story is present in the movie too. There’s very little character development on Sophie’s part. The BFG himself grows a little courage in one scene when he stands up to the bigger giants, but there’s little the story does with that arc. The sudden “hey let’s get the Queen to help!” idea is just as random on the screen as it was on the page. It’s not exactly a Deus Ex Machina if you go to visit the “Deus” to ask for help, but it’s still a solution to the movie’s problem that’s a little too easily achieved.

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And speaking of, there simply aren’t enough stakes and/or sacrifice to keep your interest level at 100%. We hear that giants have been kidnapping children (and in the book the giants had been snatching kids from multiple countries), but there’s little said about it after the threat is resolved. No one sacrifices anything to achieve the happy ending, either. It’s just a series of “going from one interesting place to another, and one fantastical setting to another” over and over until the story just ends.

It’s all very competently handled; it’s well-acted, the John Williams score is whimsical, Mark Rylance is charming as the BFG, the visuals are great…it’s just all a little hollow.

It’s not E.T. That movie will continue to endure for generations to come. This one will not. It will probably do good enough at the box office to avoid being labeled a failure, but it’s not going to unseat Disney’s other big summer movie (Finding Dory) nor will it be remembered as a Spielberg-classic. It will probably find a comfortable home in elementary schools everywhere, to be brought out on a rainy day recess, alongside Matilda, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Stewart Little and so many other kids movies to be enjoyed in fifteen-to-thirty minute intervals.

7/10 – fans of the book will be happy to see the book so faithfully recreated, but everyone else will probably be a tad underwhelmed by the limitations of the story.

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The BFG Review: For a rainy day recess

Preacher S01E06: Sundowner – Even when everyone talks it out, it still goes to hell

I had a strange realisation when watching the first ten minutes of Sundowner. I realised that, even when Preacher is brilliant, and dull, there’s nothing else like it on television. What other show starts with a diner conversation of cosmic proportions, and ends with a bloody brawl in a hotel room filled to the brim with corpses of three of the characters?

Sundowner continues the upswing in quality from last week, and it does this in quite a simple fashion: character communication. The first five episodes have been keeping certain characters separated to prolong certain plots; Jessie, Cassidy, and Tulip have never shared the same space with them all being aware of it, and these are the leads. While this approach was starting to get tedious Sundowner just throws everyone at each other and damn the consequences. And there are consequences.

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So, after trying to cut him open with a chainsaw, get repeatedly killed or screwed over by Cassidy, and hiding in the bathroom, Fiore and Deblanc finally confront Jessie, who due to Cassidy’s air conditioner potion, still has no clue who they are. After five episodes we finally get answers: the entity in Jessie is named Genesis (shite name, and a shite band according to Cassidy), and it’s the offspring of an angel and a demon who mysteriously fell in love during the on-going battle between heaven and hell. Its existence has been kept a secret, and Deblanc, and Fiore are the creature’s custodians. Got that? You better because there’s a Seraph who looks like a soccer mom coming to kill Jessie and take Fiore and Deblanc back to heaven. Now this is when the already crazy opening becomes, well, a bit more Preacher. Since the pilot, Preacher has had a gift for particularly creative action set pieces, but they’ve been absent for the last few weeks, so this was like a breath of fresh viscera. The close quarter’s choreography adds to the comic touch of the three angels dying and coming back, and just when you think things aren’t crazy enough, in come Cassidy shouting CLONES! It’s a great sequence, directed superbly by Hannibal veteran Guillermo Navarro.

Despite all this insanity, Jessie refuses to give up Genesis, still believing that he is part of God’s greater plan, and wanting to save Annville from itself. If anything, Jessie now seems more determined to fulfil this promise. He even goes as far as installing a PA system to the front of the church, all the easier to hear his message. He becomes a man obsessed, the power inside him corrupting him, showing that dangerous people trying to do good is still dangerous. Which is something Cassidy tries to tell him as they have a brief conversation in there briefs. While this is the latest edition of cautionary Cassidy vs gun-ho Jessie, it does show the easy chemistry that Joseph Gilgun, and Dominic Cooper have with each other. We even get some new information as Cassidy catches Jessie up on everything he’s missed (met a girl, she through me off a building), and Jessie gives another snippet of his past as he tells Cassidy that the tattoo on his back was given to him by? a mean old lady. Preacher is taking its time with its reveals, we still don’t know how the Cowboy fits into things, the bald man that wanted Tulip’s map hasn’t reappeared, and ~Quincannon is missing entirely this week, but all these hints, and clues are masterfully planted. Not a surprise really, since the show-runner is a Breaking Bad veteran.

