Adam Scott and Craig Robinson Get Spooked in “Ghosted”

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The new TV show “Ghosted,” which premiered on FOX in October, can best be described as a supernatural-themed comedy. In it, two comedy veterans – Adam Scott and Craig Robinson – play paranormal investigators recruited by a shadowy government organization known as the Bureau Underground. There are plenty of comedic laughs, but also plenty of paranormal frights. So it’s safe to say that Adam Scott and Craig Robinson get spooked in “Ghosted” – and we have plenty of fun watching what happens next.

Adam Scott, Craig Robinson and the paranormal buddy comedy

Over the past 30 years, there have been plenty of great buddy comedies on the big screen. Just think of movies like “48 Hours,” “Trading Places” and “Midnight Run.” In many ways, “Ghosted” follows in this tradition – it’s like a buddy cop movie you might have watched in the 1980’s, but this time it’s two paranormal investigators.

On one hand, you have Adam Scott’s character (Max Jennifer), who is a disgraced astrophysics professor from Stanford who believes, deep down, that his wife has been abducted by aliens. Things have gotten so bad that he’s working at a second-hand bookstore just to make ends meet when the Bureau Underground recruits him to become a paranormal investigator.

On the other hand, you have Craig Robinson’s character (Leroy Wright), a former LAPD cop who is working as a mall security guard when the Bureau Underground contacts him. Unlike Max, Leroy has absolutely no belief in aliens or the paranormal.

So you can immediately see why Adam Scott and Craig Robinson make such a great comic duo. On one hand, you have the slightly off-kilter paranormal believer who’s afraid of everything; on the other hand, you have the no-sense LAPD cop who doesn’t believe in anything paranormal. This constant tension between the duo is played for some hilarious laughs.

If you’ve seen this comedic duo in an interview together, you’ll have a good idea why they work so well together in “Ghosted.” They literally finish each other’s sentences, and seem to have great chemistry working together. (You might recognize both of them from “Hot Tub Time Machine 2.”) In interviews, the two actors have specifically referenced as inspiration some of the all-time great buddy comedies, especially “48 Hours” (Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte) and “Midnight Run” (Charles Grodin and Robert De Niro).

The spooky elements of “Ghosted”

While there’s plenty of comedic material to mine for laughs, there’s also a lot of paranormal elements as well – including ghosts, aliens and things that go bump in the dark. What makes everything so spooky is that it’s never quite clear what the role of the shadowy government organization, the Bureau Underground, is in all this. In some cases, it almost seems as if the government is responsible for everything that has run amok.

The real challenge, according to Adam Scott and Craig Robinson, is how to balance the spooky and the funny within a 30-minute comedy format. But it’s a blend of comedy, fantasy and the supernatural that the show pulls off very well. In between comic scenes and comic banter, there are severed heads, spaceships and weird lights in the sky. The goal, say Scott and Robinson, is to create the perfect mix of comedy and horror, along the lines of the giant Marshmallow Man in “Ghostbusters.”

In many ways, you can also think of “Ghosted” as a comedic “X-Files.” There are unexplained disappearances, shadowy organizations, and paranormal events. And, yet, it’s somehow all very funny. And, just like the format of the “X-Files,” there’s one ardent believer in the paranormal, and another main character who doesn’t believe.

The best scenes in “Ghosted” are when Adam Scott and Craig Robinson get spooked

There’s an undercurrent of zaniness that fills the entire show. And things are never quite as zany as when Adam Scott and Craig Robinson get spooked. It’s hilarious when Adam Scott starts freaking out, and Craig Robinson needs to calm him down. And some of the scenes are just hilarious – like when the two start slapping each other in the face. Or when they are both crawling around on all fours, trying to evade what they think are paranormal forces.

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“Ghosted” in many ways feels like a spoof of classic sci-fi thrillers

There are so many different inspirations for “Ghosted” – the classic buddy comedy, “Ghostbusters” and “X-Files.” To that mix you can add the classic sci-fi thriller. In these thrillers, there’s usually some researcher or investigator on the relentless search for truth, trying to figure out the role of shadowy and corrupt government workers or money-hungry corporate R&D folks. In these thrillers, there are usually scientific experiments gone wrong, research findings that are supposed to remain secret and/or classified, and plenty of unexplained events.

