Archive for January, 2014

1000px-Pinkie_Pie_and_Cheese_Sandwich_looking_at_each_other_angrily_S4E12

 

Oh this episode is pre-… HOLY CRAP IS THAT WEIRD AL YANKOVIC?!

Yes… yes it is. Just like the fantastic John DeLancie playing Discord, Weird Al does a fantastic job playing Cheese Sandwich, the party pony which competes with Pinkie. I will say this, although this episode isn’t as technically beautiful as Bats! it is more  impressive in other ways. Firstly, Pinkie isn’t flanderized beyond belief, which is a massive relief. Weird Al makes this episode stand out as well, because he pretty much plays himself as a pony… with wacky animation to boot.

Yes, the animation is once again splendid, and i will never stop praising it for it’s authenticity and elegance… as well as the laugh-out-loud funny facial expressions. The pacing was also great in this episode, exceeding the seasons previous attempts. It’s refreshing to have an obvious three-part episode, the first one setting up for the climax, and then the conclusion.

Also, we had Pinkie’s key get delivered, which was refreshingly more blatant, it seems like they are really hammering this in. What i also noticed, is that the lesson (in the Diary) was skipped, which was a nice change for the constant over-the-head bashing of some of these lessons.

Although this episode was definately character developing in some way, i couldn’t help but knock it for it’s lack of proper characterization in the first quarter, where the entire herd of ponyville-ians ditched Pinkie. Which would be sort of pushing it on it’s own, but the writers had to go the extra mile and literally have characters make fun of/belittle Pinkie right in front of her. Very cheap move…

But apart from that this episode was brilliant, in fact, it was SO much fun, that i can’t really knock it for these flaws I listed. It was enough entertainment and hilarity that for a kids show like this, I can let the incongruities slide for the amount of entertainment i received… which was a lot.

At the end of the day, the show is meant to entertain, it’s not some deep social satire, or deep character analysis, it’s an entertaining kids show. The fact that Weird Al offered to do this part should sing praises at it’s quality, as I doubt he’d be counting a massive paycheck from a small studio in Vancouver. Although he’s doing it for his kids, I think, it doesn’t make it any less entertaining. Props to him, and props to the show and it’s writers.

Grade: A

s4_e06

What a… misleading title!

I guess it’s not THAT misleading… but still sort of misleading! I mean, she’s not REALLY his daughter, just born from his DNA… which i guess… sort of does make her his daughter? I don’t know! I’m only here to review! So in general, this was another solid installment of the show. I think this episode just missed it’s mark by a little, it always felt as though it’s trying to build this somewhat emotional story (a two parter is USUALLY needed for that), but ultimately doesn’t really do that whatsoever.

In the end, the Doctor leaves his daughter dead, he’s sort of angry, and then she comes back. She climbs into the ship and goes to explore the universe… not does this every actually pay off? Does she see him again? Yeah… that’s also left completely open ended. Which is fine, but I sort of doubt they’d see each other again realistically, but this show is built on contrivance, so it’s not impossible.

I liked martha today, yep… i just “liked” her, that’s about it. I don’t know how i feel about her traveling with the Doctor again, mostly cause it takes valuable time away from Donna. It’s almost as if the writers messed up her season three exit, so they are trying to correct themselves. Which is JUST. NOT. NECESSARY. Usually when a show messes up they try to sweep it under a rug, and honestly, that’s fine in this case. But nope, take time away from the best companion and have the least developed, and least interesting companion walk around a wasteland with a fish-man.

I liked the plot of this episode though, and in casual ‘Who’ fashion, it plays off the twist ending marvelously. I really loved the whole “This war wasn’t really going on for ages” bit, and the way Donna figured it out was splendid. Again… MORE TIME FOR DONNA PLEASE!

If you haven’t noticed, i’m not really mentioning the Doctor’s Daughter all to much, that’s because she was just “there”. I guess she was fairly prominent in the episode, but she wasn’t THAT interesting. I mean, she had this whole “You are as much of a soldier as me” thing… which is interesting philosophically, but quite honestly, that’s just bullshit. Fine, call him a soldier, but he’s actually saving people.

Which i guess was the point… i mean she DID save those guys and didn’t shoot them, but honestly, the entire episode was fairly contrived. Enjoyable none the less though!