The consequences of Jessie’s actions concerning Eugene and the Loach’s continue this week as Eugene tries to adapt to a life without the town hating him. Instead of being an outcast, Eugene is treated with kindness from the kids that used to call him murderer. This new situation is heart-breakingly rendered by a passing schoolmate saying hello to him, with his learned reply of “sorry” no longer needed. He even enjoys some bonding with his school mates through some fireworks. It’s Eugene’s reaction to this new-found acceptance that confirms his place as the show’s moral centre. He confronts Jessie and asks him to take the forgiveness back. He thinks he doesn’t deserve it, and that Jessie’s power cheated him out of the redemption that he was trying to earn. As I said last week: it’s not Jessie’s place to change how people feel so drastically, and this is Eugene’s problem. He, rightly points out that people have to be able to choose how they feel, and whether to forgive or not. Jessie has robbed Annville of its free will, becoming a fanatic in awe of his own power. Jessie, predictably doesn’t take this criticism well, he still thinks he’s saving the town, and in a moment of anger tells Eugene, in the voice of Genesis, to go to hell. Eugene disappears, in trying to do good, he has sent the one person who could get through to him to the worst place imaginable.

The show has been adept at questioning Jessie’s actions, his need to be one of the good guys has made him over reach himself, and damned an innocent boy. This plot wasn’t in the comics, so I was as shocked as everyone else at the turn this episode took. Jessie has no come to realise the dangers of Genesis, now he has to fix it. So on behalf of us viewers: get Eugene out of hell you bloody idiot!

9/10 Sundowner is another crazy episode of televisions craziest new show, with shocks, revelations, and

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Preacher S01E06: Sundowner – Even when everyone talks it out, it still goes to hell

Your 2016 ultimate Fourth of July viewing experience

To the rest of the world it’s just a day, but to Americans, July 4th is “Independence Day.” It’s the day when firearm toting, flag waving southerners unite alongside the scarf-wearing, Prius-driving yankees up north to celebrate our common love of blowing stuff up.

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There’s not a whole lot of reflection on things like the Declaration of Independence, the meaning of freedom, or the heroism of our veteran-dead anymore on this holiday of ours; but then again, we don’t spend much time talking about Race Riots, the Trail of Tears or Imminent Domain either. So I guess it evens out.

What we Americans do end up doing on the Fourth of July is the most American thing there is to do these days: A whole lot of nothing.

You might think that’s lazy, but if so, you’re probably over in England or Canada or somewhere else, not doing a whole lot of nothing. In which case, that’s a shame. I’ll be here, sitting around my house, eating unhealthy food and watching all the best jingo-powered TV shows, movies and broadcast specials I can get my hands on.

If you’re like me, and you are looking for something really “merica” to watch on Independence Day, or, if you’re not like me but you want to revel in the once-a-year awesomeness that is “merica,” then let me offer you my top five list of best things to watch on Independence Day. Sure there’s no way to watch all of these shows in one day, not when there’s afternoon naps and leftovers to eat, but since the fourth falls on a Monday this year, you can easily knock these out over the festive weekend leading up to the big day.

NUMBER FIVE: RICHARD DONNER’S SUPERMAN FILMS

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Everyone loves to make the Jesus comparison with Superman, even the filmmakers who adapt his story can’t seem to let it go. Let’s not forget, however, that Superman was created by a couple of Jews from Canada. I don’t guess the “from Canada” part matters, but the “couple of Jews” bit is certainly relevant. They didn’t have Jesus on their mind when they conceived Superman’s origins; they were thinking of Moses! But they weren’t even trying to go all-Biblical with it, either. It was the “immigrant” aspect that appealed to them. Like Moses, Superman was a child from one land, raised in another, who lived a very different kind of life than his people. He later left that life and became a kind of savior. That’s Moses and that’s certainly Superman. He’s an immigrant boy from Krypton, raised on a Kansas farm who eventually grows into a savior/hero who stands for Truth, Justice and (initially) the American Way.

