Rick and Mondays (-ish) – S4E7 “Promortyus”

Rick and Morty deal with facehuggers and genocide.

SUMMARY

Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) suddenly regain consciousness on an alien planet where they have facehuggers attached to their heads. They kill the facehuggers, finding out that they are the Glorzo, and then discover that they’re attempting to use Rick’s ship for some master plan. Rick and Morty instead use the ship to fight their way off of the planet, committing a number of mass-casualty attacks, including an intentional Pearl Harbor reference (although avoiding replicating 9/11). They get home, but then realize they left Summer (Spencer Grammer) back on the planet. They go back to rescue her, only to find out that she’s now the new goddess of the planet and does not have a Glorzo on her face. 

S4E7 - 1Facehuggers
Ridley Scott has declined to comment. 

Summer fills in what happened to the pair, explaining that they fell under the control of the Glorzo, but she was spared because she had a toothpick in her mouth. She convinced the Glorzo to stop their cycle of latching onto people’s faces and then dying after 30 minutes as they lay eggs, instead developing a peaceful civilization. It turns out that most of the stuff Rick and Morty destroyed were dedicated to spreading peace throughout the galaxy. The Glorzo capture Rick and Morty, but Summer tries to save them, resulting in all three being captured. Rick has Morty play a tune on his harmonica which forces all Glorzo to lay an egg, killing them and destroying their entire civilization. Upon returning home, Rick and Morty both think they’re going to lay eggs, but instead crap their pants in front of Beth (Sarah Chalke). Meanwhile, Jerry (Chris Parnell) takes up beekeeping, something that makes Summer’s friend Tricia (Cassie Steele) want to bang him.

END SUMMARY

Sorry for the delay, hopefully the next release will get to me on time.

This episode is basically the opposite of what the last one was. Rather than a dense, complicated, experimental, and medium-challenging episode, this was just a fun, fairly straightforward (albeit mildly non-linear) episode about Rick and Morty just reacting to a situation. The only “twist” is that Summer had technically already solved the problem before they actually got there, meaning that their mass destruction of the Glorzo civilization was, in fact, pointless slaughter. Apparently the writer of the episode described Rick and Morty as the villains of the entire saga because of this.

S4E7 - 2Armor
They do at least start doing it in a fun way.

The core of this episode is the moral issue of what a species is permitted to do in order to survive and how that shifts as the species “evolves” both culturally and literally. The Glorzo originally believe that they cannot live longer than thirty minutes, forcing them to constantly kill new hosts in order to perpetuate their life cycle, but once Summer points out that they don’t HAVE to do that, they immediately try to move towards a more peaceful species. Unfortunately, Rick and Morty end up taking inadvertent advantage of this, which allows them to escape being controlled and then murder the majority of the planet. This leads to one of the Glorzo to remark “this is what we get for evolving?” 

S4E7 - 3Summer
Of course, Summer only did it as part of a long con to save Rick and Morty…

The question, though, is whether or not the Glorzo were actually the bad guys to begin with. After all, they HAVE to take over hosts in order to exist. They have to kill those hosts in order to reproduce. Even after Summer reforms them, that hasn’t really changed, they just do it at a slower pace. The episode kind of side-steps it, but eventually the species would have to still kill their presumably still-aging hosts eventually and spawn the next generation. But are humans any different? We cannot really survive without killing something, at least a plant, for either food or shelter, so are we immoral? Well, from the point of view of the tree that’s getting cut down to build a gazebo, hell yes, but from our point of view, it’s more complicated. 

S4E7 - 4Sentience
Albeit, we seem to finally agree that doing ti to sentient creatures is bad.

