46) Trapped in the Closet – South Park

The Joker On The Sofa

South Park is a show that oscillates between being overly preachy and moralistic, and being incredibly immature and off-color. The truth is that Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, are both brilliant and horribly immature, which is why they choose their medium carefully, and why it works perfectly. South Park involves 4 boys with foul mouths whose curiosity and bad luck constantly puts them in the middle of inane circumstances for 22 minutes. (Update) A few seasons ago, the show actually started doing story arcs, and, until the 2016 election, they were among the best works of satire of neoliberalism and neoconservativism that I have ever seen. Sadly, they have now abandoned serialization because the election ruined their last arc, and caused them to lose faith in America. But, c’est la vie. (Update of an update) Okay, so, they actually started serializing again, loosely.

SouthPark - 1ParkerStone.jpg Oh, and…

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Halloween-Leftover Review: You Might Be The Killer – Good Twist on Old Tropes (Spoiler-Free… ish?)

A young man and his horror-genre savvy friend try to figure out what’s happening at a summer camp stalked by a masked murderer. 

SUMMARY

The movie starts in Medias Res with Sam Wescott (Fran Kranz) escaping from what he believes is a real life horror movie slasher. He calls his friend Charlotte AKA “Chuck” (Alyson Hannigan) and asks her for help. She asks for information and Sam starts to recount the events he remembers from the last few days. Sam owns the Camp Clear Vista summer camp and has just brought in a group of his fellow counselors. It turns out that a number of them have been killed by a man in a wooden mask over the last few days as Sam has been helpless to stop them. Sam tries to figure out who the killer is with Chuck’s help, only for Chuck to come up with a horrifying theory: The Killer might be Sam.

YouMightBeTheKiller - 1Sam
Fun fact: Counselors are really, really easy to kill.

END SUMMARY

Okay, so, I say “Spoiler-Free… ish” because the title of the movie is You Might Be The Killer. With a name like that, I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say that part of the movie involves Chuck trying to convince Sam that he might, in fact, be the killer. Chuck proposes, despite the fact that this takes place in a world very similar to ours, that Sam might be the victim of an ancient magical curse that compels him to take on the role of a scary movie slasher. It doesn’t help that Sam had just relayed a story of such a slasher to the group at the beginning of the Summer, nor that Sam has been suffering some stress-induced blackouts when the killer is nearby. 

YouMightBeTheKiller - 2Mask
Granted, I might black out if I was next to this.

The story is not conveyed chronologically, which helps with some of the suspense. The fact that Sam is not only an unreliable narrator due to his blackouts, but also due to potentially deliberately ignoring events, puts us in the same position as Chuck. If you’re a horror movie aficionado, you’ll enjoy having her run down lists of tropes as she tries to figure out what exactly is happening, and they’ll likely be the same tropes that you would be running through. The key to this movie is that the people behind it very clearly love horror films and it shows. While the movie Scream was based around deconstructing most of the tropes from 70s and 80s horror by having characters who were aware of horror tropes, here we have a character who is aware that their self-awareness of the trope is now itself a trope. It’s basically the meta-evolution of the genre.

YouMightBeTheKiller - 3Possession.png
Mind blowing, I know.

The strongest feature in the movie is the interplay between Sam and Chuck. Despite the fact that they never have a scene together in the movie, they have such a natural chemistry and such a steady back-and-forth that you feel like they’re really part of the same events. The supporting characters are mostly stereotypes from horror films, but they’re done so earnestly and over-the-top that you really enjoy being reminded of the films that inspired the characters. The killer is very derivative of old-school slashers, but it’s supposed to be, and the design is pretty neat. The kills are also a nice balance of classically gory and creatively shot.

YouMightBeTheKiller - 4Chuck
I assume all her scenes were filmed in one day, as they’re all… this.

The biggest downside to the film is that, because it’s a horror movie dedicated to tropes, it’s still beholden to them. Because of that, it always feels like it is somewhat constrained by the premise and doesn’t go far enough in the commentary or the fun. Some of the humor is also going to be too niche for a lot of viewers, but will make some horror lovers feel like they’re hearing someone lecture them. Also, it’s not on the same level of clever dissection of the genre as Cabin in the Woods, which means that it doesn’t quite feel as distinct as it could. It sometimes feels like they’re trying to say “hey, we’re awesome for doing this super meta film,” without realizing that other meta films have been done and, frankly, better.  

Still, if you’re a fan of horror, you probably need to give this one a shot. 

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.

Halloween-Leftover Review: You Might Be The Killer – Good Twist on Old Tropes (Spoiler-Free… ish?)

Passed out instead of writing a new review, so you get this bonus while I try to get home.

A young man and his horror-genre savvy friend try to figure out what’s happening at a summer camp stalked by a masked murderer. 