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Richard Donner’s Superman movies (the first one from 1978 and the proper sequel that never saw theatrical release) nailed the Golden Age aesthetic of the character. Watched together, the first two “Superman” films form one an epic tale (thanks to a story by Godfather’s scribe Mario Puzo) but it’s the first one that really impresses. Donner presents three very different mini-films in the picture; the first act is pure science fiction, with an alien world, far-out technology and a spaceship rocketing away from an exploding planet. The second part of the movie is textbook Americana: Sweeping plains of Kansas, windmills, red barns, endless and unobstructed skies, and as a cherry on top: It’s the 1950’s. The best music, the best cars. It’s perfect. The movie then jumps ahead to “present” day (1978) and we get a cheese-ball comic book movie. What’s more American than hokey science fiction, Marlon Brando, the 1950’s and comic books? The fact that Supes, at one point in the second movie, waves the star-spangled banner around is just a wonderful bonus.

NUMBER FOUR: LINCOLN

WWE SmackDown Results: June 30, 2016

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The Better Champion.

The 880th edition of WWE Thursday Night SmackDown came to you from the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, FL. After being laid out with a Pedigree at the hands of Seth Rollins on RAW, WWE Champion Dean Ambrose would, without a doubt, be looking for a fight on SmackDown when “The Lunatic Champion” will be The Miz’s guest on Miz TV. With a Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship against Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns coming up in a few weeks at Battleground, what will happen when the WWE Champion and the Intercontinental Champion are in the same ring at the same time? Given The Miz’s tendency to get under the skin of his guests, will Miz TV end in a fight between the two champions?

Match Results

  • #1 Contender’s Fatal 4-Way Match: Cesaro def. Sheamus, Apollo Crews, & Alberto Del Rio by Alberto Del Rio tapping out to Cesaro’s Sharpshooter. As a result, Cesaro earns himself a shot at the United States Title.
  • United States Championship: Rusev (c) (with Lana) def. Cesaro by submission to the Accolade to retain.
  • Dana Brooke def. Billie Kay by pin with the Samoan Driver.
  • Erick Rowan & Braun Strowman (with Bray Wyatt) def. Aaron Hale & Mike Duwaty (local competitors) by Braun Strowman pinning Aaron Hale after slamming Mike Duwaty on top of Aaron Hale.
  • Sasha Banks def. Summer Rae by submission to the Bank Statement.
  • Champion vs. Champion: Non-Title: Dean Ambrose def. The Miz (with Maryse) by pin following Dirty Deeds.

See page 2 for detailed results.

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WWE SmackDown Results: June 30, 2016

WWE RAW Results: June 27, 2016

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Double Edged Assault.

The 1205th edition of WWE Monday Night RAW came to you, live, from the Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. Last week on RAW, a one-on-one match between Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns to determine the new #1 Contender for Dean Ambrose’s WWE World Heavyweight Championship ended in a double count-out, leaving “The Lunatic Champion” without a challenger for Battleground. Shane McMahon would come out to remedy this situation, but Dean Ambrose would volunteer himself for a Triple Threat Match, opting to defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against both Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns at next month’s Battleground event! This prompted a confrontation between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins on SmackDown where Rollins narrowly escaped being spiked with Dirty Deeds at the hands of the champion. With both Superstars likely to be on RAW, what else will go down before the Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Battleground?

Match Results

  • Sasha Banks & Paige def. Charlotte & Dana Brooke by Dana Brooke tapping out to Sasha Banks’ Bank Statement.
  • Non-Title: Titus O’Neil def. Rusev (with Lana) by count-out.
  • Seth Rollins def. John Cena by pin following the Pedigree after a distraction from The Club. As a result, John Cena will not be part of the WWE World Heavyweight Title match at Battleground.
  • Enzo & Cass def. Carlos & Martin (local competitors) by Enzo Amore pinning Martin following the Bada Boom Shakalaka.
  • Intercontinental Championship: Kane def. The Miz (c) (with Maryse) by count-out after The Miz (c) carries an injured Maryse to the back. As a result, The Miz (c) retains.
  • Apollo Crews & Cesaro def. Sheamus & Alberto Del Rio by Apollo Crews pinning Sheamus with the spinning sitout powerbomb.
  • Non-Title: Dean Ambrose def. AJ Styles by pin following Dirty Deeds after a distraction from John Cena. As a result, AJ Styles will not be part of the WWE World Heavyweight Title match at Battleground.

See page 2 for detailed results.

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WWE RAW Results: June 27, 2016

Game of Thrones S06E10: The Winds of Winter – Summer comes to a close in a fiery, bloody, and brilliant finale

I need to calm down. The Winds of Winter is not the best episode Game of Thrones has ever done, but it is the best episode of the season. Yes, The Door has been beaten, or rather burned to the ground by The Winds of Winter, as the show ends its second act with new rulers, new conflicts, and some confirmed fan theories. It’s an explosive end to a season that has always been fascinating and often game-changing.

