Friday, October 31, 2014

RE: Marvel Studios' "Phase 3" Lineup

Marvel just recently laid all their cards on the table by officially revealing their upcoming movies up to 2018.  We already know about Ant-Man, which will kick off “Phase 3” in the second half of 2015, after “Phase 2” culminates in May with Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Now, we also know how the rest of “Phase 3” will look like.       
It’s very different from my fantasy blueprint for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or “MCU” for short) but I’m not expecting it to otherwise.  Nonetheless, there are a lot of things to be excited about.    

Here are they, in order of planned released dates, with some two-cent thoughts of mine…

“Civil War” was one of Marvel’s most famous story events.  It had an intriguing premise but its actual execution didn’t give justice to the potential of such premise.  In the story, Marvel superheroes (and some supervillains) found themselves in opposing sides – the “pro” bloc was led by Iron Man while the “anti” bloc was led by Captain America – in regards to the Superpower Registration Act which requires all super-persons registering with the government and revealing their real names

All signs are pointing that this movie is going to have a Captain America vs. Iron Man plot.  But what will they be fighting about?  It’s possible that it’s also over a Superhero Registration Act, but the climate in the MCU doesn’t make it very likely.

Also, the available superheroes in the MCU are hardly sufficient to have a legitimate “Team Captain America” vs. “Team Iron Man” war.  The MCU’s superhero community is still barely a community.   Heck, the Avengers aren’t even a real, official Avengers team yet.  There is still no base of operations (though it was teased in the first movie that Stark Tower is going to be eventually transformed into Avengers Tower), and there is still no on-call, stable roster.  So far, they seem more of having the Defenders’ non-team personality – only teaming up when occasion arises.  Assuming that they will only become a real Avengers team in this upcoming Age of Ultron movie, it won’t make sense for them to immediately split up afterwards and then proceed to “civil war” among themselves. 

So why “Civil War”?  How will a “Civil War” work?  Why pit Captain America against Iron Man?  This perplexes me a lot.   

Anyway, I have a strong feeling that Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers is going to die in this movie, which will prompt Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) to assume the role of Captain America, since, in the comics, in the aftermath of “Civil War”, Steve Rogers was “assassinated” and Bucky replaced him as Captain America for a while.      

If it holds true, Benedict Cumberbatch as the Sorcerer Supreme is the best. casting. ever.  

Make it official already, Marvel! 

Expand the roster please.  And let one of those roster additions be Adam Warlock.  If the character is going to be introduced in the MCU – and it’s logically likely, considering where “Phase 3” is going – this is the best chance to do so. 

What if Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange makes an appearance here to aid Thor?  Everybody will lose their minds when two of the most charming and most adored, pretty celebrities today – Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston (who plays Loki) – share an MCU screen together.  It will likely incite a mass riot.

The movie is scheduled for 2017 but the casting of Chadwick Boseman to play the titular character was already made official, while, on the other hand, Marvel is still mum about Doctor Strange, which will release sooner.  My guess why?  Black Panther is set to cameo in Age of Ultron.

I have wanted this much

Now, considering that, in the comics, she’s both a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers, it’s possible that she’ll serve as the bridge for the inevitable team-up of the two teams in…

I don’t mind that it’s split into two movies.   If anything else, splitting it implies that it’s going to be as massive and epic as the comics’ storyline. 

Black Bolt is coming to the big screen! 

I adore the character much, and he’s what I’m most excited about in an Inhuman movie.  Having Medussa, Lockjaw, Crystal, and Maximus too are just bonuses.  I would even prefer the title to rather be “Black Bolt & the Inhumans” instead.  Seriously. 

Anyway, an Inhuman movie is hardly a surprise, considering that Marvel has been apparent about it.  The Inhumans have been given more exposure in the comics – which I had described as having the feeling of them being forcibly shoved down our throats.  Moreover, rumors have always been rampant about Marvei’s plan to use the Inhumans as the MCU’s mutants (since Fox has the rights for everything X-Men). 

And, oh, this movie basically confirms that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Skye is an Inhuman.  Probably.      

Some random musings:

→ Aw, no love for the Hulk?  I guess if there’s going to be another Hulk movie, it’ll be for “Phase 4”… 
It is imperative for Adam Warlock to be around Infinity War.  For me, it won’t feel much of an Infinity saga without him around. 

→ I’m calling it now.  The heroes from Marvel’s lineup of TV series – Phil Coulson, Mockingbird, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones – are going to be in the Avengers: Infinity War.  The two-parter is a culmination of sorts, so I suppose everyone will be in it.
→ I’m not kidding about the possibility of Spidey also showing up in Avengers: Infinity War (Wolverine, however, is unlikely).  There are rumors that Sony and Marvel are working up a deal to bring Spider-Man to the MCU.  I really want that to happen.  If it does, it’s going to be a massive coup.  It will rock a lot.
→ I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the MCU, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are reinvented as Inhumans.   

→ After some rumors that Marvel are contemplating of releasing three movies a year, the dates tells us that they are still sticking with their two-movies-a-year format.  Bummer.   

→ Seeing in the big screen Black Bolt obliterating foes with mere whispers is going to be awesome…

→ For the first new character to be introduced in “Phase 4”, I propose this guy…
Moon Knight.  Greatest Batman analogue ever.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Delightful Thing Happened One Idle Afternoon...

Boring Monday afternoon.  Feel sluggish (and a bit feverish). Slow Internet connection.  But let me see if something interesting happ—

Of course, I’m elated.  By my own capabilities, I definitely wouldn’t have passed.  Considering the fact that I’m no TLE major (but it was the default subject of specialization given to the LET takers with degrees in business), and I succumbed to guessing around 65% of my answers during the specialization part, passing the LET was nothing short of a miracle.  This is definitely only due to God’s grace.   

So, I’m now a licensed professional teacher. 
Time to train some genins...


Monday, October 20, 2014

Top 10 Fictional Characters That Had Heel-Face Turns

From what I understand, the term “heel-face turn” originated from professional wrestling.  It happens when the storyline would require a wrestler playing as a bad guy – called “heel” in pro wrestling jargon – to turn into a “babyface” or good guy (the opposite of which is, obviously, a “face-heel turn”; if you are familiar with professional wrestling, you know already that allegiance to “good” or “bad” is never permanent and constantly shifting to make new story material to work on). 

Hence, this list is about fictional characters that were bad guys at the start but then eventually turned into good guys – or at least started working for the good side.  Actually, I have already written such a list in the past, and this one can be considered as a sequel to it.             

First, let me share the parameters I’ve set in assembling this list:

1.) The characters already featured in my “Top 10 Former Bad Guys Who Are Awesome As Good Guys” are, of course, exempted from this list.

2.) Usually, the appeal of characters that were former “heels” is being edgier and more tortured than characters initially established as “face.”  Thus, to be considered for this list, the characters’ former identity as villains should have significantly helped in making their characterizations and character development interesting. 

