Discuss and Rate the Last Thing You Watched (non-movies)

Hawki

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This is a counterpart to the movie thread (see http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/18.1019704-Discuss-and-rate-the-last-movie-you-watched?page=1), except it's for non-movies - TV, cartoons, anime, etc. I'd prefer it if it was on the seasonal level rather than by-episode, but ultimately it's up to people.

So, stuff I've watched this year include:

Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Season 1 (3/5)

Supergirl: Season 1 (3/5)

Game of Thrones: Season 7 (4/5)

The Expanse: Season 1 (4/5)

The Shannara Chronicles: Season 2 (4/5)

Parks and Recreation: Season 2 (4/5)

Once Upon a Time: Season 3A (3/5)

Once Upon a Time: Season 3B (4/5)

The Expanse: Season 2 (4/5)

I'll probably discuss Expanse Season 2 since it's the most recent thing I watched, but if any of the above pique your interest, feel free to say I'm right/wrong/terrible.

Have fun. :)

Edit: Just in case you've forgotten, my ranking system goes:

1/5 = Terrible
2/5 = Bad
3/5 = Average
4/5 = Good
5/5 = Excellent
 

Johnny Novgorod

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So far this year:

Death Note (3/5)
Watched all 37 episodes with my girlfriend just so she'd cave in and watch Cowboy Bebop with me. Kind of a drag, picks up ahead. What a horrible intro by the way.

Black Mirror
Watched episode 2 of season 4 I think. Never seen Black Mirror before, was alright. Episode was 3/5.

The Office UK (5/5)
Marathoned the measly two seasons in a few nights, really liked it.

The Office US
Rewatched seasons 1 and 2 of the US version. Seasons 2 and 3 are a solid 5/5, seasons 1 and 4 are 4/5. Everything else sucks.

The Sopranos (5/5)
Rewatched seasons 5 and 6 (first half) so far. How I'm going to miss it (again) once I'm over (again).
 

Hawki

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This year I've rewatched...

Spaced - 8/10
The Office (UK) - 8/10
Extras - 7/10

New watches: Game of Thrones season 7 - 8/10

Now rewatching Seinfeld on DVD. I'm almost done with season 3. I haven't watched TV in over a decade, so it's nice to see these again in their best quality. Some of the commentary is pretty interesting. Wouldn't have thought the parking garage episode was filmed on a set. They had to take down Jerry's entire apartment to do that and used mirrors to make the garage seem bigger. Also amusing is how many of those stories are based on the writers' experiences and how miserable Larry David was about having to write so many more episodes after just wanting to collect his pay after the pilot.

9/10

I also bought the Peanuts 1960s Collection and am looking forward to watching those specials when I don't have so much else to do.
 

Silentpony_v1legacy

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I...I don't watch TV really. My favorite show still on, Supernatural, is absolutely bananas now and I stopped watching nearly 6 seasons ago.
I watch MLP, but meh. Saw the Season 8 beginning and meh. They're clearly just killing time and running through the discarded episode ideas until the reboot.

Outside of that, couldn't care less about Game of Thrones or that cowboy robot one or IT Tv-show, or Black Mirror.

I might watch the Supernatural Scooby Doo episode. That looks pretty cute.
This is disgusting fan service, but it might be just too cute to hate:
 

stroopwafel

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Homeland. I don't watch many TV shows but this is the one show I never missed an episode of. I like how it changes it's thematic focus with every season while maintaining to stay relevant to current events. I also love political intrigue and it's just very well done here with the story itself having engaging characters and lots of forward momentum. It almost chronicles the concerns of the times which probably makes it a good time piece in a few decades.
 

Kyrian007

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I've watched a few things this year so far.

Black Mirror season 3: It was good, maybe not the best episodes but still fine.

Jessica Jones season 2: Not great, did not live up to the first season at all. Some good moments but really suffered from a lack of direction and not just weak villains... but there really didn't seem to be anything you might actually consider a villain. And it went nowhere. It started, some stuff happened, and then it ended... and very little changed. Jessica is just down several people she can trust, but the Defenders added some allies so it evens up.

Hap and Leonard, Mucho Mojo: I have not heard people talking about this one, but I have so many good things to say about it. Its based on a series of books by Joe R Lansdale, who is working on the show. The first season "Savage Season" was a good adaptation of the book it is named after, and Mucho Mojo is much the same. This series is not for everyone. If you like Lansdale, which is a pretty niche audience, this is very good. But Lansdale is hard to explain to people who haven't experienced him. If you are touched and a little sad at the end of "Bubba Ho-Tep"... you will "get it." Bubba Ho-Tep is a movie about an elderly Elvis Presley teaming up with an elderly black JFK at a West Texas nursing home to fight a Mummy. If you don't think that can be a meaningful and touching film... you will not "get" something like Hap and Leonard. Trigger warning for bigots though, one of the title characters is a homosexual. And you really can't even root for the other guy because even though he is straight, and white, he is the best friend of the other guy. So if you hate gays and minorities... you won't get much enjoyment out of Hap and Leonard. And, Lansdale stuff is very, and generally suddenly, violent. Its savage in a way that sometimes even outstrips something like George RR Martin. But when it isn't its folksy, making its contrasts very stark.

Altered Carbon: Good, but much less interesting than I was hoping for. Some good action. I'm not sure a second season would be worth the expense.

Into the Badlands season 2: Oh my. Better than even the very good first season. I don't even generally like wire-fu, and the action is first rate. And now the story is coming together. I ran right through the episodes in a weekend. I missed half a hockey game I had free tickets to, watching just one more episode.

I haven't tried any new anime so far this year. Last year I took Gosick and Ghost Hunt off my backlog. They were both Ok, but nothing special. I've added Blood Blockade Battlefront and the Netflix series B the Beginning, A.I.C.O. Incarnation, and Children of the Whales to my lists but I haven't started any of them.
 

CaitSeith

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It's been a while since last time I watched TV. So...

ProJared's Final Fantasy full LP. (4/5)

It's always fun to watch him taking a nostalgia trip on his favorite games (and mines too). He is not only good at explaining what's going on; he also fills the grind time with entertaining interpretation of the battles, funny stories of his childhood and making jokes about the characters and the game.

But if Youtube doesn't count, then Nextflix.

Manhunt: Unabomber (4/5)
Only 8 episodes, but they are a pretty good dramatization of the capture and trial of the Unabomber (a real-life American terrorist who reportedly detonated 10 bombs, injured 23 people, killed 3 and evaded the FBI in the span of almost 20 years).
 

necromanzer52

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Mr. Mercedes. Pretty damn good, though it gets very silly at points. I'll have to read the book now, so I can get annoyed at all the minor changes.

Farscape season 1 and most of season 2. This show is right up my alley. It's about a bloke who falls through a wormhole and joins up with a ragtag group of misfits in a distant part of the universe, as they travel through space, searching for a way home, trying to survive and occasionally having to escape from the space police.
The show's greatest strength is its characters. They have a wide range of personalities and they play off of each other very well.
A lot of the first season is very shaky, but once the plot really gets going and you've become attached to the characters, it just gets better and better. Highly recommended for anybody who's still annoyed about Firefly's cancellation.

Dan of the Game Grumps playthroughs of Space Quest I, II & III.
Since working my way through a large amount of Game Grumps videos last year, Dan Avidan has become a bit of a hero of mine. These series in particular are a great showcase of what a cool, down-to-earth guy he is. He plays through the entirety of some classic computer games, discussing everything he loves about them, while regaling you with stories of his childhood in a leisurely, relaxed tone. Perfect for chilling out to after a long day.
 

Natemans

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Jessica Jones season 2 - yeah, I wasn't a fan of this. I loved the first season and thought it was well done, but season 2 was incredibly boring with not much interest or stakes. Also kinda made me like the characters less.
 

spacemutant IV

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Jessica Jones Season 2. I made it as far as the middle of the season, then I gave up. Everything about this is boring as fuck. Nothing of note happens. The marvel netflix stuff in general is pretty weak, with only two villains (Kingpin and Purple Man) being interesting. What's worse than boring though, I find Jessicas character unbelievable, in the 'high school writing class wannabe drama' sort of way. Hey writers, listen. There's this thing called life and death, and shit happens. Everyone has people around them dying, and everyone is getting over it all of the time. Jessica still being a ***** ass drunken pussy about her parents death twenty years after the fact is not an interesting starting point for a story, and then someone surprisingly turning up alive is about as surprising and original as the "save the princess" story in videogames is. 2/5
 

Natemans

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Doctor Who: Static -

So I listened to this audio play from Big Finish written by Jonathan Morris. I really liked it. Atmospheric, well-paced, creepy, the performances were really good and touches upon some issues about the dead coming back to life. It does get a little complicated in the second half, but it didn't bother me. 4/5
 

Canadamus Prime

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Sword Gai Part 1 An anime series that appeared on Netflix. Interesting enough premise about people being possessed by demonic weapons. The main protagonist annoys me though. He's got the usual dark broody lone-wolf thing going on, but he clearly grew up with people who cared about him including an adopted sister figure who adores him. However the action is good and the other characters are likable, even the ones I think I'm not going to like I end up liking. The art and animations is also beautiful. Not esp. stylish, but still beautiful. So I'll give it a 4/5
 

maninahat

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Altered Carbon 2/4

I've never understood why genre fiction aspires to be derivative on purpose. Bad steampunk insists on airships and goggles. Bad cyberpunk insists on rainy city blocks, sad looking prostitutes, and gruff detectives. Altered Carbon goes out of its way to imitate a popular sci-fi noir movie from the 80s. Well done, it succeeded. Or rather suckseeded.

Altered Carbon's biggest issue is with exposition. The show throws a whole glossary of made up words at you within the first episode, and has to explain each and every one; Meths, stacks, needles, sleeves, envoys, neo cs yadayadayada. I'm sure this is less of a problem in the book, where they have the time to describe these things at a leisurely pace, but the TV show has to make you understand a lot of concepts before it can really get going.

Once it does, it's okay - I like how it thoroughly explores its central conceit of how a person can swap their minds into new bodies, but it always feels like it is rushing through the material. I also found a lot of the characters annoying; the most relatable is an AI that resembles Edgar Allan Poe but behaves like the overly attached girlfriend. Everyone else has a severe shortage of fun; a bunch of grim-faced pricks who talk in extended speeches.
 

maninahat

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Oh, also:

Kakegurui 2/4

Kakegurui is a combination of cheesecake, constant yelling and rubbish gambling. The former comes in the form of writhing, leggy women who jill in their pants at the prospect of betting money on things. The latter comes in the shows format, in which a girl joins a school that's obsessed in high stakes gambling, to the point that it determines the entire school hierarchy.

If it were just a bit a shameless fanservice and neat card sharking, Kakegurui might have qualified as a guilty pleasure. Unfortunately the actual games are really rubbish and undermine the entire premise. Basically each episode consists of our protagonist challenging one of the "bosses" at their chosen game, that person introduces - and inevitably cheats at - the game, and then our protagonist spots the cheat and (usually) wins. The problem is all the games are all fucking stupid variations of already not very good games (like roulette or match the card) with pointless bonus rules that clearly only exist to help the bad guy cheat. The fact that every game is blatantly rigged should appal a school full of professional gamblers, to the point where you wonder why anyone would ever play, but what makes it all the worse from a story standpoint is that there is no way for us the audience to work out how exactly the game is being cheated. All we're doing is sitting, waiting for our lead to miraculously work it all out for us with her magic gambling skills - its a very passive viewing experience with no relatable characters or investment.
 

Kyrian007

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maninahat said:
Oh, also:

Kakegurui 2/4

Kakegurui is a combination of cheesecake, constant yelling and rubbish gambling. The former comes in the form of writhing, leggy women who jill in their pants at the prospect of betting money on things. The latter comes in the shows format, in which a girl joins a school that's obsessed in high stakes gambling, to the point that it determines the entire school hierarchy.

If it were just a bit a shameless fanservice and neat card sharking, Kakegurui might have qualified as a guilty pleasure. Unfortunately the actual games are really rubbish and undermine the entire premise. Basically each episode consists of our protagonist challenging one of the "bosses" at their chosen game, that person introduces and inevitably cheats at the game, and then our protagonist spots the cheat and (usually) wins. The problem is all the games are all fucking stupid variations of already not very good games (like roulette or match the card) with pointless bonus rules that clearly only exist to help the bad guy cheat. The fact that every game is blatantly rigged should appal a school full of professional gamblers, to the point where you wonder why anyone would ever play, but what makes it all the worse from a story standpoint is that there is no way for us the audience to work out how exactly the game is being cheated. All we're doing is sitting, waiting for our lead to miraculously work it all out for us with her magic gambling skills - its a very passive viewing experience with no relatable characters or investment.
The description of Kakegurui wasn't enough to get me to put it on my list. And your description doesn't make me any more likely to do so. However, I doubt any professional gambler would balk much at a "rigged game." Every casino game is rigged favoring a house win, and I do constantly wonder why anyone would play a game in which if you play long enough... you are statistically guaranteed to lose.
 

maninahat

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Kyrian007 said:
The description of Kakegurui wasn't enough to get me to put it on my list. And your description doesn't make me any more likely to do so. However, I doubt any professional gambler would balk much at a "rigged game." Every casino game is rigged favoring a house win, and I do constantly wonder why anyone would play a game in which if you play long enough... you are statistically guaranteed to lose.
I doubt they would want to play at a casino though where the game rules are non-standard, the dealers are discovered to use marked cards, magnets in the roulette wheels etc (as is the case in the anime). Casino games are designed to give the casino the edge, but only in the form of slight advantages that only become apparent after lots of people play hundreds of games (eg in roulette, the payout on a number is 35/1 despite your odds being 37/1). It's a lot less blatant than "person comes up with a game with weird rules and cheats the rules, always wins at what is supposed to be a game of chance".
 

Frezzato

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Johnny Novgorod said:
So far this year:


Black Mirror
Watched episode 2 of season 4 I think. Never seen Black Mirror before, was alright. Episode was 3/5.
The first season is still the best for me.

.

I've decided to give short horror videos another shot on YouTube. Not much scares me any more, but I think this one's pretty decent:
Don't Let Them In
 

Addendum_Forthcoming

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My Little Pony (S8 E1&2)

I ... ehhh? As a season opener it feels a bit uncharacteristically out of tune of the general format. Also I'm not sure I entirely agree with the moral of the episodes. As someone who worked in my state's Department of Education, standards and protocol are kind of important and I feel like the conflict with the chancellor seems to allow a bandaid to cover what might actually be quite reasonable conditions for Twilight's school.

As well as some severe issues with truancy, discipline and conduct.

To be fair, if I was evaluating or assessing a school in terms of duty of care transgressions or health concerns I'd have problems with Twilight's school. If while I was there a group of students destroyed a large section of the school and almost caused injury to parents, teachers and pupils after being truant and such truancy went unrecorded by the teachers... I'd have problems. There is protocol for such things, and just maybe there is protocol for a reason.

The central themes of racism, youth engagement and regulatory forces kind of ... feels all over the place. Equestria is kind of meant to be this fairly utopian place where such issues don't really crop up, but in these episodes it actually makes you realize that Equestria isn't all it's cracked up to be. After all, in the real world (at least in where I live), active bias crime in the form of the chancellor trying to keep students out of a school kind of strips one of ever being able to assume such a position in the first place.

So why does Celestia put up with it and why does she let it persist? I can buy the idea she doesn't want to directly act, but I'd say after such a public event surely there is some authority-led tribunal that would divest them of their position. There's places on Earth that have to deal with poverty, bigotry, violent crime and corruption ... and they'd still axe said official in many of those places.

More over it feels like a complete 180 from her position from one episode to the next. Going from giving the 'EEA' her rubber stamp of approval, to suddenly being willing to toss away basic regulations and standards, as well as some hard written code of conduct for teachers outlying (most likely) their duty of care.

Apparently incompetence and truancy is magic... Don't worry kids! You can skip class, destroy part of your school, endanger other pupils, and it will be fine and truly it's just a problem of your teachers not teaching as you'd like them to.

Once again, not sure I agree with the moral these episodes are trying to impart.

And all of this is hamstrung by Celestia knowing Twilight would follow to the letter the guidelines given to her ... because it's Twilight, Celestia gave her two free houses and libraries, as well as practically soft adopts her for x number of years. We can only assume that she knows her by now and what she'd do. More over Celestia following those same guidelines and curriculums at the School for Gifted Unicorns that Twilight was educated as her pupil.

... And these were already the same school guidelines that allowed for Twilight Sparkle to fuck up her school auditorium with dangerously reckless entrance exams of messing with a dragon's egg. Struggling to find reasons why boredom would be a result of following the rules now. Also struggling to find reasons why a more structured and conventional experience would necessarily be bad.


So Twilight Sparkle ends up as if a Principal, as well as all the subject department heads, as well as a teacher, as well as theoretically all the year co-ordinators, because who else can say 'overworked'... And apparently it's her fault for expecting the same effects from the otherwise effective regulation that governed her education. Sure, there's more to teaching than just a student's marks ... but Christ, hard to disagree with former-unicorn-turned-Alicorn princess alumni to speak to a school's credentials and the quality of its teachers.

The thing is ... Ponyville already has a school. With a trained teacher and has a school board. You'd think Twilight might, I don't know, perhaps seek guidance from a professional educator when she has that crisis of faith in her abilities? Cheerilee is quite literally around the corner, after all... and who doesn't love the idea of more Cheerilee screen time?

It's almost as if it takes a Bachelor's degree + Master of Education with a year of practical experience training to be your average school teacher for a reason...

The episode might have been better if they dropped the Chancellor altogether and simply made it an exploration of bureaucracy where it can and does often allow problems to slip through the cracks. Perhaps looking at education not as if a static concept, but addressing new challenges of an evolving sociological frameworks. Which would have been a great concept for an episode, might have lead to more character development between Celestia and Twilight almost as if Twilight Sparkle being a Princess might ... I don't know ... also be a symbol of a changing Equestria with multiple friendly, non-pony creatures inhabiting it and given a solid reason why Celestia was looking for someone like her the entire time?

All in all, it's My Little Pony and I'll eat it all up with a spoon. It's the same charming characters that suffer solely for the fact that the new focus characters of the episodes take time away from them.

In the end I'm left with the same opinion of it as I do with anything Harry Potter. That the teachers are infinitely more interesting than the students ...

Arbitrary Point Scale: 3/5.

Ash vs. Evil Dead (Season 3, Ep 1-3)

I .... ehhh ... it feels like it's trying to rehash a lot of territory of the last season about Ash trying to create a 'normal' life for himself in Nashville. Only now it's Ashy Slashy's Hardware and Sex Toy Emporium. The new addition of some Knights of Sumeria came out of nowhere, and the forced conflict with Ashley as a sudden parent is no different from any cheesy 80s/early 90s sitcom.

A lot of the charm is there, and ultimately it is trying to grow the worldbuilding which may or may not bite them in the arse.

The fact that I'm three episodes in and not sure how I feel about it is probably not a good sign, however. When the best they can come up with is 'Knights of Sumeria' and seeming to just scrap it and the character that introduced this faction to us about a full episode of runtime after their proper introduction ... well, something is happening and I'm not sure it's all that deep nor going to be all that coherent.

And if there is something wonderful about Ash vs. Evil Dead it's direct, the characters are wholesomely brutal, shallow (in a good, earthy way), and poignant in elegant simplicity. And they kept all that, while trying to build a bigger world frameworks for which I don't think the characters themselves can fill.

And if the characters can't fill it, it means a lot of the charm is gone.

AvED is all about direct and mirthful flow of cause and effect. Set piece comedy-battles where big, evil book animating dead and artfully unrefined choreography to defeat it set within a solid if simple story arc. Colourful characters, slapstick humour, where the plot is a stadium for some smartly written toilet humour (it can be done). This season feels meandering...

Arbitrary Point Scale: 3/5

How I score stuff arbitrarily;

1- Annoying episode(s) to watch
2- Decent episode(s) to watch
3- Fun episode(s) to watch
4- Great episode(s) to watch
5- Fantastic episode(s) to watch
 

Addendum_Forthcoming

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Silentpony said:
I might watch the Supernatural Scooby Doo episode. That looks pretty cute.
This is disgusting fan service, but it might be just too cute to hate:
Holy shit ... Supernatural is still going on!? That show has been going on for almost half my life on this planet. What the metric fuck? The first time I watched it I think I was still in hospital undergoing rehab for a TBI. I remember it being fun ... then when they cut off my access to the good shit not finding it so much fun.
 

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Addendum_Forthcoming said:
Its gone absolutely bonkers crazy for the last few years. The original writer, Eric Kripke, wrote a 5 season arc that was going to end in Season 5. That was the original intended run, and he left after that. Then more seasons got made, they're up to Season 13 and they're just floundering.
For a few seasons they just went gory, replacing plot with just bloody monsters, then they dropped the whole 'hunting ghosts' one-off episodes for season long stories involving Purgatory, an angel civil war, Cain and Able, new God, old God, lady God, evil God, super Evil God, super evil lady God, and on and on and its just silly.
 

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Whatever, just wash your hands.
MLP season 8 opener episodes. Overall I liked it, the new characters are fun, although having the mane6 be teachers is a bit odd especially since they all already have jobs, except Twilight since the library got blown up and I guess trees aren't covered by the repair crew. I suppose in the end its simply a framing devices for the adventures this season.

I would have liked to see Celestia take a more hooves on roll in dealing with trumple pony. I mean you have someone actively trying to antagonize other species right in front of her and she doesn't curb stomp him? Oh well, I suppose it fits with the writers really not knowing how to handle her anymore, but she did at least get a good quip in. I do look forward to seeing more of the species moving forward and I'm curious to see how the new season will play it.

Never change.
 

Hawki

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necromanzer52 said:
Farscape season 1 and most of season 2. This show is right up my alley. It's about a bloke who falls through a wormhole and joins up with a ragtag group of misfits in a distant part of the universe, as they travel through space, searching for a way home, trying to survive and occasionally having to escape from the space police.
The show's greatest strength is its characters. They have a wide range of personalities and they play off of each other very well.
A lot of the first season is very shaky, but once the plot really gets going and you've become attached to the characters, it just gets better and better. Highly recommended for anybody who's still annoyed about Firefly's cancellation.
Another Farscape fan? Squeeee!

So, pretty much this. I do agree that the first season does take awhile to find its groove, but while I don't think this is a popular opinion, I'd argue that the show peaks at season 2 (for me, 2>1>3>4). And while it does have similarities with Firefly (small crew keeping ahead of a large, oppressive regime, out on the frontier), I'd actually rank Farscape above it.
 

Addendum_Forthcoming

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Silentpony said:
Its gone absolutely bonkers crazy for the last few years. The original writer, Eric Kripke, wrote a 5 season arc that was going to end in Season 5. That was the original intended run, and he left after that. Then more seasons got made, they're up to Season 13 and they're just floundering.
For a few seasons they just went gory, replacing plot with just bloody monsters, then they dropped the whole 'hunting ghosts' one-off episodes for season long stories involving Purgatory, an angel civil war, Cain and Able, new God, old God, lady God, evil God, super Evil God, super evil lady God, and on and on and its just silly.
Yeah, I remember something about a Colt pistol that can kill anything. Which I thought was a pretty cool concept ... it had shades of a pnp RPG Hunter: the Vigil. Or vanilla nWoD game where you had relics that you could create (nWoD: Reliquary). You could make it cursed to offset the cost, etc. I made a sword that was deadly sharp against inhumans but required me to inflict 1A damage on myself with it as a blood sacrifice for every 4A I inflicted upon its edge by the time of the next Full Moon or else it the murder spirit bound to it would be released and ride my flesh.

To be fair it seemed to have its own outrageous moments in the first 5 seasons. Something about the cheesy idea of the two hunters being vessels for an apocalyptic battle, and everyone apparently on both sides of the fence wanted them to end the world ... for what reason? Beats me. Apparently they were bored ... that they just wanted to die or something, even though apparently they can actually just die. So why don't they die as opposed to taking out humanity with them that seems pretty content not to die?

I think I watched about 14 episodes over a couple of years.
 

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Hawki said:
necromanzer52 said:
Farscape season 1 and most of season 2. This show is right up my alley. It's about a bloke who falls through a wormhole and joins up with a ragtag group of misfits in a distant part of the universe, as they travel through space, searching for a way home, trying to survive and occasionally having to escape from the space police.
The show's greatest strength is its characters. They have a wide range of personalities and they play off of each other very well.
A lot of the first season is very shaky, but once the plot really gets going and you've become attached to the characters, it just gets better and better. Highly recommended for anybody who's still annoyed about Firefly's cancellation.
Another Farscape fan? Squeeee!

So, pretty much this. I do agree that the first season does take awhile to find its groove, but while I don't think this is a popular opinion, I'd argue that the show peaks at season 2 (for me, 2>1>3>4). And while it does have similarities with Firefly (small crew keeping ahead of a large, oppressive regime, out on the frontier), I'd actually rank Farscape above it.
I would say sideways. Farscape writers must have been drug-riddled. Firefly was more grounded, but that was too its detriment sometimes. Rigel was too annoying and not enough redemption. They character assassinated Jool. Zotoh was the best, pity she had to go. And Scorpius as a villain was pretty weird and fun
 

Ogoid

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Last two I watched were anime, both on Netflix:

B: The Beginning - 7.5/10

This one was a bit all over the place, a hodgepodge of police procedurals, detective fiction and your typical anime superhuman battles, with some visual bits clearly lifted straight out of Sherlock; still, I found it honestly hard to dislike, possibly because of the very messiness of its tone and writing, the unusual quality of which, along with its very striking visuals, made it stand out for me.

Then, there was

Children of the Whales - 8.5/10

I went into this one with rather low expectations, and found myself quite pleasantly surprised. There's some clear Miyazaki influence in both its concept and storytelling, which is always a plus for me, and some very interesting concepts explored without the heavy-handedness of some other anime; my only complaint would be that it ended just as it was starting to get most interesting, but considering the manga it is based on is still ongoing, that's just to be expected I guess. Really enjoyed it.
 

Kotaro

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I recently finished the 2010-2015 Syfy show "Haven," a supernatural police procedural that's very, very loosely based on the Stephen King book The Colorado Kid. And by "very, very loosely," I mean there's an unsolved murder, and characters called The Colorado Kid and Vincent Teague, and that's about where the similarities end. Regardless, I really liked the show a lot. The characters were really likable and their growth over the course of the series--particularly antihero Duke--was quite nice. It even managed to get a pretty satisfying ending that resolved all but one dangling plot thread (that I can think of), rather than being suddenly canceled. 8/10

And then I started the Netflix reboot of 70's sitcom "One Day at a Time." Bit of a shift going from "Haven" to this, and I've only finished the first season so far, but I'm glad I'm watching it. It's definitely got the soul of an old-school sitcom, with a small number of sets and characters, and a laugh track included, and it's cheesy as hell, but it has a lot of heart. And it's frigging hysterical; I haven't laughed so hard at a sitcom in ages. It also tackles LGBT and racial minority issues pretty well, in my opinion. 7/10
 

Thaluikhain

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trunkage said:
I would say sideways. Farscape writers must have been drug-riddled. Firefly was more grounded, but that was too its detriment sometimes. Rigel was too annoying and not enough redemption. They character assassinated Jool. Zotoh was the best, pity she had to go. And Scorpius as a villain was pretty weird and fun
Farscape was always rather hit or miss for me, there are lots of episodes I skip, but some good stuff in there as well. Also, there are muppets, and various recognisable Australian actors in guest roles very unlike what they usually play.
 

Trunkage

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Kotaro said:
I recently finished the 2010-2015 Syfy show "Haven," a supernatural police procedural that's very, very loosely based on the Stephen King book The Colorado Kid. And by "very, very loosely," I mean there's an unsolved murder, and characters called The Colorado Kid and Vincent Teague, and that's about where the similarities end. Regardless, I really liked the show a lot. The characters were really likable and their growth over the course of the series--particularly antihero Duke--was quite nice. It even managed to get a pretty satisfying ending that resolved all but one dangling plot thread (that I can think of), rather than being suddenly canceled. 8/10
I always get this name confused with Sanctuary's. Their names just don't stand out. Similar premise at the start as well but Sanctuary then veers of into vampire Tesla territory.
 

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Watched Season 3 of Better Call Saul. I liked the stuff with Fring but everything Jimmy is pretty boring and just feels like the are spinning their wheels.

Penny Dreadful S3. It just wasn't as fun as the first two. I couldn't care less about Hartnett's back story. It wasted so much of the season.

Rewatched the Expanse. I don't know what it is in that show, but it feels more flesh out than the average.
 

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trunkage said:
I would say sideways. Farscape writers must have been drug-riddled. Firefly was more grounded, but that was too its detriment sometimes.
Firefly's more grounded, sure, but I don't think this can really be compared because they're so different in their approach to worldbuilding. Firefly has a more fleshed out setting, where, even if you haven't seen the 'Verse map that was released after the series, you can still get a good sense of how this world operates (Inner Alliance worlds, frontier outer worlds, Reavers further beyond that). In contrast, Farscape has no real sense of scale or location, and it differs in promotional material as to whether John is even in the Milky Way or not (sometimes it says "the Farscape galaxy," other times it mentions "the other side of the galaxy"). On the other hand, this does let Farscape be far more creative in its plots and creature designs.

Rigel was too annoying and not enough redemption.
Rigel's awesome and doesn't need redemption. :p

They character assassinated Jool.
Um, really? How?

I certainly think that Sikozu suffered character assassination in Peacekeeper Wars, though for what it's worth, she did get redeemed in the comics apparently.

Zotoh was the best, pity she had to go.
True. It doesn't help that her death is rushed. However, when the VG-Zotoh appears in season 4, I think it's well done. Zhaan was always the mother figure to the crew, and as her VG counterpart points out (paraphrased), the crew has 'grown up' and can now stand without her.

Yes, it hit me in the feels, thanks for asking.

And Scorpius as a villain was pretty weird and fun
Yep. Scorpius is a great villain.

Also, Harvey. Harvey is awesome as well.

trunkage said:
Rewatched the Expanse. I don't know what it is in that show, but it feels more flesh out than the average.
"Flesh" out or "fleshed" out? Because those are two different things. 0_0

If we're talking about it being "fleshed" out, then yes, The Expanse, both the TV and books, does very well in worldbuilding, in part because of the confined set of locations, in part due to striving towards scientific accuracy. I actually like the show more than the books though as it does a far better job with the characters, and gives Bobbie and Chrisjen far more screentime (a.k.a. the only characters from the books I really liked.)

If, however, we're talking about "flesh" out...well, Ade, Holden, and Naomi do strip a few times, and Julie Mao's protomolecule-infected form does show a lot of skin (blue or otherwise), so...yay?
 

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Star Trek Discovery: Season 1 (3/5)

Oh boy...this show...

I can't really talk about it without acknowledging fan outrage, because no-one hates Star Trek like a Star Wars fan (except maybe a Star Wars fan, but they're busy hating Star Wars right now). And on those complaints, some, I get - the level of technology in Discovery feels far too advanced for its timeframe. Some, I can sympathize - I think the klingons are well fleshed out and actually look alien, but it's hard reconciling their appearance with previous (future?) incarnations. And then there's the absolutely ludicrous arguments. Y'know, that the series is "advocating white genocide because the lead is a black female who's paired with an Asian female, and it's against men because Lorca is a bad guy, and is pushing the transgender agenda by calling a female Michael, while also pushing the gay agenda with Stammets, and some other insipid nonsense that I can't be bothered to repeat here."

So, fine, Discovery is a mixed bag for the fanbase, but as someone who isn't that enamored with Star Trek, what do I think of it? Well, if I had to grade Discovery's quality over the course of its season, it would resemble a bell curve. At the start, we have to deal with some wooden acting, and it doesn't help that Michael...isn't the best character in the world. The season gets better over time, and peaks in the Mirror Universe. Unfortunately, it dips in quality once the ship returns to the Prime Universe. I will say that I do like the characters overall, and how many of them do indeed have a character arc. However, while Michael is...fine, I guess, it doesn't help that the lead character is perhaps the least interesting. I have no problem with her being raised by Sarek, or being Spock's adopted sister, but whether it's down to the actress or the writing, she just feels so wooden in comparison to everyone else.

I'll also say that of all the Star Trek series I've seen, this is perhaps the least "Star Trekky." Not just because of its serialized nature, but because for a show named "Star Trek: Discovery," there isn't much trekking or discovery. I'm pretty fine with this myself - I like how the show tries something new (for Star Trek), and doesn't feel the need to follow convention, but I can understand why people might be put off. But again, I'm reminded of Enterprise. That tried to emulate TOS and TNG and, IMO, fell flat. Hard. But on the other hand, for a season that deals primarily with a war, we don't actually get to see much of that war - "show, don't tell," as the saying goes.

So, yeah. I think Discovery is a pretty mixed bag, one that has great potential if it can iron out its kinks. I will say that as first seasons go it's a far better start than, say, TNG (with its insufferable first season), but as a series as a whole...well, I'd still rank it above Enterprise, but it's not at the level of TOS or TNG. So, mixed start, but it'll be interesting to see where this goes.
 

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I stopped watching STD after the mid-season break and really have no desire to get back to it. I might, but I just don't feel like it.

Caught a minute of Seinfeld on TV during my break at work today. Saw that it was cropped for fullscreen. People are so stupid, holy shit. Like I said earlier, I haven't watched TV in a decade. It's probably normal for you folks.
 

Chewster

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Atlanta. So far, Season 2 has been doing a good job of continuing with the (appearently) Twin Peaks-esque weirdness while developing the characters even further and exploring the ups and downs of Paper Boi's slowly increasing fame in the hip hop world and all the grinding and trying bullshit that entails.

Highlights so far (spoilers, obvs): the opening to episode 3 where a tearfully outraged white woman reads Paper Boi's lyrics completely straight and when some girl at that ridiculous German festival in Episode 4 thought Earn was dressed in amazing blackface only to be awkwardly realize he's actually black. Episode 4 is the trippiest and more emotionally weighted thus far and may end up being the highlight of the season. Van's talk with her dopey friend about blackness was a really interesting exchange.

Really looking forward to the rest. Thus far, solid 4.5/5.
 

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Addendum_Forthcoming said:
The central themes of racism, youth engagement and regulatory forces kind of ... feels all over the place. Equestria is kind of meant to be this fairly utopian place where such issues don't really crop up, but in these episodes it actually makes you realize that Equestria isn't all it's cracked up to be. After all, in the real world (at least in where I live), active bias crime in the form of the chancellor trying to keep students out of a school kind of strips one of ever being able to assume such a position in the first place.
I can't say I'm that fond of the opener. That said, I think it's more to do with the saccharine approach. That's part of MLP, true, but let's just say there's a reason I gravitate more towards the "wacky" episodes more than the "Twilight and/or friend(s) learn a lesson about friendship" episodes.

That aside, with this point, while it's handled clumsily, there is a precedent for this behaviour. All of the non-pony races have had iffy relations with Equestria to some extent or another in the past, with the exception of the hippogriffs. So xenophobia is something I could see existing. Naysay is a stock character with stock arguments, but it at least tries to deal with the subject.

Addendum_Forthcoming said:
The episode might have been better if they dropped the Chancellor altogether and simply made it an exploration of bureaucracy where it can and does often allow problems to slip through the cracks. Perhaps looking at education not as if a static concept, but addressing new challenges of an evolving sociological frameworks. Which would have been a great concept for an episode, might have lead to more character development between Celestia and Twilight almost as if Twilight Sparkle being a Princess might ... I don't know ... also be a symbol of a changing Equestria with multiple friendly, non-pony creatures inhabiting it and given a solid reason why Celestia was looking for someone like her the entire time?
Eh, maybe.

Look, here's the thing. I do like MLP, even if my level of enthusiasm for it has diminished over the years (no real issue, just that at 8 seasons, it no longer has the "oomph" it once had. But let's be honest, it's still a show for kids, and as a show for kids, in a setting where the "magic of friendship" is a literal force, this isn't the kind of place that one can expect weighty themes from an adult's perspective. So, is the episode meant to be an in-depth examination of xenophobia/racism, and the sign of a shifting political/social climate within Equestria, as the races of the world come together? Is it a comment on the school system, and a critique of rigidly following guidelines? Or are these backdrop plot points to be used as a catalyst for wacky hijinks?

