Rick and Mondays – S2 E2 “Mortynight Run”

Jemaine Clement guest stars in one of the craziest escapes involving a sentient cloud.

SUMMARY

Rick (Justin Roiland) is teaching Morty (also Roiland, talking to himself) how to drive his flying vehicle so that Rick can drink more and have Morty run his errands. Rick is surprised to discover that Jerry (Chris Parnell) is in the back seat (literally sitting in plain view), claiming that he and Rick agreed that a boy’s father should be there for a driving lesson. Rick receives a call about a meeting and has Morty fly them to an asteroid where they take Jerry to “Jerryboree” a place where Ricks throughout the mulitverse dump their Jerrys to keep them “safe.”

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It’s much nicer than you’d expect from a Rick.

Rick and Morty head to a parking garage where they’re met by the very upbeat assassin Krombopulos Michael (Andy Daly) who buys weapons from Rick. Rick uses the money to take Morty to “Blips and Chitz,” a Dave-and-Busters-style entertainment center which seems to specialize in Virtual Reality, including the game “Roy” that lets you live a life as another human being and somehow scores you on it. Morty is angry and states that Rick selling Krombopulos Michael a gun makes them culpable for the death. Rick disagrees, so Morty steals the flying car and crashes into the facility that Krombopulos Michael is in, killing him. Rick arrives via portal gun and he and Morty discover that the target of the assassination was a sentient cloud that Rick accidentally names “Fart” (Jemaine Clement). They take Fart with them and flee the facility.

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Those look like the infinity stones. Coincidence? Absolutely.

Meanwhile, back at Jerryboree, Jerry feels demeaned by being kept in a facility that appears to be designed for children, but is also frequently distracted by the offerings. He watches Midnight Run, meets other Jerrys (and also Beth’s second husband, Paul Fleishman (Ryan Ridley)), and then decides to escape. Then, he’s told that he can leave at any time. When he does, however, he runs into trouble being on an alien asteroid and quickly comes back.

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Run. Just… run. Run now.

Fart, Rick, and Morty escape to Gearhead’s (Scott Chernoff) planet for repairs, but Gearhead ends up calling the authorities on Rick. Rick responds by ripping out his “gearsticles” and shoving them in the slot for his mouth gears. They try to escape the Gear Authorities but are cornered until Fart uses his psychic powers to cause a massive series of crashes. They arrive at the planet where Fart’s portal is located. Morty walks to the portal with Fart but Fart indicates that his species is going to destroy all carbon-based life. Morty asks him to sing again before shooting him with Krombopulos Michael’s gun. They pick up Jerry, or A Jerry, at least, and head home.

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It’s not like Jerrys are that different, anyway.

END SUMMARY

I love Jemaine Clement. I think he’s talented, funny, and a good singer. What We Do In the Shadows is one of the funniest movies that I’ve seen in the last 10 years and he’s a large part of that. One of his best abilities is to play someone who seems to be just a little off but also still self-confident. Because of that, his performance as Fart is especially amazing to me. He’s a being of unbelievable power, but he also cannot really relate to carbon-based life in a normal way, which makes him seem humorous rather than terrifying. Also, given that the dimensional portal he comes out of is designed to look like a vagina, I think we can safely say that “Fart” was their way of getting around what he really is.

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Hint: It’s air from ladybits.

Fart’s song “Goodbye Moonmen” is an example of how something can be perfectly recontextualized from being happy to being horrifying. The lyrics originally seem to be about leading the universe into harmony and convincing the people who don’t agree to see the beauty of peace. However, once you know that Fart wants to kill all organic life, the lines “All the Moonmen want things their way/but we make sure they see the sun/Goodbye moonmen” instead becomes a statement that they’re going to eradicate all of them. It’s a trippy, peaceful song that tries to get you to ignore that the chorus is about genocide, just like “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Yeah, I said it. It’s nonsense, but I said it.

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This is not LSD. This is not Molly. This is snorting Keith Richards’ blood.

Jerryboree is an interesting exploration of Jerry, particularly given how weird and pedantic the things that Jerry enjoys are. He prefers movies with the Director’s Commentary on. He enjoys figuring out how to set-up entertainment systems. When there are versions of him that were abandoned, they just keep living in the facility, explaining it with “We’re Jerrys.” Basically, Jerry is a giant ball of insecurities, neuroses, and aversions to risk-taking, something that, apparently, is true across much of the multiverse.

Another part of the episode that stands out is Rick and Morty’s disagreement over whether or not providing a weapon makes you culpable for the murder. I think the episode wisely doesn’t take a definite stance on it, but it’s interesting that Rick points out that Morty actually kills far more people in his attempt to do the right thing in the episode than would have died if Rick just sold the gun. Also, if Rick hadn’t created the gun, then Fart’s people would have killed everyone. Hell, if Morty hadn’t kept the gun with him (which is another question altogether) and shot Fart, then Morty would have, by his own logic, killed the universe.

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Morty saves the world.

