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Review: Marvel’s The Defenders ssn 1

Defenders_NetflixNetflix surely has a hit with its Marvel TV shows, but that doesn’t mean they have all been great.  Daredevil season 1 and 2 as well as Luke Cage were outstanding.  Iron Fist started strong, but underwhelmed in the latter half of the season.  Jessica Jones had a great concept, but could have been done in 4 episodes because 13 was much too long and drawn out.  So with the Defenders coming out I had a bag of mixed emotions.  How did it fare?

The Defenders had an amazing first two episodes.  They filled in the gap of what was happening with each character after we last saw them all.  It was story building at its finest.  People complained that they all don’t even meet until episode 3, but they obviously have no desire for substance.  It is well worth the wait.

At that point I was worried that with such a great buildup, that the last 4 episodes would fall short.  They did not.  The action sequences and story held up to standards, and even though the post climax was drawn out, the 8 episodes made for in my opinion the best Marvel Netflix show yet.  Even at the end of the credits we get a surprise teaser trailer for the Punisher coming later this year.

There were plenty of twists and turns, and a few things left unsaid.  The ending left me wondering whether the Hand was done, and who survived of the four stuck at the bottom of the shaft?  Surely Matt Murdock could not have escaped on his own.  So, who got him to the surface?

As for the characters individually here’s how I see them:

Luke Cage & Daredevil were as expected.  I think both were flawless and exactly how portrayed before.  Jessica Jones was still herself at the core, but her interactions with the other characters, in particular Matt Murdock, were so much more likeable.  She worked better with a team than alone.  Iron Fist finally made that transition to hero.  He was much more deserving of the title in this than his own show, making it more exciting anticipation for his next season.  Colleen Wing, Misty Knight, Karen Page, Foggy, Trish, and Stick were all used sparingly enough to not overcrowd the plot.

Overall it was an enjoyable and fun ride.  I’d call it the Avengers for adults, and am eager to see them all team up again.  I’ll give it 4.5 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.  What did you think?

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Shifting Gears: A book release update

2017 has been extremely interesting and productive so far, but it also has forced me to alter the schedule a little in terms of my novels and books.  This is actually for the better, as there will be more projects released, but focuses on shorter stories so that the longer ones can have more time to develop.  Here’s what is currently in progress and estimated release dates:

THE THIRST OF CAIN – Book 11 in the Eternal Hunger Saga is being pushed back from Fall 2017 to Spring 2018.  I decided to use more historical events to make this feel like a direct sequel to BLOOD, THE SECOND HELPING and A COURSE FOR HUMANITY; as well as being a great stand alone entry.  This means much more research of course, so in order to not rush the final product I’m taking my time to properly represent historical events in different eras.

DIGESTED CONCEPTS – This won’t be released until 2019, but I began work on it now.  I’ve gone through and reread all of my previous novels to touch on each concept in them.  This will be a non-fiction companion book to the series.  It will go through a behind the scenes look at what’s in the saga from the start of my writing career to the end of the Eternal Hunger Saga (including details on all 12 novels, spinoff short stories, and the trilogy releases)

THE LOST HOUR – A short story spinoff of A COURSE FOR HUMANITY, which will delve into the back story to the first successful trip through time, and dealing with the consequences.  This will be released in late October of this year.

UPSIDE DOWN DAYS – My daughter came up with an amazing story for a children’s book, so I’m working with her for a November release of this year.  She’s hashed out the plot and I’m helping tweak the story and write it.  She will also be illustrating the pages, and I couldn’t be more excited to do this with her.

THE LOST DAY – A short story spinoff of THE THIRST OF CAIN, that will be released one month after the novel next year.  It will touch on an event mentioned in the main story, but not actually featured.

There is of course a plethora of other things in the works, but to which I can’t yet go into detail.  Feel free to share your current projects and stay tuned.


Mayhem at the Cape

physick estate 1879

Emlen Physick Estate in 1879. Photo courtesy of Cape May MAC

 

Cape May, New Jersey is one of my favorite places to escape to for writing and inspiration. I’ve been wrapped up with a few books in process, but needed a little escape, and this weekend was perfect. Instead of staying at our normal place, my wife Roberta was invited to review the Congress Hall hotel. (Check out http://www.homemadedelish.com for her review).