For example, Fairy Tail’s Juvia is a former antagonist, a member of Phantom Lord, Fairy Tail’s enemy guild.  She eventually joined Fairy Tail after the Phantom Lord arc and eventually ascended as one of its most important members.  She is a legitimately interesting heroine, but, for me, her origin as a former antagonist was not a big factor in making her so.   (Another example is One Piece’s Nico Robin.)
Gajeel Redfox, however, who has the same origin as Juvia’s, is an example of a protagonist whose former identity as a villain is a significant facet in whatever appeal the character has (that’s why he was on the last list).   

3.) “Last minute” heel-face turns, whenever the villain has a “change of heart” near or at the end of the narrative, don’t count.  Example, when the hero makes the villain realize his wrongs and then the latter sacrifices his life to save the hero/world/day (e.g. Darth Vader).
4.) I don’t consider characters revealed to be only pretending to work with the bad guys and were good all along fitting the concept of heel-face turns (e.g. Severus Snapes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows).
5.) Characters who were initially introduced as “heels” but were actually expected to be eventual “faces” in the story are disqualified (e.g. Hiei of Ghost Fighter). 

6.) Unpleasant, antagonistic protagonists – but nonetheless part of the protagonists of the story – who undergone “change of heart” or moral reformation in the course of the story are disqualified (e.g. Grinch of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Eustace Scrubb of The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Ebenezer Scrooge of A Christmas Carol).
7.) In case of still ongoing stories, particularly comic books, the character to be considered should still be one of the good guys as of the present.

8.) Speaking of comic books, there are several super-heroes that were erstwhile super-villains (especially among the Avengers’ ranks).  Silver Surfer, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Wonder Man, Gambit, Rogue, and Emma Frost – to name some – started out as super-villains before becoming prominent super-heroes.  But their days as villains were so long ago already, and right now, they are already established, long-serving super-heroes, hence, the fact that they were former “heels” has not much impact at all.  The best of such heel-face turns in comics are the ones recently done after serving a long time as significant villains, like Red Hulk, Magneto (though likely to return back into becoming a villain eventually), and Venom; they were already featured in the last list. 

10.) TOHRU

Tohru is a character from the ludicrous but entertaining animated series Jackie Chan Adventures (which stars a fictionalized Jackie Chan, now working as an archaeologist).  During the show’s first season, Tohru serves as the lead enforcer for the Dark Hand, the villainous criminal organization that Jackie fights against.  Tohru’s sumo physique made him the sturdiest and most formidable among the Dark Hand henchmen (sans Shendu’s Shadowkhan) but he was usually outclassed in a fight by the martial arts-proficient Jackie Chan.  

As a bad guy, Tohru was intimidating, ruthless, and stern.  But after he was kicked out of Dark Hand and was replaced by Hak Foo as lead enforcer, Tohru found himself joining the Chan household.  And with the same fierce loyalty he had for his Dark Hand boss, Valmont, he now displayed on his new found friends and became extremely protective of them.  His personality also lightened up and became more amiable, meek, and relaxed. 


Shaman King is one of those manga/anime series wherein most of the antagonists during the story’s run are won over by the good guys to join their side.  A lot of characters did heel-face turns through Shaman King’s run, and almost all of them are interesting since they seemed to be irredeemable, thus, when they became allies of the main protagonist, Asakura Yoh, the heel-face turns were unexpected and delightful.  For me, Shaman King and Katekyo Hitman Reborn are the manga/anime series that had best executed heel-face turns in terms of both quantity and quality.  There are a lot of great characters that turned face in Shaman King, but I decided to give only one slot to Shaman King and give the slot to my favorite among them, and that would be Faust VIII.      

Faust VIII’s insanity and oddity as a character are probably what made me like him best above the others.  He is a brilliant but mad doctor proficient in both necromancy and medicine that he can perform many physical procedures on himself that a normal human body can’t do.   When he had a broken bone, instead of letting it heal on its own, he opted to rip it off, and replaced it with a salvaged bone of the same size.  When dropping from an airplane, he happily announced that he injected himself with so much morphine that he won’t mind getting his body smashed on impact, he won’t feel the pain anyway; he would just patch himself up afterwards.  This guy is so enjoyably batshit. 

The first time Faust made an appearance, he was creepy and loony, and could turn sadistic and merciless.  His powers of necromancy fit his personality very well.  When Yoh was scheduled to fight him in the first round, Silva, the Shaman Fight referee assigned to Yoh’s bracket, even urged Anna to forfeit the match for Yoh since Faust had the reputation of killing ruthlessly whenever he likes to.  Yoh still proceeded to fight him but the match resulted in his first ever defeat (if I remember it right).  During this fight, Yoh enraged Faust so much that the latter was on his way to kill the former, and it would have been so, if Tao Ren didn’t interfere.

But in the second round of the Shaman Fight, Faust’s ruthless personality was gone.  He even became part of Yoh’s team!  What led him to be so?  It was established early on that he succumbed to insanity and necromancy because of his obsession of bringing his late wife, Eliza, to life; his ultimate goal is to resurrect Eliza by becoming Shaman King.  Faust’s necromancy only reanimated Eliza’s skeleton and gave it her appearance, but it doesn’t truly have the essence of his late wife.  However, with Anna’s itako powers, she was able to summon the soul of Eliza from the afterlife.  Therefore, it was only then that Faust was able to truly reunite with his wife.  Moreover, since he now has a real human spirit to work with, Faust became more powerful.  Because of finally being able to genuinely interact and communicate with his wife, Faust became extremely loyal to Anna and Yoh, and, being a medical doctor, an invaluable member of Yoh’s Team “Funbari Onsen.”    


Second to Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow, the most enjoyable character in the Pirates of the Caribbean series is Geoffrey Rush’s Hector Barbossa.  The “heel-face turn” of Barbossa is a bit shaky, since like Jack Sparrow, he has no real sense of morality; both Barbossa and Sparrow, as pirates, just do the things they think will benefit them, readily allying or betraying as the circumstance calls.  But in the context of being introduced as the main antagonist and then becoming one of the protagonists (or, at least, a tenuous ally of the protagonists) in the course of the story, I will consider it a heel-face turn.     

In the first movie, Curse of the Black Pearl, Barbossa was the wicked and treacherous antagonist of the story who mutinied and stole the Black Pearl from its rightful captain, Jack Sparrow.  Barbossa’s identity as a villain was further enhanced by the fact that he and his mutinous crew had become undead when they took cursed Aztec gold.  At the end of the story – due to the accidental assistance of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann – Jack Sparrow got to be in the position to exact revenge against Barbossa, shooting him just as he returned to mortality. 

However, it was revealed in the final scene of the second film, Dead Man’s Chest, that Barbossa had been resurrected by Tia Dalma.  Will and Elizabeth sought his aid to rescue Jack Sparrow from “Davey Jones’ Locker.”  In At World’s End, Barbossa and Jack developed an uneasy alliance, and they fought side by side against the formidable coalition of Davey Jones and Lord Becket.  Barbossa would even conduct the wedding ceremony of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann amidst the final battle (it was an awesome scene).     

