Discuss and Rate the Last Thing You Watched (non-movies)

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Gravity Falls - 9/10

I only bothered to finish watching it recently. It's a great show from start to finish, with great writing, morals and characters. My only real criticism is that Mabel's character arc in Season 2 could've been resolved better.

Game of Thrones (Seasons 1&2) - 8/10

Okay, I'm late to the party. And I confess I haven't actually finished Season 2 yet, but I'm damn close. The reason my score isn't higher is because the first season had a few "nothing" episodes that felt like they went precisely nowhere. Season 2, to its credit, is better at getting to the interesting stuff.

Hawki:

I can't say I'm that fond of the opener. That said, I think it's more to do with the saccharine approach. That's part of MLP, true, but let's just say there's a reason I gravitate more towards the "wacky" episodes more than the "Twilight and/or friend(s) learn a lesson about friendship" episodes.

That aside, with this point, while it's handled clumsily, there is a precedent for this behaviour. All of the non-pony races have had iffy relations with Equestria to some extent or another in the past, with the exception of the hippogriffs. So xenophobia is something I could see existing. Naysay is a stock character with stock arguments, but it at least tries to deal with the subject.

Yeah, well so has the real world. Australia's been involved in more active conflicts in a direct fashion than any other military force of the 20th and 21st centuries. Yet lo and behold we have a FTA with both China and Japan (both countries we've gone to war with), China is practically letting Australian medtech firms to establish for profit hospitals and other direct healthcare enterprises in their domain and we're leasing out entire port systems to their companies in return.

I mean ... it's a pretty blatant sign of trust when a country gives you access to its blood and organ supplies. Which ranks a solid '4' on my top 5 strategic reserves during a time of war.

When we went into a purely stupid conflict with North Vietnam, but lo and behold although Australia doesn't have an 'official language' Vietnamese is considered high priority for translating government documents, directives and proclamations into. On the sheer time scale of things Equestria has better neighbours than we do (or more so Australia has been an incredibly bad neighbour) ... you get over it, correct the problem, realize nothing is to be gained by it keeping ahold of manufactured hatreds.

More over it doesn't really satisfy my adjoining complaint that despite Equestria being this fairly utopian place, it seems to let what would otherwise be incredibly public scandals slide. I buy the idea Celestia isn't exactly 'hands on' ... but Christ, if you're going to have a benevolent dictatorial Duumvirate you might as well nudge elbows and correct obvious problems.

I mean the Yaks show-wise recently agreed to a '1000 Moons' peace treaty, so assuming the same lunar calendar as here that's about, what? 81 years and change? Frankly it's better than what the Belgians got (or at least in the end what they got). The worst the Hippogriffs did was pull a Switzerland when Equestria has been actively imperiled (though I would argue that the hippogriffs not warning Equestria of the threat is probably a graver diplomatic error than anything the Yaks may even possibly threaten).

About the only real groups one might be able to reason as having a grudge against is the Changelings ... but Starlight performed extrajudicial regime change and secured that problem away for the foreseeable future. Speaking of certain things I don't like about the show ... how they handled the changelings ...

The griffins already had students in Equestrian schools. Such as Flight Training Camp. So quite specifically you have non-pony characters being educated by ponies in what I can only imagine is 'EEA approved' institutions...

So even if you take the idea of some 'natural baseline animosity' you might expect some internal memo from Princess Celestia and Luna to all other departmental heads with a simple; "I'm watching you... don't fuck this up."

Granted, Celestia does seem to let a lot of things slide. Like her 'diplomat' not keeping her apprised of dangerous situations...

You had one job, Twilight.

Eh, maybe.

Look, here's the thing. I do like MLP, even if my level of enthusiasm for it has diminished over the years (no real issue, just that at 8 seasons, it no longer has the "oomph" it once had. But let's be honest, it's still a show for kids, and as a show for kids, in a setting where the "magic of friendship" is a literal force, this isn't the kind of place that one can expect weighty themes from an adult's perspective. So, is the episode meant to be an in-depth examination of xenophobia/racism, and the sign of a shifting political/social climate within Equestria, as the races of the world come together? Is it a comment on the school system, and a critique of rigidly following guidelines? Or are these backdrop plot points to be used as a catalyst for wacky hijinks?

I'll give it this though, it does at least make sense in the context of Twilight's arc. I commented way back in the day that Twilight teaching Starlight did seem like the natural progression for her character, as she transitions from student to mentor. So taking numerous students on and doing the same thing does feel like the next logical step in her career path.

Might be I'm actually incredibly new to the herd, like about 5 months ago. But I've pored over the show, books, comic books, etc ... Single issues to all the comics. Multiple copies of each for certain ones I just needed the cover art for, and I practically preorder the fan series models themselves. I even managed to get my hands on the 2013 Comic-Con exclusive Vinyl Scratch. Lighting effects and all, and to my surprise a scratch free display case.

I still love it, to put it mildly. Either that or I have more money than sense. I find the characters charming, I like the different speeds between the comics and the show/movie. I think it's a perfectly charming still, and the characters are still delightful as ever. I will say it feels like they're wrapping things up, and I'm actually tentatively excited about some aspects I've heard about G5 Ponies they're thinktanking.

I mean ... Ponyville already has a school and honestly Cheerilee is best teacher. Show needs more Earth pony love, and Cheerilee is already best science mare. "Learn potential energy physics, students ... by tomorrow..." She was planning to teach them about light cones, speed, relativity and observational relationship if that blackboard was telling us anything. And apparently those colts and fillies learnt from some of it. Celestia's school can suck it. I know where I'd send my kids, and Cheerilee's schoolhouse they use hay as a floor material. I was singularly disappointed that there was a clear excuse to have her play a role in the starting episodes, but it never eventuated.

I think Cheerilee deserved that school grant more, don't you? Speaking from a position of having worked in education, Starlight's advice is terrible. So Twilight already knows two good teachers. Celestia, but most importantly Cheerilee ... who lives right around the corner. A teacher who knows what it's like to give not merely tutoring, but class instruction.

So why wouldn't you, I don't know ... maybe approach that incredible teacher you know for pointers, or advice on how to engage with her students?

So I ... ehhh ... yeah I see the argument about Twilight's character growth, but at the same time it feels weirdly neurotic. And I get that, that's part of her character. She likes to follow written instructions, she likes lists, she likes decorum and protocol. But at the same time surely by now she knows ponies that can help her not only meet the demands of Equestrian regulations but also how to engage her pupils?

But the show has already made jokes about Twilight's .... let's call it "Helicopter friendshipping" ... as in Helicopter parenting but somehow creepier. It's funny, and kind of adorable, and it is a definite character flaw that the show sort of hammers home that Twilight is kind of coming into her own in these regards. Now she knows she has this problem, and she knows she has to deal with it in her own way ... but geeze ... how often do we need that idea that Twilight needs others as a crutch rather than as a means to be better on her own?

A clear example of this was Season 7's episode Royal Tensions (S7E10). Where arguably Twilight through her incessant need to observe, be an intelligencer, a constant lookout of her charge ... and she inevitably makes the situation worse. Stressing Starlight out. And this was intentional on the part of the writers to hammer home that Twilight still has 'creases' she needs to iron out. Another example would be EqG's Forgotten Friendship special ... where we finally got to see Sunset apologize to Celestia ... possibly something that she should have done 3 movies ago... ultimately Twilight kind of makes things worse (albeit temporarily).