However, the show takes it a step further with Glorzo Rick’s Plandemic-esque insane rant about how it is only natural for the species to kill their host pitted against Summer’s plans to try and progress the Glorzo beyond their natural biological needs. This is the kind of debate that humanity has engaged in for centuries, about whether we are okay with upsetting the “natural order” of things in the name of building a civilization that doesn’t necessarily agree with our Darwinian origins. After all, we don’t need the biggest and the strongest to hunt for us anymore, since the smartest and the most innovative can come up with solutions that don’t require hunting. In a fun mirror of many advocates of the more Spartan or “natural” lifestyles on YouTube and other media, Glorzo Rick is revealed to mostly be a total hypocrite, as he himself is not willing to actually just lay the egg and die like he advocates. 

S4E7 - 5Rick
And yet I still prefer him to multiple actual pundits.

This isn’t the best Rick and Morty episode, but it is never boring and it does have some actual interesting points to it.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Since the Rick and Morty plotline doesn’t have a ton that seems to be unexplained or lingering, my theory this week actually concerns Jerry. Why is Jerry taking up beekeeping? Well, three reasons: First, so that he can make a statement about how he has a right to exist and that he has dreams that would blend in with the theme of the other plotline. Also, bees have lives that are driven almost entirely by biology while still creating elaborate structures that can become extremely complex “societies.” Even if the subplot only has a few lines in the whole episode, this show’s still good about at least making sure there’s a cosmetic or thematic relationship between the plots. Second, it means that the B-plot is a literal Bee Plot, humor that is just the right kind of terrible and hilarious. Third, beekeepers are supposed to be extremely long-lived. This rumor started as far back as ancient Greece, but was further supported by Fred Hale, Sr., the world’s oldest man (until he died over a decade ago). I think that Jerry believes that one of the only ways that Jerry thinks he can get rid of Rick is to outlive him. Which, let’s be fair, is probably true. 

S4E7 - 6Jerry
Or because it lets you relive American Beauty, which REALLY does not age well.

Overall, I give this episode a

B

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS – 36: Rattlestar Ricklactica

NEXT – 38: Promortyus

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Reader Request / Shudder Review – Blood Quantum: Colonialism in the Zombie Apocalypse

We get another solid social allegory film involving zombies and it’s awesome.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Traylor (Michael Greyeyes) is the chief of police on the fictional Red Crow reserve of the Mi’kmaq, a real Northeastern First Nations people. On a morning in 1981, his badass veteran father, Gisigu (Stonehorse Lone Goeman), catches a bunch of fish that don’t die, even when gutted. At the same time, Traylor’s ex-wife Joss (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers) informs him that his sons Lysol (Kiowa Gordon) and Joseph (Forrest Goodluck) are both in jail… with a man who is vomiting blood. Attacks start to happen all around the reservation where people suddenly find themselves turned into vicious, bloodthirsty zombies. However, it turns out that the people of the Mi’kmaq are immune to the virus. Soon, the Red Crow reserve is seeing an influx of people seeking shelter, and they must decide whether or not they should allow outsiders onto their land.

BloodQuantum - 1RedCrow
It’s a very ’80s apocalypse, honestly.

END SUMMARY

Zombies have been an excellent source of social commentary ever since George Romero first started really bringing the genre to life, so to speak. This film is a prime example of how you can use something like zombies as a way to hold up a mirror to society’s failures. In this case, after the initial outbreak, we get a picture of how society has changed since, with most places aside from Red Crow having fallen. Red Crow reserve is on an island with only one bridge in and out, so the reserve puts in place what has got to be one of the greatest mass anti-zombie devices ever: a series of walls that funnel the zombies into a massive soil tiller. It grinds them into nothing in only a few seconds, saving on bullets, and dumps the remains into the river. I’ve seen other movies do similar things, but this movie actually explains that it was done to save on resources, which is awesome.

BloodQuantum - 2Bridge
The fish are already zombies anyway.