In On Stranger Tides, Jack Sparrow and Hector Barbossa found themselves joining forces again, this time against Blackbeard.  


When I was discussing Vegeta in the first list, I’ve given honorable mention to Piccolo as an interesting “villain-to-hero” character from Dragon Ball.  Now, he gets his own slot on this one.  As a villain, Piccolo was initially ruthless and sadistic, and very much focused on killing Goku (to avenge his father’s death) and to take over the world. 

But in order to take on Raditz, he allied himself with Goku.  It was meant to be a temporary truce, but from that point, after defeating Raditz, Piccolo grew less and less evil, and the threat of invading Saiyans would eventually compel him to be a permanent member of the Z Fighters. 

Piccolo would even train Gohan, the son of his erstwhile nemesis whom he had vowed to kill (Goku sacrificed his life so that Piccolo can kill Raditz, thus, he wasn’t around to train Gohan).  He was a harsh teacher at first, but in the end, he developed a strong bond with him.  Piccolo even proceeded to willingly sacrifice his life for Gohan (of course, in Dragon Ball Z mythos, death is never permanent since people can be wished back to life).  

As the story progressed, Goku, Gohan, and the other Saiyans would tremendously surpass Piccolo in power (especially once “Super Saiyan” mode was discovered) – eliminating him, as other Z Fighters, as a serious contributor or threat – but he still remained as an interesting and important character as he provided tactical wisdom to those doing the fighting. 


Let me cheat a bit.  For this slot, it’s not a single character but a whole team. 

The Thunderbolts team was originally conceived by Baron Zemo, a team made up Masters of Evil members masquerading as superheroes to win the public’s trust.  Which they were able to do.  However, because of experiencing constant successes as heroes, Zemo’s teammates/minions begin to like the feeling of being heroes and eventually broke away from him.  Hence, the members of the Thunderbolts – which includes the criminal shrink, Moonstone; size-enhancer Atlas, formerly a regular super-villain enforcer named Goliath (also Power Man); the armored MACH-I (presently MACH-V), who had been the Spidey-villain, Beetle; and Songbird, formerly Screaming Mimi – who were originally just pretending to be heroes, truly became heroes, completing a “heel-face” turn.   Ironically, it was when they broke away from Zemo and decided to become genuine heroes that they became wanted fugitives from the law after Zemo revealed their true identities.  
From then on, the team has undergone several incarnations and roster changes.  At one time, around the time of “Civil War”, it had even become Marvel’s answer to DC’s Suicide Squad – super-villains implanted by nano-explosives being forced to go on missions for the government.  And, at the present, it’s an awesome team of gritty anti-heroes assembled and led by Red Hulk that kills bad guys to get the job done.   But it all comes down to what made me like the Thunderbolts for the first time: its core premise of a superhero team made up of reformed, semi-reformed, and pseudo-reformed super-villains.  It was the first time I encountered such fascinating premise.  

5.) IAGO

In the first Aladdin movie, Iago was the pet/accomplice of main villain, Jafar.  He resented having to live under the sultan, particularly how the sultan would force him to eat crackers, which he hates.  Iago was portrayed as short-tempered; loud-mouthed; and – probably learning from Jafar – greedy, bitter, and scheming.  At the end of the movie, Iago was dragged and trapped with Jafar in the latter’s genie lamp and was cast into the Cave of Wonders. 

Back when I was a child, when watching the brilliant Aladdin animated series and reading the comic books, I was perplexed how come Iago was hanging out with Aladdin’s gang.  It was only later on that I’ve become aware of the existence of the movie’s sequel, Return of Jafar, and came to understand how Iago became part of the good guys.  In Return of Jafar, Iago escaped from the lamp and chose to join the good guys after being fed up of being pushed around by Jafar.  When Jafar also managed to escape the lamp, Iago was instrumental in his former master’s ultimate defeat.   

Though still retaining some of his character flaws – like his weakness for luxury and money; being easily frustrated; and being mischievous, cowardly, and pessimistic – he had nonetheless come to learn the true value of friendship in his time with Aladdin and friends.  Moreover, the presence of Iago – with his sarcastic wise-cracks, cynical but realistic perspective on situations, and understanding of the criminal mind – is a major contributor in making Aladdin’s gang a delightfully diverse and dynamic ensemble, especially in the animated series.

In the conclusive movie of Disney’s Aladdin story, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Iago decided to join Aladdin’s father, Cassim, in his adventures, feeling that he would be more at home with Cassim’s sense of thievery than with living with the “lovey-dovey stuff” that Aladdin and Jasmine’s marriage would bring.   

David Xanatos is cast in the mold of Lex Luthor: a brilliant and Machiavellian schemer; possesses genius acumen in both business and science; and has access to seemingly unlimited resources provided by his powerful conglomerate.  During most of Gargoyles’ run, he served as the main antagonist of the series.     

Learning of the existence of the Wyvern Clan of gargoyles and the centuries-long curse that put them into “stone sleep” which can be broken if Castle Wyvern is raised above the clouds, Xanatos purchased the ruins of the castle and rebuilt it atop his skyscraper in New York.  He intended to exploit these gargoyles’ sense of loyalty to the lord of the castle so he can use them as his personal henchmen.  The curse was successfully broken and the Wyvern Clan – renamed as Manhattan Clan – was initially deceived by Xanatos.  However, later on, the gargoyles saw through his manipulations and left him.  From then on, Xanatos engaged in a bitter rivalry with the Manhattan Clan, especially with its leader, Goliath.   Xanatos would look for ways to capture or destroy the Manhattan Clan, while the gargoyles would interfere with Xanatos’ criminal operations.  Sometimes there were temporary truces when a common threat arose, but Xanatos, being a pragmatic man, only did them out of self-preservation or self-interest. 

Xanatos’ “change of heart” moment started when he fell in love and got married with Fox.  Gradually, Xanatos softened and grew instinctively protective of his family, probably understanding for the first time Goliath’s devotion for his clan.  After Goliath led the Manhattan Clan to come to the aid of Xanatos and Fox when Oberon was set to take their son for the “gathering” of the children of Avalon, Xanatos became extremely grateful to Goliath and pledged his help whenever the clan required for it.  From that point onwards, with the same cunning and resourcefulness he displayed when he was clashing with the Manhattan Clan, he now applied as the gargoyle’s benefactor.  Xanatos even asked the gargoyles to return to their ancestral home, Wyvern Castle, marking the official end of their feud and the beginning of their alliance.   When the time came that existence of the gargoyles became known to the general public and many parties came to hate and persecute them, it was fortunate that Xanatos was already on their side.


