Category Archives: television

Soundtrack Review: Teen Wolf (2011-present)

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Teen Wolf is an American television series that airs on MTV (the final season is currently airing). It is loosely based on the 1985 Teen Wolf film and tells the story of Scott McCall (Tyler Posey), a teenager who is bitten by a werewolf and must learn to live with the consequences. The soundtrack is composed by Dino Meneghin, who has worked on the series since its premiere in 2011 (which has really allowed for the musical themes to develop). The soundtrack for Teen Wolf was released on September 15th, so be sure to check it out!

In listening to any television soundtrack, I like to start with the main title. This sets the tone for any series and is usually a good indicator of what you’re going to get (that’s why McCreary’s theme for Constantine is one of my favorites). The main title for Teen Wolf is largely what I expected for a series of this kind: fast-paced, frenetic, a blend of symphonic instruments and electronic sounds, with a firm drum beat as well. I say this is what I expected, but that does not make it a bad thing. This is a show aimed at young adults after all, so the sound is right for that audience.

The next piece I listened to was “Hellhound” and for a few seconds I wondered if the track had been mislabeled. It starts out very soft and quiet, not what you’d expect. And then, out of nowhere, there’s a HUGE crash of drumbeats and you finally have the feeling of something menacing going on. It was still more melodic than I expected for the track title, but I enjoyed listening to it.

Of all the tracks I heard, “Fear Defeated” might be my favorite (with the main title running a close second). The track begins with an eerie sort of sound, followed by a strange clanking noise. I think this might be a mallet dragged over xylophones, or better yet, it may be the xylophone bars themselves clanked together to make a really creepy sound. The music then shifts into a dark and at times triumphant symphonic quality that I really enjoyed listening to. It really felt like the music you might hear in a movie, not a television show.

One thing I’ve taken away from listening to these recent television soundtracks is that the nature of television scoring has really changed from the early years. In some high-quality productions (most notably Game of Thrones), the music is so complex and thematic that it really stands on the same level as film music. But even in smaller (compared to GoT) productions, the music is now more symphonic, more nuanced and I couldn’t be happier. Whether it be television or film, music is often the make or break ingredient in any production.

I hope you enjoyed this short look into the music of Teen Wolf, the soundtrack is available now if you’d like to hear it in full. My thanks to The Krakower Group for making the soundtrack available for review.

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“Behold the King…” Sampling Triple H’s memorable Wrestlemania entrances

Earlier this year I talked about how wrestling can be considered a musical event due to how much music it employs in its production. Nowhere is this more true than in Wrestlemania, the “Superbowl” of the wrestling world (or one of them anyway, but that’s a discussion for another day). Having aired 33 editions since 1985, “the showcase of the Immortals” has seen some truly epic entrances (with thrilling musical performances to boot). But I want to focus on one wrestler in particular today: Hunter Hearst Helmsley, better known to all as Triple H. Given his dominant position in the industry, Triple H has taken part in some of the most elaborate entrances EVER. While I can’t list ALL of them, I do want to go through some of the more memorable entrances (note: this is not ranked in any particular order at the moment, though I may change that in the future).

  1. Wrestlemania 22 (2006): Triple H enters as “King Conan” (“King of Kings” entrance theme combined with classic “The Game” entrance)

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Triple H Wrestlemania 22 entrance (2006)

This entrance is a particular favorite of mine, and one of the better examples of how wrestling can resemble musical theater. The music begins with smoke hovering over the stage (as a weird video occasionally flashes on the screen). Seated on a throne, Triple H slowly rises through the smoke as Motorhead’s “King of Kings” plays out. Triple H is dressed for the occasion as King Conan (as in Conan the Barbarian), with a crown and fur lined cloak. While he looks inimidating, the effect is somewhat ruined by the fact that he’s also carrying a plastic water bottle in one hand (another trademark of his). Once the throne fully raises up, the music fades out and as “The Game” roars to life, Triple H stands up from his throne and dramatically makes his march to the ring, shaking off his cloak and roaring that HE will be the winner (spoiler alert: he loses).