A famous fan theory that seems pretty substantial arises from Jerryboree and the information that Rick fills out for Jerry in this episode. Basically, the fact that the number that “our” Rick and Morty get isn’t the same as the number that the Rick and Morty from the end of the episode have. So, after dropping Jerry off, “our” Rick and Morty probably go off and do some other stuff, possibly just chilling at “Blips and Chitz,” while the Rick and Morty we follow save their universe from Fart and kill Krombopulos Michael. This wouldn’t matter much if it was just this episode, but… well, just wait a few episodes.

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R.I.P. Krombopulos Michael

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

So, I’m not doing the theory I just mentioned as I don’t have much to add to it that the internet hasn’t already provided. Instead, I’m going to do a theory about why Rick brought Jerry along on the car trip. After all, Rick doesn’t actually seem to remember bringing him, only remarking “I guess I remember that” when Jerry reminds him of their agreement, then seems mildly astonished by the fact the Jerry had apparently just been in the car the whole time. So, there are two possibilities here:

  1. Rick brought Jerry along so that he could dump him at Jerryboree as part of a plot to get rid of him

Let’s look at the circumstances: Rick knew that he was going to get a call from Krombopulos Michael sometime in the near future, likely during the lesson, as evidenced by the fact that the gun was already in the car. He immediately decided to get rid of Jerry on the Jerryboree asteroid, claiming they didn’t have time to take him back to Earth, despite the fact that Rick literally can teleport people anywhere. Also, Rick immediately rattled off the location of the asteroid, despite the fact that it is likely the first time he’s ever needed to use it. After all, Morty doesn’t know about it and when is Rick going to care about Jerry’s welfare when Morty isn’t around? Now, it’s true Rick could literally just have the location memorized off-hand because he has a mind equal to millions of planets, but it still seems weird that he has it memorized if he’s never used it. 

Now, once Jerry is at Jerryboree, how could Rick get rid of him? I mean, it’s not like Rick had a machine that would mess with Morty’s mind that he could suddenly throw him in which he could innocently say caused him to forget the day’s events and then tell Beth and Summer that he has no idea what happened to Jerry. Oh, right, ROY. Yes, the VR game that Rick shoves Morty into basically re-writes his mind to experience another life, which clearly leads Morty to have some difficulty remembering the real world. If Morty hadn’t remembered about Jerry, then Rick would have an excuse to just never pick him up. That’s why Rick leaves Jerry’s Dimension-ID blank: So that no other Rick or the Jerryboree nurse or whoever could send him back. It was a long-shot, but we also know from one of the other Mortys at the end that at least some of the versions had Morty get hooked on playing ROY, so it’s not inconceivable. And yes, I do know the meaning of that word.

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See, he’s re-adjusting to reality.

       2. Rick is actually commenting on the writing

By this point it’s pretty obvious that Rick knows he’s in a TV show. As such, when he seems surprised that Jerry has somehow been in the back of his car unnoticed until now, he could very well be commenting on how ridiculous it is that Jerry would be in the back of his car for Morty’s flying lesson, since Rick would never agree to that. Rick then accepts his out-of-character past behavior as a precursor to the episode’s B-plot and obliges by taking Jerry to a place where he can be the focus, but since Jerry will be completely safe it will be less-interesting than Rick’s hi-jinks and therefore not overshadow the A-Plot.

NOW LEAVING THE CORNER

This is one of my favorite episodes, but since this is Rick and Morty that ties it with like half of the series.

Overall, I give this episode an

A-

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS –  12: A Rickle in Time

NEXT – 14: Auto-Erotic Assimiliation

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

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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Futurama Fridays – S2 E4 “Xmas Story”

Welcome to the first Futurama ho-ho-holiday spectacular! Prepare to die!

SUMMARY

It’s Christmas, now pronounced “X-Mas,” and Fry (Billy West) is feeling lonely at his first holiday season in the 31st Century. The rest of the Planet Express crew try to cheer him up, but he ultimately keeps complaining, even after Leela (Katey Sagal) is also feeling down because she’s the only one of her species. Meanwhile, Bender (John DiMaggio) pretends to be homeless to get free stuff and attention from the press down at the soup kitchen. Fry feels guilty for making Leela sad, so he decides to go downtown to buy a pet.

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He gets her one hell of a parrot.

What Fry doesn’t seem to really understand, despite being told directly, is that in the year 2801 scientists built a Robot Santa (John Goodman) who comes to Earth every year to decide who was naughty and who was nice and give presents accordingly.  The robot malfunctioned, setting its standards for “nice” too high, resulting in it judging everyone as naughty and turning him into an omnicidal maniac. Fry stays out too late trying to recapture Leela’s new parrot after it escapes, resulting in her coming to save him from Santa’s attack.

S2E4 - 2Santa
Ho-Ho-Holy Hell, you’re all gonna die.