I think the show has plenty of fun ideas to play around with. But I say that as a person that recently discovered it, and fell in love. Not as someone that has been watching it over a period of so many years. I remember watching the first two episodes like 5 years ago... someone told me to watch more, and by episode 7 I was thoroughly hooked. I kind of 'got it' that idea of the charm.

And I'm pretty sure that charm is still there. In spades. As you'll notice I'm giving examples majoritively of just the last season of why I think this show still has a lot of potential to create new, touching, charming storylines. But S8 is off to a kind of lackluster start. I'll still eat it all up. A lot of seasons start off as kind of ... meh? I mean S1 starts off as meh. Still delivers some fun moments, and some cute dialogue ... particularly between Nightmare Moon and Twilight. I think the way to approach it, at least the two starter episodes, is merely as a springboard. "This is the set up, this is the stage, now all of those is out of the way ... time for some fun!"

But kids' shows can be nuanced. Plenty of kids' shows that have that character development, and explorations of existential angst, conflict, diminished expectation, and compromise...

I think a lot of the problem, squarely, has to do with how Hasbro has sort of ... see, there's events where Hasbro did things right, but then cracked the whip on other issues to the detriment of character development. To give you an example, frankly I'm surprised Rules of Rarity (Canterlot Boutique, S5E14) went through without Hasbro batting an eye. It was quite obviously not only a complaint about an artist's alienation to their work due to overbearing pressures from figures outside creative production, but also how this might drive one to creative bankruptcy regardless of initial successes that drove its popularity.

And it's a phenomenal episode.

Another example would be The Perfect Pear (S7E13) where, holy shit ... an actual confirmation (kind of sorta, pretty much, yeah) that Applejack and her siblings are essentially orphans. Which is a lovely touch that was only hinted at with Scootaloo about the fact that there are kids that don't have conventional families, but says nothing as to the validity of whatever family they do manage to create for themselves. Which is obvious, but it was handled incredibly well. It's probably one of the best portrayals of an unconventional family unit and familial discord, and it's told in a really touching, loving way to handle what is both traumatic but also heroic, and very human.

Plus Day and Shatner ponies...

But the problem is we couldn't exactly have this character development or these insights into character portrayals well until Hasbro actually started relinquishing a part of the carte blanche chokechain of 'no dead ponies'.

So there are big ideas in this "kids' cartoon" ... and it's real things people encounter when they start having to pretend to be an adult.

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Addendum_Forthcoming:

More over it doesn't really satisfy my adjoining complaint that despite Equestria being this fairly utopian place, it seems to let what would otherwise be incredibly public scandals slide. I buy the idea Celestia isn't exactly 'hands on' ... but Christ, if you're going to have a benevolent dictatorial Duumvirate you might as well nudge elbows and correct obvious problems.

I mean the Yaks show-wise recently agreed to a '1000 Moons' peace treaty, so assuming the same lunar calendar as here that's about, what? 81 years and change? Frankly it's better than what the Belgians got (or at least in the end what they got). The worst the Hippogriffs did was pull a Switzerland when Equestria has been actively imperiled (though I would argue that the hippogriffs not warning Equestria of the threat is probably a graver diplomatic error than anything the Yaks may even possibly threaten).

About the only real groups one might be able to reason as having a grudge against is the Changelings ... but Starlight performed extrajudicial regime change and secured that problem away for the foreseeable future. Speaking of certain things I don't like about the show ... how they handled the changelings ...

The griffins already had students in Equestrian schools. Such as Flight Training Camp. So quite specifically you have non-pony characters being educated by ponies in what I can only imagine is 'EEA approved' institutions...

So even if you take the idea of some 'natural baseline animosity' you might expect some internal memo from Princess Celestia and Luna to all other departmental heads with a simple; "I'm watching you... don't fuck this up."

I could go through this point by point, but as utopian as Equestria may seem, concerning those creatures, how many times have we seen them truly intermingling with ponies? Canterlot, Ponyville, Manehattan, etc. - every pony settlement has seemed to be pretty mono-species...ic. And even way back in season 1, the Mane 6 were afraid of Zecora - that's an episode that explored xenophobia much better than this one.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Granted, Celestia does seem to let a lot of things slide. Like her 'diplomat' not keeping her apprised of dangerous situations...

Yeah, but I doubt it would have crossed her mind.

Frankly, I think this is the fault of the episode - Chancellor Naysay seems to be fairly xenophobic, but I can't tell if this is meant to be exploring some dark underbelly of the Equestrian mindset to "outsiders," or whether it's just him and him alone. I might go with the latter, if not for the fact that this entire thing could have led to actual conflict given how the non-ponies react.

And what's more, he may even have a point about securing Equestria's borders. How many times has Equestria fallen to an outside force, only to be saved by the Mane 6? By the time of the episode, the movie is apparently a very recent event, so the Storm King is presumably fresh in everyone's mind. But, apparently, no, Naysay is a dick, and we're meant to agree that he's a dick.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
I will say it feels like they're wrapping things up, and I'm actually tentatively excited about some aspects I've heard about G5 Ponies they're thinktanking.

I'm frankly dubious at this point as to whether G5 is even a thing, but that's another matter.

So I ... ehhh ... yeah I see the argument about Twilight's character growth, but at the same time it feels weirdly neurotic. And I get that, that's part of her character. She likes to follow written instructions, she likes lists, she likes decorum and protocol. But at the same time surely by now she knows ponies that can help her not only meet the demands of Equestrian regulations but also how to engage her pupils?

Presumably, but I've long since accepted that the Mane 6 will remain static to at least some extent or another. Twilight's shift in role makes sense, but her personality, while far less neurotic than it once was, isn't going to change in a cartoon where consistency is king (if not necessarily status quo - I'll give that to its credit).

But kids' shows can be nuanced. Plenty of kids' shows that have that character development, and explorations of existential angst, conflict, diminished expectation, and compromise...

I do agree, but given its intended age group, FiM can only do so much of that. The episodes you mention below are solid, but, well, at this point I'd say that even now, MLP is a "good" show. But due to various factors, I can't call it a "great" show.

Hawki:

I could go through this point by point, but as utopian as Equestria may seem, concerning those creatures, how many times have we seen them truly intermingling with ponies? Canterlot, Ponyville, Manehattan, etc. - every pony settlement has seemed to be pretty mono-species...ic. And even way back in season 1, the Mane 6 were afraid of Zecora - that's an episode that explored xenophobia much better than this one.

Yeah, I can see that. I think I might have brought up this complaint before with another poster? About the nature of magic in Equestria? How Maud Pie can do shit with rocks that would outstrip even most gifted unicorns in terms of what can only be described as 'magic'. Moreover even while not having 'magic' ... she seems to know a hell of a lot about magic. One time of which actively assisting with doing what was once thought impossible, as in stealing cutie marks. So why exactly does Celestia's school only allow unicorns?

Zecora's introductory episode deals with xenophobia better, I agree. I also quite like the idea how it's the younger ponies amongst them that actually seem far less perturbed. Not only that, but live dragon experimentation. It's actually kind of messed up. I mean, it's a sapient organism ... maybe, I don't know, try to track down its parentage or kinship? Nope, live magical experimentation on pre-natal dragons.