2. Wrestlemania X-Seven (2001): Motorhead plays Triple H’s entrance music live (“The Game”)

Motorhead performs “The Game” live (2001)

This is actually the first time Motorhead performed Triple H’s theme music live at Wrestlemania; they would repeat this at Wrestlemania 21 (although Wrestlemania X-Seven is considered the superior performance). It starts out pretty much like a mini-rock concert: the band plays the song (to the delight of the crowd) and goes through a large portion before Triple H’s entrance even starts. And it’s at THAT point that the crowd remembers that this is all for a villain and they promptly begin to boo. Triple H noted later that while he had to keep his “mean face” on for his character, inside he was practically screaming with joy because Motorhead was a favorite band of his.

3. Wrestlemania 27 (2011): “The Gladiator Entrance”: Triple H emerges behind a ring of gladiators (Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”+ “The Game”)

Triple H’s Gladiator Entrance for Wrestlemania 27 (2011)

For the last five to six years, it has practically been a guarantee that Triple H’s entrance will be one of the most elaborate and Wrestlemania 27 showed this in spades. This would mark the second time that Triple H would meet The Undertaker at Wrestlemania and the stakes for this match were through the roof. The entrance begins with Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” As the music grows louder, images of flames begin pouring up the ramp and the stage, making it look like it is all on fire. A ring of “gladiators” (in reality independent wrestlers looking to make some extra money) emerges from a lowered ramp in the stage floor to form a ring with their shields. Suddenly the lights drop to a single spotlight and the gladiators move forward to reveal Triple H in a creepy-as-hell skull and crown mask (this is a look he’s repeated several times, I guess he likes it). He stands motionless for a good thirty seconds when the music abruptly stops and the lights go out. And then…out of nowhere, the stage blares to life and there stands “The Game” in all his glory (he did a quick change in the dark) as Motorhead’s music takes over.

These are the three entrances that stand out the most in my mind, the honorable mentions included:

Triple H’s EPIC entrance at Wrestlemania 30 (2014)

“The Terminator Entrance” at Wrestlemania 31 (2015)

If anyone tries to tell you that wrestling is not connected to musical theater, show them these examples, they really do speak for themselves. Hopefully in the future I can expand more on this idea. I hope you enjoyed reading and watching 🙂

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10 awesome connections between The Clone Wars and the Star Wars films

I was thinking about Star Wars (again) and I started to consider all the ways that The Clone Wars series ties back into the films (both prequel and original). The following list is by no means exhaustive, but I thought it would be fun to share all of this with you. Enjoy!

  1. Anakin Skywalker meets Captain Tarkin (the future Grand Moff) while rescuing a Jedi Master. Tarkin is decidedly NOT impressed with the Jedi (though he and Anakin do come to a grudging understanding by the end of the arc). Knowing this, it REALLY makes you wonder if Tarkin knew who Darth Vader really was…
  2. Earlier in this same arc, Anakin unveils a plan whereby he, Obi-Wan, and the rest of their team will smuggle themselves onto a Separatist-controlled planet by freezing themselves in carbonite. Vader (apparently) remembered this idea years later and attempted to implement it on Luke.
  3. Anakin was friends with the future Admiral Ackbar. No, really! When Anakin and Padme are dispatched to Mon Cala, home planet of the Mon Calamari, they are forced to rescue the Crown Prince whose captain of the guard is one Captain Ackbar. Knowing what happens in the future, seeing them work together was surreal to say the very least.
  4. Anakin (and his Padawan Ahsoka) pays a visit to Mustafar long before Anakin has his fateful duel with Obi-Wan there.
  5. The Clone Wars series is the reason Darth Maul was (technically) resurrected and made into one of the greatest villains in the Star Wars canon. In one of their early encounters, Maul taunts Obi-Wan by reminding him how he killed Qui-Gon Jinn (at the climax of Episode I).
  6. Mon Mothma (the leader who gave the briefing in Episode VI) appears as a Senator in multiple episodes. Watching her talk with Padme is cool and really sad at the same time since we know what happens at the end of Episode III.
  7. The Clone Wars establishes even more that Anakin and Bail Organa are friends which is so ironic to me given how Anakin (as Vader) will be a part of the Empire that destroys Bail’s home planet (and kills Bail himself).
  8. You know Sy Snootles, the alien singer with the awesome performance number in Return of the Jedi? Well, as it turns out, during the Clone Wars, Sy (who was still a performer) had a love affair with Jabba’s uncle Ziro the Hutt, only to ultimately betray and kill him in order to retrieve some damning information.
  9. Think back to the Death Star conference meeting in Episode IV. Remember that older officer with a white moustache and off-white uniform? The Clone Wars reveals that this was formerly Admiral Yularen, fleet commander serving under General Anakin Skywalker. It blows my mind that Yularen’s former Jedi commander is walking mere steps from him and he has no idea at all.
  10. Last, and to me most importantly, in the earth-shattering Mortis arc, Anakin is shown EXACTLY what he will become in the future by a living incarnation of the Dark side of the Force. He sees visions of Padme dying, the death of the Jedi and most terrifyingly, a vision of himself as the masked Darth Vader. Now, one could argue that since Anakin’s memory of his vision is wiped out, that this doesn’t really count. But to me it does, because it answers a long-burning question (for me anyway): if Anakin HAD known what was coming, would he have acted differently? Had he not been stopped, I think the answer would have been yes. Anakin is HORRIFIED by what he sees and desperately wants to stop this future from happening (though at this late stage, I’m not sure if that is even possible).