So “Ghosted” often riffs on these themes, to hilarious effect. Take the example of the Bureau Underground. The very name of this organizations sounds like a hilarious mash-up of the Weather Underground the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There seems to be some kind of conspiracy going on here, yet it is the federal government that’s involved.

What goes down in these top-secret government facilities can be hilarious as well as spooky. Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”) and Craig Robinson (“The Office”) have plenty of experience playing characters in zany, wacky work environments, and it’s clear that some of the top-secret government employees here are also zany and wacky in their own weird ways. This makes for some great parody and comic relief.

“Ghosted” is a fantastic combination of comedy, fantasy and the supernatural

It looks like FOX has a new comic hit on its hands. Adam Scott and Craig Robinson work well together, and never more so than when they’re getting spooked. This new FOX show combines comedy, fantasy, and the supernatural in a fun, enjoyable way that feels fresh and relevant. For fans of buddy cop movies, you have the non-stop banter between Scott and Robinson. For fans of “X-Files,” you have all the paranormal elements in this show. And for fans of all-time classic comedies like “Ghostbusters,” you have similar elements of the zany and the paranormal.

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Marvel’s “Black Panther” Will Be Incredible

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Set to hit movie cinemas in February 2018, Marvel’s “Black Panther” already looks like an incredible new addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Based on teasers, trailers and images made available by Marvel, there are so many reasons to be excited about “Black Panther.”

“Black Panther” will be the first Marvel film to feature a mostly black cast

Writer and director Ryan Coogler has assembled an absolutely first-rate black cast for this film, headed up by the young Chadwick Boseman. You probably know Boseman best for his role as Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall” or as Jackie Robinson in the critically acclaimed “42.” He’s also going to appear in two upcoming Avengers movies, including “Avengers: Infinity War” in 2018, where he will also play the role of T’Challa (the real name of Black Panther).

But just check out some of the other high-profile cast members set to star aside Chadwick Boseman. There’s Lupita Nyong’o in the role of Nakia, Forest Whitaker in the role of Zuri, Angela Bassett in the role of Queen Mother Ramonda, and Michael B. Jordan in the role of the villain Erik Killmonger. In the “Black Panther” comics, Nakia was both a lover and enemy of Black Panther, so it will be interesting to see Lupita Nyong’o in this role – based on the trailer, she is as beautiful as she is fierce, and she’s going to be a very powerful on-screen presence.

“Black Panther” will showcase the techno-utopia of Wakanda

The home of T’Challa (Black Panther) is Wakanda, which looks from the teaser videos and trailers to be a combination of techno-utopia and African tribal kingdom. There are futuristic space ships flying around, some high-tech weapons and also people dressed in outfits that are reminiscent of African tribes. Some of the scenes from the movie – such as what appears to be a coronation scene at the Warrior Falls – are absolutely breathtaking. And the Royal Guard protecting the royal family at Wakanda – known as the Dora Milaje – looks amazing: it’s essentially a super collective of beautiful warrior women.

 

“Black Panther” will reveal the secrets of T’Challa’s super powers

In the “Black Panther” comics, Wakanda was the home of the valuable metal vibranium, which was used to make the high-tech suit used by Black Panther. With this suit, T’Challa is able to deliver short pulses of fantastic (and lethal power) as well as to scale large buildings. In the comics, this body suit was the equal of the suit worn by Iron Man, so you can get a real sense of the types of super powers that Black Panther will have in this movie.

“Black Panther” will feature some riveting action and combat scenes

Some of the highlights from the trailer were all the combat scenes, both between Black Panther and his enemies, and between those who are trying to usurp power in Wakanda. T’Challa is returning home to Wakanda, and there is plenty of political intrigue. For one, his father, the king T’Chaka, managed to make enemies across Wakanda. Secondly, there are plenty of rivals to the throne who view themselves as the mental and physical equals of T’Challa – and that’s going to invite some open rivalries to emerge.

It looks like there will be at least several internal pretenders to the throne, with the most powerful of them being Erik Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan). In the comics, he was often able to compete one-on-one with T’Challa, and the trailer teases what appears to be an epic showdown at Warrior Falls between T’Challa and Erik Killmonger.