While fleeing, they run into Bender and Tinny-Tim (Tress MacNeille) a crippled orphan robot. When Santa accuses Bender of being naughty, he tries to frame the orphan, something that’s so naughty it distracts Santa as he tries to add it to his list. They all make it back to Planet Express, but Santa also gets inside and threatens everyone (except for Zoidberg (West), who is apparently “nice”). As Santa tries to blow them up, they manage to force him into a blast chamber, sending him flying into the sky. They all sing a carol called “Santa Claus is Gunning You Down” as Santa vows revenge.

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The Professor wishes you a happy holiday and a modest new year!

END SUMMARY

The crazy homicidal robot Santa is yet another great character by Futurama. He basically makes everyone feel thankful for what they have by promising to do his best to take it away from them. In that sense, as the show repeatedly points out, he actually does the job of making people celebrate the season just as well as Santa Claus does. They avoid any discussion about the “true meaning” of Christmas or other religious issues, which limits the functions of Xmas solely to the secular parts of Christmas, making Santa much more important. I guess you could say that they took the Christ out.

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They did get Conan, however, which… is not at all similar.

This is one of the first times since the Pilot that Fry shows that he does, in fact, miss his old life and family at times. Despite all of the things he seems to say about his parents, and even his brother, it is clear from other episodes in the show that they did actually have some warmth within the Fry household. I think that Fry telling everyone that his mom would make “Goose burgers” and that his dad would make special eggnog out of “bourbon and ice cubes” is a great way to humorously show his reminiscing. It adds a level of levity to the harsh reality that everyone Fry knew has been dead for many centuries. I also love that Fry is only broken from his sadness by the realization that someone else is just as alone as he is. However, this also appears to be the first time that he really seems to get that she’s ALWAYS been alone. He at least has happy memories of his family, she just has a void.

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Fortunately, he fills it…. giggity?

I think the idea of people with nobody finding a family with each other is something that the show does well, particularly with Fry and Leela. Fry had a family, even if it wasn’t a great one, but now he’s lost everyone. Leela never had a family and has been isolated due to her appearance. Each one can argue that they have the worse situation, but each one often thinks that the other has the worse lot. Is it worse to be sick your entire life or to be healthy and have it taken from you? This is a question that people have fought over for centuries and this show is just taking that in a different direction with loneliness instead of illness.

Bender’s plotline in the episode, pretending to be homeless in order to steal food and attention from the needy, is ridiculously dark. He literally steals food from an orphan and then laughs at it. He then takes some robots, including said orphan, on a crime spree. He’s so incredibly evil that it dives straight past inhuman, tunnels through despicable, and emerges somewhere around hilarious. As with the Marx Brothers or Deadpool, it’s truly amazing that a character so objectively horrible is so likable.

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He even stole her little shoe-tree. The monster.

FAVORITE JOKE

The new version of the Gift of the Magi that happens between Hermes (Phil LaMarr), Amy (Lauren Tom), and Zoidberg (West). In the original story by O. Henry, a man and his wife each give up something extremely valuable to them, in the man’s case his watch and in the woman’s case her hair, only to find out that they’d each bought the other a gift that was dependent on what they gave up, a watch chain and decorative combs. They each realize how much they loved each other if they were willing to do this much to make the other happy.

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In Futurama’s version, however, Zoidberg buys Amy a set of combs, only for Amy to realize that she sold her hair to buy combs for Hermes, who sold HIS hair to buy combs for Zoidberg, who reveals that he now has both of their hair grafted onto his head. There are four parts to this that are so off that I find it hilarious. 1) Zoidberg buys hair and also buys combs, despite constantly being broke. 2) Neither Amy nor Hermes are broke (in fact, Amy’s rich), so it makes no sense that they’d have to sell their hair to buy gifts. 3) Hermes bought combs for Zoidberg who didn’t have hair. 4) EVERYONE BOUGHT COMBS. Seriously, who the hell buys decorative combs as a go-to gift? It’s just such a bizarre subversion and tribute that I’m forced to applaud it.

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He looks as pretty as a strange ironic ending.

Runner up, though it’s short, is Robot Santa’s anti-mistletoe T.O.W. Missile, only because I didn’t know that was a real thing until years later. T.O.W. stands for Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided, and is a standard anti-tank missile, so that means that the wordplay has been there forever, it just took Futurama to pull David from the marble.

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Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 16: A Head in the Polls 

NEXT – Episode 18: Why Must I Be A Crustacean in Love? 

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.

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 – The Haunting of Hill House (Spoiler-free)

I wrote this two weeks ago, when it would have been timely, then kept bumping it. So… hopefully this still works for some of you.

SpoilerFree

In 1959, Shirley Jackson wrote what is still considered to be one of the best horror stories of all time, famous for the relatively little amount of actual horror in it. “Horror” is usually defined as involving an actual scare or the feeling of revulsion and fear that comes after experiencing it, like what happens after you see Cthulhu or a Naked Steve Bannon. Instead, most of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House was heavily reliant on feelings of dread and the emotional instability of the characters.

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Has Netflix adapted “The Lottery” yet? That might be interesting.