Grade: B

s4_e04

 

Attack of the potato people

Yep… pretty much just that, attack of the potato people. They attack, in the cliche and slightly unoriginal “lets take over the world” scheme. And do you know why they attack? Because war. Nope, nothing but war, just war, war is cool, war is interesting, war is fun, war. The entire races favorite thing to do is war… like the Daleks… but they ARE NOT, Daleks, they are actually potato people… the similarities.

I think it’s automatically clear that i had a few issues with this episode, like the madly stupid “soldiers” who wandered into that special room and got taken over by the Sontaran. Or how the Doctor didn’t stop fake Martha. Or the fact that Martha even needed to be involved in this. Actually… scratch that, i liked that Martha was around. She has finally gotten some character developement past “I lovez ze Doctor, omg!” Which was refreshing to see.

She’s actually getting married, again, something that’s progression for an empty vessel of a character. Having her pretty much be compared to Donna, was somewhat entertaining, even if that’s just because Donna is such a vastly superior character. I watched Martha in season three and was like “she’s good!” But now watching her with all these positive changes? She’s still “just good!” instead of something more, and that’s because of Donna, who pretty much boosted any preconceived notions i have of an assistant…

To be frank, i was never a huge fan of the “Assistant” thing… ever. Even if Rose was good, and Martha was good, i was never quite the fan. But this episode, which focused less on Donna for a little, was noticeably worse for it. Which is funny, and which made me understand that Donna is the first assistant in this show that I feel is necessary!

But enough gushing… lets talk about the episode. It was generally a sillier episode played straight, and the hilarious-looking Sontaran were a decent enough threat that i actually found myself enjoying the episode much more than i thought I would. I find that there is a sub-twenty year old billionare training people to move planets to be silly… but the lesson behind it is actually poignant and solid. The lesson revolving around loneliness and exclusion, which is something lots of shows never quite touch on, so I liked how Dr.Who handled it.

Tennant didn’t have any noticeable  acting “WOW” moments, but of course, he was extremely solid throughout, as was everyone in the episode. The general structure was well-paced and interesting, and the whole idea of Atmos is sort of… I don’t know… social satire?

I will say that watching Wilf almost die in the car was sort of heartbraking… I really like him, yet he didn’t have THAT much screentime yet. Maybe because he’s paired up with such a bitch character (the mother), but he’s such a heartwarming guy, and as I mentioned in my Voyage of the Damned review, I have a soft-spot in my heart of elderly people whom are also really nice.

In the end, the episode was just solid, but that’s a good thing for this show, since consistency is something it almost never has… so having it develope some sort of continues material that’s solid (Even if it’s just in the ‘B” range, which is still very good), is great to see. So this episode was definately a success, it goes smack dab in the center of all two parters, right behind Human nature I think.

Grades: 

Part 1: B

Part 2: B+

Overall: B+

s4_e03

 

What an odd… Ood… did anyone else misread the title? 

Man, these episodes are just getting better and better huh? I mean, this season had a pretty solid start, but it has been going on a steady incline, because this episode was simply fantastic! Apart from a few pacing errors, there wasn’t much wrong with this episode. Especially the downright engrossing theme of slavery, and the poignancy it bares. Perhaps this was the most serious Dr.Who episode to date?

Plus… we got an amazing performance by Catherine Tate, who plays Donna. She is truly a companion i’m starting to really love. Especially her sympathy towards these aliens, the Ood. I say sympathy with a passion, because for some reason when the previous companions showed this, it’s almost as if they were trying to impress the Doctor… while Donna, well… she’s just a badass!

The story itself was structurally solid, apart from some strange pacing and camera angles in the middle, it’s generally quite amazing! The whole theme of slavery was actually really well written, as well as setting up a theme for the entire season itself. The Ood are very sympathetic characters, especially once you see their true form. The only gripe involving this was the transformation of “main badguy” into an actual Ood… how was this done? How is this even possible?!

Needless to say, it wasn’t explained too well. However, i will say that the execution and acting behind the massive brain of the Ood being tortured, in a sense, was also impressive. The parallel between the Ood slaves and the modern day slavery we see today was quite subtle… until it was mentioned directly. A line that i don’t find particularly necessary.

But i won’t criticize too much, it was a great episode, and lets not pretend that it didn’t set up a plot for the rest of the season… this IS Tennant’s final season, and wow, is he delivering the big guns acting wise. I’m really thinking this will be the best season of Dr.Who to date!

