45) Development Arrested (Arrested Development)

It seems like the show has now ended for good, but it had some great moments.

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Arrested Development, the story of a family going through trying times, is the comedian’s comedy. Jokes come at you at every angle. Some are sight gags, some are puns, some are jokes on pop culture, some are jokes on absurdly obscure references, some are all of them at once. Often, a punchline won’t be delivered to a joke for several episodes. This is why the show did terribly when it was on television, honestly. It takes at least 3 viewings per episode to get even the majority of the jokes. Sometimes you will overhear a fact or piece of pop-culture trivia in real life, and suddenly get a joke on Arrested Development. Fox never understood this. Netflix did, and let us all be glad Netflix paid to continue the show and hope they allow for the other scripted movie and additional season the team is looking for.

ArrestedDevelopment-1Hand This…

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Netflix Review: 13 Demons

This is on @Netflix. If you’ve got a lot of liquor, it’s pretty fun. #13Demons

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Update: This is now on Netflix, and I have to warn the people.

Compared to Iconoclast, this was a masterpiece, but I’m not 100% sure exactly what this movie was by any other measure. On its IMDB page, it appears I’m not alone, since a ton of the reviews are super low, and others are fairly high.

SUMMARY

The plot starts in medias res with 2 guys being accused of murder in a police station. They’re being held and interviewed separately, but delivering similar answers, claiming that they’re both demon-slaying paladins with fanciful names “Torkul of Darkhaven” (Stephen Grey) and “Abelsworth of the High Wind.” (Michael Cunningham) I braced myself at this point. It then flashes back to their origin.

13Demons-1Interrogation.png If you’re being interrogated while covered in blood, you may as well claim insanity.

It’s the 90s, the 2 guys are stoned gaming roommates, and a third guy (Daniel…

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Futurama Fridays – S3E2 “Parasites Lost”

Fry eats a bad egg salad sandwich and finds himself infected with awesomeness.

SUMMARY

While at a gas station, Fry (Billy West) buys an egg-salad sandwich from the men’s room vending machine. Despite the awful taste, he ends up eating the whole thing. While she’s cleaning the windshield, several truckers insult Leela (Katey Sagal). Fry tries to defend her honor, but ends up insulting her more. When they get home, Fry and Bender (John DiMaggio) are sent to fix the building’s boiler, because Scruffy (David Herman), the Janitor, is too busy reading pornography. The boiler explodes and a pipe is lodged in Fry’s abdomen. Surprisingly, Fry seems fine, until the pipe suddenly is cut in half and the hole in Fry’s stomach regenerates. Zoidberg (West) gives Fry a deep colonoscopy and determines that his body is actually filled with superintelligent worms, which were actually the eggs in the egg-salad.

S3E2 - 1Bathroom
Best place to buy food at a truckstop.

In order to get the parasites out, the Professor (Billy West) creates a series of micro-droids remotely controlled by the crew and a miniature planet express ship. They are going to journey into Fry’s body (without his knowledge, because the worms know everything he knows) and travel to the pelvic splanchnic ganglion to cause Fry to completely void his bowels (including the worms). Leela distracts Fry by taking him on a date, but it’s revealed that the worms aren’t harming Fry. In fact, they’re making him stronger, smarter, better looking, and healthier, something that impresses Leela immensely, especially when he beats up one of the truckers that insulted her.

S3E2 - 2City
I love that the worm city has forks and knives, like they’re the only things the worms knew.

Realizing that Fry is actually better because of the worms, Leela travels inside his body and kills the micro-droids of the crew before they can tickle the ganglion. The crew explain to Fry what happened, and Fry elects to keep the worms. Later, Leela takes Fry to her place and he plays a piece he wrote on the Holophonor, an instrument which creates an elaborate holographic art film as he plays it, causing Leela to become completely infatuated with him. Unfortunately, Fry realizes that it might be the worms she loves, not him. He goes inside his own body and orders the worms to get them out. When they refuse, he starts to damage his own brain, threatening to kill himself if they don’t. They concede and leave.