I'll give it this though, it does at least make sense in the context of Twilight's arc. I commented way back in the day that Twilight teaching Starlight did seem like the natural progression for her character, as she transitions from student to mentor. So taking numerous students on and doing the same thing does feel like the next logical step in her career path.
 

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Well I'm currently about 50 episodes into Hunter x Hunter (2011) so I feel that's long enough to have some kind of opinion on it;

So far it's decent, but for me it falls far short of "Best Shounen Ever" that so many people will name it without hesitation. The plot is a bit all over the place and unfocused...

like when Killua got taken back home, and Gon, Kurapika, and Leorio went to get him. I thought this was gonna be it's own mini-arc. They had to get stronger just to make it past the Testing Gate. I thought I was gonna get to see the whole family and there'd be fights and stuff, but before they get anywhere near the house, Killua is allowed to just leave... and that's it. What the hell was the point?

Gon, the MC, just frustrates me as well;

He gets his ass handed to him in every fight, and somehow still passes the hunter exam. What's worse is Leorio - he's utterly useless and only passed due to being carried by the others for the whole damn exam. But Gon's utter obliviousness is beginning to grate on me, and I do NOT understand why he is so fascinated with his Dad when he doesn't give a flying sh*t about his Mum. All he knows (at the point I'm at) is that his Dad left him because he loved being a hunter too much to settle down (that's called running away from your responsibilities). Literally just unceremoniously leaves his child with someone he hasn't seen in over a decade, tells them to raise his child for him, and f*cks off. If the first thing Gon does when he meets him isn't to smack him in the face, I'm gonna be so disappointed - but I highly doubt that'll be the case since he seems to admire his Dad so much (as does everyone else). He doesn't even know if his Mum wanted to keep him or not, and doesn't care to even CONTINUE listening to a recording to find out.

Killua and Kurapika as characters are fine. Leorio is f*cking useless. The best things the show has going for it in my mind are Killua & Gon's friendship which is endearing, and Hisoka as a character (who is by far the most interesting one, even if he does give off some strong pedo vibes). I'm a bit interested in Melody as a character as well now - hoping she's not just brushed off to the side as a one-note character (ha).

Also the music is alright (not bad, not great), but I'm really sick of the opening. I rarely skip openings in general unless I really don't like the song. HxH's opening is average, but it's been the same song for 50 episodes. They've only altered the visuals a couple of times in places. Whoever decided to never change tracks needs fired.

As a whole, I find it wholly undeserving of best shounen ever. Even if it gets ludicrously good from this point on (doubtful), it will have taken 50 episodes to do so. Boku no Hero Academia beats it by a mile, and I remember enjoying even the likes of Naruto a lot more back in the day. So far HxH is maybe on par with Bleach, but even then not as a good as the "Save Rukia" arc of Bleach.
 

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Gravity Falls - 9/10

I only bothered to finish watching it recently. It's a great show from start to finish, with great writing, morals and characters. My only real criticism is that Mabel's character arc in Season 2 could've been resolved better.

Game of Thrones (Seasons 1&2) - 8/10

Okay, I'm late to the party. And I confess I haven't actually finished Season 2 yet, but I'm damn close. The reason my score isn't higher is because the first season had a few "nothing" episodes that felt like they went precisely nowhere. Season 2, to its credit, is better at getting to the interesting stuff.
 

Addendum_Forthcoming

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Hawki said:
I can't say I'm that fond of the opener. That said, I think it's more to do with the saccharine approach. That's part of MLP, true, but let's just say there's a reason I gravitate more towards the "wacky" episodes more than the "Twilight and/or friend(s) learn a lesson about friendship" episodes.

That aside, with this point, while it's handled clumsily, there is a precedent for this behaviour. All of the non-pony races have had iffy relations with Equestria to some extent or another in the past, with the exception of the hippogriffs. So xenophobia is something I could see existing. Naysay is a stock character with stock arguments, but it at least tries to deal with the subject.
Yeah, well so has the real world. Australia's been involved in more active conflicts in a direct fashion than any other military force of the 20th and 21st centuries. Yet lo and behold we have a FTA with both China and Japan (both countries we've gone to war with), China is practically letting Australian medtech firms to establish for profit hospitals and other direct healthcare enterprises in their domain and we're leasing out entire port systems to their companies in return.

I mean ... it's a pretty blatant sign of trust when a country gives you access to its blood and organ supplies. Which ranks a solid '4' on my top 5 strategic reserves during a time of war.

When we went into a purely stupid conflict with North Vietnam, but lo and behold although Australia doesn't have an 'official language' Vietnamese is considered high priority for translating government documents, directives and proclamations into. On the sheer time scale of things Equestria has better neighbours than we do (or more so Australia has been an incredibly bad neighbour) ... you get over it, correct the problem, realize nothing is to be gained by it keeping ahold of manufactured hatreds.

More over it doesn't really satisfy my adjoining complaint that despite Equestria being this fairly utopian place, it seems to let what would otherwise be incredibly public scandals slide. I buy the idea Celestia isn't exactly 'hands on' ... but Christ, if you're going to have a benevolent dictatorial Duumvirate you might as well nudge elbows and correct obvious problems.

I mean the Yaks show-wise recently agreed to a '1000 Moons' peace treaty, so assuming the same lunar calendar as here that's about, what? 81 years and change? Frankly it's better than what the Belgians got (or at least in the end what they got). The worst the Hippogriffs did was pull a Switzerland when Equestria has been actively imperiled (though I would argue that the hippogriffs not warning Equestria of the threat is probably a graver diplomatic error than anything the Yaks may even possibly threaten).

About the only real groups one might be able to reason as having a grudge against is the Changelings ... but Starlight performed extrajudicial regime change and secured that problem away for the foreseeable future. Speaking of certain things I don't like about the show ... how they handled the changelings ...

The griffins already had students in Equestrian schools. Such as Flight Training Camp. So quite specifically you have non-pony characters being educated by ponies in what I can only imagine is 'EEA approved' institutions...

So even if you take the idea of some 'natural baseline animosity' you might expect some internal memo from Princess Celestia and Luna to all other departmental heads with a simple; "I'm watching you... don't fuck this up."

Granted, Celestia does seem to let a lot of things slide. Like her 'diplomat' not keeping her apprised of dangerous situations...


You had one job, Twilight.

Eh, maybe.

Look, here's the thing. I do like MLP, even if my level of enthusiasm for it has diminished over the years (no real issue, just that at 8 seasons, it no longer has the "oomph" it once had. But let's be honest, it's still a show for kids, and as a show for kids, in a setting where the "magic of friendship" is a literal force, this isn't the kind of place that one can expect weighty themes from an adult's perspective. So, is the episode meant to be an in-depth examination of xenophobia/racism, and the sign of a shifting political/social climate within Equestria, as the races of the world come together? Is it a comment on the school system, and a critique of rigidly following guidelines? Or are these backdrop plot points to be used as a catalyst for wacky hijinks?

I'll give it this though, it does at least make sense in the context of Twilight's arc. I commented way back in the day that Twilight teaching Starlight did seem like the natural progression for her character, as she transitions from student to mentor. So taking numerous students on and doing the same thing does feel like the next logical step in her career path.
Might be I'm actually incredibly new to the herd, like about 5 months ago. But I've pored over the show, books, comic books, etc ... Single issues to all the comics. Multiple copies of each for certain ones I just needed the cover art for, and I practically preorder the fan series models themselves. I even managed to get my hands on the 2013 Comic-Con exclusive Vinyl Scratch. Lighting effects and all, and to my surprise a scratch free display case.

I still love it, to put it mildly. Either that or I have more money than sense. I find the characters charming, I like the different speeds between the comics and the show/movie. I think it's a perfectly charming still, and the characters are still delightful as ever. I will say it feels like they're wrapping things up, and I'm actually tentatively excited about some aspects I've heard about G5 Ponies they're thinktanking.

I mean ... Ponyville already has a school and honestly Cheerilee is best teacher. Show needs more Earth pony love, and Cheerilee is already best science mare. "Learn potential energy physics, students ... by tomorrow..." She was planning to teach them about light cones, speed, relativity and observational relationship if that blackboard was telling us anything. And apparently those colts and fillies learnt from some of it. Celestia's school can suck it. I know where I'd send my kids, and Cheerilee's schoolhouse they use hay as a floor material. I was singularly disappointed that there was a clear excuse to have her play a role in the starting episodes, but it never eventuated.

I think Cheerilee deserved that school grant more, don't you? Speaking from a position of having worked in education, Starlight's advice is terrible. So Twilight already knows two good teachers. Celestia, but most importantly Cheerilee ... who lives right around the corner. A teacher who knows what it's like to give not merely tutoring, but class instruction.

So why wouldn't you, I don't know ... maybe approach that incredible teacher you know for pointers, or advice on how to engage with her students?

So I ... ehhh ... yeah I see the argument about Twilight's character growth, but at the same time it feels weirdly neurotic. And I get that, that's part of her character. She likes to follow written instructions, she likes lists, she likes decorum and protocol. But at the same time surely by now she knows ponies that can help her not only meet the demands of Equestrian regulations but also how to engage her pupils?

But the show has already made jokes about Twilight's .... let's call it "Helicopter friendshipping" ... as in Helicopter parenting but somehow creepier. It's funny, and kind of adorable, and it is a definite character flaw that the show sort of hammers home that Twilight is kind of coming into her own in these regards. Now she knows she has this problem, and she knows she has to deal with it in her own way ... but geeze ... how often do we need that idea that Twilight needs others as a crutch rather than as a means to be better on her own?

A clear example of this was Season 7's episode Royal Tensions (S7E10). Where arguably Twilight through her incessant need to observe, be an intelligencer, a constant lookout of her charge ... and she inevitably makes the situation worse. Stressing Starlight out. And this was intentional on the part of the writers to hammer home that Twilight still has 'creases' she needs to iron out. Another example would be EqG's Forgotten Friendship special ... where we finally got to see Sunset apologize to Celestia ... possibly something that she should have done 3 movies ago... ultimately Twilight kind of makes things worse (albeit temporarily).

I think the show has plenty of fun ideas to play around with. But I say that as a person that recently discovered it, and fell in love. Not as someone that has been watching it over a period of so many years. I remember watching the first two episodes like 5 years ago... someone told me to watch more, and by episode 7 I was thoroughly hooked. I kind of 'got it' that idea of the charm.

And I'm pretty sure that charm is still there. In spades. As you'll notice I'm giving examples majoritively of just the last season of why I think this show still has a lot of potential to create new, touching, charming storylines. But S8 is off to a kind of lackluster start. I'll still eat it all up. A lot of seasons start off as kind of ... meh? I mean S1 starts off as meh. Still delivers some fun moments, and some cute dialogue ... particularly between Nightmare Moon and Twilight. I think the way to approach it, at least the two starter episodes, is merely as a springboard. "This is the set up, this is the stage, now all of those is out of the way ... time for some fun!"

But kids' shows can be nuanced. Plenty of kids' shows that have that character development, and explorations of existential angst, conflict, diminished expectation, and compromise...

I think a lot of the problem, squarely, has to do with how Hasbro has sort of ... see, there's events where Hasbro did things right, but then cracked the whip on other issues to the detriment of character development. To give you an example, frankly I'm surprised Rules of Rarity (Canterlot Boutique, S5E14) went through without Hasbro batting an eye. It was quite obviously not only a complaint about an artist's alienation to their work due to overbearing pressures from figures outside creative production, but also how this might drive one to creative bankruptcy regardless of initial successes that drove its popularity.

And it's a phenomenal episode.

Another example would be The Perfect Pear (S7E13) where, holy shit ... an actual confirmation (kind of sorta, pretty much, yeah) that Applejack and her siblings are essentially orphans. Which is a lovely touch that was only hinted at with Scootaloo about the fact that there are kids that don't have conventional families, but says nothing as to the validity of whatever family they do manage to create for themselves. Which is obvious, but it was handled incredibly well. It's probably one of the best portrayals of an unconventional family unit and familial discord, and it's told in a really touching, loving way to handle what is both traumatic but also heroic, and very human.

Plus Day and Shatner ponies...

But the problem is we couldn't exactly have this character development or these insights into character portrayals well until Hasbro actually started relinquishing a part of the carte blanche chokechain of 'no dead ponies'.

So there are big ideas in this "kids' cartoon" ... and it's real things people encounter when they start having to pretend to be an adult.
 

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Addendum_Forthcoming said:
More over it doesn't really satisfy my adjoining complaint that despite Equestria being this fairly utopian place, it seems to let what would otherwise be incredibly public scandals slide. I buy the idea Celestia isn't exactly 'hands on' ... but Christ, if you're going to have a benevolent dictatorial Duumvirate you might as well nudge elbows and correct obvious problems.

I mean the Yaks show-wise recently agreed to a '1000 Moons' peace treaty, so assuming the same lunar calendar as here that's about, what? 81 years and change? Frankly it's better than what the Belgians got (or at least in the end what they got). The worst the Hippogriffs did was pull a Switzerland when Equestria has been actively imperiled (though I would argue that the hippogriffs not warning Equestria of the threat is probably a graver diplomatic error than anything the Yaks may even possibly threaten).

About the only real groups one might be able to reason as having a grudge against is the Changelings ... but Starlight performed extrajudicial regime change and secured that problem away for the foreseeable future. Speaking of certain things I don't like about the show ... how they handled the changelings ...

The griffins already had students in Equestrian schools. Such as Flight Training Camp. So quite specifically you have non-pony characters being educated by ponies in what I can only imagine is 'EEA approved' institutions...

So even if you take the idea of some 'natural baseline animosity' you might expect some internal memo from Princess Celestia and Luna to all other departmental heads with a simple; "I'm watching you... don't fuck this up."
I could go through this point by point, but as utopian as Equestria may seem, concerning those creatures, how many times have we seen them truly intermingling with ponies? Canterlot, Ponyville, Manehattan, etc. - every pony settlement has seemed to be pretty mono-species...ic. And even way back in season 1, the Mane 6 were afraid of Zecora - that's an episode that explored xenophobia much better than this one.

Addendum_Forthcoming said:
Granted, Celestia does seem to let a lot of things slide. Like her 'diplomat' not keeping her apprised of dangerous situations...
Yeah, but I doubt it would have crossed her mind.

Frankly, I think this is the fault of the episode - Chancellor Naysay seems to be fairly xenophobic, but I can't tell if this is meant to be exploring some dark underbelly of the Equestrian mindset to "outsiders," or whether it's just him and him alone. I might go with the latter, if not for the fact that this entire thing could have led to actual conflict given how the non-ponies react.

And what's more, he may even have a point about securing Equestria's borders. How many times has Equestria fallen to an outside force, only to be saved by the Mane 6? By the time of the episode, the movie is apparently a very recent event, so the Storm King is presumably fresh in everyone's mind. But, apparently, no, Naysay is a dick, and we're meant to agree that he's a dick.

Addendum_Forthcoming said:
I will say it feels like they're wrapping things up, and I'm actually tentatively excited about some aspects I've heard about G5 Ponies they're thinktanking.
I'm frankly dubious at this point as to whether G5 is even a thing, but that's another matter.

So I ... ehhh ... yeah I see the argument about Twilight's character growth, but at the same time it feels weirdly neurotic. And I get that, that's part of her character. She likes to follow written instructions, she likes lists, she likes decorum and protocol. But at the same time surely by now she knows ponies that can help her not only meet the demands of Equestrian regulations but also how to engage her pupils?
Presumably, but I've long since accepted that the Mane 6 will remain static to at least some extent or another. Twilight's shift in role makes sense, but her personality, while far less neurotic than it once was, isn't going to change in a cartoon where consistency is king (if not necessarily status quo - I'll give that to its credit).

But kids' shows can be nuanced. Plenty of kids' shows that have that character development, and explorations of existential angst, conflict, diminished expectation, and compromise...
I do agree, but given its intended age group, FiM can only do so much of that. The episodes you mention below are solid, but, well, at this point I'd say that even now, MLP is a "good" show. But due to various factors, I can't call it a "great" show.
 

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Hawki said:
I could go through this point by point, but as utopian as Equestria may seem, concerning those creatures, how many times have we seen them truly intermingling with ponies? Canterlot, Ponyville, Manehattan, etc. - every pony settlement has seemed to be pretty mono-species...ic. And even way back in season 1, the Mane 6 were afraid of Zecora - that's an episode that explored xenophobia much better than this one.
Yeah, I can see that. I think I might have brought up this complaint before with another poster? About the nature of magic in Equestria? How Maud Pie can do shit with rocks that would outstrip even most gifted unicorns in terms of what can only be described as 'magic'. Moreover even while not having 'magic' ... she seems to know a hell of a lot about magic. One time of which actively assisting with doing what was once thought impossible, as in stealing cutie marks. So why exactly does Celestia's school only allow unicorns?


Zecora's introductory episode deals with xenophobia better, I agree. I also quite like the idea how it's the younger ponies amongst them that actually seem far less perturbed. Not only that, but live dragon experimentation. It's actually kind of messed up. I mean, it's a sapient organism ... maybe, I don't know, try to track down its parentage or kinship? Nope, live magical experimentation on pre-natal dragons.

If I was in Twilight's place for that entrance exam, I'm pretty sure I would have dropped out if only on moral objections. It's pretty messed up. You'd think Spike would have a chip on his shoulder about it, because I know I would if I found out I was basically kept in storage waiting for a colt or filly to use me in their entrance exams.

Yeah, but I doubt it would have crossed her mind.
Well evidently not because she congratulates Twilight a minute later after apparently getting over the surprise of her diplomat not actually telling her the worst aspects of their meeting.


Frankly, I think this is the fault of the episode - Chancellor Naysay seems to be fairly xenophobic, but I can't tell if this is meant to be exploring some dark underbelly of the Equestrian mindset to "outsiders," or whether it's just him and him alone. I might go with the latter, if not for the fact that this entire thing could have led to actual conflict given how the non-ponies react.

And what's more, he may even have a point about securing Equestria's borders. How many times has Equestria fallen to an outside force, only to be saved by the Mane 6? By the time of the episode, the movie is apparently a very recent event, so the Storm King is presumably fresh in everyone's mind. But, apparently, no, Naysay is a dick, and we're meant to agree that he's a dick.
Right, but it seems to be a stretch the idea that children of foreign powers studying in Equestria (when none of them barring the Changelings have invaded) should somehow be purposefully antagonized. I mean two of those beings so maligned by Naysay have actively assisted Equestrian interests both there and abroad. Ember becoming Dragonlord through Equestrian interference basically stopped a worse potential Dragonlord taking the throne. You had Thorax who orchestrated regime change against Changeling leadership and ousted Queen Chrysalis.

The Storm King is very truly dead. So Equestria got its pound of flesh.

The real threat seems to be just how lenient everyone treats Discord. As in actively betraying Equestria after they gave him a reprieve. Tirek was arguably a bigger threat to Equestria than the Storm King was (speaking of epic battles, Twilight v. Tirek). Arguably what Discord did was way worse than the crimes he got turned into a statue for to begin with.

Moreover we've tread this ground before. How Cadance and Shining treated Thorax? Had that whole Red Scare vibe in season 6?

Not only that, the biggest threats seem to come from within pony society itself. The Pony of Shadows (Stygian), Sombra, Starlight, Sunset, Nightmare Moon, Tempest ... Tempest was the real power behind the Storm King. It was her idea to capture the Alicorns, it was her knowledge that helped the Storm King gain the staff able to take their power, and it was she who captured them in the first place.

If it was Tempest, not the Storm King, that wanted the power of the Alicorns for herself, Equestria would have been more than screwed ... because she got the staff, knew how to use it, and also captured all the princesses. G4 ponies seems to be a story about just how messed up unicorns can be. I'm surprised they haven't had a pony Tribe War ... oh wait, they did. And it lead to Hearth's Warming Eve after dooming their original lands to the Wendigos forcing them to come to what would be Equestria to begin with.

When armed with that weight of history you'd think that the overriding mentality might be; "Now, maybe we shouldn't be arseholes and give this whole friendship and co-operation thing a chance?"

Dragons? Fine. Griffins? Fine. Hippogriffs? Ditto. Yaks? Temperamental, but fine. Naysay's attitudes should be considered antithetical to basically whatever happiness Equestria has. Just the Great Blizzard alone ... let's say if there were a hypothetical nuclear winter event on Earth, you'd kind of hope 1000 years later after we've rebuilt we might still collectively understand nuclear weapons are bad.

Presumably, but I've long since accepted that the Mane 6 will remain static to at least some extent or another. Twilight's shift in role makes sense, but her personality, while far less neurotic than it once was, isn't going to change in a cartoon where consistency is king (if not necessarily status quo - I'll give that to its credit).
I think you're neglecting a lot of obvious growth there. CMC got their cutie marks, Changelings have been all but neutralized as a threat. Rarity has apparently become an absentee boutique operations fashion designer. Dash has joined the Wonderbolts proper. Fluttershy has .... balanced out? Her time spent with Discord feels like it's given her a slight edge of chaos or maybe more actively rebellious in terms of not just being an active doormat for the machinations of the rest of the Mane 6. Starlight has gone from a great villain, to a bit meandering, to actually endearing and her relationship to Twilight is blossoming into something quite sweet and charming. We learnt the background of the Ponyville Apple family and the tragi-heroic and touching tale behind that. Twilight's become a teacher, though how much of that was a logical leap from 'librarian' is debatable.

And this is just stuff from S5 onwards...

Let's just take Twilight's character development for a moment...

I will say as much as I love the idea of the Ponyville Library getting nuked (now that's how a show ups the stakes), I'm not loving what they replaced it with.

After Twilight's battle with Tirek the opportunities it could have told ... about how Twilight is basically homeless and having to at least temporarily move back to Canterlot into her other Celestia-Welfare home. How she makes plans to build her own home in Ponyville by hoof with the assistance of the community she helped save?

Don't get me wrong, I really love how they showed Twilight feeling effectively homesick for the Ponyville Library. How she's almost frightened of the castle she basically went eminent domain + Crown soil on. Because it does actually invest in her character that she had real attachments to Ponyville that was central to her character. Which was lovely. It meant something to her and despite being a glorified treehouse, itwas still a home she had built somewhere...

But I think the same story could have been told, and the dilemma better remedied, by Twilight figuratively and visually building a home in that community with the assistance of her friends and the community she saves. Nails, planks, and all.

Plus you know, Twilight and Moondancer. Which is kind of creepy and stalkerish ... because Friendship is Bribery, Reconnaissance and Subterfuge.

That being said, I think there's a hell of a lot of character development there. Specifically with her character. How she relates to Starlight, how she adapts losing her home, her relationship to members of the community like the CMC, and so forth.

I don't know. The charm is still there for me. Plus it's one of the few shows that has invested me to such a great extent. Season 7 turned out to be pretty collectively awesome all things said. Just, you know, ugh ... Star-Swirl. Too much Star Swirl. So I kind of hope Season 8 has merely had a 'slow' start. Which isn't all that uncommon.

I was kind of hoping if they were planning to expand the focus it would be more in the direction of Starlight, Sunburst, Discord, Trixie (especially Trixie), etc ... but then again, G4 has already been really unicorn heavy. I also imagine John de Lancie already commands a decent paygrade up on the other voice talent by amount of content, or perhaps he would prefer more recurring rather than near-main cast status.

Plus I imagine writing for Discord is particularly bloody hard given the much higher degree of co-ordination between writers, animators, storyboarders and voice talent that it would demand.

Just given visual cues and screenplay, I could see half a page of writing + art direction notes per 2 or 3 seconds. And honestly Meghan McCarthy is probably already overworked as it is...
 

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Addendum_Forthcoming said:
Yeah, I can see that. I think I might have brought up this complaint before with another poster? About the nature of magic in Equestria? How Maud Pie can do shit with rocks that would outstrip even most gifted unicorns in terms of what can only be described as 'magic'. Moreover even while not having 'magic' ... she seems to know a hell of a lot about magic. One time of which actively assisting with doing what was once thought impossible, as in stealing cutie marks. So why exactly does Celestia's school only allow unicorns?
No, it was me. And as I said, Maud's 'magic,' if it can be called that, seems to be passive rather than active, coming from rocks rather than her own abilities. Unicorns use 'active magic,' in that there's distinct cause (horn) and effect (result). So there's nothing untoward about a school that caters to them, same way a flight school can only really help pegasai.

Right, but it seems to be a stretch the idea that children of foreign powers studying in Equestria (when none of them barring the Changelings have invaded) should somehow be purposefully antagonized. I mean two of those beings so maligned by Naysay have actively assisted Equestrian interests both there and abroad. Ember becoming Dragonlord through Equestrian interference basically stopped a worse potential Dragonlord taking the throne. You had Thorax who orchestrated regime change against Changeling leadership and ousted Queen Chrysalis.
I don't think it's "purposely antagonized." A lot of Naysay's comments are directed to Twilight with the other creatures overhearing. Also, racism/xenophobia doesn't have to be direct. I mean, people don't usually go up to (insert minority here) and say "I hate (minority of choice)" - racism/xenophobia tends to operate on the subconcious level.

Not only that, the biggest threats seem to come from within pony society itself. The Pony of Shadows (Stygian), Sombra, Starlight, Sunset, Nightmare Moon, Tempest ... Tempest was the real power behind the Storm King. It was her idea to capture the Alicorns, it was her knowledge that helped the Storm King gain the staff able to take their power, and it was she who captured them in the first place.

If it was Tempest, not the Storm King, that wanted the power of the Alicorns for herself, Equestria would have been more than screwed ... because she got the staff, knew how to use it, and also captured all the princesses. G4 ponies seems to be a story about just how messed up unicorns can be. I'm surprised they haven't had a pony Tribe War ... oh wait, they did. And it lead to Hearth's Warming Eve after dooming their original lands to the Wendigos forcing them to come to what would be Equestria to begin with.

When armed with that weight of history you'd think that the overriding mentality might be; "Now, maybe we shouldn't be arseholes and give this whole friendship and co-operation thing a chance?"
It's far easier to look as outsiders as a threat than consider oneself to be at fault. Not saying that's right, but there's precedent for this in the real world (the whole "terrorist" vs. "disturbed" lexicon for attacks against innocents).

Naysay's attitudes should be considered antithetical to basically whatever happiness Equestria has. Just the Great Blizzard alone ... let's say if there were a hypothetical nuclear winter event on Earth, you'd kind of hope 1000 years later after we've rebuilt we might still collectively understand nuclear weapons are bad.
They're antithecal, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Like I said, I'm dubious as to whether Naysay's attitudes are meant to really be symbolic of anything, or whether he's simply written as being the "resident dickhead" that the viewer is meant to dislike. Also, the Great Blizzard, it's hardly equivalent to a nuclear war. The blizzard was mainly caused by the wendigos IIRC, the ponies just didn't have their act together. With a nuclear war however, someone needs to actively press the button.

I think you're neglecting a lot of obvious growth there. CMC got their cutie marks, Changelings have been all but neutralized as a threat. Rarity has apparently become an absentee boutique operations fashion designer. Dash has joined the Wonderbolts proper. Fluttershy has .... balanced out? Her time spent with Discord feels like it's given her a slight edge of chaos or maybe more actively rebellious in terms of not just being an active doormat for the machinations of the rest of the Mane 6. Starlight has gone from a great villain, to a bit meandering, to actually endearing and her relationship to Twilight is blossoming into something quite sweet and charming. We learnt the background of the Ponyville Apple family and the tragi-heroic and touching tale behind that. Twilight's become a teacher, though how much of that was a logical leap from 'librarian' is debatable.

And this is just stuff from S5 onwards...
That's all true, but the Mane 6 are still generally the same characters they were in S1. The specifics might have changed (Twilight is less neurotic, Rainbow's ego has gone down, Fluttershy's less of a doormat), but they're still fundamentally the same characters. None of them have demonstrated anything like Starlight, Sunset, or Discord (funny how villains tend to change more, since they're mostly redeemed).
 

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Hawki said:
No, it was me. And as I said, Maud's 'magic,' if it can be called that, seems to be passive rather than active, coming from rocks rather than her own abilities. Unicorns use 'active magic,' in that there's distinct cause (horn) and effect (result). So there's nothing untoward about a school that caters to them, same way a flight school can only really help pegasai.
Only you don't just have Pegasi. That flight school also taught griffins. And schools don't teach as if one thing. It's almost as if by having someone like Maud actually lend her intellect to the study of magic maybe Celestia and her staff might actually detect future magical threats.

Given unicorns going off the deep end every season, and even how both of the Mane 6 unicorns, and I say this with love, have issues (Rarity is still best horse) ... maybe it might be an idea to widen that study of magic to avoid another Maud helping another tyrant unicorn to be. By not opening up the curriculum to allow all forms of understanding magic... they are crippling their understanding of magic.

Quite clearly someone is teaching Maud about magic and its relationship to rocks... but given that extraordinary disconnection that information is not being taught in Celestia's school. It's almost as if needless segregation in education limits total worldliness and understanding...

Starlight didn't need to go to Celestia's fancy school to enslave a town. She did however need a magic rock that apparently only an Earth pony knew about as to its properties. I hesitate using Starlight as an example, given that she has ridiculous degree of power without seemingly a formal education. But the argument still stands.


I don't think it's "purposely antagonized." A lot of Naysay's comments are directed to Twilight with the other creatures overhearing. Also, racism/xenophobia doesn't have to be direct. I mean, people don't usually go up to (insert minority here) and say "I hate (minority of choice)" - racism/xenophobia tends to operate on the subconcious level.
It is also very not tolerated in our government officials. If such a scandal erupted here, of government official arbitrarily deciding purely in terms of race the merits of a student's education... that's a sackable offence. There is zero to be gained by pretending such an official is worth keeping. The U.S. is the only country in the West that I know that allows its unelected officials to actively politicize their student's lives like that.

But the fact of the matter is it's not their job to do that. Moreover their duty of care to the children outstrips active attempts to transform their lives into a media circus. To put it bluntly ... it's fucked up.

It is not part of the job description, and causing a scandal like that almost demands them 'resigning' or being terminated if they do not. I can't imagine segregation is written into the EEA's criterion of certified approval, given Celestia didn't approve of the sentiments... so this is purely self-willed transgression. You can't let that shit slide, otherwise you get nutcases who can do a tremendous amount of longterm damage.

As I was saying ... nearly everywhere on Earth that is decidedly less utopian, that guy would get the sack.

It's far easier to look as outsiders as a threat than consider oneself to be at fault. Not saying that's right, but there's precedent for this in the real world (the whole "terrorist" vs. "disturbed" lexicon for attacks against innocents).
Which is precisely why you hire people capable of doing the job without bringing bias crime into the equation

If you're an unelected official, you have a job and not a mouth. You don't get to use the trust and power invested in you to injure unjustly. You wouldn't excuse a bent copper, you definitely don't excuse a government official shooting from the hip and abusing their station.

They're antithecal, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Like I said, I'm dubious as to whether Naysay's attitudes are meant to really be symbolic of anything, or whether he's simply written as being the "resident dickhead" that the viewer is meant to dislike. Also, the Great Blizzard, it's hardly equivalent to a nuclear war. The blizzard was mainly caused by the wendigos IIRC, the ponies just didn't have their act together. With a nuclear war however, someone needs to actively press the button.
To put it more adequately they might exist, but would ponies toleratr their officials abusing their station like that?

I'm leaning towards 'no'.

As to Hearth's Warming, quite clearly they treat it as their responsibility and fault that the disaster happened. The play they run doesn't mince words, nor spares any sympathies for Platinum, Puddinghead and Hurricane. They turned it into a public holiday. It's treated as if a reminder of a more belligerent past. The funny thing is Platinum is somewhat more jovial in the Journal of the Two Sisters than she is in the play the Mane 6 run.

Arguably given it happens after the first Hearth's Warming that she had loosened up (a bit), and had been reformed and she makes fast friends with Celestia and Luna after a brief stint of hostility ... but then that doesn't explain why she, Puddinghead and Hurricane is so rubbished despite doing the right thing in the end.

You'd think that would earn some good will.

It's quite obvious who ponies put the blame on. And more over, Celestia herself uses it as an argument against Naysay in the very episode in question.

Take for instance the young griffon, Gabby. Holds no qualms hanging out with ponies. She even wants a cutie mark. She earnestly helps ponies in Ponyville and manages to make a good impression on so many of them. It doesn't seem like the type of society that seek active conflict or growing hostilities for simply shits and giggles.

Even with Zecora, who I would say is an example of ponies at their worst ... It's less fear, hatred and revulsion, it's more just fear. And it seemed specifically restricted to merely Ponyville ... not Twilight who recently came from Canterlot.

That's all true, but the Mane 6 are still generally the same characters they were in S1. The specifics might have changed (Twilight is less neurotic, Rainbow's ego has gone down, Fluttershy's less of a doormat), but they're still fundamentally the same characters. None of them have demonstrated anything like Starlight, Sunset, or Discord (funny how villains tend to change more, since they're mostly redeemed).
Are they, though? I think there is a huge difference between Rarity of S1 and Rarity of S4, S5, S6 and S7. Less histrionic, less ... prissy? Take for instance Castle Mane-ia in S4.

S1 gave us Rarity whining and fainting, and being taken advantage of by the rest of the Mane 6... but later on it gives us a depiction of Rarity making a stand on her art in Canterlot Boutique and bringing her hoof down. These characters aren't making the same mistakes, they seem to actually be growing. What sort of benchmark are we looking to for a show that splits slice of life with adventure?

Rarity seems to have more character growth over 7 seasons (given I count roughly 2-2.5 years in passing) of the show than people I know in reality over 7 years of the show running.
 

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Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin (3/5)

Bland, tedious, boring, far too much wallpaper music...in essence, your average episode of OldWho.
 

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Addendum_Forthcoming said:
Only you don't just have Pegasi. That flight school also taught griffins.
Who can still, y'know, fly. Point stands.

And schools don't teach as if one thing. It's almost as if by having someone like Maud actually lend her intellect to the study of magic maybe Celestia and her staff might actually detect future magical threats.
Okay, but again, different magic, different ponies. There's nothing wrong with having a specialized school that focuses exclusively on certain subjects. We've never seen any earth ponies or pegasi doing the things that unicorns have with their horns (not that I recall at least).

Given unicorns going off the deep end every season, and even how both of the Mane 6 unicorns, and I say this with love, have issues (Rarity is still best horse) ... maybe it might be an idea to widen that study of magic to avoid another Maud helping another tyrant unicorn to be. By not opening up the curriculum to allow all forms of understanding magic... they are crippling their understanding of magic.
I'm sure those subjects are still studied.

Quite clearly someone is teaching Maud about magic and its relationship to rocks... but given that extraordinary disconnection that information is not being taught in Celestia's school. It's almost as if needless segregation in education limits total worldliness and understanding...
Except where else have we seen segregation? Cherilee's class seems pretty diverse.

It is not part of the job description, and causing a scandal like that almost demands them 'resigning' or being terminated if they do not. I can't imagine segregation is written into the EEA's criterion of certified approval, given Celestia didn't approve of the sentiments... so this is purely self-willed transgression. You can't let that shit slide, otherwise you get nutcases who can do a tremendous amount of longterm damage.
Maybe, but again, wasn't part of the school destroyed?

Naysay is an arse, and I doubt we're meant to see him as anything other than being an arse, but he at least has an understandable, if not sympathetic mindset, given Equestria's history of being invaded. This being in the presence of one species that's invaded at least twice (changelings), one that's implied to have done its fair share of looting and plundering (dragons), and the griffons, while not antagonistic, I think were depicted as being an insular state prior to Pinkie and Rainbow visiting.

To put it more adequately they might exist, but would ponies toleratr their officials abusing their station like that?

I'm leaning towards 'no'.
Yeah, but when was Naysay put in the position to run his mouth?