In 1963, this film was adapted into The Haunting by famed director Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Sound of Music, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Editor of Citizen Kane, etc.). The title changed to differentiate it from House on Haunted Hill. It was a solid terror film which managed to spend most of the movie making the characters, and the audience, uncertain if anything happening was supernatural or if it was all in the mind of the main character. It’s still regarded as a high point of cinema and is great upon rewatching. It’s not everyone’s favorite, mostly because it DOES rely heavily on dread rather than actual scares, but I personally love it.

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Did I mention the director was amazing at dramatic shots?

In 1999, Jan de Bont, fresh off of Speed 2, remade the movie and it was so bad that Catherine Zeta-Jones wearing nearly nothing couldn’t help it. Granted, I was 12 when it came out, so I didn’t have that opinion at the time, but I have seen it since and, wow, it really was not well thought-out. Roger Ebert thought the production design was good, which… okay, I guess is true, but that’s not what I look for in a movie. However, it did work as a great basis for parody in Scary Movie 2.

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Not even those… I mean She… could save this movie.

Well, this year Netflix decided to adapt it into a 10 episode TV series, the first one to be titled The Haunting of Hill House. While it had to change almost everything from all of the previous incarnations in order to fill the time, it captures the spirit of the book very well, despite being its own animal.

SUMMARY (Spoiler free)

Twenty-six years ago, the Crain family moved into Hill House. During their relatively short stay there, a large number of incidents involving the supernatural occurred, scaring and scarring every member of the family, before they were forced to flee after a particularly horrible event. Now, all of the family members are massively dysfunctional from the event and rarely communicate. However, after another family tragedy, they are all forced to confront the fact that none of them have ever fully left the house, resulting in them returning to resolve things.

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Also, this house is haunted, if it’s real. If not, the computer that generated it is haunted.

END SUMMARY

If you’re a fan of horror, you need to watch this show. It’s one of the best collections of horror images you can get in 10 episodes. The designs of the ghosts are fantastic, but one of the best parts is that they’re so well hidden that you can miss them throughout entire scenes until the end, but they’ve been there the entire time.

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There’s a hidden ghost in this image. Try to find it.

The show is structured non-chronologically with many episodes containing events from both the past and present timelines running together, but this later becomes important to the story because some of the events don’t happen exactly chronologically either in the traditional sense. It ties the traumas of the past more directly with the issues that the Crains have in the present.

What’s really impressive about this show is that it doesn’t have any resemblance to the book whatsoever. The book and the original movie both contain a lot of hints that much of what’s going on is just in the head of the characters and that they’re letting their fears get the better of them. This show demonstrates ghosts about 10 minutes in and shows over a dozen of them. In that sense, it’s almost closer to *shudder* the 1999 reboot, but fortunately, it does everything right which that movie did wrong, while also doing more than the original film.

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The TV series, for example, doesn’t have a terrible, giant CGI ghost.

Earlier I brought up how the book mostly focused on terror and dread over horror and revulsion. This show actually manages to do both at the same time, because we’re following two different timelines. We see the horror of the characters reacting to the past events and in flashbacks we see the terror building up to these events, but we also get the horror coming from present events that scare the characters, while also building up the terror of the inevitable return to the house that both the audience and the characters know is coming.

The family dynamics also really sell the show. All of the characters are dysfunctional and resentful towards each other, but each one also has some other defining element, whether it be a connection to ghosts, psychic abilities, or just being high as hell all the time. Each of these distinctions adds to the level of resentment and conflict between the characters, because they literally have something that the other parties can’t understand.

Overall, I can’t talk too much about the show without spoiling it, which has made this difficult, but it’s really a solid show. If you like horror, you’ll like this. If you don’t… you’ll probably hate it for making you spill your lukewarm broth that you have for every meal.

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

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.

Doctor Who Season 11 – Ep. 5 “The Tsuranga Conundrum”

Never mind the Spiders, here’s a space ship!

SUMMARY

The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Yaz (Mandip Cole) get hit by a sonic mine while on a junk planet. They awaken on Tsuranga, an automated spaceship heading to a medical space-station with a load of patients it picks up on the way: Yoss (Jack Shalloo), a pregnant man (no, it wasn’t planned, but don’t judge); Eve Cicero (Suzanne Packer), a famous general; Eve’s brother Durkas (Ben Bailey-Smith); and Ronan (David Shields), Eve’s android partner. The Doctor tries to leave but finds she isn’t able to get off the ship until they reach their destination.

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Also, she has an injury to her Squiddly-spooge. 

 

The Doctor and head nurse Astos (Brett Goldstein) discover that something has gotten through the shields. They begin searching for whatever entered, but Astos gets tricked by an alien creature into being jettisoned out on an escape pod which then explodes. The Doctor and the TARDIS Trio (I don’t care if they’re Team TARDIS, I’m keeping my name) find the creature, which is revealed to be a tiny monster that can devour things many times its size and eat almost anything. The computer identifies this monster as a P’Ting, but warns that the spaceship will be blown up if the P’Ting is onboard when it gets near the destination due to the fact that the creature is known to eat entire fleets.

