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What I bought – 23 May 2012

by  in Comic News Comment
What I bought – 23 May 2012

“That’s one of the Devil’s main tricks, of course. Fill a man with faith. What evils, what absolute horrors the noble sword of faith sends pouring into the world!” (John Gardner, from Freddy’s Book)

Batman Incorporated #1 (“Demon Star”) by Grant “Matt Seneca can kiss my ass!” Morrison (writer), Chris Burnham (artist), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist), and Patrick Brosseau (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

Morrison has had a weird run with Batman, veering between godawful and transcendent, and I wonder if this final 12-issue push is really his last work with the character. Morrison always reads better in toto, so I’d really like to sit down with his entire Batman run over the several titles and read it all at once. He can write very good individual issues, but he also has a penchant for writing with the grand scheme in mind, so they do work once it’s all done. I’ve been enjoying his run on Batman, Incorporated, so I was looking forward to cracking this one open and getting to it. Unfortunately, while it’s not his worst work, it’s certainly not his best.

Occasionally the worst thing you can say about Morrison is that his formalism hides emptiness, so while the work might be dazzling to read, it really doesn’t say anything. Even that Morrison is interesting, which is why I was so depressed about the three issues of Action Comics I read, because they didn’t even have the Morrison style to hide the void inside. This issue is much more stylistic and fun, but it feels very padded once you get right down to it. Leviathan is, yes, taking over everything, but Morrison goes to a lot of effort to tell us something we already know – namely, who’s behind Leviathan. Now, new readers might need this, and I get that, but Morrison has rarely been concerned about getting people up to speed, and there had to be a better way to do it than with the branding on the cows, which, the very first time we and Batman sees it, should have been enough to clue us in. Morrison isn’t working with some brand-new villain, after all. The drama in the book falls flat, not only because we know it’s a trick, but because there’s no reason to stretch out the fact that Damian has a price on his head for the entire book. The comic begins with Bruce getting arrested and then flashes back one month, but we could easily have begun the book with the final few pages and gone from there, which would have cut the fat, so to speak, off of this thing. I’m sure there’s a reason why the bad guy was slaughtering the cows even as Batman and Robin were chasing him, but I’ll be damned if I can figure it out. I don’t know – while reading the words of this comic, I found myself enjoying it even as I wondered why Morrison didn’t get to the point. It’s a weird feeling.

Perhaps G-Mozz just wanted to let Burnham show off, because if Burnham’s work on this comic (both the pre-reboot one and this one) doesn’t make him a superstar, nothing will. He’s precise with his lines, clever with his page layouts (Morrison gives him some leeway with that) and his sound effects, and amazing with his points of view. It’s wildly fun looking at this book without reading it, because Burnham is such a good visual storyteller. The page where the panels are the sides of buildings is a bit gimmicky, sure, but you don’t see many other people doing stuff like it, do you? Burnham has a good ability to make the insane characters in Morrison’s scripts look like they belong in Gotham – not because he makes them look “realistic,” but because he makes everything in Gotham insane.

As always with the less-than-great-but-still-interesting Morrison, I’m willing to see where he’s going with this. This is more lively than those issues of Action, for instance. I’m just not sure if the God of All Comics has anything left to say about the character.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Chew #26 (“Space Cakes Part 1 of 5”) by John Layman (writer/letterer), Rob Guillory (artist/colorist), and Taylor Wells (color assistant). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

Layman and Guillory catch up to last year’s issue #27 (which they’ll re-release next month) with this new arc, in which Tony is in hospital after the events of the last arc and his sister, Toni, takes center stage. This is a fairly self-contained story, as Chow Chu (the brother) asks Toni to help him with what he claims is a case – a rival is bidding on artwork that you can taste (remember, every power in this world is connected to food, and the painter can create art that tastes like the food it depicts) and, according to Chow, is planning a big forgery scheme with them. He needs Toni to lick the artwork because she is able to read the future of things she eats – but whatever she takes a bit out of has to be alive, so she’s a bit confused about why Chow needs her. Oh, it’s a scheme, all right!