I've applied for various jobs over the years (still am, though I've at least got employment), and a common question is "demonstrate your understanding EEO principles." So, I can wax lyrical about how one shouldn't discrimiante based on gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc., but that doesn't mean I necessarily believe it (which I do, don't worry). In theory, I could easily lie on the application, but not believe in the stuff I'm writing. Naysay being an arse doesn't preclude him getting a position of power.


As to Hearth's Warming, quite clearly they treat it as their responsibility and fault that the disaster happened. The play they run doesn't mince words, nor spares any sympathies for Platinum, Puddinghead and Hurricane.
Being a play, I'm guessing that the character traits are exagerated. Remember Richard III? Shakespeare's depiction of him is...let's say, "creative," compared to what's actually known about Dick III.

Though if it's shown as being otherwise in EU material, I can't comment.
Take for instance the young griffon, Gabby. Holds no qualms hanging out with ponies. She even wants a cutie mark. She earnestly helps ponies in Ponyville and manages to make a good impression on so many of them. It doesn't seem like the type of society that seek active conflict or growing hostilities for simply shits and giggles.
Yeah, and then there's Gilda. And when Pinkie and Rainbow visit, the griffons aren't shown as being particuarly nice. Gabby is an exception to the rule. The "rule" may have changed since then though.

Are they, though? I think there is a huge difference between Rarity of S1 and Rarity of S4, S5, S6 and S7. Less histrionic, less ... prissy? Take for instance Castle Mane-ia in S4.

S1 gave us Rarity whining and fainting, and being taken advantage of by the rest of the Mane 6... but later on it gives us a depiction of Rarity making a stand on her art in Canterlot Boutique and bringing her hoof down. These characters aren't making the same mistakes, they seem to actually be growing. What sort of benchmark are we looking to for a show that splits slice of life with adventure?

Rarity seems to have more character growth over 7 seasons (given I count roughly 2-2.5 years in passing) of the show than people I know in reality over 7 years of the show running.
Rarity has changed in elements of her character, but she's still fundamentally the same character. Rarity may still be less prissy, but she's still really into fashion, and still a drama queen, albeit to a lesser extent. Same applies to Twilight, Fluttershy, and Rainbow. Their core personalities remain, all that's changed is elements of them. If you want an example of really dramatic character change in a children's cartoon, look at Avatar: The Last Airbender. Going for the big guns, characters like Aang and Zuko are drastically different characters by the end of the series than they were at the start.

I don't begrudge MLP for this - it's an open-running series with no set end, so it's hard to plan for character development down the line. Plus, as it's marketed primarily towards children, you'd probably want the characters' personalities to remain stable. And after all, looking at something like Simpsons or South Park, is anyone changing for Homer to get off his arse, or Cartman to not be a repugnant human being? I'm not. There's something to be said for characters remaining stable in a non-serialized show. But again, if we're talking about character development in the series, I'd say that Sunset and Starlight have probably had the most - compared to their old selves, they've pretty much done a 180.
 

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Hawki said:
Who can still, y'know, fly. Point stands.
How? The original point was that non-ponies were still being taught by ponies as established in the first season.

I never said anything about the validity of that flight school... but I would remark as to this aspect of the discussion that it totally makes sense for such a school to look at both mechanical and non-pegasi flight assuming they wanted to teach both adults and juveniles.

Okay, but again, different magic, different ponies. There's nothing wrong with having a specialized school that focuses exclusively on certain subjects. We've never seen any earth ponies or pegasi doing the things that unicorns have with their horns (not that I recall at least).
There's nothing wrong with it... but it's the only school of magic we know of in Equestria. If a country had only one school for studying visual arts, you'd hope it would be a pretty fantastic and comprehensive university.

Schools branch out into niches, correct... but not at the cost of a curriculum and academic pursuit.

Celestia's school seems more a glorified library rather than a place of study.

I'm sure those subjects are still studied.
Are they? After all... Starlight didn't need it to basically destroy Equestria.

Except where else have we seen segregation? Cherilee's class seems pretty diverse.
Absolutely. As I was saying before, Cheerilee is best teacher and science mare. But never seen her teach magic.

Maybe, but again, wasn't part of the school destroyed?
Yeah... I think I kind of addressed this point in the first post I wrotr about the episode about my time working in the Department of Education. How I think the show sends the wrong message... because I wouldn't be very impressed. But then again, the difference is I'd be angry how truant students unreported by teachers went on to destroy part of the school... and it wouldn't matter about their race.

Naysay is an arse, and I doubt we're meant to see him as anything other than being an arse, but he at least has an understandable, if not sympathetic mindset, given Equestria's history of being invaded. This being in the presence of one species that's invaded at least twice (changelings), one that's implied to have done its fair share of looting and plundering (dragons), and the griffons, while not antagonistic, I think were depicted as being an insular state prior to Pinkie and Rainbow visiting.
Well frankly I cam't see it as sympathetic. It might be because I've worked as an official, but we're paid to do a job. Not abuse our power or to commit bias crime. It should be seen as a transgression of public good will. As I was saying, you can't let this shit slide. And for whatever meandering excuses for it, quite clearly are irrelevant to Equestria's current state. They wouldn't be excusable even if they were.

For an episode about bureaucracy being bad... the thing is those protocols are a two way street in making sure the system isn't rife with bigoted people with too much power. There are a multitude of countries on Earth... that have been invaded, that face geopolitical competitors, and yet would sack said official.

Yeah, but when was Naysay put in the position to run his mouth?

I've applied for various jobs over the years (still am, though I've at least got employment), and a common question is "demonstrate your understanding EEO principles." So, I can wax lyrical about how one shouldn't discrimiante based on gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc., but that doesn't mean I necessarily believe it (which I do, don't worry). In theory, I could easily lie on the application, but not believe in the stuff I'm writing. Naysay being an arse doesn't preclude him getting a position of power.
It kind of does when said bias crime is laid to bare. No one is saying bigoted arseholes do not achieve positions of power... but that doesn't distance the necessity to act when you do see it.


Being a play, I'm guessing that the character traits are exagerated. Remember Richard III? Shakespeare's depiction of him is...let's say, "creative," compared to what's actually known about Dick III.
Which is precisely my point. Platinum is different in different materials, and is rubbished actively by ponies regardless of seeming differences. And they're intentionally rubbished for a reason. It turns oit Puddinghead turned into a really good administrator for Earth ponies wiyh a bit of dutiful prodding and semi-guidance. Leading to questions whether they were mad or secretly brilliant and mad.

Yeah, and then there's Gilda. And when Pinkie and Rainbow visit, the griffons aren't shown as being particuarly nice. Gabby is an exception to the rule. The "rule" may have changed since then though.
And quite clearly you don't see ponies treating Gabby worse solely because they once met a Gilda. In the same way I doubt Earth ponies in Ponyville that suffered at the hands of Trixie don't roll their eyes st Starlight moving into their village and aaying; "Great... there goes the neighbourhood."

And Earth ponies in Ponyville, at least prior Sparklr getting a crown, were the dominant tribe in Ponyville.

They had the wealthiest aspects of village commerce, the mayor runs unopposed, Cheerilee heads up the local school, Apple family (while fairly poor) are still the largest land owners in the region. So Earth ponies had cornered all aspects of the means of production and the politicsl power to maintain its perpetuity of industrial-social mechanics.

Yet, as Maud adequately demonstrates Earth ponies aren't necessarily perturbed by other tribes... or even all that judgmental...


Clearly the moral metrics are on how a pony acts. And I doubt Maud would have knowingly assisted Starlight if she explicitly said she was going to steal the magic of an entire village. If anything it lives up to those old creator notes about how Earth ponies are supposed to be fair minded, and more resilient to temptations to do harm. And this shapes their world view of others and they just assume other creatures will act decently if given opportunity.

Which is problematic for the idea that they hold grudges when they seem to be the largest of the three tribes.

I don't begrudge MLP for this - it's an open-running series with no set end, so it's hard to plan for character development down the line. Plus, as it's marketed primarily towards children, you'd probably want the characters' personalities to remain stable. And after all, looking at something like Simpsons or South Park, is anyone changing for Homer to get off his arse, or Cartman to not be a repugnant human being? I'm not. There's something to be said for characters remaining stable in a non-serialized show. But again, if we're talking about character development in the series, I'd say that Sunset and Starlight have probably had the most - compared to their old selves, they've pretty much done a 180.
I haven't seen Avatar so I can't comment... and it seems like a lot of adjoined material I need to get through to understand the point. But just to talk about Starlight and Sunset... it's kind of hard to have former villains not do a 180. I think I made a comment before how if Queen Chrysalis is no longer a villain, at least give her spikes where perhaps not like Discord, at least while not antagonistic just in general not exactly unbegrudging.

Regardless ... it's a bit hard to compare former villains to the Mane 6 to begin with.... in the same way the Doctor's companions in Doctor Who undergo more growth because individually they are expected to trundle off, often less than a total season after their introduction.
 

Tanis

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ReBoot.The.Guardian.Code.S01E01 - 1/10:
It's SHIT. I mean, holy shit it's shit.

NOTHING to do with ReBoot.
Shitty, teenager, acting.
Shitty, generic, CGI.
Shitty, Dollar Store, Power Rangers.

Just...yikes. I think The Last Airbender movie was better than this shitty shit shidwich.
 

Hawki

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Addendum_Forthcoming said:
How? The original point was that non-ponies were still being taught by ponies as established in the first season.

it totally makes sense for such a school to look at both mechanical and non-pegasi flight assuming they wanted to teach both adults and juveniles.
Where's Equestria actually demonstrated any mechanical flight though? I don't think we've seen anything more advanced than zepplins.

There's nothing wrong with it... but it's the only school of magic we know of in Equestria. If a country had only one school for studying visual arts, you'd hope it would be a pretty fantastic and comprehensive university.
Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence.

Are they? After all... Starlight didn't need it to basically destroy Equestria.
1) As you've already pointed out, Starlight has a high level of raw magical ability. She can afford to skip a few lessons.

2) Starlight destroying Equestria was more due to the knock-on effect of her preventing the Mane 6 from forming - Nightmare Moon, Sombra, etc. did the actual destroying in the alternate timelines.

Absolutely. As I was saying before, Cheerilee is best teacher and science mare. But never seen her teach magic.
Probably because it's a specialized field that only unicorns can really use actively?

Think of it this way - Cherilee's school is your general public school. Celestia's is more like the eqivalent of a STEM school (or art school, or any other school that has a specific focus).

And Earth ponies in Ponyville, at least prior Sparklr getting a crown, were the dominant tribe in Ponyville.

They had the wealthiest aspects of village commerce, the mayor runs unopposed, Cheerilee heads up the local school, Apple family (while fairly poor) are still the largest land owners in the region. So Earth ponies had cornered all aspects of the means of production and the politicsl power to maintain its perpetuity of industrial-social mechanics.

Yet, as Maud adequately demonstrates Earth ponies aren't necessarily perturbed by other tribes... or even all that judgmental...
Yeah, but Ponyville was founded by earth ponies, so makes sense they got into positions of power.

As for Maud, I don't think her attitude can be considered typical of earth ponies (or any type of pony for that matter).

Regardless ... it's a bit hard to compare former villains to the Mane 6 to begin with.... in the same way the Doctor's companions in Doctor Who undergo more growth because individually they are expected to trundle off, often less than a total season after their introduction.
Y'know, upon reflection, how many companions in Doctor Who actually undergo a character arc? The Doctor certainly changes between incarnations, but as for companions...sorry, I can't think of any. It struck me as less the companions undergoing an arc per se, and more just becoming the best version of themselves, if that makes sense.
 

bartholen_v1legacy

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Watched the first 2 episodes of the new season of Jessica Jones. It feels like a perfectly organic continuation. Krysten Ritter is still impeccable as the burnt out, bitchy, unstable alcoholic, and everything I liked about the first season is still there. It's pretty interesting how they make her decision at the end of season 1, which was widely criticized, a central part of her character now. I didn't watch the Defenders because Luke Cage bored me and Iron Fist was apparently bad, and the reception of Defenders wasn't extatic either to my understanding.
 

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Almost done with the 1960s Peanuts TV specials collection. I've already ordered the two 1970s volumes. This show is so charming.
 

Hawki

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Diplomacy (4/5)

So, thanks to this thread, I can finally discuss stage plays. So, now I get to discuss Diplomacy by Cyril Gely, depicting the discussions between Raoul Nordling and Dietrich von Choltitz, specifically the attempts by the former to get the latter to not follow Hitler's order to level Paris in response to advancing Allied forces. So, admittedly right there that's part of why I can't say I love this play, because I know ahead of time that Paris isn't going to be blown up.

So, alright then, surely the dialogue carries the play then, and we get a nice discussion about the morality and legality of certain actions in wartime? Well, we do...except that a lot of the time it feels like we're getting the same discussion over and over again. The play goes for 90 minutes without an interval, and even then it feels like a lot of the run time (if that's the word) is being stretched to accomodate that. Also feels rushed in some areas, in that the penultimate scene is von Choltitz fearing that Nordling's betrayed him as Allied tanks go rumbling down the street, then cut to black, then monologues from the cast revealing that everything worked out. I get that in a play you have a far more limited scale to work with, but...yeah.

Still, play's good. Not "great," but "good." As someone who still remembers 'The King's Choice' from last year, which had a similar principle of Norweigen and German diplomats trying to get Norway to accept the inevitable, this is a far better experience.
 

Natemans

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Doctor Who: Castrovalva -

So IPTV finally starting airing reruns of Peter Davison's era. So far decent start.

Not perfect and mostly odd writing areas, but its fine. 7/10






Also I loved The Deadly Assassin
 

Ninjamedic

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Star Trek: Discovery - 1/5

I'm still trying to put my thoughts on the series in a concise manner currently but as it stands I see Discovery as one of the weaker starts of the Trek series but without any of the interesting aspects that I can get out of even Season 1 of TNG. Even as an action series I find it lacking in it's execution.

A reliance on contrived drama, an ill-thought out and rushed main plot that prioritises twists and shock moments regardless of how much sense they make, using none of the advantages a serialised plot should have. The main character's backstory and persona are a contradiction with itself let alone Trek as a whole. In lieu of any point to the main story outside of explosions and deaths it's been the most jingoistic the franchise has gotten with it's portrayal of the Klingons, and the character reveals leave the story borderline incoherent.

There are some okay character moments with the supporting cast here and there, but it's not enough to carry it to the finish line for me.
 

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Arrow: Season 5 (3/5)

Sigh...

Okay, confession time - I really liked Arrow Season 4. I did. I can accept that I'm in a minority there, but I just don't agree/get/accept many of the criticisms levelled at it. I bring this up because Season 5 feels a lot like a "back to basics" season, and I'd argue that's the root of its problems.

So, we have the new Team Arrow, because we need some new blood. How do I feel about them? They're...okay, I guess, but they feel like pale imitations of what's come before. I have to question some choices though - Ragman's rags can apparently stop a nuke from exploding by covering it, so why the heck should I fear any potential harm that comes his way? Yes, it removes the rags' powers, and he goes off, never to be seen again, so, um, see ya. Then we have Evelynn/Artemis, who could potentially be set up as a twisted inversion of Thea given her affiliation with Chase, but again, underutilized. Rene/Wild Dog is...okay, Curtis is...okay, but feels shoehorned in as someone who started out as a normal tech geek. Oh, and then there's Dinah Drake. The "real" Black Canary because her scream ability is a metahuman ability, because god damn it, we need to appease the comic book purists. I'll admit that Laurel was never my favorite character, but I still liked her, but Dinah's personality is...actually, what is her personality? FFS, Black Siren is in the season and is more interesting because she actually has a character, and has the whole inversion thing going on due to her being the doppleganger of Earth-1 Laurel. But no, I'm meant to like Dinah Drake, because her scream is a superpower, and that's what apparently matters. I'll also point out that it feels really out of place in a team where the characters' abilities are down to personal and/or mental skill, not superpowers (Ragman also has this problem to an extent).

Then we have Adrian "Prometheus" Chase. Someone who's apparently a bigshot in the comics, but here, feels like a poor man's version of Merlyn (Season 1) and Slade (Season 2). As in, combining Merlyn's fighting style with the whole vendetta thing that Slade carried in Season 2. Unfortunately, he falls short in both areas. His 'fighting strategy' is mostly to let Oliver pummel him, only to be forced to be let go as his overall plan is revealed. And the vendetta thing feels shoehorned in - I cared about Slade because he goes from being a good, decent, kickass character in season 1, to a figure in season 2 that's both tragic, but also reprehensible. Season 2 works excellently because we see both versions of Slade play out. Here, Chase's vendetta basically boils down to "daddy issues." Yes, there's some introspection on Oliver's more murderous past, but it comes off as hollow given how quickly Oliver gets over being 'interrogated' and whatnot. And it gets to the point where him always being ahead, knowing exactly how people will act ahead of time, gets tiresome.

As for Slade's quasi redemption at the end of season 5...mixed on that.

Oh, and the season 5 flashbacks. Enough of them. I'm tired of them. The flashbacks haven't been interesting since season 2. If anything, I'd argue they undermine Oliver's "time in hell" considering how little time he apparently did spend on Lian Yu.

Now, you can tell from the rating that I don't hate this season. There is stuff I like in it. Problem is, I'd argue that only the last quarter of the season's run is really interesting, but it soon plateaus. While it's better than Season 3, it's a pale imitation of the show's first two seasons, and comes short when compared to season 4. As I said, I feel this is an attempt at getting "back to basics," but it doesn't do enough new with its premise to make a "back to basics" approach interesting. In a way, the best new character is arguably Talia al'Ghul...because Lexa Doig tends to be awesome in whatever she's in, and "evil sexy British accent" Talia is a fun Talia to interact with, however briefly. Come to think of it, why isn't SHE the antagonist? At least we actually saw Oliver kill Ra's, whereas Chase's daddy has to be retroactively introduced. Heck, even Evelynn would be a more interesting core antagonist. But no, we have Adrian "Prometheus always ahead of you" Chase.

Anyway, rant over. I'll be posting my thoughts on Season 1 of The 100 soon, and unless the season finale take a U-turn, I'll have far more positive things to say about that. So, um, yay.
 

Groxnax

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Aggretsuko on Netflix

The main character may be a cute little red panda but when she gets stressed or angry she vents it via Death Metal.

The thing that surprised me was that it was created by the same group that created Hello Kitty.
 

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The 100: Season 1 (4/5)

Alright, funny story. When The 100 was about to come out, I remember people hating it. As in, not only was this a show primarily dealing with under 18s, but said under 18s looked quite well dressed for being sent to an Earth where a nuclear war destroyed civilization 97 years ago. When the show was actually released, it turned out that being well dressed only lasted for about 1-2 episodes, and it turned out to be quite good...or at least that's what people said, I never got to find out myself until recently. Years after the first season debuted, and years after I learnt through library work that this was actually based on a YA novel series. So, having actually watched the first season, is this show good?

Yeah, pretty much.

That's not to say it's perfect mind you. These are still teenagers on a CW show, which means that the teenagers are going to do teenage things, usually at the end of an episode, and usually with soft music playing in the background. There's also the character of Octavia, who shacks up with three guys over the course of the first season, including a Grounder that has the hots for her, if not so much her people. So, are her actions do to her repressed upbringing, being forced to hide on a spaceship that has a 1 child policy, cut off from outside contact? Or is it because sex sells?

Good question. The answer is yes.

That said, this doesn't happen too often, and while there is a love triangle of sorts with Clarke-Finn-Raven, it never feels too obtrusive to the story, which despite the dramas, is still primarily based around survival on a world that despite expectations, does have human populations who survived the apocalypse, who want to kill the 100 in various, nasty ways. Which means that considering that the 100 landed with 100 (technically 101) prisoners, that's plenty of cannon fodder to be killed off in various ways.

So, there's that. What isn't discussed as often is the story that's going on in the Ark, as the people there have to deal with the space colony giving out, and intercine strife breaking out as well. In a way, I kind of find the Ark narrative more interesting, but both complement each other quite well. What also complements each other is the character arcs of Bellamy and Kane - both are set up on the ground/in space as characters you're meant to hate, with Bellamy taking the 100 down a Lord of the Flies route (no rules, do whatever we want, etc.), and Kane being a stickler for the rules who's quite happy to float people who break them. By the end of the season, Bellamy's been driven by need (the Grounders) to actually rise up to be a good leader, one who's willing to do whatever it takes to keep the 100 safe (bearing in mind that he's the oldest, and these are teenagers who are fighting for their lives) and Kane...well, Kane might be my favorite character on the show (or at least, he's my favorite on the Ark). He goes from basically a heartless drone to someone who does have heartbreaking moments and layers to him. He's set up from the start as someone who you're meant to hate, and by the end, someone who you can't help but root for and sympathize with. Not every character gets the same level of character development (really feel like Wells get's shafted - doesn't help that Clarke seems to forget about him immediately after he dies, despite them being childhood friends, and Diana Sydney should have been introduced much earlier IMO), and I have to question why being on Earth doesn't kill the 100 immediately (they've lived on a spaceship all their lives, pathogens should kill them pretty quickly), but well, can't get everything right. I already have to accept that the apocalypse created giant snakes, two-headed deer, and blue glowing butterflies, so hey, go figure.

So, all in all, very solid first season.
 

Kendritch

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Finally finished season 4 of Gintama. Unlike the other anime I've completed over the past few weeks, I won't be writing a review for it because I had this season on hold for a long time, before jumping back in in the middle of the Shogun arc, so my memory of half the season is fuzzy, and therefore, I won't be able to write a very accurate review.

I'll say this though: when I put it on hold back then, I had initially thought that it's just the usual hijinks as per usual, even when I started watching the Shogun arc. But of course, I was wrong. Things do feel like they are coming to an end with Gintama. Lots of significant plot-development can be found here in the final two story arcs, and boy, are they amazing. Gintama remains as the prime example of shounen anime done right. It embodies everything awesome about shounen anime and that hot-blooded spirit in keeping your chivalry alive.

Definitely can't wait to get started on the next season.

9/10
 

bartholen_v1legacy

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Binged most of Jessica Jones season 2 today, all the way to the end, because damn those cliffhangers.

I have to say this season took some very unexpected and strange turns. In a good way. But even talking about what makes this season special requires spoiling vital plot points, so in non-spoiler summation: It's really good. Not as good as the first season since David Tennant is no longer present, but the acting, characters and story remain great. Hogarth's plotline feels a bit out of place and crowbarred in, like the writers were desperate to give her something to do. Also, JJ should rename her firm to Alienation investigations, because that's what she spends most of the season doing. The season also feels a bit stretched with 13 episodes. 10 would have been perfectly enough, with 13 the material feels a bit stretched, and a couple of subplots seem thrown in just to pad the runtime.

The thing I appreciate most about this season, especially considering its ties to the MCU, was the decision to not have a villain. What initially seems like a rather typical "taking down the sinister corporation" type thing turns into an incredibly twisted family drama and later a manhunt story. The story was really well written in how you see and understand everyone's perspective, and really can't pick a side. Just like how there's no villain, neither is there a good guy: many of the characters move through multiple shades of grey during the season, whether with Karl's well-intended but catastrophically botched experiments, Hogarth's altruism getting rewarded with betrayal, and her repaying with utterly ruthless manipulation, or Jessica's inability to keep even her small life together pushing her to harder and harder choices. There are a couple of dumb plot points, like Cheng trying to outright kill Alisa instead of reporting her to the authorities when he finds out where she is, or the warden being just a dick (I was sure the reveal would be that he was a friend of Cheng's, like the one Alisa kills, and Cheng uses this for his revenge).

The dynamic of Jessica having to choose between her two families was well written and believable. This is greatly helped by Alisa's writing, since she's genuinely smart, charming, caring; a person you'd like to hang out with. But she's also a superpowered, unstable, psychotic killing machine. I really felt for Jessica when she was unable to make a decision on the matter.
 

Ogoid

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Cobra Kai - 8/10

I've never really been all that big on Karate Kid (though far be it from me to dispute its status as an 80's classic) and I'm usually very suspicious of long-after-the-fact sequels... but hot damn, this was an awesome show. As self-aware as it is unapologetically nostalgic, as nuanced in its characterizations and plot as it shamelessly engages in some good old 1980's formulaic cheese, this is a love letter to the original... and it shows.
 

Hawki

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Shirley Valentine (5/5)

I debated whether this should be a 4/5 or a 5/5 - you could say it's a 4.5, but I don't go for decimals in these reviews, so, after some thought, 5/5 it is.

Not to say it's perfect mind you. The play is divided into three acts, with the first two happening before intermission, and the third occurring after. The third is easily the weakest, which is something I've noticed with a lot of plays I've seen, that later acts are rarely superior than earlier ones. Whether that's down to writing or actor fatigue, I can't say, but the third act doesn't have the same 'punch' as its predecessors. Granted, this is a one-woman show, so by this stage, the style of delivery is established, as well as the themes, so act 3 is really the codifier.

Still, these are nitpicks. The play is exceptionally solid. It being solid is ultimately going to rely on its actress (the sole character really), who has to mimic numerous other characters, but in this case, she does it expertly, conveying emotions ranging from humour, to melancholia, to everything in-between. So, on that note, excellent job.
 

Hawki

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The Flash: Season 3 (3/5)

Ask Arrowverse/Flash fans to rank the seasons of the Flash, and the consensus seems to be 1>2>3. Speaking personally, it's 2>1>3. But that aside, while 2 and 1 are almost interchangeable in terms of quality for me, season 3 is the weak link in the series. It's not the worst Arrowverse season out there (hello, Arrow: Season 3), but it's probably the second worst. And while I don't agree with some of the criticisms labeled against this season (Barry being sad...gee, I wonder why? It's almost as if the season focuses on the question as to whether Iris's death can be averted, and for most of the time, there doesn't seem to be any way to change said future), there are issues I have with it, namely:

-The Flaspoint timeline doesn't last nearly long enough, and raises a heap of questions (Thawne apparently still has his speed after the incident, so shouldn't that invalidate him ever giving Barry powers in the first place?)

-Minor point, but it seems The Flash is going the same way as Dragonball Z did, with Wally and Jesse equaling Barry's speed in a fraction of the time it took for him to get as fast as he is. This doesn't bother me as much as Z, but it's still noticeable.

-So, the premise of this season...I kinda like it. Mostly. While we've got yet another evil speedster as our series antagonist, I at least like the angle it initially goes for - Savitar will kill Iris in 3 months time, cue questions as to whether the future is set or not. To avert the future, the team takes note of news headlines in the future, and seek to alter events. So, fair enough, you've got me. That's an angle the series hasn't gone for before, even if it has dealt with time travel before, including pre-destination paradox/casual loops. So, what's the issue?

-Part of the issue is that this idea barely carries enough momentum to justify a season. The 'future aversion' idea starts off strong, but then falls into the background. There's a sub-plot of Barry training Wally to save Iris instead of him, but this is basically abandoned. Jesse Quick shows up, then goes, then comes, then goes, then...okay, she doesn't really add anything to this season. And Savitar kind of fluctuates between being OP early on, and not OP later. And I bring them up because in seasons 1 and 2, Reverse-Flash and Zoom were shown to be faster than Barry initially, and you can chart his progress in coming to match their speed. Here, there's no sense of buildup. Paradoxically, Savitar seems less powerful after being released from the Speed Force.

-Speaking of the Speed Force, that stuff where Barry goes into it to rescue Wally...no. Just no. It worked in season 2, it doesn't work here. While I get what the writers were going for, it feels like a hollow imitation of what Season 2 did. Plus, the re-use of sets - apparently the Speed Force just likes mimicking CCPD, because even the time-space continuum has a budget.

-Speaking of the time-space continuum, this is the season where any consistency in the rules of time travel is gone - heck, this is even kind of addressed, where it's said "the more you [Barry] travel through time, the less the laws [of time travel] apply to you." And, yeah, that kinda covers it. Eddie's sacrifice in season 1 is well and truly pointless by now, but the season seems to want to have it both ways. Sometimes changing history creates an alternate timeline, sometimes it doesn't. Savitar owes his existence to a temporal loop, but that loop can be broken fairly easily apparently through H.R.'s sacrifice. When Barry travels into the future, but changes his present, does that future still exist as an alternate timeline, or is it negated, because if so, when he meets his future self, it kind of renders the arc of that episode moot. Normally I wouldn't complain too much, but the season is focusing so much on the time travel element, it's impossible to ignore.

There's other pros and cons, but if I had to describe this season in one word, it would be "floundering." It toys with numerous ideas, of fate vs. determination, but it never really delivers on any of them.
 
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Netflix's The Punisher. I'm not sure I liked it, not really.

The Netflix Marvel shows started off so great. Daredevil was revelatory, doing something totally new to the MCU, and was executed very well. Jessica Jones was just terrific, and Luke Cage, once it got going, was also great (until the somewhat disappointing ending). But DD season 2 had major problems, Iron Fist was a dud, and The Defenders ended up feeling like a huge waste of time. And into this slump comes The Punisher.

Now, while DD season 2 was a very mixed bag, by far the best out of that bag was Frank Castle. The first 4 episodes of the season were some of the best in the Netflix canon, when Punisher is running amok and clashing with Daredevil, both physically and idealogically. And really, I love John Bernthal. I really liked him on The Walking Dead, I was sad he left the show so soon. And he was cast perfectly to play Frank Castle, he's the right combination of imposing physical presence and sympathetic humanity, and he's a brilliant actor. I loved his story in Daredevil. But I'm more iffy on his arc in his own show.

He's less a tortured anti-(very anti)hero and more a kill-crazy asshole. He's more of a dick just to be a dick, to be edgy I guess. I'm not sure why, but the sympathy I had for him in Daredevil as a man so damaged by war and grief that he took the most violent path to exorcise his demons is mostly gone, and now he feels more like a guy who, yes, has lost everything important to him and wants vengeance, but is also very blas? about ending lives. Before, he killed in a fury of agonized passion, but now he's cold and methodical about it. It's just less sympathetic and offers less catharsis to see the bad guys die, and is more worrisome and needlessly gruesome. It may be a small difference, but makes a big impact on how I viewed the show.

Also, how much freaking punishment can he take? I know he's a comic book character, and he's supposed to be a total beast of a man, but my god, he was taking beatings that would cripple an ordinary person and getting right up the next day and going at it again. Immunity to pain is one thing, but by the end his internal organs should have been one big blob of jello.

There's also a major character and plot thread that serves no actual purpose that I can see. Maybe it was about adding a layer to the show's themes, but if it had been removed entirely the plot would hardly be affected. Overall, I am rather disappointed. It's not a bad show, better than Iron Fist and Daredevil season 2, there is a lot I like about it. But after all that promise in DD, the Punisher's first solo outing is less than I expected.
 

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Parks and Recreation: Season 3 (4/5)

So, haven't discussed this before (I think), but I quite like P&R. The how's and why's are something I'll skip, and I'll focus on this season in particular. So, first question is, "is it good?" And, well, yeah. It is. Granted, I think Season 1 is good as well (I know that's not a popular opinion), but it's Season 2 when the show came into its own for me. Season 3 is effectively more of the same, even if it does dump the whole "we need to build a park" plot point. TBH, there isn't really any core narrative thread in this season, it's more character focused...kind of. As in, there isn't one core character trajectory (except maybe the LesliexBen thing), but the characters generally go places, either in strides or in steps.

Most of the time I like that. Ben might be my favorite character right now, by virtue of being the "straight man" character - the 'normal' character in the sea of insanity. I think the show kind of tried that with Mark in the first two seasons, but Ben is the concept done much better, if only because he does have a character trajectory, and plenty of baggage to go with it. Anne feels better integrated into the plot now, whereas previous seasons kind of went in a "yeah, she's a nurse, but she's at Town Hall a lot of the time because...reasons." Also, while not exactly character growth, I think this season is great for Ron, in as much how his character gets explored. Course, Ron "Fucking" Swanson is awesome regardless, but it makes his paradox work - he's a hardline libertarian that dislikes government, but we see quite a few times that he's still very erudite, and understands how to get the most out of people that work under him. Not that previous seasons didn't do this (even season 1 to an extent), but it feels the most pronounced here. He works for me where April doesn't because...okay, I really dislike April at this point. The whole "I hate/don't care about anything/everything" schtick is really getting old now. Andy at least had some character growth up to this point, but at this point it feels like he's getting dragged down with her. I think April bugs me because she hits close to home - I know what it's like to work with people like her. Ron is apathetic about government, but there's at least an in-universe reason for him to be there. With April, there isn't. Even Tom is still likable to some extent. And Jerry...am I the only one who feels uncomfortable about how everyone picks on him? I mean, part of it is funny, and I do smirk, but I can't help but be reminded that this is actual office bullying. Mark, in a rare moment of character depth, did point this out in season 2, but it's still going on here.

So that's season 3. More character focused than season 2, but doesn't really have a core plot. Being character focused, it has higher highs than season 2, but also lower lows. So, can't say right now if it's better than season 2, but it's still a solid net positive nonetheless. Pawnee's still crazy, but is endearingly crazy.
 

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Supergirl: Season 2 (3/5)

This season is weird to talk about.

Not so much weird in terms of content (well, no more weird than you'd usually expect from a Superman mythos series), but that its strengths mostly come from lack of superhero stuff, while its weaknesses come at least in part from the superhero stuff.

So, let's start where this season falls flat, and let's start with politics. Now, before you say anything, I don't support the idea that art should be free of politics. If that was true, works like 1984, Brave New World, or heck, even Lord of the Flies, would never exist. The idea that's creeped up in recent times that socio-political issues shouldn't be in fiction of any kind is rediculous, to the point where people are identifying political stances where they're not even there. But make no mistake, Supergirl Season 2 is trying to be political. Problem is, it doesn't do a very good job with it.

First up on the politics agenda is immigration, or more accurately, refugees. Supergirl Season 2 (hence referred to as SS2) wants to draw parallels between aliens coming to Earth (who all speak perfect English, and most of whom are phenotypically identical to humans) and refugees in the real world. Okay, fair enough, sounds interesting. Problem is, it doesn't go beyond the stance of "aliens are fleeing war-torn planets, they should come here." That's...really it. It doesn't really examine this in any form. It doesn't go beyond "let them in." It's not exactly preaching, but if you're going to tackle a subject like refugees or illegal immigration, I'd like to see a bit more finesse to it. A bit more 'meat. Heck, even SS1 addressed it better, with Kara pointing out that yes, she is technically a refugee, and had to spend most of her life fitting into human society at the cost of her own nature as a walking solar powered alien (don't ask, the mechanics of kryptonians in this series make little sense - at least MoS gave a reason why kryptonians wouldn't just move to a yellow sun because "hey, superpowers!"). Thing is, the daxomites (which invade at the end of the season) are technically refugees as well, but the series can't (or won't) address this paradox. Not everyone who flees to the West is going to cause trouble, but some are. Either extreme is counter-productive, but the show can't/won't address this. Which would be fine, if it didn't try to bring it up in the first place.

The issue of politics extended to its post-Trump era. The president (who's also an alien refugee) is very much a stand-in for Hilary Clinton, or at least, a stand-in for "not Trump." And while I'm not going to bemoan a series for not liking Trump, the series doesn't do much to engender me to this president. Who's an alien refugee who signs a law giving citizenship to every other alien refugee (not bad in of itself, but no-one mentions the potential conflict of interest). Also, when the daxamites invade, her plan is to fly in Air Force One TOWARDS the invading aliens, leaving Kara to exclaim "I'm so glad I voted for her!" Kara, this isn't brave, this is stupid, and considering that Air Force One and its two escort fighters are destroyed, and the president survives only because she's an alien, and Cat Grant (who's still awesome) is saved by Supergirl...yeah. Leader of the free world everybody. That said, there is a good example of post-Trump material working, where, paraprhased, Rhea refers to "restoring Daxom to greatness," with Mon-El (near the end of his character arc at this point) commenting darkly "Daxom was never great," an assertion that, given what we know of Daxom at this point, is probably true, least as far as morality goes. If you want to see this as a reference to Trump, you can, but the line and its context works without the analogy.