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“Black Panther” is going to show us the trials and tribulations of T’Challa as he becomes king

One of the best lines from the trailer is, “It’s hard for a good man to be king.” Lupita Nyong’o speaks another great line, “You get to decide what kind of king you are going to be.” That apparently foreshadows some of the trials and tribulations faced by the new would-be king. Yes, his father bequeathed him a marvelous kingdom, but there are plenty of warring factions and even some who appear to be the physical equal of T’Challa – not easy, considering that he’s the superhero Black Panther.

Plus, a voice in the trailer keeps intoning about a potential revolution. So you can appreciate the epic challenge facing T’Challa. Add in the prospect that his love interest – Nakia – might not be who she claims to be, and the choice of who might become the future queen to rule after the Queen Mother Raymonda (played by Angela Bassett) hands off her duties is not so clear-cut.

“Black Panther” is going to include a diabolical plot from T’Challa’s traditional enemy, Ulysses Klaw

The one evil villain that Black Panther fans can’t wait to see on screen is Ulysses Klaw (played by Andy Serkis), who has always been the traditional sworn enemy of Black Panther. According to the film narrative, this villain is once again up to no good. This time, he’s trying to steal the precious metal vibranium, which can be used to make superhero suits like the worn by Black Panther. This villain plot line is especially important because it is the narrative plot that connects the story of political intrigue in Wakanda with the events happening in the “real world.”

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“Black Panther” is already creating a huge social media buzz online

One of the biggest hits thus far on social media has been an epic YouTube mash-up video created by a Black Panther fan who has spliced together clips from the “Black Panther” trailer with scenes from a variety of “X-Men” and “Wolverine” films. In this YouTube viral hit, Black Panther is seen doing battle with Wolverine in a truly epic showdown.

That scene, of course, won’t appear in the real “Black Panther” movie, but it shows you how excited fans are becoming. Black Panther has always been one of the least-known Marvel comic book heroes, and it’s clear that the fan anticipation is building to a fever pitch,

Best of all, it looks like director Ryan Coogler is just as much of a fanboy of the “Black Panther” comics. Fans have studiously dissected every scene from the trailer and found hints and clues to Black Panther plotlines that have appeared throughout the nearly 50-year history of this beloved comic book hero. Seeing it all come alive on big theater screens starting in February 2018 is just going to be incredible.

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“Stranger Things” Season 2: Intense, Creative and Charming

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Almost overnight, it seems like “Stranger Things” has become the new “must-binge” TV show from Netflix, following in the long line of popular shows like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” that have influenced the pop culture mainstream. So it shouldn’t perhaps have been a big surprise that Season 2 of “Stranger Things,” when it finally dropped on October 27, was just as intense, creative and charming as Season 1.

The audience viewership numbers for “Stranger Things” Season 2 are off the charts

Netflix has been notoriously secretive about the total viewership numbers for its shows, but that hasn’t stopped the likes of Nielsen from finding ways to measure how many people are actually watching shows like “Stranger Things.” And it turns out that the audience viewership numbers for “Stranger Things” Season 2, as measured by Nielsen, are off the charts.

Here’s just one number that really stands out: Nielsen found that 361,000 people watched all 9 episodes of Season 2 within 24 hours of their first release on October 27. That is the true definition of a “binge.” The average viewer watched 2.9 episodes within the first 3 days of release, meaning that they averaged 1 episode per night. You might call this a “light binge” because these viewers were still on pace to watch 9 episodes in 9 nights – very impressive by any standard.

Moreover, on average, Netflix attracted an average of 8.8 million viewers per episode of Season 2, of which 6.2 million were in the all-important 18-to-49 demographic. But that’s just an average – Episode 1 attracted 15.8 million viewers, with 11 million in the 18-to-49 demographic. Even the final episode (Episode 9) attracted more than 4 million viewers – a clear suggestion that close to 4 million viewers did an intense three-day binge of the complete Season 2.

Some of the more intense, creative, and charming elements from “Stranger Things” Season 2

So what exactly was driving all this impressive viewership of “Stranger Things” Season 2? Here are just some of the themes that social media interactions were picking up on with great regularity:

  • Anything involving demons (especially the “demodogs”!)
  • The supernatural elements of the Upside Down
  • Will Byers being held captive by a demon
  • The evildoers at the Hawkins lab

While Season 2 tended to follow the same basic narrative arc of Season 1 – the lab in Hawkins commits errors, Will Byers gets victimized by supernatural elements, monsters escape to wreak havoc, and Eleven finds a way to save everyone – the way the show continues to weave new narrative subplots in and out of this basic narrative arc is very impressive. Some of the scenes can be intense – such as just about any scene of Will being victimized by supernatural elements – but they help the viewer to identify even more strongly with the characters of “Stranger Things.”

