Netflix Review – You: A Show Worth Obsessing Over? (Spoiler-Free)

Lifetime’s brilliant and unsung show You goes to Netflix and it’s hard to stop watching it… even if you’re in the bushes.

SUMMARY

Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) is a bookstore manager who becomes attracted to a patron, an aspiring writer named Guinevere “Beck” Beck (Elizabeth Lail). He begins to follow her, stalking her, planning out methods by which he can become her boyfriend. This only covers episode one, but literally anything else about the show is a spoiler.

you - 1joe
She’s a writer, he’s a reader. It’s a match made from him following her home.

END SUMMARY

Like most of you, I didn’t hear about this show during its original run, but after hearing about it, I had to give it a try and dang, I would never have expected this level out of Lifetime. Granted, I don’t watch Lifetime, so maybe that’s on me.

The first positive of the show is that almost all of the characters are so much deeper than they originally appear. A lot of this is derived from the way in which we are introduced to them. At the beginning of the show, we almost exclusively see things from Joe’s viewpoint, complete with his narration. Joe is presented as a smart man, basically a Hannibal-Lector-esque predator, so we hardly question any of the conclusions and deductions he makes during the first few episodes… which makes it so much more interesting when we get more objective scenes where we find out that he isn’t as omniscient as he thinks and that the stereotypes he thinks that most of the supporting characters fit are not exactly what they turn out to be.

you - 2beck
Beck’s friends are so much more than they first appear.

Another positive is that they don’t exactly make Joe the enviable model of villain protagonist/anti-hero that we sometimes see in modern media, with guys wanting to be Don Draper (despite him being miserable for almost all of the series) or, more frighteningly, Dexter. Yes, some people, including some women, apparently, message Penn Badgley talking about how much they want to be, or be with, the character, but for the most part I think the show does go out of the way to make him undesirable. One way they do this is by making him the butt of many of the jokes in the show, ranging from him being massively wrong about his deductions to wildly overestimating some of his abilities and failing at a task he believes he’ll easily complete. It helps that Joe, while monstrous, still has positive traits, like when he is attempting to stop his neighbor from being abused by her boyfriend. By being able to hear his inner motivations, some of the things that he does are given grander, more heroic motivations… right until the show shifts to an objective point of view and we’re reminded that, oh, right, THIS GUY IS HORRIFYING.

you - 3stalk
He’s literally a stalker and you almost like him.

The acting is spectacular, pretty much all around, with special credit going to the two leads and Luca Padovan who plays Joe’s young neighbor who is dealing with his mom’s horrible relationship and Natalie Paul who plays his babysitter. The cinematography and direction are both solid. The atmosphere that the show builds around Joe’s stalking conveys the darkness of the topic, while also putting in enough levity to make it tolerable.

You - Paco.jpg
They have such great interplay.

The biggest positive, though, is that the show is almost impossible to predict. The writing is spectacular, but it really shines when the series alternates between playing things out how they would in real life and how they would in fiction. Sometimes, Joe succeeds only because the narrative allows him to pull off stunts that should be nearly impossible, but sometimes he fails at things because that’s what would happen in real life. The fact that you’re dealing simultaneously with both fiction and real logics keeps you on your toes. Additionally, the overall arc of the season doesn’t play out in the way that most stories of this kind do.

It helps that the show starts off narrated almost entirely from Joe’s perspective, before shifting to give us other viewpoints, allowing for a little bit of Rashomon-esque recontextualization of encounters, meaning that the narrative can suddenly change a character’s motivations while not invalidating the rest of their behaviors.

Overall, I was blown away by how much I ended up enjoying this series. I can’t wait for season 2. Give it a shot if you can handle a little darkness in your shows.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

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Netflix Review – The Last Laugh, or Nobody Else Will Work With Chevy: The Movie (Spoiler-Free)

Richard Dreyfuss and Chevy Chase join forces to make a comedy film about aging and… it sort of works.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Al Hart (Chevy Chase) was a professional agent for 50 years, but is now being pressured into retiring by his granddaughter, Jeannie (Kate Micucci). While touring a retirement facility, he runs into his former client, Buddy Green (Richard Dreyfuss), who encourages him to take up residence. Buddy was a promising comedian who was given his big break on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, but instead walked off and pursued a medical career and a family. Buddy is mostly content with retired life, but Al quickly grows upset with it, telling Buddy that they should do a comedy tour and get him on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to make up for his missed opportunity. Along the way, Al meets Doris Lovejoy (Andie MacDowell), a free-spirited woman with whom he forms a bond. Hi-Jinks ensue.

lastlaugh - 1cast
Guess which one has an Oscar? Hint: It’s the one who admitted to doing Poseidon for money.

