If season one of the surprise hit Sherlock was about reintroducing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creation to modern audiences, then its second season was all about humanizing him. Showrunners Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) and Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen) presented Holmes as an indefatigable mental dynamo in the first season, a blend of pulp elements for the CSI-set. Lead Benedict Cumberbatch became a star and co-star Martin Freeman became slightly more famous as Sherlock served as an antidote to the gassy bombast of the Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law blockbusters.

Still, the first series (with the late-in-the-game introduction of nemesis Moriarty) felt more like an homage to Holmes with a lot of Holmes-ian signifiers (the setting, the extend cast, etc.). Plus, there were a few missed opportunities in the first season, notably the first episode introduction of Freeman's Watson—an Iraq war vet with a limp and possible trauma who finds that his handicap might be completely in his head owing to a lack of danger in his life. This is forgotten about by the second episode and entirely all the way through the second season. Oh, and the less said about the terrible "yellow peril" second episode, the better which its fortune cookie patois villains and po-faced circus of crime.
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Toy Fair 2012: Mattel's Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters Figures

The day when we can go to the theater and have "The Dark Knight Rises" beamed into our eyeholes is steadily approaching, and now that seemingly never-ending amount of time can be filled with Mattel's latest DKR Movie Masters! Series 1 includes Batman, Bane, and Alfred-- cause somebody has to make the damn sandwiches! These figures are in the same scale as the previous Bat-centric Movie Masters and were done by Mattel's sculpting gods, The Four Horsemen! As you probably know, most of the Movie Masters figures borrow heavily from parts re-use, especially when it comes to guys in suits. Are these latest MM figures worthy of closing out Christopher Nolan's epic trilogy? Does the possibility of a working Bat Signal return a little hope to our geek-filled lives? Well, read on for a look at "The Dark Knight Rises" Movie Masters Series 1!

*To avoid confusion, photos that feature Alfred brandishing a pistol come from us snatching it from the plastic clutches of Gary Oldman-- the figure of Gary Oldman, that is. We would never take a gun from the real Gary Oldman for fear of brutal retaliation.

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This season's final episode of Supernatural is in many ways a microcosm of the issues that have bedeviled the second season after Sam and Dean successfully staved off the apocalypse. Ever since Castiel's (Misha Collins) ascent to something like evil godhood at the end of last year ("The Man Who Knew Too Much"), the CW series has seemed to struggle with the answer to the question "what's next?" Now that the wall is down in Same's mind and Lucifer is ever-present, what's next? Now that something worse than demons and monsters have been unleashed upon the world, what's next? Now that's Bobby's dead, what's next? In each case, Supernatural ultimately gets around to something like a plot development to answer these questions, but they're so long in coming that they lose all dramatic tension and in some cases, the go out with more of a whimper than a bang.

Spoilers, of course, to follow.
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Toy Fair 2012: DST's Marvel Select Figures

While Marvel Studios has made off with over a billion dollars of the world's currency thanks to their awesomely addicting  film, "The Avengers", Diamond Select Toys has also decided to get a peace of the pie (sweet, sweet, money-flavored pie) with the latest release in their Marvel Select action figure line: The Hulk! He punched his way into comic and specialty stores last week, and like Juggernaut, Thing, Red Hulk, and the rest of DST's previous over-sized figure offerings, this movie-based Hulk is a hefty chunk of plastic that looks like he can dole out punishment to any of your figures-- or your friends, should you choose to throw that big hunk of green at them! We've had many Hulk figures in our day (including a smaller version from "The Avengers"), but will this one smash all of our lofty expectations? Read on to find out, as we review the DST Marvel Select Hulk!

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The penultimate episode of the seventh season finds the boys on the hunt for ancient vampire blood, Bobby on the hunt for a body, and Dick Roman on the hunt for the boys as Leviathan's great, big human-fattening operation goes into full-swing.
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"Counting bodies like sheep."

That's the heart-warming mantra emblazoned on the arm (and incredibly huge rocket launcher) being toted around by the Grave Digger version of the Mk3 Heavy Bramble. His job is to kill zombies... or humans... or whatever the hell else he feels like! threeA Toys has been making quality figures based on the artwork of Ashley Wood and IDW's World War Robot comics for a while now and they just keep getting better. While the larger 1/6th scale releases are in the WWR line, this little pile of awesome is part of the WWRP, or World War Robot Portable. We previously reviewed a couple of the Armstrong series of mechanical soldiers, and pre-ordered this figure around the same time. Was it worth the wait? Read on to find out!

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Director Takashi Shimizu's Shock Labyrinth represents a couple of new challenges for the filmmaker behind The Grudge (aka Ju-on in their native Japan) series of movies: there's the technical issue of going from modestly-budgeted horror movies (with some games and TV work scattered about) featuring low production values but high on atmosphere to making a modestly-budgeted horror movie that will also be in 3D. Then, there's the fact that Shock Labyrinth is Japan's first attempt at the whole amusement park ride-turned feature thing that Disney blazed the trail for with Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion—the exhibit in question which gives the movie its title is a famous haunted house at a Japanese amusement park.

And it's in serving multiple masters here—technology and the license—that Shock Labyrinth occasionally stumbles, delivering an intriguing premise with frequently bizarre imagery, undercut by technical limitations and a thin plot.