SUMMARY

The movie starts in Medias Res with Sam Wescott (Fran Kranz) escaping from what he believes is a real life horror movie slasher. He calls his friend Charlotte AKA “Chuck” (Alyson Hannigan) and asks her for help. She asks for information and Sam starts to recount the events he remembers from the last few days. Sam owns the Camp Clear Vista summer camp and has just brought in a group of his fellow counselors. It turns out that a number of them have been killed by a man in a wooden mask over the last few days as Sam has been helpless to stop them. Sam tries to figure out who the killer is with Chuck’s help, only for Chuck to come up with a horrifying theory: The Killer might be Sam.

END SUMMARY

Okay, so, I say “Spoiler-Free… ish” because the title of the movie is You Might Be The Killer. With a name like that, I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say that part of the movie involves Chuck trying to convince Sam that he might, in fact, be the killer. Chuck proposes, despite the fact that this takes place in a world very similar to ours, that Sam might be the victim of an ancient magical curse that compels him to take on the role of a scary movie slasher. It doesn’t help that Sam had just relayed a story of such a slasher to the group at the beginning of the Summer, nor that Sam has been suffering some stress-induced blackouts when the killer is nearby. 

The story is not conveyed chronologically, which helps with some of the suspense. The fact that Sam is not only an unreliable narrator due to his blackouts, but also due to potentially deliberately ignoring events, puts us in the same position as Chuck. If you’re a horror movie aficionado, you’ll enjoy having her run down lists of tropes as she tries to figure out what exactly is happening, and they’ll likely be the same tropes that you would be running through. The key to this movie is that the people behind it very clearly love horror films and it shows. While the movie Scream was based around deconstructing most of the tropes from 70s and 80s horror by having characters who were aware of horror tropes, here we have a character who is aware that their self-awareness of the trope is now itself a trope. It’s basically the meta-evolution of the genre.

The strongest feature in the movie is the interplay between Sam and Chuck. Despite the fact that they never have a scene together in the movie, they have such a natural chemistry and such a steady back-and-forth that you feel like they’re really part of the same events. The supporting characters are mostly stereotypes from horror films, but they’re done so earnestly and over-the-top that you really enjoy being reminded of the films that inspired the characters. The killer is very derivative of old-school slashers, but it’s supposed to be, and the design is pretty neat. The kills are also a nice balance of classically gory and creatively shot.

The biggest downside to the film is that, because it’s a horror movie dedicated to tropes, it’s still beholden to them. Because of that, it always feels like it is somewhat constrained by the premise and doesn’t go far enough in the commentary or the fun. Some of the humor is also going to be too niche for a lot of viewers, but will make some horror lovers feel like they’re hearing someone lecture them. Also, it’s not on the same level of clever dissection of the genre as Cabin in the Woods, which means that it doesn’t quite feel as distinct as it could. It sometimes feels like they’re trying to say “hey, we’re awesome for doing this super meta film,” without realizing that other meta films have been done and, frankly, better.  

Still, if you’re a fan of horror, you probably need to give this one a shot. 

47) Dual Spires (Psych)

The Joker On The Sofa

Psych started out as a comedic detective show featuring Shawn Spencer (James Roday), a hyper-observant man-child who pretends to be psychic in order to get hired by the police force, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dulé Hill), his semi-cowardly and often unwilling partner, and the police detectives Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Juliet “Jules” O’Hara (Maggie Lawson), the latter of whom is Shawn’s paramour. He also receives help from his father (Corbin Bernsen) and jobs from Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson). It later became a buddy fake-cop comedy, which occasionally moved back into the detective range. It even had some very dark episodes in the run. The Yin/Yang serial killer trilogy is an exceptionally dark work of homicide fiction. The show also loved to do parody or tribute episodes. One of the Yin/Yang trilogy, for example, “Mr. Yin Presents,” was a tribute to the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Throughout the episode, there are…

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48) Middle Ground (The Wire)

The Joker On The Sofa

The Wire exposes the vices of city of Baltimore season by season. First season, they did the drug trade, second season, they did the seaport system, and in the third season, they turned to government bureaucracy, where the real evil lies.

TheWire-1Cast It is surprisingly difficult to find a cast photo of this show. Is that racist?

The characters on The Wire were the key to the show’s success, but the long and intricately interweaving plotlines were the secret to its longevity. The most popular characters of this season, and of the entire show, are Omar (Michael K. Williams), a privately tender, gay stick-up man known for robbing drug dealers and avoiding innocent bystanders, and Stringer Bell (Idris “GIVE HIM EVERY ROLE” Elba), a drug kingpin and expert economist trying to make his organization a little bit more legitimate. Mostly, Stringer starts trying to reduce the number of murders committed by…

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Futurama Fridays – S4E7 “Jurassic Bark”

It’s the one with the dog that makes the internet cry forever.

SUMMARY

Bender (John DiMaggio) and Fry (Billy West) are practicing a magic act, when Fry learns that his old pizzeria was unearthed and has been put into a museum. When they go to visit the exhibit, Fry finds a fossilized dog that he realizes was his dog, Seymour Asses (he was named for a prank call). Fry tries to take Seymour with him, but is kicked out of the museum. He tries to dance in front of the building as a form of protest, to no avail, until he tells the curators a number of facts about Seymour that they consider to be more worthwhile than the dog, so they return it to him. The Professor (West) finds that Seymour was fast-fossilized, meaning that he can be cloned with all his memories. Fry is ecstatic, but Bender becomes worried that Fry likes the dog more than him.