While watching Power Rangers as a kid, it was with Tommy Oliver whom I had my first encounter of an impactful, memorable heel-face turn.  Tommy first appeared as a new student in the high school where the Power Rangers attend in their civilian identities.  He showed his adeptness as a martial artist when he sparred with Jason (the first Red Ranger) in a tournament, wherein he was noticed by Rita Repulsa.  Rita enchanted Tommy to follow her commands, transformed him into the Green Ranger, and then ordered him to destroy the Power Rangers.  He proved to be more powerful than them – beating them in battle, banishing Zordon, and destroying their command center.  However, when Zordon was revived, the Power Rangers were able to counter-attack, and the Red Ranger was able beat the Green Ranger in one-on-one combat, also freeing Tommy from Rita’s mind control.  Giving Tommy the opportunity to redeem himself, Zordon asked him to join the Power Rangers in which he readily agreed, and he became an invaluable member of the team. 
After a while, he lost his Green Ranger powers, but then became the White Ranger later on.  As the White Ranger, Tommy would replace Jason, the Red Ranger, as the new leader of the team.  Witnessing such development had been new to me.  Here’s a former antagonist, and now he’s the leader?!  It was astonishing and delightful to a five-year-old me. 

Tommy’s legend continued to rise.  He became a Red Ranger eventually (since red is the true color of the leader in the Power Rangers mythos), and, years later, became a Black Ranger in a mentor-type role in Dino Thunder.  Now, there is a consensus that Tommy is the greatest Power Ranger ever in the franchise’s 21-year history; for he is a constant badass, a compelling leader, and the guy who won the heart of Kimberly (the first Pink Ranger), the ultimate crush of most 90’s boys.  Not bad for a former villain. 


Spike was initially meant to be a brief antagonist, but the fantastic “punk, badass vampire” characterization and actor James Marsters’ charisma made him so popular with fans that he became a regular.  According to creator Joss Whedon, Spike is the best-developed character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  And one can understand why.  His transition from villain, to reluctant ally, to anti-hero, and even becoming Buffy’s lover along the way, was so amazingly well done through the course of the series.  Spike’s heel-face turn was gradual and complex that it’s something you need to witness to appreciate fully (seriously, if you haven’t yet, watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel [Spike was part of the main cast in its last season].  Those were great shows).    


This is a bit of a controversial choice for I actually hated Superior Spider-Man during its run.   However, despite my animosity, I had also made it clear that I found it original and genuinely intriguing.  The series kept me absorbed enough to compel me to write several times regarding it.  Besides, most of the hate I have for its concept was because it was done on Spider-Man, the comic book character that I’m most passionate about.  I felt that it blasphemed the essence of what makes Spider-Man exceptional.  Moreover, writer Dan Slott and his conspirators were actually effective in their deception that it was going to be a lengthy status quo (it only lasted for a little more than a year).  

But, again, “Superior Spider-Man” was a fresh comic book concept, and the heel-face turn that was involved in it is definitely the most unique and sophisticated I’ve ever encountered. 

As Doctor Octopus, Otto Octavius was probably Spider-Man’s most dangerous and most prominent archenemy (rivaled only by the Green Goblin).  He possesses a tremendous genius intellect and is arguably smarter than Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spider-Man).  He is a brilliant inventor and engineer, and displays great expertise in various scientific fields, ranging from radiation to cybernetics.  Aside from his superb scientific capabilities, he is also a proficient strategist and a criminal mastermind.  Moreover, even with his stout physique, he’s actually a deadly combatant due to his cybernetic tentacles.  But despite of his many advantages, Spider-Man always comes out on top.   

However, when he was in his dying state, Otto pulled off the most triumphant coup of his super-villain career: he successfully developed a mind-swapping Octobot which he proceeded to use against Spider-Man.  Otto transferred his mind into Peter Parker’s body, and Peter Parker’s mind, on the other hand, was placed in Otto’s dying body.

Peter, in his usual tenacious spirit, still made an attempt on reclaiming his body from Otto.  Unfortunately, Otto was able to foil Peter’s desperate effort, ensuring Peter’s demise and Otto’s victory.  However, though Peter couldn’t re-swap their minds anymore, he noticed that their minds were still connected.  Realizing that he was unable to win his body and life back anymore, Peter instead proceeded to make sure that he won’t be leaving the life and legacy of Spider-Man to a villain.   With their minds still connected, Peter made Otto relive all of his struggles, pains, and defining moments as Spider-Man.  This made Otto empathize with Peter’s experiences, comprehending the great responsibility that came with being Spider-Man. 

Before Peter could give out his last breath, Otto promised him that he would carry on the duty of being Spider-Man.  Not only that, but he was determined to become a better Spider-Man than what Peter had been – a Superior Spider-Man. 

So Otto did truly have a heel-face turn as he really strived to succeed as a super-hero.  However, his personality remained the same.  He was conceited, harsh, impatient, and grim.  Yes, he was sincere in his desire of being hero, but his methods of doing so were in an un-heroic manner.  He readily committed brutality.  He was manipulative.  He applied blackmail.  He employed henchmen.  He mind-controlled super-villains to do his bidding.  And, worst of all, he was even willing to take a life… and did!  He believed that the end justify the means.  Though he indeed became a more efficient and more calculating Spider-Man, he was hardly a better hero than Peter Parker.          

Otto Octavius has been enjoyably kick-ass as the Superior Spider-Man, but it’s not what Spider-Man is all about.  And I think that’s the whole message of the “Superior Spider-Man” story.   Being more intelligent, being more powerful, and having cooler gadgets don’t make a better Spider-Man.  Even Otto himself realized that in the end, hence, he sacrificed his life so that Peter can regain control of his body.  The resolute, selfless, determined, uncompromising, witty, and optimistic Peter Parker is the Amazing Spider-Man – it won’t work any other way. 

Nonetheless, as far as doing a heel-face turn and its effect on the characterization are concerned, what was done on Otto Octavius a.k.a. the Superior Spider-Man was fresh and engaging.  At this point, I don’t mind anymore that it came about at the cost of Peter Parker’s temporary death.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

10-12-2014 Dynamic Service Special Number

I do not know who originally sang "How Deep the Father's Love For Us", but this cover we had of it - Ms. Arlene Bemida singing, with me playing the piano - is inspired by the version of Liberty Campus Band (look 'em up in YouTube).

The lyrics are really substantially powerful, so let me include them here... 

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Thoughts on the Lakers Before the 2014-2015 NBA Season Starts

This off-season was no blockbuster for Lakerdom.  Yes, I understood that it was fairly unlikely for the Lakers to acquire LeBron James, but I was of course hoping for the Lakers to significantly improve the roster.  After having my most disappointing season as a Laker fan (2012-2013 season), followed by the most dreadful season in franchise history (2013-2014 season), it would be nice to have the Lakers in a position to win again. 

But that’s not to be so. 

No LeBron James in Lakers jersey.  No Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving neither.  Those are names I’ve been musing of wearing the purple and gold.  Instead, those three teamed up in Cleveland.  Bummer.    