Grade: A-

s4_e02

Yep…Donna is pretty awesome. I’ll just say that right away, it’s been two episodes and I already like her more than Martha… but then again, Martha had a fantastic start and then ended up deteriorating into two dimensional bullcrap. So with this episode, we got one thing hammered in. Donna.Is.Freken.Awesome!

The entire concept is pretty cool as well, visiting a city like Pompei. I’m not sure if I totally buy the “we arrived here on its day of destruction” cliché… but that’s something this show does so often, I can hardly get mad at that. I liked the way CGI was implemented within the show, and once again, the set-pieces were quite marvelous when you think about it.

Last episode we saw some weird schlocky “Fat” CGI, here we see big badass fire monsters breaking out of the ground. This is a step in the right direction! Although the show has proved, time and time again, that it’s at its best without overly exhuberant CGI effects, and more down-to-earth stories such as Blink, I still couldn’t help but enjoy this aspect in this episode.

We also got to see a creepy rock-infestation disease thingy that infected you if you breath in the dust that came out of the vulcano. Was I the only one who was thoroughly creeped out by that? It just had that odd image to it that stuck with me. Apart from that, the main human villian in this episode was not given much room to actually be explored, so he ended up falling pretty flat. As well as the plot with the aliens.

However, what i found fantastic was the emotional context of the episode. Especially with the Doctor saving those people, whether it was right or wrong of him to do so, it was still a significant change within him. This change, of course, brought into this world by Donna.

In a way, this is the introductory episode for Donna, truly showing her character, and what a fantastic character that is!

Grade: B+ 

s4_e01

 

Names Noble… Donna… Noble

 

Welp, she’s back! I knew she’ll be back! Well… sort of knew… But anyway! She’s back, and she’s MUCH better! No longer is she horribly annoying, tedious, badly written, and mediocrely acted! She’s actually a fun character, and I’m looking forward to how she’ll be played out throughout the upcoming season.

But let’s talk about the episode itself, which is a completely different beast in itself. While I appreciate a parody when I see one… or at least a satire when I see one, the satire itself still needs to have a convincing and fun story to go along with what it’s satirizing. This episode was very half-half in that remark, in one way, it was fun and inventive, in another way, it was repetitive, overly-silly, and just slightly above average.

I say this because the ‘aliens’ in this episode, were just horribly silly. And the supervillian? She was a nanny, who the Doctor hardly even stopped. All of it just seemed very stilted and put together. Even the way the Doctor runs into Donna, while oddly charming and fun, still weird, stilted, and clumsily put together.

This would all have been fine and dandy, if the story itself was intriguing. Which quite honestly, it really wasn’t. The ‘fat’ quite literally runs out the door… being taken as a literal phrase, because there are now aliens made out of fat which come from your body… is just… what? Also, the proportions of the fat coming out of the body was really wonky, as well as the entire idea itself. If this was some ingenious alien plan, how the hell do they expect people NOT to notice this? What if someone has trouble sleeping one night and sees his fat running away?

These kinds of really obvious plot holes bog down an otherwise intriguing episode. It was just above average, escaping the solemn pits of mediocrity because of the interesting pair between the Doctor and Donna. THAT’S why I’m saving this episode and probably giving it a higher grade than it deserves…

Oh and holy SHIT! WAS THAT ROSE?!?!

 

Grade: B-

Voyage-of-the-Damned-doctor-who-996710_1024_7681

 

Welcome to… the voyage of the damned! Aka… Titanic in space

 

Yep… so… what? I’m confused, Titanic in space?! Wooooow… never really expected to see that! I will say, the set pieces look really nice in this episode, the interior of this space Titanic is absolutely beautiful. Also, the entire theme of the “Titanic” always ending up “sinking” in a sense, was also very blatant, but entertaining to watch. ALSO… this was a Christmas special… oh brother.

Yes yes, Dr.Who Christmas specials are really nothing to write home about, they are just there, with massive setpieces, decent acting, mediocre story, and clichéd plot. Nothing more, nothing less, they are just, solid. And this episode is really no different to be honest, it’s solid! And it doesn’t really shine until the very end, when they are finally getting off that stupid ship!

Part of the negatives that surround this episode, surround its ongoing theme. The Doctor is supposed to represent Jesus… which is quite honestly, stupid. And I would be fine with this idiocy if it wasn’t hammered in every five minutes, and accumulated with him being raised up by angels… which is just so much cheese I felt like I was suffocating.