If I was in Twilight's place for that entrance exam, I'm pretty sure I would have dropped out if only on moral objections. It's pretty messed up. You'd think Spike would have a chip on his shoulder about it, because I know I would if I found out I was basically kept in storage waiting for a colt or filly to use me in their entrance exams.

Yeah, but I doubt it would have crossed her mind.

Well evidently not because she congratulates Twilight a minute later after apparently getting over the surprise of her diplomat not actually telling her the worst aspects of their meeting.

Frankly, I think this is the fault of the episode - Chancellor Naysay seems to be fairly xenophobic, but I can't tell if this is meant to be exploring some dark underbelly of the Equestrian mindset to "outsiders," or whether it's just him and him alone. I might go with the latter, if not for the fact that this entire thing could have led to actual conflict given how the non-ponies react.

And what's more, he may even have a point about securing Equestria's borders. How many times has Equestria fallen to an outside force, only to be saved by the Mane 6? By the time of the episode, the movie is apparently a very recent event, so the Storm King is presumably fresh in everyone's mind. But, apparently, no, Naysay is a dick, and we're meant to agree that he's a dick.

Right, but it seems to be a stretch the idea that children of foreign powers studying in Equestria (when none of them barring the Changelings have invaded) should somehow be purposefully antagonized. I mean two of those beings so maligned by Naysay have actively assisted Equestrian interests both there and abroad. Ember becoming Dragonlord through Equestrian interference basically stopped a worse potential Dragonlord taking the throne. You had Thorax who orchestrated regime change against Changeling leadership and ousted Queen Chrysalis.

The Storm King is very truly dead. So Equestria got its pound of flesh.

The real threat seems to be just how lenient everyone treats Discord. As in actively betraying Equestria after they gave him a reprieve. Tirek was arguably a bigger threat to Equestria than the Storm King was (speaking of epic battles, Twilight v. Tirek). Arguably what Discord did was way worse than the crimes he got turned into a statue for to begin with.

Moreover we've tread this ground before. How Cadance and Shining treated Thorax? Had that whole Red Scare vibe in season 6?

Not only that, the biggest threats seem to come from within pony society itself. The Pony of Shadows (Stygian), Sombra, Starlight, Sunset, Nightmare Moon, Tempest ... Tempest was the real power behind the Storm King. It was her idea to capture the Alicorns, it was her knowledge that helped the Storm King gain the staff able to take their power, and it was she who captured them in the first place.

If it was Tempest, not the Storm King, that wanted the power of the Alicorns for herself, Equestria would have been more than screwed ... because she got the staff, knew how to use it, and also captured all the princesses. G4 ponies seems to be a story about just how messed up unicorns can be. I'm surprised they haven't had a pony Tribe War ... oh wait, they did. And it lead to Hearth's Warming Eve after dooming their original lands to the Wendigos forcing them to come to what would be Equestria to begin with.

When armed with that weight of history you'd think that the overriding mentality might be; "Now, maybe we shouldn't be arseholes and give this whole friendship and co-operation thing a chance?"

Dragons? Fine. Griffins? Fine. Hippogriffs? Ditto. Yaks? Temperamental, but fine. Naysay's attitudes should be considered antithetical to basically whatever happiness Equestria has. Just the Great Blizzard alone ... let's say if there were a hypothetical nuclear winter event on Earth, you'd kind of hope 1000 years later after we've rebuilt we might still collectively understand nuclear weapons are bad.

Presumably, but I've long since accepted that the Mane 6 will remain static to at least some extent or another. Twilight's shift in role makes sense, but her personality, while far less neurotic than it once was, isn't going to change in a cartoon where consistency is king (if not necessarily status quo - I'll give that to its credit).

I think you're neglecting a lot of obvious growth there. CMC got their cutie marks, Changelings have been all but neutralized as a threat. Rarity has apparently become an absentee boutique operations fashion designer. Dash has joined the Wonderbolts proper. Fluttershy has .... balanced out? Her time spent with Discord feels like it's given her a slight edge of chaos or maybe more actively rebellious in terms of not just being an active doormat for the machinations of the rest of the Mane 6. Starlight has gone from a great villain, to a bit meandering, to actually endearing and her relationship to Twilight is blossoming into something quite sweet and charming. We learnt the background of the Ponyville Apple family and the tragi-heroic and touching tale behind that. Twilight's become a teacher, though how much of that was a logical leap from 'librarian' is debatable.

And this is just stuff from S5 onwards...

Let's just take Twilight's character development for a moment...

I will say as much as I love the idea of the Ponyville Library getting nuked (now that's how a show ups the stakes), I'm not loving what they replaced it with.

After Twilight's battle with Tirek the opportunities it could have told ... about how Twilight is basically homeless and having to at least temporarily move back to Canterlot into her other Celestia-Welfare home. How she makes plans to build her own home in Ponyville by hoof with the assistance of the community she helped save?

Don't get me wrong, I really love how they showed Twilight feeling effectively homesick for the Ponyville Library. How she's almost frightened of the castle she basically went eminent domain + Crown soil on. Because it does actually invest in her character that she had real attachments to Ponyville that was central to her character. Which was lovely. It meant something to her and despite being a glorified treehouse, itwas still a home she had built somewhere...

But I think the same story could have been told, and the dilemma better remedied, by Twilight figuratively and visually building a home in that community with the assistance of her friends and the community she saves. Nails, planks, and all.

Plus you know, Twilight and Moondancer. Which is kind of creepy and stalkerish ... because Friendship is Bribery, Reconnaissance and Subterfuge.

That being said, I think there's a hell of a lot of character development there. Specifically with her character. How she relates to Starlight, how she adapts losing her home, her relationship to members of the community like the CMC, and so forth.

I don't know. The charm is still there for me. Plus it's one of the few shows that has invested me to such a great extent. Season 7 turned out to be pretty collectively awesome all things said. Just, you know, ugh ... Star-Swirl. Too much Star Swirl. So I kind of hope Season 8 has merely had a 'slow' start. Which isn't all that uncommon.

I was kind of hoping if they were planning to expand the focus it would be more in the direction of Starlight, Sunburst, Discord, Trixie (especially Trixie), etc ... but then again, G4 has already been really unicorn heavy. I also imagine John de Lancie already commands a decent paygrade up on the other voice talent by amount of content, or perhaps he would prefer more recurring rather than near-main cast status.

Plus I imagine writing for Discord is particularly bloody hard given the much higher degree of co-ordination between writers, animators, storyboarders and voice talent that it would demand.

Just given visual cues and screenplay, I could see half a page of writing + art direction notes per 2 or 3 seconds. And honestly Meghan McCarthy is probably already overworked as it is...

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Yeah, I can see that. I think I might have brought up this complaint before with another poster? About the nature of magic in Equestria? How Maud Pie can do shit with rocks that would outstrip even most gifted unicorns in terms of what can only be described as 'magic'. Moreover even while not having 'magic' ... she seems to know a hell of a lot about magic. One time of which actively assisting with doing what was once thought impossible, as in stealing cutie marks. So why exactly does Celestia's school only allow unicorns?

No, it was me. And as I said, Maud's 'magic,' if it can be called that, seems to be passive rather than active, coming from rocks rather than her own abilities. Unicorns use 'active magic,' in that there's distinct cause (horn) and effect (result). So there's nothing untoward about a school that caters to them, same way a flight school can only really help pegasai.