It’s a bit of a trifling “case” (it turns out it’s not much of one at all), but Layman uses it to bring the Chu family back into the book, remind us who everyone is, and advance the plot a bit at the end (when we finally meet the painter). He also continues the idea of people jumping into bed with each other the slightest opportunity, a running joke in Chew that continues to elicit a chuckle. Without being too obvious about it, he also points out that Toni sabotages her own relationships even as she’s trying to find out if guys are “the one.” Even without our main character, Layman continues to do a fine job with the overall plot and the various people who show up in the book. Consider how well a Batman book would go over if Batman was tied up for five issues getting pummeled and is now in a hospital bed, comatose. Layman doesn’t care – he forges on!

Obviously, the art is amazing. I like how Guillory puts what looks like a Rob Liefeld print in the art auction next to the Mona Lisa. That’s where Liefeld belongs!!!!! I have nothing else to say about Guillory. He’s superb. And he wears natty hats.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Dark Horse Presents #12. “Aliens: Inhuman Condition Chapter 1” by John Layman (writer/letterer), Sam Kieth (artist/colorist), and John Kalisz (colorist); “The Creep Chapter 2” by John Arcudi (writer), Jonathan Case (artist), and Nate Piekos (letterer); “Finder: Third World Chapter 10” by Carla Speed McNeil (writer/artist/letterer), Jenn Manley Lee (colorist), and Bill Mudron (colorist); “Criminal Macabre: They Fight by Night Chapter 3” by Steve Niles (writer), Christopher Mitten (artist), Michelle Madsen (colorist), and Nate Piekos (letterer); “House of Fun” by Evan Dorkin (writer/artist/letterer) and Sarah Dyer (colorist); “The Occultist: Damned Can Dance Chapter 2” by Tim Seeley (writer), Victor Drujiniu (artist), Andrew Dalhouse (colorist), and Nate Piekos (letterer); “The Black Beetle: Night Shift” by Francesco Francavilla (writer/artist); “Mister X: Hard Candy Chapter 1” by Dean Motter (writer/artist); “Nexus: Bad Moon Rising Chapter 1” by Mike Baron (writer), Steve Rude (artist/letterer), and Glenn Whitmore (colorist); “Sensible City” by Harlan Ellison (writer) and Richard Corben (illustrations); “Sabertooth Vampire” by Mike Russell (writer/artist/letterer) and Bill Mudron (colorist). $7.99, 80 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Sam Kieth puzzles me. Sometimes, his art is breathtaking. Yet too often recently, his art is sloppy and even amateurish. His lines look fuzzy, his poses are terrible, and his details are non-existent. Sometimes, he veers between greatness and awfulness in the space of a couple of pages, as he does in the “Aliens” story in DHP #12. The first few pages, with a girl named Jean walking along a bleak landscape with a talking teddy bear, are beautiful – Kieth’s details are wonderful, and when Jean says she’s going to kill … something (aliens, presumably), her face doesn’t look angry, just sad at what she’s been driven to do. A few pages later, we get a group of what are, I guess, clones fighting aliens, and it’s terrible. The poses look terrible, the aliens look silly, and the way Kieth draws the clones holding guns is ridiculous. I honestly don’t know what to think about Sam Kieth anymore. It’s weird.

Oh, there are other stories in this issue, too. We find out why the Creep is called thus, but the case he’s working on moves along only slowly. McNeil’s “Finder” stories continue to be the charming centers of the issues in which they appear – I don’t know where she’s going with them, if anywhere, but they’re pleasant slices of life of this world. Niles’ Cal McDonald story kicks into another gear, which is nice. Dorkin’s story of the Eltingville Club is goofy, but has a nice twist at the end. Francavilla gives us the back story about the lizard statue the bad guys were looking for in part one of his story, and of course we get his fantastic art to go with it. I’ve always been on the fence about Motter’s Mister X, but it works well in small doses, and this is an intriguing beginning to the mystery. Of course, Baron and the Dude are back with Nexus, and it’s as gorgeous as you expect it to be. I’ve never been able to get around Baron’s detached writing style on Nexus, and that’s the case here – the characters seem like cartoon characters too much, so I don’t care about the story that much. The art is very nice, though. Russell’s Sabertooth Vampire is hilarious.

