Archive for February, 2014

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic -- exclusive EW.com image

Stop! Twilight Time!

When I first started writing reviews on this website, I wanted to make them different than the ones I do on my Youtube channel. Different in the sense that i’d be valuing technical aspects, acting, general things that I miss on my first watch through and reaction. So when episodes that I generally find “meh” come along, I always want to rewatch them, because perhaps I judged too soon. I was definitely hoping this was one of those episodes.

For a an episode penned by David Polsky, it was oddly lacking on the humor side of things. Less slapstick, just less jokes in general. It was going for a very standard sitcom trope episode, using someone to gain something. In this case, it was the CMC using Princess Twilight to gain popularity, and the execution of this aspect was generally good. I say generally, because the entire episode is generally good… but i’m not looking to watch a show about technicolored horses for just “generally good” episodes, i’m looking for standout and memorable things.

This is where I start to contradict myself. An episode can be standout for either it’s flaws, or it’s successes, this episode is neither. It’s pretty much just “there”, it stands as the definition of a filler episode. Now if I go into my own personal definition of a filler episode, it’s not something that doesn’t progress the plot, it’s actually something that feels generally slapped together, not thought fully through, and very ‘regular’. Something without an ongoing theme or proper purpose, something that is just there to fill up the required twenty two minutes, that will never be brought up again, ever.

In a sense, some of the shows best episodes are considered “filler” episodes, one that do not contribute to an ongoing theme. However, in this sense I disagree. There’s a different between being episodic and being filler. For example, a generally acclaimed episode such as Party of One should be considered filler, however, instead it’s just a great episode that is a part of the show. For me… it’s hard to describe what a filler episode properly is, perhaps it’s just one of those feelings you get while watching an episode to just check the time. To see when it’s over. The general feeling of dullness and being bored that overcomes you in an episode like this, where so little is happening on screen that you don’t feel the need to laugh, frown, smile, or even comment.

Even on the second watch-through, the episode is like this. Not fully boring… just… there. I can’t really address many negatives this episode has character or plot wise, as it’s generally solid. But then again I can’t even praise some of the things I found to be exhilarating, or hilarious, or even well shot. Because there aren’t any.

I will say that Twilight was well-characterized within this episode, showing her true “Princess of Friendship nature”, while the CMC played off her quite well. Diamond Tiara and her companion Silver Spoon were less cringe-worthy than usual, however, still so underdeveloped and boring they hardly add anything to being on screen. We saw Pinkie in this episode, for a split moment, and every other character was generally sidelined for a very CMC-centric installment.

What I find odd is that this show is usually so good at making the CMC be so entertaining and unique, while this season they have been somewhat boring. Episodes like Flight to the Finish, which was inherently plagued with a major fault, is still more entertaining than this. However i’m adding as much as I can to this review, yet even with Flight’s faults, this episode still struggles to maintain an edge to that CMC episode, perhaps just because that one managed to atleast address an adult and mature story.

In the end, this episode was filler. I guess that’s what I was trying to say… it was just a big fat filler episode filled with scarce material that i’m half sure will never be addressed again. For the better or worse, I expected something a little more shocking from you Dave Polsky. Here’s hoping the next episode is more surprising, for the good or bad.

Grade: B-

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The song… its… just… so… CATCHY!

Well… this is definitely a better episode than the previous one! In fact, it was much better than the previous one! Although it missteps in one important area, the overall episode is solid on it’s own. Here Fluttershy has yet another conflict involving her courage. In this case, it’s stage fright. I suppose i’ll let this one slide because I honestly can’t seem to figure out another way to utilize Fluttershy without completely flanderizing her character.

The entire premise of this was very structural, almost like a procedural “character goes here for X result”, but unlike the previous episode, this one didn’t just use the setting of a magical world as it’s only shtick. It had plenty of hilarious physical humor, as well as some fantastic voice work by the entire cast. The song prominently featured within the episode was also incredibly catchy, I could see myself listening to THAT  a lot!

The cause for my issue with the episode is Pinkie, and how she acted. Instead of supporting her BEST friend Fluttershy, she instead came off as an oblivious bully rather than a friend… and I get that this was supposed to be played for comedic effect, but making a main character freken CRY is pretty NOT-best friend material. This was disappointing to see cause i could have totally sprung for a higher grade within this procedural.

I also enjoyed the fact that they didn’t try to shoe in every single character into the episode… this was one of the only times they were all there for a believable reason, and I loved that. As well as the fantastic interaction between Big Mac and his sister Applejack was splendid to see. We got a few nice callbacks and a small, yet entertaining, cameo by Zecora, the rhyming zebra.