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“Stranger Things” 2 includes plenty of references to 1980s nostalgia

One favorite pastime of “Stranger Things” fans is trying to spot all the references to 1980s pop culture contained within the show. Some of the references are obvious even to the casual, first-time viewer, such as the “Ghostbusters” outfits worn by the kids, but some of the other references might be a bit harder to figure out. Keep in mind – this show is set in the year 1984, so it’s easy to see why viewers love to track down all of these 1980s references.

Insider.com, in fact, tracked down 17 of the more creative and charming 80’s pop culture references within the show, finding connections to some of the most beloved films of that decade, including “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “War Games,” “Risky Business,” and “E.T.” Sometimes, these references included something very subtle – like a videocassette for one of those movies appearing in a scene – and sometimes they a subtle homage to those films, such as when Steve and Nancy dress up like Joel and Lana from “Risky Business” for a party.

Here’s just one example of how clever and charming these ‘80s references are: when Will is being held at the lab for tests, he’s asked to give his first choice for candy. He eventually decides on Reese’s Pieces. Well, there’s a good reason for that – Reese’s Pieces were the exact type of candy that the kids in “E.T.” fed E.T. in order to get him to trust them.

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“Stranger Things” 2 is all about creative and charming character development

As more than one movie critic has pointed out, the main reason why viewers insist on binge-watching “Stranger Things” has to do with the creative and charming character development. We really want to learn more about these kids. Thus, it seems like Season 2, much more than Season 1, focused on their growth and emotional struggles. For example, you have the heartbroken Mike after he fails to win the girls of his dreams, and you have the sad, crestfallen Eleven shattering windows and adopting a new “MTV punk” look as a way of dealing with her emotions.

All of these emotional subplots are woven into the larger story, showing us what it means to deal with adolescence. And, in one of the more creative touches of Season 2, it turns out that a mysterious storm bearing down on the town of Hawkins turned out to be (spoiler alert!) a physical manifestation of puberty. The storm was meant to show us what this phenomenon must have felt like for these kids, so unused to experiencing certain feelings and thoughts.

“Stranger Things” 2 is all about the new monsters and demons

Based on the types of social media interactions that fans of “Stranger Things” have been posting on Facebook and Twitter in the period after Season 2 was released, it appears that viewers were intensely interested in all the monsters and demons that have been released by the Hawkins lab. Fans really wanted the return of the Demogorgon in Season 2, but what they got instead was a big, spider-like storm beast. So there was a lot of discussion about the differences between Gothic-style monsters and smoky, shadowy monsters. And fans couldn’t stop talking about the Demodogs!

“Stranger Things” 2 has a chance to become the new Netflix flagship hit

For so long, “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” have been the flagship shows of Netflix, showing us what it means to create an intense, creative and charming show. Well, it now looks like “Stranger Things” – thanks to its amalgam of 1980’s pop nostalgia, strong character development, and creative adaptation of classic science-fiction plot lines – is now on pace to become the new Netflix flagship show.

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Learn About Lady Gaga in Netflix’s “Gaga: Five Foot Two”

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Lady Gaga is undeniably one of the world’s most famous and talented musicians, and now Netflix is bringing us a new behind-the-scenes documentary that looks at a year in the life of this celebrated icon. “Gaga: Five Foot Two” takes us inside the making of her fifth studio album (“Joanne”) and gives us an inside look at the making of her halftime performance for Super Bowl LI. There’s a lot we can learn about Lady Gaga from this important new Netflix documentary.

“Gaga: Five Foot Two” shows us Lady Gaga’s relationship with her fans

First and most importantly, this new Netflix documentary gives us an unprecedented look at Lady Gaga’s relationship with her tremendously devoted fan base. It is clear from this behind-the-scenes look at Lady Gaga that she really feeds off the energy and passion of her fans, and that’s why the fan encounters that “Gaga: Five Foot Two” depicts are so illuminating – they show us the character and persona of Lady Gaga. We see how she feels a unique burden to live up to the expectations of her fans – and also how these brief fan encounters are a way for her to energize and re-charge.