This is a typically solid issue of DHP, although there have been better ones. Most of the serials running right now have started very recently, either in this issue or the last one, so it’s hard to get a bead on them. It’s not surprising that McNeil’s and Niles’ are the most entertaining in this issue, because they’ve had longer to get going. It’s still a fine comic, though, and I’m glad it’s made it to a year – I guess it’s doing well for Dark Horse!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fables #117 (“Cubs in Toyland Chapter 4: Action Figures”/”A Revolution in Oz Chapter 4: General Orders”) by Bill Willingham (writer), Mark Buckingham (penciler, “Cubs”), Steve Leialoha (inker, “Cubs”), Andrew Pepoy (inker, “Cubs”), Shawn McManus (artist, “Oz”), Lee Loughridge (colorist, “Cubs”), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

On the question of whether I’m going to keep reading Fables after this story arc, the chances are lessening with every issue. I don’t know if it’s my lethargy and unconsciously, I’ve already decided, which is reflecting itself in my emotional responses to each issue, but this arc has been pretty boring, hasn’t it? I mean, four issues in, and finally something happens? And even then, it’s not all that interesting and ends pretty quickly. In this arc, we’ve seen Therese whine about her family, and now she’s whining about being a queen. Darien finds her, enlists some toy soldiers (they’re the best characters in the issue), and … quickly gets defeated (seemingly). I get that the main story is only 17 pages long, but Willingham’s penchant for writing for the trade is catching up with him, due partly to DC’s decision to cut two pages from the comics and, I guess, Buckingham’s inability to produce 20 pages a month, necessitating the back-up story. (Yes, I know I used “penchant” twice in this post. Deal with it). When you only get 17 pages to tell your main story, you have to trim the fat – in this case, 5 pages of Therese whining so that Willingham can introduce two plot points – “the other thing” and the fact that Therese can’t fly … unless those are the same thing, which doesn’t seem likely. Maybe they are, in which case it’s even more annoying. I get that Willingham has never done that with regard to Fables, preferring instead to take his own sweet time, but when the results are as enervating as this, perhaps he should reconsider. The battle is somewhat fun, but because it gets cut off so quickly, it never builds nicely to the crucial moment, making it less impressive than it could have been. Sigh.

I’m still sticking with the book until the end of the arc, and if that’s issue #119, I might pick up #120 just to make it a nice 10-year run with the comic, but my confidence that I’ll continue with it after that keeps sinking. Maybe this just proves that you shouldn’t write stories about whiny kids. They’re not that interesting!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Mind Mgmt #1 by Matt Kindt (writer/artist). $3.99, 26 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

I’ve been looking forward to Mind Mgmt for a while (I think Kindt said something about it last summer, so at least that long), and it doesn’t disappoint. The basic story, so far, is that two years ago something happened to almost every person on a particular airplane – they lost their memory. Only a seven-year-old boy retained his. Now a true-crime writer named Meru decides she’s going to investigate the flight to find out what happened. She hasn’t written anything in a while, and she’s out of money, and her agent says he’s not going to send her any more, but if she wants to investigate it, go ahead. Then he calls her with a different story and sends her to Mexico, where people in a small village started making pots and doing nothing else – they wouldn’t eat and they eventually starved. Again, the kids were unaffected. Meru doesn’t know it, but CIA agents are following her, and one of them gets killed, the other one, Bill, decides he needs to contact her directly. And so the hunt is on!

One thing we might know if we read the preview a few weeks ago is that Meru has already started investigating the flight before, but she always forgets about it. So her agent’s attitude toward her “new” idea makes more sense. I may have given the game away, but that’s the way it is. The issue itself doesn’t have too much to do with the flight, because it’s more about establishing this very weird world the characters inhabit. The inside front and back covers have a strip explaining the origins of Mind Mgmt, back in World War I (it has to do with an umbrella), while the first few pages simply show various people killing other people and being killed in turn. Why? Who knows! Kindt even throws in a two-page story about a character being recruited unsuccessfully by Mind Mgmt. Of course, he never gets around to telling us what Mind Mgmt is, which might annoy you or make it more intriguing, depending on your mindset (it’s the latter for me). The edges of the panels indicate that this entire issue is a “Mind Mgmt Field Guide,” with pointers in text that reflect what’s happening on the page. Finally, Kindt himself points out that there are a lot of secrets packed into each issue, including on the back cover (which looks like an advert for chewing gum but was created by Kindt). It makes this a wildly fun book to read, even if you, like me, hate puzzles (and I do so very much).