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It’s truly a sight to behold…

Yoss goes into labor and brings Ryan, Graham, and the remaining nurse Mabli (Lois Chimimba) with him to monitor the birth. The Doctor leaves Ronan and Yaz to guard the ship’s power source while she goes with Eve and Durkas to disable the signal that will lead to the destruction of the ship. In the process, they find out that they need to pilot the ship manually, so Eve is put in the pilot rig, but it’s revealed that due to her years of piloting spaceships, her heart is in danger of failure. She decides to sacrifice herself anyway and dies piloting them to safety. The Doctor realizes that there is a self-destruct bomb onboard the ship and uses it to overload the P’Ting’s appetite before blowing it out into space. As the episode ends, Ronan prepares to kill himself (his service over), but Durkas asks him to help eulogize Eve… with everyone having forgot about Astos, apparently.

END SUMMARY

Well, there are some positives and some negatives in this episode.

I like the P’Ting. It’s small and unassuming and it isn’t particularly threatening directly since it only eats non-organic matter. However, it’s also one of the most dangerous monsters out there, since it is A) apparently invulnerable, B) toxic to any organic life to touch, C) mostly immune to stunning, and D) able to consume entire spaceships without being sated. It doesn’t do anything out of a hatred of the people on the ships, it’s just hungry and acting on instinct. It doesn’t even appear to really “trick” Astos into going into the pod, it just eats the life support system while he’s in there. In a season of relatively unimaginative antagonists, this is the first one that I really might remember.

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And it looks like a Glow Worm when happy.

Yoss’s pregnancy is… interesting… as a side plot. I don’t know if I consider it good or bad, because it’s just very unusual. Yoss’s species requires both genders to get pregnant in order to survive, because males birth males and females birth females, but the pregnancy also only lasts a week. Yoss apparently got pregnant from anonymous sex, something that the show wisely doesn’t comment on, but he also originally planned on giving the baby up until Ryan convinces him otherwise, apparently seeing his own father’s abandonment in Yoss’s decision. That part I didn’t like. I agree that it was wrong for Ryan’s father to abandon him, but it’s also okay to give children up for adoption. There are a lot of couples out there who want kids, at least in America, and it is painfully difficult to adopt despite the huge number of children in the system. I’m not saying whether the show did it right or wrong, I just felt like Ryan kind of took the position automatically that giving a child up for adoption is wrong and, well, I’ve worked with too many families to believe that forcing a parent to raise a child they don’t want is a good idea. Maybe this one is just me.

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Use condoms, kids. 

Eve’s sacrifice is a pretty good sequence. It’s foreshadowed early on that she probably wouldn’t survive when Malbi warns her against using the last of the life-saving drug she needs before she is in trouble. Ronan basically threatens Malbi into handing it over because he doesn’t want Eve to be in pain, but ultimately this kills her. I can only assume this is part of the reason why he decides to stop living after she dies, because he feels that he’s partially responsible. When the actual sacrifice comes, it’s her telling her brother that she loves him, something that apparently their family doesn’t do much. It’s not perfect because it feels a little chaotic, but it still works.

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They are having some issues with finding stuff for all of the TARDIS trio to do during the episode, since there are just so many of them and this season also tries to introduce some dynamic side-characters in every episode. Yaz still needs some more room to shine, having basically been a punter of alien in this episode. Admittedly, it was fun to watch her punt, but still, she needs more.

I still love Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, and I think the opening sequence where she’s desperate to find a way off of the ship while in agonizing pain is pretty solid. It’s basically the Doctor being desperate and a little overwhelmed, something we don’t often get to see. She still powers through it, but watching the Doctor being distracted by pain to the point of irrationality makes it all the more powerful when we see her finally realize that it’s happening after Astos confronts her with it. The look on her face is brilliant.

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She even apologizes. Progress!

Overall, the episode feels like it was a little slow, but not to the point of really letting my attention wander. I give it a B.

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

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 – Bleach (Film)

Up front, I was never the biggest fan of Bleach. I do like some anime and manga (One Piece is still amazing) and I did enjoy the first two or three arcs of the series (I don’t know how it’s organized), but it started to fall prey to Dragon Ball-esque Serial Escalation and the characters didn’t interest me enough to put up with it. If you’re not familiar with Serial Escalation, it’s where a series is forced to constantly increase the power of the opponents in order to maintain some semblance of threat to the hero. Basically, if you beat a demon, you then have to beat a super-demon, then the devil, then the super-devil, then the anti-God (this example is pulled from the show Supernatural). Bleach does this so badly, the final opponent in the series EATS GOD. Still, the art style and universe were always pretty creative and this adaptation manages to keep that as much as a live-action movie can.

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At least DBZ gives us new hairstyles with every level-up.

SUMMARY

Ichigo Kurosaki (Sota Fukushi) is a high-schooler who has three unusual traits: First, he has naturally strawberry blonde hair (and his name means strawberry, so his parents picked well). Second, he’s extremely strong and fast with solid instincts for fighting. Third, he can see ghosts. Guess which one this series is about?

