The Enthusiasm List for August 2021

It’s been a while, but with entertainment products being reliably released once again, it’s time to look at what I’m excited about this month. TV, movies, books, podcasts, video games, comics – I’m picking the things that I’m looking forward to. Time to get pumped!

The Suicide Squad (August 6) – Look, we were all disappointed by the 2016 Suicide  Squad. It’s a half-assed nothing of a movie, which means it’s still in the middle third of DC movies ranked by quality. This sequel/reboot retains only a few of the characters, brings in a bunch of new ones, and most crucially, it’s written and directed by Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn this time out. The trailers are pretty great – violent and funny and the kind of deep-cut DC lore that we haven’t seen in the modern movies. When you get Polka-Dot Man, Savant, and Arm-Fall-Off-Boy facing Starro the Conqueror, you know somebody did their homework. I’m psyched about John Cena’s Peacemaker, a character who only works when played as “Captain America but a dick”, and Peter Capaldi as the Thinker. I love that guy! Both Capaldi and the Golden Age Flash villain. It looks awesome and it’s been a while since I’ve felt unrestrained enthusiasm for a DC movie.

Reservation Dogs (August 9) – Taika Waititi co-created this new comedy, and that’s enough to put it on the radar already. It’s about four indigenous teens in Oklahoma turning to crime so they can move to California. The teasers are funny, it looks interesting, and even if they’re not 100% these days, new FX series are always worth a shot. (FX/Hulu)

Batman ’89 and Superman ’78 (August 10 and 24) – This is either great or terrible but I’m along for the ride either way. DC is launching miniseries set in the worlds of the iconic first Batman and Superman movies. And we’re talking the first Batman movie with a Billy Dee Williams-looking Harvey Dent. It’s a cool idea, even if that setting is kind of limited. I mean, they can’t use any of the villains introduced in subsequent movies so most of the classics are off the table. Maybe ’89 versions of Professor Pyg and Firefly or something along those lines? I don’t know how they’re doing it, but I want to read it. As for Superman, the setting is a little less unique. Superman ’78 is a pretty solid representative of classic Superman with the only real divergence being that Lex Luthor is a joke. But DC isn’t doing anything that feels like classic Superman anymore so I’m very into this. (DC Comics)

What If? (August 11) – Marvel’s back on TV with a series about alternate timelines, following up on the finale of Loki. You know how the Lokis broke time? This is where we see some of those results. Peggy Carter takes over for Captain America. Hawkeye is the Hulk maybe? Iron Man and Killmonger are friends. They haven’t been super specific about the episode premises, but that’s all stuff from the trailer. This is kind of qualified enthusiasm, though – I don’t really care for the look of the animation and What If? never totally worked for me. It’s had a few runs as a comic series, and it always turns into either “What if everybody died?” or “What if that story you like wasn’t as good?” And the premise was usually that there was one small change – the spider bit somebody other than Peter Parker, the Fantastic Four got different powers from cosmic rays. I feel like a big, seemingly random change like “What if Black Panther was Starlord?” maybe strays from the spirit of the concept a little bit. I’ll watch it, sure, but I’m not counting the days or anything. (Disney +)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (August 12)  – It’s the final (abbreviated) season of the long-running and consistently good comedy. My feelings are mixed. Eight years is a good run and the long break between seasons kind of made me forget it was still a thing so this feels more like some bonus episodes rather than a finale. And as much as I love this show and its fantastic cast, cop comedy is going to feel a little different in 2021. The most recent episode aired well before the George Floyd murder and last summer’s protests and the police don’t feel like Holt and Peralta anymore. (And really never did but I am a middle-aged white suburban man and that’s a pretty big set of blinders to work around.)  I’m still looking forward to seeing my TV friends again and I’ll miss them very much, but it’s definitely ending at the right time. (NBC)

Hello from the Magic Tavern (August 16) – The comedy fantasy podcast wraps up Season Three this month and they traditionally do big status quo shake-ups when they end a season. Last season saw hosts Arnie (a human who fell through a portal behind a Burger King), Usidore (a wizard), and Chunt (a shapeshifter who’s usually a badger) lose the titular tavern (and the town surrounding it) to the Dark Lord and sent them out on a quest. The lore got deeper and weirder this season and I’m excited to see where they go next. Arnie’s been captured by the Dark Lord, which may force the battle that’s been teased for almost the entire series, but they’re going to have to ramp up fast to get there in two episodes. But there has been a lot of time travel this season, so things could get wild on us. I love listening to this show every week and I can’t wait for the next iteration

Nine Perfect Strangers (August 18] – It’s Nicole Kidman’s one thousandth project with David E Kelley! I don’t know much about this drama, mostly because I haven’t read the book, but the cast also includes Melissa McCarthy, Manny Jacinto, Regina Hall, and Michael Shannon. I don’t need to know more! (Hulu)

Reminiscence (August 20) – This movie comes from Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy, so I’m already in. In a future ravaged by climate change (so, like, three years from now), Hugh Jackman helps people relive memories. Presumably he’s playing a character, but it would be fun if this was just where Jackman’s career leads. It also stars Thandie Newton and Rebecca Ferguson, but I’m mostly psyched for Lisa Joy material about technology going wrong.

Archer (August 25)  – I love Archer and I’m psyched about a new season. We saw last year that it still worked even without creator Adam Reed as showrunner and I’d be happy to watch it forever. That said, the legendary Jessica Walter passed away shortly after finishing recording for this season. It’ll be nice to have this last run for Malory Archer, but also I’m not sure the show works without her character. Maybe this is the time to wrap it up. Twelve seasons is a run to be proud of. I mean, it’s one of my favorite shows ever and I’ll watch as much Archer as they want to make, but this kind of feels like the final season and I will invest myself accordingly. (FXX/Hulu)

The Other Two (August 26) – It was possibly the last great Comedy Central show, so obviously it’s moving to HBO Max for Season Two. Man, remember when Comedy Central was on a hot streak? Broad City, Drunk History, Nathan for You, Review, Detroiters… all of their originals were just hitting and now they’re all gone. Anyway, this is about a young teen who gets famous on YouTube and his older siblings (Drew Tarver and Helene Yorke) who’ve been struggling and failing in Hollywood for years. It’s hysterical and sometimes heartbreaking – it’s not the same tone, but somehow it really fills the Party Down void for me. (HBO Max)

That’s it for me. What are you into?

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