Oh, and remember that daxamite invasion? Well, apparently they're hyper-sensitive to lead, so they're defeated by seeding the atmosphere with lead that will make the daxomites leave, but not do any harm to human life. Um, okay...if daxamites are so sensitive to lead, wouldn't just being on Earth be an issue due to background lead? And considering how deadly lead can be to humans (and animals) as well, I'm skeptical that seeding the atmosphere with lead is going to have no reprecussions. I mean, this is a setting where any actual science is pretty much non-existent, but this kind of goes above and beyond. Also, if daxamites are also powered by a yellow sun, shouldn't the armoured daxamites in the street just take off their armour and start kicking arse and taking names?

Oh, and there's the feminist angle..sort of. I mean, season 1 had a woman exclaim "finally, a hero my girls can look up to" (lady, you have Superman in this world, are you saying they can't look up to him because he's male), and there's nothing as bad as that here. Usually the show doesn't really draw attention to the 'gender thing,' but when it does, it feels cringeworthy. Not enough to sink it, but it's noticable.

So, alright then. Sounds like the season is pretty bad then. Except it isn't. Because the weird thing about this season is that it's good in ways that aren't inherent to its genre. I mean, there are examples - I think they did a great job with Superman for instance, both in personality and in his beatdown with Supergirl - but what this season is really good at is character relationships. KaraxMon-El, J'onn x Megan, WinnxLyra, MaggiexAlex. The Arrowverse is usually reasonably good with its character relationships, but here, every one of them manages to work. Work, as in, feel natural, to the point that when things go right or wrong, I'm invested. I think part of the reason why this works is that the show has a far more relaxed approach to continuity. Every other Arrowverse season I've seen has always had a central villain. That's not to say those seasons lack other villains, but without exception, you could always identify the "big bad." SS1 had this with Astra and Non. SS2 doesn't really have this. There's two main villains (Cadmus and Rhea), but neither of them really takes centre stage. Cadmus waxes and wanes in its presence, Rhea doesn't appear on-screen until the last quarter of the season. However, this isn't a bad thing. SS2 is able to go at its own pace and do its own thing because of the lack of any overarching thread. That's not to say its episodes lack continuity, but weirdly enough, I feel the lack of a central plot...actually kinda helps.

It also helps that the show feels more confident, if that makes sense. it makes the mistake of adding in more superheroes (James Olson becoming Guardian is "whyyy?!" material), but, it works. It works, by virtue of being normal. Its flaws are present, but its strengths lie in doing its own thing, at its own pace, and doing it well. So, um, yeah. Well done, SS2. You make mistakes, but most of you is solid.
 

Ogoid

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La casa de papel - 8/10

I remember thinking, going into this one, "surely something else is going to happen... they can't possibly stretch a single heist into a 20+ hour series".

As it turned out, not only they could, I'd be hooked from start to finish.

That's not to say it was without its hiccups and warts (cliffhanger fakeouts and characters flipping on their most basic motivations for plot convenience - particularly at the last few episodes), but all in all, my hat's frankly off for this one. Great characters, fantastic performances, gorgeous locations.

This was an amazing show.
 

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​Marjorie Prime (3/5)


In case you're wondering, I'm reviewing the stage play, not the movie. If anything, I think this play would actually work better as a movie because it would be better able to convey the effects required (e.g. holograms). Doesn't help that this is apparently around the year 2050 and if we take out the concept of the "primes," the world seems to be pretty similar to the world we have today, ranging from technology to the state of the world. If anything, I will admit this put me off, because I can't imagine the world of 2050 to be as normal (or stable) as it is depicted here. Then again, as far as I'm aware this was the playright's intention. so I can't really fault the work for this.

Thing is, this is the kind of story I should like more than I do, as it deals with questions of artificial intelligence and memory. Questions that would usually be my jam, yet for whatever reason, don't work as well for me here. The lack of worldbuilding can account for this to a small extent, but by no means is it sufficient to account for it by itself. It could be that I've seen this kind of story explored before (nature of memory, and much it accounts for what makes you "you," along with questions of how 'real' artificial intelligence can be, and whether it's condusive to engage in conversation of simaculums of people long dead), but it's not as if these questions are explored poorly in of themselves in this story. It's just...average. No more, no less.
 

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Falling Skies: Season 1 (3/5)

If I had to sum up this season in one word, it would be "meh."

You're probably used to that, but more than any other show I've seen recently, "meh" is truly emblematic of this show (or season at least). It doesn't really do anything particularly wrong, but nor does it do anything particularly right. It's an alien invasion scenario that doesn't really have any original twist going for it, and what it does do has been done elsewhere and done better. That being said, it does leave me with a lot of stuff to talk about.

Thing is, if I didn't know better, I'd have assumed this was Season 2, not Season 1. Now granted, there is a prequel comic series that I read years ago (and barely remember), but given how this season operates, it's kind of surreal in how it presents its material and context. Specifically, the timeframe is set nine months after aliens invaded Earth, knocking out high-level technology, and eliminating 90% of the world's population (turns out they're not nearly as good at wiping out the remaining 10%). So, fair enough, a story doesn't need to start at the outset of the apocalypse. I mean, the Walking Dead gets its proper start months after the collapse of civilization for instance. However, there's a number of things that apparently happened post-invasion, namely:

1) The protagonist was a history teacher, but now becomes the second in command of the 2nd Mass (one of a number of resistance groups)

2) His eldest son goes from high school student to soldier (or "fighter" as they keep being called)

3) His second oldest son was captured and harnessed (made an alien slave basically)

4) His wife was cheating on him with a fellow alumni (who turns up later)

5) The family spent months scourging before joining the 2nd Mass

6) Some point after joining 2nd Mass, his oldest son strikes up a 'thing' with another Resistance member, but by the start of the series, is in a sort of love triangle with another member.

Now, I don't know about you, but that sounds like enough material for a seasons of its own right. And while plenty of protagonists have backstories that aren't directly depicted in fiction, I feel this is to the series' detriment, in that it doesn't really spend time introducing characters per se, you just have to get to know them very quickly. Also, I have to just accept it at face value that normal people can become soldiers. Off-screen. I'd have thought this would be something you'd actually show, given that it's instrumental to character development (in theory), but shows what I know. And likewise, when our protagonist confronts his colleague over the affair with his wife, this doesn't mean anything because we've seen neither wife nor colleague up to this point. The protagonist might be aggrieved, but I can't mourn a character that I've never seen, and has barely been mentioned up to this point. Show, don't tell.

So, moving on, this series is really melodramatic. It seems every little thing the protagonists do has to have some swirling melody behind it. A melody that's used over, and over, and over. The series also touches on the idea of people becoming outlaws in the breakdown of society, or luring people in with false promises of paradise, but it doesn't really examine them. Y'know how I mentioned the Walking Dead? Having seen the first five seasons of Walking Dead, this show really feels prototypical in a number of ways, from our everyman turned leader, to "country hick that we're meant to warm up to." Only it doesn't do it nearly as well. Oh, and the ending is utter bollocks. I had to check myself to not rank this lower based on last impressions of "seriously? No, wait, SERIOUSLY?!"

I can see glimmers of potential here, but they're faint glimmers at that. Alien invasion material wasn't new when this show aired, it certainly isn't new now. And the show doesn't really do anything particularly special to endear me to it. An average plot with average characters with average effects leaves me with the impression of things being...average. Go figure.
 

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Darling in the FRANXX (2/5) -

This series had an interesting start and nice things going for it....until the second half turned into a pretentious mess that lost a lot of what it built upon.
 

Kyrian007

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Luke Cage season 2: I liked it, I just wish I liked it more. Season 1 kind of died halfway through when its up till then villain did. That problem was evident through the entirety of season 2. It seemed the "villain" changed every 1.5 episodes, or changed back. And holy crap did they overuse the whole Oddcouple "team up with the bad guy" trope. It seemed like every single episode they had Luke fighting alongside some previously established enemy.

And the ending... I'll spoil in tags, but if you aren't going to spoil it I'll just say they didn't earn the ending they went for.
Ok, they went with "The Godfather" ending. Now Luke is the mob boss in control of Harlem. And many of the side characters on his side are turning against him, worried that he's a bad guy now. NO, NO HE ISN'T. They didn't build that at all into the narrative! He's consistently held back, kept within his own moral framework (if not complete legality), basically he has remained the white-hat hero of the piece. There is no good reason his former friends should be scared of what he is doing. He isn't "doing business" with the other crime bosses. He made a deal with them, "don't come into Harlem or I'll find you and beat the shit out of you, and you can't stop me from doing it." That isn't helping anyplace that isn't Harlem... but Harlem is his sphere of responsibility and he's driven the crime from it. HE's STILL THE HERO. They didn't earn that ending at all. It just makes all of the friendly side characters look like complete assholes for not trusting Luke.

Still, good music, good atmosphere, interesting side character arcs, decent action. It just could have been a lot better with a solid villain and a completely different ending.


Under the Dome season 2: The series started with real promise. More and more of it being wasted every episode I watch. That's why it took so long for me to watch the second season. And by the end of the second season, there isn't much left. That's the problem with these "mystery" style series. For every question you answer they have to pose another question to keep the suspense going. And with every new mystery the story goes further and further off the rails. It works in an episodic monster of the week style show because they kind of reset every episode, but it is just a trainwreck when you try and do that over long arcs. The characters still generally react in the worst possible manner to every challenge they face and it ends on a big plot twist I have seen coming since the first episode. I doubt I'll be back for season 3 even though 2 ends on a huge cliffhanger.

Tsugumomo and Myriad Colors Phantom World: Its funny I watched these 2 series back to back. They are basically the same from start to finish. I was seriously getting one confused with the other. I'm not sure I really want any more than 1 season of either actually. I didn't hate either one, but mostly because neither generated enough interest from me to care enough to hate.

Natemans said:
Darling in the FRANXX (2/5) -

This series had an interesting start and nice things going for it....until the second half turned into a pretentious mess that lost a lot of what it built upon.
I'm actually moving on to this soon. I hate to say it but your recommendation may have been a bit of a mark in its favor. I generally like things people say get pretentious.
 

Hawki

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Unqualified (4/5)

After seeing this play, and asked what I thought about it, I gave the answer that it was "good, but with caveats." In that, my appraisal of less enthusiastic than those around me. Since then, while I stand by that assertion, make no mistake, it's certainly still "good."

So, this play is a comedy, and the premise behind it is quite ingenious. Two women of very different socio-economic backgrounds meet at Centrelink, and unable to secure employment, decide to set up their own employment agency. Thing is, before they can get their website up, they're already getting requests. So, they have to do a variety of jobs - in essence, they're leasing out employment to themselves. Employment that they're often grossly underqualified for. What results is effectively a series of skits, ranging from wedding catering, to daycare, to lectures at a university. There's ongoing plots as well, as both have to deal with their personal dramas, but the main focus is on the skits themselves. And as skits go, they're downright hilarious.

Like I said, it does have caveats, and that's how it ends. Throughout the play, we see how the two of them are getting more frayed, as their personalities clash. What's more, the play starts with Centrelink staff (note that it's just the two actresses, so they have to fill in for side characters at the drop of a hat, and do so excellently) asserting that they have no skills, yet over the course of the play, we see that they do, they just don't seem to realize it. Now, you'd expect that this would culminate in them realizing that they can easily make it in the workforce (might need official qualifications, granted), but this doesn't happen. However, this isn't a subversion, the idea just feels dropped. Likewise, the penultimate scene is the two of them finally coming to verbal bows as their frustrations with their lives and each other come to a head...which might have more impact if the actual final scene didn't show them making up and staying in the 'business,' said business still being employing themselves effectively. I'll be frank, the ending doesn't land that well for me.

Another tidbit, when scene transitions occur, there's off-tune singing of 'The Magic Flute,' that for me, got really annoying. Reportedly, the singer is Florence Foster Jenkins (look her up), and the choice was meant to symbolize that one shouldn't give up on their dream, even if they're not qualified for it. Nice idea, but the play itself didn't make that apparent for me, and I'm not sure how it would be apparent for anyone else.

But all that aside, the play was still a barrel of laughs, and I had great fun with it. So, 4/5 and all that. Despite the play's title, it certainly is, ahem, "qualified."
 

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Sonic Mania Adventures (4/5)

Is it possible to think that something is both "good" but "overrated?' Bear in mind that I try to avoid using that latter term, so I'll elaborate - while I think Sonic Mania Adventures (which I'm only commenting on now as it's just concluded, despite watching each episode as it comes out over the last few months) is good, that endorsement doesn't go as far as some others have gone, including game websites like Polygon. The idea that this is not only the best Sonic animated series, but the only good one period. Suffice to say, I disagree with both of those assessments. Out of the six animated Sonic series, I'd give this the #4 position. If further seasons are released that could go up, but at the end of the day, this is a series of five webisodes. That's hardly enough to dethrone the heavy hitters of the Sonic multiverse.

But that aside, I still quite like this series. The plot is extremely simple, but it's a simplicity that works, in conjunction with the style of animation and the lack of any actual dialogue, with character interactions and moods being conveyed entirely through actions/body language. While I don't think this automatically makes it the best Sonic series (despite the claims I listed above), it's easily the 'truest' Sonic series, at least in the sense that it's the only one that doesn't take place in its own continuity (outside Sonic Boom, but that's still not part of the main games continuity), and emulates the feeling of the classic games the most. I'll also point out that it works quite well with a comedy - good slapstick and all that.

So, all in all, this is a good series. I'd certainly love to see more of these shorts. While I don't think it's the best thing since sliced bread, I certainly had fun watching these.
 

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Final Space 4/5

On Netflix

This show was created by the guys who did Rick and Morty but it is nothing like it.

It has humor but it will (probably) kick your butt emotionally.

They did so much crazy and impressive stuff on it that it will make you wonder how they will do season 2.
 

Hawki

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Parks and Recreation: Season 4 (4/5)

When I left my review for PaR Season 3, I was hesitant as to whether I could call it superior to Season 2. In hindsight, I'd say that the order of quality is definitely Season 3>2>1. I feel that Season 3 is where the show definitely hits its stride, in that not only does it get a good balance of both humour and heart, but it effectively 'rounds out' the cast by introducing us to Chris and Ben. At this point I'm obliged to say "sorry Mark, but I don't miss you right now." Actually, I don't think I ever did.

The reason I bring this up is that I find my self in a similar situation - season 4 is good, no doubt, but I'm left to ask as to whether it's better than season 3. In regards to that, it's a hard choice, as I feel that in comparison, this season has higher highs, but lower lows. Granted, that's all pretty high at this point, but let's look at things.

More than any season before it, this season probably has the most over-arching continuity, namely Leslie's bid for city council. While the first season (and IIRC, some of season 2) had the plot of converting the lot into a park, that fizzled out, and is background dressing compared to this. The season can roughly be divided into two halves here, the first half being her run with the professionals, who dump her when her approval rating drops to 1% after her affair with Ben comes out. The second half roughly corresponds to her getting back in the race with her co-workers behind her, which ends up including Ben. In this regard, it mostly succeeds...mostly. I feel that towards the second half, a number of elements feel underbaked. For instance, Leslie keeps saying how great a campaign manager Ben is, and while he does do a decent job, he's constantly outplayed by Bobby Newport's manager (more on him later). It's not that Ben does a bad job, it's just that when he's constantly outplayed, me being constantly told how great he is starts to ring a bit hollow.

When we're talking about the characters, they're mostly still knock-outs, but the characters I've always like the least are still the ones I like the least. Tom, for instance, still has moments of humanity/humility, even if he can be an annoying twerp when that isn't happening, not to mention that his relationship with Ann...no. Just no. Damn it Ann, you deserve better than this! Likewise, April and Andy. I will say that I find them less annoying than I did in season 3, in that they show signs of maturing, but they're still close to the bottom of the Parks Department staff for me. Thing is, the seasons seems to kind of fluctuate for both of them. For instance, Andy is shown that, for all his failings in other areas, to be a pretty good guitarist, at least when it comes to playing, and some flaws aside, composition as well. However, there's no great revelation, instead, he takes a women's studies course (which doesn't amount to anything in terms of plot or character development), and seems set to apply for a police job by the end of the season (which, currently watching season 4, I can tell that he does, at least initially). Likewise, April does have moments of humanity and intelligence, but they're scattered throughout the season.

These characters aside, the ones that have previously been solid remain solid. Chris is a joy, but he's shown to have far more layers than his perpetually happy demenour would suggest. Ron and Leslie are solid as well. Remember how I mentioned that this season has higher highs? The relationship between them is gold. It's a platonic relationship, but while Ron is shown to have many quirks, he's clearly an intelligent individual. Same with Leslie. Think that's why they complement each other so well. While these moments aren't exclusive to season 4, the feels keep coming. As for the characters (Donna, Jerry, etc.)...well, they're there. They're fine. It's certainly one of those highs to see them all rally behind Leslie after her prior campaign team abandons her.

Which brings us at last to the crux of the season, namely Leslie's bid for council position. I have mixed, but mostly positive feelings about this. I've already mentioned the issue I have with Ben, even if he remains likable. The other issue is that of Bobby Newport. Now, the thing is, of the five candidates running for office (Leslie and Bobby included), Leslie's clearly the only one qualified. The other three (a porn star, an animal rights nut, a gun nut) are stereotypes, and hey, that's fine - Pawnee's a pretty insane town. However, the main race is between Leslie and Bobby, and that's true both in-universe and from a plot standpoint. Bobby is...mixed, for me. On one hand, I get what the show is demonstrating (it's kind of spelled out for us via Ben), that people will often vote for candidates based on their personality rather than their policies. Bobby has the "aw, shucks, I'm just a small town boy" routine down, but in terms of actual policy or goals, he has none. On the other hand, Bobby's dumb. Like, really dumb. Like, so dumb that I feel the season goes a bit too far with him. This hits hardest when in the penultimate episode his father dies, and he and Leslie have a moment, only for him to hijack what she said and try to use it to boost his election chances. This isn't an inherent flaw, but I feel it kind of undermined their previous moment of shared understanding.

Still, Leslie wins, even if it requires a recount (though if the margin is 24 votes, shouldn't there be a by-election between her and Bobby?), and she runs the emotional gamete over election night. Finally gets her picture on the office councilor war, being the first woman to do so (SJW or something, I dunno, I'm sure someone complained about this). Given that this was a stated aim of hers back in season 1, and by season 4, she's not only achieved said aim but has become much more fleshed out as a character, it's good to see her succeed, and the Parks staff celebrate with her.

So, yeah. Very good season. While it has some flaws, I do think it's the strongest season so far. Dunno if season 5 will top it. From what I've seen, people tend to rank the seasons of Parks & Rec like a bell curve, peaking in quality around mid-series, and being lowest at the start and the end. Might be downhill from here, but it's been a very pleasant trip uphill.
 

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Legends of Tomorrow: Season 1 (3/5)

Huh? What's that? The full title is "DC's Legends of Tomorrow?" Well, to you I say, "sod off." It ain't "DC's Arrow" or "DC's The Flash," so just because this show gets the special treatment in its title, it doesn't mean I have to go along with it. :p

Anyway, this show...well, at this point, I'm pretty disenchanted with the Arrowverse. The only "good" seasons I can name are Arrow Season 1, 2, and 4 (please don't kill me), but at this point, the 'essence' of the setting has moved so far away from Arrow Season 1/2, it hardly feels like the same setting anymore. Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 isn't doing anything to dissuade me from this. But that aside, watching LoT S1, the best way I can describe it is as an inferior version of Doctor Who. And lord knows that DW's been far from perfect in the Moffat era, but it still had standout episodes. It could be heartfelt, it could be intelligent, it could be both, and could be all these things while going to any place at any time. LoT is Doctor Who without the intelligence or the character depth, replaced by convoluted plot twists and action, action, and more action. And hey, action's fine, I enjoy action, but I can't escape the DW similarities, and feel like I'm watching a lesser creation. Heck, we even have Arthur Davrill being in both shows, along an organization called the Time Masters, with the crew inside a ship that's a mix of high technology and homely interior design, with a female persona behind said ship...yeah.

Funny thing is, I didn't really feel this way until the last few episodes. Up until then, I thought the show was pretty good...kind of. At the least, it solved a problem I've had with the other Arrowverse shows, and that's their need to make everyone a superhero. Supergirl is particularly egregious with this, what with the whole Guardian thing with James, and with The Flash, speedsters are a dime a dozen at this point, with three antagonist speeders, three protagonist speeders, and from what I understand, Iris becomes a speedster in season 4, because it's not as if journalists are worth the time of day or anything. And don't even get me started on Arrow Season 5...bleh. LoT, on the other hand, is at least honest with its intentions, in that it's team-based rather than named after a specific character, and the chemistry is pretty good between said characters. Doesn't help that the levels of ability vary wildly (Firestorm is OP, Snart and Mick are just guys with guns), but hey, it works. Mostly. Still, if the saying that a hero is only as good as their villain is true, then these heroes aren't very good because Vandal Savage has got to be the weakest Arrowverse main villain I've ever encountered. Doesn't help that he's only in the show for a fraction of it. Doesn't help that he comes off as creepy more than intimidating. Doesn't help that his motives don't seem to go beyond "I want to rule the world because I'm evil." Doesn't...well, you get the idea. Oh, and he's being sponsored by the Time Masters because they need him in charge to deal with an alien invasion in the future, despite the carnage he brings...a moral dilemma that our heroes completely ignore, because the Time Masters have been manipulating them (somehow), to aid Savage (why not use their own agents who are in on the plan?), and are destroyed by our heroes, because damn it, Savage is, like, bad, guys. Oh, and that alien invasion in the future that Savage will stand against? Never mentioned again. Never considered again. You're welcome people of the 2170s.

Also, another point, but for a show about time travel, the show doesn't really seem to care about consistency in regards to its rules. I mean, Rip states there's rules, but the protagonists seem to do whatever, whenever, however. Again, I point to Doctor Who, which could also be loose with its rules of time travel, but here...there are no rules. It doesn't even feel congruent with the Flash, which operates more on the basis that if history is changed, a new timeline is created (e.g. Flashpoint). Whereas here, there's one giant, amorphous timeline. I commented in my review of Season 3 of the Flash that the rules of time travel didn't make sense anymore, and this only adds to that feeling. And maybe I'm wasting my time trying to apply logic to time travel, but when your show insists that there are rules, and characters can apparently do anything to alter the timeline, it starts to grate on me.

So, that's Legends of Tomorrow. Cast of characters is nice, everything else is kind of lackluster. In my Arrowverse season ranking, it goes pretty near the bottom. I'm watching season 2 now, and, well, let's just say that my gripes haven't alleviated. It sucks that this universe started off so strong with Arrow, but has become this...thing. A thing that I saw a Tor article praise, labeling early Arrow as unwelcome anomalies. So while the TItans trailer still looks like drek, going to the other extreme doesn't make me feel any better.

But hey, Parks and Rec is still awesome. :(
 

Hawki

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Legends of Tomorrow: Season 2 (3/5)

I'd say that this is a bit better than season 1, paradoxically because there's less continuity. Season 1 was "stop Savage this, stop Savage that." Season 2 is more "let's stop time aberrations...oh, BTW, the Legion of Doom is doing bad stuff. So, stop them too or something." An exageration? Yeah, a bit. But paradoxically, the comparative lack of inter-episode continuity does actually help this season in my eyes. Partly because Savage was a weak villain, while the Thawne/Dhark/Merlyn trio is entertaining, if nothing else. I like how it's actually pointed out how OP speedsters actually are compared to...well, anyone. And of course, by this point, the rules of time travel in the Arrowverse make absolutely no sense now (reconcile LoT with The Flash - go on, try it), but that was true in season 1 as well, so I don't think I should hold it against this season too much. I think it also helps that we get a slightly better cast - evil!Rip is fun (cliche and hackneyed, but fun), Vixen is a more engaging character than Hawk Girl, Nate gets steel superpowers because...reasons. Yeah, I said it before and I'll say it again, the 'power levels' of these guys aren't exactly equal. It's silly for Batman to be on the Justice League, and the same principle applies here. Oh, and fun fact, the Battle of Somme actually had plenty of grass left and only a few dozen people engaging each other. Who knew?

So, is Legends of Tomorrow "good?" No, not really. I said it before and I'll say it again, it's a lesser version of Doctor Who, with action and lasers replacing intelligent concepts and dialogue. Not that DW has always succeeded here, but compared to LoT, while it's had lower lows, it's also had higher highs. Legends of Tomorrow is...average. It's fine. It's reasonably enjoyable, but I don't have any particular need to see more of it.
 

PsychedelicDiamond

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The Young Pope

A brilliant character study of a very complex character. Jude Law, here depicting Lenny Belardo, a cardinal in his late 40s who had been elected pope, is one of the most intriguing characters in current television. Belardo is a conservative, almost fundamentalist christian, very much at odds with the current real, relatively progressive pope but rather than portrying him as a raving extremists he's a thoughtful, complex and, in his own way, even relatable character going through a very interesting arc throughout the series. The Young Pope is the work of italian wunderkind Paolo Sorrentino, director of a great movie named La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) that won the Oscar for the best foreign film back in 2013 and he's certainly one of the giants of contemporary european film and television. With Young Pope he managed to create a series that everyone who has an interest in the Catholic Church, be it from a human perspective, a political perspective or a spiritual perspective, will find quite enlightening. It's vertainly among the best television of the past few years.
 

Canadamus Prime

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Dark Matter

It's an ok space show. The characters are interesting enough with a series of former criminal mercenaries who, because of losing their memories, are now trying to forge new identities for themselves and perhaps be somewhat decent people. Also they have a cool spaceship. One of the things that drives me nuts though is they won't give the android character a name, they just keep calling her "Android." Speaking of the android, the actress who plays her is no Brent Spiner although at some moments I get the impression that she's trying to be. Also does every sci-fi/space show have to do the groundhog day, time travel and alternate universe episodes? Is that written somewhere?
 

twistedmic

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Canadamus Prime said:
Dark Matter

Also does every sci-fi/space show have to do a groundhog day, time travel and alternate universe episodes? Is that written somewhere?
I believe so. Similar to how just about every sitcom will have a 'It's a Wonderful Life'/'I wish i had never been born' episode.
 

Hawki

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Canadamus Prime said:
One of the things that drives me nuts though is they won't give the android character a name, they just keep calling her "Android."
Only seen season 1, but isn't that kind of intentional (from a writing standpoint)? That the android is just a machine to them, even when she gets jealous of the second android they bring onboard?

Also does every sci-fi/space show have to do the groundhog day, time travel and alternate universe episodes? Is that written somewhere?
Every show? No. But Dark Matter shares writers with Stargate, which used all of the above tropes, so using them again (and others) isn't something that surprises me.
 

Natemans

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Disenchantment - 7/10


So far its gotten better as it goes along. It is a little rough around the edges at times especially in terms of structure, but I'm willing to see where it goes from here. I love Simpsons, but even I'm willing to admit season 1 is rough in some parts.

Though Futurama worked great from day 1 and built greatly from there.
 

madwarper

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Disenchantment - 5/10 One point for each not garbage episode.

Just skip the first 5 episodes. They're terrible. The jokes that made me laugh are far and few between, but at least the plot actually goes somewhere in the 2nd half of the "season".
 

Groxnax

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Disenchantment 7/10

I thought all the episodes were good and the characters were interesting.

The end of the season answered a few questions but created many more questions at the end of the season.
 

Trunkage

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Disenchantment 6/10

Just generally not funny. It's a fine story otherwise

Final Space 8/10

Is funnier than Rick and Morry and runs at a faster place (which is good and bad.) Has an actual season story rather than the meandering Rick and Morty does . Rick and Morty tries to be political and pushing you to be less judgmental while Final Space is far more black and white. (Which is good and bad too)
 

Kyrian007

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Disenchantment 3/10

I see the possibility of something entertaining here, but nothing that's worth watching now. The problem could be one of expectation (Futurama and The Simpsons being tough acts to follow) but a definite problem is not following formulas that MADE Futurama and Simpsons tough acts to follow. Just when I was getting an understanding of the characters and their place in the story and things were starting to get funnier, they make the tremendous mistake of turning from an episodic show into a long story arc show. Not that modern style story arc shows are always inferior to classic episodic shows (just mostly) but being episodic in nature was a part of what made Futurama and Simpsons so good. Its a better way of deconstructing their genre and a better platform for meta humor. Its basic premise needs work and isn't particularly original ("bad princess" being one of a couple of common ways to go with fantasy deconstruction.) Which isn't always a problem, but you have to go somewhere interesting or have a unique take on it to compensate... and Disenchantment really doesn't. There also isn't a character that "jumps out" as one I particularly like or find really funny, and (unfortunately going back to the comparison) Simpsons and Futurama had multiple characters that did so. Hell, I hate Mike Judge shows and even King of the Hill had one character I found really funny (Dale if you must know.)

And not wishing to spoil, so I won't,
now that they've gone full story-arc and blown up the whole status quo in the finale... they've undone nearly all the development they did in the pathetic handful of episodes they released. They killed an established main character, deconstructing an element of Game of Thrones... that Game of Thrones used to deconstruct traditional hero-centric fantasy. You run into diminishing returns deconstructing a deconstruction. Yes, they will magic themselves out of this in season 2 (I assume, I'll have to retract this if they don't) and there goes any real weight the death had in the first place. Its not as if Family Guy didn't already try this and find out it was a terrible idea.
They did so many things wrong that its really difficult for me to remember that there is real potential here. Narrowing the potential audience worked with sci-fi for Futurama, I have to believe it can with fantasy for Disenchantment. But they've got a hole to dig themselves out of after season 1. And so I can end on a positive note, there is without question enough talent working on Disenchantment to do just that.
 

Hawki

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The Widow Unplugged (2/5)

If you looked up this play, then looked up the reviews, then looked at the score above, you might be inclined to say "oh boy, here we go again, there's Hawki, being triggered like the SJW that he is." To which I say, "no, you reprobates, the second half that contains the Chinese skit is easily the stronger of the two halves of the play. It's just that it doesn't save it." Not that the skit is good, but, well, here we go...

As a one man play, written and performed by the same actor, it's hard to tell where the actor ends and the character begins. Here we have Arthur Kwick, a down on his luck actor living at a retirement home, keeping his rent by entertaining the guests and working as a janitor. His last hit was in 1969, and since then he's been down on his luck. So, fair enough, that has a lot of potential...

...only it's squandered in the first half as it meanders with no sense of direction. This kind of thing can be done well (saw Shirley Valentine this year as an example of this concept executed properly), but here, there's no real impetus. It ends with him having to do a pantomime from '69, which is about the only clear plot point we get in Act I. Everything other than that is character and backstory, but it's all over the place I found myself nodding off. Come Act II, well, not everyone who was there for Act I came back, I'll tell you that much.

Which is a bit of a shame as Act II does have a clear...er, direction, in that it's said pantomime, where he plays the Chinese Oriental stereotype in 60s Australia. Now, this isn't bad in of itself. What IS bad is that Act II has a drastic change in tone as it goes on, as it's revealed how our protagonist has early onset Alzeimers, and, well, isn't that happy - monologues about actors, applause, etc. While it's potentially heartfelt, again, it's far too scattershot to leave much impact. The Chinese oriental thing is one example. If it's a critique of political correctness, it doesn't work, because it's not critiquing anything. It doesn't go into any kind of depth, it's just "here's the skit, someone in the audience doesn't like it" (whose complaints don't even touch on political correctness). If it's trying to say "this kind of humour isn't funny anymore," that doesn't work either, because there's no real point of realization in the script either - again, it's too all over the place for that. You might say that it's being left to the audience to interpret, but I don't think so. I think the playright is trying to say something, but it needed to be streamlined a lot more. All I can say is that I've seen better one-character plays, and better comedies as well than this one.
 

Cycloptomese

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Castle Rock

I'm watching this as it comes out right now. It's based on a town established in Stephen King novels. The first several episodes are pretty slow but the music and atmosphere are such that it doesn't bother me, though some may be turned off by this. I think it's about halfway through right now and the episodes have been picking up pretty well. Last night's episode would normally piss me off. It was one of those deals where it focuses on one specific character and has no intention of resolving a cliff hanger set up at the end of last weeks episode. Somehow the episode managed to be good enough that I didn't care at all, and pretty much forgot all about that by about ten minutes in. I don't want to spoil anything, but they really did some super interesting shit with a character that has alzheimer's disease and I can't wait to see what kind of shenanigans they pull next.

Anyway, it's damn good if you're a Stephen King fan or any kind of slow burn horror fan.
 

McMarbles

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Disenchantment: 7/10 (so far, I'm only five episodes in and it's definitely showing improvement)

A perfectly enjoyable series that's getting shat on for not being what people expect it to be.
 

Hawki

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World of Warcraft: Warbringers (4/5)

This is arguably stretching things (in regards to whether a series of short webisodes can be considered a season to review), but I did review Sonic Mania Adventures earlier, so I suppose this counts. Anyway, unlike Mania Adventures, I have less to say about the overall piece (in part because of the lack of inter-episode continuity), but more about to say each individual episode. So, on that note:

-Jaina: The best of the bunch. Also the one that some people thought Blizzard was retconning Frozen Throne with, given the more favourable view it presents of Daelin Proudmoore in the more negative one of the orcs. Those people are...weird, to me, because it's pretty obvious (to me) that it's a Kul'Tiran sea shanty that's recounting their version of events. But that aside, everything about this short is top notch. The animation, the music, the theme, the atmosphere, etc. Course it does lead to Jaina having an OTT moment in the Siege of Lordaeron (flying ships! Magic cannons!), but in of itself, the shot is good.

-Sylvanas: The weakest of the three, but not by its own fault...mostly. Sylvanas has yet another flashback as to how Arthas killed her, and it's yet another take on events. Not utterly irreconcilable with Warcraft III, but the deviation is noticeable. But that aside, while the short is fine in of itself, it can't escape that Sylvanas is basically Garrosh 2.0 at this point, just replace Theramore with Teldrassil. And while there's been suggestions that it isn't 1:1, but so far these are just suggestions. And while this is keeping in character with Sylvanas at this point, the short can't escape the fact that it's covering old ground.

-Azshara: The middle child, even though Azshra is older than Jaina and Sylvanas combined. Anyway, this is pretty good. It has the unenviable task of having an Old God converse with Azshara directly, but also try and make it come off as all-powerful and unknowable. Like, I haven't read anything by Lovecraft, but I doubt C'thulu ever talked to a mortal directly. Still, Aszhsara isn't mortal, and it's done quite well. There's a kind of twisted irony that mere minutes/hours are being screwed over by Sargeras, she's making a pact with another devil, though is still assertive. So, it doesn't hit the same emotional highs as Jaina's short, but it's still solid all around.

So, yeah. All in all, good job. Guess we'll have to wait for the next expansion for these kinds of shorts, but they've all been pretty good so far. Wouldn't mind Blizzard's other IPs getting the same treatment (aside from Overwatch, which already does, and has more of a need for them due to the lack of in-game narrative), but I guess one has to take what they can get.
 

Hawki

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House of Cards: Season 5 (4/5)

While this season is "good," it's easily my least favourite HoC season I've seen. There's a few reasons for that. One, is that I saw seasons 1-4 in close proximity to each other, which meant there was a long gap between 4 and 5. Second, is the notion of "familiarity breeds contempt." If a show goes on for long enough, no matter how good it is, it's eventually going to lose some of the impact it once did. There's plenty of examples of this that I can name, and I think the same can be said for many others. However, beyond these first two reasons are some issues that I think are endemic to this season.

First is Conway. Now, in season 4, he was one of the season's highlights, in that while he could be ruthless, he still came off as a more honest candidate than Frank Underwood - a very low bar to surpass, but he did great as a natural foil. Here however, things get iffy. In the first half, it teases his military record, that he may have been lying about his actions in Iraq. This plot point is raised, teased, but never explored. Furthermore, when the election is thrown into limbo due to polling booths shutting down due to a 'terror threat,' he begins to lose it. There's hints that some of this might have to do with PTSD, but again, it never really explores this. So when Frank does win the presidency, he's just...gone. Has his last stabs at Frank, then isn't mentioned again. On the flipside, speaking of people disappearing, we've entered full-blown assassination territory, where Claire can get away with literal murder, and Frank can apparently order hits on one staff member, and push another down the stairs (not even killing her, so if she wakes up, what's his plan then)? I don't really get the sense of things being dialed up to eleven for shock value, but at this point, the show feels 'old.' Also doesn't help that given the constant scandals surrounding Frank's administration, it's a bit too close to my reality for my liking. If anything, Frank is the Democrat Donald Trump, only Trump hasn't actually murdered anyone (not to my knowledge at least).