Right, but it seems to be a stretch the idea that children of foreign powers studying in Equestria (when none of them barring the Changelings have invaded) should somehow be purposefully antagonized. I mean two of those beings so maligned by Naysay have actively assisted Equestrian interests both there and abroad. Ember becoming Dragonlord through Equestrian interference basically stopped a worse potential Dragonlord taking the throne. You had Thorax who orchestrated regime change against Changeling leadership and ousted Queen Chrysalis.

I don't think it's "purposely antagonized." A lot of Naysay's comments are directed to Twilight with the other creatures overhearing. Also, racism/xenophobia doesn't have to be direct. I mean, people don't usually go up to (insert minority here) and say "I hate (minority of choice)" - racism/xenophobia tends to operate on the subconcious level.

Not only that, the biggest threats seem to come from within pony society itself. The Pony of Shadows (Stygian), Sombra, Starlight, Sunset, Nightmare Moon, Tempest ... Tempest was the real power behind the Storm King. It was her idea to capture the Alicorns, it was her knowledge that helped the Storm King gain the staff able to take their power, and it was she who captured them in the first place.

If it was Tempest, not the Storm King, that wanted the power of the Alicorns for herself, Equestria would have been more than screwed ... because she got the staff, knew how to use it, and also captured all the princesses. G4 ponies seems to be a story about just how messed up unicorns can be. I'm surprised they haven't had a pony Tribe War ... oh wait, they did. And it lead to Hearth's Warming Eve after dooming their original lands to the Wendigos forcing them to come to what would be Equestria to begin with.

When armed with that weight of history you'd think that the overriding mentality might be; "Now, maybe we shouldn't be arseholes and give this whole friendship and co-operation thing a chance?"

It's far easier to look as outsiders as a threat than consider oneself to be at fault. Not saying that's right, but there's precedent for this in the real world (the whole "terrorist" vs. "disturbed" lexicon for attacks against innocents).

Naysay's attitudes should be considered antithetical to basically whatever happiness Equestria has. Just the Great Blizzard alone ... let's say if there were a hypothetical nuclear winter event on Earth, you'd kind of hope 1000 years later after we've rebuilt we might still collectively understand nuclear weapons are bad.

They're antithecal, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Like I said, I'm dubious as to whether Naysay's attitudes are meant to really be symbolic of anything, or whether he's simply written as being the "resident dickhead" that the viewer is meant to dislike. Also, the Great Blizzard, it's hardly equivalent to a nuclear war. The blizzard was mainly caused by the wendigos IIRC, the ponies just didn't have their act together. With a nuclear war however, someone needs to actively press the button.

I think you're neglecting a lot of obvious growth there. CMC got their cutie marks, Changelings have been all but neutralized as a threat. Rarity has apparently become an absentee boutique operations fashion designer. Dash has joined the Wonderbolts proper. Fluttershy has .... balanced out? Her time spent with Discord feels like it's given her a slight edge of chaos or maybe more actively rebellious in terms of not just being an active doormat for the machinations of the rest of the Mane 6. Starlight has gone from a great villain, to a bit meandering, to actually endearing and her relationship to Twilight is blossoming into something quite sweet and charming. We learnt the background of the Ponyville Apple family and the tragi-heroic and touching tale behind that. Twilight's become a teacher, though how much of that was a logical leap from 'librarian' is debatable.

And this is just stuff from S5 onwards...

That's all true, but the Mane 6 are still generally the same characters they were in S1. The specifics might have changed (Twilight is less neurotic, Rainbow's ego has gone down, Fluttershy's less of a doormat), but they're still fundamentally the same characters. None of them have demonstrated anything like Starlight, Sunset, or Discord (funny how villains tend to change more, since they're mostly redeemed).

Hawki:

No, it was me. And as I said, Maud's 'magic,' if it can be called that, seems to be passive rather than active, coming from rocks rather than her own abilities. Unicorns use 'active magic,' in that there's distinct cause (horn) and effect (result). So there's nothing untoward about a school that caters to them, same way a flight school can only really help pegasai.

Only you don't just have Pegasi. That flight school also taught griffins. And schools don't teach as if one thing. It's almost as if by having someone like Maud actually lend her intellect to the study of magic maybe Celestia and her staff might actually detect future magical threats.

Given unicorns going off the deep end every season, and even how both of the Mane 6 unicorns, and I say this with love, have issues (Rarity is still best horse) ... maybe it might be an idea to widen that study of magic to avoid another Maud helping another tyrant unicorn to be. By not opening up the curriculum to allow all forms of understanding magic... they are crippling their understanding of magic.

Quite clearly someone is teaching Maud about magic and its relationship to rocks... but given that extraordinary disconnection that information is not being taught in Celestia's school. It's almost as if needless segregation in education limits total worldliness and understanding...

Starlight didn't need to go to Celestia's fancy school to enslave a town. She did however need a magic rock that apparently only an Earth pony knew about as to its properties. I hesitate using Starlight as an example, given that she has ridiculous degree of power without seemingly a formal education. But the argument still stands.

I don't think it's "purposely antagonized." A lot of Naysay's comments are directed to Twilight with the other creatures overhearing. Also, racism/xenophobia doesn't have to be direct. I mean, people don't usually go up to (insert minority here) and say "I hate (minority of choice)" - racism/xenophobia tends to operate on the subconcious level.

It is also very not tolerated in our government officials. If such a scandal erupted here, of government official arbitrarily deciding purely in terms of race the merits of a student's education... that's a sackable offence. There is zero to be gained by pretending such an official is worth keeping. The U.S. is the only country in the West that I know that allows its unelected officials to actively politicize their student's lives like that.

But the fact of the matter is it's not their job to do that. Moreover their duty of care to the children outstrips active attempts to transform their lives into a media circus. To put it bluntly ... it's fucked up.

It is not part of the job description, and causing a scandal like that almost demands them 'resigning' or being terminated if they do not. I can't imagine segregation is written into the EEA's criterion of certified approval, given Celestia didn't approve of the sentiments... so this is purely self-willed transgression. You can't let that shit slide, otherwise you get nutcases who can do a tremendous amount of longterm damage.

As I was saying ... nearly everywhere on Earth that is decidedly less utopian, that guy would get the sack.

It's far easier to look as outsiders as a threat than consider oneself to be at fault. Not saying that's right, but there's precedent for this in the real world (the whole "terrorist" vs. "disturbed" lexicon for attacks against innocents).

Which is precisely why you hire people capable of doing the job without bringing bias crime into the equation

If you're an unelected official, you have a job and not a mouth. You don't get to use the trust and power invested in you to injure unjustly. You wouldn't excuse a bent copper, you definitely don't excuse a government official shooting from the hip and abusing their station.

They're antithecal, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Like I said, I'm dubious as to whether Naysay's attitudes are meant to really be symbolic of anything, or whether he's simply written as being the "resident dickhead" that the viewer is meant to dislike. Also, the Great Blizzard, it's hardly equivalent to a nuclear war. The blizzard was mainly caused by the wendigos IIRC, the ponies just didn't have their act together. With a nuclear war however, someone needs to actively press the button.

To put it more adequately they might exist, but would ponies toleratr their officials abusing their station like that?

I'm leaning towards 'no'.