Heck, Lakers didn’t even manage to keep Pau Gasol.  And as a Pau fan, retaining him was the top priority.  I have no bitterness in Pau’s decision to leave.  But I have a bit of gripe on the Lakers front office’s lack of effort of wooing him.  Back in the 2013 offseason, I was astonished and appalled by how the Lakers put up billboards that practically begged Dwight Howard to stay – that is so not the Lakers I’ve been accustomed with.  For me, Pau is far more deserving of a billboard.  A little show of love would have been nice.          

Pau looks cool in this photo.  But seeing him another jersey is a bit upsetting.  

However, given the circumstance of available free agents, I think the Lakers did satisfactory work.  Valuable contributors like Jordan Hill and Nick Young will be back.  Rookies Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson look promising.  And, most significantly...

To be honest, I am probably more excited of seeing Jeremy Lin in Laker uniform than of having LeBron James.  Really.  Lin’s Christ-centered basketball philosophy impresses me, and I think he really has the potential to be a basketball star and a fan favorite.  He was my favorite non-Laker player back then, and I’ve even prayed that he’ll become a Laker.  And now he is!  For me, this is a silver lining for the Lakers’ lack of impactful off-season moves.              
Nonetheless, on paper, the roster assembled for this upcoming season doesn’t look impressive.  I’m just being realistic here.  Unless Kobe plays like the Kobe Bryant we got spoiled with, Jeremy Lin dramatically evolves into a legitimate superstar, Nick Young has a “Sixth Man of the Year”-quality season, Ed Davis has a break-out season, Julius Randle turns out to be a basketball phenom, Jordan Clarkson proves to be the next Manu Ginobili or Gilbert Arenas, Jordan Hill becomes Dennis Rodman-esque, Carlos Boozer miraculously returns to his former Utah Jazz form, Steve Nash miraculously returns to his former Phoenix Sun form, and new coach Byron Scott figures out how to make the Lakers play more efficiently than the well-oiled San Antonio Spurs, there’s no chance for this 2014-2015 Los Angeles Lakers to win the championship. 

I’m also a bit worried and intrigued how a line-up consisting of Kobe, Lin, and Young would fare.  These are all players that thrive best when the ball spends significant time in their hands.  To me, it looks like ball movement and ball distribution are going to have some problems. 

I’m not going to expect for a championship (though unexpectedly winning another one would be nice).  But I hope there will be a lot of fun, notable moments this season for the Lakers.  And that the result of the Lakers’ performance in this season will put Lakerdom in an ideal position of winning the championship soon.  Hopefully, before Kobe retires.  

Let’s go, Lakers! 

The 2015 NBA champs... hey, one can dream.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

RE: 'I Hear Your Voice'

“Koreanovelas” (Filipino term for TV drama series from South Korea) are never my thing.  Yes, there were times when some Koreanovelas would have some details or aspects that were able to stir my curiosity enough to make me catch some episodes.  But none really were capable of completely clinching my interest, turning any slight amount of fancy I had into total fandom. 

The closest one to do so was probably Lovers in Paris, most likely because it was the first Koreanovela that reached our shores (if I remember it correctly), gave me my first idea of Korean pop culture (“Aja!” is an expression I first learned here, and it’s an expression I like since then), thus, had the advantage of novelty; eventually, the plot succumbed to hackneyed soap opera tropes (which our typical Filipino drama series suffer from), obliterating any extent of liking I had on the show.

With what I’ve laid out above, one may understand why I consider I Hear Your Voice (also alternatively titled as I Can Hear Your Voice) as the greatest Koreanovela ever.  Because after Lovers in Paris, thousands of Koreanovelas have popped up through the years, and it’s only this time with I Hear Your Voice that I got to love a Koreanovela series and get to be completely invested on it.  Being compelled to write about it is already a very telling hint of how much this series made an impression on me.  For me, it’s the greatest product that has ever come out of the Republic of Korea since kimbap and the Black Eagle (not really from Korea.  But it’s the first thing that I ever liked about Korea.  See Red Alert 2 for the reference).

I Hear Your Voice tells the story of Park Soo-ha and Jang Hye-sung.  When Soo-ha was just nine years-old, he and his father were assaulted by Min Joon-gook, a man that had a grudge with his father.  The trauma mysteriously gave Soo-ha the ability to hear other’s thoughts once he gets a glance of their eyes.  Joon-gook killed his father, and he was about to kill Soo-ha too when 15-year old Hye-sung timely arrived on the scene to disrupt him. 

During the trial, the death of Soo-ha’s father was about to be dismissed as a mere traffic accident, which would had resulted to the acquittal of Min Joon-gook, when Hye-sung arrived to testify against him.  This ensured Joon-gook’s indictment and imprisonment, and he threatened to kill Hye-sung once he gets out of jail. 

Hye-sung’s bold decision to come and testify had a strong impact on Soo-ha.   He developed an infatuation on her and vowed to protect her from Joon-gook. 

Ten years later, Soo-ha, a high school senior, remained love-struck and had learned martial arts to carry on his promise of protecting her; while Hye-sung became a lawyer and had been recently hired to be a public defender.  After reading in a neswspaper of Hye-sung’s employment, Soo-ha was able to track down his first love.  The two got to meet again after a decade, and Soo-ha would find himself aiding Hye-sung in her cases with his mind-reading power.    

Meanwhile, coincidentally, Min Joon-gook, still vengeful and bitter, was released from jail… 

Such is the set-up in which this awesome tale started off from.   (Watch the series to see how the rest of the story goes.)  
The show’s initial run was from June to August 2013.  But it was only this year that it was viewed in Filipino television when a local network dubbed and aired it during weeknights (as I write it, it’s still ongoing).  I got caught of it while browsing channels one night (probably while I was watching replays of games from the 2014 FIBA World Cup).  I was charmed, watched a few episodes, got hooked and intrigued enough to search and buy a DVD of the complete series, watched its entirety, loved the series from start to finish, and then proceeded to re-watch most of the episodes.

What’s so special about I Hear Your Voice?  First, the refreshing and exceptional romance between Soo-ha and Hye-sung was a thrill.  Initially, I admit that I was first drawn to it because of having personally fallen in love with an older girl (*cough*), I found the romance relatable.  But it didn’t just end there.  As I was drawn more to the story, I found the romance to be actually fascinating by itself.  It wasn’t shallow, uninspired, and gratuitous.  It was slowly but pleasingly well-developed; it felt justified and earned.  It was appealing, distinctive, and wholesome.  Hence, I was able to find those scenes designed for romantic purposes a delight to watch. 