“Gaga: Five Foot Two” gives us an unforgettable look at the Super Bowl LI halftime show

Has there ever been a more iconic and talked-about Super Bowl halftime show in recent memory than the one featuring Lady Gaga in 2017? The way she stood on top of the stadium in Houston and dove to the stage, and then burst into her most popular songs ever – it was simply incredible. And so “Gaga: Five Foot Two” gives us the remarkable story of how the show was dreamed up, how it was executed, and why it was so meaningful to Lady Gaga to pull off such a career-defining performance.

“Gaga: Five Foot Two” gives the viewer a chance to learn about Gaga’s family

We often think of rock stars like Lady Gaga as being so absorbed in their music, tours, and entourage that they no longer have time for a real family. But that couldn’t be further from the truth for Lady Gaga, as “Gaga: Five Foot Two” makes clear. What quickly becomes clear from this documentary is that her family is what helped to make her such a strong person. There’s genuine love and affection, and we see that through each of her family members – Angelina Germanotta (the grandmother), Cynthia (her mother), Joe (her father) and Natali (her sister). The big moment, of course, comes when it’s time to unveil her new studio album, “Joanne,” which has special meaning for her and her family.

“Gaga: Five Foot Two” shows us the celebrities in Gaga’s life

We always knew that the world of Lady Gaga was wonderful and fabulous, and this new Netflix documentary gives us the briefest glimpse at the types of celebrities whom she interacts with on a daily basis – people like Florence Welch, Tony Bennett, and Donatella Versace.

And, where the documentary really covers new ground is in its exploration of Lady Gaga’s feud with legendary musician Madonna. Is this just one of those staged feuds in the music world for both people to benefit from the resulting PR buzz? Or is there a real reason for two of this generation’s top musicians to have animosity for each other? Those are just two of the questions that this Netflix documentary helps to answer.

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“Gaga: Five Foot Two” is unfiltered “year in the life” saga

The documentary takes on a cinema vérité approach, showing us a real, unfiltered look at Gaga, her entourage, and her adventures. And we see that not everything is glamorous for this rock star. For example, part of the documentary deals with Lady Gaga’s physical problems, including her ongoing struggle with chronic pain. It’s not easy to be on tour for months at a time, or to carry out all of her high-energy performances, time and time again, and it’s clear that this performance lifestyle has taken a physical toll on our rock star hero.

And, as part of this “year in the life” saga (which some have compared to “Madonna: Truth or Dare”), we get to see some of the other creative projects in Lady Gaga’s life. For example, she is taking on a guest role in “American Horror Story: Roanoke” and this could be another way to tap into her immense and very unique talents. And, of course, she is always looking for ways to make her stage performances all the more stunning. What emerges from this documentary is the story of a much more nuanced, complex character than we might have assumed. For many of us, Lady Gaga is larger than life. But she is very human, with her own weaknesses and frailties.

“Gaga: Five Foot Two” has the narrative arc of a true documentary film

On the surface, it might be easy to dismiss Netflix’s “Gaga: Five Foot Two” as just a celebrity puff piece, just another tool in the PR toolkit to build out her worldwide fame and generate sales for her new album. But do you know what? This is a real documentary film, and as proof of that, it actually debuted at the very prestigious Toronto International Film Festival before starting to stream on Netflix.

That, perhaps, is what gives this 2017 documentary film such a sense of realism – it is not just a rough cut compilation of unrelated scenes. Instead, it follows a true narrative arc. Yes, it might have a lot of rapid-fire cuts, but that’s only to intensify the feeling that we are one of the world’s busiest and most active performers. Everything that Lady Gaga does is high energy, and this documentary tries to convey that.

To be sure, you will learn a lot about Lady Gaga in Netflix’s “Gaga: Five Foot Two.” You will meet her entourage and her family, you will see her encounters with her fans, and you will see the making of two wonderfully creative works – her new studio album “Joanne” and her Super Bowl LI halftime show. And, best of all, you will learn about Lady Gaga not just as a performer and creative artist, but also as a wonderfully talented individual with a fascinating story to tell.

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