The Bad Batch: It’s More Clone Wars, But Less Filler – Disney+ Review

I’m going to be perfectly honest here: Clone Wars was not my thing for a long time. When I was finally convinced to finish the series, it did end up being pretty good as it went on, and I will attribute at least some of my initial dislike to how it was replacing Genndy Tartakovsky’s amazing Clone Wars series. I prefer the darker and harsher tone of the hand-drawn to CGI and I still absolutely hate the Clone Wars pilot film. That said, the show did get better and, by the end, I admit that it grew on me to the point that it’s among my favorite Star Wars properties. The show was at its best when it was focusing mostly on Commander Rex and the 501st Legion, who eventually became aware that they were literally biologically programmed to kill the Jedi and had nothing they could do to avoid it. So, when they stated they were going to do a series that starts at the end of the Clone Wars (and the carrying out of Order 66) and bridge the gap between the series and the Rebels series following a group of renegade clones, I was on board.

They are discriminated against by people they’re genetically nearly-identical to. Fun.

The series literally starts with the implementation of Order 66. The “Bad Batch,” a group of genetically mutated clones who each have an enhanced ability: Hunter has heightened senses, Wrecker is strong, Tech is smart, Crosshair has superior marksmanship, and Echo is a cyborg (all voiced, like all clones, by Dee Bradley Baker). They witness the betrayal of the Jedi by their fellows but, except for Crosshair, feel no compulsion to do anything and they allow the young Jedi Caleb Dune (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), who will one day be Kanan Jarrus on Rebels, to escape the purge. The group, minus Crosshair, is soon accused of treason against the newly-formed Galactic Empire, but they manage to escape along with the gender-bent clone Omega (Michelle Ang). They then must travel along a rapidly-changing galaxy as outlaws, regularly interacting with characters from other series. 

She’s an unaltered clone, so she’s small, but also a she.

The weakness to this show, and it is not a huge one given the target audience, is that it is pretty lore heavy. If you didn’t watch Clone Wars, you probably won’t know the significance of about half of the things mentioned in a given episode. Sometimes, the references will be to things that occur in films or series set even later in the franchise, like Rebels. It does get more than a little annoying after a while to have to look up ten characters on Wookiepedia just because you might not have a perfect memory of Star Wars minutia. However, if you are either very dedicated to Star Wars or, unlike me, can just enjoy something fun, then you will like this show. The animation is great, the clones all have solid character development (particularly when contrasted with other renegade clones), and the settings are as creative as anything in Star Wars. Unlike The Clone Wars, I don’t feel like one-tenth of the episodes are filler or focused around characters that I don’t care about.

You get a lot of “cameo guides” for this kind of show.

Overall, it’s a good show, but it is definitely meant for Star Wars superfans.

Adventure Time: Distant Lands (BMO and Obsidian): Great Follow-Up – HBO Max Mini-Review

HBO Max takes us back to Ooo and beyond.

SUMMARY 

BMO – BMO (Niki Yang) the tiny robot is sent on a mission into space but ends up getting hijacked by a robot and sent to the space station called “The Drift.” The station is run by Hugo (Randall Park), an evil former-human who essentially rules with an iron fist. BMO, with the help of local scientist Y5 (Glory Curda), ends up saving the entire station and helps them start a new way of life. BMO then returns home.

BMO is a space cowboy/girl/person.

Obsidian – Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch) and Marceline (Olivia Olson) have been together for several years now and their relationship is still going well. They are summoned by the young Glass Boy (Michaela Dietz) to save the Glass Kingdom and See-Thru Princess from the evil dragon Molto Larvo (Dee Bradley Baker). In the process, they must confront some issues from their past relationship and Marceline’s history.

END SUMMARY

If you were a fan of Adventure Time like myself, the news of this miniseries was like water to the desert-dweller. I had originally planned to wait until all four of the episodes were out, but it’s been like six months and we still don’t have dates for the last two episodes, so I’m just pulling the trigger. 

This poster still has a lot to hint at.

“BMO” is, much like BMO him/her/itself, unusual. It’s a strange misadventure featuring a character who often acts like a small child. BMO often doesn’t even seem cognizant of the impact that their presence is having on the events, but instead just kind of plays along with their own kind of dream logic. Ultimately, the biggest thing that BMO has going for them is that they are completely innocent and impart some level of that innocence on everyone they interact with. Additionally, BMO is selfless, most of the time, and that similarly rubs off on people. It’s the sincerity of the tiny robot that sells the narrative, which helps because a lot of it feels aimless and meandering, like BMO is during the events. The final message of the episode is that ultimately being manipulative and greedy will leave you lonely, which is a good moral for kids.

I mean, here’s a bunch of weird creatures and a living robot hat.

“OBSIDIAN” is extremely different. It focuses more on Marceline and Bubblegum coming to terms with their past and how it impacts their current efforts at having a relationship. Since the pair did not get together (again) until the final episode of the original series, we haven’t actually gotten a lot of time with them as a couple. During some of the episodes of the final seasons we got a picture of their interplay and hints that they had been together in the past, but all we know is that it didn’t work out well. This episode fleshes out the end of that relationship by showing us how angry and insecure Marceline was. It then takes us further back and shows us when Marceline was originally left on her own as a child, with the narrative drawing strong associations between those events. Then, at the end, we see that Marceline has finally moved forward and grown past these after a literal millennium of life. It’s a lot more about self exploration than adventure, but it’s also just as important of a message.

And we see that they really are a cute couple.

Overall, just a great continuation to the series. 

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

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Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts (Season 3): The End Comes Now – Netflix Review

This show lasted only one year, but it deserves a lasting legacy.