However, I fear this is about as deep as this episode fairs… it’s a strictly “normal” episode for the show. Which is most definitely not a bad thing, especially when they constantly deliver such solid episodes. If it didn’t have such a blatant mis-characterization of Pinkie, this episode would have been much more prominent!

Grade: B+

Dr.Who-Review-S4ep11 – Midnight

Posted: February 10, 2014 in Dr.Who-Reviews

s4_e10

I can’t even… I… are… is this the same show?

Well then… i’ll ask again… is this the same Dr.Who that had something called an “Absorber”, which is a fat green alien, running around and eating people? Is this the same Dr.Who with shakespear being badly-spoken ladies man, or farting aliens, or even a werewolf in the Victorian times? After this episode, I’m really not sure anymore… because this episode was genuinly fantastic, almost eerily brilliant, unexpectedly stunning… and the craziest part? It was written by not-steven Moffat!

Yes you heard me, one of my new favorite episodes of the show ISN’T written by Steven Moffat. In fact, it’s written by Russel T Davies… WOW. The guy who wrote the over-the-top cliche, overwhelming, and often hard to comprehend season finales and introductions wrote THIS episode? How is this possible? There was NO deus ex machina, no stupid CGI, and no predictable ending or dialogue. Not only that, it had one of the most interesting stories and dynamics that this show has EVER done.

While the “villian” wasn’t some nasty alien, or terrifying creature, it was simply human nature… This topic has been addressed many times in this show, and every time it has it’s seemingly getting more poignant and disturbing. This season we have Midnight, arguably the most frightening episode this show has ever done. The Doctor loses control, not because he is overwhelmed, or because he’s too weak, but because the humans are too… human. He isn’t.

This is a frightening prospect that was disturbing to see, because it was an honest interpretation. There was no silliness behind it, it was just scary. Especially when the climax hits, and the Doctor starts being thrown out of the ship, I was frightened. Not because of the “oh no what’s gonna happen to the Doctor” because it’s not like he’ll die… but because of the truly disturbing prospect of humans turning on each other in dire times. Something that has often happened before.

Midnight explores a friendly dynamic turned utterly bitter, and it did so with such force. Every actor held their weight in an episode dominated by perfect deliveries and writing. I must ask, why the hell doesn’t he do more of these? Lay off on the silly Daleks, and the world domination plots… how about this? Why not this?

After the episode closed off, and I realized that this would have been my favorite episode if it hadn’t been for the two parter before this, I chuckled to my self as I noticed the fact that Donna was hardly in it… The one companion i’m truly thrilled to see, wasn’t in this utterly brilliant episode. Funny how the world works…

Overall, I’ll say this. Midnight was perhaps the best non-two parter the show has ever done, if not the best, then right up there with BlinkIt’s dialogue was spot on, the story was tight and intense, showing a truly frightening side to human nature, and best of all, it was written by someone who has never done something like this. Brava… this show is seriously on a role.

P.S – Rose appeared behind the Doctor on the ship screen! Weird!

Grade: A

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Holy…Fuck.

I don’t usually drop “F” bombs in my reviews. I do sometimes say some less-than-professional words such as “Crap” or… “banacafalata”, but never FUCK. I never say that… well, until I finished this episode. I feel this word helps describe my reaction after watching it. Both my excitement, the intensity, the acting, the intrigue, and best of all, the story, of the entire thing… It was hard to fully comprehend at first, but it developed with countless twists and turns, and Mofatt, the genius who wrote “Blink” and now this… well i think he out did himself one more time.

When i say that this is the best episode this show has ever done, and perhaps will ever do, I mean it. This. Was. Fucking.Amazing. Every bit of it. It had the intrigue of “Blink”, as well as the originality, yet it diverged from the story we were thrust into (which was interesting on it’s own) when the second part,Forest of the Dead, began, and then another adventure, within that same world, was initiated. The plotting and pacing was spot on, providing the right amount of tension without letting it hit the diminishing returns of episodes like 42 where it became laughable. 

The perceived antagonists of this episode were the Vashta Nerada… a villian i found more suitable in silence than with words. I say this because whenever a villian is personified, it loses some of it’s frightening qualities. However, this is perhaps the only minor gripe i have with this otherwise fantastic set of episodes. The best set of episodes this show has done. Apart from it, the Vashta Nereda were quite frankly awesome. I say this because i’m always  a fan of this… just… how do i say it? Original villains? The ones that aren’t just big monsters, or tin-cans… the ones with a true original quality to them. Such as this, or the weeping angels.