Early on in the film, we get a pretty clear picture of what the allegory is going to be for this story when we first see the deluge of white people showing up to the reservation begging for help and believing that the Red Crow people can somehow “cure” zombification. Two of the members of the tribe start talking about what to do with an infected girl in their own language, only for the man to angrily and repeatedly shout “Speak English.” Because even in a time of crisis, he feels entitled enough to demand that other people, on their own land, speaking their own language, who he is asking for help, accommodate him. One of the Mi’kmaq even refers to the girl as “Karen” by accident. That’s basically what this film is, trying to examine the effects of colonialism, all over again, in the modern day. We have a group of First Nation people who are stuck having to decide if they should risk their safety for the sake of helping outsiders.

BloodQuantum - 3Cast
So many great performances.

The title of the movie, Blood Quantum, relates to the blood quantum laws, a series of laws that determined who qualified as a member of a Native American tribe. Obviously, this idea becomes important in this film, since only members of the Mi’kmaq are shown to be immune to the zombification. The question is how far that immunity extends, something that impacts Joseph’s pregnant girlfriend and their future baby. This movie was written and directed by Jeff Barnaby, who is himself a member of the Mi’kmaq, so I’m sure he’s seen the actual impact of these laws in the past.

BloodQuantum - 4Rhymes
Barnaby’s previous film took place on the same reserve.

As far as Zombie movies go, the action in this is pretty great. There’s a lot of solid zombie effects and the zombies themselves are extremely threatening, being faster than most zombies and able to tear people apart with ease. Most of the members of Red Crow are badasses when the time comes to fight some waves of undead, particularly Gisigu, who uses a katana because “you don’t have to reload a sword.”

BloodQuantum - 5Gisigu
Do. NOT. Mess with Gisigu.

Overall, seriously, just a great movie. I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who likes Zombie films. Also, it works pretty well for anyone who likes historical allegory films or just is interested in getting stories focused on another culture.

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Futurama Fridays – S6E11 “Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences”

Did we need an episode that is about the marital problems on Omicron Persei 8? Yep.

SUMMARY

Lrrr, Ruler of the Planet Omicron Persei 8 (Maurice LaMarche) is once again fighting with his wife Ndnd (Tress MacNeille); this time it’s over his lack of world-conquering aspirations. He invades Earth, but lands in Comic-Con and is mistaken for a cosplayer. After he fails to conquer anything, Ndnd kicks him out. He heads to the Planet Express building looking for shelter. Suffering from a mid-life crisis, Lrrr gets “horn extensions,” new clothes, and goes out with Bender (John DiMaggio) to a club where he almost hooks up with a young “trans-species” woman named Grrrl (Katee Sackhoff).This leads him to realize that Leela (Katey Sagal) is right and that he needs to get back together with his wife. The Planet Express crew uses the head of Orson Welles (LaMarche) to do a version of War of the Worlds to fool Ndnd into thinking that Lrrr conquered Earth, but accidentally fools Earth into surrendering. 

S6EB - 1Car
Ah, the Midlife Crisis. Truly universal.

In a subplot, Fry (Billy West) attempts to write a comic book, but continually makes the hero character either too overpowered or completely ineffectual. His work is degraded by the entire staff and fails to impress Leela. The only thing people like about it is that it has ads for goofy products in the back, some of which are the Professor’s (West).

S6EB - 2Fry
Still better than Liefeld.

While Lrrr rules over Earth, Leela constantly chides him about being honest with his wife, which leads Ndnd to become suspicious of them. Grrl returns to try and win Lrrr’s affections, but Ndnd zaps Grrl with her own ray gun. Ndnd says that Lrrr sleeping with Grrl doesn’t bother her, but Leela nagging Lrrr does, because that’s a wife’s job. Ndnd challenges Leela to Rrrmrrrmrrrfrrrmrrr or consequences, the Omicronian rite of deciding. Lrrr is given a ray gun and told to shoot one of the women. He ends up firing at Leela, but Fry jumps in the way and gets disintegrated. Ndnd affirms her love for Lrrr because he fired at Leela and they depart. Grrl returns to try again, leading them to realize that the ray gun she brought was just Farnsworth’s teleporter ray, so they find Fry safe, having finally completed his comic book, which Leela thinks is pretty good.

