Author - Thespia

Functioning Through the Fear: A Conversation With John Balser

(Widge’s note: This interview is about the COVID-19 pandemic. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: nothing in this needs to be considered medical advice, and this is not a substitute for keeping up to date on the latest scientific findings on your own. This pandemic is an ongoing, ever-changing situation. So wear a mask, keep your social distancing game on point, educate yourself, and be safe out there.)

Recently Thespia sat down with John Balser of the Army Medical Specialist Corps to talk about the COVID-19 phenomenon, how to encourage your brain to work for rather than against you in threatening situations, and what we can learn from members of the military about not only surviving, but remaining functional through the fear that accompanies a long-term danger scenario.

PLEASE NOTE: Our guest is speaking as a private citizen who has a military and medical background.  His words should in no way be construed as official messaging from the U.S. government, armed forces, or any other agency.  

Headsup: Let’s Talk About Sets, Baby!

Madam Secretary Complete SeriesMadam Secretary stars Téa Leoni as Elizabeth McCord, the shrewd, determined secretary of state who drives international diplomacy and circumvents protocol as she negotiates global and domestic issues, both at the White House and at home. A college professor and a brilliant former CIA analyst who left for ethical reasons, Elizabeth returned to public life at the request of President Conrad Dalton, who values McCord’s political leanings, deep knowledge of the Middle East, flair for languages and ability to not just think outside the box, but not even acknowledge there is a box. McCord’s team includes her chief of staff, Jay Whitman; policy advisor, Kat Sandoval; speechwriter, Matt Mahoney; press coordinator, Daisy Grant; and charming assistant, Blake Moran. As McCord debates third-world problems, confronts issues related to her decision to run for president, finesses foreign dignitaries at work and does battle with the president’s combative chief of staff, Russell Jackson, that’s just a warm-up for when she goes home to her supportive husband, theology-professor-turned-intelligence-operative Henry, and their three children, where “politics” and “compromise” take on new meaning.” — from CBS

As fans wave goodbye to the show that gave us great writing, an unforgettably strong and capable female lead, and the real-life romance between Téa Leoni and Tim Daly, Madam Secretary: The Final Season and Madam Secretary: The Complete Series are both now out on DVD. Bonus features on the final season are limited to deleted scenes, so if you’re big on extras, consider going for the complete series set, which boasts over four hours of special features (including featurettes, episode commentary, pilot episodes of other CBS favorites such as The Good Fight, Bull, and The Affair, a set tour, deleted and extended scenes, a making-of special, and more). On Amazon you can grab the final season DVD for $24.88 and the complete series set for $51.92 (which considering it has all six seasons plus the aforementioned extras is a fairly good deal).

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Headsup: Country Music, Commandments, and the Cold War

Disclaimer : Warner Brothers Home Entertainment asks that we note it provided a free copy of “Superman: Red Son” and “Titans: The Complete Second Season”.  The opinions I share are my own.

Affair Complete Series“Life leads us into temptation as the Golden Globe-winning drama The Affair chronicles what happens when happily married father Noah Solloway crosses paths with young, married waitress Alison Lockhart. The story of their tumultuous affair is told from multiple perspectives, allowing a unique view of the relationship from each character’s vantage point. Between restless lives and reckless choices, Noah and Alison’s actions have lifelong effects, especially on their respective spouses, Helen and Cole. Academy Award winner Anna Paquin offers a glimpse into the inevitable consequences of these events as Alison’s grown-up daughter. Amidst the backdrop of an ongoing murder investigation, their journey unfolds over fie provocative seasons – altering the future of two families forever.” — from CBS

The Affair: The Complete Series is now out in a DVD box set, which presents all five seasons of the show and over eighty minutes of extras.  Bonus features include character profiles, an in-depth look at Montauk as a backdrop for the series, a storytelling breakdown by executive producer Sarah Treem, thoughts from cast and crew, and more. Fans can grab the DVD set on Amazon for $43.95, a pretty fair price considering that getting the digital versions of each season are priced at around $20 each.

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Headsup: Politics, Players, and Parenting

Disclaimer: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of “FLCL: Progressive & Alternative”, “Swamp Thing: The Complete Series”, “Krypton: The Complete Second and Final Season”, “Ballers: The Complete Series”, and “Veep: The Complete Series”. The opinions I share are my own.

FLCL Progressive Alternative“The highly anticipated sequel to the 2001 original FLCL, FLCL: Progressive tells the story of 14-year-old Hidomi and her classmate, Ide, as the war between Medical Mechanica and Fraternity continues. Now in the form of their teacher, Haruko Haruhara returns alongside another otherworldly being, Jinyu, a gorgeous Chrysler Bel Aire and her yellow Vespa to unleash their hidden potential.  FLCL: Alternative, the third and final season centers on the misadventures of 17-year-old Kana and her friends, Mossan, Hijiri and Pets. Living a seemingly normal life, the group’s lives are flipped upside down when Mecha falls from the sky and arrives with the guitar-wielding Haruko Haruhara. Once again determined to take out Medical Mechanica, Haruko works to awaken Kana’s N.O. channel before the relentless iron takes over the world.” — from Warner Brothers

FLCL: Progressive & Alternative Combo Pack is available now on Blu-ray and includes all twelve episodes from both seasons along with some making-of featurettes and an introduction to the show’s creators and English voice actors. You can currently snag it on Amazon for $40.82.