So let’s start with the new Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. The story of Kings Landing hasn’t been the most compelling thing about season six, apart from the magnificent Jonathan Pryce. Cersei and Jamie had been tossed aside by their easily manipulated son, Margaery was biding her time with a clever bit of religious acceptance, and the trial of Loras and Cersei loomed large on the horizon. All of these threads were merely fine, everyone new that the trial was going to be the centrepiece of this plot , and now that it’s reached its violent conclusion, all of those past threads are reveal to be part of a beautiful tapestry. It was all designed to back Cersei into the frankly Mad King-like idea of destroying the Sept, and all of her enemies including the High Sparrow and all the Tyrell’s she could get her hands on, in the process.

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It’s a masterful sequence: we get a glimpse of the type of humiliation in store for Cersei through the spiritual breaking, and mutilation, of Loras, and in a montage reminiscent of the end of The Godfather, Cersei’s intricate plans reveal themselves, and it’s a bloodbath. Game of Thrones has never been shy about killing characters, but every time you think you’re desensitized to it, it pulls something like this. Margaery, Loras, their father, Kevan Lannister, and the High Sparrow himself are engulfed in wildfire, along with some of the surrounding citizens of Kings Landing. Even the old cockroach Grand Maester Pycelle bites the bullet. It’s not a complete victory though as Cersei’s actions drive Tommen to suicide, and drive Olenna Tyrell to Dorne and an alliance with Daenerys through Varys.

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As Cersei told Ned all those years ago, life is about power and those who have it. She now sits on the Iron Throne, the first women to sit in that hideous chair, through her own hideous actions. By blowing up the Sept she not only destroyed her enemies, she destroyed the resting place of her children and her father. I guess queens can’t afford to be sentimental.

Which is something Daenerys has experience of as well. After her victory last week, she’s finally ready to sail to Westreros. Her rebuttal of Daario, a man who loves her, is painful and clinical. She can’t take her lover west because she might need an alliance through marriage. She’ a long way from the girl her brother sold to the Dothraki, and after six long years it’s finally happening, with the season’s final shot showing us the culmination of her efforts: the iron fleet, her friends and allies, including Tyrion with his new Hand of the Queen pin, at her side, and three huge dragons all coming for the Iron Throne. It’s a spectacular image, one that basks in just how immersive this fantasy show can be. We have the rightful queen, the Mother of Dragons coming on one side, and the Night King on the other with Westeros in the middle.

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We also have a new king of the North as Jon takes the place of his brother, and father before him at Winterfell. There’s also the small matter of the shaky confirmation that Jon is in fact a Targaryen as its revealed (through my favourite exposition device, a Bran vision) that his mother is Lyanna Stark. This is a huge moment for many reasons: first of all it confirms the shows most popular fan theory, and second it continues this season’s trend of finally giving us some answers. Although it’s hard to shake the feeling that Jon is doomed. For one, the last king of the North was Robb and we all remember what happened there (although Arya has this weeks “F**k Yeah!” moment as she feeds Walder Frey his sons and cuts his throat), and there’s also that look shared by Sansa and Littlefinger, the same look Jamie gave Cersei as she sat on the Iron Throne.

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Sansa has been this season’s standout character, and she gets to share another powerful scene with Littlefinger in the godswood, in which he reveals his own aspirations for the Iron Throne, which he wants to share with Sansa. In a way, Littefinger symbolises all of the shows worst features, a misogynist, un-trustworthy schemer. It’s no coincidence that Sansa’s most powerful moments have come when she puts this weasel in his place, creepy kiss attempt included. These scenes are the show’s creators holding themselves to some account on their brutalisation of their female characters. It’s a nice sentiment, even if it can never completely work, and by having these words come out of Sansa’s mouth were a smart move. Its lip service, but it’s still something at least.

Although there was a slump in the middle, season six has been a glorious, and rewarding watch, and perhaps even the best run since the heights of season three. And if reports are correct, we only have 13 more episodes before the curtain falls on George R R Martin’s creation. Winter is finally here.

10/10 Without a doubt the best finale the show has ever attempted, with an epic scale, great character moments, and let’s not forget that Dany is finally on her way to Westeros. Winter has come and our long watch for season seven has begun, bring on the Clash of Queens.

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Game of Thrones S06E10: The Winds of Winter – Summer comes to a close in a fiery, bloody, and brilliant finale