Disney Parks Holiday Specials Filming 2017

Believe it or not, celebrities love to visit the Disney Parks just as much as the rest of us. While I rarely tend to notice them blending in amongst the crowds, I was fortunate enough this past week to spot one of my favorite TV actors there enjoying a Mickey Mouse-filled day!

I’m not posting pics, nor sharing specifics, as they were there on their own private time. But it was a thrill to see someone I’m a huge fan of being a Disney fan, too!

But sometimes in the parks when I see celebrities, it’s because they’re there to perform something for Disney itself.

For example, this year’s celebrity narrator at Disneyland Park for the Candlelight Processional was the God of Thunder, Thor himself – Chris Hemsworth! This caused immense excitement, but was also a dilemma for me. I happened to be in the park at the time the second show was starting on one of those nights and I love seeing Candlelight and the talented singers and musicians who perform in it, but I was actually trying to leave the park at that time to go over to a Marvel meet at Disney California Adventure! So, clarifying my priorities, I decided to forego the Candlelight crowds and head for the meet instead. It took half an hour in a packed, barely-moving mass of people (very claustrophobic) to actually exit the park that night due to the Candlelight constraints – ugh! But I finally got out of Disneyland Park and headed over to Disney California Adventure to have a wonderful Meet & Greet with Loki that night (Thor, being otherwise occupied, was not there). So yes, I guess I’m really a character fan now as well as an entertainment cast fan since I’d rather go to a character Meet & Greet than see an actor in person!

Another example of seeing performers at the parks in an official capacity was in mid-November when I happened to be at the Disneyland Resort on a day when the ABC Christmas specials were filming!

This year, ABC aired “The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration” on November 30th and will also present “Disney Parks Magical Christmas Celebration” on Christmas Day.

As I wandered through Disneyland Park that day, I saw the stage where Jason Derulo would later be performing (though I did not wait in the crowd to watch the performance):

The stage in front of the castle at Disneyland Park for the holiday special filming.

I also noticed cameras and lights set up by the tree in Town Square:

Lights, camera…

It’s always fun to see a production in process, but I think the highlight for me that day was something very classically Disney… I saw some of the newest Mouseketeers! Continue reading


Sherlocked USA 2017 – The Convention

Look for me at 221B Baker Street!

Last weekend, instead of braving the Memorial Day weekend crowds at the parks, I was fortunate enough to attend a different gathering of fans thanks to a new convention that came to town – Sherlocked USA!

Previously only held in Europe, Sherlocked is the official convention of the hit British television series, Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. And while neither of these actors were in attendance at this particular event, there was no lack of popular guests to meet nor things to do and see!

Guests Mark Gatiss and Una Stubbs being interviewed by Tony Lee.

Some of the headlining guests included co-creators Steven Moffat & Mark Gatiss (also one of the stars of the show as Mycroft Holmes), producer Sue Vertue, the utterly adored Andrew Scott (Moriarty), the utterly adorable Una Stubbs (Mrs. Hudson), along with guest stars including Alastair Petrie and Louis Moffat, plus production guests and more. Continue reading

Marvel TV – The Netflix Edition

While I have previously discussed my instant love for the ABC TV series Marvel’s Agent Carter and my lesser enthusiasm for ABC and Marvel’s first attempt at a TV spinoff of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., today I’m going to take a look at the first two entries into a darker corner of the Marvel universe as featured on Netflix: Daredevil and Jessica Jones.

These two shows represent the introductions of the first members of a team that will eventually come together in a mini-series event (ala what the MCU did with Avengers) called The Defenders. Both of these shows, along with their anticipated companion series that have yet to air – Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the newly-announced Punisher – are all clearly working towards a specific endgame that make their mythology in coming together a lot of fun to watch from the very beginning!

Daredevil’s first season was released in April 2015, with all episodes immediately available to view per the typical Netflix binge-watching format.

When I saw the show, I went in ready to forget the failed film version featuring Ben Affleck and I immediately was taken in by this iteration. Continue reading

Marvelous Mid-Season TV

It’s that time of year… when your favorite TV shows are all on hiatus and the networks bring out new or limited series to fill in the timeslots.

I’m very, very happy for the return of Marvel’s Agent Carter on ABC! Since the show ended its first season last year, I’ve been eagerly awaiting its comeback. And so far… so good.

The best: Peggy Carter, Edwin Jarvis, Daniel Sousa and especially Howard Stark are all in fine form! There are some terrific new characters like Calvin Chadwick (played by the always charismatically creepy Currie Graham – or the ‘Canadian Kevin Spacey’ as I’ve thought of him for years!) and Jason Wilkes (the irresistibly appealing Reggie Austin – it’s easy to see why his character would turn Peggy’s head!).

And this season they’ve finally introduced Jarvis’ wife, Ana, who is… odd… but somehow quite endearing! Her quirkiness allows forgiveness for her getting in the way of those fans who would “ship” Peggy and Jarvis as a couple.

But speaking of romantic pairings… the show does seem to be emphasizing the soap opera aspects this season, a bit more than the Alias/spy format of last season and I’ll attribute it to the new showrunners. We shall see if the plotlines pay off as well as the romance over the next few weeks!