 

The history in that place alone is amazing, but the town has so much more going on than just that one land mark. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities (www.capemaymac.org) has a wide array of tours and events available all year round.

We’ve previously done the horse and buggy tour, but decided to go for something a little more in my realm of writing. I originally intended to do the ghost trolley tour, but Susan Krysiak (director of media relations) suggested I check out the Cape Mayhem Trolley Tour.

This goes beyond just telling about the many haunted tales of the town, but delves into the history of some bizarre rituals and practices that people did during the Victorian Era.

I don’t want to spoil much about the ride itself on the history end, because it is something you need to see for yourself. What I can say is that even if you aren’t a history buff or fan of the weird and spooky, this is a very relaxing and fun half hour ride.

One place I will mention that was the highlight of the tour was the story about the Emlen Physick Estate. I’d always seen the house but didn’t know how intriguing its history was. My next trip to town will definitely include a tour of the estate, which is also run by the same knowledgeable people as the trolley tours.

If you’ve ever been on one of these tours, then please comment below and share your experiences. If you haven’t then make sure to visit http://www.capemaymac.org to see what you’re missing. Feel free to contact their media relations at 609-224-6036 or skrysiak@capemaymac.org #capemaymac


Radio shout outs

My wife was interviewed on a radio station here in Philly.  During the segment they chat briefly about my books.  Give it a listen at the link below.  Skip ahead to the 16:30 mark to hear her spot.  Follow her on social media @homemadedelish, on facebook @RobertaPipito, and on her site at http://www.homemadedelish.com

http://957benfm.com/episodes/120/


Trailer – A Little Boy in The Land of the Sleepless Knights

Check out the trailer for my new children’s book A LITTLE BOY IN THE LAND OF THE SLEEPLESS KNIGHTS, available now with art by Dan Pipito


Review: Once Upon A Time Season 6

once_upon_a_time_season_6Fairy tales have certainly influenced my writing of children’s books, and even come to life to some extent in my novels (particularly BONES AT BREAKFAST).  It is no secret that I enjoy them, but am very picky about what I choose to watch.  Once Upon a Time has always grabbed my attention because of its inclusion of not just Disney versions of the tales, but also classic literature.

While Season 5 was a big dud in my mind, it had its high points.  Season 6 goes back to what made Season 1 so good, and included more classics.  It escaped the fairy tale world and made its way into some great fiction literature.

The Good: The additions of Aladdin, Mr. Hyde, Count of Monte Cristo, and a few others worked quite well, while characters like Cinderella finally got a proper back story.  The Evil queen vs Regina started out a little rough, but by the end I liked what they did with it.  The whole season provided a great canvas to end the current run of characters and it properly sets up season 7 as a reboot with Henry being an adult.

The Bad: There were still flaws with some of the narratives.  I feel that the Wicked Witch was wasted here, and Rumpelstiltskin was slightly under used, even though they both played a key role.  Emma and Hook were great together, but to me it seemed very redundant with Emma’s role this season.  Her performance didn’t move me at all, nor her story.  Even though they used other classic tales, I feel like it still lacked for the most part in diversity (as far as types of stories).

Overall: It wasn’t the best season, but way better than the worst.  The fact that they are rebooting next season is a welcome addition, but I’m still cautious with my hopes.  It could go two ways… 1) it could end up being a fantastic reboot, pretty much ignoring or only referencing the original characters.  Using them as cameos as fine, but I no longer want to see those people as a focus (except Henry’s story).  Although I wouldn’t mind Regina and Rumple still having significant roles.  They have a blank slate where they can go more horror with Dracula, more Frankenstein, etc etc that would really make it feel new.  Or 2) They could just rehash the same formula and have nothing new to bring to the table.  I’m hoping for the former, but in the meantime I’ll rate Season 6 with 4 out of 5 sCrypt coffins.

What were your thoughts?  And Where would you like the series to go from here?  Comment below.


Review DC TV shows 2016-2017 seasons

It’s time to review DC Comics’ Television properties, and how they fared this season.  I’ll keep it fairly simple this time around, but will take an overall look at the following: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow season 2, The Flash season 3, Arrow season 5, Supergirl season 2, Powerless season 1, and Gotham season 3.  I’ll also mention the crossover episode “Invasion” as a separate entity.