END SUMMARY

Maurice LaMarche does a lot of the heavy lifting in this episode, for which he won an Emmy. Not only does he play Lrrr, but he revives his famous impression of Orson Welles, having previously used it in Pinky and the Brain, Ed Wood, The Critic, and The Simpsons. He’s essentially the go-to Orson Welles voice and, in this episode, he nails it once again when he starts criticizing the script to the fake invasion in the way that Orson Welles famously criticized the Ad Copy for Findus Peas in the 1970s. If you haven’t heard the original, I’m putting it here. It’s absolutely amazing.

This episode mostly benefits from having such a generic A-Plot that they could really play around with it. They end up with a ton of top-tier jokes because of that freedom. An episode based around the Honeymooners-esque Lrrr and Ndnd on the rocks has been done multiple times, but this is the first one where they actually seem to separate, so it’s the first one where we really see how Lrrr is on his own. It turns out that he needs someone to nag him to feel whole. 

S6EB - 3Welles
When you make Citizen Kane, you’re allowed to have high standards.

Overall, it’s a solid episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

Much of the Comic Con of the future could be in here, particularly the fact that multiple characters cosplay as other characters in the show, but the best gag is probably the fake version of Futurama that Matt Groening presents at Comic Con. It’s called “Futurella” and it takes place in the future year of 4000. We find out literally nothing else about it, because Fox cancels it about 10 seconds into the first episode teaser. Groening and the staff can only admire how much Fox has streamlined cancelling TV Shows. They follow this up by mentioning Joss Whedon, because let’s remove all of the subtlety.

S6EB - 4Groening
Groening still takes Simpsons requests harshly. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 86: The Prisoner of Benda

NEXT – Episode 88: The Mutants are Revolting

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Netflix Review – John Henry: I Wasn’t Hammered Enough to Watch This

Terry Crews and Ludacris appear in this tale of redemption, but it doesn’t end up satisfying.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

John Henry (Terry Crews) is a former member of a Los Angeles gang run by his cousin, Hell (Ludacris). John Henry is now a pacifist living with his father BJ (Ken Foree) and he ends up getting dragged back into a conflict because he agrees to try and help Berta (Jamila Vasquez) and her brother Emilio (Joseph Julian Soria) escape from Hell’s human trafficking. There is a hammer, and it smashes things.

JohnHenry - 1Hammer
Terry Crews is definitely great casting to play John Henry, but not this one.

END SUMMARY

I really wish that I liked this movie because two actors I love are Terry Crews and Ken Foree, and Ludacris is always pretty fun in the The Fast and the Furious movies. Unfortunately, this movie was not well constructed, which ended up completely wasting most of the talent that was present. 

JohnHenry - 2Cast
And I loved her on Empire.

A big problem with the movie is that it tries to be way too cute with its soundtrack, combining Spaghetti Western orchestrals, rap music, and what I think is Flamenco, but I’m not good at musical genres, so I could be wrong. When musical genres are mixed well in a film, they can be amazing at highlighting the similarities of cultures, but here, they seem to just clash with what’s happening on screen. It doesn’t help that most of the music is so generic that the subtitles actually said “uplifting Western music” at multiple points. 

JohnHenry - 3Walk
“Slow Walk Western Music”

Another problem with the film is that there’s not a lot of actual action nor is there a lot of plot. The film tries to have some Tarantino-esque dialogue scenes that unfortunately remind me of why it’s so hard to make those scenes work if you’re not as talented at crafting character interactions as Quentin Tarantino. It also doesn’t help that most of the characters that have these dialogue scenes tend to punctuate them by dying, rendering any character development completely moot. The fact that the only one which I can really remember is a short one by Ken Foree about the fact that he lost the use of his legendary genitals to a stroke also speaks to the fact that they’re not particularly powerful scenes to begin with. 

