What the Heck Happened to Pop Culture Zoo?!?

“This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.” ― Taylor Swift

Welcome to the new incarnation of Pop Culture Zoo! As many of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter know, this change started a while back. Basically, I have a lot of things, both old and new, that I want to do, so it was time to rearrange things online. Pop Culture Zoo itself will be transforming into more of an all-encompassing personal blog. I’ll be archiving the previous 6 years worth of material and making it available in the Archives section over to the left, but for all intents and purposes PCZ will look like a brand new thing.

As far as my news, reviews and interviews writings, that will be available over at The Flickcast. I’m already co-hosting the podcast there with Chris Ullrich so it just made sense to combine our efforts in other ways as well. I am very happy to find a new home over at The Flickcast and just as happy to be doing other writing of a more generic nature at Pop Culture Zoo. I’m also doing a monthly column, View From The Zoo, over at Impact Online, so please check that out as well. I’ll most likely be condensing some of my other ventures down to PCZ as well. Like I alluded to earlier, this is all about condensing and refocusing.

Basically, for my ramblings and views about TV, Film and Comic Books, check me out on The Flickcast. For everything else, including my brewing adventures and general observations on life, stay right here and keep checking out Pop Culture Zoo.

Slainte Mhath!


The Blacklist Star James Spader Sees Red

The Blacklist is already certified as a major hit for the 2013 Fall TV Season. A criminal mastermind, Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) turns himself in to the FBI promising his full cooperation to help them take down the really bad guys, but he’ll only work with new profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). The NBC show has been described as a combination of Alias, Silence of the Lambs and maybe a touch of Homeland, but it still manages to bring something new, and fun, to an episodic spy show. It’s an interesting premise with lots of mystery and plot points enough to keep things going for several years.

But what really makes The Blacklist special and almost a guarantee for awards next year is… James Spader. Or as Spader says…


QUESTION: How did you decide what the look of this particular character would be? We’re used to seeing you often with a lot of hair so did you decide you wanted the guy to look a certain way like this?

JAMES SPADER: Yes. It sort of worked backwards from one moment, and that’s what I love in that opening sequence when he goes in and surrenders himself, the juxtaposition. I knew the very first thing when I got to New York to shoot the pilot — I had very long hair, and I knew that they were going to shoot a surveillance photo of Reddington to have on the wall there when he surrenders himself. I thought it would be just a great moment when he surrenders himself, he takes his hat off, and the juxtaposition of the shot of him with long hair and then like this. And I also thought that it would be nice just because actors are burdened with everything else that they’ve done before in any role that they’re playing, and I thought it would be nice to take off my hat and it’s an entirely different person and a very different look to go with that.

But working backwards from there, you know, the way his life has been for the last 20 years, he moves very swiftly through his life. He’s moving from place to place very quickly. I thought he should have a haircut, that he can do himself if he cares to or he can go to some barber shop in a little town in Cambodia and they can cut his hair in ten minutes. I just thought it was streamlined, and his clothes are like that, too, in that he looks well dressed, but traveling clothes. You know, he wears clothes that he can go from a bank to a cave and he’s dressed accordingly. And he’s also in a lot of different climates over the last 20 years, so I thought it would be appropriate that he that he dress and look as if he’s able to move through the world easily and comfortably.

QUESTION: What made you so interested in playing a character like Reddington?

SPADER: I was really drawn to the enigmatic quality of the character. I know certain things about his past, but I don’t know the facts and figures of the last 20 years where he’s been invisible, living in plain sight around the world. And I didn’t want to. That’s part of the fun of doing a television show as opposed a film. I like that a television show is fluid and it evolves and develops and changes. And especially with this show I want to be surprised every week. I want it to sustain me over the life course of the show and those surprises are part of that sustenance. So I have only asked from the writers for enough for me to be able to do the work that I need to be able to do. And when I need a question answered they answer it. But I don’t ask more than that because I want them to also have the freedom to be able to write in that fashion where the show can grow and change direction and surprise me the same as it surprises the viewer. If I knew the entire bible of this show, all the past, the present and also the future, for me the experience of making the show would be done. And I’m not interested in that. If anything, when looking for something in a television show, looking for a piece of material, I’m specifically looking for something that I’m going to have a lot of unanswered questions for as long as possible.

The Blacklist - Episode 1.06 - Gina Zanetakos - Promotional Photos (15)_595_slogo

QUESTION: This is sort of superficial, but some viewers are going to make a Silence of the Lambs comparison. Is that sort of connection that you want to embrace or steer away from?