END SUMMARY

So… it’s pretty much a well-established fact at this point that Chevy Chase is hilarious, but also an intolerable asshole. In fact, the latter has pretty much wrecked his career because it has so overshadowed the former. If you’ve seen the Vacation movies, Fletch, the first season of SNL, Caddyshack, Funny Farm, The Three Amigos, or Community, you’re probably aware that Chevy Chase can be hilarious. If you’ve ever seen or read anything about him, you know he’s an asshole. When he left Saturday Night Live after season 1, the rest of the cast cheered. When he came back to host, he got into a fist-fight with Bill Murray on set. When he met with Kevin Smith about reviving Fletch, he drove Smith completely insane. He had one of the most famously unfunny roasts of all time, because few people showed up and those that did hated him. He was kicked off of Community for making everyone miserable, though admittedly Dan Harmon is also famously difficult to work with. Last September, the Washington Post did a report about the fact that Chevy Chase wants to work, but can’t find anyone to tolerate him. 

lastlaugh - 2finger
And Belushi was just a frenemy.

Well, good news, he found at least someone willing to put up with him long enough to film a buddy comedy. Surprisingly, that’s Richard Dreyfuss. More surprisingly, Dreyfuss is the one in the film that is a comedian. Even more surprisingly, Dreyfuss is the funnier one in the film. Not that Chase isn’t funny in some scenes, he is, but since Dreyfuss is doing the routines, he has a lot more chances to be funny. He also has the more emotional journey, having previously given up this career for a family and stability, but now having no close family or career left. It’s a great performance by a gifted actor about a man trying to take back the road not taken.

LastLaugh - 3Standup.jpg
His stand-up routines vary in quality, but I did think many were legitimately funny.

The biggest problem with the movie is that it doesn’t have much of a sense of urgency in anything that happens, which is something you do need on a road-trip comedy. Even when they do try to provide some level of it, the film just doesn’t ever feel like this really needs to be the “last” laugh, because they could just keep working at it. There is a great sequence in the film involving trying to actually get Buddy on the show and a dream sequence which does show Chase’s range, but other than that the performances are only pretty standard for the actors. Take that how you will.

Overall, I’d say that it’s only an okay movie and both of these guys have done way better. Give this one a shot if you’re a big fan of Dreyfuss, but otherwise maybe save it for when you’re old and have watched everything else.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Rick and Mondays – S2 E7 “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez”

We have two cosmetic plots which our minds mistake for thematic in this episode. Also, vampires are real.

SUMMARY

At breakfast, Morty (Justin Roiland) mentions that a lunch lady at his school was exsanguinated by two holes in her neck. Rick (Roiland) points out that it was probably a vampire, something that Summer (Spencer Grammer) is surprised to find out are real. She suggests that Rick transfer his mind into a teenage body so that he can help them find and kill the vampire, something that Rick angrily condemns. Beth (Sarah Chalke) tells Jerry (Chris Parnell) to support his daughter, only for Jerry to be revealed not to be paying attention, leading to a fight. Rick, still crotchety, tells them to fix their marriage or get a divorce. They respond that they’ve tried to do therapy, which Rick derides as “Earth therapy” and then tells them he’ll take them to a therapy center on an alien planet. Rick takes them both, still bickering, to the planet while Summer makes stakes for Buffy-ing.

S2E7 - 1Headache.png
Brain the size of a universe and he still can’t deal with this noise.