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Soundtrack Review: BoJack Horseman (2014-present)

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Well this is…different. I’ve never really watched BoJack Horseman, but I’ve heard enough of my friends talking about it that I decided it was worth checking out the soundtrack. If you haven’t seen it, the story takes place in an alternate world (largely in the Los Angeles and Hollywood area) where humans live side by side with tailless anthropomorphic animals. BoJack (voiced by Will Arnett) is the washed-up star of a 90’s sitcom called Horsin’ Around and seeks to re-ignite his stardom via a tell-all autobiography. The series is a satire of Hollywood and celebrity culture.

I sampled several pieces of the soundtrack that was composed by Jesse Novak and the music makes it pretty clear that this is not your typical show. Oddly enough, I found myself drawn to “BoJack’s Theme” which I can only describe as a quirky mesh of synthesizer, drums and brass that has a rather jazz-like tone to it. It’s actually pretty catchy in that I feel that it is growing on me.

“Seaport” also heavily employs synthesizer, and actually reminded me of a short theme from an anime (one of those scenes were the camera is pulling back and showing the viewer a landscape).

I was pleasantly surprised to find several songs on the soundtrack as well, the two I came across were “I Will Always Think of You” and “Back in the 90’s.” Now I haven’t seen any episodes of the show, but it sounds like these are being sung by BoJack (please correct me if I’m wrong on this detail). I say I was pleasantly surprised because, well, most television soundtracks don’t have songs (You’re The Worst is another wonderful exception). “I Will Always Think of You” is actually a really nice song, it’s a duet between a male and female singer, and it really puts me in mind of a classic love song circa the 1950s/60s (this reminds me of something Sinatra might have crooned back in the day).

All together, the soundtrack for BoJack Horseman turned out to be full of many pleasant surprises. Season 4 premiered on Netflix on September 8th, so if you haven’t checked out the series, I officially recommend it and I also recommend checking out the soundtrack. My deepest thanks to The Krakower Group for making this soundtrack available so I could review it. I hope you enjoyed this brief look into the music of BoJack Horseman.

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Thinking about Star Wars

Hello, yes I’m still here. I’m honestly not sure when i’ll be back to blogging regularly (life is crazy), but I wanted to talk a bit about Star Wars (again) so here I am.

Since this past weekend was a holiday, I decided to celebrate by going on an epic Star Wars marathon. In no particular order, I watched Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi. I found watching Revenge of the Sith to be particularly painful as I’d watched several seasons of The Clone Wars prior to putting in the movie, and since The Clone Wars series is a direct precursor to Episode III, in my mind the film was a direct continuation of the series (even though the show was supposed to run right up to the events of Episode III and even run parallel to the film if they’d been allowed to keep going after Disney acquired the franchise). It was just painful because, in watching The Clone Wars, I became very attached to all of the Jedi characters (except for Pong Krell), and watching them die the way they did…it hurt. Yes, I know Star Wars is fictional, none of this EVER happened, but these characters are very real to me.