JohnHenry - 4KenForee
He killed Zombies, he’ll kill you too.

Ludacris’s character suffers from the issue that he’s just not that threatening. He tries to come off as intimidating by using a blowtorch as his torture weapon of choice, but he also has the misfortune of having a literal gold and diamond crusted jaw on one side. It’s from an injury, but it looks less “threatening” and more “ridiculous.” It doesn’t help that his dialogue suffers from the same fault, sounding the kind of insane that holds a sign on a street corner about 5G Coronavirus than the kind of insane that eats your liver with fava beans and a nice chianti. 

JohnHenry - 5Ludacris
Seriously, you cannot intimidate me when you have that on your face. 

The best parts of the movie are Terry Crews and Ken Foree, although the movie often plays against Terry Crews’ strong points. John Henry is supposed to be a pacifist, but it seems more often that Crews was given the direction of “unemotional.” He mourns a dog at one point, but his sadness is the wrong kind of reserved, instead coming off as insincere. Since I’ve seen Terry Crews do this better on multiple occasions, I have to blame the film itself. Ken Foree, on the other hand, is probably the most memorable part of the movie. He’s a wheelchair bound wisecracking former-badass and even when he’s saying something stupid, it works from him. 

JohnHenry - 6Hammer
Also, let Terry Crews be funny. It works for him. Even a badass can be funny.

Overall, though, this movie just doesn’t have enough going for it. It either needed more action, more humor, better direction, or better dialogue… or maybe literally all of that. It just didn’t feel interesting, which is hard to believe for a movie where a guy smashes people in the face with a sledgehammer. It may not deserve the 0% it currently has on Rotten Tomatoes, but it definitely doesn’t live up to the tall tale that inspired its name.

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Netflix Review – Hollywood: How It Didn’t Happen

Netflix makes a series set in a fictional Hollywood in a fictional America that tries to apologize for the real ones, poorly.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s 1946-1947 and WWII Veteran Jack Castello (David Corenswet) and his pregnant wife Henrietta (Maude Apatow) move to Hollywood so that Jack can try to be an actor. After they start going broke, Jack takes a job working at a gas station for Ernie West (Dylan McDermot). It turns out that the gas station is a front for a male escort service, so Jack finds himself servicing various men and women, including Avis Amberg (Patti LuPone), the wife of Ace Studios head Ace Amberg (Rob Reiner). Avis helps give Jack a leg up in his career and soon he is trying to make it for real in Hollywood. At the same time, director Raymond Ainsley (Darren Criss) is trying to get a movie made written by black screenwriter (and Jack’s fellow escort) Archie Coleman (Jeremy Pope). Raymond’s girlfriend, Camille (Laura Harrier), is also an up-and-coming actress who finds herself stuck in bit parts due to her race. Roy Fitzgerald, AKA Rock Hudson (Jake Picking), also tries to break into Hollywood with the help of agent Henry Willson (Jim Parsons), who has an in with Ace Studios executives Dick Samuels (Joe Mantello) and Ellen Kincaid (Holland Taylor). Everyone’s trying to live their dreams, even though they’re fighting each other to get to the top.

Hollywood - 1Cast
Samara Weaving plays Patti LuPone’s daughter and that’s… that’s not bad.

END SUMMARY

It would be great if this series was the kind of story that it seems like it was going to be at the beginning. People come to Hollywood, thinking they’re going to be a huge success, only for the reality to set in and everyone ends up having to compromise in order to make it. However, the show quickly, and I mean around episode 2, subverts this and instead starts to give all of these people happy endings and make their dreams come true. Moreover, it does it in a way that is completely unrealistic, usually having people just quickly sidestep racial, sexual, gender, or other social issues that would have been a major issue in 1946. This might not have been so bad if all of the characters were fictional and this was a fake version of Hollywood, but instead the series decides to incorporate various figures from the Golden Age of Hollywood and then completely ignore their actual stories. They say it’s supposed to be “rewriting” the story of Hollywood, but it doesn’t do that so much as depart entirely from the reality that the first half of the series creates. 