The movie features a group of friends Ken, Motoki, and Rin—who are reunited after Ken moved away following the death of his mother. Motoki is dating Rin, who is blind, and has more or less served as her protector since they were children, while she has harbored feelings for Ken that as a kid he was perhaps too dense to notice. Upending their reunion is the arrival of Yuki, another childhood friend who disappeared ten years earlier, obviously disturbed, claiming to have escaped from somewhere. Is she some kind of mental patient? Is she even Yuki? Why can't the three of them remember precisely what happened to her or even the circumstances surrounding her disappearance.
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The Canadian import Todd and the Book of Pure Evil feels like nothing so much as a (kind of) grown up, foul-mouthed version of the old Goosebumps television series. Created by Craig David Wallace, Charles Picco, and Anthony Leo and based on a 2003 short, the 13 episodes of the first season (its second is currently airing in the U.S. on FearNet) tell the story of the titular Todd, a teen metal head with aspirations of rock godhood who stumbles upon the titular book, which makes the bearer's wishes come true, usually with ironic consequences.

This horror-comedy sees Todd (Alex House) joined by his gang of loveable loser friends in the ongoing, often besides-the-point search for the book: there's his one-armed best friend Curtis (Bill Turnbull), a fellow stoner and dispenser of generally awful advice, Jenny (Maggie Castle), Todd's crush, whose father's disappearance is somehow tied to the book, and bookish Hannah (Melanie Leishman) who serves as the resident brain for the group while carrying a torch for Todd. The group is joined by the show's secret weapon, guidance counselor Atticus Murphy (Chris Leavins), who is secretly aligned with a Satanic cult looking to get their hands on the book. Oh, and Jason Mewes plays a wisdom dispensing janitor with a thing for thick girls.
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Toy Fair 2012: Hasbro's Avengers Assemble

While a lot of you have by now seen "The Avengers" multiple times, in all its incredible glory, we're going again today-- with our pockets crammed full of Hasbro's 3 3/4" Avengers figures! Each of the films leading up to "The Avengers" (minus "The Incredible Hulk") scored their own 3 3/4" lines from Hasbro, so you'd think the figures of the returning heroes would be exactly what you'd come to expect. Well folks, that may not be true. Join us as we review four of Earth's Mightiest Heroes to see if they can live up to their cinematic counterparts!

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Two back-to-back episodes of Supernatural throw unsuspecting civilians into the middle of the Winchester's horrible little world as the the boys finally start to gather some ammunition against Leviathan.
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Of the few guides/manuals/histories acting as deconstruction of a genre that I've read over the last few years (and both the online and real-world bookshelves are beginning to swell with them), I've sussed out two very clear approaches which work with varying degrees of success: on one side, you have the type that exists absolutely inside the fiction and doesn't acknowledge the reader or that it's fiction at all (Max Brooks' World War Z being the prime recent example here); Matt D. Wilson's The Supervillain Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide to Destruction and Mayhem, is a hybrid of that other sort, where the writer not only acknowledges the reader (the "author" of the book, King Oblivion, PH.D frequently calls out the would-be villains reading his guide), but actually draws attention to the popular fiction that inspired it.

Wilson, a regular contributor to Cracked.com, borrows from that site's style of list-style posts, breaking down the chapters in The Supervillain Handbook into numbered how-to's about picking one's costume, choosing a nemesis, finding the right henchmen, and even the different motivations for becoming someone who screams at someone else from the lip of an active volcano while wearing a cape. Wilson's King Oblivion is a member of the International Society of Supervillains (also a thing online), and he speaks to the reader in a mixture of Silver Age bluster and collected self-help speak (one helpful tip in finding a suitable nemesis: "Match your aptitude"). The character's voice is funny, albeit in short bursts (handily, the chapters are short enough where you can choose to hang with King Oblivion at your own easy pace).
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The characters in the WWE are able to take their behaviors to an extreme level that you'd never get away with in normal society. For instance, as of a few months ago Cody Rhodes (son of WWE Hall of Famer "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes) would come to the ring and force people he deemed too hideous to don paper bags over their heads! We tried this and, believe it or not, people are not nearly as cool about it as they are on RAW. A couple of gut-punches later and we limped away, giving up on trying to live like a Superstar forever-- except for only sporting underwear and boots, cause we've grown to love that part! Although Cody Rhodes has since moved on from his masked gimmick in favor of kicking people in the face and verbally abusing the Big Show, his latest action figure harkens back to last year when clear protective masks were all the rage. Join us as we review this grandson-of-a-plumber from Series 13 of Mattel's WWE Elite Collection!

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Toy Fair 2012: Mattel's Masters of the Universe Classics

Mattel's online-exclusive Masters of the Universe Classics action figure line has been running strong for a few years now. Since it began, the list of fan-demanded characters has been on the decline as month after month a different childhood favorite has been made available. Well folks, May is gonna be another one of those times as Stinkor: Evil Master of Odors brings his stink-infused plastic into your collection, but not without his own cloud of gloved-controversy. Oh, you hadn't heard? We'll explain it a little farther down. As for the stink itself, the same patchouli smell used for the vintage figure, and by fun-loving, bath-fearing hippies everywhere has been once again infused with his plastic.

Read on for the full review of the smelliest Evil Warrior in all of Eternia!

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China Miéville's Dial H, along with Jeff Lemire's Animal Man, is DC's best book in its New 52 initiative. The writing is dark, edgy, sharp, surreal, smart and most of all, fun as all hell.
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Toy Fair 2012: Kotobukiya's Marvelous Marvel Statues

By this point, our excitement for "The Avengers" film is almost tangible. We'd like to think that if it could take physical shape, that it'd look a lot like the Captain America statue from Kotobukiya's Fine Art Classic Avengers line! Sure, this design comes from the Marvel Comics and not the more armored look of the movie-world, but this is how we prefer our Captain-- exposed ears and scale-plated shoulders! Join us as we take a closer look at this statue to see if it is indeed ready to lead our other collectibles into battle.

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