On another note (pun intended), I really love all the musical Easter Eggs in The Clone Wars and Rebels. People should really stop discounting these two shows just because they’re animated. I didn’t think much of them at first either, but once I started watching, it hit me just how good the storytelling was. These shows are at the very least the equal of the live-action films (if not better if you compare them to Episode II). And the musical Easter Eggs that I mentioned….are just fantastic. For instance, when Padme visits Alderaan, there’s a great iteration of Leia’s theme. But the Easter Egg i like the most is the repeated references to the Imperial March, usually when Anakin does something or encounters someone that foreshadows his transformation into Darth Vader. This happens a lot when Anakin is around Chancellor Palpatine (who we all know is really Darth Sidious). In The Clone Wars, Anakin struggles a lot with his emotions, and in one episode, Anakin walks away at the end in a particularly black mood, with a few bars of the Imperial March playing ominously in the background. The most recent example I’ve seen is when Anakin encounters Captain Tarkin on a Separatist controlled world they’re trying to escape from (yes, he met Tarkin YEARS before he ever became the cunning Grand Moff seen in Rogue One and A New Hope, who knew??) The two spend most of the episode in conflict (Tarkin doesn’t think much of the Jedi) but by the end they’ve earned each other’s respect. And when the two shake hands back on Coruscant, there’s the Imperial March again…hinting at the contact they’ll have in the future. There’s actually a lot of speculation as to whether or not Tarkin knew who Vader really was. Most seem to agree that if he didn’t know, he at least had his suspicions on the matter (that he wisely kept to himself).

And speaking of Rebels…I am over the moon about the latest trailer for Season 4. When Tarkin directly mentioned Krennic and Project Stardust (both referring to the events of Rogue One which I suspect Rebels will run straight up to) I completely geeked out! I’m so curious to see what happens to Thrawn by the end of the season. I’m still holding out hope that at some point this legendary character makes the leap to live-action (in a perfect world, this would be pulled off as a complete surprise) but that would require him to make it out of the season alive. And right now…given the last words the Bendu spoke to Thrawn in season 3…I just don’t know. And then there’s the fates of Kanan and Ezra. As much as I don’t want to think of it, it CAN’T end well for either of them, and here’s why: by the time of Return of the Jedi, Yoda makes it clear that Luke will be “the last of the Jedi.” While Ezra could conceivably live on just not as a full-fledged Jedi (if the rumor that Benicio del Toro is playing Ezra in The Last Jedi turns out to be true I will FREAK OUT), Kanan most definitely identifies as a Jedi, which means he can’t be around, which probably means he dies. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t WANT Kanan to die, I don’t want ANY of them to die, but I have this terrible feeling that by the time Season 4 is over, Kanan (and possibly more) will be gone.

Since this is the last season of Rebels, I hope Dave Filoni doesn’t keep us in suspense too much longer as to what the next animated series will be about. I have no real preference myself, so long as Filoni returns with something. I know it will never happen, but I’d love to see the rest of The Clone Wars produced. I know it’s all written out, but it would be so cool to see it realized in animation, the way it should have been. Also a Maul-centric series would be amazing (provided Sam Witwer stays on as the voice).

Anyways, those are my thoughts on Star Wars. What do you think of the upcoming season of Rebels? Do you also think Kanan is going to die? Could Ezra be making the jump to live-action in The Last Jedi? (I’m not totally against that idea by the way). Hopefully I will be back to regular blogging in the near future. If nothing else, I’ll make sure to share my thoughts with the big films yet to come out this fall (especially The Last Jedi when it gets here). Later!

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Thoughts on Game of Thrones: an epiphany!

I’m literally vibrating with excitement right now, I realized something today that I should have noticed ages ago, and maybe I’m the last one to make the connection, but I want to talk about it anyway.

So one of the big questions of the series has been who will be the “three heads of the dragon?” This is based on a line that says “The dragon must have three heads” and implies that Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion must have separate riders. Dany was obviously one from the start ever since her dragons were born. Now that Jon’s Targaryen heritage is known (to the audience at least), he’s sure to be the second one, but who is the third? A leading theory implies Tyrion (based on the idea that Aerys, Dany’s father, had his way with Tywin’s wife). But I’m wondering now if the answer hasn’t been under our noses this entire time. What about Gendry?