Kindt’s art is probably an acquired taste, but I love it, because he toys with perspective and layout so much. He doesn’t do too much with the latter in this issue, but he does have some fun with perspective, and unlike many of the DC books these days, he knows the value of a good splash page, so he saves one up for late in the issue, when it has more impact. The coloring on the book is nice, too – it looks painted with watercolors, and it works well on the thin, newspaper-like paper on which it’s printed.

This is an unusual but enjoyable package of a comic, from the writing to the art to the presentation, and it’s kind of fun to see Kindt tackle a monthly comic. He seems to work fairly fast, so I hope he can keep it up!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Near Death #8 by Jay Faerber (writer), Ed Brisson (writer/letterer, “Our Home”), Simone Guglielmini (artist), Jason Copland (artist, “Our Home”), Ron Riley (colorist), Paul Little (colorist, “Our Home”), and Charles Pritchett (letterer). $2.99, 26 pgs, FC, Image.

Faerber writes a nifty little story about three generations of grandfather-father-sons engaged in a blood feud, and the wife of one of the third generation wants Markham to stop it. Markham discovers that it’s not that easy to stop a feud when both participants completely understand what’s at stake and don’t care. The victim has no girlfriend and no kids, so the man planning to kill him thinks it will end if he kills him, but Markham’s client is pregnant and doesn’t want her husband going to jail for murder. What’s a poor ex-hitman to do? I’m not exactly sure how the solution works out (if you’ve read it, does he tell Justin what he’s going to do before he does it?), but it’s not a bad one.

The most important thing in the book is that Naseer shows up again, and it appears that Markham has made a friend. Isn’t that adorable? I’m glad that Faerber kept Naseer around, because in a book like this, the lead needs someone to play off of, and in Seattle, Markham had Detective Cahill (who shows up briefly in this issue), but now he needs someone else. Naseer is an interesting character, and the brief conversation he has with Markham at the end of this issue is illuminating.

There’s a bleak “Murder Book” story in this issue, too. Brisson’s black-as-pitch outlook on life gives us another horribly depressing but gripping story, and Jason Copland draws it nicely. Both Riley (on the main story) and Little (in the back-up) enjoy their blues, so both stories share a nice visual quality.

Near Death continues to be a solid comic book. I don’t know if it will ever rise above that, but I do like reading it, and that’s all that matters!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Thunderbolts #174 (“Like Lightning Part 3 of 3”) by Jeff Parker (writer), Declan Shalvey (artist), Frank Martin Jr. (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC Marvel.

This came out last week, but last week was a weird one at my comic book store (for the retailer, pulling the comics, at least) and this one didn’t make it into my box. Oh well.

This is the final issue before the book changes its name, and Parker wraps up the whole “Thunderbolts traveling through time” plot rather ingeniously, I think. Even though I’m predisposed to hate time travel stories because of conundrums like this – Fixer screwed up the time line and now the two groups have to figure out how to repair it, which they do. Parker writes some nice jokes, everything gets worked out, and we move on. Yay!

I’ve been reading this comic since issue #150, and it’s really enjoyable. Parker writes these characters well, and he casually reminds us that they’re bad guys when they talk about the people who died when the tower landed – they don’t care about the dead in any way, but they do need them. A superhero team would have to agonize about the people who died, but the Thunderbolts just think, “Hey, what about all those corpses down there?” This book is full of fun little incidents like that, from nice jokes to all the back-stabbing. I’m not sure if it’s a great comic book, but it is a good one, and as Parker told me he’s keeping the book the same even though the title is changing, I’ll stick with it even though the name change is absolutely idiotic. We’ll see what happens!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and Pizzaboy by Filipe Melo (writer), Juan Cavia (artist), Santiago Villa (colorist), Raylene Lowe (translator), and Pedro Semedo (letterer). $12.99, 116 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

I enjoyed the story in Dark Horse Presents starring these characters, so I hope I’ll like this sucker! And hey – it’s Portuguese!

Interiorae by Gabriella Giandelli (writer/artist), Kim Thompson (translator), and Ben Horak (letterer). $19.99, 144 pgs, FC, Fantagraphics.

This looks odd. Good, but odd. It takes place inside an apartment building in Milan, where strange things are afoot. There’s a giant talking rabbit, for instance. Oh, those wacky Europeans!

Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives volume 3. $39.99, 237 pgs, FC, Fantagraphics.

Ditko = GOOD.

Uncouth Sleuth by Charles Fulp (writer), Craig Rousseau (penciler), Norman Lee (inker), Liquid! (colorist), and Comicraft (letterer). $12.99, 76 pgs, FC, Fulp Fiction.

I hope this is a good comic, but who knows. It’s a parody of an Indiana Jones adventure, with lots of scantily clad women running around and jokes like “I’m looking for a Harry Johnson.” “Shouldn’t be hard to find one in a dress like that.” Yes, I groaned too. But I hope the terrible jokes are part of the fun.


Arizonan politicians occasionally look around the country and think, “You know, other states are acting a bit crazier than we are recently, so we need to step up our game!” I have to think that’s what they do, because how do you explain the AZ Secretary of State, Ken Bennett, asking for information from Hawaii about President Obama’s birth records so he can put the president on the ballot in November? Yes, that really happened. He claims he hasn’t had any requests for Mitt Romney’s birth records, but I expect him to be flooded with requests soon enough. I imagine that the Hawaiians just sigh, roll their eyes, and humor the crazy haoles. Bennett got his proof, in case you’re wondering. I love the way people who don’t like Obama go about saying they’re “birthers” without coming right out and saying it. They say something like “I believe that Obama was born in Hawaii.” Guess what, you idiots, it doesn’t matter whether you “believe” it or not. That’s the thing about facts – they don’t rely on your belief. Saying that is like saying “I believe that monkeys might fly out of your butt at any time” – yes, of course it could happen, but the person saying doesn’t really believe it. But I’m glad that Ken Bennett (who has, coincidentally, endorsed Romney) got his proof. Although Arizona would have seized the Kooky Krown forever (from one of the Carolinas, probably) if Obama wasn’t on the ballot this November. That would have been stupefying.

In case you hadn’t heard, Stephen Colbert managed to make it to #69 on the Maxim 100 Hottest Women of the Year list, thanks to a write-in campaign. Here are pictures of some of the women who finished further down on the list.

Is this the best lawyer commercial ever? I say yes. And yes, that dude is actually a lawyer.

Last Saturday I saw The Avengers. No, I didn’t donate any money to the Hero Initiative afterward, because I have a cold, black heart. Anyway, it was … okay? It was a superhero movie, meaning there was nothing I hadn’t seen before, but I guess it was slightly better than average. I would give it 3 out of 5 stars, which is decent. I didn’t think it was the greatest superhero movie ever made, because it was so similar to every other superhero movie ever made … except the best one, which is still Unbreakable (yes, it is). I mean, if you walk into a comic book store every single Wednesday, you can read at least 5, if not 10 comics that have the exact same stuff as what was in The Avengers, yet nobody is calling them the greatest comics ever written. This movie even featured two fights between heroes, something that a lot of very smart people who read comics regularly (and even some dim ones, like your humble reviewer) scathingly mock, yet I don’t hear how stupid those fights were in this movie. I thought Johansson and Ruffalo did pretty good jobs (someone was wondering why everyone thinks Ruffalo is a good actor, which makes me think that person has never seen a movie before), but I don’t think the screenplay was really up to snuff. Downey’s stupid nicknames do not make the screenplay clever, and if Johansson said that there’s “red in [her] ledger” one more time I would have reached through the screen and punched Joss Whedon right in the brain (why would Loki even know what that means, anyway – is he Asgard’s accountant?). The ease with which they defeated the Chitauri makes the final battle more hollow than I thought it would be – seriously, Hulk can defeat those worm things with one punch? It was entertaining and fun, but it was pretty slight.

For my Top Ten list this week, I thought I’d do my ten favorite situation comedies. Good times!

1. Cheers (1982-1993). This is one of my favorite television shows ever, period, so of course it’s #1 on this list! Cheers still holds up pretty well today, which is nice. The writing was always sharp, the characters were really well done, the acting was very good, and I’m still impressed that it got better when Shelley Long left and after Kirstie Alley started being less of a femme fatale and more of a screwball comedic actress, which she did very well. Unlike a lot of shows, Cheers never really fell into mediocrity – I know in the final season, they were wrapping things up so the writers could take some more chances, but I really think it could have gone a few more seasons if they had wanted to, and the quality probably wouldn’t have dropped. It’s a wonderful show.