Heck, this show even made me swoon!  That’s what is most surprising of all.  It’s something unlikely of me.  I’m never a fan of romances, though I do get fascinated by unique, genuinely enjoyable romantic chemistry and tension between two wonderful characters.  There’s even no need for an actual romance to happen between them, as long as the tense attraction between them are there.  Some examples of such are the “speculative romance” of Jughead and Betty, Batman and Wonder Woman’s quasi-romance in the Justice League animated series, the uneasy attraction between Frank Hardy and Nancy Drew (whenever the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew team up), Sherlock Holmes’ “the Woman” esteem for Irene Adler, and back when Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spider-Man) and Carol Danvers (then still Ms. Marvel) started dating in the comics.  (That’s an idea.  I probably need to list my most favorite fictional couples.)      
But cases of fictional couples making me be actually thrilled by their romance are rare.  Disney’s Aladdin and Jasmine were the earliest, I think, and the “Eye of the Beholder” episode from the animated series was arguably its highest point.  The most memorable instance was in Cinderella Monogatari, the anime reinvention of the iconic fairy tale, but that was a long, long time ago (There might be other recent ones, but nothing comes to mind as I write this.)  And now there’s Park Soo-ha and Jang Hye-sung. 
Second, its premise that combined romantic comedy, court room drama, fantasy, and suspense – each aspect important in making the story terrific – was executed and utilized effectively.  Having such a lot of different genre elements happening around the show seem to be ripe for an untidy narrative, but the series pulled it off fantastically.  The plot remained coherent, well-paced, poised, and impeccably balanced of humor and tension. 

It’s not really perfect.  I still found dumb details that I can nitpick if I want to.  But they can be forgiven.  This is a show that has a character that can read minds after all, so a little more suspension of disbelief regarding coincidences and lazy details for the narrative to stick isn’t that hard for me to give.  The result is a delightful story after all.  I cut them some slack.  I have no complains.      

Third, there is profundity in its message as well.  Insightful themes like telling the truth, keeping promises, admitting faults and mistakes, not wasting one’s life by succumbing to hate and revenge, and maturing as a person are powerfully articulated by the story.      

Fourth, and most importantly, there were plenty of great character moments.  I’ve always been a big fan of strong fictional characters (that’s why I write plenty of lists on them), and this series had plenty of interesting, deep characters that developed well through the story.  

*Warning: some spoilers ahead!*
The main characters, Park Soo-ha and Jang Hye-sung, were able to learn a lot of things from each other and from all the people they’ve encountered throughout the story.  Their experiences definitely helped them become wiser, more mature, and stronger as individuals and as a couple. 

Min Joon-gook was a terrifying but pitiful villain.  Warped with hate and obsessed with revenge, he served as a perfect anti-thesis of Soo-ha.  Soo-ha would have turned out to be the same if he didn’t have Hye-sung.  So, Soo-ha might have probably vowed to protect Hye-sung, and probably was able to carry it out to an extent, but it was really Hye-sung who saved Soo-ha from succumbing into an empty, hateful life. 

Aside from Min Joon-gook, the most important secondary character is the charmingly geeky and idealistic Cha Gwan-woo.  He’s a former cop who became a lawyer (and Lawyer Jang’s colleague) and completes the “love triangle” between Soo-ha and Hye-sung.  He’s not at all like the disruptive, unwanted “third party” kind of character that is typical of a “love triangle” romance.  He’s actually a great, noble character from whom both Soo-ha and Hye-sung gained a lot of wisdom from.  Though understandably infuriated of him at first (for being a rival who is deserving of Hye-sung more than him), Soo-ha would eventually consider Lawyer Cha as a better man and the person that helped him the most in maturing into an adult, worthy of Hye-sung’s love.  

Other notable characters in the series are Seo Do-yeon, Hye-sung’s high school adversary whose accusations led to the latter’s expulsion in high school, and then grew up to become a prosecutor and Hye-sung’s rival on the court; Lawyer Shin, a veteran public defender who is a mentor for Lawyer Cha and Lawyer Jang; Judge Kim, the judge constantly presiding the cases and always exasperated by Lawyer Jang; Go Sung-Bin and Kim Choong-ki, Soo-ha’s classmates and whose constant bickering is a source of constant amusement for us watching; and Eo Choon-shim, Hye-sung’s mother.    These characters all have key moments and worthwhile developments to follow in the show. 

All of these – romance, plot, themes, and characters – make I Hear Your Voice a fun, exhilarating ride with a fantastic finish.  I was happily satisfied by how the story carried on and concluded.  Its ending, especially, was an extremely satisfactory and empathic wrap-up, but still left some sadness for I would no longer know what will happen next to the characters’ stories that I got to be so invested in. 

For me, I Hear Your Voice is something like how a certain gentleman valued Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.  This gentleman went to Mark Twain and told the author he wished he didn’t read Mark Twain, and was willing give a hundred dollars for it to be so.  His reason?  So he could have again the pleasure of reading Huckleberry Finn for the first time.
Really.  I found it astonishing that I found myself wishing I haven’t seen the series yet, so I can have the pleasure of watching it for the first time.  I Can Hear Your Voice is that awesome.             

Some assorted musings:
  • Wow.  I wrote a long one.   Again, I guess I just really, really like this show.  And I am still completely baffled why I do.  Maybe my taste is changing as I grow older?  Hmmmm.      
  • Hye-sung is six years older than Soo-ha.  In real life, Lee Bo-young and Lee Jong-suk, the actors who played them, actually have an age gap of ten years.  Fun trivia.
  • Lawyer Shin makes some of the most hilarious facial expressions ever. 
  • Out of its 18 episodes, my most favorite one is probably Episode 14.
  • One creative thing about this show is each episode title is from a featured title or line from a song.  “Echo” (the theme song) and “Why Did You Come Now?” are the show’s best songs.  They’re in my current playlist.  I probably liked them only because they were of the show. 
  • Fun chemistry was happening between Lawyer Cha and Prosecutor Seo during the last episode.  Too bad there was no real hint on where it would be going.       
  • If Harry Potter’s epilogue is the worst ever, I Hear Your Voice has one of the best ever. 
  • I think this is even the first time I even used the word “swoon” in a blog post.  /shaking my head.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Top 20 TV Series (That Had Already Concluded)

This, of course, is not a listing of all my favorite TV series.  As what the title says, it’s a list on TV series that had already concluded; a large chunk of my favorite TV series are still ongoing.  Also take note that it says “TV series” – serialized shows of an ongoing set of characters and story – and not just “TV shows”, which is a term that can have a broader scope of including every form of TV program (example, the comedy show Whose Line is It Anyway? is one of most favorite TV shows ever, but it’s not qualified for this list).      

As a TV fan ever since I was a child, I’ve seen a lot of TV series (especially this latter part of my life), so I’ve limited the pool of shows to be considered for this list.  First, the aforementioned detail that they already had wrapped-up (or were already cancelled).  Second, it should be a live-action TV series; I’ve watched and loved a lot of cartoons and a lot of the spots will surely go to animated TV series and anime if they were considered.  Third, the series should have run during my lifetime (1989-present); shows that had their tenures prior my birth but I was able to get fond of after watching the re-runs are disqualified for this list (but I will be tackling them in a separate, follow-up list in the near future, hopefully).  

Let’s get the ball rolling…

20.) NIKITA (2010-2013)

This series tells the story of the titular character, Nikita (amazingly played by Maggie Q), and her crusade to bring down “Division” – a clandestine government-funded black ops organization that has become corrupt – which she used to work as an assassin for. 