So, show's still "good," but it's past its use-by date for me. If I had to rank the seasons right now, they'd go 1>4>2>3>5.
 

Hawki

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Parks and Recreation: Season 5 (4/5)

So, it's finally happened. I've had a PnR season that doesn't surpass the one before it. Looks like I'm on the descending end of the bell curve.

That's not to say the season's bad mind you - characters are still as engaging as ever (mostly). However, it does feel...underdone, compared to what's come before. Think of season 4, which had the running sub-plot of Leslie running for council. The groundwork for that was arguably laid as early as season 1, and outright teased at the end of season 3. Season 5 feels like the show's post-climax, especially after Leslie and Ben tie the knot. Because of what sub-plots the season does raise, they just run their course, but either don't go anywhere, or just peter out. As in:

-Jerry retires, and it's played mostly for laughs. The show's always walked a fine line in regards to making the bulleying of Jerry comedic, but if there was ever a time to call them out on this (outside season 2, in one of Mark's few contributions to the show), this was it...except nothing is learned. Jerry's called back in, just so Tom doesn't have to bear the brunt of their taunts.

-Ron gets romantically entagled with a new character, Diane. She's fine, and the plot's handled well, but it doesn't feature enough for my liking. It's the effect of coupling a tertiary character with a primary character, without changing the amount of screentime of the latter.

-Tom starts his own business...that actually succeeds. Yet he's still with the Parks n Rec Department, so, what gives? It kind of implies that he's splitting his hours between the two, but I'd like to remind you that last season had Ron tell Leslie that if you want something, you should focus on that thing and not try to divide your time. Yet for Tom, it works. If anything, it kind of reminds me of Anne, how the show had to justify (or not) her constant presence despite not being a government employee. Only here, it's that same problem, but in reverse. Oh, and Tom gets entangled with Mona Lisa, who's somehow even more obnoxious than April was in earlier seasons. Apparently she and Jean are some of the most loved characters in the show, but like early April, I don't get why. Jean's obnoxious, and Mona Lisa's even more so (though at least the show kind of acknowledges that).

-Speaking of April, she's fine. Andy's...fine. He goes for his police exam, fails, gets depressed, then works for Ben, then isn't depressed. Um...yay?

-Ann decides to have a baby (which is handled well). She requests Chris to be the sperm donor (which is handled well). This leading to them getting back together...sorta...somehow? Very clunky. It just sort of...happens, and not in the good way.

-Leslie's stuff is good in that as a member of council, she has to negotiate the civic and political hurdles that come her way. And...yeah, that's good, overall. Jamm isn't the most in-depth antagonist in series history, and Leslie's race for office was far more engaging, but it does provide a good counterpoint to Leslie's optimism and work ethic. As Ron points out, there's going to be a lot of people like Jamm that Leslie encounters. And speaking of Ron (separate from Dianne), I think their dynamic is still the strongest in the show. As wacky as Ron can seem, he's still an erudite individual, so while they have very different views on government, it's good to see that they're still both individuals of principle who disagree, but can still respect and support one another.

-I mentioned that Leslie and Ron is the strongest character dynamic, so therefore, the question has to be asked about Leslie and Ben. They're...good. They're fine. Not "great," and therefore not as good as Ron-Leslie, but fine. The wedding angle is arguably the major plot thread of this season, but it happens so uneventfully (I get that this is the point, that it's low-key), and doesn't conclude the season, it feels underdone. If I had to rank the LesliexBen 'feels,' it still falls short of the last season where Ben resigns but has his court record read out to Leslie, or when he proposes. In contrast, the marriage angle doesn't work as well.

So, you might be saying "but Hawki, this is just commenting on various plot threads, what about the actual season?" To which I say "that IS the actual season." Various plot threads that go at their own pace, some succeeding better than others. So, it's enough to make the season "good," but not "great." If I had to rank the seasons right now, it would be 4>3>5>2>1. So, enjoyable, but still a regression from some past seasons.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Giving a second try to Evangelion of all freaking things. First viewing lasted about 2-3 years (basically watched it whenever I was on a bus or plane) and I made it up to episode 17. Got bored, moved on. Now we're doing an anime quid pro quo with my girlfriend where we take turns watching each other's favorite show. She put me through Death Note, I put her through Cowboy Bebop, now I'm doing Evangelion all over again.

EDIT: Just found out Unsho Ishizuka, voice of Jet Black, passed away last month. RIP Black Dog.
 

Addendum_Forthcoming

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Steven Universe (S1-2)

Yeah ... I like it. I finally got around to watching it as it was on my list. We need more positive queer representation in kid's tv. I feel like it explores interpersonal aspects between people better than Adventure Time whilehaving a hint of existential angst in there, and effectively characters having to deal with trauma and some form of unrequited feelings that we all have in some measure, great or small, for the people in our lives due to that gulf of divergently lived experience.

Garnet and Pearl are clear standouts of the show as they seem to bounce off the titular protagonist that is at one time both paternalistic in nature but from two different aspects of what it means to be a guardian that often emphasise that (particularly in the case of Pearl) significant character flaws can still come from a good place even if alienating.

Small things like Pearl casually dropping she kind of watches Steven in his sleep, and how a lot of her problems with his father isn't merely that he is kind of a deadbeat, but that she views him as driving a wedge between her and Rose Quartz ... and that is driving her self-sabotaging of her own understandings of self worth and to be incredibly clingy of the one thing that reinforces those neuroses of feeling as if her love was unrequited in the first place.

And that's a pretty good message. All too often relationships are painted as either toxic or empowering, particularly in children's programming. But here you have a nuanced depiction of where it's merely a pair of people who hold sincere affection for one another, but that affection comes from two differenet places. That none of that is necessarily bad, and they both have real issues they're working on together at their own pace and it's a journey to someplace better they both see as sharing in some capacity.

Which leads to some incredibly confronting, and genuinely creepy moments that are also deeply human because it's given that level of nuance of their character's moral metrics. That they weren't merely written to be affectionate, that they had reasons surrounding it that are played out that inevitably come to that moment. And that isn't 100% healthy in many aspects because being human is never an exercise in healthy experience...


I don't entirely gel with some of the morals its presented thus far. Like why exactly is Connie's mother being treated as too defensive and protective around her daughter when her friendship with Steven does actually put her in precarious situations of life and death, and why exactly is it bad that she confiscated the sword Steven just haphazardly gives to her? I'd have problems with that ... particularly if it lead to my child actively seeking out gem monsters to slay and apparently being trained by someoe related to Steven's actual guardians to do just that...

I imagine my parental alarm bells would be ringing as well.

That being said, despite some hit and miss aspects it's a pretty good show as far as I've seen. Be nice to see more queer friendly and positive representation on tv. I certainly think it should be seen as a benchmark in terms of that, at least.

It subverts traditional depictions of beauty, class and family and I honestly hope that more tv in this Animation Silver Age takes notes about how they should approach queer themes in programming.

Hasbro and whoever handles animating its intellectual licences in the future, pay attention for G5 Ponies please. Lyra and Bon Bon are cute, but it's still problematic we have to literally jump the shark in order to joke about possible rage at queer themes in media, as opposed to actual positive representation and being able to joke about possible reactionism to it.
 
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Not movies? Hooh...

I don't really watch TV, nor am I that into anime, soo...

Pretty much just Stranger Things (season 1 and 2).

Season 1: 10/10

Oh my gosh, so freakin' good, why did I wait so long to watch this?! It was amazing seeing several different groups of people all with different clues to the mystery, and not being able to share those clues with each other because they have understandable reasons not to talk to one another.

That and they knew exactly how to hype up the monster. You don't get a good look at the bastard until very late in the season, and it's excellent for building the tension.

Also, the characters were just freakin' great. Dustin, Chief Hopper, and Joyce were particularly great standouts.

The whole thing gave me vibes from the call of Cthulhu larp that I once participated in, with the whole homey setting beset by horrors no one understands, and everyone trying to do their individual part while hoping they're not going crazy.

Season 2: 9/10

With the core of the mystery already solved, I wasn't sure how they would have a second season and make it work, but make it work they did.

They developed characters more (Woo, more Dustin! :D) , they completed some arcs, they gave others a chance to shine that they didn't get quite so much in S1, and they escalated things in a way that I could get behind.

It wasn't quite as special as the first season, but it was still damn good and I marathoned it with zero regrets just like the first one.

I'm not sure what they're gonna do for Season 3, but I'm looking forward to it.
 

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Similarly, don't have the time to go in-depth, so quick notes:

The Librarians: Season 1 (3/5)

Basically a poor man's version of Doctor Who. Has some entertaining qualities, but nothing special.

Parks and Recreation: Season 6 (4/5)

Well, the bell curve's been slightly avoided in that it's a step up from season 6, mainly because similar to season 4, it has a clear sense of direction. So, good job there.

Luna Gayle (4/5)

A stage play that deals with a variety of issues. In a word, "harrowing."
 

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Sharp Objects. 4.5/5

Hella dark/slow. Well acted and fascinating for someone who grew up in a small-ish town but has never been to the South and probably never will.

So yeah. If you're down for a murder mystery that has some commentary about small town Missouri and based on a book by the writer of Gone Girl, give this a spin. It's excruciatingly slow paced and the ending was a bit predictable but it's relentlessly gloomy and Amy Adams does well as a very broken alcoholic reporter.
 

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Disenchantment - 5/10

I'm only about halfway through the season, but it's ok-ish so far. Basically Futurama, but with fantasy tropes instead, and not as witty or engaging. It's funny at times, but there's many jokes that fall flat. I can't put my finger on it, but there were plenty times where the comedic timing of the animation and/or delivery of the voice acting just felt off, like things could've been much funnier if that reaction shot came a little faster or a line was brought a little different. Might just be me, but it stood out to me. Surprising, considering all the talent working on this show.
 

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BoJack Horseman S5 8/10
Look, I like this show but I'm tired of its tires spinning, which is pretty much my opinion of Rick and Morty. Or Community. Move forward or become irrelevant.
 

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trunkage said:
BoJack Horseman S5 8/10
Look, I like this show but I'm tired of its tires spinning, which is pretty much my opinion of Rick and Morty. Or Community. Move forward or become irrelevant.
I haven't started S5 yet but that's honestly kind of the biggest flaw in the show. Every time it looks like anyone is going to start making progress as a character, they pretty much start backsliding immediately.
 

Zeraki

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The Dragon Prince 7/10.

I'd put the rating higher because I like almost everything about the show, but that animation really pulls it down. Not sure what they were trying to accomplish with that animation style but it just... doesn't work.
 

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So, again, site's been down, don't have time to go in-depth, so:

Parks and Recreation: Season 7 (3/5)

Well, the bell curve is complete. Season 1 was previously the worst season, now it's this one...though for different reasons. Primiarily because it's so short, so while we have some very strong episodes (e.g. where Leslie and Ron make up and the show finale), the length really makes it come off as rushed - the whole Leslie/Ron thing doesn't have as much impact when only a handful of episodes are dedicated to it, whereas in, say, season 4, around 80% of it was dedicated to a continuous plotline. Likewise, thematically, it's stepping on the toes of the previous season (whole "moving on and being what you want to be" thing). So, enjoyed it, but a bit a of a letdown.

Still, been a fun ride watching this. If I had to rank the seasons, it would be:

7) Season 7
6) Season 1
5) Season 2
4) Season 5
3) Season 3
2) Season 6
1) Season 4

-The Librarians: Season 2 (3/5)

For season 1, I gave it the same rating and stated it was a poor man's Doctor Who. While season 2 isn't "good," it's still an improvement over its predecessor. Watching season 3 now, I've come to the opinion the show is much better when it does stand-alone episodes because it can play to its strengths more, rather than trying to do an over-arching plot. While season 2 does have a better villain than season 1 (if only because Prospero gets to quote Shakespeare, and Moriatry gets to be a smug bastard), I think the main thing is that it's able to dedicate more character-centric episodes. That's probably an exageration, but it feels that the show's established more of an identity for itself. Not "good," but still "better."
 

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I've started on "The Man in the High Castle" season 3. I'm seeing some cracks so far. I'm starting to think this is going to join the legion of shows recently I've started out liking... and then giving up on before the finish. Like "The Walking Dead" after season 3, or "Game of Thrones" after season 2... it just has stopped being interesting. I truly believe from the quality of the first 2 season that it can redeem itself in the remaining 2/3rds of this season I have yet to watch. Easily probably. But right now, its just meh. Previously it had been #1 on the list of currently running things I'm watching. But at least for the next few days I'm promoting "Into the Badlands" to #1. Netflix put "Monty Python's Flying Circus" back on streaming, so "The Man in the High Castle" is at the moment on a short hiatus. I'll get back to it at some point, but I'm not in much hurry to do so... whereas I had to really fight not to binge watch the first 2 seasons.

I finished "Ozark" season 2. Pretty much on par with season 1 I'd say. If "financial planner breaking bad" sounds good to you, then I recommend Ozark. I enjoy it, mostly because I'm familiar with the setting and am amazed how well they manage to make Georgia really look and feel like southern Missouri.

As far as anime goes I watched "Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor." Interesting, but it would need more to be something I'd consider good. The idea is good, basically grizzled deadbeat wizard teaching at a Japanese magic school. Like "The Dresden Files" meets "Little Witch Academia" with common anime tropes cranked up to about a 7 or 8.
 

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Chewster said:
Sharp Objects. 4.5/5

Hella dark/slow. Well acted and fascinating for someone who grew up in a small-ish town but has never been to the South and probably never will.

So yeah. If you're down for a murder mystery that has some commentary about small town Missouri and based on a book by the writer of Gone Girl, give this a spin. It's excruciatingly slow paced and the ending was a bit predictable but it's relentlessly gloomy and Amy Adams does well as a very broken alcoholic reporter.
Just finished it yesterday. Liked it too but I have two specific complaints about the show.

1) It gets ridiculously morbid, like fatalistic-teen morbid. You know that adolescent sensibility of shock = seriousness? It's not enough that the girl protagonist cut herself, she needs a dead sister and another dying sister and a suicidal friend and a controlling mother and two dead girls in town and so on. This is less an inherent flaw and has more to do with my personal taste.

2) The whole procedural angle felt undercooked. Amy Adams doesn't do much investigation and the plot or our understanding of it doesn't really move forward much until the final episode. I'm pretty sure Amy Adams doesn't figure out anything throughout the show, things just sort of land on her lap. There're also a bunch of red herrings that go nowhere, like characters disappearing or "important" plot details that go unmentioned or ignored or unexplained towards the end.

Other than that I liked it enough, good acting and set up and ambience. Better than the Dark Places movie, not as good as Gone Girl.
 

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The Librarians: Season 3 (3/5)

When I ranked season 2, I stated that the show was a mixed bag in how it paced itself over a season. As in, the overarching plot was weak, but when it did individual episodes that stood on their own, it could be enjoyable. Come season 3, that remains as true as ever, at least when it comes to the flaws.

So, in this season, we have not one, but two recurring villains, namely Apep and DOSA, neither of which are particuarly interesting. In fact, Apep's easily the weakest villain in the series, and that's a pretty low bar. Prospero and Moriatry were at least fun to watch Dulaq at least had a motive. Apep's motive is, literally, "I'm evil, and I'm going to flood the world with evil." As in, end of days stuff...which the cast don't seem that worried about whenever not being told that "this is a bad thing, and we should take the bad thing seriously." Apep's a terrible villain, DOSA is basically a poor man's version of UNIT (remember the DW references I mentioned back in season 1), and, yeah. If anything, it makes me pine for Stargate, because at least the goa'uld were interesting and intimidating. This at least has an underground base attacked by Anubis and werewolves, but Stargate Command it ain't.

Still, like season 2, the season can be enjoyable when it forgets about the Apep crap and focuses on dealing with stand-alone episodes. Still, it doesn't work quite as well. Partly because at times, Apep (or DOSA) are still weighing the show down, partly because the stand-alone episodes aren't quite as good, partly because the whole 'breakout season' was in season 2, so the individual character stuff doesn't work quite as well, and if anything, comes off as underbaked. It's frustrating, because there's the seeds of a good, enjoyable show here, it just needs either:


a) To cut out the season arcs, because they're not working

b) Get better writing

c) Both

Course, since season 4 is the last and the show's been cancelled, that's unlikely to happen. Don't know when or if I'll get to season 4, but, yeah. Better than season 1, worse than season 3, and while it's had its moments, the series is an exercise in unfullfilled potential for me so far.
 

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Babylon 5: Season 4 (4/5)

If asked to nominate the best season of Babylon 5, from what I can tell, most people nominate this one. Having since seen the season...I've got no idea why.

That's not to say it's bad mind you - it's quite good, as the rating shows. Key difference however is that seasons 1-3 all got a stamp of "excellent" (even season 1). And if I can boil it down to one thing, what hinders this season is the same thing that hinders Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica and Season 7 of Game of Thrones - it's not that the writing or plot in of itself gets bad, it's that it's rushing the latter, leading to problems with the former. Similar to BSG, it has an understandable excuse, in that from what I understand, B5 was facing cancellation at this point, so they needed to wrap things up within a season. Course that didn't happen, and season 5 is reportedly a mess because of it, and in that context, it really shows.

So, let's see - this season has a number of plot arcs it has to get through. First, bizzarely enough, is the Shadow War, which is wrapped up within the first third of the season. This is...weird. Like, really weird. Usually the 'big battle' thing is left to the end of a storyline, not 80% through it - yes, you can point to Lord of the Rings, how Sauron is defeated before the Scouring of the Shire, but that's the exception, not the rule. This is also mixed with the situation on Centauri Prime, with Cartagia being insane and wanting his world to burn, prompting Londo to work with G'Kar to save both their worlds. This side of the arc is well done. The overall Shadow War arc? Not so much. It's certainly got good elements, especially as the vorlons are revealed to be no better than the Shadows at the end of the day (Kosh aside, because Kosh is awesome), but the whole Order vs. Chaos thing is, in the year 2018, very played out. Big as the stakes are, it comes off as both rushed and cheesy. Given how season 3 ends, it kind of makes sense that season 4 ploughs straight into the Shadow War thing, but again, rushed. Even the Centauri-Narn arc suffers from this as the centauri pretty much go "well, our emperor's dead, let's just pull out from Narn because...reasons." Tries to make it work, but this has got to be one of the quickest pull outs from occupied territory in galactic history. Oh, and again, while G'Kar and Londo becoming 'friends' of sorts over the remainder of the season is nice, it's never given enough time to breathe.

So, second plot arc. Minbari Civil War. This is in the background, and is a thing. It comes up, is dealt with, and more than anything shows how a limited budget can affect storytelling. "Yes, the cities are burning, and our world is at war, but we can't show you any of that because...reasons." More cheese, basically, and far too neat an ending for a civil war. I get that this is sci-fi, but in a world gripped by civil strife, it comes off as overly idealistic.

Third plot arc is the Earth Alliance Civil War (I'm grouping Garabaldi's arc here as well). Of the 'big three,' this is easily the best, in part because it has the most time to have it fleshed out. Now, to be honest, I'm again left wondering why this arc happens after the Shadow War, because while more time is dedicated to this arc, it's more miniscule in the scale of the setting. Still, that does allow us to go into the nitty gritty of a morally compromised war. The Shadows are dicks. The vorlons are dicks. Earthforce certainly has dicks, and President Clark is a dick (even if we never really see him, which is another strange choice), but not everyone is a dick, so the Resistance has to fight their way to Earth, sorting out the dicks from the not-dicks. In this, it's well done. Likewise, Garibaldi's arc - now, to be honest, I think it would have worked better if we were never getting hints that he was under mind control (cliche as it is, it works here, partly because Bester is an awesome dick), but the revalation of how and why he acts the way he does through most of this season is a brilliant moment. What doesn't work as well is how, in the last handful of episodes, he's so quick to get redemption. Him making up with Sheridan, after betraying him off screen (which leads to one of the best episodes of the season with him being tortured/interogated), is far too 'clean.' Now, I like happy endings, such as when the EAS Apollo comes in to aid the Agamemnon at the final battle at Earth at the last moment, showing that even Clark loyalists have limits to the insanity they're willing to tolerate, but shades of grey can help also.

Also, ending sequence - got from not!League of Nations to not!Space United Nations with the League of Non-Aligned Worlds dissolving to become the Interstellar Alliance. Idealistic as it is, it does work. Season finale is kinda balls, but win some, you lose some.

So, yes. Season 4 of Babylon 5 is definitely good. There's a lot I do like. There's a reason why B5 was, and still is, my #1 sci-fi show. But it just isn't up to par with what's come before. And while a lot of that can be attributed to circumstances outside the writers' control, I can't deny that the end product suffers as a result.
 

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The Wharf Review: 2018 (4/5)

Think it was Trey Parker and/or Matt Stone who said that they didn't parody Trump because the parody was too close to the real thing. Having seen this...yeah. I see their point.

Which is odd, because it wasn't the first time TWR parodied Trump, but it hit far too close for the real thing for me. Actually, a lot of its political sattire did. Liberals are a bunch of backstabbers, Labour won't stand for anything, Greens have forgotten what they did stand for, and the whole world (or at least Australia) is screwed. Strangely enough, they didn't parody One Nation or Palmer United this time. Go figure.

But yeah, solid performances as always. One of the best years I can remember.
 

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Hawki said:
So, yes. Season 4 of Babylon 5 is definitely good. There's a lot I do like. There's a reason why B5 was, and still is, my #1 sci-fi show. But it just isn't up to par with what's come before. And while a lot of that can be attributed to circumstances outside the writers' control, I can't deny that the end product suffers as a result.
Best sci-fi show? Really? X-Files, Classic Who, Quatermass, Blake's 7, Flash Gordon ... I always had the theory the reason why people like Babylon 5 is in much the same vein as why they like Firefly. The fact that it waseither cancelled, or threatened with cancellation and routinely defunded, and thus somehow it 'speaks to its credit' as if what could have been ... all without considerig fora moment that tv showsoften have to bankroll themselves with advertiser interest from season 1 in order to justify the funding it gets ... and on that note Babylon 5 failed precisely because it failed to actually generate interest even when it was around, and lo and behold became as if this trendy 'auteur, pure sci-fi' label when it doesn't do a single thng right.

Seriously, you say Babylon 5 has great writing ... yet it suffers Star Trek disease of being the cringiest fucking show to watch when it just so happens to deal with romantic themes. Seriously, it's gross. Like, what planet do these writers live on that whatever they want to pass off as 'romantic' is downright creepy, and whatever they want to consider 'passionate' is downright corny?

Shows like Babylon 5 and anime in general are the reasons why people think nerds are basement dwellers...

I forced myself to binge watch Babylon 5 recently and you know what the most interesting thing about S4 is? The Mars conflict. We got none of it. No nuance. No meaningful rebel leaders who are actually fighting and dying.

The Shadows controlling human society so much they deign to bother about the fashionable length of what skirts? Apparently the Shadows are the Illuminati, but the Earth Alliance continued to build Babylon stations regardless? What was the game plan there, fellows?

Hell ... one of the Babylon stations was crucial in a fight against the Shadows ... like, the Shadows if manipulating humanity could have simplydefunded the Babylon project after Station 3 blew up; cited obvious reasons that are obvious why the Babylon project should be scrapped after three attempts, and case closed. Shadows win.

Seriously, what was the game plan here?

You know what's really disgusting, though? The Shadows would probably make better rulers. Hear me out. The resources of an entire galaxy and you've got that Ranger Marcus waxing poetic about how he no longer cares about the needs of the poor because he takes solace in the universe being unfair. None of the races seem to actually want to get their shit together and would rather their societies degenerate into shitholes where most of them live in abject poverty even onboard what is supposed to be the premier diplomatic station in the galaxy ...

All the Shadows seem to want to do is pit races against eachother to see them become stronger, and apparently that's somehow worse than races inflicting needless poverty on their own people inspite of the resources of an entire galaxy.

What's actually worse, huh? And I'm supposed to give a shit when Clarke just flatly makes out the poor are mentally ill, not because society is unjust? Really? You're going to go there show writers after this...?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03bOrvlAyeQ

Fuck off. I'd have zero guilt shooting him in the back of the head as a doctor he is supposedly talking to. Bring on the Shadows, I say. At least in a culture of strength the strong are considered worthy. Not this fucking nonsense posing as philosophy.

Say what you like of U.S. military adventurism, but at least the most gungho amongst them spout off things like liberty, freedom from tyrants and democracy. You know ... basic things like idealism and nobility of the human spirit to craft their own destiny. But apparently the writers won't actually stop for a moment to interrogate what they're actually saying and what characters are saying it.

After all, how would a doctor respond? Is there a missing scene where Franklin gives Marcus a thorough dressing down or at least a derisive scoff like a normal person? Are they really going to leave this scene in a way that pretend it's somehow profound? Why ... it certainly seems they did ... exuent backstage it seems ... Fuck this show.

Let's break it down, shall we? A person who has to deal with kids suffering cancer? Or schizophrenia sufferers? Or people with MND? Their career is entirely based on the idea that Marcus is talking shit... And the showrunners and writers thought this is how this scene should go down even after showing us the injustices suffered by the poor?

Do the writers legitimately believe this? It certainly seems that they do. Why am I still watching this utter garbage of ugly people producing ugly content and pretending it's not ugly?

All of the main and supporting cast deserve to be thrown up against a wall and promptly shot in a revolution. That's how the show should of ended.

Who exactly are you supposed to root for? Because the show keeps on telling me these people are decent at heart but in truth they're either cowardly, shameful, repugnant, cruel, or utterly disingenuous. And what's worse is the show pretend that through these knowiungly broken characters it pretends to present a 'realistic face' or some deeper morality at work ... when in yruth it's just ridiculously ugly people you wouldn't want to spend 5 minutes alone with pretending to actually have a point in existing because the moral arguments and trials they face are fucking nonsense.

Londo is the best character on the show precisely because he at least you know the show writers are making a statement of the perpetually compromised of morality and their relationship to political power. Londo, Vir and G'Kar are the only ones I would stand to have a drink with. Whether because they recognize they're flawed people who are self-saotaging and at least desire, if given opportunity, to do the right thing. Even if they won't...

They are the only likeable characters of the entire series.
 

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Addendum_Forthcoming said:
Best sci-fi show? Really? X-Files, Classic Who, Quatermass, Blake's 7, Flash Gordon ...
Of those, only seen Blake's 7 and Classic Who.

Blake's 7 is good, but the only thing it has going for it is its characters, and only a handful at that. Classic Who is sci-fa, and has aged terribly. If you said NuWho you might have had a leg to stand on, but again, different genre.

I always had the theory the reason why people like Babylon 5 is in much the same vein as why they like Firefly. The fact that it waseither cancelled, or threatened with cancellation and routinely defunded, and thus somehow it 'speaks to its credit' as if what could have been ... all without considerig fora moment that tv showsoften have to bankroll themselves with advertiser interest from season 1 in order to justify the funding it gets ... and on that note Babylon 5 failed precisely because it failed to actually generate interest even when it was around, and lo and behold became as if this trendy 'auteur, pure sci-fi' label when it doesn't do a single thng right.
Except B5 does pretty much everything right, and wasn't cancelled, so it's hard to put it in the same boat as Firefly.

As for Firefly, while I do think a lot of its hype comes from the possibility of what could have been, it helps that its season by itself is very solid.

Seriously, you say Babylon 5 has great writing ... yet it suffers Star Trek disease of being the cringiest fucking show to watch when it just so happens to deal with romantic themes. Seriously, it's gross. Like, what planet do these writers live on that whatever they want to pass off as 'romantic' is downright creepy, and whatever they want to consider 'passionate' is downright corny?
Completely disagree. It's got some of the most natural romatic interaction in the genre. It never dissolves into schlock or cringe, but feels natural.

I forced myself to binge watch Babylon 5 recently and you know what the most interesting thing about S4 is? The Mars conflict. We got none of it. No nuance. No meaningful rebel leaders who are actually fighting and dying.
No nuance?

Remember when the Mars Resistance is initially attacking civilian targets before Stephen puts a stop to it?

Remember the issue of the bloodhound units and the reception Lyta gets?

Remember how by extension, it feeds into the mutual distrust of telepaths and normies?

Remember Edgars's attempt of a "final solution" to the telepath problem, recognising it is a problem, and being torn up by his actions?

Yeah. No "nuance."

The Shadows controlling human society so much they deign to bother about the fashionable length of what skirts? Apparently the Shadows are the Illuminati, but the Earth Alliance continued to build Babylon stations regardless? What was the game plan there, fellows?
The Shadows didn't start taking control of EarthGov until well after B5 was constructed. They act through Clark. The Babylon Project was Santiago's initiative.

Hell ... one of the Babylon stations was crucial in a fight against the Shadows ... like, the Shadows if manipulating humanity could have simplydefunded the Babylon project after Station 3 blew up; cited obvious reasons that are obvious why the Babylon project should be scrapped after three attempts, and case closed. Shadows win.
Sabotage. That doesn't speak of high level infiltration.

You know what's really disgusting, though? The Shadows would probably make better rulers. Hear me out. The resources of an entire galaxy and you've got that Ranger Marcus waxing poetic about how he no longer cares about the needs of the poor because he takes solace in the universe being unfair.
That's some wilful misconstruction on your part.

Marcus never states he doesn't care - he even quotes Dickens to those who don't care. The entire point of that scene is that he can take small comfort in the universe being unfair because if it WAS fair, it meant that everything bad that happened to him was because he deserved it, and by extension, to everyone else. That the poor were poor were because they deserved to be.

Marcus is one of the most moral characters in the show.

None of the races seem to actually want to get their shit together and would rather their societies degenerate into shitholes where most of them live in abject poverty even onboard what is supposed to be the premier diplomatic station in the galaxy ...
Name one race in the setting that actively seeks to curate poverty among its populace.

All the Shadows seem to want to do is pit races against eachother to see them become stronger, and apparently that's somehow worse than races inflicting needless poverty on their own people inspite of the resources of an entire galaxy.
Again, name one race that seeks to curate poverty.

After all, how would a doctor respond? A person who has to deal with kids suffering cancer? Or schizophrenia sufferers? Or people with MND? Their career is entirelybased on the idea that Marcus is talking shit.
Yeah...no.

Wilfull or otherwise, you've missed the entire point of that scene.

All of the primary characters deserve to be thrown up against a wall and promptly shot in a revolution.
Why?

Who exactly are you supposed to root for?
Um...the main characters?

Because the show keeps on telling me these people are decent at heart but in truth they're either cowardly, shameful, repugnant, cruel, or utterly disingenuous.
How?

And didn't you cite Blake's 7 as being better? Y'know, a ship filled with morally dubious individuals (only a handful of which are fleshed out, but that's another issue)?
 

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Of those, only seen Blake's 7 and Classic Who.

Blake's 7 is good, but the only thing it has going for it is its characters, and only a handful at that. Classic Who is sci-fa, and has aged terribly. If you said NuWho you might have had a leg to stand on, but again, different genre.
Splitting hairs. What, exactly, is the defining difference between science-fiction and science-fantasy?

I mean B5 has a fucking arcing plot about reincarnation and human and Minbari souls as if categorically provable a thing. About the closest to on the fucking nose that is in Classic Who is Time Lords and regeneration. And even then not that fucking on the nose.

Also the original Quatermass serials basically singlehandedly defined the whole idea of human-alien first contact danger in sci-fi. Invasion of the Body Snatchers harks back to it, Alien harks back to it, even Species.

Except B5 does pretty much everything right, and wasn't cancelled, so it's hard to put it in the same boat as Firefly.
Except Firefly actually got a real budget.

As for Firefly, while I do think a lot of its hype comes from the possibility of what could have been, it helps that its season by itself is very solid.
Mileage may vary.

Completely disagree.
Then you're blind, and deaf, and likely an alien.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F5iTSXXFC0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vjvsv8Wyv3U
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzv6JnrxJKU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03WpQdyxNBo

That last one is actually funny... but once again, Jurasik is one of the few only likeable main cast.

No nuance?

Remember when the Mars Resistance is initially attacking civilian targets before Stephen puts a stop to it?
And? You're telling me a revolutionary front that spans multiple colonized worlds is just going to stop every one of its underground resistance cells because of a single character? You're telling me that not one of those resistance cells benefits from expanding the nature of the conflict to include civilian targets? You're telling me that somehow a single resistance leader could make those guarantees or the merits of their revolutionary activities are judged by some capacity to centralize their activities to affordsuch control, all while trying to stay alive?

That's what I call a lack of nuance. It's almost as if a problematic argument when we apply it to current discourse on terrorism.

Remember the issue of the bloodhound units and the reception Lyta gets?
What, that thing that telepaths were already hated for? Shock horror. The Psi Corps elements of the show were actually legitimately interesting (beyond its own established ridiculousness) ...


The Shadows didn't start taking control of EarthGov until well after B5 was constructed. They act through Clark. The Babylon Project was Santiago's initiative.
And yet immediatey after that line (or before it, I can't remember) he talks directly about how they manipulate currency markets? So apparently the Shadows control market speculation itself without any consideration to fiscal and monetary policy of Earth's governments ... and yet you're telling me that this control doesn't extend to governent funding?

Or the simple fact of the matter is that the Shadows didn't even bother to make their move until after B5 was constructed despite having proof of human intervention via B4?

Or the fact that this complete control of fiscal and monetary policy and apparently the fashion scene just magically emerged in the last handful of decades?

Sabotage. That doesn't speak of high level infiltration.
They literally manipulte all of Earth's currency markets and their fashion scene. Now one ofthose I can buy, the other the Shadows don't strike me as being the literal fashion police as if a high priority thing. The insinuation is quite clear. The Shadows have been manipulating the younger races for eons.

That's some wilful misconstruction on your part.
No,it's just a hypocritical character that is treated as if profound and thoughtful.

And what's more is that a doctor seemingly agrees with him despite his entire profession is based on thinking Marcus is full of shit. Regular people would scoff, or be derisive, or simply query whether they actually want this person following them around.

Marcus never states he doesn't care - he even quotes Dickens to those who don't care. The entire point of that scene is that he can take small comfort in the universe being unfair because if it WAS fair, it meant that everything bad that happened to him was because he deserved it, and by extension, to everyone else. That the poor were poor were because they deserved to be.
That is literally not what he says. At best it's pure apathy, at worst it's hypocritical psychopathy. Which is worse?

Marcus is one of the most moral characters in the show.
How? His very ending scene he literally takes a ship out of the fight, beats up two medical technicians, simply to save a person who he already knew would hate him for it.

Name one race in the setting that actively seeks to curate poverty among its populace.
Name one species that actually makes it a prerogative to actually redistribute the wealth of the galaxy to its race's membership and improve their livelihood? This is the thing ... the show itself routinely reinforces just how non-existent the welfare state is... and no one ever stops to question why that is?

Under the previous admitration of Santiago? The poor were still mistreated and still poor. Under Clarke, no less the same. Nothing has even changed for them ... just more excuses.

Yeah...no.

Wilfull or otherwise, you've missed the entire point of that scene.
Choosing instead to focus on how divorced the writing is from actual human discourse is not an example of missing the point. Once again, I didn't choose to edit and frame the scene as they did. They chose that.

Because none of them have an actual moral bone in their body. Any virtue to be had is purely circumstantial, not on the basis of actual thoughtful character portrayal. The show has entire reins on the progress of the plot, but its individual scenes of when they actually wish to portray character vignettes to round out that portrayal are shot in a way I question whether the writers are really that broken.

Which character would you like me to break down?

