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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2



Let's take a short break from what is going to swiftly become a small deluge of television reviews, and talk about a film currently out in cinemas: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the long awaited sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy and the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Long-time readers of this blog, or really just anyone who has talked to me about the MCU, will know that Guardians of the Galaxy is my favourite film in the Marvel canon of live-action films: It was a lively, fun space opera that its creators were clearly passionate about, with a cool modernised-80s aesthetic, enough comedy and action to keep me hooked, and an at least halfway decent (if not especially groundbreaking) plot. Chris Pratt -- who has now seemingly committed himself to turning audiences against him by making baffling remarks about how white men are under-represented in films -- was the surprise breakout actor of 2014, and it wasn't difficult to see why.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Doctor Who S36E7: The Pyramid at the End of the World


Doctor Who
Series 36, Episode 7
The Pyramid at the End of the World.



Sometimes, sometimes, the critical reaction to Doctor Who episodes make me feel like I'm going a little bit mad. Because after no end of critics giving warm and enthusiastic praise to what has, thus far, been a very middling, milquetoast series in my eyes, we have those same critics saying that this episode is 'nothing special.'

That surprises me, because I'd say that this is easily the best episode we've had this series. It's still not really a scratch on any of Doctor Who's really good episodes, but it's a significant step up from any of the episodes we've seen so far in this series, with an interesting concept and a certain amount of spark and zeal that has been missing in the previous six episodes.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Attack on Titan S2E9: Opening.


Attack on Titan
Series 2, Episode 9



We are now officially three quarters of the way though the series. It really has flown by, and while the action is kicking into high gear now, the fact that this is only a twelve episode series means that, in hindsight, those early character focus episodes (not to mention almost the entirety of last week's episode) do feel somewhat wasted. Mileage might vary on that one: For people who enjoy more of a heavy character focus, and who like getting a lot of backstory, those episodes might not have felt wasted at all. 

For me, personally, I feel like it would have been more worthwhile to cram more plot in.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Agents of SHIELD S4 (Second and Third Acts)


Agents of SHIELD
Series 4 (Second and Third Acts).



So, gosh, this series has had a slightly odd structure. While American television shows are usually absolutely in love with a two act structure, owing to how the entire industry apparently grinds to a stop during December, January, and much of February (that is and will always be weird), Agents of SHIELD instead opted for a three act -- or possibly three arc -- structure this year.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Guest Editorial: Godric Gryffindor Makes No Sense


Godric Gryffindor Makes No Sense
(Guest Editorial by Reecey).



I had a review all written by Monday afternoon, but considering the events of that night, I’m not comfortable putting up that review this week.

So, in the meantime, I’m going to talk a lot about Harry Potter.

Specifically how the presented history of Hogwarts, and Godric Gryffindor in particular, don’t make a lot of sense in the context of British history.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The Flash S3E23: Finish Line


The Flash
Series 3, Episode 23
Finish Line.



So, I said last week that there was still the possibility of Iris coming back, and HR would somehow be involved in her doing so -- but what I didn't catch on to (but plenty of other fans did) was that HR could have taken her place. Well done, internet, for figuring that one out. Truth be told, until I saw those theories online, I had completely forgotten that HR even had technology for changing his face.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Supergirl S2E22: Nevertheless, She Persisted


Supergirl
Series 2, Episode 22
Nevertheless, She Persisted.



So, we're finally here at the finale of this series. Thoughts on the series as a whole? It was fun, but not a scratch on the first series, and I think that largely comes down to Cat not being in most of this series -- because the episodes that she's in were all consistently of the quality I'd expect from the first series.

I'm not certain what it is: Maybe it's because Cat's presence forces the writers to work in a healthy balance of Kara's life vs Supergirl's life, rather than focusing exclusively on the DEO. Maybe it's because her being there makes everyone else be better written, since she becomes a focal point for the 'inspirational' aspect of the show. Or maybe it's just that she's the crucial element that ties the show together. She's comparable, in a way, to Harrison Wells in The Flash -- the series can function without her, but it will never be as good.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Doctor Who S36E6: Extremis


Doctor Who
Series 36, Episode 6
Extremis.