Yes, I said Gendry. I made the connection about an hour ago as I was reading through the trivia for “Eastwatch.” In it, the authors made mention of the fact that Gendry is actually a cousin to Dany and Jon via his Targaryen ancestor. Considering Robert Baratheon died all the way back in season one, it completely slipped my mind that Robert was part Targaryen, in fact he was a second cousin to Rhaegar due to the fact that his grandmother was Princess Rhaelle Targaryen (a daughter to Aegon V). Being part Targaryen is part of what gave Robert the throne after the Rebellion was over (besides the fact that he killed Rhaegar and Aerys had been killed by Jaime Lannister), since he was related by blood to the royal family, he already had some (distant) claim to the Iron Throne.

The point is, Gendry is part-Targaryen, distantly to be sure, but maybe it’s enough. And keeping this in mind, doesn’t it seem striking that we have THREE known Targaryen relatives (Dany, Jon and Gendry) now? Maybe I’m stretching a bit too far, but at least we know for sure that Gendry is related, Tyrion is only pure conjecture at this point.

That’s my little epiphany, not sure if it’ll bear out, but it seems promising. What do you think? Could Gendry be the third head of the dragon?

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Thinking about Game of Thrones S7 E4 “The Spoils of War”: Tell me they didn’t just do THAT!

Note: The review for Atomic Blonde IS coming, I promise

Warning: The following is a rant and also has spoilers for the end of “The Spoils of War”

If you know anything about Game of Thrones then you are fully aware of how “The Spoils of War” ended…after seeing his forces almost completely wiped out by the Dothraki and Drogon, Jaime Lannister, former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Kingslayer, Kinslayer and the father of the late Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen, grabs a lance and makes a desperate charge for Daenerys, who has landed to pull a scorpion bolt out of Drogon’s shoulder. Tyrion, who is watching from afar, proclaims the obvious: that is brother is a “fucking idiot” and can only watch as Jaime gets closer and closer, only to have his route blocked by Drogon’s jaws as he prepares to incinerate him on the spot. But wait, Jaime is saved by Bronn at the last possible second!! Or WAS he? The very last shot before the screen goes black is that of Jaime sinking to the bottom of the lake, face slack.

Tell me they did not just kill Jaime freaking Lannister by having him drown in a lake weighed down by his own armor? Tell me they didn’t just do that! I know (and most of you know) that there is still a healthy chance that Jaime is going to turn up in the next episode alive and (mostly) well, but let’s face it, until we see him on the screen, there is equally a good chance that he’s dead. I mean this is the same show that killed the Sand Snakes in almost one fell swoop (I know no one really liked them, but the point still stands), Olenna Tyrell, not to mention every other shocking death that’s ever occurred (*cough* Red Wedding *cough*)

The point I’m trying to make is, even though Jaime dying NOW would wreck most of our theories for how Cersei dies, there’s also a twisted way in which his death makes sense. As unhinged as Cersei is now, and in spite of the lack of emotion she shows, how do you think she’d react if she learned that her beloved twin (and in her mind her last surviving family) is dead? It would BREAK her, even more than the walk of atonement did, even more than Joffrey’s death did.

I sincerely hope I’m wrong. I’m praying that at some point in episode 5 we’ll see Jaime Lannister sitting somewhere looking like a drowned rat and Bronn complaining about having to save his ass once again. Of course, if Jaime IS alive, then the question is, is he able to return to King’s Landing or is he a prisoner of Daenerys? I’m kind of leaning toward the latter, even though there’s a more than reasonable chance that Dany will make Jaime dragon food the moment she finds out who he is.

I just really don’t want Jaime to be dead, not now (or ever though I somehow doubt he lives to the end). After everything he’s been through, good and bad (and getting your hand chopped off is pretty damn bad), to go out by drowning in a lake is…rather anti-climatic, don’t you think?

One last note: if he IS dead? I’m going on an epic tirade about the injustice of it all.

This concludes my rant.

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