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Special Gift Feature: Poldark: The Complete Collection

Poldark Complete CollectionBased on a popular series of twelve novels by Winston Graham published between 1945 and 2002, Poldark was a ratings hit when it aired on the BBC. The series was nominated for awards worldwide and won a BAFTA, a Royal Television Society Award, a TV Choice (UK) Award, and a Broadcasting Press Guild Award.

“The critically-acclaimed series Poldark, starring Aidan Turner (The Hobbit) as the smoldering Ross Poldark and Eleanor Tomlinson (Death Comes to Pemberley) as the fiery Demelza, follows the thrilling story of solider Ross Poldark after his return to Cornwall from fighting in the American Revolution. Once he is back in Cornwall he realizes that his life at home has been completely turned upside down – his father is dead, his lands are gone, and the love of his life has agreed to marry someone else. Ross comes to find that his fighting days are far from over. Will he be able to return his crumbling estate to its former glory? Will an unexpected romance change his life forever? Follow Ross Poldark’s journey and watch the whole saga unfold in the 44 episodes that comprise the complete series.” — from PBS

Poldark: The Complete Collection is now available for the first time as a set comprised of all five seasons from the beloved series across fifteen discs.  The set also features over 150 minutes of behind-the-scenes bonus content from each season, including featurettes, talks with cast and crew, character examinations, set walkthroughs, and special looks at the development and execution of the costumes, sets, etc.  If someone in your life is a mega fan of romance, period drama, or the unswerving gaze of Aidan Turner, this set may be the perfect gift for the holidays.  You can get it now on Amazon for $91.99.

Headsup: Military, Mommies, and Missions Galactic

Disclaimer : Warner Brothers Home Entertainment asks that we note it provided a free copy of “Fuller House: The Complete Fourth Season”.  The opinions I share are my own.

Catch 22“Based on Joseph Heller’s seminal novel of the same name, Catch-22 is the story of the incomparable, artful dodger, Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), a US Air Force bombardier in World War II who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy, but rather his own army which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to avoid his military assignments, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule which specifies that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers which are real and immediate is the process of a rational mind; a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but a request to be removed from duty is evidence of sanity and therefore makes him ineligible to be relieved from duty.” — from Paramount

Catch-22 is now available on DVD, with all six episodes of the limited series along with over an hour of bonus content. Among the extras are a three-part behind-the-scenes feature (“The Cogs of War”), deleted scenes, and outtakes. The DVD set is on Amazon for $17.99. Fans should know you can get the entire miniseries there digitally for just $9.99, so it’s up to you to decide if the hour of bonus content merits the $8.00 increase in price.

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Special Gift Feature : The Big “Big Bang” Set is Here!!!

Disclaimer: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of the title featured below. The opinions I share are my own.
Even if you’ve never watched The Big Bang Theory, you’ve probably felt some of its wide-reaching fringe effects (there’s even a Brazilian bee species named after Sheldon Cooper’s catchphrase, “Bazinga!”). Like millions of others, though, you may well be a fan (and perhaps a mega-fan) of the series. If one or more members of your own “nerd herd” land in the latter category, the new complete series set just released from Warner Brothers may be the perfect gift for them (or for yourself!) this holiday season.

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Headsup: Hauntings and Heroines

Disclaimer: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of “Wonder Woman: Bloodlines” and “Veronica Mars: The Complete First Season.” The opinions I share are my own.

Wonder Woman Bloodlines“In Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, Amazon princess Diana of Themyscira chooses to save fighter pilot Steve Trevor and return him to his home in America – setting in motion one of Wonder Woman’s most captivating chapters. Fulfilling the role of both ambassador as well as protector, Diana soon earns the name Wonder Woman from the gracious people of Earth. Equally strong in body, heart and will, she makes it her mission to help a troubled young girl enlisted by a deadly organization known as Villainy, Inc., whose criminal members have their sights set on invading Themyscira, Diana’s paradise home. Prepare for a thrilling quest packed with brutal battles, mysterious mythology and endless wonder!” — from Warner Brothers

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines is now out on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD, both of which also include an animated short (“Death”), a featurette (“The Cheetah: Ferocious Archenemy”), and a sneak peek at the next DC Universe Movie, Superman: Red Son.  You can snag the Blu-ray for $16.95 and the 4K set for $24.88 on Amazon.

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Headsup: Girls, Guns, and Genius

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of “Doom Patrol: The Complete First Season”. The opinions I share are my own.

Doom patrol season one“Following the mysterious disappearance of their leader, Dr. Niles Caulder (“The Chief”), these reluctant heroes will find themselves in a place they never expected to be, called to action by none other than Cyborg, who comes to them with a mission hard to refuse. Part support group, part Super Hero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of superpowered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them.” — from Warner Brothers

Doom Patrol: The Complete First Season is now out on DVD and Blu-ray, both of which include all fifteen episodes of Season One. Bonus features are limited to a gag reel, deleted scenes, and a “Come Visit Georgia” PSA (a shame since they could have done a lot with commentary, behind-the-scenes looks at costume and makeup, filming in Georgia, etc). The DVD and Blu-ray are both available on Amazon and are currently almost exactly the same price for a few cents under $20, so if you can, grab that Blu-ray while the price holds.

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