S3E2 - 3Holophonor
That’ll get you laid, man.

Fry comes back to Leela’s apartment and tries to play the holophonor again, but does it terribly. Leela realizes he’s an idiot again. He attempts to seduce her his way, but fails immediately. Leela kicks him out. He is later seen taking a lesson in playing the holophonor.

END SUMMARY

This is easily in my top 10 episodes of Futurama. Maybe in the top 5. It has some of my favorite one-liners, contains one of the more perfect twists on a sci-fi premise in the show, and really cements that Leela might reciprocate Fry’s feelings if he would just work on himself. It’s also an episode that is referenced, either directly or indirectly, multiple times throughout the rest of the series. Even the original series finale “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings” directly references this episode and Fry’s effort to play the holophonor at the end of this episode forms the last shot of that episode, and the series, until the restart.

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Yeah, this was a good ending to the show.

The bulk of the episode is a tribute to the film Fantastic Voyage, in which a team of people shrink down to microscopic size to remove a blood clot. In this episode, the Planet Express crew instead controls tiny robots, because Professor Farnsworth can’t afford the “tiny atoms” which are required. I’d point out that the tiny robots also solve the issues of how being tiny would make you super dense, freeze you to death because your body wouldn’t generate enough internal heat, and that you couldn’t breathe enough oxygen to stay alive at that size, even scaled down, but I’m not going to do that because that would make me a nerd. The great twist on the episode is that unlike the clot, the worms aren’t harming Fry. In fact, they’re making him superhuman. Futurama often does these nice twists on classic media, but I still think the idea of the mysterious parasites being a good thing is one of the better ones.

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Also, the tumor didn’t have swords.

It’s also notable that this episode has the fewest speaking roles in the series. It’s focused almost exclusively on the internal workings (haha) of the Planet Express Crew. Every one of them has at least one solid joke, too. In fact:

FAVORITE JOKE(S)

Everyone has a great line in this, so I’m going to do all of them:

Zoidberg: (After Fry is said to be as strong and flexible as Gumby and Hercules) Gumbercules? I love that guy!!!

Fry: Leela, there’s something I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time but every time I try I get nervous and my mouth feels like it’s stuffed with peanut butter, even when it’s not.

Professor: Listen, this is gonna be one hell of a bowel movement. Afterwards he’ll be lucky if he has any bones left!

Amy: (On seeing Fry’s bowel) It’s gorgeous. That place used to be a big dump.

Leela: I don’t have words to say how wonderful you are, Fry. I haven’t felt this happy since double-soup Tuesday at the orphanarium.

Bender: (After Fry’s been dumped)  If it’s any consolation, my life is great! Babes! Bucks! I got it all!

Hermes: (describing his famous “Jerk Prunes”) I call it “Caribbean Drain-o”!

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 33: Amazon Women in the Mood

NEXT – Episode 35: A Tale of Two Santas

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.

The Toxic Avenger: The Musical: The Movie – As Awesome as it Sounds

… I love this musical. I will never be ashamed of that.

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Let us take a fun trip back in time to the year 1984. Reagan got re-elected, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek made his debut, Purple Rain blew the world’s collective mind, George Orwell was proven only kinda right about his predictions, and the world was introduced to the first superhero from New Jersey, the Toxic Avenger.

ToxicAvengerMusicalPoster

First shown in the movie that gave him his name, the Toxic Avenger was a product of Troma Entertainment, a company famous for making low-budget exploitation films. As a lifelong fan of exploitation films of almost all kinds, I consider Troma to be one of the best sources out there for schlock. However, Toxic Avenger was their magnum opus, eventually becoming the symbol for the studio. It was also their first “horror” film, rather than the raunchy comedies they’d done previously. While it tanked at the box office, it followed the The Rocky Horror Picture…

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Reader Request – The Real McCoy (Beverly Hills: 90210)

This was requested before Luke Perry’s untimely passing, but I feel it is all the more appropriate now to review this strange, strange episode which has a great performance by him.