As to Hearth's Warming, quite clearly they treat it as their responsibility and fault that the disaster happened. The play they run doesn't mince words, nor spares any sympathies for Platinum, Puddinghead and Hurricane. They turned it into a public holiday. It's treated as if a reminder of a more belligerent past. The funny thing is Platinum is somewhat more jovial in the Journal of the Two Sisters than she is in the play the Mane 6 run.

Arguably given it happens after the first Hearth's Warming that she had loosened up (a bit), and had been reformed and she makes fast friends with Celestia and Luna after a brief stint of hostility ... but then that doesn't explain why she, Puddinghead and Hurricane is so rubbished despite doing the right thing in the end.

You'd think that would earn some good will.

It's quite obvious who ponies put the blame on. And more over, Celestia herself uses it as an argument against Naysay in the very episode in question.

Take for instance the young griffon, Gabby. Holds no qualms hanging out with ponies. She even wants a cutie mark. She earnestly helps ponies in Ponyville and manages to make a good impression on so many of them. It doesn't seem like the type of society that seek active conflict or growing hostilities for simply shits and giggles.

Even with Zecora, who I would say is an example of ponies at their worst ... It's less fear, hatred and revulsion, it's more just fear. And it seemed specifically restricted to merely Ponyville ... not Twilight who recently came from Canterlot.

That's all true, but the Mane 6 are still generally the same characters they were in S1. The specifics might have changed (Twilight is less neurotic, Rainbow's ego has gone down, Fluttershy's less of a doormat), but they're still fundamentally the same characters. None of them have demonstrated anything like Starlight, Sunset, or Discord (funny how villains tend to change more, since they're mostly redeemed).

Are they, though? I think there is a huge difference between Rarity of S1 and Rarity of S4, S5, S6 and S7. Less histrionic, less ... prissy? Take for instance Castle Mane-ia in S4.

S1 gave us Rarity whining and fainting, and being taken advantage of by the rest of the Mane 6... but later on it gives us a depiction of Rarity making a stand on her art in Canterlot Boutique and bringing her hoof down. These characters aren't making the same mistakes, they seem to actually be growing. What sort of benchmark are we looking to for a show that splits slice of life with adventure?

Rarity seems to have more character growth over 7 seasons (given I count roughly 2-2.5 years in passing) of the show than people I know in reality over 7 years of the show running.

Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin (3/5)

Bland, tedious, boring, far too much wallpaper music...in essence, your average episode of OldWho.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Only you don't just have Pegasi. That flight school also taught griffins.

Who can still, y'know, fly. Point stands.

And schools don't teach as if one thing. It's almost as if by having someone like Maud actually lend her intellect to the study of magic maybe Celestia and her staff might actually detect future magical threats.

Okay, but again, different magic, different ponies. There's nothing wrong with having a specialized school that focuses exclusively on certain subjects. We've never seen any earth ponies or pegasi doing the things that unicorns have with their horns (not that I recall at least).

Given unicorns going off the deep end every season, and even how both of the Mane 6 unicorns, and I say this with love, have issues (Rarity is still best horse) ... maybe it might be an idea to widen that study of magic to avoid another Maud helping another tyrant unicorn to be. By not opening up the curriculum to allow all forms of understanding magic... they are crippling their understanding of magic.

I'm sure those subjects are still studied.

Quite clearly someone is teaching Maud about magic and its relationship to rocks... but given that extraordinary disconnection that information is not being taught in Celestia's school. It's almost as if needless segregation in education limits total worldliness and understanding...

Except where else have we seen segregation? Cherilee's class seems pretty diverse.

It is not part of the job description, and causing a scandal like that almost demands them 'resigning' or being terminated if they do not. I can't imagine segregation is written into the EEA's criterion of certified approval, given Celestia didn't approve of the sentiments... so this is purely self-willed transgression. You can't let that shit slide, otherwise you get nutcases who can do a tremendous amount of longterm damage.

Maybe, but again, wasn't part of the school destroyed?

Naysay is an arse, and I doubt we're meant to see him as anything other than being an arse, but he at least has an understandable, if not sympathetic mindset, given Equestria's history of being invaded. This being in the presence of one species that's invaded at least twice (changelings), one that's implied to have done its fair share of looting and plundering (dragons), and the griffons, while not antagonistic, I think were depicted as being an insular state prior to Pinkie and Rainbow visiting.

To put it more adequately they might exist, but would ponies toleratr their officials abusing their station like that?

I'm leaning towards 'no'.

Yeah, but when was Naysay put in the position to run his mouth?

I've applied for various jobs over the years (still am, though I've at least got employment), and a common question is "demonstrate your understanding EEO principles." So, I can wax lyrical about how one shouldn't discrimiante based on gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc., but that doesn't mean I necessarily believe it (which I do, don't worry). In theory, I could easily lie on the application, but not believe in the stuff I'm writing. Naysay being an arse doesn't preclude him getting a position of power.

As to Hearth's Warming, quite clearly they treat it as their responsibility and fault that the disaster happened. The play they run doesn't mince words, nor spares any sympathies for Platinum, Puddinghead and Hurricane.

Being a play, I'm guessing that the character traits are exagerated. Remember Richard III? Shakespeare's depiction of him is...let's say, "creative," compared to what's actually known about Dick III.

Though if it's shown as being otherwise in EU material, I can't comment.

Take for instance the young griffon, Gabby. Holds no qualms hanging out with ponies. She even wants a cutie mark. She earnestly helps ponies in Ponyville and manages to make a good impression on so many of them. It doesn't seem like the type of society that seek active conflict or growing hostilities for simply shits and giggles.

Yeah, and then there's Gilda. And when Pinkie and Rainbow visit, the griffons aren't shown as being particuarly nice. Gabby is an exception to the rule. The "rule" may have changed since then though.

Are they, though? I think there is a huge difference between Rarity of S1 and Rarity of S4, S5, S6 and S7. Less histrionic, less ... prissy? Take for instance Castle Mane-ia in S4.

S1 gave us Rarity whining and fainting, and being taken advantage of by the rest of the Mane 6... but later on it gives us a depiction of Rarity making a stand on her art in Canterlot Boutique and bringing her hoof down. These characters aren't making the same mistakes, they seem to actually be growing. What sort of benchmark are we looking to for a show that splits slice of life with adventure?

Rarity seems to have more character growth over 7 seasons (given I count roughly 2-2.5 years in passing) of the show than people I know in reality over 7 years of the show running.

Rarity has changed in elements of her character, but she's still fundamentally the same character. Rarity may still be less prissy, but she's still really into fashion, and still a drama queen, albeit to a lesser extent. Same applies to Twilight, Fluttershy, and Rainbow. Their core personalities remain, all that's changed is elements of them. If you want an example of really dramatic character change in a children's cartoon, look at Avatar: The Last Airbender. Going for the big guns, characters like Aang and Zuko are drastically different characters by the end of the series than they were at the start.

I don't begrudge MLP for this - it's an open-running series with no set end, so it's hard to plan for character development down the line. Plus, as it's marketed primarily towards children, you'd probably want the characters' personalities to remain stable. And after all, looking at something like Simpsons or South Park, is anyone changing for Homer to get off his arse, or Cartman to not be a repugnant human being? I'm not. There's something to be said for characters remaining stable in a non-serialized show. But again, if we're talking about character development in the series, I'd say that Sunset and Starlight have probably had the most - compared to their old selves, they've pretty much done a 180.