SPADER: The basis of their relationship [Reddington and Elizabeth] is very real. I mean, it’s clear, even from the pilot; there is a past between the two of them that she is not aware of, but he has an intimate knowledge of her past, her childhood, relatives of hers and so on. The relationship between [the characters] in the film you refer to is obsession, and it’s not based on any sort of reality at all. And I think that as the story starts to unfold — and that becomes a driving force — is what the basis of their relationship really is. I think that issue is so invoked in a viewer’s mind based on imagery more than anything else. In the pilot, obviously he’s in this [glass security] box. He’s shackled to the thing. A girl comes in. She’s a rookie and so on and so forth, but the imagery is so powerful and so strong in terms of that, and I think that’s probably where the correlation comes from more than anything. But as soon as Reddington hits the streets, at a certain point, he has to work as an asset, and therefore, he’s got to move freely in public and so on. So I think that the relationship that you’re talking about, that imagery will end fairly soon.

The Blacklist airs on NBC Mondays at 10:00PM

“The Day Of The Doctor” To Simulcast Worldwide On November 23

To make November 23rd, the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, even more special the BBC has announced that the special episode “The Day of the Doctor” will be broadcast at the same time worldwide. Here is the official announcement from BBC America with all the details and a couple of choice comments:

Announced today, BBC AMERICA will simulcast the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special, “The Day of the Doctor”, in the U.S. on November 23, 2013. For the first time ever, the world’s longest running and most successful sci-fi series will be broadcast simultaneously to millions of viewers worldwide in a global simulcast.

From the U.S. to the UK, Canada to Colombia, Brazil to Botswana and Myanmar to Mexico, fans in at least 75 countries spanning six continents will be able to enjoy the episode at the same time as the UK, with more countries expected to be confirmed within the next month. The one-off special stars Matt Smith (the Eleventh Doctor), Jenna Coleman (companion Clara), David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor) with Billie Piper and John Hurt.

In addition, BBC AMERICA will be dedicating an entire week to Doctor Who in November, including the new film An Adventure in Space and Time, marathons and new specials to be announced.

On top of the worldwide TV broadcast, BBC AMERICA will announce in the coming weeks details of select 3D screenings of the anniversary episode in theatres in the U.S.

“Few TV shows can still lay claim to being appointment viewing but Doctor Who takes this to another level. In its 50th Anniversary year we wanted to create a truly international event for Doctor Who fans in as many countries as possible and the simultaneous broadcast and cinema screening of the special across so many countries will make for a fitting birthday tribute to our Time Lord,” states Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Worldwide.

Steven Moffat, Showrunner for Doctor Who and Executive Producer of the 50th Anniversary episode adds: “The Doctor has always been a time traveller – now he’s travelling time zones. On the 23rd of November, it won’t be the bad guys conquering the Earth – everywhere it will be The Day of the Doctor!”

In London, birthplace of the iconic series, the 50th Anniversary weekend will also see over 20,000 fans gather at the ExCel exhibition and convention centre for the official celebration event which will feature appearances from cast old and new including Matt Smith and former Doctors Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker and Tom Baker.

Doctor Who is BBC AMERICA’s highest rated series. Since 1963, Doctor Who has been one of the best loved dramas and certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful sci-fi series ever. The show has received numerous awards across its 50 years and has seen huge commercial success with over 10 million DVDs and 8 million action figures sold globally. BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the UK broadcaster distributes Doctor Who to over 200 territories across the world.

November 23rd Is The Day Of The Doctor On BBC America

The centerpiece of BBC AMERICA’s celebrations of Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary will be the special anniversary episode, The Day of the Doctor, premiering on Saturday, November 23. In addition to the episode title and iconic image revealed today, the BBC confirmed the anniversary special will be feature length with 75 minutes of adventure. The Day of the Doctor stars Matt Smith (How to Catch a Monster), David Tennant (Broadchurch), Jenna Coleman (Dancing on the Edge), with Billie Piper (Secret Diary of a Call Girl) and John Hurt (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alien). This is the first time David Tennant and Billie Piper have appeared in the series since their farewells in 2010. The special will be a celebration for long-time fans and an opportunity for those new to the series to jump onboard.

Matt Smith, who plays the Doctor, said: “The Day of the Doctor is nearly here! Hope you all enjoy. There’s lots more coming your way, as the countdown to the 50th begins now.”

Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer, Doctor Who said: “50 years has turned Doctor Who from a television show into a cultural landmark. Personally I can’t wait to see what it becomes after a hundred.”

BBC AMERICA will announce additional 50th Anniversary programming plans in the coming weeks.

Picture shows Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, joined by John Hurt in the 50th Anniversary Special - The Day of the Doctor