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Trick Question: It’s his winning roguish smile.

Ichigo spends much of his time trying to bring peace to the spirits he finds around Karakura Town in West Tokyo, Japan. One day, however, he spots a girl wielding a sword and wearing a black kimono who seems surprised to see him. She reveals herself to be Rukia Kuchiki (Hana Sugisaki) a Shinigami (God of Death) or “Soul Reaper.” Basically, they guide souls to the afterlife. However, when a soul dies while filled with rage, despair, or teenage angst (I assume), then their ghost wanders around with a hole in it that eventually expands, turning them into a “Hollow,” a demonic ghost that has to be purified by being slain by a Soul Reaper. One of these Hollows attacks Ichigo’s family and Rukia is injured in the process. Deciding that there’s only one way to stop the monster, she gives Ichigo her powers, despite it being forbidden.

Bleach - 3Hollow.png
I think she has issues with her job performance.

Rukia discovers that she can’t just take her powers back until she recharges her spiritual energy and Ichigo builds up his own, so she has to pretend to be a normal human for some time while training Ichigo to do her duties as a Soul Reaper. At the same time, her brother Byakuya (Miyavi) sends her friend Renji Abarai (Taichi Saotome) to bring her back, but he ends up misunderstanding the situation and threatens Ichigo until they’re interrupted by a third person shooting magic arrows. The shooter is revealed to be Ichigo’s classmate Uryu Ishida (Ryo Yoshizawa), a member of the Quincy race, a group of superpowered humans who fight hollows but were massacred by the Soul Reapers in the past. Renji flees.

Bleach - 4Sword.png
Also, his sword would give Cloud Strife a complex.

Uryu challenges Ichigo to a contest of banishing Hollows, which he does by summoning a number of them to the city. Renji returns with Byakuya, who issues an ultimatum to Rukia: Kill Ichigo by taking back her energy or face capital punishment. Ichigo points out that, if he slays a strong enough Hollow, he should be able to survive the transfer. So, he trains to build himself up to be able to kill the monster, known as the Grand Fisher. It’s also revealed that Grand Fisher actually killed Ichigo’s mother using its power, with which it conjures a luring image of a small girl to throw its prey off guard. He succeeds in killing the monster, but Renji returns to fight him. Ichigo manages to defeat him, however Byakuya finally intercedes and proves that he is on a completely different level. Rukia agrees to extract Ichigo’s energy to save his life and bids him farewell. As the movie ends, it appears that everyone has forgotten Rukia except, maybe, Ichigo.

Bleach - 5GrandFisher.png
Stab the big monster in the face. It works.

END SUMMARY

So, this movie tries to cram like three storylines into one film, something that usually produces a movie like The Last Airbender or Ghost Rider: Poorly paced and with mostly underdeveloped characters. This movie manages to avert that by avoiding exposition, letting the performances of the actors really handle the characterization and emotional aspects of the film, and making the film as streamlined as possible so you don’t really question how little of the universe is actually explained to you. This movie isn’t going to win any Oscars, but it’s not supposed to, it’s just supposed to be entertaining and that’s exactly what it delivers.

There are a few standout elements, though. For one, the characters manage to really look like a cross between their anime character models and physically possible Japanese people. If you look at them next to their designs, you wouldn’t say they’re identical or even that similar in some cases, but you also would immediately know who is supposed to be who. While some of the character aspects are made more realistic or grounded, they did also keep some of the more outlandish anime elements. This serves to emphasize those elements through contrast, which, since they’re some of the most memorable aspects of the series, is actually a good thing here.

Bleach - 6AnimeVsLive.jpeg
Yeah, you can tell he’s a main character.

Another big positive is how the characters play off of each other. When the manga first started, that was one of the most amusing and compelling parts of the series, before eventually becoming “get a higher power level.” Ichigo’s relationships to everyone, while fairly simple and direct, are obvious by how he relates to each of them, including how he becomes more familiar and open with Rukia over the course of the movie. Sota Fukushi plays everything over-the-top which, since this is supposed to be a cartoon, works perfectly.

The pacing is pretty solid, which was important. The movie never feels rushed. They cover a lot of ground, but at the end of the film you feel like it was just the right amount of ground to cover in 108 minutes. The ending is basically a teaser for the next movie, but I think years of Marvel films have led me to accept that this is something that just happens now.

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Admittedly, it is a touching ending.

There aren’t a ton of things I’ll take shots at within the movie, but here are a few:

Compared to the manga and anime, they do have fewer Hollows and overtly supernatural images, probably due to budget. However, they properly emphasize the ones they do have, which is the best thing you can hope for. This also serves to sort of streamline the mythos and the rules of the universe, something that, honestly, the anime itself should have done more often. This is like a survey course in Bleach: You get all of the key stuff, but if you want to get into why Hollows have Spanish names or how the Soul Society works, you’re going to have to break open a book.