They provided a stunning threat for the first episode, however, once I switched on Forest of the Dead, Mofatt’s writing truly glowed. Particularly within Donna’s storyline, who thankfully had quite a bit to do in this episode. I will say this, the way the first episode ended… was perhaps the most intense moment this show has ever done, and the second episode played with that. There were alternate universes and perceived realities, all of which fucked with my brain in the best possible way. Only to start this long climax with the creepy and somewhat disturbing notion that Donna’s life is fake…

I say this again, there is too much to cover in this episode, I feel like i can write an entire essay on the moral implications, the theoretical choices that needed to be made, and overall originality of it. But I can’t do this review justice without mentioning the standout of the episode, River Song. She was not only the highlight, but also the most interesting part of it. She seems to know the Doctor before he knows her… that alone is interesting, but it also sets up many diverging theories within my mind on how the rest of the season (if not multiple seasons) can play out.

I doubt this was a one-off thing, and with Mofatt taking the show over at the end of the season, I can’t wait for what he has in store. All three, River, Donna, Tennant, were fantastic within the episode, only to be backed up by a capable set of background characters, and a story that was so original and interesting that it was quite literally oozing the time it needed to tell this story out of every pore. It flowed so naturally, so intensely, and so never-endingly interesting that I almost over looked the fact that Donna could have quite literally found her love within the people who re-appeared by the end of the episode…

Overall,  this was the best two parter this show has ever done, that goes without saying… it was also the most interesting episode(s) the show has ever done, and lastly, it was one of my favorite sci-fi installations of any tv-show I’ve seen. Now i can’t say it deserves my ‘seal of approval’ to make it as being the highest of all possible ratings, if only for that MINOR misstep i mentioned… but that doesn’t matter, what matters is that this show can rise so high, that I pity any episode that follows this.

Grades:

Silence In the Library: A

Forest of the Dead: A

Overall: A

Rarity_looking_at_Trenderhoof_photos_S4E13

 

Make love, not Trenderhoof

I won’t lie, this episode is not perfect. Perhaps it’s because of the stunning episode that aired before this, or maybe even the fact that this entire season has been pretty consistently excellent so far… but all I know is, this episode seemed to have some issues.

Josh Haber penned this episode, the new writer who created Castle Mane-ia earlier in the season, which I personally loved. He has said multiple times that he loves writing for Rarity as a character, and even in this episode, it shows that he put his own unique take on the character, while keeping her consistently charming and likable… for the most part. The first half of Simple Ways falls flat. Very flat. It hits too many similar marks, with too many cartoon cliches (a word i almost never use, cause cartoons are built on cliches) that weren’t appealing, but instead, grating.

By the end of the first half of the episode, I was acutely aware of the show I was watching. The funny thing is, this episode seemed to be penned for a slightly more adult audience too… meaning a few years older than the casual six to eight year old girl that may watch this show. Perhaps eleven, twelve, thirteen? I say this because the theme involves attraction, and whether it is right to change something about yourself because you are attracted to someone.

Which is an honest, and very banal lesson of “Be who you are, not who you think someone else wants you to be”… which is a lesson i’d think we learned before. While the episode maintained a frantic and entertaining pacing throughout, it seems that Rarity very much digressed in this first ten or so minutes. This is because the way she was acting was around ten years too young, as a love-struck kid instead of a business owning adult. Something that has been addressed countless times about her character, she is ALL about her business, all about her fashion, yet when this two-dimensional character trots into town, she puts her entire business at risk for him.

Which is a blatant character contradiction. When Rarity tried to juggle her friends and her lively-hood in a few episodes of the show, we got a true sense of how much her business means to her. This pony, whom she has never met, apparently means more to her than both her business AND friends? If you couldn’t already tell, this really rubbed me the wrong way.

Thankfully the episode ended up coming back into form during it’s second half, where it relied heavily on Tabitha St. Germain’s fantastic voice work for Rarity, and Ashley Ball’s impressive voice work for Applejack. They verbally spar, and try to out do each other. They are quite honestly opposites, which is why I find their actual friendship to be endearing. You don’t need to like everything someone else does to be their friend, and this issue, although it’s been addressed before, is still a valid plot.

However, the reason for the plot itself felt out of place, in my opinion, for a show like this. Rarity fell head-over-hooves over some random prince stallion in season one, i’d think she would have learned her lesson by now. But no, instead she regresses back to a crazy teen… damn.