SUMMARY (Spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2)

It’s the future and humanity kind of wrecked Earth, making giant mutant animals into the dominant life form of the surface world. Kipo Oak (Karen Fukuhara) lived in an underground community, called a burrow, until she was thrown from it when it was destroyed by a giant animal. She soon met other surface survivors: The feral Wolf (Sydney Mikayla), the mutant pig Mandu (Dee Bradley Baker), the con man Benson (Coy Stewart), and Benson’s immortal bug friend Dave (Deon Cole). Together, the four manage to find the remainder of Kipo’s burrow and, eventually, rescue them and Kipo’s father (Sterling K. Brown) from the evil mutant mandrill Scarlemagne (Dan Stevens), only for it to be revealed that Scarlemagne was not the only threat. Now, the humans and the mutants must unite to deal with Dr. Emilia (Amy Landecker), a mad scientist who wants to destroy all mutantkind.

Also, Kipo can turn into a megajaguar now. It’s awesome.

END SUMMARY

This has been one of the best shows of the year and I am legitimately sad that it apparently only gets three seasons. However, I also have to acknowledge that it had a fantastic and emotionally powerful ending. It may have been but a brief candle, but it burned brighter than many series that lasted twice as long. Despite that, I don’t think Kipo ever got the same amount of praise as other shows like She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, a series that I genuinely thought didn’t have the same level of quality storytelling as this one (although it also had a hell of a final season). 

The show manages to do a lot with a giant four-armed monkey.

I don’t think I really acknowledged this before, but this is one of the few shows that I’ve seen in a while where there are no white people in the main cast (aside from Dee Bradley Baker who makes pig noises). The show itself never really makes any acknowledgement of race at all, which meant that what normally would be a major accomplishment in representation mostly went unnoticed. It can’t even be attributed to the source material, since Benson, in the webcomic, was a large bearded white guy, as opposed to the thin gay black man that he became in the show. I just want to give the show its due.

It also has one of the best subversions of the “awkward crush” storyline.

The key to this series was the worldbuilding and the sincerity. It takes place in a world that, while it is a dystopia with things like “death ivy” and ruined buildings everywhere, also is filled with creative creatures that have amazingly vivid designs. There are Megabunnies, sentient colonies of tardigrades that can create psychic projections, and even Bees that communicate by dubstep instead of normal dancing. They throw in some giant corgis just for the extra cuteness, because why not? Then, rather than having a bunch of overly dramatic protagonists, we get a bunch of kids who are just trying to make the best of things. Moreover, the show’s protagonists tend to survive better because Kipo is willing to make friends with mutants and work with everyone, rather than Benson’s previous method of stealing or Wolf’s “attack first” mentality. It presents us with two people who are surviving (three if you count Dave), but by the end of the series it shows us that cooperation and harmony lead to everyone thriving. The show genuinely wants to point out that we are stronger together, but it does it through solid narrative, rather than trying to inject morals. The last season is realistic about how hard it is to get people to work together, but it is unambiguous about the merits.

Friendship Alliances are the strongest alliances.

Overall, this show was a great addition to all-ages animation and I will miss it. Goodbye, Kipo, you did great.

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

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Netflix Mini-Review: Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

A post-apocalyptic fantasy world with a surprising amount of humor and emotion.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s about 2222 AD and humans pretty much screwed everything up, because we’re the bad guys, duh. Most humans now live underground in “burrows” to avoid the giant mutant animals that now rule the surface. Kipo Oak (Karen Fukuhara) is a 12-year-old girl who lives in an underground city called the Clover. One day, she is caught up in a “mute-quake,” an earthquake caused by giant animals, which blows her out of a river to the surface. There, she meets Wolf (Sydney Mikayla), a young girl who manages to survive the dangers of the surface, as well as Benson (Coy Stewart) and his bug best-friend Dave (Deon Cole). There’s also an adorable four-eyed pig named Mandu (Dee Bradley Baker). Together, they accompany Kipo as she tries to reunite with her father (Sterling K. Brown) and her tribe. Along the way, they deal with frogs dressed in Mod clothing, giant bunnies, hyper-intelligent wolves (voiced by GZA and John Hodgman), and the sadistic Scarlemagne (Dan Stevens). 

Image result for kipo and the age of the wonderbeasts
Yes, that’s a giant turtle in the background.

END SUMMARY

It’s hard to set a kids show in the post-apocalypse without it becoming super dark like Adventure Time. There are only 10 episodes up so far and there are already some horrifying elements and implications, but the show thus far is mostly really upbeat. A lot of that comes from the fact that Kipo is relentlessly positive, despite the fact that she is always about 10 seconds from dying horribly. Benson is similarly carefree, which makes them an interesting pair, particularly when contrasted with Wolf who acts serious all the time to compensate for the fact that she’s a little girl surviving on her own. 

Image result for kipo and the age of the wonderbeasts
There are giant cat lumberjacks. Giant. Cat. Lumberjacks.

The series is based on a webcomic and mostly manages to duplicate the art style for animation. It’s very colorful, despite the apocalyptic setting, with a lot of pinks, purples, and blues. It makes it feel less like a dead world and more like a wonderland. There are a ton of sentient and even talking animals, many of which have humorous eccentricities, as well as just horrible mutant animals. The fact that one of the scariest creatures is the MegaBunny is hilarious to me. 

Image result for kipo and the age of the wonderbeasts comic
It’s a giant fluffy wall of doom.

Honestly, it was a fun series and had some good morals. It manages to avoid most of the pitfalls of other Netflix kids shows and perhaps has one of the most inclusive casts without ever making a big deal about it. I recommend it for anyone with kids or for anyone that liked Gravity Falls. It’s not quite at that level, but I think it gets some of the same elements right. Mostly, it’s really only just started and it has a lot of strong worldbuilding and character development, which is impressive for almost any show.  

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.