Back when it first came out in 2010, I was an avid follower of each episode.  But it kind of lost me after season two.  I occasionally watched some episodes afterwards, but I was not that much hooked as its initial season.  Nonetheless, Nikita still gets a spot since I was so into this show during its first season.  I appreciated its fast pacing, the great characters, and the superb action.  I was really excitedly following it in an episode-to-episode basis.

19.) NUMB3RS (2005-2010)

Though this series failed to be consistently exciting for me, it has one of the most intriguing premises for a TV series.  It follows the crime-solving adventures of FBI Special Agent Don Eppes and his brother, Prof. Charlie Eppes.  As a mathematical genius, Charlie helps his brother in his cases by providing mathematical insight, models, or applications that are conveniently relevant in solving the crime at hand.  It’s kind of a bit ridiculous how each of Don’s cases happens to always have elements that Charlie’s mathematical talents can come invaluable to, but, hey, with suspension of disbelief and all, using math to solve crime from time and time again is very fascinating.     

18.) ALMOST HUMAN (2013-2014)

This was one of my most favorite shows last year, and it crushed me when announcement of its cancellation came this year after just a season of 13 episodes.  It’s not exactly the smartest example of science fiction, but it did provide a high level of entertainment.  It established a futuristic setting that I can get fascinated about, and the duo of John Kennex and Dorian – which heavily reminds me of another favorite sci-fi detective duo of mine, the Robot novels’ Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw – had enjoyable “buddy-cops” chemistry.


I can’t remember the degree of sophistication that this show had since I’ve watched this series when I was just a child (and I haven’t seen any re-runs of it since then).    But I definitely remember enjoying this show a lot.  From what I gather, Lois and Clark was a romantic comedy TV series that uses the Superman mythos as material.  Again, I can’t remember much to really assess if that premise was silly or clever (but considering the fact that I’ve always found the “love triangle” between Clark, Lois, and Superman a lot of fun, it was likely the latter).  Being a 4 to 8 year-old boy, the only thing that mattered to me was it was a show about Superman – one of my favorite comic book characters – and that was good enough for me.    

16.) MR. BEAN (1990-1995)

Having watched Mr. Bean’s 14 episodes many times over at this point already, it can’t get anything more out of me but a mere amused chuckle once in a while.  But at one time, watching the series’ episodes for the first time back in the 90’s, the antics, absurdity, and misadventures of this Rowan Atkinson character induced a lot of belly-aching laughter from me.  For me, at one time, Mr. Bean was one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever encountered.  Thus, it’s easily one of the most memorable TV experiences I’ve had and is therefore deserving of a spot in this list.    

15.) HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES (1992-1998)

Despite of its messy and incoherent continuity, I am charmed greatly of the premise of the Highlander franchise (it also helps that its theme, Queen’s “Princes of the Universe”, is very catchy) – about Immortals roaming the earth for centuries, dueling among themselves until there can “only be one” (as its iconic tagline goes).  I enjoyed some of the movies, and I greatly like both MacLeods/Highlanders, but most of my fondness for the Highlander franchise comes from its TV series.  I just felt that there had been better swordfights, “Quickening” scenes, and overall storytelling done on the TV series than on the movies.          

14.) GOKUSEN LIVE! (2002)

Gokusen Live! was a live-action adaptation of manga/anime, Gokusen.  The story focuses on Kumiko “Yankumi” Yamaguchi, an enthusiastically dedicated teacher of a class full of delinquent students, who is secretly a Yakuza clan heiress.  Yukie Nakama’s charming portrayal of the main character made her one of my most favorite fictional female characters ever.  I understand that there were two more follow-up series after the first live-action Gokusen TV series, but this was the only series that matters to me (I found the next two lacking, and it’s really not the same without Shin Sawada).


As a kid in the 90’s, this had been at one time my favorite live-action TV series.  It was a wonderfully distinctive take on the story of the legendary fictional character, Hercules/Heracles.  Ever since, I have always considered Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules as one of the best pop culture reinventions of the mythological character. 

And Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was a delightful reinvention of Greek mythology in general.  I appreciate much how the world that Hercules and his sidekick, Iolaus, were traveling in during the series’ run was not confined in an ancient Greece setting, but also had other facets, scenarios, and characteristics that are found in other ancient cultures and historical periods (Egyptian, Oriental, Medieval, Norse, etc.).      

12.) FARSCAPE (1999-2003)

The series focuses on a colorful band of characters of different alien species that are on the run from “Peacekeepers” (a corrupt and harsh Spartanic organization) and a human astronaut named John Crichton (who got sucked in a wormhole during an experimental space flight and was picked up by the others) that are wandering through space in a bio-mechanical ship called “Moya.”  Farscape engrossed me a lot during its run due to its wonderful collection of characters, remarkable adventure narrative, gorgeous production value, and by just being an overall exciting space saga.   
11.) STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE (1993-1999)

My love for Star Trek is mostly due to the movies.  I’ve never got into the original TV series or The Next Generation TV series.  I was able to see some episodes from re-runs, but I was never really hooked (I was even bored at times).  However, Deep Space Nine (or DS9) easily caught my fancy.  In my humble opinion, it was significantly better-written, more exciting, and thematically richer than any Star Trek show has ever been.    

I love its setting; instead of mostly taking place in a starship as other Star Trek shows, this series took place in a space station named “Deep Space Nine”, which was located near a newly discovered wormhole that permits easy admission to a very distant and uncharted part of the galaxy called “Gamma Quadrant.”  Hence, this station was extremely valuable for political, economic, and exploratory reasons.  This gave the series a kind of a-station-in-the-borders-of-space feel, which I find extremely appealing.  A lot of fascinating story conflicts and plots resulted from this unique Star Trek setting. 

10.) XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS (1995-2001)

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was the first, but its off-shoot, Xena: Warrior Princess, eventually overtook it in my heart.  The awesome Xena would emerge as one of my most favorite heroines ever, and I would find her adventures more entertaining than Hercules’.  The general sentiment was probably like mine since Xena would end up outlasting Hercules for 18 episodes. 
9.) SMALLVILLE (2001-2011)

Among the shows in this list, Smallville lasted the longest.  It ran for ten seasons, but I was probably only a fan of half of these.  I closely followed the show’s first four seasons, since the concept of a TV series that retells Clark Kent’s high school years in his hometown, Smallville, as he develops his powers and characteristics that would eventually lead him to become Superman, mightily appealed to me. 

Tom Welling’s deadpan, bad acting actually worked perfectly in making Clark Kent a charming “simple small town boy” character.  Michael Rosenbaum’s portrayal of Lex Luthor was electrifying and captivating – definitely my most favorite depiction of the character on screen.  I also find it extremely refreshing and intriguing that, in this universe, the younger versions of two eventual archenemies would initially be best friends. 