On the therapy planet, it’s revealed that a key part of the therapy is generating physical representations of how each partner views the other one. Jerry’s vision of Beth is as a Xenomorph-esque monster, while Beth’s vision of Jerry is a weak, worm like version who wants to offer his servitude and sexual favors in exchange for safety. Both of them are pissed at the other for these images, but Glexo Slim Slom (Jim Rash), the head couples’ counselor, tells them both that this is normal and part of the process. He takes Beth and Jerry, along with a number of other couples, through observations of the battles between the monsters generated by the couples, using it as a metaphor for how we envision our partner differently than they actually are. Unseen, Beth’s “Mytholog” communicates with Jerry’s and starts to cover her body with a layer of Jerry’s Mytholog’s blood.

S2E7 - 2Betholog.png
I don’t know biology, but four boobs seems like the wrong number.

Back on Earth, Rick appears at school in a teenage body, calling himself “Tiny Rick.” He quickly assists the kids in killing “Coach Feratu,” the vampire at the school. Rick’s about to put his mind back into his old body, but it turns out that Tiny Rick is fairly popular at the school and Summer’s crush Toby Matthews (Alex “I CREATED GRAVITY F*CKING FALLS AND AM MAGICAL” Hirsch) asks if he’ll be at a party later. Rick agrees to stay small for party purposes.

S2E7 - 3Stakes.png
He’s an old man in a kid’s body. They’re two vampire-slaying teens. This summer… the stakes have never been higher. Watch Rick and Morty in: Suck It, Vampires!

Beth and Jerry continue the therapy tour, only for it to appear that their Mythologs have escaped. It’s revealed that the Betholog camouflaged itself and escapes along with the Jerry Mytholog, both of them killing numerous people and rampaging throughout the facility. Glexo realizes what has happened and tells Beth and Jerry that their demons are actually co-dependant, making theirs the single worst marriage that he’s ever seen. He then abandons the two of them to die. Jerry finds a hiding spot, but Beth chooses to try to find a way out before she is abducted by Betholog. Jerry then manages to subdue his Mytholog, due to its blatant cowardice, and tells it to take him to Beth. Betholog tells her that she’s going to be used to produce an army of Jerry Mythologs to help her enslave the universe. Beth sarcastically points out that she should be trying to create more Bethologs, but the Betholog says that there can only be one of her, because she’s so much smarter and stronger than Beth because Jerry thinks Beth is so much stronger and smarter than she actually is.

S2E7 - 4Betholog.png
Beth meets her own worst… husband’s nightmare.

Back on Earth at the party, Tiny Rick sings a song that appears to be a cry for help from the older version of Rick trapped in a vat in the garage. At school, Tiny Rick continues to refuse to transfer his mind back into his original body. Summer complains, but Morty tells her to get her shit together. At the school dance, Rick sings a song that is clearly about being trapped in the garage. Summer gets him expelled by planting evidence that he killed Coach Feratu, which leads Rick to call her a psycho. Everyone then turns on Summer, having loved Tiny Rick. Tiny Rick goes to destroy his grown body, but Summer and Morty stop him by playing Elliot Smith, leading him to want to be back in his original body. He gets put back in and then destroys all of his clones, dubbing the experiment a failure. He then goes to pick up Beth and Jerry.

S2E7 - 5RickDance.png
Rick gets back-up dancers easily.

Jerry arrives with a gun to kill all of the Mythologs. Beth then thinks that Jerry is heroic, resulting in the machine cranking out first normal Jerrys, then muscular and heroic Jerrys. Jerry tries to save Beth, but is about to die, until he puts the Mytholog Maker on a heroic Jerry, leading to that version creating a literal Goddess Beth, who easily kills the Betholog. In the wreckage of the planet, Beth and Jerry reconcile as a nude, blood-covered Rick picks them up.

S2E7 - 6GodBeth.png
Granted, even the ideal Beth resembles A) a doctor and B) a goddess of destruction.

END SUMMARY

This episode, much like “Meeseeks and Destroy,” benefits heavily from the cuts between the A and B plots. While in that episode it allowed us to perfectly split between two advancing plotlines by cutting all of the boring scenes out, in this one it (slightly imperfectly) allows us to do that while also masking the fact that the timeline for this episode seems rather uncertain and uneven. We know that the events of the Tiny Rick plot take at least 3 days, but Beth and Jerry’s therapy appears to go off the rails immediately. Did they just wander around hiding from monsters for 2 days, did the initial tour just take that long, or did the events of their trip play out and then they were waiting for Rick for a few days? Whatever, I didn’t really notice at the time, and I’m sure Dan Harmon has some justification for it. Either way, the fact that I didn’t notice is a credit to the editing.