If you’ve never seen Beverly Hills: 90210, the premise of the show is that it’s a soap opera focused on a group of California teens (and eventually young adults) who deal with overly dramatic relationships and near-nudity on a regular basis. All of the actors are gorgeous and most of the characters are wealthy. The only other background information you need to know is that one gimmick from this season is that Dylan McKay (Luke Perry), who has been dealing with rehab for his drug and alcohol addiction, has been seeing a hypnotherapist to help him understand a character in his friend Charley’s (Jeffery King) screenplay.

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Would you have guessed they were mostly models?

SUMMARY

Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestly) is endorsed by the student body to seek another term as the president of the Student Body of California University, the setting for the show after the Third Season. He ends up getting screwed over by the School Administration and loses the race to Alex Diaz (F.J. Rio), the former campaign manager of the other candidate when he won the position in the first place. Sadly, resident man-eater Valerie (Tiffani-Amber “I’m Kelly Kapowski, I don’t care what you think” Thiessen) decides that Brandon is now her perfect guy and aims to seduce him. Only Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth), his girlfriend, seems to realize that Valerie is kind of a monster at this point. Also, Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) and Ray Pruit (Jamie Walters) try to go on a double date with David Silver (Brian Austin Green) and Clare Arnold (Kathleen Robertson), but the latter couple hates Ray for his infidelity… and yet they don’t tell Donna about it.  But enough about this crap, let’s get to the reason this episode was requested.

90210 - 2Valerie
Valerie is evil, but… Kelly Kapowski isn’t.

When Dylan McKay undergoes a session of hypnotherapy, he finds himself in the shoes of one of his past lives, Billy McCoy, a gunfighter and criminal from the Old West. A drunk, degenerate, murderer, he falls in love with a young woman whose stagecoach he robs. It turns out that woman is the past life of Kelly. McCoy gives up his life of debauchery and crime in order to be with her. Years later, he lives a life of Godliness as a family man and farmer. He is called by one of his former associates to save the life of one of his ex-lovers. McCoy agrees, bidding his wife and children farewell for a while. He saves his former girlfriend without having to hurt anyone, putting her on a train bound for the West Coast. He’s then shot in the back by the son of a man he killed and dies. At the funeral, Dylan sees the view from the coffin as McCoy’s family and friends throw flowers on his grave… only to be replaced by Brandon Walsh and the rest of the cast of the show. Dylan’s therapist tells him that sometimes past regressions lead into premonitions of the future. Dylan says that he was told by a fortune teller when he was younger that he didn’t have a long life ahead of him. He goes to Kelly’s apartment and kisses her passionately, something she quickly reciprocates.

90210 - 3McCoy.png
Even his kill face is a smolder.

END SUMMARY

First of all, holy hell, this season has 32 episodes. That’s almost inconceivable if you’ve only watched TV for the last 20 years or so. Most shows nowadays don’t come close to that. Breaking Bad’s longest season was only half that, and it was formed from two different production seasons. What this show lacked in quality writing, it more than made up for in quantity, which worked well, I guess.

90210 - 4Revival
Correction: Works well, since it’s back on.

I’m not saying this is where the show jumped the shark, but I’m only not saying that because I didn’t watch this show close enough to know where it jumped the shark. I remember reading that later in the series Dylan finds out that his father faked his death by explosion and had decided to abandon his son to enter Witness Protection, but I also have heard that most of the end of the series was pretty bad. Therefore, I have to think that this episode was a sure sign that the show was running out of ideas and jumped the shark hard.

90210 - 5Drink.png
It’s enough to get you to drink.

While the idea of having a Western episode in a show which is set in modern day California, and also features a group of rather yuppie 20-somethings, might seem like a guaranteed failure, the Western part of the episode is way more interesting than the rest. I get that this show was a serial drama, but honestly the B- and C-plots were basically without any real stakes to me since I didn’t see the rest of the show. Is it fair for me to judge these elements since I didn’t get them in context? Maybe not, but I’m gonna. I know that everyone should hate Valerie and that Ray is a cheating bastard, but since I didn’t watch anything up until this point, I don’t fully understand what that means, and the episode doesn’t really reflect it through the eyes of the other characters very well. I guess it’s tough to emote heavily when you also have to look beautiful all the time.