Hollywood - 2Hotel
Also, falling in love with your prostitute is already a movie.

What’s most annoying about this, to me, is that the series wants you to be sure that you know this is what they are doing. The focus of the plot is making a biopic film about Peg Entwhistle, an actress who gained some notoriety because she jumped to her death off of the Hollywoodland sign in 1932. However, as the series goes on, the story of what actually happened is changed until it has a completely different, happier ending than the tragic true story. The show tries to use this device to excuse its alteration of history, but ultimately, it just ends up making sure that nobody ever really has any kind of actual character development or pays any type of price for their actions. Every character is redeemed and gets a happy ending (except for the lawyer). Most of the things that would require some solid scenes to justify, like completely altering the relationship between two characters in a fundamental way, occurs almost entirely off-screen, something I’m told is common for shows made by Ryan Murphy. It feels like a cheat in all the small steps, so the big steps don’t feel earned.

Hollywood - 3Sign
Everyone’s on top of the wo- sign. 

The thing that wrecks the series is not having an alternate history where people get over racism and sexism and homophobia more easily than they did in the real world, but the fact that the show starts off by saying that all of these things DO exist, then just ignores them in favor of a happy ending. There’s no mention of the violence that often opposed progressive social movements, beyond a few theaters getting some extra security. Also, the issues are limited almost exclusively to the South, which is kind of forgetting that there are a lot of racists North of the Mason-Dixon, particularly before the 1960s. Considering that armed people are, in 2020, protesting having to stay at home and doing so with guns, I somehow find it difficult to believe that 1950 was only going to offer a few short boos to an interracial gay couple, as happens in the film (for perspective, interracial marriage was illegal in all but 7 states in 1948, and gay marriage was illegal for most of my lifespan thus far in most states, including mine). Pretending that there weren’t a lot of people who would violently back up their bigotry is forgiving a lot of sins. I’m not saying you need to focus on them, but you can either A) tell a story that isn’t grounded in reality or B) at least acknowledge that decisions have consequences, many of which are going to be negative. Also, there’s something uncomfortable in a series where almost every characters’ success starts with them having sex with someone in power.

Hollywood - 4Parsons
Also, Henry Willson rapes his clients and his total punishment is to go to AA. Seriously.

I will say that all of the performances in the show are amazing. Everyone plays the part they were told to play and, honestly, it almost makes it worthwhile, but in the end the show just couldn’t live up to the premise. I’d say if there’s anything else on your watchlist, get that out of the way first. 

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.

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Amazon Prime Review – Blow the Man Down: Weigh, Hey, and Check This Film Out

A Maine fishing town isn’t quite as quaint as it would seem.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Sisters Priscilla and Mary Beth Connolly (Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor) lose their mother and find themselves massively in debt. The two have a fight at the funeral, leading Mary Beth to go out and get a drink or ten. At the bar, she meets a man named Gorski (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), who she tries to go home with, only for him to attack her. She kills him in self-defense, setting events in motion that bring her into conflict with her mother’s old friend, local brothel owner Enid Devlin (character actress Margo Martindale). It turns out the history of the town of Easter Cove is not just fishermen and vacationers. 

BtMD - 1Cast
I’d point out stuff about them looking broken, but $10.99/lb lobster is distracting me. 

END SUMMARY

This movie is a strange blend of mystery, drama, and dark comedy and yet it always manages to work. The entire town, from the businesses to the people, is always a bit off-kilter, starting with the Singing Fisherman (David Coffin) who ushers us into the film with the title song. It seems like this is the kind of town that would be home to a bunch of rough-and-tumble fishermen, and it is, but since they’re usually out on the boat, it turns out that women do much of the actual running of the town, which is something that’s typically accurate of places dependent on such an industry. What isn’t typical is what the women in this town were willing to do to keep it running and what they feel about their actions. It’s peeling off all of the layers of deception in the town that makes the movie constantly compelling.