The vampire is pretty much my favorite plot instigator in the series. It’s so random that vampires are real and that not only is Rick aware of it, but considers people stupid for NOT being aware of it. It’d be the same as the reveal that dragons are real being met with a disinterested “and?”  To cap that off, it’s quickly revealed, offscreen, to be Coach Feratu, the least subtle vampire name in history, and he’s dispatched apparently within a few hours. Somehow, apparently, Morty and Summer hadn’t immediately concluded it was the Coach from the beginning, however. That’s why it’s even better when they have the stinger at the end where the head vampire points out that Coach Feratu is a terrible name to hide under and tells them to pick generic names from now on.

S2E7 - 7VampireKing.png
This guy definitely deserves to be in charge.

At the end of the episode, Jerry tries to connect the themes of the stories, but Rick just responds that the story connections are just cosmetic, not really thematic, which I guess is true. Rick’s story is more related to the fact that people are terrible at having perspective in High School and that accepting aging and the inevitability of death is part of life, while Beth’s and Jerry’s stories are more about how perception shapes relationships. There’s some stuff about how appearances reflect behavior in both stories, but not much more than that in common.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Everything in this episode happens because Rick’s pissed off at breakfast. Well, not the vampire attacks, those clearly are independent of the rest of the episode, but everything besides that. If you watch the opening to the episode, it’s apparent that Rick is even more crotchety than usual. He acts disdainful towards the family during the vampire discussion, yells at Summer for proposing the kind of hi-jinks that Rick himself usually would jump to, then flat-out tells Beth and Jerry to get a divorce or fix their marriage in a very angry tone. Now, Rick would probably do any of these things normally, but the way he does them in this episode still seems pretty extreme. But, after running Beth and Jerry to the therapy planet, Rick ends up turning himself young like Summer suggested. He says this is because he felt bad about how he treated Summer, but I don’t think that’s entirely it. I think there’s another reason why Rick is pissed and why he chooses the path that he does.

S2E7 - 8Smiggles.png
Morty killed the Rabbichaun for this.

Anyone who has dealt with older people learns a horrifying fact about the eventual state of their body: You can’t keep eating all the crap you loved as a kid. Spicy food, greasy food, and especially ultra-sugary cereals will tear your insides up. And what is Morty eating for breakfast along with the hot food that his mother made for the family? Why, a delicious bowl of magical Strawberry Smiggles! Now, why do I think that Rick is upset by this? Well, admittedly, not much to go on, but it’s the one thing that Rick asks for that’s unrelated to any of the other conversation parts: The pepper. Every other time we see Rick eating breakfast in the series, he is fairly complimentary of the way that Beth prepares it, but this time we see him dissatisfied about the flavor. I think that’s Rick expressing his anger about not being able to do something because he’s too old. That’s why he does eventually decide to do the plan of making himself young again, even though it’s an overly-complicated solution to the vampire problem: Because that morning he really felt crappy about being old and wanted to get away from that for a few minutes. So, yeah, if Morty doesn’t pick the cereal, Rick probably isn’t as angry, and most of the stuff in the episode probably plays out differently.

NOW LEAVING THE CORNER

Overall, I give this episode an

B

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

PREVIOUS – 17: The Ricks Must Be Crazy

NEXT – 19: Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – 3Below: Tales of Arcadia Part 2

The second entry in Guillermo Del Toro’s world of Arcadia is a sci-fi series that has a lot of familiar feels.

SUMMARY

Princess Aja (Tatiana Maslany) and Prince Krel (Diego Luna) are the heirs to the throne of House Tarron, the ruling house of Akiridion-5. However, on the day of their coronation, a mad dictator named Val Morando (Alon Aboutboul) takes over the planet, resulting in Aja and Krel, and their “dog” Luug (Frank Welker), being carried away from the planet by their guardian, the great warrior Varvatos Vex (Nick f*cking Offerman). They manage to collect the greatly wounded bodies of their parents and put them in stasis as they head for the nearest planet that might provide safety, which happens to be Earth. After crash-landing in Arcadia, California, the ship’s computer (Glenn Close) cloaks the group by making Aja, Krel, and Varvatos look like humans and the ship look like a suburban home. The three must find a way to avoid the bounty hunters sent by Val Morando and fix the ship so that they can fix their parents and make it back home.