File:Seymour.jpg
He’s an amazing little guy.

The Professor needs a while to reformat the clone-o-mat, so it’s time for the flashback. It turns out that on the night Fry got frozen, Seymour tried to stop Fry. Fry, not knowing what was going to happen, tells the dog to just wait until he comes back. Later, Seymour tried to lead Fry’s family to him, but Fry’s dad, Yancy (DiMaggio), refuses to follow him due to his fear of Y2K. The dog eventually gets them to come along, but even though he paws at Fry’s cryo-tube, the family never realizes what is happening.

File:Robo-puppy.png
Bender even tries to get his own dog, with hilarious results.

In the present, which is the future, Bender’s jealousy grows as Fry becomes more and more focused on preparing for Seymour’s return, to the point that Fry ignores Leela (Katey Sagal) and Amy (Lauren Tom) sensually wrestling. Finally, the Professor is ready to clone Seymour using the power of Geothermal Energy, so he lowers the lab next to the molten core of the Earth. Seeing the dog about to be cloned, Bender grabs the fossil and throws it into the magma. Seeing Fry break down, Bender realizes that Fry truly loved the dog and jumps into the pit, swimming through the liquid rock until he brings Seymour back. They’re about to revive Seymour when Fry realizes that Seymour was 15 when he died, meaning he lived 12 years after Fry disappeared. Fry, thinking that Seymour probably forgot about him and had a full life, refuses to go through with the cloning.

File:Unsanitarywindmill.jpg
This is a reference to The Simpsons, because this is where Homer and Marge made Bart.

Unfortunately, the audience is shown that Fry was wrong. In a time lapse montage set to the song “I Will Wait for You” by Connie Francis, it’s revealed that Seymour spent the rest of his life waiting for Fry to return home. The dog loyally looked for its master to return until, his coat grey and his eyes weary, he laid down and went to sleep, seemingly for the last time.

END SUMMARY

This episode is simultaneously famous and infamous. The ending of this episode is one of the most powerful emotional punches the show ever delivered. It spends the episode showing us the simple and beautiful friendship between Fry and his dog, from their first meeting to their bonding over “Walking on Sunshine” to Seymour trying to save Fry from his eventual fate. We even see how he tries to save Fry after he gets frozen. When Fry realizes that Seymour lived another 12 years beyond what the audience had said, he makes a noble decision, thinking that Seymour likely had a happy life without him and deserves to rest in peace. But what he didn’t take into account was that Fry was Seymour’s world. Watching a show of a dog spending his entire life waiting for the love of his life to come back, with us knowing that he never will, turns Fry’s noble sacrifice into a pointless cruelty and, due to the show’s cancellation, it was never undone. It is genuinely heartbreaking and I don’t know how else to describe it.

File:Seymour.gif
Cool, dead dog. Nice.

Fan reactions to this episode were extremely intense. Since Futurama is ostensibly a comedy, this kind of ending isn’t really expected. Even in episodes like “Leela’s Homeworld,” where there is a sad montage, it at least has a happy ending associated with it. This episode doesn’t give you a respite, it doesn’t end on a joke, it doesn’t have a happy moral, it just dumps a painful series of images on you and lets you wallow. This was so painful to the audience that the creators had to undo the whole thing when they brought Futurama back with “Bender’s Big Score” by having an alternate Fry spend the 12 years with Seymour before the dog gets fossilized. In the second to last episode of the show, they even reference it again by having the title caption say “Not the Episode With the Dead Dog.” This episode is one of the most remembered in the show and, honestly, I considered adding it to my list of the 100 greatest television episodes of all time.

File:Nibbler's and Fry's shadow in 4ACV07.png
It also contains a second hidden image.

The rest of the episode really feels like nothing more than a set-up for this downer, although Bender’s jealousy is a rare revelation that he really does care about his relationship with Fry. At many points in the show, it’s implied, mostly by Bender, that Bender is mostly just using Fry, but here we see that he does in fact care about him.

This is an amazing episode that everyone needs to see, because it’s so unique.

FAVORITE JOKE

When Bender throws Seymour into the lava, the Professor reveals that the dog might be able to be recovered because his fossil was made of Dolemite.

Dolemite (movie poster).jpg
He’s a kung-fu pimp.

So, Dolomite limestone is a rock which frequently contains fossilized remains. Dolomite the mineral is used for decorative purposes or to make auto-glass because it survives high temperatures. Dolemite is a Blaxploitation film from the 1970s starring Rudy Ray Moore. It was mostly an over-the-top parody of other blaxploitation films based around a character that Moore made up during his stand-up routines.

In other words, this is a joke that works on three different levels. I love it.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 60: Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television

NEXT – Episode 62: Crimes of the Hot

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