This is a very Moffat episode -- it's telling that this is the first one he's written since the first episode, because it involves him falling back on what Moffat always falls back on when he's struggling: Layers of unreality and other perception-bending shenanigans. Moffat is, as a rule, pretty good at ramping up tension and mystery by implying that some or all of the world is unreal somehow, or having the protagonists' realities compromised, but he doesn't half have a bad tendency towards overusing it.

If you think I'm exaggerating there, I want you to remember that of the last five series, four of them have had overarching plots that hinge on reality somehow not being as real as it appears. He uses this idea a lot.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Attack on Titan S2E8: The Hunters


Attack on Titan
Series 2, Episode 8
The Hunters.



We are now officially two thirds of the way through this series. It feels like it's flown by, and the next four episodes are likely to fly by even quicker, especially as it doesn't seem likely that we'll get any more character focus episodes (well, unless Jean gets one).

Friday, 19 May 2017

Once Upon A Time S6 (Second Act).


Once Upon A Time
Series 6 (Second Act).



So, prior to the penultimate episode of this series, I actually had no idea that series six was meant to serve as a soft ending to the series -- a 'soft ending' here meaning that Emma's story, as well as the stories of the majority of the cast, would be ending, and the series would be changing its cast of characters and its central conflicts going forward.

I had a brief inkling when Rumpel remarked that all of the darkness Emma had faced had come from the Black Fairy, but given that every threat has been the biggest, worst threat ever, I didn't pay it that much mind. It wasn't until the episode that was both a musical and a wedding that I realised that no, no, this really was the end of Emma's story. A musical-wedding episode is practically the definition of 'let's go out with the biggest ratings spike we can.'

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Flash S3E22: Infantino Street


The Flash
Series 3, Episode 22
Infantino Street.



We're here at last, at the fridging episode. That's always been something of a key problem with this storyline: It's always been a very long, very drawn out fridging of Iris, and unless they use time travel or reveal that it was a trick or something to reverse that next episode, it will be sealed in my mind as 'that time a television show spent a whole series trying to justify fridging a main character,' and that'll leave a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

There is one more episode left, though, so it's always possible that Iris could return before the series is done. We'll see what happens there.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Supergirl S2E21: Resist


Supergirl
Series 2, Episode 21
Resist.



So, Cat's back this week, and god knows she's just the shot in the arm that this show needs. Her appearance in this episode just sort of hammers in that this show needs Cat, or at least a Cat equivalent, if it's going to be as good as it can be -- and I so, so hope the CW makes the decision to move the show's filming back to Los Angeles, or works out some other deal, so that Calista Flockhart can return to the series in a more regular role. She clearly adores playing Cat, and from what I can gather, the only reason she left was because she doesn't take roles that keep her far away from home.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Doctor Who S36E5: Oxygen


Doctor Who
Series 36, Episode 5
Oxygen.



Let's talk about a problem that Doctor Who has.

Doctor Who is, in essence, a monster-of-the-week show with a sci-fi twist, a product of its reputation as a show that people hide behind their sofas from, et cetera -- and as a result, there's a certain amount of pressure on the writers to have monsters of some kind in every episode.

Except sometimes the monster is just a glaring distraction from what could be a very serviceable and very interesting science fiction plot. 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Attack on Titan S2E7: Close Combat


Attack on Titan
Series 2, Episode 7
Close Combat.



We interrupt this series of Attack on Titan to bring you a suspiciously well-made MMA anime, complete with a cheering crowd, lingering shots of muscular bodies, grappling holds, characters standing back and explaining what techniques are being used, and flashbacks to being trained by an old friend. It's practically a Hajime no Ippo episode, just on a much bigger scale, and with a looming Colossal Titan in the background.

Speaking of, I didn't realise last week that Bertholdt didn't actually form the entirety of his Titan form, instead just sort of perching on the wall, attached to it by a bunch of bones, like a giant boss in a hack and slash game. Well, it's a strategy, I suppose, as is his 'release waves of steam and wait' strategy.