And didn't you cite Blake's 7 as being better? Y'know, a ship filled with morally dubious individuals (only a handful of which are fleshed out, but that's another issue)?
Because that;s the whole point of Blake's 7 ... even Blake himself isn't entirely on the level, and the show makes it quite clear from the very first episode that the universe that these characters operate in is entirely morally dubious. That's the thing I'm getting at ... I love Blake's 7 precisely because the show does not waste time rattling of about virtue and the moral highground and doesn't pretend to either. Whereas repeatedly Babylon 5 tells me these characters are genuinely decent people at heart and it's a load of garbage.
 

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Addendum_Forthcoming said:
Splitting hairs. What, exactly, is the defining difference between science-fiction and science-fantasy?
Science fiction: "Fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component."

Science fantasy: "A mixed genre within the umbrella of speculative fiction which simultaneously draws upon and/or combines tropes and elements from both science fiction and fantasy."

I'm not completely happy with either definition, but sci-fa is distinct from sci-fi in that it combines the tropes of fantasy and sci-fi. Sci-fi can have some fantastical elements, but that would make it more "soft" sci-fi. Sci-fa would involve the tropes having equal representation, whereas sci-fi would have any fantasy elements being fringe.

I mean B5 has a fucking arcing plot about reincarnation and human and Minbari souls as if categorically provable a thing. About the closest to on the fucking nose that is in Classic Who is Time Lords and regeneration. And even then not that fucking on the nose.
Case in point. B5 deals with some fantastical concepts (e.g. souls), but its more fantastical elements are esoteric in the context of its own universe. B5's setting primarily follows sci-fi in that it's a projected look of life in the 23rd century and beyond, with science and technology being the dominant forces.

Doctor Who is sci-fa in part because it lacks a lot of a cohesive setting, the nature of said setting varying by episode. So, one episode can deal with historical fiction. The next can deal with actual demons and ghosts.

Then you're blind, and deaf, and likely an alien.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F5iTSXXFC0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vjvsv8Wyv3U
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzv6JnrxJKU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03WpQdyxNBo

That last one is actually funny... but once again, Jurasik is one of the few only likeable main cast.
First is very good, don't know what the problem is.

Second isan emotive moment, considering that we know that Lennier has been in love with Delenn for ages, and she doesn't know it. It's the acknowledgement by his character that his love will never be requited.

Third is Vir being his usual adorkable self, going to Susan, not knowing that she's the last person you should go to for relationships on advice.

Fourth is comedic gold.

And? You're telling me a revolutionary front that spans multiple colonized worlds is just going to stop every one of its underground resistance cells because of a single character?
The Mars Resistance is its independent group. It's not the same group as those on Proxima or Beta Durani for instance.

But while it's dubious they'd stop completely, they have every reason to because a) they want Sheridan's support, and b) Clark's bombing civilian targets himself, so more reason to distinguish themselves.

You're telling me that not one of those resistance cells benefits from expanding the nature of the conflict to include civilian targets? You're telling me that somehow a single resistance leader could make those guarantees or the merits of their revolutionary activities are judged by some capacity to centralize their activities to affordsuch control, all while trying to stay alive?

That's what I call a lack of nuance. It's almost as if a problematic argument when we apply it to current discourse on terrorism.

And yet immediatey after that line (or before it, I can't remember) he talks directly about how they manipulate currency markets? So apparently the Shadows control market speculation itself without any consideration to fiscal and monetary policy of Earth's governments ... and yet you're telling me that this control doesn't extend to governent funding?
Don't remember any of that.

Or the simple fact of the matter is that the Shadows didn't even bother to make their move until after B5 was constructed despite having proof of human intervention via B4?
No-one apparently recognises B4. Also, if they did take out B4, they could alter the past. Maybe in their favour, but that sets up the possibility of a paradox.

Discussing time travel in sci-fi is applying made up science to made up science.

Or the fact that this complete control of fiscal and monetary policy and apparently the fashion scene just magically emerged in the last handful of decades?
Da fuq?

They literally manipulte all of Earth's currency markets and their fashion scene.
Source needed, especially on the fashion sense.

The Shadows have been manipulating the younger races for eons.
As have the vorlons.

One cancels out the other, or at least, levels of influence vary - Shadows get drakh, vorlons get humans, etc.

And what's more is that a doctor seemingly agrees with him despite his entire profession is based on thinking Marcus is full of shit.
Agrees that the universe is indeed unfair, and it's a horrible thought to imagine that every piece of misfortune that befalls anyone is because they deserve it?

Oh the humanity.

Regular people would scoff, or be derisive, or simply query whether they actually want this person following them around.
No, regular people would see the point, or at least appreciate the gallows humour behind it.

That is literally not what he says.
And that is literally wrong.

How? His very ending scene he literally takes a ship out of the fight, beats up two medical technicians, simply to save a person who he already knew would hate him for it.
Giving up his own life to save the person he loves.

Love can be selfish, sure, but this is already a person who's given it his all for the Rangers

Name one species that actually makes it a prerogative to actually redistribute the wealth of the galaxy to its race's membership and improve their livelihood? This is the thing ... the show itself routinely reinforces just how non-existent the welfare state is... and no one ever stops to question why that is?
The show never does anything of the sort. The only evidence we have of poverty is Down Below, and that's on an isolated space station.

You really think the show can go into the minutia of every race and how their welfare state works?

Under the previous admitration of Santiago? The poor were still mistreated and still poor. Under Clarke, no less the same. Nothing has even changed for them ... just more excuses.

Choosing instead to focus on how divorced the writing is from actual human discourse is not an example of missing the point. Once again, I didn't choose to edit and frame the scene as they did. They chose that.
Every piece of fictional writing is removed from actual human discourse, unless you're getting into the works of Pinter for example.

They didn't miss the point, you have.

Because none of them have an actual moral bone in their body.
Except most of the characters do.

Any virtue to be had is purely circumstantial, not on the basis of actual thoughtful character portrayal.
Which is wrong.

Sheridan could have taken the easy path and go along with Clarke's direction for instance. Delenn could have taken the easy path and abided by the Grey Council. Londo could have just followed power.

So on, so forth.

Which character would you like me to break down?
Take your pick.

Because that;s the whole point of Blake's 7 ... even Blake himself isn't entirely on the level, and the show makes it quite clear from the very first episode that the universe that these characters operate in is entirely morally dubious. That's the thing I'm getting at ... I love Blake's 7 precisely because the show does not waste time rattling of about virtue and the moral highground and doesn't pretend to either. Whereas repeatedly Babylon 5 tells me these characters are genuinely decent people at heart and it's a load of garbage.
-B5 never "tells" us the characters are any such things, their actions do.

-Blake's 7 isn't as morally dubious as you claim. Blake isn't on the level, sure, but the Federation is 99% an evil empire, and the remaining 1% is a few key moments that are irrelevant to the larger setting. B5 does a far better job with moral ambiguity because there's no single "bad" or "good" faction, whereas in Blake's 7, we have the "bad" faction being faced by "not as bad" people.

Also, if you to compare all your above points to Blake's 7, then let's see:

-Blake's 7 tells us virtually nothing about everyday life for everyday people in the Federation bar some inferences in the first episode.

-Blake's 7 lacks any kind of nuance with its take on terrorism - Blake attacks military targets, that's it.

-Blake's 7 never investigates the implications of telepathy existing in its setting - Cally's a telepath of an alien race that looks identical to humans (because...reasons), and that's it.

-We have little inkling of how the Federation actually operates.

-Blake's 7 has a handful of interesting characters in its main roster (Blake, Avon, Villa) and a couple of interesting villains (Servalan, and arguably Travis). By the end of season 3, apart from Avon, all of them are in the same place they were at the start in terms of character development. This isn't getting into dregs like Jenna, Cally, and Gant. In contrast, almost all of B5's major characters undergo an arc.

I say this as someone who likes B7 and acknowledges B5 isn't perfect, but B7 isn't even in the same ballpark.
 

Addendum_Forthcoming

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Hawki said:
Science fiction: "Fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component."

Science fantasy: "A mixed genre within the umbrella of speculative fiction which simultaneously draws upon and/or combines tropes and elements from both science fiction and fantasy."

I'm not completely happy with either definition, but sci-fa is distinct from sci-fi in that it combines the tropes of fantasy and sci-fi. Sci-fi can have some fantastical elements, but that would make it more "soft" sci-fi. Sci-fa would involve the tropes having equal representation, whereas sci-fi would have any fantasy elements being fringe.
So trying to categorically prove religion though souls and reincarnation is science-fiction, not science-fantasy? Like, they're literally implying they can prove reincarnation and human souls. I'm straining to remember anything more fantastic than that in Classic Who.

Once again ... souls and reincarnation and 'scientific' proof of it.

And this isn't a throw away plotpoint. It stops a war and makes up much of the story arcs from season 1 and 2, and they revisit it constantly.

Case in point. B5 deals with some fantastical concepts (e.g. souls), but its more fantastical elements are esoteric in the context of its own universe. B5's setting primarily follows sci-fi in that it's a projected look of life in the 23rd century and beyond, with science and technology being the dominant forces.
Clearly it's not, however. For intance, not once do you get an explanation how hyperspace works. Routinely in something like Star Trek they talk about fantastic concepts of engineering, or a 'scientific' explanation of some unusual phenomena. Ditto in Classic Who, you often get a 'rational' reason to something that happens.

Doctor Who is sci-fa in part because it lacks a lot of a cohesive setting, the nature of said setting varying by episode. So, one episode can deal with historical fiction. The next can deal with actual demons and ghosts.
But they turn out not to be just 'ghosts and demons' ... they're aliens, or holograms, or some trapped lifeforce through advanced technology. And once again, what the hell does cohesion have to do with science fiction?

Star Trek lacks a cohesive setting. Still science-fiction.

First is very good, don't know what the problem is.

Second isan emotive moment, considering that we know that Lennier has been in love with Delenn for ages, and she doesn't know it. It's the acknowledgement by his character that his love will never be requited.

Third is Vir being his usual adorkable self, going to Susan, not knowing that she's the last person you should go to for relationships on advice.

Fourth is comedic gold.
Tastes may vary then, and the fourth is decent at best. Comedy gold is perhaps a bit generous. It's more delivery than anything else, and I chalk that up to just how much Jurasik has personally invested into making it work.

The Mars Resistance is its independent group. It's not the same group as those on Proxima or Beta Durani for instance.
They seem to gain assistance, materiel, and even recruit off-world it appears. Moreover even if we just isolate it to Martians themselves ... revolutions don't work like that on our planet. Why would you pretend it would elsewhere? Moreover it flie in the face of the Bloodhounds aspect entirely. If you're worried about Telepaths lcating resistance cell members, you don't put all your eggs in one basket by having a single organization. You create a series of idependent cells that act autonomously.

Youy know ... like in reality. Moreover, it utterly ignore the fact that in a revolution there is no clear delineation between enemy and bystander. The Allies shouldn't feel bad killing civilian engineers when bombing the Third Reich's factories. For the same reason the whole 'shtloads of civilian labourers died when the Death Star blew up' is such a ridiculous fucking argument.


But while it's dubious they'd stop completely, they have every reason to because a) they want Sheridan's support, and b) Clark's bombing civilian targets himself, so more reason to distinguish themselves.
Civilians die in war. The people that build tanks are not military, still deserving of being targeted if you want to kill a nation's military production. Targeting enemy shipping is still viable resistance tactic. And sure, your car bomb to take out some politicians or that police station is liable to kill bystanders.

Don't remember any of that.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJT5XBT6oRM

No-one apparently recognises B4. Also, if they did take out B4, they could alter the past. Maybe in their favour, but that sets up the possibility of a paradox.

Discussing time travel in sci-fi is applying made up science to made up science.
But these contradictions are within episodes of eachother.

Hey, it's not me that wrote this stuff. It's almost as if the show is bad even without me poking holes in it or something...

Source needed, especially on the fashion sense.
Above video link because escapist forums no longer embed youtube videos.

Strikes me as weird as a person who clearly does not like the show I have to bringing these points up concerning kep plot points. Maybe the writing isn't as memorable as you like to think?

As have the vorlons.

One cancels out the other, or at least, levels of influence vary - Shadows get drakh, vorlons get humans, etc.
Does it? The primary source material suggests otherwise.

Agrees that the universe is indeed unfair, and it's a horrible thought to imagine that every piece of misfortune that befalls anyone is because they deserve it?

Oh the humanity.
Yeah, it's garbage rhetoric. A doctor that has to, say, deal with kids suffering cancer. Or people with schizophrenia. Or how about refugees with war wounds? Quite clearly adoctor is one of those few professions which are wholly dictated by a senseof idea that evils inflict upon us unfairly and that ... yeah, all of us shouldn'tfeel apathy in unjust suffering.

No, regular people would see the point, or at least appreciate the gallows humour behind it.
Or call him a dickhead. But hey, some of us don't appreciate callous fuckwits. Go figure.

And that is literally wrong.
Evidence would be nice. I did actually link the scene.

Giving up his own life to save the person he loves.

Love can be selfish, sure, but this is already a person who's given it his all for the Rangers
And yet the show pretends I'm supposed to like him because ... why? See, this is the thing ... even you are turning around and telling me he;s the 'most moral of the main/supporting cast' ... but clearly that's not true. He'san egotistical arsewipe... that is his entire schtick.

The show never does anything of the sort. The only evidence we have of poverty is Down Below, and that's on an isolated space station.
That's garbage... we see poverty on other planets, as well. We even have numerous scenes talking about poverty on Earth.

You really think the show can go into the minutia of every race and how their welfare state works?
Then why make it an issue? This is the thing ... clearly the show has something to say about poverty, and everytime it is handled it's handled so poorly that I have to legitimately start believing that the show writers simply treat the notion of abject, unjust suffering as if trite.

At least Star Trek has things to say concerning human dignity.


Every piece of fictional writing is removed from actual human discourse, unless you're getting into the works of Pinter for example.
Which is problematic when your target audience is other people.

They didn't miss the point, you have.
And yet I'm the one having to actually point out stuff that has actually happened in the series. What were yu, drunk while watching it? I mean, sure ... it probably helped that I was most nights watching it.

Except most of the characters do.
Like ... how?

Okay ... let's say Sheridan.

You make an argument why they're a moral character and just from memory I'm willing to bet Ican check every one of your arguments with examples.

Sheridan could have taken the easy path and go along with Clarke's direction for instance. Delenn could have taken the easy path and abided by the Grey Council. Londo could have just followed power.

----

Take your pick.
Given we're talking about Sheridan...

Oh? is this before or after he asked an entire capital ship of people to commit suicide in a grasping-at-straws operation to try to lure the Shadows into a direct confrontation? Yeah, that happened. Sheridan uses people until the very end. Sheridan is also then presented as a person with no flaws. Name me one situation in his time on the show where he actually has to make a hard decision in relationship to his character or his responsibilities?

Yeah ... about his biggest character flaw is apparently being overly loyal to his dead wife. And then, despite this complete bland-in-a-box character he just does disgusting things and the showrunners write it off as if noble sacrifice as opposed to what it really is is the fact that he had, on a batshit insane guesstimation, sent people off to knwingly die for perhaps noreason whatsoever unless the fucking plot demanded it.

This is what I was saying about any real virtue being circumstantial.

-B5 never "tells" us the characters are any such things, their actions do.
No, their actions do no such thing. Give me an example. I'm sure I'll find another example to contradict it.

-Blake's 7 isn't as morally dubious as you claim. Blake isn't on the level, sure, but the Federation is 99% an evil empire, and the remaining 1% is a few key moments that are irrelevant to the larger setting. B5 does a far better job with moral ambiguity because there's no single "bad" or "good" faction, whereas in Blake's 7, we have the "bad" faction being faced by "not as bad" people.

Also, if you to compare all your above points to Blake's 7, then let's see:
Ehhh, kind of? The universe, like with the tachyon funnel, that technology and social development of humanity is going to be a clustrefuck. Blake himself is killed (presumably) due to the fact that the moral complexity of a massively expansive of humanity made up of trillions of humans islikely going to be bleak place requiring excessive ideas of coercion to keep together.

-Blake's 7 tells us virtually nothing about everyday life for everyday people in the Federation bar some inferences in the first episode.

-Blake's 7 lacks any kind of nuance with its take on terrorism - Blake attacks military targets, that's it.
True enough. Though I never said Blake's 7 was nuanced. I said Blake's 7 is fun.

-Blake's 7 never investigates the implications of telepathy existing in its setting - Cally's a telepath of an alien race that looks identical to humans (because...reasons), and that's it.
Does it need to?

-We have little inkling of how the Federation actually operates.
We see their justice system, we get a long and hard look at the degeneracy and wasteful excesses of effectively a type of pseudo-nobility in a culture of strength that the Federation has become.

-Blake's 7 has a handful of interesting characters in its main roster (Blake, Avon, Villa) and a couple of interesting villains (Servalan, and arguably Travis). By the end of season 3, apart from Avon, all of them are in the same place they were at the start in terms of character development. This isn't getting into dregs like Jenna, Cally, and Gant. In contrast, almost all of B5's major characters undergo an arc.

I say this as someone who likes B7 and acknowledges B5 isn't perfect, but B7 isn't even in the same ballpark.
Blake's 7 occupies a special place in my heart due to nostalgia as a kid watching reruns of it on Australian tv, it's true. But For all its flaws, but it did more with less.
 

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Addendum_Forthcoming said:
So trying to categorically prove religion though souls and reincarnation is science-fiction, not science-fantasy?
Both of these concepts have real-world parallels. A setting doesn't arbitrarily become sci-fa because of their presence.

W40K is an example of sci-fa, among the reason of which is that souls are integral to the setting, and constantly reinforced as such. The souls in B5 aren't even explicitly confirmed as such, are lightly touched upon, and while they're a key point once (the end of the Minbari War), they're kept in the background.

Like, they're literally implying they can prove reincarnation and human souls. I'm straining to remember anything more fantastic than that in Classic Who.
Off the top of my head, antimatter monsters.

Clearly it's not, however. For intance, not once do you get an explanation how hyperspace works.
Which isn't relavant. Hyperspace is a natural phenomena in the setting. It's traversed through technological means.

Ditto in Classic Who, you often get a 'rational' reason to something that happens.
Please, Classic Who (Doctor Who in general) barely has any rationale behind it at all, in part because by its nature, the level of its technology is never consistent.

Star Trek lacks a cohesive setting. Still science-fiction.
Except Star Trek's setting is cohesive. Even in TOS, we get a sense of how the Federation operates, who their rivals are, and how society generally functions.

They seem to gain assistance, materiel, and even recruit off-world it appears. Moreover even if we just isolate it to Martians themselves ... revolutions don't work like that on our planet. Why would you pretend it would elsewhere? Moreover it flie in the face of the Bloodhounds aspect entirely. If you're worried about Telepaths lcating resistance cell members, you don't put all your eggs in one basket by having a single organization. You create a series of idependent cells that act autonomously.
First of all, getting material from off-world doesn't mean cohesion - we know that Clark has Proxima blockaded for instance and were shooting down civilian transports. In contrast, Mars is still open to people from Earth.

Second of all, it's stated that the resistance already was spread out, with its use of codenames and whatnot.

Third of all, again, unlikely that it stopped entirely, but they've got every reason not to do it via the war of propaganda.

Civilians die in war. The people that build tanks are not military, still deserving of being targeted if you want to kill a nation's military production. Targeting enemy shipping is still viable resistance tactic. And sure, your car bomb to take out some politicians or that police station is liable to kill bystanders.
There's a difference between collateral damage and targeting civilian targets explicitly. It's something that in modern warfare is rarely done.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJT5XBT6oRM
You...do realize that the entire point of that scene is that the Shadows are avoiding the question completely, right?

"Who are you" is the 'vorlon question.' True to the Shadows, the agent avoids really answering it at all. Similarly, when Sheridan asks the 'Shadow question' to Kosh...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSD75pPsquM

Kosh's response is very vorlon. The agent's response is very Shadow. It's repeated in season 4 with the visual storytelling in the "Order vs. Chaos" choice.

Strikes me as weird as a person who clearly does not like the show I have to bringing these points up concerning kep plot points. Maybe the writing isn't as memorable as you like to think?
Plot points I keep disagreeing with.

I disagree with your 'plot point' about the Shadows controlling everything because it's clearly not a plot point, and it's not backed up by the scene you're citing.

Yeah, it's garbage rhetoric. A doctor that has to, say, deal with kids suffering cancer. Or people with schizophrenia. Or how about refugees with war wounds? Quite clearly adoctor is one of those few professions which are wholly dictated by a senseof idea that evils inflict upon us unfairly and that ... yeah, all of us shouldn'tfeel apathy in unjust suffering.
And nothing in the scene suggests apathy. Nowhere does Marcus suggest that they should never try to alleviate suffering, only that he'd made peace with the notion that the universe is unfair.

Evidence would be nice. I did actually link the scene.
The scene itself is the evidence.

And yet the show pretends I'm supposed to like him because ... why? See, this is the thing ... even you are turning around and telling me he;s the 'most moral of the main/supporting cast' ... but clearly that's not true. He'san egotistical arsewipe... that is his entire schtick.
I never said he was the "most" moral, I said "one of the most."

Marcus never does anything morally compromising. He's willing to fight the good fight without any hope of reward, personal or professional. He gives up his own life to save that of someone he loves. He barely has any ego - when is he shown to actively crave adulation beyond self-depricating humour (e.g. there's a line in season 4 where he says "great, I'm finally a war hero and no-one knows it" (paraphrased).

That's garbage... we see poverty on other planets, as well. We even have numerous scenes talking about poverty on Earth.
Which planets? We barely tread on any in the series.

We don't see any on Centauri Prime or Minbar. There's that frontier world where G'Kar is captured. Narn? Well, sure, maybe, but that happens when your planet is bombarded by mass drivers and your world occupied. Also, "show, don't tell."

Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. The show establishes that poverty still exists in human society in the 23rd century. It says nothing about the welfare state outside of Clark's regime.

Then why make it an issue?
To acknowledge in the 23rd century that poverty is an issue, adding to worldbuilding, and in the context of B5's development and airing history, help distinguish it from Star Trek, where poverty is pretty much non-existent.

This is the thing ... clearly the show has something to say about poverty,
Disagree. It acknowledges it exists. It never presents itself as having some deep insight into it.

At least Star Trek has things to say concerning human dignity.
Please don't bring that up. Picard's sanctimonious enough.

Star Trek doesn't say as much as it thinks it does - there's nothing interesting about utopia. Nothing. Saying "we're perfect and poverty doesn't exist" isn't some great insight unless it provides the means of showing how that's popular, the extent of which is that the Federation is a post-scarcity society.

Let's just say that's one of the reasons why I find B5 a far more interesting setting than Star Trek. Imperfection is usually more interesting than perfection in fiction.


Which is problematic when your target audience is other people.
So, by your logic, every piece of fiction ever written is problematic.

And yet I'm the one having to actually point out stuff that has actually happened in the series.
Pointing stuff out and completely missing the point and/or misconstruing said point. I'm the one pointing stuff out that you missed, forgot, or ignored.

You make an argument why they're a moral character and just from memory I'm willing to bet Ican check every one of your arguments with examples.
Off the top of my head:

-Helps those working against Clark, staying true to the principles of Earthforce rather than the letter.

-Seceeding from Earthgov in light of Clark's attrocities, and giving those who disagree the option to leave.

-Providing security for narn and G'kar even after the war with the centauri.

-Facing down Kosh, willing to give up his own life if that was what it took

-Giving up his own life in a bid to end the war with the Shadows (yes, Lorien resurrects them, but he went in the knowledge of his death)

-Cutting off the Markab homeworld in a bid to save their civilization from looters.

-Giving the White Star captain full awareness and choice of his plan to lure the Shadows

-Involving himself in the vorlon-Shadow conflict even though B5 would have been spared.

-Pulling out all the stops he can to minimize Earthforce casualties when he moves against Clark's forces

-Willingly sacrificing himself to take out the last of Earth's defence grid (and would have done if not for the Apollo)

-Refusing to give into torture and taking the easy path out to freedom

Need I go on?

Oh? is this before or after he asked an entire capital ship of people to commit suicide in a grasping-at-straws operation to try to lure the Shadows into a direct confrontation? Yeah, that happened.
Key word "asked." And it worked. It's an example of why Sheridan is a moral person because he can play the game of numbers (needs of the many vs. the few), but be torn up about it. An immoral person would have given the order Sheridan uses people until the very end.

Sheridan is also then presented as a person with no flaws. Name me one situation in his time on the show where he actually has to make a hard decision in relationship to his character or his responsibilities?

Yeah ... about his biggest character flaw is apparently being overly loyal to his dead wife.
Where's that a flaw? Going to Z'ha'dum? It's established that he knows Anna isn't on the level, but he plays the game in the hope of ending the war, even in the knowledge that he's going to die in the process.

And then, despite this complete bland-in-a-box character he just does disgusting things and the showrunners write it off as if noble sacrifice as opposed to what it really is is the fact that he had, on a batshit insane guesstimation, sent people off to knwingly die for perhaps noreason whatsoever unless the fucking plot demanded it.
And...they worked?

Sheridan does morally compromising things, such as smuggling the telepath on Earth Fleet ships, but guess what? It works. It saves lives.

A good person will still do bad things. That doesn't change their status as a good person inherently - it depends on motive.

No, their actions do no such thing. Give me an example. I'm sure I'll find another example to contradict it.
See above.

Also, contradictory examples don't mean much. A character without flaws isn't an interesting character. Obviously Sheridan does morally compromising actions, that doesn't change the fact that he's a good person at the end of the day.

Ehhh, kind of? The universe, like with the tachyon funnel, that technology and social development of humanity is going to be a clustrefuck. Blake himself is killed (presumably) due to the fact that the moral complexity of a massively expansive of humanity made up of trillions of humans islikely going to be bleak place requiring excessive ideas of coercion to keep together.
A lot of which is left up to interpretation.

Reguarly, B7 shows us humans that live outside the Federation, even having apparently regressed to pre-industrial technology (e.g. that Goth planet), but because aliens look the same in this setting (see Cally), I can't be sure.

Does it need to?
No, it doesn't need to, but apparently it's an issue in B5, so one would assume it should be an issue in B7.

Key difference is that B5 gives the time and effort to explain how telepaths work and how they're regarded. B7 doesn't. B7 isn't inherently diminished from that, but B5 is elevated.

We see their justice system, we get a long and hard look at the degeneracy and wasteful excesses of effectively a type of pseudo-nobility in a culture of strength that the Federation has become.
Justice system? You mean the pilot episode?

Wasteful excesses? Don't recall that. I mean, there's indulgence on that casino planet Avon and Villa go to, but was that even inside the Federation? Again, it's left vague as to what's a Federation colony and what isn't a lot of the time.

Nobility? Don't remember that. I remember in season 3 Servalan is kind of living the high life as she fills the power vacuum of the Federation, but a lot of that came from simply using a real-world manor.
 
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Finally delved into the depths of my Amazon watchlist and started on Black Sails over the weekend. I'm a bit of a latecomer to this series (it having started back in 2014) but I'm really enjoying it so far. The series, essentially, is a prequel to Treasure Island but works really well due to the style and tone of both the acting and the writing. Toby Stephens is excellent as Captain Flint, and the young John Silver is charismatic yet conniving enough to have you rooting for him one moment and hating him the next.

Shiver me timbers - 4.5 / 5
 

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I rewatched season 1 of Sherlock the other day while I was traveling. Definitely made the train journey pass quickly. It's still a fantastic show, and I think it's probably still the best season of the show as well, although I do love the second as well.
 

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Started season 3 of Daredevil on Netflix. I?m about 5 episodes in and it?s really, really good. It?s sticking to what I like most about the series; it?s less about super abilities and more about being a good suspenseful and intriguing crime noire, and this time it is very austere, dark, and VERY violent. I know many people in here don?t like the darkening of hero spectacle, but Daredevil nails it, imho, and is well worth the watch for any fan of action entertainment/intrigue. The acting is great, the action amazing without being over-the-top and the characters are each really properly fleshed out, i.e.: everyone serves an integral purpose beyond ?love interest? or ?comic sidekick.? Oh, and?

BULLSEYE! Man, this character is REALLY dark, and the guy playing him is doing an incredible job. I never really cared for Bullseye much in the comics, taking him as more of a filler villain between significant story arcs, but his portrayal in this series and his backstory, wow.; it?s almost scary.

Anyway, if Daredevil falls victim to this latest trend of Netflix cancellations, I?m gon? be PISSED.
 

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Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (3/5)

No, that's not me declaring Doctor Who is the greatest show in the galaxy, it's just the name of the serial. Though the Reddit did appropriate the title to describe Doctor Who as a whole, so, go figure.

Still, this is OldWho, so by definition, it's the greatest show in the galaxy...if the galaxy underwent a catastrophe that eliminated almost all of human culture. It's...well, what can I say? It's the kind of acid trip you'd expect. Now, acid trips can be fun, but that doesn't mean they're good for you. It's one of the better Seventh Doctor serials I've seen, so there is that, but again, this hasn't aged well. Not in effects, and not in writing - fun as it is to see false gods saying "DOCTOR, YOU WILL ENTERTAIN US OR DIE," like acid, too much cheese is bad for you.

Anyway, not much else to say.
 

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Killjoys: Season 2 (4/5)

Killjoys Season 2 is better than Killjoys Season 1. That said, whether you agree with that statement is something that may come down to how you want to watch TV series. Because here's your options:

Option 1: Individual episodes are nothing special. There's some inter-episode continuity, but it's very much in the background, and isn't strung on that long. Relatively relaxed, even if the setting is fairly grim.

Option 2: Individual episodes vary a bit in quality. There's a high amount of inter-episode continuity that draws you in, wanting you to know more, though the overall plot can feel convoluted. Setting is shifted/developed, and becomes much darker. Characters go through the ringer, both physically and emotionally.

You can probably guess that Option 1 is referring to Season 1, and Option 2 is referring to Season 2. To which I say, well done. Have a cookie.

Now, that may be an oversimplification, but that's generally the difference between the seasons, and yes, I do think season 2 does improve from season 1, even though yes, the plot does get a bit convoluted, since a plot device is literally "green plasma" (yes, that's what it's called). I'm also left to ask exactly how far in the future Killjoys takes place at this point, because we're talking centuries of interstellar society, to the point that an "Old Tongue" can develop within this society, and fall out of use in the same timeframe. It's also a bit systemic of what I've noticed in sci-fi over time, that no-one seems to want to use aliens anymore. It's implied that there might be aliens, but no, the Hullen are humans that have bonded with a neuro-parasite. Not aliens.

So, okay, the plot gets a bit convoluted, but on the other hand, there's the characters. What's funny is that when I look at season 1, D'avin is probably the one that goes through the most shit, what with his PTSD and memory issues...issues that are sorted out fairly quickly all things considered. Here though, the stakes feel more intimate, and more real. John is the real standout in this season IMO, especially his relationship with Pawter. Thanks to ff.net, I knew that she died at some point, but seeing it happen here, and seeing him take revenge...holy shit. It's not exactly Game of Thrones "no-one is safe" level, but it is "you think all's good, then suddenly the knives come out" level. Like, Red Wedding, except inside a bar sort of stuff. The Dutch-Khlyen thing is done well, mostly, but suffers a bit from the whole convolution issue I mentioned. Thus, when the season ends with two potential plot points, one interesting (thanks to John's actions, the Quad is probably going to get a lot messier and lot more violent) and one not as interesting (the Aneela/Green Plasma/Black Root...stuff).

I should also mention that the season does seem a bit more sure of itself. Part of that is due to the music. Now, you can tell a lot about a piece of media based on what music is used for it, and Killjoys is a case where the de facto choice is heavy rock (like Firefly it's a space western, but Firefly used softer, country music for its themes for instance). Killjoys uses this as well, but unlike season 1, it seems to use it less as a crutch. As in, season 1 might use it to say "look, the characters are cool!" whereas season 2 is more "we've established the characters are cool, so we don't need to use rock as a crutch anymore). If you want an example of this, compare the season 1 intro theme to the season 2 one.

So, yeah. Far from perfect. It's not on the level of other space westerns like Cowboy Bebop or Firefly. But still, it's good. Flawed, but an improvement from the prior season.

Also, this is the second fictional world where Dutch's actress works alongside or in opposition to "Sixers." Make of that what you will.
 

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Falling Skies: Season 2 (4/5)

Like Killjoys, this is a case of a show having an average first season followed by a good second season. Unlike Killjoys, I have no reservations in saying that this season is better than its predecessor.

That's not to say it's perfect though - far from it. However, this season is bereft of many of the issues I had with season 1, so first point of call is to compare the two:

-I mentioned in my review of season 1 that it really felt like the second season, given the amount of stuff that happens before it. Season 2, however, doesn't have the same issue. It can follow on from season 1 naturally.

-The season is far better with its use of music. I mentioned before that season 1 tended to use music like a crutch, like every little thing was, by the music, some great big thing. Season 2 does this at times, but it's far more sparing with it.

-The character actions feel more natural. I don't remember if I mentioned Weaver specifically in my review of season 1, but regardless, god he could lay it on thick. I'm going to attribute it more to direction, because here, like the music, his melodrama is toned way down.

So, now that those points of contrast are over, let's get on with what it does well:

-This season is darker. Like, literally - part of the plot involves heading into winter, which means dark, snow, and everything that comes with it. However, the content gets darker as well, as we get to, among other things, Holocaust-esque imagery, execution of POWs, torture, mind rape, coups, and whatnot. Now, it's hardly Walking Dead-esque levels of dissection of the human condition, but it's still a shift from season 1, which while not free of moral ambiguities, they were still the exception rather than the rule.

-It does drive the plot along, I'll give it that.

-Relationships are done well...sort of. But better than season 1, so there is that. Also, Evil!Karen is sexy Karen, so there is that (I'm guessing the actress had fun in acting it up; at the least her character is more memorable this time round).

Right, now that you've got an idea of what the season does well, let's get a sense of where it falters:

-This isn't really the show's fault, but there's kind of a sense of self-importance that isn't earned. There's a feature in the extras titled "Retelling the American Revolution," and if you look at the show in that context, you can see this - it isn't even that subtle about it, with statues from the war, to characters outright discussing it and the idea of rebuilding America. However, if you want to argue that the show is retelling the American War of Independence...how? The War of Independence was a colony fighting for independence from empire. This is aliens invading. I mean, you might be able to draw a parallel between the arrival of Europeans in America and the effects on the natives, or go for the same analogies as War of the Worlds, but nope, War of Independence. Okay then. 0_0

-At this point in time, I'm left to ask what's going on in the rest of the US, or heck, even the world. Now, it's understandable that this isn't shown - in-universe, there's no way of that kind of communication. Out of universe, the show's focusing on one specific resistance group, it would be hard to dilute it across continents. I mean, Walking Dead (you'll see a lot of refeences to Walking Dead here) never leaves Rick's group effectively. We can only assume that the world is in the same state in the US. However, that doesn't work quite as well here, because part of the plot is that the skitters are in rebellion against their overseers. If we assume that the espheni have a presence all over Earth, and are actually afraid of this rebellion, then presumably it's occurring around the world as well. Now, again, we can kind of assume that what's going on with the 2nd Mass here is being replicated to some extent in various countries, but it's a dearth of information that becomes noticable.

-On the subject, while this criticism can be levelled at almost any media, the espheni really, REALLY suck at tactics. They can wipe out 90% of Earth's population with neutron bombs, but on the ground, they're pretty incompetent. Maybe that's intentional, maybe not, but either way, it's noticable.

-There's some really wonky charfacterization at times. For instance, in the penultimate episode, there's a general who resents the passive course of action the leader of Charleston has put them on. Episode ends with him springing out the characters who want to make an attack. The very next episode, he orders them...not to make the attack. Like, huh?

-On a related note, seriously, why do people like Pope so much (people as in fans?). He's an arsehole. He's not deep, he's not layered, he doesn't have some heart of gold, he's just an asshole. I've seen some people compare him to Daryl Dixon, but Daryl at least had layers, and didn't keep abandoning Rick's group. Pope, on the other hand...he's an asshole!

So, yeah. Improvement over the first season. That said, I've got the sense that at some point Falling Skies goes off the rails at or after season 3. I'd be curious if anyone can elaborate on that. But regardless, at this point in time, the season gets a stamp of "good."
 