Also, they seriously didn’t develop Rukia enough. She’s such a great character and she owns almost every scene she’s in. I think that Hana Sugisaki is probably the best actor in the film, managing to run the gamut of emotions when dealing with either normal people (who she doesn’t understand), Ichigo (who she feels both indebted to and anger towards), Renji (who she clearly has feelings for), and Byakuya (with whom she has an incredibly complicated relationship). She always sells a lot more with her delivery than the lines would normally merit, which makes it kind of sad that she doesn’t have more of them. Hell, I’d watch a remake of this movie’s arc that’s just more focused on her than Ichigo, but Bleach is Ichigo’s story, so that’s not going to happen.

Bleach - 8Rukia.png
And her Harry and the Hendersons speech is pretty solid.

Overall, this isn’t going to go down as a movie that people who don’t like anime can still enjoy, like Oldboy, but if you’re a fan of the genre, this’ll work for you.
And hey, at least it isn’t Dragonball Evolution.

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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Futurama Fridays – S2 E3 “A Head in the Polls”

NIXON’S BACK, BABY!!!

SUMMARY

It’s election season and the candidates for both parties are literally clones. However, Leela (Katey Sagal) forces the Planet Express crew to start being politically active. She takes Fry (Billy West) to register to vote, resulting in a humorous scene of all of the future parties being on display, including the two major parties, the Fingerlicans and the Tastycrats. Shortly after, a titanium mine collapses on Titan, which makes the titanium in Bender’s (John DiMaggio) body extremely valuable. Despite the logistic issues, Bender actually sells his body, making him now just a head. Living it up with his newfound wealth, Bender visits the Head Museum where he encounters the preserved heads of all of the presidents, including the bitter Richard Nixon (West). After hearing from them, Bender realizes he wants his body back. However, it turns out that Nixon has purchased it so that he can run for office again, pointing out that the 22nd Amendment bars any body from being president more than twice, and he now has a new body.

S2E3 - 1NixonBody.jpg
Reminder, Nixon once met Robocop. That should be a movie.

With Bender’s body, Nixon quickly takes the lead in the election, despite the fact that he’s objectively horrible. Fry, Leela, and Bender decide to steal Bender’s body back, so they break into Nixon’s hotel room, which happens to be the Watergate, and record Nixon admitting that he plans on selling children’s organs for meat and breaking into people’s houses. They trade him the tape for Bender’s body, but Nixon replaces it with a giant robot with heavy weapons. Election night comes and, completely due to the Robot vote, Nixon is elected. It’s revealed that he won by a single vote, because neither Fry nor Leela voted.

END SUMMARY

First, the 22nd Amendment says “person” not “body,” so Nixon would not be allowed to be president, assuming that the Earthican Constitution is just the US Constitution expanded. That was going to bug me if I didn’t correct it.

Second, I love Nixon. Not the real one so much, but I love that this is a Nixon that just gives no f*cks. He says it himself: He’s just bitter and crazy and thinks that most voters are too stupid to care. Unfortunately for Earth, he’s immediately proven right, although this is less because humans are just as dumb 1000 years in the future (he’s estimated to have 0 human votes), but because Robots love his willingness to go on a rampage. I’m glad they abandon the giant robot body after this episode, but he’s still such a bastard that he does more damage without it.

S2E3 - 2RoboNixon.png
… I mean, I get why they vote for him.

The political satire in this episode is, surprisingly, always pretty fresh. It wasn’t addressed at anything directly about the 2000 election, so instead it just took a shot at the American electoral system at large, attacking low voter turnouts, the tendency for both major parties to support donors over policy, the general insanity of third parties, and the fact that most people are completely apathetic towards the entire process. In the 16 years since, it’s hard to argue that any of that has changed, except that pretty much everyone is slightly more insane. Or much more insane, depending on your perspective.

S2E3 - 4BullMoose.jpg
However, we have yet to get a Bull Space Moose Party, which is sad.

There are a lot of sight gags in this episode, particularly at the Head Museum, where we’re treated to literal top row and bottom row ordering of celebrities. For example, the top row of B-movie stars includes John Turturro and Eric Stolz, while the bottom row is Martin Lawrence and Sarah Michelle Gellar. They even put Katey Sagal on the bottom row of TV stars which, let’s be honest, isn’t entirely inaccurate. However, they put Lucille Ball next to her, and that’s some bullsh*t. Oh, and Jesse “The Head” Ventura is a future president, apparently.

S2E3 - 5Heads.jpg
Also, the bottom shelf porn star is “Samuel Genitals.” Man, they stopped trying with the names.

The opening to this episode includes the introduction of The Scary Door, a show within the show which is basically a condensed parody of The Twilight Zone. This episode’s version is a parody of “Time Enough at Last” but, in addition to breaking his glasses, the bibliophile played by Burgess Meredith also loses his eyeballs, hands, and tongue for seemingly no reason.

S2E3 - 6ScaryDoor.jpg
I mean, the reading is no longer the major concern.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s got to be the future of the NRA, the National Ray-Gun Association. At the NRGA, they’re dedicated to removing the three-day waiting period on doomsday devices for mad scientists, something that Professor Farnsworth (West) apparently takes to heart. My favorite part is that the NRGA’s representative carries a canister of mutated Anthrax around, but claims it’s just for “duck hunting.”