Hawki:

Who can still, y'know, fly. Point stands.

How? The original point was that non-ponies were still being taught by ponies as established in the first season.

I never said anything about the validity of that flight school... but I would remark as to this aspect of the discussion that it totally makes sense for such a school to look at both mechanical and non-pegasi flight assuming they wanted to teach both adults and juveniles.

Okay, but again, different magic, different ponies. There's nothing wrong with having a specialized school that focuses exclusively on certain subjects. We've never seen any earth ponies or pegasi doing the things that unicorns have with their horns (not that I recall at least).

There's nothing wrong with it... but it's the only school of magic we know of in Equestria. If a country had only one school for studying visual arts, you'd hope it would be a pretty fantastic and comprehensive university.

Schools branch out into niches, correct... but not at the cost of a curriculum and academic pursuit.

Celestia's school seems more a glorified library rather than a place of study.

I'm sure those subjects are still studied.

Are they? After all... Starlight didn't need it to basically destroy Equestria.

Except where else have we seen segregation? Cherilee's class seems pretty diverse.

Absolutely. As I was saying before, Cheerilee is best teacher and science mare. But never seen her teach magic.

Maybe, but again, wasn't part of the school destroyed?

Yeah... I think I kind of addressed this point in the first post I wrotr about the episode about my time working in the Department of Education. How I think the show sends the wrong message... because I wouldn't be very impressed. But then again, the difference is I'd be angry how truant students unreported by teachers went on to destroy part of the school... and it wouldn't matter about their race.

Naysay is an arse, and I doubt we're meant to see him as anything other than being an arse, but he at least has an understandable, if not sympathetic mindset, given Equestria's history of being invaded. This being in the presence of one species that's invaded at least twice (changelings), one that's implied to have done its fair share of looting and plundering (dragons), and the griffons, while not antagonistic, I think were depicted as being an insular state prior to Pinkie and Rainbow visiting.

Well frankly I cam't see it as sympathetic. It might be because I've worked as an official, but we're paid to do a job. Not abuse our power or to commit bias crime. It should be seen as a transgression of public good will. As I was saying, you can't let this shit slide. And for whatever meandering excuses for it, quite clearly are irrelevant to Equestria's current state. They wouldn't be excusable even if they were.

For an episode about bureaucracy being bad... the thing is those protocols are a two way street in making sure the system isn't rife with bigoted people with too much power. There are a multitude of countries on Earth... that have been invaded, that face geopolitical competitors, and yet would sack said official.

Yeah, but when was Naysay put in the position to run his mouth?

I've applied for various jobs over the years (still am, though I've at least got employment), and a common question is "demonstrate your understanding EEO principles." So, I can wax lyrical about how one shouldn't discrimiante based on gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc., but that doesn't mean I necessarily believe it (which I do, don't worry). In theory, I could easily lie on the application, but not believe in the stuff I'm writing. Naysay being an arse doesn't preclude him getting a position of power.

It kind of does when said bias crime is laid to bare. No one is saying bigoted arseholes do not achieve positions of power... but that doesn't distance the necessity to act when you do see it.

Being a play, I'm guessing that the character traits are exagerated. Remember Richard III? Shakespeare's depiction of him is...let's say, "creative," compared to what's actually known about Dick III.

Which is precisely my point. Platinum is different in different materials, and is rubbished actively by ponies regardless of seeming differences. And they're intentionally rubbished for a reason. It turns oit Puddinghead turned into a really good administrator for Earth ponies wiyh a bit of dutiful prodding and semi-guidance. Leading to questions whether they were mad or secretly brilliant and mad.

Yeah, and then there's Gilda. And when Pinkie and Rainbow visit, the griffons aren't shown as being particuarly nice. Gabby is an exception to the rule. The "rule" may have changed since then though.

And quite clearly you don't see ponies treating Gabby worse solely because they once met a Gilda. In the same way I doubt Earth ponies in Ponyville that suffered at the hands of Trixie don't roll their eyes st Starlight moving into their village and aaying; "Great... there goes the neighbourhood."

And Earth ponies in Ponyville, at least prior Sparklr getting a crown, were the dominant tribe in Ponyville.

They had the wealthiest aspects of village commerce, the mayor runs unopposed, Cheerilee heads up the local school, Apple family (while fairly poor) are still the largest land owners in the region. So Earth ponies had cornered all aspects of the means of production and the politicsl power to maintain its perpetuity of industrial-social mechanics.

Yet, as Maud adequately demonstrates Earth ponies aren't necessarily perturbed by other tribes... or even all that judgmental...

Clearly the moral metrics are on how a pony acts. And I doubt Maud would have knowingly assisted Starlight if she explicitly said she was going to steal the magic of an entire village. If anything it lives up to those old creator notes about how Earth ponies are supposed to be fair minded, and more resilient to temptations to do harm. And this shapes their world view of others and they just assume other creatures will act decently if given opportunity.

Which is problematic for the idea that they hold grudges when they seem to be the largest of the three tribes.

I don't begrudge MLP for this - it's an open-running series with no set end, so it's hard to plan for character development down the line. Plus, as it's marketed primarily towards children, you'd probably want the characters' personalities to remain stable. And after all, looking at something like Simpsons or South Park, is anyone changing for Homer to get off his arse, or Cartman to not be a repugnant human being? I'm not. There's something to be said for characters remaining stable in a non-serialized show. But again, if we're talking about character development in the series, I'd say that Sunset and Starlight have probably had the most - compared to their old selves, they've pretty much done a 180.

I haven't seen Avatar so I can't comment... and it seems like a lot of adjoined material I need to get through to understand the point. But just to talk about Starlight and Sunset... it's kind of hard to have former villains not do a 180. I think I made a comment before how if Queen Chrysalis is no longer a villain, at least give her spikes where perhaps not like Discord, at least while not antagonistic just in general not exactly unbegrudging.

Regardless ... it's a bit hard to compare former villains to the Mane 6 to begin with.... in the same way the Doctor's companions in Doctor Who undergo more growth because individually they are expected to trundle off, often less than a total season after their introduction.

ReBoot.The.Guardian.Code.S01E01 - 1/10:
It's SHIT. I mean, holy shit it's shit.

NOTHING to do with ReBoot.
Shitty, teenager, acting.
Shitty, generic, CGI.
Shitty, Dollar Store, Power Rangers.

Just...yikes. I think The Last Airbender movie was better than this shitty shit shidwich.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

How? The original point was that non-ponies were still being taught by ponies as established in the first season.

it totally makes sense for such a school to look at both mechanical and non-pegasi flight assuming they wanted to teach both adults and juveniles.

Where's Equestria actually demonstrated any mechanical flight though? I don't think we've seen anything more advanced than zepplins.

There's nothing wrong with it... but it's the only school of magic we know of in Equestria. If a country had only one school for studying visual arts, you'd hope it would be a pretty fantastic and comprehensive university.

Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence.

Are they? After all... Starlight didn't need it to basically destroy Equestria.

1) As you've already pointed out, Starlight has a high level of raw magical ability. She can afford to skip a few lessons.

2) Starlight destroying Equestria was more due to the knock-on effect of her preventing the Mane 6 from forming - Nightmare Moon, Sombra, etc. did the actual destroying in the alternate timelines.