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The Librarians: Season 4 (4/5)

Good news about this season is that it's the best of the bunch, and the first to actually be "good" as opposed to "average." Bad news is that it's the last season. Medium news is that its strengths from previous seasons remain, as do its weaknesses. Key difference is that the strengths vastly outweigh the weaknesses in this season. Course it generates a big weakness of its own at the end, but, well, more on that later.

Having said that, if you've read my prior reviews of this series, there isn't too much to say beyond that. If not, then go read them, because I'm not repeating myself. But basically, I said earlier that if the show was to improve, it needed to either forsake the whole overarching threat idea (in part because it could never devote enough time to it), or get better writing. Well, on that note, the season kind of splits the difference in that while it's revealed that there's technically an overarching threat, the theme of this season is internal conflict - that there can only be one Librarian, so with Flynn gone (more on that later), Eve needs to choose just one to stay on. So, on one hand, we get the stage set for interpersonal drama. On the other, unlike past seasons, the plot thread actually complements the drama rather than being separate from it. So while the season doesn't technically doing anything new in having character-centric episode, the pace and context of the season doesn't subtract from them.

On the other hand, there's the question of Flynn. Now, up to this point, Flynn's been to this show what Tommy Oliver was to Season 1 of Power Rangers - obstensibly the most important member of the team, but the one that shows up sporadically. In seasons 1-3, the out of universe reason was (I'm guessing) is that Noah Carlyle had to split time between Librarians and Falling Skies, differences including that one character has a beard, the other doesn't). The out of universe reason varied per season, but it was the culmination of his arc (such as it was) in season 3 to stop running. Yet he does it AGAIN in season 4, and I can't think of any in-universe or out of universe reason for it (yes, there's technically a reason, but it's pretty flimsy, not to mention repetitive).

There's also the final problem that due to the last five minutes of the season finale, technically nothing in this season actually occurs due to time travel. Which sucks. In theory, at lot of what happened in this season still happens, but it's really aggravating because it effectively means that a lot of character development is reset, and some of it was determinant on plot points that will no longer occur. Also, Rachel is, by extension, forgiven for her actions, and, no. Just no. Some villains get a redemption story, some don't, or if they do, they deserve better than this. Which is a shame, because while we don't see much of her, Rachel is at least enjoyable as a villain, and seeing the actress from Continuum play someone on the opposite end of the moral scale is fun (so much that I did a oneshot based on it). Now, this is only the last five minutes of the season finale, the finale itself being quite fun (if a repeat of the season 1 finale in a lot of ways), but while it casts a shadow over this season, it doesn't ruin it for me. Like, it's not Merlin finale-level bad.

So, that's The Librarians. If I had to rank the seasons, it would go 4>2>3>1. When I first started, I called it a "poor man's Doctor Who." Having since reached the end of it, I can say that while it doesn't surpass Doctor Who, it did become a fun show in its own right. And considering that I've pretty much given up on Doctor Who at this point in time, both old and new alike, I wouldn't have minded this show to stick around. It's not getting a spot in my top fantasy shows list, nor is its cancellation some travesty of television, but hey, I had fun. That's what it sought to provide, and after awhile, that's what it gave me. Right now, i can only hope that it continues in EU form or something, but that's probably too much to hope for.

So, yeah. Flawed, but fun.
 

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Dark Matter: Season 1 (4/5)

When I went back to rewatch Dark Matter (to do a "proper watch," so to speak), I asked myself after seeing the first two episodes "wait, was this show as good as I remember it being? Had I just imagined it. With trepidation I started watching ep. 3 and "ah, there we go! Now I remember why I like this show!"

So, yeah. Dark Matter is still good. Not perfect, but good. Good enough for it to get into my top 10 sci-fi shows list (which is becoming a top 20 - if it ever reaches 20, maybe I'll make a thread on that). Thing is, having rewatched this season, there's arguably not too much I can say, becauese I've already said it on the 'net elsewhere. Still, "elsewhere" isn't "here," so shadup and listen.

Okay, let's deal with the most common criticism of Dark Matter, one that I kinda agree with - worldbuilding. Dark Matter has very thin worldbuilding, and as it came out alongside season 1 of Killjoys (which, if nothing else, did worldbuilding quite well), which made its failings here even more pronounced. There's little sense of scale in Dark Matter, and most of the time, the crew's either on the Raza, or sets that are obviously repurposed from real-world locations or other shows. Still, having done a "proper watch," while its thin worldbuilding is still an issue, it's not so much an issue as I recall it being. From watching it, we can gather the following:

-Earth still exists.

-There's a body called the Galactic Authority (or Galactic Authorities), but it's vague as to whether that's just some kind of interstellar police force, or a governing body in its own right

-Corporations control a lot of the setting, to the extent that they can field warships and armies. By extension, we know that poverty is very widespread (85% of children live on less than one "bar" a day).

-Independent city-states (planet-states?) exist in some cases.

-Humanity has a sphere of influence with "outer colonies." Also, if we pay attention to some names, we get stuff like "Vega 5," Eridani 6," and the "Procyon Insurrection." Vega, Eridani, and Procyon are all the names of real-world stars, so if these names conform to these star systems, humanity's sphere of influence is within the scale of dozens of light years around Earth.

There's other elements, but these are the basics. So, while something like Killjoys, The Expanse, or Firefly has the benefit of a defined astro-geographic setting, Dark Matter isn't completely without scope and scale, though again, it's very thin.

So, yeah, that's perhaps the biggest issue of Dark Matter. That, and its low budget. Now, let's get to the characters, which are the heart and soul of the show. What Dark Matter succeeds on more than anything else is its character dynamic. Of the seven characters that call the Raza home, some are more engaging than others (e.g. Four is arguably the most stereotypical), but these are people that feel defined, both in terms of their own characters, and how they relate to those around them. The whole plot of amnesia and discovering their pasts, along with the ship's android becoming more human, could have been hackneyed and cliche, but here, it's executed adroitly. Past the first two episodes, you start to feel for them. This feeling lasts throughout the entire season. Again, with Killjoys, a lot of the time the show was reminding you of how "badass" the characters were, either directly or indirectly. The main trio were fine, sure, but each easily fit an archtype. Dark Matter has its archtypes as well, but they're much better rounded archtypes. The show doesn't need to tell me they're "badass," It's content with letting their actions and character dynamic speak for them. Remember how in my review of Killjoys Season 2 that unlike season 1, it didn't rely on music as a crutch? This is true here. Music's sometimes used to sell the moment, that these guys are/were contract killers, but it does it with a scalpel rather than a hammer. And of course, there's the question of "hey, maybe we don't want to be those people anymore," but past and circumstance keeps catching up to them. Or in the case of poor Five, dragging her into the mud.

So, yeah. Very strong first season. I won't go straight into season 2, in part because there's only three seasons and the show was never completed, in part because I'm afraid it won't be able to live up to this season. But, whatever. Still a fun sci-fi romp.
 

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Prisoner Zero: Season 1 (3/5)

If I had to describe Prisoner Zero in one word, it would be "frustrating." Not the kind of frustrating where it's constantly assaulting me with how frustrating it is (though that's at times true), but the kind of frustrating of seeing something that could be good, even great, but is constantly shooting itself in the foot.

Before I get to why that is, I'll get with the stuff I actually do like. First and foremost is the animation - this show looks pretty beautiful actually. It's got a very vibrant aesthetic, it's well animated, it's 2D animation but where the characters look 'thicker' - it's hard to explain. Maybe Disney's Paperman is the best example? Whatever. It looks slick. Second of all there's the voice acting. While there is some wonkiness at the start, all the characters look and sound distinct, and there's a fairly wide range of accents, though British, Scots, and Australians seem to be the dominant groups of the future. Of course, praising voice acting is a pretty low bar if that's the first, or even second thing that comes to mind when you're looking to appraise a work of animation, but these are about the only things I can praise unequivocably. The rest is a really mixed bag.

So, let's talk about bags. I've seen two sources of inspiration for Prisoner Zero, namely Star Wars: The Clone Wars (apparently it was billed as a replacement) and Avatar: The Last Airbender. In that, I can see shades of both inspiration, in that we have a galaxy-spanning empire (though the show seems to use "galaxy" and "universe" interchangeably) with a group of heroes trying to overthrow said empire (not exclusively the domain of TLA, but it's effectively there). However, Prisoner Zero falls short on both these fronts, and it would fall short even if it wasn't being compared to much better shows. As in, we get that the Imperium's this galaxy-spanning empire that rules humanity, but we don't get much of a sense of what life is like for the everyday person. Star Wars, especially the prequels, established the sense of the world. PZ isn't without worldbuilding, but a lot of it comes from inference, and there's a sense of disconnect from the protagonists and the people they're supposedly fighting for. Similarly, TLA benefitted from strong geography. In the first season, we had our heroes on the south pole, and they had to get to the north pole. Along the way, they met interesting people with interesting cultures. PZ is bereft of this focus in terms of astro-geography, the denizens, and its plot (more on that later). Also, TLA, even in season 1, showed us that the Fire Nation wasn't some absolute evil empire, and we had Zuko and Iroh as examples of this. In contrast, PZ doesn't have nearly as many shades of grey. Sure, Vykar's fun to watch, but a character like him is never going to have as much depth as a conflicted character like Zuko. And likewise, the protagonists kinda fall short as well. For instance, there's a male character who has a husband...and we don't find out he's his husband until around the 2/3 mark. Prior to that point, I assumed they were brothers by virtue of having the same surname. I'm not complaining that they're gay, I'm complaining that it took over two thirds of a season to specify their relationship. Also worth noting that character's husband dies in the second episode, and flashbacks aside, we never see him again. You can't make me invested in a character mourning over the death of another character if I barely know the character I'm mourning. The season really needed to start earlier in its timeline IMO, to show the stuff that keeps being mentioned. It's not that I don't understand these characters' histories, it just feels that it would have worked better if they weren't relegated to flashbacks in a lot of cases.

Plus, there's the issue of plot. Prisoner Zero is effectively tangling with two main plot threads in its first season, and it's kind of a mess. Basically, the two plot threads can be boiled down as follows:

1) Shut down the Imperium, the Bioweave, free humanity

2) Deal with the return of the Dark Times

So, yeah. It's worth mentioning before going on that despite its claims, PZ isn't sci-fi, it's sci-fa, and the two plot threads complement this...sort of. Thing is, you can probably guess just by looking at them that one of these plot threads is more immediate and concrete than the other.

And look, the idea of an approaching evil isn't an inherently bad idea. You want an example of what does this well? Game of Thrones. The White Walkers are the ultimate threat, but the show takes time to build them up, to the point that it's only at the end of the seventh season that they even breach the Wall. However, PZ is far more messy in its approach, in that for the first two thirds, plot thread 2 feels far more prominent than plot thread 1, as we reguarly encounter supernatural creatures and whatnot. Yet the 66% point involves the Bioweave transmitter being destroyed. You'd think that would be a series finale, but nup. It's more a "oh yeah, wasn't this show meant to be about something else?" and spending the last third focusing almost exclusively on plot thread 1. But when a character references all the good they've done in fighting the Imperium prior to this point, I'm left to ask "what good?" Most of the time they've been dealing with non-Imperium threats. Heck, even Andromeda does this better. Andromeda's another case of squandered potential in epic sci-fi, but it at least waited a whole season to reveal the magog worldship, and reveal

More than anything, the series finale is indicative of the issue at the heart of Prisoner Zero. On one hand, it looks great - DBZ-eque fighting without the filler, high stakes, high action. On the other, it makes no sense.

This is the problem at the heart of Prisoner Zero. This could have been a good show. It could even have been a great show. The ingredients are there, and every so often it delivers a character moment so good, or an action scene so great, that you forget why you were irritated in the first place. But it doesn't come together well. It's like the writers had a number of ideas that they all just threw together. I should mention that the show's last third is much better than the first two, but it isn't without its issues, and most of it boils down to a renewed sense of focus. But it might be for naught. Because when I labelled this entry "Prisoner Zero: Season 1," I was kinda lying. Oh sure, that's what it's called, but it's been two years, and there's no second season in sight. The finale leaves it wide open for one. The producers have stated their intention for one. But I doubt it's coming. No idea why, despite these thoughts, because hey, it's a children's cartoon, and if it made big bucks, that should be enough. Or maybe it didn't. So if this is the only series we get, I don't know how to feel about that. On one hand, a second season at the level of quality of the first isn't much to write home about. On the other, if the writers took a look at what worked and what didn't, and kept those lessons in mind for the second season, it could be good. Heck, great.

Now for a final question - why isn't this show more well known? Seriously, I've seen no hype for it. On ff.net, it's another case of where the stuff I've written for it is the only set of entries in its section. You might be saying "it's flawed, you know why," and sure, okay, but there's lots of stuff that gets popular that, IMO, is crap. You might also say that because it's made in Australia, it's too obscure, but that doesn't cut it either. Slugterra is made in Canada for instance, but that's huge, on ff.net and beyond for instance. Besides, it's on Netflix, so it should be easy to find. This isn't me claiming that PZ deserves to be some kind of cultural phenomenon in the same way that Last Airbender or Clone Wars are/were, but I feel it deserves to be known a bit more. Because again, there's nuggets of gold here. There's a lot of potential here. But it isn't met, and I'd like to see it at least get the chance to meet it.

Well, whatever. That's Prisoner Zero for you. Aims for the stars, but a lot of the time, it just gets burnt.
 

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Falling Skies: Season 3 (4/5)

If I had to plot the quality of Falling Skies on a graph, it would, at this time of writing, resemble a bell curve. It starts off low with season 1. Then it shoots upwards with season 2. With season 3, it goes down - not as low as season 1, but not as high as the season preceeding it. That said, if this is supposedly the season where the show jumped the shark, I don't agree. I can sort of see why some might say that, but while the execution of this season's plot isn't flawless, it does feel natural...mostly.

Okay, that said, let's see where it diverges from past seasons. Season 1 had a goal - survive, which meant travelling around the country (or rather one particular part of it). Season 2 had a clear goal - get to Charleston. Season 3 is much more static, both in location and in plot - defend Charleston while the volm prepare a weapon that will knock out the espheni defence grid, allowing more of their forces to come to Earth. Now, speaking personally, I don't mind the introduction of the volm - it does add to the show's mythology. However, the show either can't or won't show us much of them (or the rebel skitters) - likely because of budget, but it does lead to a kind of clash from what's on screen, and what we know is happening off-screen. There's a whole sub-plot as to whether the volm can be trusted or not, whether allying with them is the best move humanity can make. The answer to that is...maybe? I won't spoil anything, but the finale does try to have it both ways. There's a sense of the season being comparatively static to the previous ones - a lack of urgency, as a result of this.

Second issue is that by this time, the lack of information on other parts of the world, or heck, even the country, is starting to become noticable. Part of the plot involves making contact with the actual president, despite Charleston being declared the capital of the "New United States." This could have been interesting, could have led to political tension, and could have functioned as worldbuilding as we got the sense of what other resistance groups are doing. Well, we do get some sense, but this plot point is quickly dropped. And when the volm 'offer' to transport the people of the NUS to Brazil, I'm left to ask "wait, what about the people already in Brazil?" Like, are they not there? If so, why? No-one asks. No-one even seems to care. The earlier seasons could get away with a microscopoic perspective because it started off as being about survival, and they were without the means to communicate. But at this point, the blackout on areas outside the US is noticable, because assuming the espheni have forces stationed everywhere on Earth (and there's nothing to suggest they don't), even if Charleston is giving them a hard time, if they're dominating other areas, couldn't they transfer them? Granted, it is established that the espheni suck at countering gurilla warfare, and we know that they're running low on fuel (least in the eastern US), but while none of these issues break the setting or story, at this point it's becoming harder and harder to ignore.

Still, despite these gripes, the season does overall remain solid. There's a mole sub-plot that's fairly well done (though the moment the viewer finds out who it is, it's very underbaked in a sense, but the character reactions sell the gravitas. Likewise, the characters remain engaging mostly. Also, despite the above gripes, I do like how the show has progressed in the sense that we see how humanity is fighting back more effectively against the invaders, per better tactics and better weapons. Yeah, we only see one particular group of humans doing that, but despite what some have said, it does feel like a natural evolution from what's come up to this point. And as underbaked as the Lexis sub-plot is, I'm holding out judgement on it for now.

So, yeah. That's season 3. On one hand, it's flaws are very pronounced, like season 1. Unlike season 1 though, the foundation remains solid enough that they aren't enough to sink the season. So, good, if not great stuff.
 

Something Amyss

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Lethal Weapons seasons 1-whatever part of 3 we're on: 4/5 overall. less now that SWS is in the main cast. I don't hate him, I just miss who he replaced.

Doctor Who series 11: 3/5. Most of the episodes so far are kind of in middling territory.

Bleach: The bount arc: 1/5 can't believe I forgot this is why I stopped watching in the first place.

She-Ra and thetpy advert of Power: this is as close to a 5/5 as I'm gonna get any time soon. Oh, wait, I forgot

The Dragon Prince: 5/5 easily. Then again, give me something Avatar-like and I will probably enjoy it.
 

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Something Amyss said:
Hawki said:
When I first started, I called it a "poor man's Doctor Who."
Slightly relevant:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN0MZB0HU4k
Thanks to region blocking I'll have to take your word for it.

I will say that the Librarians OST doesn't hold a candle to NuWho's, least during the RTD era. The only Librarian tune I can recall is the ending tune, and that's probably more down to repetition. In contrast, the DW theme is instantly memorable, and there's plenty of tracks by Murray Gold that I can still remember.

Something Amyss said:
The Dragon Prince: 5/5 easily. Then again, give me something Avatar-like and I will probably enjoy it.
*Thinks about Prisoner Zero*

Yeah, be careful about such assertions.

But anyway, I'm actually in the midst of writing my DP review. It's a 4/5 for me, but still good - given me lots of stuff to talk about.
 

Something Amyss

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Hawki said:
Thanks to region blocking I'll have to take your word for it.
Somehow, hit post without hitting it. Technology!

There are a lot of tonal similarities between whatever they call the Librarians' leitmotif (usually plays for Flynn, but not always) and Murray Gold's "I am the Doctor." You can probably find the tracks individually in your region and comare them.

Granted, Murray's work is pretty straightforward, but it doesn't help the comparison that the Librarians has a sound-alike.
 

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The Dragon Prince: Season 1 (4/5)

Let's get one thing out of the way before saying anything else - no, this isn't as good as Avatar: The Last Airbender. Even if we compare the first seasons of each show, it still isn't as good. TLA has better characters, better plot, better worldbuilding, and better animation.

That being said, TDP does a good job in most of these things, even if the job done isn't as good as what's come before. And in the light of these aspects, it gives me a good foundation to analyze this show in isolation.

First, the thing that everyone's noticed, the animation. I really have no idea why they went for the style they did other than to save money, because with the whole feeling of frames being missing, that's one advantage I can imagine. That said, this is only an issue about 10% of the time. When characters are at a distance, it's a moot point. However, it's when we see characters up close that the animation style becomes noticable, as people seem to be missing basic movements or somesuch. Like, you know when you're on skype, and the connection isn't perfect? Imagine that, just not as severe. In fairness, the art in of itself is fine, but the animation is a noticable drawback.

I'm going to touch on worldbuilding and themes next, because the show's a mostly postive bag here. So, basically, we get a situation where elves and humans are at war because of past attrocities committed by both sides, and our protagonists want to bring the egg of the titular Dragon Prince to its mother to stop said war. Which isn't too bad as plots go, but I'll get to that in a bit. The worldbuilding is...okay. As in, like Avatar, we have an example of what's called a "hard magic system," where supernatural abilities operate within a defined ruleset. So, that's neat. Likewise, I do get a general sense of this land, where elves live in Xadia in the east, and humans live in a collection of kingdoms in the west (only one of which is named), but there isn't too much of a sense of geography, at least in regards to where the protagonists are at any given time in respect to their points of origin or destination.

By extension of worldbuilding in this case, there's themes. Now, this is weird to talk about, because TDP is trying to engage in themes of prejudice, and at times it does this very well, and at other times, it doesn't. To understand, I'm going to give an abridged history of the setting:

-Humans and elves live in Xadia.

-A human mage discovers dark magic, bad stuff happens

-Mage is defeated. Elves and dragons banish all humans from Xadia to the west of the continent.

-Humans try to re-enter their homelands, but are kept at bay, up to the moment when they slay the Dragon King and supposedly, his son. This sets the stage for all-out war.

So, basically, humans and elves have good reason to hate each other. However, the catalyst for the events in the series rarely go beyond the point of the death of the Dragon King. Granted, about 1000 years pass between the human banishment and the king's death, but it's not like this is unknown history within the setting's context. So when the show gives us an info-dump in the first episode that covers all this, but the show itself rarely touches on it, it does create a sense of disconnect when elf prejudice against humans is never called out, or the dislocation of an entire species due to the actions of just one individual. I'm fine with humans being xenophobic assholes in fiction (see W40K for instance), but if you're going to do moral equivalancy/moral ambiguity, actually commit to it. If anything, when Rayla complains about human prejudice, she comes off as a hypcrite when we see her own prejudices alive and well later on in the season.

But, okay, fine, that's the part of the "prejudice is bad" theme that doesn't work. What DOES work however, is how the show highlights prejudice more subtly. It's telling that when it comes to human prejudice against elves, more senior humans are more prejudiced than children. On one hand, we have Viren whipping up his people with xenophobia after the death of their king, and everyone buys into it. Even 'good' characters like Amaya have this. Someone like Callum is middle of the road, in that he has prejudices, but is willing to examine them. And on the far end of the scale we have child characters like Ezran and Ellis, neither of whom express any real prejudice towards elves. There's a moment when Ezran comes across an elf figurine that's drawn as a kind of monster, and the way he looks at it, it's like he's seeing it for the first time, even though he's almost certainly played with it before. Ellis never even questions why an elf is tagging along. Now, maybe I'm reading too much into this, but in this case, I don't think I am - there's the underlying theme that prejudice isn't innate, it's inherited through one's culture. It's arguably telling that Rayla, a young elf, is willing to forsake her fellow assassins over the discovery that the Dragon Prince wasn't killed, while Runaan, even with the egg right in front of him, won't stray from the path. So, when it comes to understated theme, the show does quite well.

When it comes to plot and storytelling, the show does a good job as well. Plot is good - moves very quickly, and there's not really any stand-alone or filler episodes. Whether that's a good or a bad thing is up to you. As for storytelling, again, it's quite good. While this is obstensibly a children's cartoon, and is thus limited in certain aspects (e.g. no-one dies on-screen), the dialogue and context isn't juvenile, and never talks down to the viewer. There's some cartoons I can enjoy, but only with a kind of 'mental block' in the knowledge that I'm not the target audience, and thus, have to view it in the knowledge that I'm going to get some cringeworthy material. Like TLA, Dragon Prince thankfully isn't one of those cartoons. Hardly Game of Thrones, but well above something like MLP (and I say this as someone who likes (or liked) MLP). However, there is a caveat, in that this show is actually quite funny...for about 80% of the time when it's trying to be funny. As in, when jokes are used, I find myself at least smirking 80% of the time. However, there's a recurring gag of characters having to explain their jokes, the joke being not so much the joke itself, but a character not getting it, and ergo, we should laugh at the character. Sometimes, this works, such as when a characte makes a good joke after those around him make so-so joeks, but not one laughs, the implciation being he's the smartest guy there, but the people around him are too dumb to get the joke. However, most of the time it just serves to bog the pacing down, especially when the whole "the joke is that the joke has to be explained" is used over and over. In Red vs. Blue this kinda worked, but here? Not so much.

As for characters, again, the show does a good job in making them feel multi-layered, protagonists and antagonists all. There's no real weak links, no stock characters, just individuals with varying qualities, fears, hopes, and desires. Like the first season of TLA, we have our main trio of characters, but while similarities exist, it isn't a 1:1 comparison, even as shades exist. Likewise, our villain gets a good treatment - he's not evil for the sake of being evil, he's a character who does evil things for what he believes is the greater good, and still has humanity within him. Like, not Zuko, but better than Ozai, if we're using TLA as a comparison.

So, yeah. Very solid first season. Here's to 5/6 more (if they're doing the whole "name the season after an element" thing).
 

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Something Amyss said:
Somehow, hit post without hitting it. Technology!

There are a lot of tonal similarities between whatever they call the Librarians' leitmotif (usually plays for Flynn, but not always) and Murray Gold's "I am the Doctor." You can probably find the tracks individually in your region and comare them.

Granted, Murray's work is pretty straightforward, but it doesn't help the comparison that the Librarians has a sound-alike.
So, here's the theme "I am the Doctor." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7VmOZ4Ppj8

And here's the Librarians motif I think you're referring to. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7FQ1FCYGzg&t=0s&index=2&list=PLduVTFL9-W7ZL283gJHjTi2u4TKtyduOq

Listening to them back to back, I can see the similarities, but I wouldn't really call the Librarians one a rip-off. It's got a similar structure and flow, but it's far more...contained, I guess? Like, ImDoctor is big on orchestral sounds, selling the Doctor as the legendary, almost messianic figure he was often portrayed as under Davies and Moffatt. The Librarians one is far more subdued, more playful almost. If anything, ImDoctor has more in common with the Mass Effect 2 Suicide Run OST.
 

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The Norman Conquests: Round and Round the Garden (3/5)

This is one of a trio of plays by Alan Ackbyrn (sp.) that take place over the same timeframe, but at different locations. Each play is stand alone but acts as part of a bigger story with the same characters. So, one takes place in the kitchen, one in the living room, and in this case, one in the garden.

And...that's it really. The play's fine. It's average. It's humourous, but it lacks 'meat' to it. I don't think it's by virtue of being a comedy, because comedies have provided me with far more in the past. It's...fine. Supposedly seeing all three plays elevates the experience, and I do intend on seeing them, but in of itself, it's...fine. Really not much more I can say.
 

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Disenchantment: Season 1A (4/5)

So, Disenchantment. The latest product from the mind of Matt Groening. A product that's had a very mixed reception from fans and crtiics alike. And having seen season 1A...I really don't get why.

Okay, two clarifications. First, I'm using the term "1A" because the first ten episodes are actually just the first half of a season split in two. As it is, every set of ten episodes will air per year, so we'll get 1B in 2019, 2A in 2020, and so on. Second clarification is that when I say "I really don't get why," I can understand sources of frustration, but I wouldn't have thought those sources would be enough to give it as mixed a reception as it did. But while I do have gripes with the season, there's far more that it does right than it does wrong.

So let's start off with what it does right. First, if we look at Disenchantment in the context of Groening's other shows, it bears far more resemblance to Futurama than The Simpsons. In the context of genre, it's as happy to poke fun at fantasy tropes as Futurama as to sci-fi tropes. Similarly, while The Simpsons' main characters are the titular Simpsons, Futurama's main characters are basically Fry, Leela, and Bender, with everyone else getting secondary status at best. Disenchantment is closer to this, but goes even further, in that Bean is very much THE main character and Elfo and Luci are primarily there to support her. This isn't good or bad in of itself, but it is the paradigm that's being worked in. Like Homer though, Bean's an alcoholic, and like The Simpsons in its heyday, Disenchantment has a lot of heart to it. Bean and Zog are the main beneficiaries of this, in that they appear one way on the surface, but are shown to be quite multi-layered as time goes on. Bean is a boozer and all that, but it hides her feelings of loneliness and disconnectedness from her father. Zog is a loudmouth and a brute at times, but as frayed as his relationship is with his daughter, it's established how much he actually cares, and how much he misses her mother. In essence, they're both kinda like Homer, in that for all their vices, both of them have a lot of heart, even if it doesn't always show.

Further on, there's the likes of Elfo and Luci, who are mostly tertiary to Bean, in that their actions and motives are usually in respect to her own actions and desires rather than being fully independent. For instance, Bender might have been friends with Fry and Leela, but he'd happily do his own thing. In contrast, Elfo and Luci are far less independent. This isn't bad in of itself, but it's kinda noticable, in that if Bean has a choice between right and wrong, Elfo might push her to do the right thing, while Luci, being a literal demon on her shoulder (that everyone calls a "talking cat") will push her to do the wrong thing. So, on one hand, while Elfo and Luci are enjoyable characters, they exist in relation to Bean more than being characters on their own terms a lot of the time. Elfo does kinda have his own arc, what with being infatuated with Bean (an infatuation that comes out of nowhere), but Luci's just kinda 'there' a lot of the time.

Other pros are that Disenchantment is actually quite funny - no idea why people say otherwise, because it's humour in the same vein as Groening's other works. Same sharp wit, both in the dialogue and in the background - there's a lot of written signs for instance that are quite humorous if you take the time to read it. And while worldbuilding isn't really the biggest focus in a fantasy comedy like this, it's at least present, in that I at least have a general sense of the setting's geography and elements of its history. Nothing major, but it's there.

So, in essence, Disenchantment does a lot of things right. As a season 1 opener, it's certainly above season 1 of the Simpsons. Maybe Futurama, maybe not. But it's solid. However, now that I've told you about what it does right, let's discuss what it does wrong.

Basically, that's continuity, in that Disenchantment seems to have both stand-alone episodes but also an overrunning story. Nothing wrong with that. However, it doesn't do it that well. For instance, we learn that Luci's sent to Bean by 'bad people' to get her to do bad things, to send her down a bad path. This is brought up in the first few episodes, but is dropped for most of the season. There's a certain reveal in the penultimate episode, but it doesn't actually mean that much. If Luci's there to manipulate Bean, his level of inferterance varies per episode. A lot of the time he seems content just to sit back and be a jerk. Other times he actively sabotages Bean. While the results are arguably the same, Luci's supposed motivations are rarely touched upon. And if this is him holding back in the understanding that he's ruining Bean's life, he never has that moment of realization, and Elfo calling him out for it doesn't really go anywhere. But more damning is the issue of Bean's mother. There's a good plot twist with the elxiir of life and Zog's true motiavions in seeking it. What doesn't work as well is Bean's mother herself. We know early on that she's supposedly dead, but don't learn how until towards the very end of the season, at which point being dead is reversed, and a whole lot of other plot developments and revelations are stacked upon the viewer. The last episode...okay, it isn't bad, but it's a drastic shift in tone and plot. Up to episode 9, Disenchantment is quite light-hearted, even if it has moments of gravitas. Episode 10 is where it starts treating itself seriously, where plot twists are revealed and fulfilled...that have nothing to do with Luci or the people he serves. Rather, Dagmar's working with yet another group, and it turns out that Bean's "the special." I'm kind of reminded of Red vs. Blue when it shifted to a more serious tone with the Freelancer saga and butchered itself in the process. I don't know if Disenchantment will meet the same fate, but the change in tone is striking. I've heard some say that all of season 1 was meant to be aired in one go, which might have alleviated the shift, but as it stands, if episodes 1-9 feel like a, and episode 10 feels like b, then not only am I left with b after 90% of a, but if I liked a up to this point, what makes you think I'm going to suddenly like b? After watching episode 10, it really casts a shadow on the continuity of everything up to this point and how uneven its level of plot development feels in retrospect.

Still, all this aside, I want to stress that I really liked Disenchantment. While its greater arc is perhaps a bit messy, the individual episodes and the characters within them are good enough that this show is still a blast. All in all, a very solid outing.​
 

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The Norman Conquests: Living Together (3/5)

So, second lot in the Norman Conquests trilogy, and it's kinda mixed. Having seen 'Round and Round the Garden,' it simultaniously benefits from the shared story format, but also loses out. On one hand, because I already know the characters, I can benefit from seeing elements of their personas and lives explored further. On the other hand, it does feel kinda underbaked in areas. I mean, the play could probably stand alone (Round and Round the Garden did), but, yeah. TBH, I'd kind of preferred the option of seeing all the trilogy in chronological order at this point.

So, decent. Not great, but decent.
 

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Arrow: Season 6 (3/5)

If I had to put a divide between the seasons of Arrow, there's a pretty clean divide at this point between the "good/great" seasons (1, 2, 4), and the "okay" seasons (3, 5, 6). So, on one hand, 6 is in the "okay" end of the spectrum. On the other, it's probably the "best okay" season, if not actually "good." In case you're wondering, the ranking currently goes like this:

6) Season 3

5) Season 5

4) Season 6

3) Season 4

2) Season 2

1) Season 1

But that aside, let's talk about Season 6.

​Thing is, Season 6 is a bit weird to talk about. Every season up to this point has had some kind of 'essence' to it, some kind of 'drive.' A lot of it has come down to the type of villain being used. I don't think season 6 is technically the only season that's done this, but for me, there's a pretty distinct first act of the season (everything involving Cayden James), before moving onto the second act (Ricardo Diaz). What's notable with these villains is that they're easily the most down to earth so far in Arrow. Up to this point, even the most 'normal' of the show's villains were still along the lines of Merlyn, Slade, or Prometheus - human, but those with incredible martial arts/bow/sword/whatever skills. In contrast, Cayden James is 'just' a hacker. Ricardo Diaz is 'just' a street thug. Both are dangerous in their own way, but the threats they represent are very different from the main villains up to this point. Season 5 was billed as a "back to basics" season, but honestly, season 6 feels far more deserving of that declaration. Season 5 was back to basics only in as much that Prometheus was a composite of Slade and Merlyn (getting the worst of both worlds IMO), whereas Season 6 feels like something out of early season 1, where Oliver's enemies are street/business criminals. There's even a heavy focus on the law enforcement angle as the city and FBI push for his prosecution. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is up to you. Me personally, I'm kind of neutral. One one hand, Diaz is less memorable than some other villains, but at least he doesn't feel woefully out of place (e.g. Ra's) or a poor attempt at aping better villains (e.g. Prometheus).

We can also talk about the characters. Season 5 had the whole "new Team Arrow" thing going on, which felt contrived and unnecessary. Season 6 sticks with these characters, but they're far more interwoven with the setting. If anything, I'm reminded of Season 3/4, in that people complained about the magic elements in 4. I wasn't so put off, because Season 3 had already jumped the shark there, Season 4 actually made use of it. Similarly, Season 5 spent time introducing the new characters, Season 6 has them at least doing the stuff I watch this show for - action. And to be fair, least in places, the action is pretty good. Camerawork has certainly improved. The whole split-up of the team and the inter-personal conflicts sometimes hit the mark, sometimes don't, but...yeah.

Season 6 is okay. It's got good elements, it's got bad elements, and most of those elements stem from the same concepts. Arrow is long past the glory days of its first two seasons, but it's at least managed to crawl its way up from rock bottom. So...yeah.
 

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The Norman Conquests: Table Manners (4/5)

So, the third installment in the Norman Conquests trilogy, though in theory it's the first. Meh, whatever. As you can tell by the rating, I think it's the best of the bunch, though it's hard to tell whether that's down to me benefitting from the additional context of the other two plays, or if it's simply the best written. Honestly, think it's a bit of both.

But anyway, had fun with this. Going to miss the characters, I can tell you that much.
 

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Big Little Lies
Hmm. Considering this could be summarised as "rich, mostly white people's problems" I am left wondering why I don't hate it from the very core of this hollowed out husk of a soul. Something is being done right to nimbly avoid a deeply-seeded socially- aware writhing wrath here. Perhaps it is the intimate focus on a small group of connected characters portrayed as human as anyone else. Perhaps it is the way it presents itself as a murder mystery where the main enigma is who the victim is. Perhaps it is due to its' desire to be complete and self-contained with the one and only season where everything is done and tied up by the final episode, leaving no room for the inevitable milking that comes with this format. Oh well. Ultimately it succeeded, the sly bastard. Now off to flagellate myself with fair-trade hemp ropes covered in rose thorns and failed government petitions.

Next on list is to try Sharp Objects cause it's Christmas and all that childish joy must be countered with misery and self harm.
 

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This one's odd. Its been gnawing at me.

Travelers: Season 3 (7?/10)

I've been watching Travelers, generally because there isn't something else I'm watching when it has released. I like it, but I'll be the first to admit it isn't really great. It has a couple of actors doing a fairly good job and is above average... but it isn't without dud episodes and it really doesn't get the best out of its time travel sci-fi premise. Seemingly most of the time its more of a character drama set in a time travel story.