First up is Legends of Tomorrow Season 2:

dctvWhile the first season was subpar, the concept improved for the second season.  The good: The characters were all done well.  They were really the focus of what made this year work.  Finally seeing a version of the Legion of Doom was a much better antagonist than Vandal Savage the year before.  The cliff hanger at the end of the finale was also really great segue into making me want to come back for at least the premier of ssn 3.  The Bad: The writers of this show have no idea what they are doing with time travel.  They talk about time aberrations and how they are supposed to stop them from happening, but the characters have no problem sleeping with other people from different timelines or killing them.  Then they worry about one mistake that Stein made by talking to his younger self which created a daughter he never had.  I call B.S. that this would be their worst problem.  Overall: This show is just painful to watch.  I keep watching because the comic book nerd in me desires to see these great characters.  There are moments that make me smile, but overall it’s not something a regular audience of non-comic book fans would want to see.  If they could understand a little more about the potential of traveling through time, then it’d have potential, but otherwise it’s just sloppy writing.  I give season 2 a sCrypt rating of 2.5/5.

Supergirl Season 2:

Where to begin… hmmm… The transition of this show to the CW really hurt it, but I can’t just blame the station move.  The Good: Martian Manhunter, Superman, Mon-El, The Guardian and Teri Hatcher were the best things about the season.  Their stories were good, and though I had reservations about the Guardian, he turned out to be quite enjoyable.  The Bad:  Oh where to begin.  Fire all the writers.  It’s the only thing that will save this show because it’s downright hard to watch.  First off is the Alex and Maggie relationship.  I get it.  They are an item.  I have no problem with a lesbian couple in the show, but this was so forced and hard to watch it made me cringe.  They spent more time focusing on this unnatural progression into a gay relationship that it often overshadowed the main narrative.  I knew we’d have Maggie in some sort of relationship with a woman too, but it could have been anyone else.  They changed Alex (who showed that she had an attraction to men in the first season) to being an item with Maggie.  The two characters on their own could be great, but the way this was forced was so bad the writers seemed like amateurs.  And before anyone claims that I’m bashing the LGBTQRSTUV community, that is not the case at all.  I’ve got friends and family who fall into that category.  I would have the exact same issues if they did this with straight characters because it was so badly done and took center stage over the rest of the plot.  Then they cut Cat Grant out of the picture… then they had Supergirl beat Superman in a really lame fighting scene that went on way too long for its lack of showmanship, then they changed Cat from one political standing to another without explanation and tried to force a message, then they had Lynda Carter as an alien president without much explanation as to why they would not feel threatened by a president who had the biggest lie of any president (and that’s saying a lot nowadays), then there’s that weird ending which I can only assume means we are getting Doomsday on a TV budget when they couldn’t even do it right in the movies.  WTF writers?  Did anyone watch this heaping bag of horse manure before they decided to air it on television?  Ugh I’m done my rant.  Overall: When a hero like Supergirl with some major characters is worse than watching a show with bad time travel in its writing, there is something amiss.  I can barely give this second season a 1 out of 5 sCrypt Ratings.

Arrow Season 5:

Thank goodness this got better.  While last season was subpar, this season was my favorite by far.  The Good: Everything in the latter half of the season was great.  I was upset at first that they were going to do ANOTHER Black Canary instead of reforming Laurel of Earth 2, but when it turned out her name was Dinah Drake, I accepted it.  Hopefully we see her and Oliver as an item and keep that Arrow / Black Canary love story.  Deathstroke’s return and the whole final episode was very emotional.  Season 6 could quite literally be a reboot to the whole series with just Oliver and his son, but I’m assuming one or two people will escape the island.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Diggle, Dinah, Speedy, and Slade to have survived.  The Bad: In the beginning of the season it was very rushed.  They jam packed all these new recruits onto the team, and it took away from story.  Wild Dog was annoying at first, but I grew to really like the character.  Other than the expansion of “Team Arrow”, I didn’t find much wrong here.  Overall: There’s a lot they can do for the next season now that the flashbacks are all caught up.  I have no idea where they will go with it, but if they continue this approach it’d be more than welcome.  I give season 5 of arrow a 4.5 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.