Friday, 12 May 2017

What We're Watching 12/5/17


This was going to be a The Walking Dead: A New Frontier review, but I swamped with work, so here's a What We're Watching instead.


What We're Watching
12/5/17



Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS.



So, the new Yu-Gi-Oh! series has started, and its first episode is definitely a first episode in which events took place.

Not included among those events: Anybody actually playing card games? I mean, there was hacking, and AIs, and cults, and social awkwardness, and surfing, but weirdly, no actual card games. It ends on the promise of a card game.

I'm fully expecting next week's episode to start just after that duel is over.

Joke's aside, I do actually find myself kind of liking the premise and setting, and the main character -- socially awkward hacker Yusaku -- seems like an actually pretty fun and interesting character to have around.


Kingdom Hearts.



Don't ask me why, but I've been mainlining Kingdom Hearts cutscenes lately.

I know I say quite often that Kingdom Hearts is a barely coherent, overly pompous, weirdly fanfic-esque mess of a story, created by an incompetent narcissist who cannot write and whose track record with even releasing his games is dubious at best, and with a business model so bizarre and tangled it would be predatory if it weren't so baffling -- but it's important to remember that I only say those things because they're true. They're all true.

That having been said, I really like Kingdom Hearts. It's not a guilty pleasure, because I don't have those, but it's one of the closest things I have to one, a game series I know is bad but adore nevertheless.


Once Upon A Time S6.



You know, if you told me I'd be enjoying the latter half of Once Upon A Time's sixth series this much, I wouldn't have believed you.

The show will apparently be ending in its current form after this series, with a new cast of characters taking the place of Emma and company, and honestly that's a good idea -- but having a clear end point in mind has allowed the writers to have a bit of fun, including an episode that was both a musical and a wedding episode, combining the two things most likely to spike your ratings.

The Black Fairy, played by Jaime Murray (formerly of Hustle) is a pretty fun villain, and her presence in the series -- as opposed to straight-up cut-price Disney villains, like OUAT's version of Hades -- definitely improves it.


Arrow.



Arrow's had a pretty strong series so far, and a vast improvement over the last two, which were mediocre at best and irritatingly bad at worst, but it's reaching the moment of truth that will make or break the series.

Some show's stories can survive a bad ending, but the story of Arrow's fifth series, revolving around Ollie locked in a proverbial chess game with vengeance-obsessed-ninja Prometheus, isn't one of them -- if it can't finish up this storyline in a way that feels compelling and satisfying, it will basically ruin the entire fifth series' narrative.

That would be a shame when this series has breathed new life into the show, but at the same time, if they can't pull this off, it will probably be a sure indicator that it's time to quietly retire Arrow.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Guest Editorial: Aerith Is The Worst Final Fantasy Character (Well, She's In The Top 10)


Editor's note: Reecey did actually suggest titles like 'Aerith is kind of a stupid character' or 'Aerith is the weak link in Final Fantasy VII,' but Buzzia, the God of Clickbait, has demanded a sacrifice in his name, and I am a dutiful servant.

All hail his benevolent, SEO-boosting blessings.


Guest Editorial: Aerith Is The Worst Final Fantasy Character
(Well, She's In The Top 10, At Least)


I have a list of grievances for this one.

I may as well start off with the one that’s been bothering me for the longest.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Flash S3E21: Cause and Effect


The Flash
Series 3, Episode 21
Cause and Effect



Let's set the scene: We're almost at the end of the series. Caitlin has betrayed the team (if not entirely willingly); Tracy is hard at work on a Speed Force prison for Savitar, but her success could potentially be compromised if Savitar gets wind of it; the deadline for saving Iris looms ever closer; and Savitar's identity has been revealed. We're in the final stretch of the third series now, the episode where the tension hits a fever pitch.

How should we deal with the fallout of the reveal of Savitar's identity? How should we up the stakes and back the heroes into a corner? At this point in the first series, Thawne was finishing his device, and had Eddie in his clutches; and at this point in the second series, Barry was trapped in the Speed Force while Zoom assembled an army of metahumans.