This episode was of course not without its regular Christmas cheese, which was generally fine… the little red guy who sacrificed himself was funny ENOUGH to sustain the bullshit that, that dialogue was written as.

The villians were also fairly “there” in a sense… they weren’t special, they weren’t unique, they weren’t original. I liked their designs at first, because they had that delightfully creepiness to them that this show sometimes does really well… but after that base theme was developed I couldn’t help but facepalm.

But enough about the negatives… I liked the Doctors performance, although it seemed like he was trying to cope with the not-so-great dialogue by simply bugging his eyes out more, and acting EVEN nuttier. His one-shot companion was also a neat choice, I won’t say she was fantastic… but she was definitely a slightly interesting character at the very least. So in general, it was just a solid episode throughout, filled with enough cringe-material to make it a true Dr.Who Christmas special, but also filled with enough heart to make it lovable.

Particularly the final scene, when the poor elderly man gets taken to earth and finds out he’s rich. I swear, maybe it’s because I have a really big soft spot for elderly people in sad/happy situations, but man if that scene didn’t give me just a slight hint of misty eyes. I don’t know… maybe my cold heart is finally starting to warm up? All I meant, is that, that final piece of dialogue between the Doctor was my favorite scene, not only in this episode, but in every Christmas special thus far!

 

Grade: B

s3_e13

The season 3 finale… oh boy, call over the villians!

 

Well I finally picked up Dr.Who again, sorry for the long wait! Mostly business… editing, and general non-who-ness. But I swear, I’ll try get these reviews out in the timely-iest of fashions… (heh… heh… get it? Time…)

So today I got the pleasure of seeing the shows FIRST three parter!  A movie-length season three finale, and is it just me, or is the show really running the whole “end of the world” thing to the ground… but I guess in a show like this, we know the outcome… we are here for the ride. And what a ride it was… for the most part.

Let me just say, that the first episode in this three episode extravaganza was downright splendid, I REALLY liked it… I wasn’t expecting it to go where it did, and for a moment, I thought this whole series of episodes would be incredible! No… no, definitely not incredible. Passable would be the word for it.

I loved the way it got set up though, the entire first forty minutes was splendid, and it had great characters, great progression, splendid pacing, and best of all, a really interesting premise. I like that the Doctor isn’t the last timelord, and his “arch-nemisis” is “The master”… but one has to wonder, how come no one else got these names? Are there only a few hundred Time lords to ever live? Because god damn, these seem like pretty popular names if they were able to be chosen!

But anyway…. JACK’S BACK! Yay!!! I missed him, a lot! He is a fantastic character, the chemistry he had with Tennant was still good… although not as perfect as it was with Eccleston. Also, the entire aspect of him being literally unkillable is interesting, and honestly, not too bad. So far, this three party doesn’t quite have the Deus Ex Machina this show’s creator loves oh so much…

Now… the second two episodes. This is where the two parter goes into full swing. I will say, I liked “The Master” he was a neat villain… intimidating? No. Interesting? No. Incredibly acted? No… But still neat, his entire premise is what elevated him beyond “cliché archetype” and more of an “odd freakazoid” character.

His place was an odd one… and the entire concept of him taking over the earth through some unexplained “drum beat” could have been executed SO much better… and unrealistic amount of missiles being built… and the entire concept of the last two episodes was way too far out there. There was no believability to any of it, it was in its own world of crazy. And I would have loved that… if it was actually explained. Killing the American president really isn’t enough to get the entire world under your control.

But… anyway… after you overlook these glaring flaws, it was still a fun episode. It was nutty, bonkers, and I think the over-use of decent CGI is just not necessary. As we saw in Blink this show is at its best without an over-abundance of explosions and eye-gouging effects. And I’m making a complete bet… that season four’s best episodes will not feature some deafening amount of Michael bay-esq explosions to gain my coveted “A” score.

In the end, it was simply too farfetched, and not well enough executed… but if there was one thing that brought a massive smile to my face, and absolutely made my night, was the final few minutes of the finale. Not only did Tennant deliver a great performance, but oh my… JACK IS THE FACE OF BO!!!!! I’m so done! This was like my favorite thing ever!

Grades

Ep 1: A-

Ep 2: B-

Ep 3: B

Overall: B

Season Grade: B+

Discord_showing_a_map_to_Twilight_and_Cadance_S4E11

 

Discord, Q, Q, Discord, nice to see you again!