This series also have my most favorite versions of Lana Lang and Lois Lane in all depictions of the characters ever as Kristin Kreuk and Erica Durance did magnificent jobs in playing their respective characters.  It also introduced Chloe Sullivan, a character that had never been part of the Superman mythos prior this series; between her, Lana Lang, and Lois Lane, this series had an ensemble of interestingly strong female characters.       

The middle seasons kind of lost my excitement for the show for it became mostly set on Metropolis and Clark Kent was thrown into more of an “adult situation.”  And in spite of these factors being already provided, the series still hadn’t Clark Kent learn to fly or become Superman.  And it bugged me.  Other DC heroes and many iconic Superman villains were being introduced already, and Clark Kent still hasn’t figured out how to become Superman?!  It was really frustrating.   Moreover, the show’s weakest storylines, in my opinion, were also during these middle seasons.  I was still watching Smallville occasionally, but no longer in episode-to-episode basis.   

Then it started getting more fun again when Lois Lane and Clark Kent’s romance was starting to develop.  It totally reminded me of Lois and Clark (see number 17).  And that’s when Smallville made me care again.  Since then, I saw the show through until its end. However, I was rewarded by an unsatisfying, awful finale.     

Still, despite of half of Smallville’s run being a disappointment, it was still a show that I was greatly fond of.  During its best seasons, the series had provided me some of the most delightful, relatable, and absorbing TV watching experiences I’ve ever had.  Thus, it made the number 9 spot of this list.   

8.) PSYCH (2006-2014)

The recently ended Psych has been one of the most amusing and humorous TV series around. I was drawn to it initially because of the uniqueness of its lead character, Shawn Spencer, but my interest and affection for this show were sustained because of the consistent presence of fun, tension, wit, quirkiness, and a lovable cast throughout its seasons. 

Psych centers on “psychic detective” Shawn Spencer and his partner/best bud Burton Guster, as they serve as consultants for the Santa Barbara police department.  The enjoyable catch, however, is Shaw isn’t really a psychic but can effectively maintain the charade because of possessing an extremely potent eidetic memory and deductive prowess. Fun!   


This brilliant Nickelodeon show, situated in a small town setting, tells the day-to-day occurrences and interactions in the lives of two brothers both named Pete Wrigley.  This was easily my most favorite live-action TV series during my childhood.  Its eccentric and clever narrative made it massively charming and entertaining.   With no exaggeration, I haven’t encountered any show yet that has the same kind of delightful, unique storytelling style that this show had.  

6.) VERONICA MARS (2004-2007)

I’ve already repeated the story of how I got into Veronica Mars too many times already.  Let me just do it again briefly here.  I first got wind of it through its spectacular Kickstarter campaign for a movie.  I was intrigued.  I checked out the show, marathoned all of its episodes.  I loved it.  I became a Mars-mallow.  Veronica Mars became a favorite heroineI loved the movie when it came.  Veronica Mars is awesome.  There.    

5.) LEVERAGE (2008-2012)

Leverage is basically Ocean’s 11 in TV.  Which means it’s a smart heist tale that has plenty of twists, charm, humor, and energy.  Though the series wasn’t perfect – e.g. it had an underwhelming conclusion, a few weak episodes, and there were no new members introduced to the team – it was still terrific and immensely enjoyable overall.   

The series follows the exploits of the “Leverage Consulting & Associates” crew, a team consisting of a grifter, a hacker, a thief, and a retrieval specialist, and is masterminded by Nathan Ford – one of the cleverest, most ingenious strategists I’ve encountered in fiction.  The team members – with the exception of Ford (who was an insurance investigator prior to leading the team) – are made up of very proficient criminals who decided to reform (to an extent), and instead use their skills and talents to con and steal from the rich, greedy, and powerful people that have done injustice to ordinary citizens who haven’t the means to fight for themselves. 

4.) ANGEL (1999-2004)

This spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was grittier but just as appealing at its parent show.  It explores the struggles and adventures of Buffy’s ex-boyfriend, Angel, the vampire with a soul, as he runs a private detective agency based in Los Angeles that fights the evils – primarily supernatural in nature – of the city.  This had a delicious “noir” mood effect on the series, with Angel representing the tortured, unenthusiastic, sharp detective that had to deal with the urban underworld in his cases, but this time, the “underworld” is a literal one, with demons and all.  The finish product was excellent and captivating. 

Angel has always been a favorite Buffy character of mine (next to Buffy), and I was so glad that there was this entire show made to centrally explore and develop the character.  Which this show fantastically did.    

3.) FIREFLY (2002)

Firefly is considered by many as the perfect example of an awesome TV series cancelled too early.  Ever since I first checked this show out back in 2011 after being intrigued of its cult status, I’ve re-watched this TV series (along with its spinoff movie, Serenity) almost once a year.  There are only 14 episodes so it’s pretty easy.  And it’s something really worth to re-watch annually.   

The series tells the adventures of the ragtag crew of “Serenity”, a Firefly-class spaceship (hence, the title), led by cowboy-esque Captain Malcolm Reynolds, as they take on various transporting/smuggling/stealing jobs across the “Wild West” outskirts of the galaxy.  Its “space Western” premise, setting, and production value are extremely charming; the writing is clever, has plenty of heart, and possesses a delicious balance of humor, drama, and action (what you’ll expect from a Joss Whedon project); and the “Serenity” crew are easily lovable.   


And that’s three straight Whedon TV series getting into the top 4 spots, with this one being the best among them.  I enjoyed Angel a lot, and it was more engaging sometimes.  But Buffy the Vampire Slayer is still the greatest – it had the  Buffy Summers, one of the greatest vampire hunters and female characters in fiction ever; lots of humor; many strong, memorable characters and character developments; exciting action; consistently clever, well-written, and genuinely inspired plots and dialogues; absorbing story arcs; and themes that were easily relatable. 

For years, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had been my most favorite TV series ever.  Then I encountered…

1.) HOUSE M.D. (2004-2012)

Out of its 177 episodes during its 8-season run, I only encountered one weak, unsatisfying episode: its finale.  I’m not saying it was bad.  It’s just felt lacking, that’s all.  The writers did their best to make an appropriate conclusion.  But it was not at all the resounding exclamation point that such great show deserves.  It was a mere period.             

Finale regardless, House was a first-rate, intelligent drama series.  I was not only fascinated in its overall storylines, but I was also made invested in almost every single detail, subplot, and character of the show.  It has a lot of strong points: a stellar cast, outstanding acting and writing, engaging conflicts, thrilling plots, and the smart utility of medical scenarios.   

Of course, much of the credit of this show’s awesomeness has to go to the main character himself, the flawed and brilliant Dr. Greggory House.  He’s the greatest character I’ve ever seen in TV, and he’s definitely – hands down – one of the most fascinating characters there are in fiction of any medium.  He has a lot of depth, and is extremely interesting.  Kudos to Hugh Laurie – who definitely brought plenty of his own personality and talents into the character – for doing an amazing job on bringing this amazing character to life. 

It’s probable that a day will come when another show will overtake House M.D. as my most favorite TV series, but I think it’ll be a long time before it happens.