Well, let's have a light-hearted, comedic episode about memory shenanigans.

That's not to say I dislike this episode, but it's oddly jarring to have something so lighthearted inserted this late in the series, especially as it doesn't really have any kind of lasting impact: At the end of the episode, the team is basically at the same point that they were at the beginning, except that now Tracy has finished the Speed Bazooka.

Beginning immediately after episode twenty, this episode sees Savitar explaining how he was a time remnant that Barry created to help defeat Savitar, but that he was rejected by the people closest to him, which combined with his grief over Iris' death, caused him to become Savitar. After Barry relays this back to Team Flash, Cisco has an idea: Prevent Barry from forming new memories, so that Savitar can't remember their plans. When this plan goes wrong, however, wiping Barry's memory completely, the team must scramble to restore Barry's memory -- especially when a noted arsonist, Heat Monger, is freed from prison.

Wally's so pretty.

Okay, so the first hurdle this episode has is convincing me that the others -- Joe, Wally, Cisco, etc, would shun a time remnant version of Barry just because he's not 'the original,' and to be honest, I'm not sure I can believe that. Maybe, maybe you could swing it that they know he's going to become Savitar, since they've been told this story, and maybe I could then buy that Wally wouldn't accept him: But I think Joe and Cisco, at least, would do their best to comfort and stop him from turning evil. Both of them are too warm and too loving to really do anything else.

So, already Savitar's backstory is on shaky ground, and it's not helped by the fact that I really don't like him being a time remnant. It feels like a way of removing any kind of responsibility from Barry, since it's basically the show saying 'oh no, it was my evil double.'

Most of the episode, though, is committed to Barry's memory stuff, and while weirdly light-hearted, it actually was a pretty good episode. Goofy, fun Barry was a breath of fresh air, especially in a relatively grim series, and the dilemma of whether or not Barry should be given back his memories did feel like an actual dilemma, even if we all basically knew exactly how it'd turn out.

Caitlin still going full supervillain.

I've seen other reviewers remarking that the episode feels like a meta-commentary on complaints that this series is too grim, but it didn't really feel like that to me, so much as just a commentary on Barry's identity -- that is, after all, a pretty key concern of the series right now, given Savitar and all.

Having Caitlin show up to help the team out was a nice touch, too, allowing the show to put in some work to justify the inevitable redemption storyline that we know she'll be getting. That said, unless it leaves her redemption for series four, the show doesn't have a lot of time with which to actually redeem her.

Our C-plot is a romance between HR and Tracy, but there's not a lot to actually say about that. It's -- there. It goes from zero to about sixty in about one scene, and ultimately doesn't have an impact on anything. I'm not wild about the pairing, but I'm not against it, either.

It's just not very interesting.

The next episode looks positively jam-packed (just -- just packed with jam) as it will apparently include Barry traveling through time to pick up Leonard Snart, the two of them doing a heist to get the Dominator power core to fuel the Speed Bazooka, Savitar fighting Wally, some kind of dual Vibing with Cisco and Caitlin, and, from the looks of it, the fated day where Savitar is going to try to kill Iris.

It's difficult to imagine how they'll fit so much in one episode, but I look forward to seeing them try.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Supergirl S2E20: City of Lost Children


Supergirl
Series 2, Episode 20
City of Lost Children.



You know, this episode had an uphill battle as far as my actually enjoying it goes: It is, after all, an episode largely about Jimmy's totally useless Guardian storyline, and Mon-El. That's not exactly a winning elevator pitch.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Doctor Who S36E4: Knock Knock


Doctor Who
Series 34, Episode 4
Knock Knock.



It would be fair to say that so far, this series has been pretty mediocre: We've had one episode which was good but not amazing, and two episodes which were neither good nor bad, so much as just forgettable. But I had high hopes for this episode, which seemed from previews to be taking a gothic horror approach, and was bringing in David Suchet, of Poirot fame, to be a creepy villain.