 

So today we got to see the return of Discord, who made a welcome appearance in the season premier as well. Once again, he was voice acted brilliantly by the magnificent if not slightly intimidatingly awesome John De Lancie. His entirety was dedicated to make Discord both menacing and hilarious, and once again, his entire character was a success. But apart from that… this episode didn’t really tread on ground we haven’t seen before.

We saw Princess Cadance as well, making a return from season three, as her and Twilight try to spend time together. Which is sort of… ok? I mean, I can’t really come to terms with this, is it good, is it bad? No… it’s just fine. It’s just there, and it’s fine. Nothing about it is too memorable, and this entire part of the episode was somewhat forced, if not completely useless.

Then Discord pops in, and makes the episode infinitely more fun. He firstly asks for Fluttershy, which is fun since they clearly have some sort of odd bond. However, she has gone to visit the “Breezies” which are apparently some creature far, far away! So it turns out it’s up to Twilight and Cadance to take care of the poor… thing (Discord).

We have a fantastic music piece in this episode, as John De Lancie uses his incredible voice to deliver some great vocals! We have a lot of hilarious references to various things (Harry potter, Risky Business, etc). All of this was welcome, although I’m sure many out there are willing to scrutinize it.

Apart from this, the episode was fairly bog standard. It was regular Discord antics, and at the end we got a somewhat shoehorned lesson that was just “there”, there was not real build up or anything. However, we did see a fun little action set-piece to round out the episode.

Three’s a Crowd was a generic episode, of a fairly generic show. But thankfully, it was backed up with enough comedy to make it stand out a little more than some previous season’s entrances. Season four still hasn’t disappointed me, it has stayed solid if not excellent, so it’s only natural for it to hit a few “casual” episodes… if I can even call it that.

Grade: B

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Goodbye… Troy…

This show never quite ceases to amaze me, not a single episode goes by without me thanking the writers, directors, and producers for making something like this air. An oddity, a show so weird that it can’t help but push people away…
Today, my favorite character, Troy Barnes (played masterfully by Donald Glover) departed from the show, his character is to set sail in the wide open ocean. Just like the actor himself, Donald Glover, left the show to set sail on the wide open ocean of opportunity, something this show gave him, and something i can’t help but feel sorrow about… but i get it. I understand why he is leaving, opportunities come and go, and this was the kickstarter to his acting career.
And oh boy was it a kickstarter… after episode twenty of the first season, he was my favorite character beyond a doubt. However, as the show progressed, in a sense, every character is my favorite. Every actor has an immense capability to portray a very human character in a very cartoon-ish show.
Today, the most unchanged character, Abed, changes. Everything in his world changes, because a chunk of his world has just left. And although this day has not come yet, I can’t help but feel for Abed, as i know i’ll be left with the same emptiness once this show goes off the air.
There is something beautiful about the way this episode was handled… and at first I could not place it. But then, on the third or fourth watch through, I came to the realization that this episode embodies the show. Everything about it is strictly Community, episodes like these can’t be pulled off by any other show. “Escapism” is what Community is. It’s wacky, fast paced, incredibly smart and silly at the same time, and best of all, it has heart. Because no matter how wacky the situation is, like Abed falling into imaginary lava and dying, it’s still somehow grounded. The emotion behind it is still resonant and felt.
During the final few scenes, when Troy is saying his goodbyes, the most poignant one was of course Abed’s. Abed is someone whom is almost always written perfectly, the writers know exactly how to give someone like him character. So it felt so natural that someone like Abed would resort to trying to prolong Troy’s stay, denying the fact that he has to leave. So it only felt perfect when it ended up being a “clone” that saved Abed. As he was always placed in a world of his own, a world that we almost never understand, but almost always can relate to.
I think we get his pain, we get Abed’s fear and anguish, and the almost uneccesserally touching line that Troy spoke. The fact that no one understands Abed, yet he understood him just a little. Maybe that’s their connection, the fact that Troy was able to understand and befriend Abed, and after this episode wrapped up, and I realized that we are almost half way done through this season… I felt the pain, I felt the sorrow, but most of all, I felt like i just watched yet another episode of Community that simply blows everything around it out of the water. And i did… the perfect ending, to my favorite character.
Goodbye Troy

 

Grade: A seal-of-approval (A seal of Approval to mark a grade even higher than “A”, a true masterpiece)