Absolutely. As I was saying before, Cheerilee is best teacher and science mare. But never seen her teach magic.

Probably because it's a specialized field that only unicorns can really use actively?

Think of it this way - Cherilee's school is your general public school. Celestia's is more like the eqivalent of a STEM school (or art school, or any other school that has a specific focus).

And Earth ponies in Ponyville, at least prior Sparklr getting a crown, were the dominant tribe in Ponyville.

They had the wealthiest aspects of village commerce, the mayor runs unopposed, Cheerilee heads up the local school, Apple family (while fairly poor) are still the largest land owners in the region. So Earth ponies had cornered all aspects of the means of production and the politicsl power to maintain its perpetuity of industrial-social mechanics.

Yet, as Maud adequately demonstrates Earth ponies aren't necessarily perturbed by other tribes... or even all that judgmental...

Yeah, but Ponyville was founded by earth ponies, so makes sense they got into positions of power.

As for Maud, I don't think her attitude can be considered typical of earth ponies (or any type of pony for that matter).

Regardless ... it's a bit hard to compare former villains to the Mane 6 to begin with.... in the same way the Doctor's companions in Doctor Who undergo more growth because individually they are expected to trundle off, often less than a total season after their introduction.

Y'know, upon reflection, how many companions in Doctor Who actually undergo a character arc? The Doctor certainly changes between incarnations, but as for companions...sorry, I can't think of any. It struck me as less the companions undergoing an arc per se, and more just becoming the best version of themselves, if that makes sense.

Watched the first 2 episodes of the new season of Jessica Jones. It feels like a perfectly organic continuation. Krysten Ritter is still impeccable as the burnt out, bitchy, unstable alcoholic, and everything I liked about the first season is still there. It's pretty interesting how they make her decision at the end of season 1, which was widely criticized, a central part of her character now. I didn't watch the Defenders because Luke Cage bored me and Iron Fist was apparently bad, and the reception of Defenders wasn't extatic either to my understanding.

Almost done with the 1960s Peanuts TV specials collection. I've already ordered the two 1970s volumes. This show is so charming.

Diplomacy (4/5)

So, thanks to this thread, I can finally discuss stage plays. So, now I get to discuss Diplomacy by Cyril Gely, depicting the discussions between Raoul Nordling and Dietrich von Choltitz, specifically the attempts by the former to get the latter to not follow Hitler's order to level Paris in response to advancing Allied forces. So, admittedly right there that's part of why I can't say I love this play, because I know ahead of time that Paris isn't going to be blown up.

So, alright then, surely the dialogue carries the play then, and we get a nice discussion about the morality and legality of certain actions in wartime? Well, we do...except that a lot of the time it feels like we're getting the same discussion over and over again. The play goes for 90 minutes without an interval, and even then it feels like a lot of the run time (if that's the word) is being stretched to accomodate that. Also feels rushed in some areas, in that the penultimate scene is von Choltitz fearing that Nordling's betrayed him as Allied tanks go rumbling down the street, then cut to black, then monologues from the cast revealing that everything worked out. I get that in a play you have a far more limited scale to work with, but...yeah.

Still, play's good. Not "great," but "good." As someone who still remembers 'The King's Choice' from last year, which had a similar principle of Norweigen and German diplomats trying to get Norway to accept the inevitable, this is a far better experience.

Doctor Who: Castrovalva -

So IPTV finally starting airing reruns of Peter Davison's era. So far decent start.

Not perfect and mostly odd writing areas, but its fine. 7/10

Also I loved The Deadly Assassin

Star Trek: Discovery - 1/5

I'm still trying to put my thoughts on the series in a concise manner currently but as it stands I see Discovery as one of the weaker starts of the Trek series but without any of the interesting aspects that I can get out of even Season 1 of TNG. Even as an action series I find it lacking in it's execution.

A reliance on contrived drama, an ill-thought out and rushed main plot that prioritises twists and shock moments regardless of how much sense they make, using none of the advantages a serialised plot should have. The main character's backstory and persona are a contradiction with itself let alone Trek as a whole. In lieu of any point to the main story outside of explosions and deaths it's been the most jingoistic the franchise has gotten with it's portrayal of the Klingons, and the character reveals leave the story borderline incoherent.

There are some okay character moments with the supporting cast here and there, but it's not enough to carry it to the finish line for me.

Arrow: Season 5 (3/5)

Sigh...

Okay, confession time - I really liked Arrow Season 4. I did. I can accept that I'm in a minority there, but I just don't agree/get/accept many of the criticisms levelled at it. I bring this up because Season 5 feels a lot like a "back to basics" season, and I'd argue that's the root of its problems.

So, we have the new Team Arrow, because we need some new blood. How do I feel about them? They're...okay, I guess, but they feel like pale imitations of what's come before. I have to question some choices though - Ragman's rags can apparently stop a nuke from exploding by covering it, so why the heck should I fear any potential harm that comes his way? Yes, it removes the rags' powers, and he goes off, never to be seen again, so, um, see ya. Then we have Evelynn/Artemis, who could potentially be set up as a twisted inversion of Thea given her affiliation with Chase, but again, underutilized. Rene/Wild Dog is...okay, Curtis is...okay, but feels shoehorned in as someone who started out as a normal tech geek. Oh, and then there's Dinah Drake. The "real" Black Canary because her scream ability is a metahuman ability, because god damn it, we need to appease the comic book purists. I'll admit that Laurel was never my favorite character, but I still liked her, but Dinah's personality is...actually, what is her personality? FFS, Black Siren is in the season and is more interesting because she actually has a character, and has the whole inversion thing going on due to her being the doppleganger of Earth-1 Laurel. But no, I'm meant to like Dinah Drake, because her scream is a superpower, and that's what apparently matters. I'll also point out that it feels really out of place in a team where the characters' abilities are down to personal and/or mental skill, not superpowers (Ragman also has this problem to an extent).

Then we have Adrian "Prometheus" Chase. Someone who's apparently a bigshot in the comics, but here, feels like a poor man's version of Merlyn (Season 1) and Slade (Season 2). As in, combining Merlyn's fighting style with the whole vendetta thing that Slade carried in Season 2. Unfortunately, he falls short in both areas. His 'fighting strategy' is mostly to let Oliver pummel him, only to be forced to be let go as his overall plan is revealed. And the vendetta thing feels shoehorned in - I cared about Slade because he goes from being a good, decent, kickass character in season 1, to a figure in season 2 that's both tragic, but also reprehensible. Season 2 works excellently because we see both versions of Slade play out. Here, Chase's vendetta basically boils down to "daddy issues." Yes, there's some introspection on Oliver's more murderous past, but it comes off as hollow given how quickly Oliver gets over being 'interrogated' and whatnot. And it gets to the point where him always being ahead, knowing exactly how people will act ahead of time, gets tiresome.

As for Slade's quasi redemption at the end of season 5...mixed on that.

Oh, and the season 5 flashbacks. Enough of them. I'm tired of them. The flashbacks haven't been interesting since season 2. If anything, I'd argue they undermine Oliver's "time in hell" considering how little time he apparently did spend on Lian Yu.

