s4_e09

 

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

s4_e07

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-

1607Well it’s been a while since I posted here, so hopefully this review shall suffice for that.  Developed by Young Horse Studios, Octodad: Dadliest Catch is definitely one of the most interesting games I have had the pleasure of coming across.    It is absolutely one of the silliest titles to reach the gaming community, yet underneath its ridiculously funny surface lies a rather deep and compelling message.  However, it is far from perfect.

In this game you play as every bodies favorite cephalopod/father, Octodad.  Octodad is simply your average joe, living in modern suburbia with his wife and kids, however there is one thing that separates him from your everyday-man.  He is an octopus, and as a result he holds the burden of disguising himself and hiding his identity from those around him, even his own family.  

This comedic premise is actually the very center of this game’s storyline, and a rather good one at that.  You go throughout the majority game performing the everyday mundane chores and other miscellaneous activities that an typical adult male would go through, except with ragdoll-like physics that come with being an octopus imitating a human being.  As a result, hilarity ensues.  Now this is a game where you can make the most of it.  It can either be tedious and frustrating or hysterical and silly depending on how you approach the gameplay.  If you go with the latter, you are left with a plethora of visual gags that will leave you chuckling.  On contrary, if you take it too seriously and try to wrestle with the controls too much, you’ll probably end up rather disappointed with the gameplay.  Also as a “normal human being” you must act one, and as a result if you do anything strange, like for example breaking the cart of bananas at the grocery store, in anybodies line of sight, their suspicion will go up.

The first half or so of the game revolves around doing said mundane tasks, and this is where the game thrives.  The simple act of making a cup of coffee becomes hilariously more difficult, and in the process you may end up inadvertently hitting one of your own kids.  However towards the end of the game, problems begin to occur.  The gameplay starts becoming more conventional rather than unique, where stealth missions and boss battles pop up, and both of which really detached me from the charm it had prior.  The problem with the conventional gameplay style is that it conflicts with Octodad’s rubber-like physics and as a result it creates a massive difficulty spike, leading to A LOT of deaths.  However, gameplay-wise these are honestly the only areas where it really screws itself over.

On a different note, the humor in this game is top-knotch.  Each character, minor or major, has something stupidly clever or charming to say, especially your wife and kids.  The visual gags and the humorous premise blend smoothly together, making it a humorous and charming experience from beginning to end.  The game manages to outdo many AAA titles in it’s reference-based humor in parts of the game, where it is refreshingly subtle rather than “in your face” like you will typically find in other games.  All I can really say to do the game justice, is that when it tries to be funny, it does an excellent job.

Unlike it’s predecessor, this game dives a bit into the backstory of Octodad, revealing how he met his lovely wife Scarlett, how he gained the suit that solidified his fool-proof disguise, and even how he earned the enemy that has been out for his life throughout the game.  Though it never really addresses how he got his kids, but instead just jokes about the surreality of it.  I guess it’s up to the fanfics to create the headcanon for that, but rest assured I won’t be there to see it.

In contrast, deep behind its blanket of cartoony humor, Octodad: Dadliest Catch actually displays a rather compelling message through its gameplay and storyline.  Octodad is simply trying to fit into the society around him, and goes to the extent of hiding his identity from everybody around him to pass as a human man.  This results in him gaining impostor syndrome, where he fears for the very day when those around him finds out who and what he truly is.  He does everything he does for his family, because he loves them more than anything else in this world, so everyday he puts on the masquerade of a human, in hopes that he may never lose them one day.  This is a rather compelling inner conflict, only directly addressed through Octodad’s body language and the subtext lying further beneath.  It’s a strange, yet fascinating phenomena that a game can have such a silly tone yet be so serious in its subtext.  In the end the theme of undying love, loyalty, and acceptance is brought forth to fix the problembrought by the inner conflict, making this subtext complete and compelling.  It is an absolute spectacle to behold.

Anyways, in short, I absolutely love this game.  It manages to do so much right by intentionally doing everything wrong, and it relishes in its own uniqueness.  That is why it’s ending levels were such disappointments, because they stepped away from what made this game so fun and hilarious in the beginning, and instead became frustratingly difficult in its mixed mess of conventional and unconventional gameplay.  However they are highly negligible in the end, because its accomplishments stand out far more than it’s short-comings.

Final Verdict: th

Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a great game, and can be found on Steam for $15 and is available on PC and Mac , and later it will be available on console.  If you love silly, cartoony games, then this is a must-buy.

~FrogFinest

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+