This week's episode sees Bill and five other students searching for a place to live, without much success -- until a mysterious man offers to let them live at an old mansion. The offer quickly turns out to be too good to be true, as during the students' first night, they begin to vanish, getting sucked into the wood one by one. As more and more of Bill's friends vanish, she and the Doctor must figure out the mystery behind the house and its landlord, before the two of them are eaten as well.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Attack on Titan S2E6: Warrior


Attack on Titan
Series 2, Episode 6
Warrior.



Halfway through this series! That's an odd sensation. While we've had plenty of character development, it feels like not a whole lot has actually happened this series: There's really only been five major plot beats -- the Beast Titan appearing, Wall Rose being breached, Connie's village, Historia, and Ymir being a Titan Shifter -- and it feels like you could have essentially condensed those into three episodes instead of five. Still, I enjoyed all the character development and backstory stuff we got, so I'm not complaining too hard.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Editorial: 4 More Things I Definitely Won't Be Reviewing.


Editorial: 4 More Things I Definitely Won't Be Reviewing.


A while back, I did four things I definitely won't be reviewing, and wondered whether it could be a regular feature.

Apparently it can! Here are four more things you probably won't find reviews of on this blog any time soon.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Guest Editorial: Oscar Wilde's Favourite Book Sucks (Guest Editorial by Reecey)


Editor's note: Hey, guys, I'm back to having almost no time on Thursday, so we're back to guest editorials today -- and this one is on a topic I've heard much about, which is to say that tortoises with jewels on their shells now haunt my dreams.

Enjoy.


Editorial: Oscar Wilde's Favourite Book Sucks 

(Guest Editorial by Reecey)


Either that or he’s trolling us.

I hope it’s that second one.

So, what is the book in question?

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The Flash S3E20: I Know Who You Are


The Flash
Series 3, Episode 20
I Know Who You Are.



(Contains spoilers).

You know, it's a bold move, to advertise over a several week hiatus that you're going to reveal the identity of your main villain, not reveal the identity of your main villain, and then immediately start hinging all your advertising for the next episode on 'but we're really going to reveal our villain's identity this time.' I almost expected Savitar's armour to open to reveal another, smaller set of armour beneath it, or for the camera not to show us who he actually is, just Barry's reaction.

Luckily, it didn't do that, and we do actually get to find out Savitar's identity? Was it shocking? Were we surprised and alarmed?

Well, if social media is anything to go by, apparently at least a few people were.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Supergirl S2E19: Alex


Supergirl
Series 2, Episode 19
Alex.



I heard people lamenting about how Kara's personality seems to have done a one-eighty in this series, and I would really like to disagree -- and for some episodes, I can! In her crossover with The Flash, she was definitely back to her normal self. In the first two or three episodes of this series, she was fine as well. In her interactions with Snapper, and just in general in the last episode, she was definitely in-character.

(I suspect that this is also why Kara/Lena has become so popular as a ship, while Kara/Mon-El has gone over so badly -- I mean, apart from the fact that Mon-El has the personality of a potato on a good day, and the personality of a spousal abuser in waiting on a bad one. Kara seems more in-character when she's playing off Lena, and less in-character when she's playing off Mon-El. Being around Mon-El seems to instantly denature her, probably because Kara as introduced in the first series would not be able to tolerate Mon-El for more than six seconds.)

Monday, 1 May 2017

Doctor Who S36E3: Thin Ice


Doctor Who
Series 36, Episode 3
Thin Ice.



So, spoiler alert: This is another fun but ultimately mediocre episode. It wins some points over Smile for having, at least, an interesting setting, and some genuine character development as Bill and the Doctor come to understand each other, but it still sits below the first episode, which marked itself out by having some pretty decent horror chops.

This week's episode is written by Sarah Dollard, whose last contribution to the series was Face The Raven, an episode with some Neil Gaiman-ish aesthetic sensibilities that actually managed to pretty effectively create a compelling world and an actually pretty sinister antagonist in the form of a spirit raven that flies into your body and kills you, as a kind of advanced alien death sentence. This episode is not nearly so imaginative.