However, the Western segment is actually pretty well contained and has a lot of solid elements which express deeper aspects of Dylan McKay’s personality. The initial Billy McCoy represents how Dylan sees himself: A drunk, a backstabber, and a cocky rogue. Much like with Dylan’s life, Billy only gets worse, more selfish, and more self-destructive as time goes on. Eventually, however, he chooses to do one good thing, which is to save a Native American from some thugs, and that earns him the admiration of Western Kelly. His relationship with her ends up making him a better person, until finally all of his sins catch up with him and he’s killed before his time. He then relates that a gypsy told him he wasn’t going to live very long, something that, while it never came up again in the show, apparently was sadly true in real life. Again, I’d remind you that this episode was requested BEFORE Luke Perry passed.

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This was actually pretty touching.

Perry’s performance as McCoy is actually pretty great, managing to convey a huge amount of character growth between the scenes, reflecting the changes within the cowboy’s life from drunken killer to family man. It’s basically the opposite of Unforgiven.

Overall, I enjoyed the episode, even if most of it didn’t really resonate with me. I am, however, sad that one of the best parts of it has left the world too soon. R.I.P. Luke Perry.

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.

 

15)    Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)

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Okay, so, this one might be a little higher on the list than it should be upon repeated viewings, but, frankly, I refuse to apologize. Make your own list if you don’t agree. This is a great show, a great episode, and people should watch it.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a show about the worst people in the world. People said that about Seinfeld when it aired, but this takes it to a level that Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld probably would never have imagined possible. Actually, without shows like Seinfeld, where we don’t particularly think the protagonists are supposed to be “good people,” this show would have died immediately. Instead, it’s carried on for more than a decade. Ultimately, the “Gang” only stays together because no other human beings would ever tolerate their behavior, which is why they tend to spend most of their time in…

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Captain Marvel: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back is Still One Step Forward (Spoiler-Free)

The Twenty-First entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe gives us the first superheroine central protagonist, but also displays a huge lack of faith in itself.

SUMMARY

Vers (Brie Larson) is a superpowered elite fighter in the Kree Starforce, an alien peacekeeping force, under her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). She is plagued by dreams of her past that she can’t remember. During a mission against the shapeshifting Skrulls, Vers is captured by Skrull leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). She escapes and crash lands on Earth in 1995, where she is met by a young-ish Nick Fury (SAMUEL L. MOTHER****ING JACKSON), who must work with her to deal with the impending alien invasions while also finding out that *ONLY KIND OF A SPOILER IF YOU COUNT SOMETHING YOU SEE IN THE OPENING SHOTS OF THE FILM AS A SURPRISE, AND I DON’T* she’s actually Carol Danvers actually from Earth.

CaptainMarvel - 1RightStuff
They have a Right Stuff walk… then the movie shows “The Right Stuff.” I liked that.

END SUMMARY

If this movie came out in 2000, when X-Men came out, it would be hailed as a revolution in superhero films. If it came out in 2004, when Spider-Man 2 came out, it would have been considered a little familiar, but still fresh. Hell, if it came out in 2008 along with Iron Man, it would still feel mostly new. Unfortunately, unless I managed to get the DeLorean up to 88 MPH while typing this, it’s now 2019 and the last decade has been filled with superhero movies that tend to constantly recycle tropes, and this one recycles the hell out of them while managing to import other old tropes at the same time. The beginning is so chock-full of them that I was actually starting to wonder if the film had a human writer, or if this was the first computer-generated script that actually got produced. It basically felt like someone took most of the common cliche elements from Phase One of the MCU and just switched the gender.

CaptainMarvel - 2CaptainMarvel.jpg
Hell, I think they even shot a scene from Iron Man here.