BtMD - 2Margo
Also, there are lots of layers because it’s in Maine and it’s cold as hell. 

The performances in the film are all amazing, and I cannot help but say that Margo Martindale lives up to her status as the legendary character actress BoJack Horseman reminded us she always was. She seems like she’s always in control, but also aware that things are potentially going to fall apart soon. The Connolly Sisters are both strong characters who depend on each other even though they are constantly at each other’s throats. The supporting characters range from the women who want to close down the brothel to the officers investigating Corski’s “disappearance” and all of them manage to enhance both the unusual nature of the town and also the complexity of the plot. The dialogue in the film merits such performances, which is an accomplishment.

BtMD - 3Cooler
I mean, they manage to make 5 minutes of dealing with a cooler compelling.

Overall, this film is excellent and I recommend giving it a try. 

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.

Reader Request / Amazon Prime Review – Upload: Welcome To Paradise, That’ll Be $9.95

Amazon gives us a look at the future of death. It’s mostly ads. 

SUMMARY (SPOILER-FREE)

Nathan Brown (Robbie Amell) is a computer programmer who is dating the wealthy Ingrid Kannerman (Allegra Edwards). However, Nathan gets into an auto-driving car accident and is sent to the hospital. He is given the option to be sent to Lake View, an expensive digital afterlife into which people’s consciousnesses can be digitally transferred, but only because Ingrid agrees to pay for the monthly fees. He agrees, and is sent to the very ritzy resort-like afterlife where he is supervised and supported by Nora Antony (Andy Allo) and her coworker Aleesha (Zainab Johnson). He quickly is befriended by Luke (Kevin Bigley), another Lake View resident. Soon, however, Nathan starts to develop a closeness with Nora, despite the fact that Ingrid is the only one keeping him “alive.”

Upload - 2Nathan
Right before the Upload.

END SUMMARY

This show is a blend of a number of episodes of Black Mirror, but as a comedy. The future is filled with ads and in-app purchases that populate the digital afterlife. People hook up almost exclusively using Tinder-like applications that require video consent, but also allow for public ratings and reviews of the encounters afterwards. Funerals have the deceased present, which has mostly reduced any of the impact of death and thus any need to mourn. You can wear a special suit that allows you to have sex with anyone over the internet or even in the afterlife. In short, we’re in a strange dystopia because death no longer has its sting. 

Upload - 1Stars
Although not rating it 5 stars stings a bit.

The biggest theme in the series, aside from the fact that humanity has largely been altered forever by the fact that death is no longer the great unknown, is how much corporations and capitalism in general have started to subvert all of humanity and direct existence towards their will. As I said, one of the first things that’s revealed is that you have to pay thousands of dollars a month to CONTINUE LIVING in a digital environment. During that existence, ads are constantly pitched to you, you aren’t allowed to work (because it would destroy the economy for the working man), and any “luxuries” cost a large surcharge, despite the fact that this is all just code. In short, you’re having to pay constantly for stuff that costs next to nothing to replicate. The justification given is that it costs money to maintain the system, but… it’s literally people’s lives. If you can’t think of something for which this might be a metaphor… well, try harder.

Upload - 3Beer
The beer costs extra. Again, it is not real. Also, apparently it doesn’t taste like real beer.

The humor in the show isn’t quite as on-point as, say, The Good Place, but it still keeps you interested. Mostly, the series keeps you interested by having some very elaborate world-building and solid chemistry between Nathan and Nora. The supporting characters are also compelling, usually having some fun sub-plots or interesting twists. Still, I recommend giving it a try. 

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.

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