retail news in context, analysis with attitude

I was a little surprised yesterday that CBS moved so quickly to name Stephen Colbert to be the new host of "The Late Show," replacing David Letterman when he retires sometime next year. It just seemed a little fast; Letterman only announced his intentions last week. It sounds like CBS had a short list, and once the guy on top of the list said he was interested, momentum took over.

I sort of wish that they'd picked a woman - Tina Fey was one name mentioned a lot, though there was no indication that she was interested - but it is hard to argue against the choice of Colbert. He's smart, he's fast, he's very funny … and I think even not playing the character he's long played on "The Colbert Report," he'll be a terrific presence on "The Late Show." It will be interesting to see how he rethinks and reimagines the franchise.

Here's one suggestion for Comedy Central as the network looks for a replacement for Colbert: Samantha Bee.




Captain America: The Winter Soldier is being sold as a superhero movie with the underpinnings of a 70's-style political thriller, with some of the themes explored in movies like Three Days of the Condor and The Parallax View. I think those comparisons are being oversold a bit … one of the things about those movies was that they had a lot of subtlety, with much taking place in the shadows. The new Captain America movie doesn't have a ton of either shadows or subtlety - there are way too many explosions and too much gleaming military hardware - but that doesn't mean that it is not a lot of fun.

The plot is reasonably simple - Steve Rogers, who plays the defrosted World War II icon Captain America, has to deal with dark forces - some from his distant past - that seem to be infiltrating SHIELD, the super-spy agency for which he works. He's aided by Natasha Romanov (the fabulous Scarlett Johannson) and an Army vet (Anthony Mackie - just great), while dealing with his bosses, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford - the move's best link with movies like Condor and All The President's Men).

I don't want to tell you much more than that, except to say that Chris Evans is an enormously appealing Captain America - he has an easy, modest manner that makes his old school values (that a different superhero would describe as "truth, justice and the American way") entirely palatable even in a modern, terror-afflicted world.

There is one thing that I kept thinking about as I watched Winter Soldier. While Marvel has done a fabulous job of recreating its comic book universe onscreen, with intersecting and overlapping movies exploring the many adventures of its iconic characters (with the ultimate being in The Avengers, where they all came together). But as Captain America deals with dark forces threatening to overthrow the country, I wondered to myself, "Where the hell is Iron Man? Doesn't Bruce Banner have a TV set? How come Thor isn't showing up to lend a hand?"

These are small criticisms, though. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is an above-average superhero movie, well-crafted, excellently acted, and with actual ideas at its core. (And, I'd suggest, if you have the option, seeing it in IMAX 3-D … it was worth the extra money.)




"Justified," the FX cable series based on the works of the great Elmore Leonard, just finished up its penultimate season, and if you've never seen "Justified," you need to go back and watch all the seasons to this point. Timothy Olyphant plays Raylan Givens, a Deputy US Marshal who is sent to Harlan County, Kentucky, as penance for shooting one too many bad guys. But it so happens that he was raised in Harlan County, and Givens finds himself dealing with a criminal underbelly with which he is all to familiar … mostly personified by Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), with whom he grew up but who made all different choices.

"Justified" is simply great television - it looks great and has wonderfully idiosyncratic performances by all involved. But mostly, it has the kind of musical dialog that with roots in Elmore Leonard's books, and that kind of pedigree makes it special.

There are only 13 episodes left, and I am anxious to see how they wrap things up on "Justified."




My beer of the week: Gold Road Kolsch-style ale, from the Mother Road Brewing Co. in Flagstaff, Arizona - it is light, but extremely flavorful, and perfect for a warm spring or summer day. And even though it seems some days like spring never is going to get here, I remain hopeful.




That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Slàinte!
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