3Below - 1Cast.png
Nick Offerman voicing the oldest person on Earth is hilarious. 

END SUMMARY

This is the Sci-Fi to the Fantasy of Trollhunters, but, admittedly, it doesn’t create the worlds quite as well as the former did. While we are introduced to interesting alien species in the form of the bounty hunters and a few of Earth’s secret resident aliens, most of the actions take place in the city of Arcadia, populated by most of the same characters from Trollhunters. While those characters are, for the most part, great and some of them are expanded upon well, we only get a handful of new characters created for this show that get the same kind of care. We also don’t get much time in other locations, despite the fact that we are doing an alien-centric sci-fi show. That said, Arcadia is still pretty awesome and the characters are still very enjoyable, particularly when interacting with the abnormal behavior of the aliens.

3Below - 2Parents.jpg
The android fake parents are a little reminiscent of Invader Zim… which is a good thing.

The biggest plus for me is Nick Offerman as Varvatos Vex. In the beginning, you’ll find his character annoying and overblown, because that’s what he’s supposed to be. By the end, though, you discover why he acts the way he does, and it retroactively makes everything seem so much more interesting and deeper than could have been predicted up front. That said, the main reason his character is even tolerable is that he’s played by Nick Offerman who is completely dedicated to his performance. Much like with Offerman’s Ron Swanson, this character’s exaggerated elements move from “tough to deal with” to “lovable” as time goes on.

3Below - 3Varvatos.jpg
The Cane-Fu is a bit much at times, but hey, it’s not often.

Aja and Krel’s journeys are a little cliche nowadays, because Aja is trying to avoid being a princess while Krel is more comfortable being a prince. I get that we are trying to make up for the fact that women were only allowed to be princesses in most of Western Fiction for pretty much all of history until very recently, but her method of refusing to take the throne is similar to how most modern female characters try to reject the archetype, which is now itself becoming an archetype. Fortunately, the show seems to realize that and, a few episodes in, she starts to break from the mold a little bit more in her pursuit of being a warrior. Krel, for the most part, is the tech genius who wants to both be normal at school and also get the parts of his life back that he enjoyed.

The crossovers with Trollhunters actually make for pretty good episodes, too. The season finale takes place at the same time as the series finale of that series, which makes for some interesting parallel action.

3Below - 4Crossover.jpg

The show’s humor definitely saves it at some points. The fish-out-of-water story of the aliens trying to blend in with humanity is pretty well done, but it’s better when combined with the goofy and somewhat off-kilter residents of Arcadia.

Overall, I look forward to seeing more of this series if there is more to see. If not, I look forward to seeing what Wizards does to tie the whole universe together.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Jolene Cover

I was inspired by a Facebook post (it’s at the bottom) to compose a cover of the song Jolene by Dolly Parton that depicts Jolene as a monster. It didn’t take long, but I enjoyed it, so I’m publishing it here.

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene

I’m begging of you please don’t take my man

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene

Please don’t eat him just because you can

Your fury is beyond compare

With flaming locks of brimstone hair

And eyes that fire bolts of emerald green

Your breath is like the fires of hell

Your roars drown out my loudest yell

I cannot help but run from you, Jolene

On sight of you, I tear my eyes,

Weep bloody tears ‘neath bloody skies,

My wails will always bear the name Jolene

The mortals scream and roil in pain

But sound won’t reach her native plane

The many-angled one they call Jolene

Our world is but her dinner plate

You cry and scream, bemoan your fate

But nothing hungers like the dread Jolene

Darkness Falls across the land

Mankind’s last hour is at hand

Damnation hath but one name, that’s Jolene

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene

My soul is being shredded by your hand

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene

Please grant me the swiftest death you can

Image may contain: text

Netflix Review – Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia Part 1

Guillermo Del Toro takes an imaginative crack at a kids show.