Invasion Crossover episode:

I didn’t think they’d be able to pull off crossing over Supergirl, Arrow, Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow, but they managed… sort of.  Obviously their budget had limitations, but the story worked and each character was utilized well.  If I had one complaint it would be that it really wasn’t a 4 part episode, because it began as a stinger at the end of the Supergirl episode, which was rehashed in Flash.  Despite this false advertisement in my mind, it was enjoyable.  I give it a 3 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.

The Flash Season 3:

This season had its ups and downs.  The Good: Jay Garrick and Wally West were very welcome in this season.  The Flashpoint approach was done well, and Killer Frost’s story really hit the mark; even if I wanted to see her become a full fledged villain at the end.  Who knows where that’ll go.  They hit an emotional level with the viewers too that won’t be forgotten.  The Bad: Savitar, while not all that horrible of a villain just looked really stupid.  I hated the costume, and wasn’t really sold on the true reveal of his identity.  The story felt drawn out with some great filler episodes to break it up, but that detracted from the continual plot.  There was a point during the Grodd storyline (which I loved, so it’s not all bad), that I almost forgot about Savitar’s threat.  Overall: They managed to clear up some of the cluster-F that was last season, and created a pretty decent flow.  The twists and shocking reveals really held it high on the standards chart.  If there is any season finale that sets up the premier of next season it would be this one.  I hope we see more of Jay Garrick and even Wally suiting up as the Flash would be great.  As long as there isn’t another speedster as the main villain I think Flash can do a whole lot more.  I give it 3.5 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.

Powerless-S01E04-1080p-HDTVPowerless Season 1:

I’ll get straight to it.  The Good: If you enjoy the Office, and it’s type of humor, then this show is for you.  It’s funny and creative.  I loved the characters, and the fact that they are a little over the top.  It sounds like a dumb idea, but the show really worked for me.  It was a break from all the other comic book shows on television right now.  The Bad: Aside from very horrible budget effects and cosplay looking costumes, the only other bad thing I can say is that it was cancelled.  Overall: If I had to say that there was one show that paid homage to the comics, while feeling refreshing it was this one.  I only got to see the first 9 episodes, as the final 3 were pulled when the show was cancelled.  If more people gave it a chance, I think it’d have been a hit.  I give it a 4 out of 5 sCrypt ratings, which would have gotten a whole other point if not for the costumes and effects.

gotham-season-3Gotham Season 3:

The latter half of the season renewed my faith in the show, but it’s still got a lot of work to do.  The Good: The way the villains were handled, and Bruce’s evolution were great.  I feel like the creators are starting to get that Batman feel without the Bat.  I can’t emphasize more that The Riddler and Jerome/The Joker were the best thing all season.  The Bad: Penguin being gay isn’t the issue, but the way they made him during that story arc was flat out pathetic.  He didn’t even seem like the Penguin during that batch of episodes.  It makes sense to make him gay if they were going to because he’s one character that never really had a love interest in the comics.  I just wish they could have made him as good a character as he was before this season, and after Ivy saved him.  Gordon still seems flat to me as well.  Every scene with him and Lee made me cringe.  There are also inconsistencies in the writing.  Why did Freeze’s gun not kill his last victim, when it did so to everyone else?  There was also an opportunity to use the same casting for Ra’s Al Ghul as with Arrow to connect the shows in some way, but they failed to do that.  Overall: It’s starting to really feel like it fits in with the rest of the shows, even to the point where I wouldn’t mind having a crossover if it made sense to do so.  There’s a lot of things set up that make it convoluted, but can be handled well.  At this point I’m not sure how they can keep with the current path without a Batman in there, and though we saw Bruce suit up as some vigilante he’s still way too young and immature with his thinking to become the full fledged Bat.  Time will tell.  I give the season 2.5 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.

What did you think of these shows?  What were the high and low moments for you and where do you see them going?  Comment below, and let’s discuss.  P.S. I realize I didn’t put Izombie in here.  The reason is because I just can’t watch it.  It’s appalling.  Maybe you disagree.