The hero with amnesia is something that the MCU has managed to mostly avoid until now (unless you count Bucky being brainwashed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and this movie is a fresh example of why: Unless you’re going to play with it in clever ways, it basically forces the main character to spend half the movie as a different character. People are defined, in large part, by their experiences, so when you have a character who suddenly remembers most of her life, the character should be at least somewhat different, particularly when her post-amnesia life was so different. It basically robs the audience of some of the time we need to connect with the character, or forces you to make the character act similarly as both their old and new selves. Now, this can really work out, like in Memento or The Usual Suspects if the way that the film is done takes advantage of the lack of information it’s giving to the audience about a character, but this movie doesn’t do that, for the most part. Instead, it’s hard to say where Vers ends and Carol Danvers begins, because her core personality is mostly the same as both.

CaptainMarvel - 3Flight
That core being “confident despite everyone putting her down.”

Now, I want to take a second to make one thing clear: Tropes are not inherently bad. The best comic book movie of last year, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, is so filled with tropes that it could be a codicil, but it uses all of them perfectly as a way to enforce the importance of certain storytelling elements. This movie uses them to skip over certain parts of the storytelling and it does show at times. I think my biggest one is that the villain in the film is possibly the worst in the MCU. Everything [it] tries is so miscalculated, so dumb, and so unnecessary, that I almost ended up shouting at the damned screen. The only reason any of it even happens is so that we can eventually get Captain Marvel asserting herself and giving us the character change that leads into the final fight scenes.

Speaking of which, the action sequences range from the fights at the beginning where the shaky-cam and editing renders the shots almost pointless to film to the last fight scene which is, admittedly, pretty freaking awesome and almost worth the ticket cost on its own. Given that the directing duo of Boden and Fleck haven’t really done an action film before now, this is commendable, but it does still make the first act even worse than most of the writing did.

CaptainMarvel - 4Glow.jpg
The more she glows, the better the movie gets.

The real problem with this movie is the same flaw that helped make Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 2 so bad: This film plays it safe. To be fair, the studio probably pushed this upon them, because when you’re trying to sell something new to an audience, like a female-led Marvel film, it’s tempting to want to give them some familiar elements to keep them from getting lost. If you try to subvert literally everything that the audience expects, then you can end up with a super-divisive film involving space llamas and blue milk. So, I imagine the studio tried to keep the directors “in their lane,” forgetting that the reason why Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Infinity War felt so fresh is that the directors were allowed to have a lot more control over the films, giving them more distinct style and original elements than the first few Marvel movies. Even Doctor Strange, which is just Iron Man on shrooms, was at least visually distinct. Captain Marvel didn’t even trust its main character to be the sole focus of the story, instead mostly being a buddy comedy with her and Nick Fury. This film is, sadly, just a lot more generic than it needed to be.

CaptainMarvel - 5JudeLaw
Jude Law is like 3 different generic characters at different points.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t a lot of good parts to it. Some of the shots and worldbuilding elements are excellent. Brie Larson’s performance, while somewhat muted by the way her character is being handled in the film, is solid. Sam Jackson is a treasure, even if he doesn’t exactly feel like the guy who will, 13 years later canonically, be the superspy head of S.H.I.E.L.D. The third act is actually pretty great, including a few of the better moments in the MCU. Heck, it manages to have a scene of a completely overpowered protagonist not feel boring. It makes some changes to Captain Marvel, but nothing too big to piss off the purists. Also, it has solid feminist elements without feeling like they were shoved inorganically into the scenes, which is the best way to get a point across.

CaptainMarvel - 6Marcus.png
Thankfully, they skipped some HORRIFYING canon history of Captain Marvel.

Overall, it has a terrible start, but after it finds its feet, it manages to get some good sequences on film. Hopefully what this movie does is allow the studio to trust the directors more in the future and that the next female superhero film (PLEASE GIVE ME SHE-HULK) will be allowed the same leeway now afforded other MCU entries.

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.