SUMMARY

Jim Lake Jr. (Anton Yelchin/Emile Hirsch) is a high-school outcast, because he’s the protagonist and that’s pretty much the only thing a teen protagonist can be since Peter Parker. One day, while biking to school with his friend Toby Domzalski (Charlie Saxton), he finds an amulet in what appears to be the remains of a shattered statue. Naturally, it turns out that it’s really a magical talisman left by Merlin (David Bradley) and the statue was actually the remains of its last wielder, the Troll Kanjigar (Tom Hiddleston/James Purefoy). Jim is gifted with the title of “Trollhunter,” the protector of all the good trolls and the slayer of evil ones. Jim is the first human to hold the title. It’s revealed that Jim’s hometown, Arcadia, is actually built on top of a portal to “Trollmarket,” a magical kingdom where Trolls live peacefully, for the most part. However, there is an evil troll named Gunmar (Clancy Brown) who, along with his son, Bular (Ron Perlman), is trying to take over the world. The only thing keeping both the troll and human worlds safe is Jim, along with Toby, his tutor Blinkous (Kelsey Grammer), his protector AAARRRGGHH (Fred Tatasciore), and Claire Nuñez (Lexi Medrano), a gifted martial artist and magically-inclined human.

Trollhunters - 1Cast.jpg
The gnome on the right is named “Chompsky.” Because that’s fun.

END SUMMARY

This show’s strength is world-building. Almost everything about the set-up is a cliche that we’ve seen a thousand times before, but the show uses the audience’s familiarity with the set-up to quickly start expanding its mythology and its setting. The recurring characters each become well fleshed-out and distinct as the show goes on. The locations are all interesting designs that each convey a lot more than any of the characters say, something that always gets credit from me. The villainous monsters-of-the-week, too, are usually very clever concepts or at least visually stimulating, ranging from hive-minded goblins who have amusing idiosyncrasies to mummy assassins.

trollhunters - 2bular
Oh, and big guy with swords. Gotta have swords.

The main strength of the show is that it’s not really “happy” like most kids shows from my youth. The good guys are good and the bad guys are, for the most part, bad, but we do get a lot of gray areas and the entire series constantly has a bittersweet tone. Everyone has to compromise for victory and the mark of the heroic characters is knowing when and where to make those compromises so that they don’t end up destroying the things that they were trying to preserve. The characters make mistakes, sometimes grave ones, when they try to make those calls, and they keep getting more and more consequences for their actions as the series progresses. The emotional growth of the characters is also a big part of the series, with everyone changing a great deal in order to deal with all of the events they go through.

Trollhunters - 3Gang.png
Also, the power of friendship is a big thing. 

The animation style is going to be divisive, but I thought it was actually pretty spectacular for a television series. The character designs are simple enough for ease of computer animation, but are all distinct enough that you never get anyone confused. Action sequences are, for the most part, very good for this kind of series. It takes a while for them to get more creative than slash and stab, but once it gets there, we start to get fairly inventive sequences.

Overall, this isn’t the best animated series for adults out there (BoJack Horseman exists), and it starts slow, but kids will like it and it does get better over time as you become more invested in the world that you’re watching. It also serves as the first chapter of Tales of Arcadia, which looks to be a very interesting meta-series, combining Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and whatever Wizards turns out to be.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Futurama Fridays – S2 E13 “Bender Gets Made”

Everyone’s favorite bending unit gets involved in organized crime.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) go to see the filming of a cooking show featuring Elzar (DiMaggio), everyone’s favorite imitation of Emeril Lagasse. During Elzar’s famous “kicking it up a notch,” Bender acts obnoxiously and leads him to accidentally blast Leela in the eye with a spice weasel, blinding her. To apologize and avoid a lawsuit, Elzar agrees to cook a fabulous meal at his restaurant for the Planet Express crew. After enjoying the dinner, however, the crew finds that the meal wasn’t free, leading them to be unable to pay the huge cost and getting arrested. Bender agrees to work for Elzar to pay off the debt.

S2ED - 1Arrest.png
They get cuffs and leg cuffs for failing to pay a bill. That’s the power of celebrity.