Talkin Wit Tony

Famed cheesesteak king, actor, television host, and good friend of mine, Tony Luke Jr has a new show on YouTube called “Talkin’ Wit Tony.”  The first episode is out now, and I was mentioned a few times in it.  My wife, Roberta (www.homemadedelish.com) is his first guest.  Watch now for some laughs and great entertainment.


Review: Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD ssn 4

Agents_of_S_H_I_E_L_D__season_4_posterMy season end reviews kick off with Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD season 4.  I did a review mid season, so I won’t get into too much detail other than a few minor spoilery things, and general thoughts.

Overall, this season was superb.  The writing strayed from campiness and into darker territory.  While this can be a curse for a lot of shows or movies, the darkness worked here because of Ghost Rider’s inclusion and the Dark Hold.  Both were handled very well.

The second half of the season gave us an alternate “What If” world created by AIDA.  Her role as Madame Hydra was surprising, but also a welcome addition to the plot.  Usually I’m not for the combination of characters, but in this case it was handled well.  The emotional buildup especially with Mack and the loss of The Patriot, gave the show a more realistic feel.

It’ll be interesting to see where it all leads next season.  There’s Mack and Yo-Yo who will obviously be in a strained relationship, but they aren’t the only ones.  Fitz and Simmons have an interesting new dynamic with Fitz’s dark side having affected everyone, and Coulson and May also have some places to go.

We are left wondering a few things: 1) Where are they at the end?  Is this a SWORD installation in space?  2) With the Inhumans on the run again, will this be how they introduce the new Inhumans show?  I’d like to see Daisy make an appearance somehow.  3) Where did Ghost Rider go exactly?  and finally 4) Who will be the big bad of season 5?

Time will tell.  From what was once a cringeable series, it has now become something I look forward to.  It’s not quite up there with Netflix shows, but that’s to be expected.  Season 4 gets 4 out of 5 sCrypt ratings from me.

What did you think?  Comment below with your thoughts and speculation.


Playing for Charity with NRG

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From Left to right: Bill Tafrow (More FM radio), Fred Barnett (Former Philadelphia Eagles player), Pat Gallen (CBS 3 News), Rick Pipito (Author), Roberta Pipito (Chef, Producer at Homemade Delish), Bex (Today’s 96.5 FM Radio), Marisa Magnatta (Preston & Steve Show WMMR FM Radio), Kristen Herrmann (Ben FM Radio), Chris O’Connell (Fox 29 News), Matty Cord (Ben FM Radio).  Unseen credit goes to Dave Schrader who organized it all. Photo cred: Hugh E Dillon of http://www.phillychitchat.com

NRG Energy company does a lot for charity each year involving media and celebrity personalities.  This year I was honored to be invited to compete for a charity of my choice.  I hate seeing the innocent suffer, so I chose to donate to children’s hospital of Philadelphia.  #CHOP received $500.00 on my behalf from NRG.

Since the NFL draft was in Philadelphia, this was the perfect way to kick it off.  On April 27th, we took part in what they dubbed the #NRGMEDIACOMBINE.  The Combine for the NFL is a series of tests for the players to see how well they rank in certain things like strength, agility, and speed.

There were four events, and former Philadelphia Eagles player Fred Barnett was there to coach us through each.  First up we did a standing high jump, where we had to leap as high as we could to hit plastic flags to mark our position.  It was all measured according to height so it was fair if 5’8″ me went up against a 6’3″ person.

Next we moved on to the agility ladder.  It was a rope ladder where you had to step in each rung and then out again with both feet, moving laterally and as fast as possible.  I came in second place for this one, but couldn’t top the speed of the champ.

Then came the horizontal standing jump.  My first leap was a mere 5’9″ across, but we all got three tries.  Each time I got better with my best being 6’11”.  The winner was over 9 feet, so I didn’t come close, but it was still fun.

Finally, we did a football toss into a net about fifteen yards away.  I scored 1 out of five tosses with 3 of my other throws rebounding right off the outer ring of the circle.  Of ten competitors only 4 of us actually got the ball in the net.

Each of us played hard for good causes, and I hope to do it again some time.  Check out some of the pictures taken by Hugh E. Dillon of http://www.phillychitchat.com of the event.