Overall, I highlighted much too many faults in this episode for this review, and I most definitely am going too hard on it. That’s because i know how good this show can be, and how far ahead this season is to it’s predecessors, so i can’t help but notice the flaws. However, do not worry, if you read my reviews of the previous third season, you’d notice that i have put a few episodes with a similar grade… to perhaps quench your worry I will say that this episode is far better than they are. It was funnier, more frantic, and was generally still a pleasure to watch. But as a critic, especially on this website, i’m obligated to deduct for the flaws, this episode had quite a few of them…

Lastly, I will be re-watching it more as time goes on, hopefully as i re-watch it, I will come to appreciate and enjoy it more. Thank you.

Grade: C

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Buzz Buzz, we got another mystery afoot!

I honestly don’t really know what to think of this episode… because even though it does seem like regular “Who” shlock that happens every so often to fill the long gaps in between the meaningful and ‘world-ending’ episodes. But in another way, it felt a bit more like an experiment. However, in typical Who fashion, we got them to meet a celebrity in the past, just like in the previous seasons, and probably in the seasons to come. Here it was a famous writer, and just like in a regular plot, people start dropping like flies as someone tries to kill them in a similar way to how her books killed off people.

What’s more interesting and much more odd, is the way this episode took a very… strange turn. It’s almost as if they were playing around with separate concept episode themes, and couldn’t put their finger on the appropriate one. I could easily say this is what made it totally disjointed and hard to follow, but honestly, i was just having too much fun. Sure by the end you had a plethora of cringe-worthy drama scenes, but you also had a big stupid grin on your face.

For a show like this, this is all you need. Donna was thankfully more prominent this episode, showing off her comedic talent more than anything. Also, the Doctor got poisoned! Holy hell, what was up with that scene? Sometimes when the Doctor gets put in these terrifyingly dangerous situations, the cure isn’t pickled stuff… or anchovies, but it’s the use of overly complicated words. Or at least it seems that way…

This episodes saving grace was it’s somewhat experimental plot, as well as comedic background. In a way, this episode was shrouded in drama and pain, while the gooey insides were pure comedy and joy. Again, this is an understandable and good Doctor Who formula that doesn’t really disappoint me ever. Unless that episode involves a really fat alien that absorbs people… or farting aliens… or shakespear… ok, sometimes this method has failed, i’m just glad this episode it felt more unique and fleshed out.

Overall, this wasn’t a deep episode, but it was an incredibly fun journey. All the acting was accurate, and hilarious, as well as the Doctor’s almost frighteningly accurate performance, it’s almost as if Tennant is slowly honing his skills even more so in this episode.

However, next week we have a big two parter, right when I heard that I knew i shouldn’t stay for the “Next on Dr.Who” trailer at the end of the episode… Here’s hoping the two parter won’t disappoint, it’s Moffat after all!

Grade: B+

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Community is back to normal! HA! Just kidding… Just kidding… there is no normal!

Game of thrones… that’s a show that was referenced in this episode. In regular sitcoms, that would be the highlight, as it’s always fun to see a show you adore be referenced by another show… However, in Community this ongoing reference merely provided an entertaining subplot. While the rest of the episode was dominated, and I mean DOMINATED, by riotous laughter. In a show that is as funny as this, I rarely use the word “dominated” as it’s expected to be funny… however, this episode absolutely knocked it out of the park.

Not by using pop-culture references, or splendid meta humor, or even fantastic concept episode material that this show does so stunningly. No, this episode was funny due to it’s character collaborations. Anne, whom was paired up with Professor Hickey, was as much of a pleasure to see on screen as she was in the seasons prior to season four, when she was paired up with Pierce. Which is a fantastic back to form for her character, whom was flanderized beyond belief in season four.

So, where does this leave the B-story? Well, it leaves it in the hall of fame for “Most times you can make me laugh in a short amount of time”. It was THAT funny. Mainly revolving around the brilliant pairing of Chang, Dunkan, Shirley, and Jeff. Who instead of sulking back to boring cliche sitcom tropes, kept their ground as fantastic and hilarious characters by quite literally making them have some of the most awkward moments this show has ever done. Needless to say, it was fantastic.

Even a character like Chang, who has been so hit and miss these past few seasons, was on his A-game today, maybe that’s because whenever Chang cries I cry…from laughter. But anyway, this entire episode was mainly focused on Anne and Buzz Hickey, which was definately a very “Community” ride, as I like to put it, with one special addition… tons of celebrity guest stars. Nathan Fillian, amongst the four. They didn’t have an incredible amount of screen time… but honestly, they were just fun to see in the special world Community has built.

Overall, if you are curious whether this episode was successfull, I will answer your question with another question… has an episode of this show truly been unsuccessfull? Gas leak year aside, anyone with proper taste in TV would give you a big, fat, NO!

Grade: A-