While working at the restaurant for a few days, Bender sees the Robot Mafia patronizing the establishment. He starts to kiss up to the Donbot (Maurice LaMarche), the head of the gang, who takes a liking to Bender. Bender is made an entry-level goon and sent on a delivery run. He realizes that the cops are expecting him, so he gets child robot Tinny-Tim (Tress MacNeille) to do the delivery while he distracts the police. This impresses the Donbot and Bender is allowed into the mob under the code-name “Blotto.” He’s recruited for a heist involving the Donbot, muscle Joey Mousepad (DiMaggio), and anger-prone Francis X. “Clamps” Clampazzo (LaMarche). To avoid work, he pretends to be sick, only to find out that the heist is the delivery he just bailed on. To make matters worse, the mob plans on killing the crew.

S2ED - 2Pats.png
Nothing suspicious about this location.

Bender waits until the mob blindfolds Fry for him to enter the ship and uses a fake British accent to keep the crew from knowing who he is. He pretends to beat up the “sick” Bender while the mob steals the cargo. He then convinces the mafiosos to leave him behind to burn down the ship, allowing him to pretend to be the hero who rescues everyone. He then quits the gang after receiving his cut of the loot.

S2ED - 3Heist.png
 Bender robs himself. 

END SUMMARY

The robot mafia contains elements of all of the famous mob movies at the time. There’s references to Goodfellas (including “I always wanted to be a gangster”), The Godfather, Scarface, even a reference to Sammy “The Bull” Gravano (real life Gotti crime family member and frequent film character in the 90s), but all of them are subverted or twisted in the traditional Futurama style. For example, being robots, their mob hideout isn’t through a hidden door in the freezer in Fronty’s Meat Market (Not a Front since 2997), but is actually just inside of the walk-in freezer. After all, machines need cooling and robots aren’t bothered by temperature. Also, their way of warning people is to riddle them with bullets, something that is apparently only a minor inconvenience to robots (despite other episodes showing it would destroy them).

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Nothing suspicious here.

The members of the mob are introduced in this episode. We have the Donbot, who is a stereotypical mob boss, including having metal pieces resembling gold rings around all of his fingers. Despite the fact that he’s a robot and thus doesn’t need to wear clothes, he chooses to wear a brown hat and drape a brown jacket over his shoulders. Joey Mousepad is the dumb muscle, who tries to be articulate and fails spectacularly. There are a number of characters like this in mob films and the archetype is frequently parodied in this way in other media. I tend to think that it’s derived from Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana) from The Godfather, who delivers an awkwardly eloquent benediction to Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) after rehearsing it multiple times. Then there’s Clamps, who is a scar-faced (and apparently was made with that disfigurement) torture-happy psychopath. He’s basically a combination of Tony Montana from Scarface and Joe Pesci’s Tommy from Goodfellas. As I said before, I think it’s great that they managed to combine so many sources to form the backbone of the robot mob. Despite only having 3 members, by making them these archetypes, it still feels like a real representation of the mob.

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Why make a short, fat robot?

Elzar’s character is expanded upon in this episode, making it clear that he’s mostly a jerk. I’m not sure if this is a shot at Emeril Lagasse, but the fact that the character is a combination of Emeril and Gormaanda from the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special says they probably don’t exactly like the Cajun cook. The character of Gormaanda was itself a parody of then-popular celebrity chef Julia Child and played by the amazing Harvey Corman. However, much like most of the special, the bit was confusing, ill-timed, tonally confused, and just not funny. Elzar, on the other hand, is hilarious.

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The Spice Weasel’s other end makes cumin.

FAVORITE JOKE

This one is actually in Alien 1, one of the two secret languages of Futurama. When you see an ambulance in the show, the word “Ambulance” is written backwards on the front like it is in real-life, so that a person seeing it in the mirror would read it correctly. However, below that is a string of alien language which one would think reads “ambulance.” In fact, it reads “Meat Truck” in reverse. Basically, aliens are, again, openly admitting that they’re eating people, but getting away with it by putting it in a foreign language. If you don’t think this happens in real life, I should mention that I was told at an internet cafe in China that the internet rates in English were higher and that the Chinese version of the rates contained the line “if you’re a foreigner who can read this, you get the discount rate if you don’t tell any of the others.” Bilingual people can get away with stuff.

S2ED - 9Ambulance.png

I enjoy this episode. It’s about average for Futurama, but that’s still pretty good.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

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NEXT – Episode 27: Mother’s Day

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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