This episode is perfectly timed here, because we have another election on Tuesday. GO VOTE!!!!

Well, that’s it for this week.
See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 15: Brannigan, Begin Again

NEXT – Episode 16: XMas Story

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

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 – Castlevania Seasons 1 & 2 (Spoiler-Free on Season 2)

Yesterday, The Adventure Zone podcast did a Halloween special which had a reference to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night that I just couldn’t stop laughing at, even though it was so straightforward. But, either way, I decided to do a bonus review of Castlevania in their honor.

Netflix decided to take a shot at every other studio out there by adapting a video game and, despite all of the past history of adapting video games to a narrative (Phoenix Wright notwithstanding), did it really well. Admittedly, the history of adapting video games to television (particularly cartoon series) is much stronger than to the big screen, but those were mostly aimed towards children. This is very much aimed towards people who played the original Castlevania games on the NES, all of whom are now adults.

Castlevania - 1SuperCastlevania.jpg
Or, if you’re like me, on the SNES.

SUMMARY

Vlad Tepes Dracula (Graham McTavish) is… You f*cking know who Dracula is. Well, he’s out there Dracking it up when he is visited by a young woman named Lisa (Emily Swallow) who wishes to be a doctor and believes that Dracula would be the person who would know the most about human medicine, as he has collected books for centuries on every subject and read them all. Not only is she correct, surprisingly, but her resolve towards science and medicine takes Dracula off-guard and he ends up falling in love with her and marrying her. She tries to teach him of the positive traits of humanity and he begins to soften.

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A surprisingly solid relationship for a vampire and a snack.

Unfortunately, twenty-ish years later, Lisa is accused of being a witch (because she’s a doctor and a woman) and is burned at the stake. This leads Dracula to declare that he will spend one year creating an army of the damned, after which he will kill everyone in Wallachia, the kingdom that murdered her. The phrase “Y’all done f*cked up now” comes to mind. Sure enough, one year later, he kills everyone in the town in a gruesome fashion and declares war on humanity. All the noble houses get blamed, including a house known as Belmont.

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When this is how the guy tells you you’re screwed, YOU ARE SCREWED.

A few months later, Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage), the last of a line of monster hunters, is broke and drunk in a city that is besieged by the forces of darkness every night. The clergy (who started this whole mess) have used this as an opportunity to take power in the area, claiming to be the only force capable of repelling the evil, and blame a group of traveling magic users called the Speakers for Dracula’s assault. Trevor saves some of the Speakers and is told by the Elder (Tony Amendola) that there is a “sleeping soldier” beneath the city who may help save them. The Elder’s granddaughter already sought the soldier but has not returned. Trevor goes below the city and finds a cyclops guarding a crypt. Trevor slays the monster, which releases one of his petrified victims, the Elder’s granddaughter Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso). The pair continue and eventually discover the sleeping soldier is none other than Dracula’s half-human son, Adrian Tepes or “Alucard” (James Callis), who was wounded fighting his father a year prior. The three join forces to stop Dracula’s army from wiping out humanity.

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Cosplayers are getting aroused at this photo.

END SUMMARY

If I just watched Season 1 of this show, I’d say it was only kind of good. The first season has some great character designs, good action sequences, decent dialogue at some points, and the Bishop (Matt Frewer) is one of the most deeply despicable characters on film, overshadowing Dracula as an antagonist. However, the show doesn’t really hit its stride until Season 2, when you start to have Dracula’s War Council interacting and Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard bantering. All of the dialogue suddenly gets sharper and better, mostly because of all of the conflicting philosophies and backstories.

The show is, so far, an adaptation of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, something that was a great decision. It’s the first game chronologically, except for Castlevania: Lament of Innocence which doesn’t have Dracula in it, and was the first one to have multiple characters, giving the writers more to work with. I was surprised that they cut out the character of Grant Danasty, the pirate from the game, but maybe he’ll come back later. Still, even without him, we’re not short on great characters on either the hero or villain sides. As with most good series, most of the characters aren’t morally black and white, they’re all fairly flawed and driven by their own wants and histories. For example, two of Dracula’s Generals, Hector and Isaac (Theo James and Adetokumboh M’Cormack), are humans who have decided to side against humanity because of their personal histories, and Isaac’s backstory in particular will just hit you right in the heart.

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Man, this game cover was awesome in the 80s.

The animation style is a tribute to one of the most popular games in the series, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which gives it a strong anime influence, but still with a lot of gothic European character designs. The fight scenes look like elaborate video game cut-scenes, which is exactly what they should look like. The combat involving Alucard is particularly impressive, because his fighting style is literally impossible to do in reality.

Overall, I hope that they keep this series going. There are so many more interesting stories that can be told in the Castlevania universe. They’ve set up several more at the end of Season 2, and Dracula literally always comes back in the games, so they can reuse him as much as they need.

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

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.