2. Seinfeld (1990-1998). Unlike Cheers, Seinfeld did fall off quite a bit in its later years, but it was still pretty funny, and in its heyday, it was superb.

3. The Simpsons (1989-) Here’s my problem with The Simpsons: I don’t watch it anymore. I finally gave up about five years ago, after about five years of only enjoying one episode out of every three or four. It’s still wheezing along, and from what I read, it still drags out a really good episode every once in a while, but the ratio of those to bad episodes is even worse than it was five years ago. But in the 1990s, it was brilliant, and that’s why it’s my third-favorite sitcom.

4. Friends (1994-2004). Mock all you want, but I loved Friends. Maybe it’s my age – I was 23 when it first aired – but it was just a nice, sharply-written comedy with fun characters. Sure, the Ross/Rachel thing was interminable, but the show seemed to pick up some creative steam when Chandler and Monica got together, and in the later years, their marriage was pretty interesting. I often wanted to scream at the characters (especially Ross and Rachel) to grow the fuck up, but then they would come up with some hilarious scenes and all was forgiven.

5. WKRP in Cincinnati (1978-1982). I missed the early years of this and only caught up with them in reruns, but that was fine because I got to get them all in a short period of time. As with a lot of sitcoms pre-Seinfeld (even Cheers fell into this trap occasionally), WKRP could be too maudlin occasionally, which for a 10-year-old was death, but when it concentrated on the funny, it was freakin’ awesome.

6. Taxi (1978-1983). This show is almost like WKRP – something I came to a bit late, a great cast, very good writing, a bit maudlin occasionally, but still very funny. Plus, Marilu Henner was a total hottie.

7. Newhart (1982-1990). I remember watching early episodes of this show and not really liking it all that much, but I guess there was nothing else on television during its time slot, because I kept watching and it just kept getting better. This is a good example of a show getting a revamp during its run and becoming much, much better, as the creators ditched Kirk, brought in Peter Scolari and Larry, Darryl, and Darryl, and amped up the silliness, which worked perfectly against Bob’s super-deadpan demeanor. Plus, of course, this has the single greatest final episode of all time, so there’s that.

8. Arrested Development (2003-2006). Shortly after Arrested Development disappeared, I mentioned to my lovely wife that shows like it have to die because they’re ahead of their time, but they also have far more influence than their numbers indicate. Lo and behold, six years later, single-camera shows with no laugh tracks filmed “on location” are all the rage, and three-camera, laugh-track set-ups are seen as dinosaurs (it’s fitting that most of them air on CBS, the network for old people). It helped that Arrested Development was hilariously brilliant, but it’s funny to think that groundbreaking shows usually die quickly and are only appreciated later.

9. Night Court (1984-1992). Night Court, like Newhart, benefited from a revamp – it was pretty good in its early years, but when they added Markie Post and turned John Larroquette loose a bit more, it got really good.

10. Frasier (1993-2004). This was another show I lost interest in for its final few seasons, but early on, it was excellent. Kelsey Grammer’s new family (on Cheers he claimed to be an only child whose father was dead) was hilarious, Jane Leeves was superb, and Peri Gilpin was brilliant. The show probably should have ended once Niles and Daphne hooked up, and I always hated Frederick, but for the most part, it was a worthy spin-off of Cheers.

Some honorable mentions: E/R (1984-1985) (I have a weird soft spot for this comedy, which starred Elliott Gould, Jason Alexander, Mary McDonnell, and George Clooney); Double Rush (1995) (I really can’t defend this, but I loved each and every one of the 13 episodes); It’s Like, You Know … (1999-2000) (another show ahead of its time); Futurama (1999-2003, 2009-) (loved it when it was on Fox, but haven’t gotten back into it since it came back); Better Off Ted (2009-2010) (criminally overlooked comedy that got yanked around the schedule and never found its footing); Community (2009-) (I don’t love it as much as some, but I love how fearless the recently-fired Dan Harmon is with regard to the format, and I hope the new showrunners are as ballsy).

So there’s my list. Feel free to take your shots and list your own! We’re all friends here, right? Have a good holiday weekend if you’re American, and if you’re not, have a good weekend writhing with envy that you’re not! U! S! A!!!!!

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