This mid-season of television also brings back some very long-lost friends on FOX – in the form of The X-Files’ Mulder and Scully (talk about fan-beloved duos!)! Two episodes in and the show is holding up well, both for its nostalgia factor in bringing back favorites such as SPOILER AHEAD! (highlight the text ahead for some familiar faces) Walter Skinner and the Cigarette Smoking Man – as well as the entertaining alien and government conspiracy plotlines.

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are as smooth together in their roles and relationship as if they’d just parted a season ago. It’s like visual comfort food to have these two back on my TV!  And hearing the memorable opening credits theme music puts a big smile on my face!

But the mid-season has wonderfully also delivered a promising new series that I’m already hooked on after one episode airing… Continue reading

Once Upon a Time in Disney Parks

The book!!!

The book!!!

Probably to no one’s surprise reading this site, one of my favorite current television shows is the ABC fantasy series Once Upon a Time.

And not just because Sebastian Stan was (if only briefly, prior to his Marvel role) one of the best Mad Hatters ever! I actually wasn’t that big a fan of spinoff series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, however – although I was happy that its best character, the Knave, appeared recently on the flagship series, and I hope he returns with a good storyline.

Ads for Once Upon a Time and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland inside a Walt Disney World Resort bus.

Ads for Once Upon a Time and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland inside a Walt Disney World Resort bus.

What I really like is how Once manages to incorporate both Disney fairy tales and other classic stories yet twist them a bit into entirely new adventures. (Last season of course, it synergetically utilized Frozen’s Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and even Sven in its storyline!)

Plus, it has two of the greatest (villain? hero?) characters on television in Rumplestiltskin and Regina!

But what some folks may not realize is that Once Upon a Time has a presence at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts! Continue reading

Marvel TV – The Marvel Cinematic Universe on the Small Screen

Clearly intent on conquering all media with their successful franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in 2013 expanded to the small screen with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tied into multiple stories in the MCU, S.H.I.E.L.D. has featured cameos of characters from the Avengers, Thor, and Captain America films and addressed such issues as the future of S.H.I.E.L.D. based on the latest films released. Its current story arc seems to be leading into the upcoming Marvel film, Inhumans.

Promo poster for S.H.I.E.L.D. (c) Disney/Marvel

Promo poster for S.H.I.E.L.D. (c) Disney/Marvel

Premiering with a lot of fanfare and strong ratings, S.H.I.E.L.D. initially struggled to find its way dramatically. While many, including myself, were very excited about a TV spinoff for the MCU, particularly one starring fan-favorite character Agent Coulson and focusing on the super-secret agency which helps protect the Earth from its enemies, the show stumbled at first.  It didn’t appear to connect to the larger MCU tapestry, nor provide truly engaging characters or plotlines – instead seeming like just another action-adventure show. By the time it recovered towards the end of its first season and began to find its own way, many viewers had already given up and stopped watching, and the ratings took a hit accordingly. However, the show is expected to continue as it is the flagship Marvel TV series and the fans who have stayed with the show are excited about its future direction.

In stark (ha!) contrast was the smaller-in-scope second attempt by Marvel and ABC. Spun off from her original appearance in Captain America: The First Avenger, Peggy Carter first showed what she could do in the Marvel One-Shot short film, Agent Carter. Seeing both the character and actress’ appeal, ABC commissioned a limited series that aired over the past few weeks: Marvel’s Agent Carter.

Promo poster for Agent Carter. (c) Disney/Marvel

Promo poster for Agent Carter. (c) Disney/Marvel

Pitched as “Alias in the 1940’s”, Agent Carter did not prove to be everyone’s cup of tea, but the ratings were okay and there’s still some chance it could be picked up for a second series next year to once again fill in the time between new episodes of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Personally, I loved Agent Carter and found it had all the charm, personality, character definition and engrossing storylines that were missing from the start of S.H.I.E.L.D. There were immediately people along with the lead that I could root for (Jarvis and Sousa especially) or against, plus some nice tie-ins to the MCU (hello, Howling Commandos and Howard Stark!). And I’m a sucker anyway for that era of adventure story – I never tire of re-watching The Rocketeer, The Phantom or Indiana Jones.

The comic book films that have always resonated strongest with me (Superman: The Movie, Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man, etc.) are morality tales. They are not stories of superpowers, but the most human stories of all that we have told throughout history as tales of gods and monsters and now, superheroes and supervillains. They are the same sagas told through a different genre lens. Agent Carter is a very human tale of a very human woman who loved a very human man. Who was a superhero before he ever put on the suit. And so is she. And that’s why I loved it immediately.

Upcoming Netflix-exclusive Marvel series: Continue reading

Fictional New Orleans vs. Real New Orleans – Which Would You Rather Visit?

We’ve been celebrating the magic of Disney’s New Orleans for Mardi Gras week. But New Orleans has been the site of many wonderful stories.

A few of my favorites include:

  • Anne Rice made it the background to her tales of the Vampire Lestat and of the Mayfair family of witches. All of these books made me want to go visit the real New Orleans to see the beauty and mystery of the setting she described there.
  • Currently, one of my must-watch TV shows, The Originals (a spinoff of The CW’s The Vampire Diaries), is set in the midst of territorial disputes between the vampires, werewolves and witches of that version of New Orleans.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Captain Benjamin Sisko was born and raised in New Orleans and his father ran a restaurant there.
  • Marvel Comics specified New Orleans as the home of that card-throwing thief, Remy LeBeau, aka Gambit from The X-Men.

And of course, there are Disney’s own interpretations of the location: Continue reading