But then, season 3 ended... differently. TV seasons and shows don't end the way that Travelers ended season 3. Its satisfying if its over. If 3 seasons are all there will be, then season 3 very definitively ended the series. But strangely enough if there will be another season... they could go anywhere with it. Whole new cast, drop a few keep a few, or just keep the same folks around. It is the furthest away from "writing themselves into a corner" that I've ever seen... yet somehow be a definitive finale if it has to be. Its far from the best written show I've seen, but I'll give lots of credit to the writing team... that ending is very shocking, different, and pretty well crafted. And I'm still not sure if I want there to be more episodes, or not. Its good enough with the ending it has, but on the other hand it hasn't overstayed its welcome just yet.

Oh yeah and I also just watched

Castlevania: Season ? Ok, I'm going to call it season 1. Netflix's 1st "season" of Castlevania wasn't anything more than a prologue to the series and I refuse to go along with their labeling of the new episodes as season 2.

What did I think... middle of the road. 6/10, maybe a little better. It was just so insubstantial its hard for me to have an opinion. They did a lot right, I liked the character interactions and dynamic on the good and bad guy roster. The worldbuilding and lore was genuinely interesting. Good voice acting, score worthy of being in something called Castlevania? there's a lot to like. And yet flaws spoil it. The best example is the stakes. Its constantly said that Drac is going for total genocide... all humans dead. The most dire stakes could be... right? They kept SAYING that, but I never SAW them SHOW that those were the stakes. The "immortal" vampires and zombies and monsters that made up Drac's "army..." They seem to go down pretty easily. Yeah, they'd stomp a human army of the same size; but we don't see "endless hordes" of the undead. We see an army of the dead and some small villages in one country. We don't really know what the scale of the rest of the world is, but on THIS world there are a shitload of humans. I just never got the sense that Drac's army COULD wipe out all human life. Drac personally was a beast of a fighter... but his vampire lieutenants seemed to die easily enough. His two human lieutenants were either all kinds of compromised or actively self-destructive. It just didn't seem to me that anyone but Dracula himself could pose a threat to whole armies. In an animated series like Castlevania it should be easy to "show, don't just tell." But as far as the stakes are concerned, they did lots of telling and precious little showing. And without spoiling it, I don't see anywhere more interesting they could go with the story if there are more episodes to be had. It was fine, I just wanted it to be better.
 

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​​​​​​​​​Falling Skies: Season 4 (3/5)

Season 4 of Falling Skies is where the show jumps the shark.

I could leave it at that, but I feel like extending this metaphor a bit further. So, more specifically, Season 4 jumps the shark literally within the first five minutes of episode 1. From episodes 1-8, it spends its time in the water, as the shark tears out pieces of flesh. Over episodes 8-12, our shark-jumper starts swimming back to shore. And while it does stand on the shore, and look fine at first glance, you can't help but remember that our swimmer was bitten by a shark, and if you look hard enough, is still bleeding.

But metaphors aside, this season...why? Just, why? This season makes every wrong decision it could. Course that's subjective, but given that this season seems to be poorly regarded in general from what I can tell, I don't think I'm in a minority here. While a lot of my gripes with this season are subjective, this season feels like such a misfire I'm surprised that the guns in the show weren't misfiring around the clock to reflect how bone-headed a direction this was. But to articulate said direction, let's look at what this season does wrong.

Well, for starters, it reverses the gains of season 3, where the volm-human forces took out the espheni defence grid, allowing volm reinforcements to come to Earth. We're left with the promise that the tide of the war is going to turn. That the direction since season 1 will continue. That the espheni are now going to have to struggle to keep their ground...none of that happens. Instead, what happens is that the volm bug out for off-screen reasons, and most of what's left of the human race are rounded up into ghetto camps for skitterization. This happens within the first five minutes of the first episode, after which there's a four month gap. This is...wow. Just wow. To convey how jarring this feels, imagine Lord of the Rings. Imagine Two Towers ends the way it does. Now imagine in Return of the King that it's established that Sauron got the ring, conquered Middle-earth, and that the third film is going to focus on a resistance movement to the Dark Lord. None of this is outside the realm of possibility, but from a storytelling perspective it's jarring. It's even more jarring here, because it makes little sense for the espheni to only start skitterization now, and considering that the espheni are pretty incompetent, and are acknowledged as being incompetent in-universe, this move is just..,.huh? Oh, and Charleston and its characters? Gone. Skitter Rebellion? Never mentioned (though in fairness it was being sidelined in season 3 as well). I kind of get the sense that maybe the writers wanted a back to basics approach, to rekindle a feeling similar to season 1. Maybe they didn't have the budget for more volm. Whatever the case, it doesn't work. You can't go back to basics in your penultimate season, and if you wrote yourself into a corner in season 3, that's on you. And even if this was back to basics, it still doesn't work, because season 1 featured the 2nd Mass constantly on the move. In contrast, season 4 spends most of its time in effectively the one location. Also, for all its faults, season 1 did establish a sense of dread and mystery with the invaders - we never see an actual espheni until towards the end. Season 4 can't rely on mystery, because a lot of the mystery has been revealed.

Carrying on in the realm of bone-headed decisions, let's look at Chinatown. Y'know, Lexi's colony where humans live in peace and aren't bothered by the espheni, and we get insufferable pseudo hippies combined with Eastern mysticism? I could live with that...maybe. What's harder to stomach is Lourdes. Lourdes, who over the course of the first three seasons developed as a character from the starry-eyed Catholic girl to...well, someone better. Lourdes, who ended the prior season freed from espheni control, leaving the viewer wondering how people will treat her for that, and how she'll move forward. Lourdes, who come season 4, is now a sycophant for Lexi, and who's permanantly in "hippy mode.' I...I don't...I can't...sorry, I want to know what the hell the writers were thinking. Without hyperbole, Lourdes has got to be one of the worst examples of character assassination I've ever seen in fiction. Again, none of this is breaking the rules of the setting. Again, Lourdes was never my favourite character in the world, but she at least developed over time, and had the potential for a compelling arc in season 4. Of the two Falling Skies entries I've got on ff.net, she's the protagonist of one of them for a reason. But this season just throws it all away. Even her death at the hands of Lexi is more to serve Lexi's arc. And while the season wants me to feel sorry for Lourdes given its use of music and whatnot, at this point, I'm past caring, because you've spent numerous episodes up to this point going out of your way to make me hate her. So, well done Falling Skies. Well done.

Y'know, I could live with one ham-fisted allagory. But Falling Skies decides that it's time we have Nazi equivalents. Basically the espheni get their own Hitler Youth, to brainwash kids into thinking that they're there for the betterment of mankind. Kids wear Youth-esque uniforms, get Youth-esque instruction, and get Youth-esque sublety. As in, none at all. This is so ham-fisted that the Nazis are even used in-universe as a point of comparison. To which I say...no. Just no. If this was in season 1 or even 2 I could buy it, but for the espheni to try this now? When they've already got most of the human race in camps? It feels unnecessary in-universe, and from a writing perspective, it lacks any kind of subtlety. Even the show seems to realize this as the not!Nazi plot is dropped fairly quickly, though comes back later, and is still cringeworthy. There's a girl one of the Masons meets who befriends him (and kisses him in the first episode they meet), only to get brainwashed off-screen, and gets to die off-screen as well. I can't even remember her name. But since this is the season where Lourdes goes from "sweet doctor Catholic girl" to "sycophantic, annoying space hippie," maybe expecting good deaths is too much to ask for. Thing is, Falling Skies has already done the plot point of human collaborators in season 1, and it did it better. And it did it without Nazi allagory. Newsflash - using Nazis or Nazi stand-ins is a low hanging fruit, and you're not clever for using them, unless you make it subtle. Y'know, like Harry Potter did, and even then the allagory was clear.

Is that all? Oh no. Not yet. Y'see, Lexi is now pretty much this setting's Sarah Kerrigan in that she's a human-zerg (sorry, espheni) who goes into a chrysalis (sorry, coccoon), who can use psychic (sorry, gravitic) powers, and is their own Queen of Blades. Or something. Like, powerful enough to destroy mechs with lightning, or change the weather, or...whatever. Y'know, Falling Skies was never exactly hard sci-fi per se, but it was at least down to earth. Even in season 3, with the volm and super-cannons, it still kept that feeling to an extent. But here, we get Lexi. Here, we get espheni conversing over the "Shadow Plane" (which conveniently looks like Hell), with a monk and all that. Just...no. No. No. No! Lexi isn't interesting as a character. Her arc isn't interesting. Her powers feel out of place. I doubt they were actually copying StarCraft in this, but Kerrigan succeeds as a character in all the ways Lexi fails as one.

Oh, and did I mention that the plot point of season 4 is practically the same as season 3? As in, they need to take out an espheni power core. Again. Only this time it's on the moon, because of course it is. Y'know, at least by this point the season had a clear goal, but while that did pick up the season a bit for me, it was too little, too late, and above all, too similar to what had come before. So unlike season 3, when the power device is destroyed, I was past caring. Oh, and after that, when Tom Mason is in a fancy room in space, and the show gets delusions of being 2001: A Space Odyssey, it's showing a misunderstanding of why the sterile room worked in 2001 (both the book and film), and arguably a misunderstanding of its own setting. When this show began, it was a down to earth alien invasion story. If it was taking reference from anything, it was War of the Worlds, and even that didn't go beyond superficial similarities. Now, it's aping space opera and high concept sci-fi. And while a change of tone isn't a bad thing in of itself, season 4 screws up the transition so much that when the show ended, I was just kinda glad, because I could devote my remaining time to watching the rest of Nomad of Nowhere (more on that later).

Oh, and Pope's still an asshole. Sorta. The show can't seem to decide what to do with him. Just FYI.

So, that's Falling Skies for you, or rather, season 4. In terms of the actual craft of filmaking, it's fine. Kinda. But in terms of story and worldbuilding, it's just one bad decision after another. If I had to rank the seasons, it would go 2>3>1>4. So if anything, we've got another bell curve. Maybe season 5 will salvage things, but I don't have high hopes at this point. Basically, when people said Falling Skies lost its way, while I don't agree that the losing began in season 2 or 3, the statement itself? Now, I agree with it. :(
 

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Nomad of Nowhere: Season 1 (3/5)

Nomad of Nowhere is something that does my cold, withered heart good...and therefore, i write this thinking that it's somewhat unlikely we'll get a second season, or even if we do, it'll be overshadowed by RT's other efforts. Because when I look at those other efforts...Red vs. Blue, I stopped caring about in season 10 for somewhat obvious reasons. I gave RWBY a try, didn't take. Gen:lock looks like something between "meh" and "bloody hell this is stupid." Every other RT production I cared about (e.g. PANICS) has long since concluded. Obviously RT is free to take the direction it wants, but I'm not under any obligation to follow them.

Which leaves us with Nomad of Nowhere, a charming 12 episode season that's basically weird west (not wild west, weird west) that's gone overshadowed by its larger offerrings. And while this season isn't perfect, it's easily the most interesting thing that's come out of Rooster Teeth for me since season 6 of Red vs. Blue. A.k.a. the best season, before the show started its decline to the drek that was Freelancer. And while some have said that RvB has recovered itself since then, I don't really care. But as for NoN...

...okay, so like I said, it isn't perfect. Thing is, NoN is weird west, but that's not the whole story. The land of Nowhere is certainly inspired by the American West, but it freely combines these tropes with more medieval ones - governors rule the land, but they answer to a king. The Nomad looks like a cowboy, but his prior companion was a witch. It's about 90% Western, 10% traditional fantasy. And while I'm not sure I feel about it, the worldbuilding feels a bit too vague for its own good at times. Like, there's hints of how this world operates, but it could have benefitted from more. Arguably this means that the worldbuilding is well done, in that I want to know more, but apart from that...

Also the characters. They range from "fine" to "decent." Problem is, of the main three characters (Toth, the Nomad, and Skout), Toth is the weak link. She's your usual "all tough on the outside, soft spot on the inside" character. Because she's basically constantly angry, it's hard to relate to her. Similarly, the Nomad is kind of a cipher, given that he's a mute. Like, he has a personality, but by nature that personality isn't going to shine as bright as someone who can speak. And Skout...Skout's adorable okay? Skout is the character I can relate to the most, but that's still 1/3. If anything, the background characters are more engaging than some of the protagonists at times, such as Don Paragon. Yeah, he's a jerk, but he's an entertaining jerk, whereas someone like Toth isn't entertaining when she's being a jerk. Also, minor point, but the season does undergo a shift in tone towards the end (kind of like Disenchantment), as we get a bit more serious, and way, WAY more dark.

Because NoN isn't a so-called "proper watch" (having it on while I'm doing other things), I wonder if the lack of worldbuilding could be attributed to this. Still, while not perfect, I'd love to see more of this. The world is enticing. The show's aesthetic, and characters (Toth aside) are charming. And again, it's nice to have an RT product I can get behind again. That may not be the best reason to support NoN, but damn it, it's still one of them.
 

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Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 1 (3/5)

This show (or at least the season) is weird.

Reading that, you may be thinking "it's Voltron, of course it's weird." To which I say "not that kind of weird." Though of course, when it comes to the content of the show, it does have some trippy stuff, including, but not limited to, the ability of everyone to speak English with no explanation, the melding of magic and technology, and of course, the fact that this is a show where five space lions merge together to form a giant space samurai thing. I mean, the only Voltron show I saw prior to this was a few episodes of The Third Dimension (which I barely remember apart from thinking "meh"), but when someone says "Voltron," chances are you're going to have at least heard of it, and have at least the most basic concept of it (lions, Voltron, space, fight stuff). No. What makes this show weird, is that while all those elements are there, the show's actually quite sparing of them. As in, like, it has the brand recognition of Voltron, but seems to have those elements as a matter of courtesy rather than enthusiasm for them. Maybe the other Voltron shows were like this, but regardless, hopefully over the course of this ramble, you'll see what I'm getting at.

First thing to note is that the show's pretty funny. Like, the stakes are big (band of heroes have to defeat Zarkon and his empire that's stood for 10,000 years), but there's constant banter between the characters. Each of them mostly feel distinct, though the style of dialogue is the same for each, so any line could basically be stated by any character. In other words, while the characters all have their core personality trait, it's never the be all and end all of said personalities. Whether that's a good or a bad thing is something I'll leave up to you. I can't compare this to other Voltron shows, but I can compare it to something like Power Rangers, and the difference is like night and day. Even when Power Rangers was at its best as far as writing went (see RPM), Legendary Defender still does a better job. It's a kid's show, but never as an adult did I feel like it was 'dumbed down' in terms of dialogue or character. Still, of the lion pilots, some get far more development than others.

What's also weird is that this season is on a pretty slow burn when you get down to it, which isn't something I'd expect. Like, for about two thirds of the season, the characters are effectively all in the one place, and it isn't towards the end that they actually set out to fight Zarkon. Like, I'm not complaining, but I can't help but imagine younger viewers criticizing the season for being slow. By extension, for a show named Voltron, we don't actually see that much of the giant in question. And given how fights go, given how each individual lion can easily match the majority of Zarkon's forces by itself, I'm left to ask whether it would be a sounder strategy for the paladins to stay separate. This might be thinking too much into things, but it's a level of intelligence that the cartoon already possesses. When they finally start taking the fight to Zarkon (a move that takes almost the entire season), it's pointed out that they should start with lightly defended targets rather than going straight for his base of operations...which circumstance forces them to do, anyway, but still, it's the thought that counts.

All this aside, taking the cartoon in of itself, it's...it's fine. It's enjoyable. It's entertaining. Still, it sticks in average territory, because it feels like it's missing...something. I dunno. It could be because it feels like the show wants to be one thing, but is obliged to keep certain elements out of brand recognition, but I could be way off the mark, because again, I have precious little prior Voltron stuff to compare this to. Still, it was entertaining, so, um, yeah.
 

PsychedelicDiamond

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Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events

A Netflix show based on a series of Childrens/Young Adult novels written by Daniel Handler under the pseudonym Lemony Snickett, who's a character in the story. There was another adaptation in the early 00s, with Emily Browning and Jim Carrey, but I haven't seen it so I can't compare them. In any case,Series of Unfortunate Events is the story of three orphaned siblings running away from from an evil count and his henchmen and uncovering a secret society that their parents were involved in. The show's obviously mostly made for children and teens but watching it as an adult, I still found it more than enjoyable. It's got a very likeable style to it, very gothic and anachronistic, making it look like the sort of thing Tim Burton would be making if he hadn't lost most of his talent somewhere in the early 10s. And, hell, Count Olaf's henchmen seem like something right out of a Jean Pierre Jeunet movie. The show has a very witty sense of humor most of the time, certainly much better than you'd expect from a kids show, and goes some relatively dark places. The plotline itself isn't too bad either, takes some time to pick up but by the last season I was pretty invested in it. It's all very silly, but doubtlessly entertaining.
 

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PsychedelicDiamond said:
There was another adaptation in the early 00s, with Emily Browning and Jim Carrey, but I haven't seen it so I can't compare them.
Basically a case of a decent movie that's a poor adaptation.
 

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Falling Skies: Season 5 (3/5)

Well at the very least, this season is an improvement over the previous one. Granted, with season 4, that's a pretty low bar, and season 5 hardly soars above it. If I had to rank the seasons now, it would go 2>3>1>5>4. With only 40% of your seasons being "good," that's not exactly a stellar record. Which is a shame, not only for this season, but this show as a whole.

Thing is, the season actually starts off pretty strong. I've mentioned previously that season 1 felt like season 2 given the amount and type of backstory it had to cover, and that season 4 felt redundant. Early on, I felt ready to say that if Falling Skies was obliged to have five seasons, then make season 1 season 2, cut out the original season 4, and season 5 could follow on from the original season 3. And certainly, given the overall trajectory of season 5, that could work for the most part. And like I said, the season starts strong. With the loss of their moonbase, the espheni are robbed of their high-end technology and basically have to rely on skitters and drones to do their fighting for them. Like, if this was a match of StarCraft, basically imagine the espheni being the zerg, losing all their structures but the spawning pool, and in a bid to stay in the game, mass spawn zerglings. That's pretty much what's going on, and as the protagonists have to deal with hordes of skitters/drones attacking their fortified position, it's pretty fun to watch. We get a look at mass warfare, and it makes sense within the context of the setting. We also, finally, get something beyond lip service of other militias, with the plan being to push forward on all fronts, to beat the espheni while they're down. So, alright then, I think to myself. This could be pretty good.

Alas, this is Falling Skies. And true to Falling Skies, we again have to go with a promising idea that's brought down by its execution. Y'see, Falling Skies reminds us that Pope's a dick. Yes, I know a lot of people like Pope, but no, he's a dick, and after losing Karen and blaming Tom, he becomes such an asshole that he forms his own bunch of assholes, kidnaps Hal, and decides to leave, forcing the group to split their attention between moving on the espheni base at Washington, and dealing with Pope. It's also at this point that the season loses a lot of its lustre. I mean, you can tell by this review, and the reviews I've done of past seasons, that I've never been fond of Pope's character, but at this point in time, human vs. human conflict doesn't carry the weight it once did in prior seasons. The stuff after this point isn't too bad, but it feels so...unnecessary. It feels unnecessary for the Ben-Maggie-Hal love triangle to be replaced by a Hal-Maggie-some girl love triangle. It feels so unnecessary to be wasting our time with Pope, it feels unnecessary to have the whole dornia sub-plot as well. Thing is, I actually like the idea of the dornia - first race the espheni skitterized, the last dornia left seeking vengeance. However, similar to season 4, we get far too much into mysticism for my liking, with the dornia existing on a different plane of reality or something...despite having a physical ship. I'm left to ask if the dornia are so different from other species in this regard how the espheni even skitterized them in the first place. Also, the whole "kill the queen and the race dies" is a cliche - even more than other cliches, because while taking out the hivemind can usually incapacitate 'bug species', it's never to the extent of "kill the queen and the whole race dies." I've no idea how this kill switch the dornia give Tom even works biologically, but, I dunno, Clarke's Third Law.

Moving on, as the season loses its punch, as all militias converge on Washington (because of course the queen's going to touch down there), there is a fairly interesting diversion where the characters stop off at an Army base where the captain in charge seems more intent in apprehending collaberators than fighting the espheni directly. Now, you can guess before the episode's end that she's an espheni plant, and yes, you'd be correct. Still, the whole sense of paranoia within the base is actually well done, how normal people can be swept up in said paranoia. Basically, Falling Skies does in two episodes what all of season 4 tried to with its pseudo-Nazi sub-plot and failed at (I like to think the whole collaborator thing is kind of a shot at the actual collaborators who thought "hey, let's imitate the Hitler Youth"). You can choose whether you want it to be an allagory for anything, but the difference between good and bad allagory is that good allagory can survive on its own without having to know about the frame of reference. So, the two parter base episode works. That said, it's effectively a repeat of Charleston, and not done as well.

What also doesn't work as well is the whole "Pope's gone savage" thing (in what feels like a rip-off from The Walking Dead), and his attack on the base, and supposed death off-screen.

So, assault on Washington comes. Espheni have bunkered in. Clearly this is what the entire series has been building towards. They're gonna go all out. They're...going to have the battle off-screen as a small group infiltrates Washington to take out the queen, making their way through an espheni hive, because fuck it, let's just rip off Aliens. Similar to Aliens, Tom gets a one on one confrontation with the queen. Unlike Aliens, this entire sequence is pretty stupid, because:

a) The queen knows about the dornia biological agent, but doesn't destroy it, and leaves it in arm's reach of Tom.

b) The queen reveals that Earth is the only inhabitable planet in the galaxy and is of immense strategic importance (I'll let you process why this is a stupid idea)

c) The queen reveals that her daughter came to Earth before, but the Nazca killed her, causing the queen to swear vengeance and come back 1000s of years later. I really dislike this idea - really, REALLY dislike it. There was nothing to suggest there was anything special about Earth up to this point. There was nothing all that special about humanity bar the whole "humans don't give up thing." But no. We've got to force in a reference to the Nazca lines. And we've got to have Tom kill the queen while she's sucking the blood out of him, causing every espheni and skitter to explode, because hey, genocide is fun. Also, not a single character even questions the ethics of this - the action's understandable. The lack of any consideration? Not so much.

But it's not over, because Anne's dead, forcing Tom to take her to the dornia. Dornia isn't exactly forthcoming, allowing for a final confrontation between Tom and a nearly dead Pope (who's still alive). Now, I'm not a fan of Pope, but at the least, the moment is touching. He sees that Anne's dead, and comments that he thought Tom going through what he did would have brought him joy, but it hasn't. Pope dies, as the two men finally get a wary understanding of each other. They've both lost. They've both loved. They both saw the end of the war. "Huh," I think. "That's a pretty nice moment."

Of course, Anne survives, which negates this entire sequence and the impact of Pope's character arc. I...okay, on a personal level, what they did to Lourdes in season 4 irritates me more, but from a writing perspective, this is terrible. You set up an arc for Pope, complete the arc, then negate the arc five minutes later. For those who like Pope, it's not hard to see why this irritates them, why Pope's entire arc (or lack of it) in season 5 does. And that would be bad enough, but it's at this point that Falling Skies remembers that it's got the idea that it's telling the story of the Second American Revolution (I've already explained why this analogy doesn't make sense). So, the show seems to want to have it two ways, as in the same speech, Tom seems to try and find a middle ground between "America, fuck yeah!" and "we're all human, and once we lived in a world without nations, so maybe we can do better." This...really doesn't work. Independence Day got away with it, but at this point...no. Just no.

So that's Falling Skies for you, both this season, and the series. Honestly, I'm disappointed. There were certainly good seasons, and good moments in the average ones. I can understand the criticisms of some as to how it changed, as the mythology was built up, even if I don't necessarily share them (apart from the revelations at the end). But at the end of the day, this entire series screams wasted potential. "Aliens invade Earth" is hardly an original plot point, but if you're given five seasons to flesh that plot point out, a few ideas might be to not waste an entire season spinning your wheels, be smarter with your worldbuilding, get some consequences for the main characters, and FFS, choose a theme and stick with it. Otherwise you get, well, this.

Shame. :(
 

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Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 2 (3/5)

So, I saw season 2 of VLD. And...really, what do I have to talk about?

Okay, in fairness, I should emphasise that like a lot of what I watch, this is a case of me watching while also working, that VLD was secondary to The Walking Dead, and I was watching it at a time where I've been routinely distracted by other matters. But that can only go so far, because watching Season 6 of TWD, even sharing all the above considerations bar the secondary status, I've still got plenty to talk about in regards to that. But here...well, what do I say? Pretty much everything I said in my review of season 1 could be applied here. On the one hand, the season remains strong in characterization and character interaction, in that each character feels unique, and the dialogue is crisp and snappy - it's never talking down to me the way a cartoon designed exclusively for children might. On the other hand, the season shares the same issue for me in that I've really got no sense of place or worldbuilding. Again, when you're up against a foe that apparently rules multiple galaxies for 10,000 years, I don't care how powerful your flying robot is, logistics dictates that you're boned.

That said, there's still a key difference between this season and the last...maybe. Dunno if "key difference" is the best term to use, but I mentioned last time that season 1 felt like it was on a slow burn. That the paladins were spending the bulk of the season preparing to take on the galra, only for circumstance to dictate that they go all-in at the very end. In contrast, season 2 feels much faster in terms of plot progression and its pacing. Like, two seasons in, and we're conducting an operation at the very end that will supposedly put an end to Zarkon. I'm not sure how I feel about this per se - at the least, I can't really state whether this season is better or worse than the previous one. Still, I'm left to ask (again) why this series is so beloved. Like, I'm not talking Adventure Time levels of dissonance, where despite praise heaped from all directions I found the first two seasons to be bereft of any real value), but at the end of the day, VLD is a series about magical lions forming up to form a giant space guy that destroys aliens with a giant sword. For all the talk of VLD having deep themes, dealing with issues such as PTSD and abuse, I'm left to go, "huh?" Newsflash - alluding to themes isn't the same thing as engaging in themes, and I'd have to squint pretty hard to even see those allusions. This isn't a mark against the show itself - a work of fiction is under no obligation to engage in heavy subjects - but when you're constantly being told how great something is, and find it to be simply average...well, the dissonance is noticeable.

Anyway, that's it. I watched the first two seasons on a borrowed DVD, so until I renew my Netflix subscription (which won't be happening for quite awhile), I won't be able to talk more. Overall, I can say that VLD has been like popcorn - tasty while being consumed, but quite forgettable.
 

Hawki

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The Walking Dead: Season 6 (3/5)

Look up a list of the best to worst Walking Dead seasons, and chances are you'll see season 6 on the bottom. Thus, the question can be asked as to whether I think the season is the worst. To that, I can't say, because I haven't watched beyond season 6, But is season 6 the worst Walking Dead season I've seen? Well, yeah, actually. That said, the reasons I think so aren't reasons I've often seen cited as to why this season is ranked so low, but there may be some overlap. So to that end, I'm going to give my general thoughts on the season in chronological order.

The first episode sets the tone of the season in that it feels very artsy, in that, flashbacks are used with a black/white filter. That's something noticable about season 6 - it may be my imagination, but the season often feels like it's trying to be artsy, and often it feels like it's being artsy for the sake of it. Certainly the first episode's flashback structure doesn't do it any favous. But anyway, first order of business is to get a walker herd away from Alexandria, which means a long, drawn out game of follow the leader. In fairness, this is handled well as far as size and scope goes, conveying just how big a walker herd actually is. Still, things go wrong, including an attack on Alexandria itself by a band called the Wolves. Enjoy them while they last (or not) because they're pretty forgettable. About the best thing that happens is Morgan capturing one of them which prompts a flashback, which is easily the best episode in the season, and also one of the strongest in the series overall. However, it's an episode that stands apart from the rest of the season, and has no real bearing on any of it.

I should also mention that around this time, as the walker follow-the-leader plan goes south, there's been a lot of complaitns about the Glenn fake-out death scene. Now, I knew ahead of time that he didn't die then (because of spoilers, I know I have to wait for season 7 for him to die), but I really don't get why this scene is an issue. I thought it was pretty well done, how the camera tricks you into thinking Glenn is dying, but isn't. Now, it's kinda convoluted that he survives regardless, but meh, I can roll with it.

So, half the herd's back at Alexandria, which means we need a plan to deal with them. It's also at this point that I notice how Gabriel's character has changed. At the end of season 5, he was basically a man out of time - a priest who doesn't know how to survive, and subjects Sasha to psychological abuse. In the time that's passed sicne then (which is days at the most), he's settled into "stone cold guy who's quite at ease with the zombie apocalypse.' A bit of an exageration, but while his character's changed, there's no real depiction of his journey from a to b. Eugene has a similar character arc, but it's an arc that happens during the season rather than between seasons, and it can be observed in various stages.

Anyway, part of the wall collapses (because a church tower collapses, because fate's a *****) and the walkers surge in. Honestly, at this point, I'm left to ask how anyone can really survive this, not to mention that it's hard to get a sense of how many people are actually still alive. Anyway, Rick and co. do the "drench yourself in walker blood to fool them" trick, and this is where things get stupid (or more stupid). You see, the character of Jessie has two sons - one of which hates Rick for killing his dad, the other of which is sufferring PTSD. I actually like this angle, because we actually get to see characters who've had little to worry about up till now suddenly have to deal with the zombie apocalypse. Jessie has a 'thing' with Rick, and thoughts about that aside, I could see potential for her character arc for said reasons. But no. We don't get that. Because as they make their way through the herd, one of the kids stops moving because he sees a zombie kid in the crowd. Okay, fair enough. However, apparently slowing down is enough to get the zombies to notice you and eat you...even though all the characters have stopped as well (you could say he's whimpering, but the characters have already whispered to each other and kept baby Judith quiet as well, so I don't by this). He's killed. Jessie tries to save him, but is eaten as well. Cue artsy cinematography that tries to convey the emotional weight of this and fails. Also other son tries to shoot, Carl gets shot. Characters move on. Zombies are all killed...somehow.

This is the end of the season's first half. Overall, the second half is a bit better, but it's got its own sources of frustration.

So, second half. A bit of time has passed. Carl's alive, but is missing an eye - he has a brief stint of "only kill walkers if you have to," but that goes nowhere. Also, Rick and Michone get it on. Remember Jessie and Rick, and the budding relationship? Well, Jessie is never mentioned again in this season. Now, RickxMichone isn't the worst pairing in the world, but up to this point, when the show's done relationships, it's taken time. This comes out of the blue, is barely discussed after it happens, and is never explored. Thing is, I can understand the rationale for this pairing, but its execution is bothced. Even the RickxJessie thing actually lasted a total of one season via episode count, and they never got to first base. Still, there is one bright spot in this half of the season, and that's Jesus. No, not son of God Jesus, "guy who calls himself Jesus Jesus." We don't see nearly enough of him, but he's enjoyable to have around all the same. Apart from that, there isn't too much to comment on the season here. I like the idea of the Hilltop community and establishing trade, as civilization makes a re-emergence of sorts, but this idea isn't really explored. I like the idea of the Saviours, but we don't actually see that much of them (more on that later). I'm really not fond of Carol's whole "breaking down" thing, but the episode that leads up to it, where she and Maggie have to fight their way out of a prison compound is quite good. Also, contrary to other complaints I've read, the last episode is really solid, how the Saviours stalk Rick and co., only for them to realize just how outnumbered they are. And Negan's entrance...wow. I actually checked the timer - about 10 minutes pass between him getting out of his vehicle and the episode ending with him killing what will be revealed to be Abraham. 10 minutes of near monologue and no music. It's excellently done, and I have no idea how people could complain about it. Like the Morgan flashback episode, it's not enough to save the season, but both stand as bright spots.

So. That's season 6 for you. Apart from some bright spots, basically an exercise in frustration. And yes, I said the same about season 5, but for all its flaws, season 5 at least had a sense of direction. Not as much as season 4, but still, it existed. Season 6, on the other hand, feels like it's spinning its wheels. And also, it feels like it's trying to be smarter than it actually is, what with its directing style and half-heated attempts at character development. Now, the Walking Dead isn't exactly deep or philisophical, but it's always been interested in the human condition, and up to even season 5, has had something to say about it. Season 6 feels like it has things to say, but wants to actually say them in a lot of cases, whereas previous seasons didn't need monolgues to convey their themes. Season 6 pulls this off in one episode (again, the Morgan flashback), but it' the exception rather than the rule.

So, is this season the worst. Dunno. Waiting for season 7 to arrive. But considering that I'd rank the show's seasons as 3>4>1>2>5>6, I hope this isn't the continuation of a downhill slide.
 

Hawki

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Camp Camp: Season 1 (4/5)

So, you might guess from my avatar that I like Camp Camp. It wasn't a case of saying "I like this show, I'm gonna change my avatar" (I've always changed my avatar to best represent my current dominant mood), but liking the cartoon did help. But avatar aside, how does the show stack up?

Well, it stacks up better than a lot of Rooster Teeth's other output, and that includes Nomad of Nowhere. Now, I like NoN, but they're different shows, with NoN being plot driven, while CC is character driven. There's string continuity, but each episode is fairly self-contained. In other words, it's a comedy, and as a comedy, it had me laughing my arse off. Still, it can have some gravitas when it needs to, most notably in the final episode. I'm actually kidna reminded of Disenchantment in a sense, in that each season has a similar no. of episodes, with the final episode having a tone divergence. Still, while I thought this was okay in Disenchantment, the shift works much better in that since the final episode is the culmination of David's declining self-esteem, and that decline has happened throughout the season, there's far more payoff, whereas Disenchantment is more "shit got real."

So, yeah. Really enjoyed this. Well done RT, you made me laugh again, and after killing RvB, I wasn't sure if that was possible.
 

Kyrian007

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King's Game (5/10) - I'm trying to work through the backlog on my watchlist of anime. And I went through King's Game over the last couple of weeks. And I'm nearly at a loss on how I feel about it. Generally when all I see online is hate for something, I take up a contrary position just out of pure misanthropy. But this show has a lot of problems. First and foremost... where are the ADULTS. This is even worse than the "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" universe with no parents... there are no adults at all in King's Game. Pacing... terrible. The "stakes" ramp up so fast. The plot of this story is begging for a slow build. A gradual ramping up of the craziness. So the characters left can look back and see just how far they have fallen from where they started. In King's Game that moment is like looking up at the cliff they were pushed off of 2 seconds ago. On the other hand... I see where this could have been really good. The premise is cliche but for a western audience where adolescent games like "truth or dare" or "presidents and assholes" are more common, the eponymous "king's game" is different enough to make it interesting. There is a real attempt at misdirections concerning the nature of their tormentor that keep the mystery going. And best of all, they don't destroy the mystery by EXPLAINING it. I'm still convinced a lot of the hate is from the same people that can't enjoy something unless they have everything explained to them. Sorry, that's a big plus in favor of King's Game... not a negative at all. Still, the execution could have been a lot better. It winds up being about as good as a "bad" horror movie, it just takes longer to sit through. And then I watched

Mikagura School Suite (4/10) - This one I have actually seen the first episode of several times. As long as it has been on the backlog every 6 months or so I decided, "maybe I'll start on this." And then lose interest or find something better to do before I watch more than the first 2 episodes. But I saw it through this time. Its fine, but its entirely generic. Like someone said "make a magic boarding school show" and the writer asked "which one of the other magic boarding school shows should this one be like?" And the answer given was "I don't know, I don't watch that crap... just make it like all the rest, in fact like all the magical girl series and boarding school series in general." It isn't completely terrible, but its not in any way memorable. I had to look up the name just now because I honestly forgot the title. I also watched

Punisher: Season 2 (4/10) - I enjoyed it more than just 4/10, it is a lot of fun. But the ending was so stupid I can't give it anything better. They spent a lot of time trying to develop Frank's character, and then completely drop the ball in the last episode and a half. And I couldn't be happier they did it that way. Now I don't care at all that Netflix is dropping it (I haven't heard that officially yet btw so I don't know one way or the other... but they obviously are dropping it.)