Now, you can tell from the rating that I don't hate this season. There is stuff I like in it. Problem is, I'd argue that only the last quarter of the season's run is really interesting, but it soon plateaus. While it's better than Season 3, it's a pale imitation of the show's first two seasons, and comes short when compared to season 4. As I said, I feel this is an attempt at getting "back to basics," but it doesn't do enough new with its premise to make a "back to basics" approach interesting. In a way, the best new character is arguably Talia al'Ghul...because Lexa Doig tends to be awesome in whatever she's in, and "evil sexy British accent" Talia is a fun Talia to interact with, however briefly. Come to think of it, why isn't SHE the antagonist? At least we actually saw Oliver kill Ra's, whereas Chase's daddy has to be retroactively introduced. Heck, even Evelynn would be a more interesting core antagonist. But no, we have Adrian "Prometheus always ahead of you" Chase.

Anyway, rant over. I'll be posting my thoughts on Season 1 of The 100 soon, and unless the season finale take a U-turn, I'll have far more positive things to say about that. So, um, yay.

Aggretsuko on Netflix

The main character may be a cute little red panda but when she gets stressed or angry she vents it via Death Metal.

The thing that surprised me was that it was created by the same group that created Hello Kitty.

The 100: Season 1 (4/5)

Alright, funny story. When The 100 was about to come out, I remember people hating it. As in, not only was this a show primarily dealing with under 18s, but said under 18s looked quite well dressed for being sent to an Earth where a nuclear war destroyed civilization 97 years ago. When the show was actually released, it turned out that being well dressed only lasted for about 1-2 episodes, and it turned out to be quite good...or at least that's what people said, I never got to find out myself until recently. Years after the first season debuted, and years after I learnt through library work that this was actually based on a YA novel series. So, having actually watched the first season, is this show good?

Yeah, pretty much.

That's not to say it's perfect mind you. These are still teenagers on a CW show, which means that the teenagers are going to do teenage things, usually at the end of an episode, and usually with soft music playing in the background. There's also the character of Octavia, who shacks up with three guys over the course of the first season, including a Grounder that has the hots for her, if not so much her people. So, are her actions do to her repressed upbringing, being forced to hide on a spaceship that has a 1 child policy, cut off from outside contact? Or is it because sex sells?

Good question. The answer is yes.

That said, this doesn't happen too often, and while there is a love triangle of sorts with Clarke-Finn-Raven, it never feels too obtrusive to the story, which despite the dramas, is still primarily based around survival on a world that despite expectations, does have human populations who survived the apocalypse, who want to kill the 100 in various, nasty ways. Which means that considering that the 100 landed with 100 (technically 101) prisoners, that's plenty of cannon fodder to be killed off in various ways.

So, there's that. What isn't discussed as often is the story that's going on in the Ark, as the people there have to deal with the space colony giving out, and intercine strife breaking out as well. In a way, I kind of find the Ark narrative more interesting, but both complement each other quite well. What also complements each other is the character arcs of Bellamy and Kane - both are set up on the ground/in space as characters you're meant to hate, with Bellamy taking the 100 down a Lord of the Flies route (no rules, do whatever we want, etc.), and Kane being a stickler for the rules who's quite happy to float people who break them. By the end of the season, Bellamy's been driven by need (the Grounders) to actually rise up to be a good leader, one who's willing to do whatever it takes to keep the 100 safe (bearing in mind that he's the oldest, and these are teenagers who are fighting for their lives) and Kane...well, Kane might be my favorite character on the show (or at least, he's my favorite on the Ark). He goes from basically a heartless drone to someone who does have heartbreaking moments and layers to him. He's set up from the start as someone who you're meant to hate, and by the end, someone who you can't help but root for and sympathize with. Not every character gets the same level of character development (really feel like Wells get's shafted - doesn't help that Clarke seems to forget about him immediately after he dies, despite them being childhood friends, and Diana Sydney should have been introduced much earlier IMO), and I have to question why being on Earth doesn't kill the 100 immediately (they've lived on a spaceship all their lives, pathogens should kill them pretty quickly), but well, can't get everything right. I already have to accept that the apocalypse created giant snakes, two-headed deer, and blue glowing butterflies, so hey, go figure.

So, all in all, very solid first season.

Finally finished season 4 of Gintama. Unlike the other anime I've completed over the past few weeks, I won't be writing a review for it because I had this season on hold for a long time, before jumping back in in the middle of the Shogun arc, so my memory of half the season is fuzzy, and therefore, I won't be able to write a very accurate review.

I'll say this though: when I put it on hold back then, I had initially thought that it's just the usual hijinks as per usual, even when I started watching the Shogun arc. But of course, I was wrong. Things do feel like they are coming to an end with Gintama. Lots of significant plot-development can be found here in the final two story arcs, and boy, are they amazing. Gintama remains as the prime example of shounen anime done right. It embodies everything awesome about shounen anime and that hot-blooded spirit in keeping your chivalry alive.

Definitely can't wait to get started on the next season.

9/10

Binged most of Jessica Jones season 2 today, all the way to the end, because damn those cliffhangers.

I have to say this season took some very unexpected and strange turns. In a good way. But even talking about what makes this season special requires spoiling vital plot points, so in non-spoiler summation: It's really good. Not as good as the first season since David Tennant is no longer present, but the acting, characters and story remain great. Hogarth's plotline feels a bit out of place and crowbarred in, like the writers were desperate to give her something to do. Also, JJ should rename her firm to Alienation investigations, because that's what she spends most of the season doing. The season also feels a bit stretched with 13 episodes. 10 would have been perfectly enough, with 13 the material feels a bit stretched, and a couple of subplots seem thrown in just to pad the runtime.

Cobra Kai - 8/10

I've never really been all that big on Karate Kid (though far be it from me to dispute its status as an 80's classic) and I'm usually very suspicious of long-after-the-fact sequels... but hot damn, this was an awesome show. As self-aware as it is unapologetically nostalgic, as nuanced in its characterizations and plot as it shamelessly engages in some good old 1980's formulaic cheese, this is a love letter to the original... and it shows.

Shirley Valentine (5/5)

I debated whether this should be a 4/5 or a 5/5 - you could say it's a 4.5, but I don't go for decimals in these reviews, so, after some thought, 5/5 it is.

Not to say it's perfect mind you. The play is divided into three acts, with the first two happening before intermission, and the third occurring after. The third is easily the weakest, which is something I've noticed with a lot of plays I've seen, that later acts are rarely superior than earlier ones. Whether that's down to writing or actor fatigue, I can't say, but the third act doesn't have the same 'punch' as its predecessors. Granted, this is a one-woman show, so by this stage, the style of delivery is established, as well as the themes, so act 3 is really the codifier.

Still, these are nitpicks. The play is exceptionally solid. It being solid is ultimately going to rely on its actress (the sole character really), who has to mimic numerous other characters, but in this case, she does it expertly, conveying emotions ranging from humour, to melancholia, to everything in-between. So, on that note, excellent job.

The Flash: Season 3 (3/5)

Ask Arrowverse/Flash fans to rank the seasons of the Flash, and the consensus seems to be 1>2>3. Speaking personally, it's 2>1>3. But that aside, while 2 and 1 are almost interchangeable in terms of quality for me, season 3 is the weak link in the series. It's not the worst Arrowverse season out there (hello, Arrow: Season 3), but it's probably the second worst. And while I don't agree with some of the criticisms labeled against this season (Barry being sad...gee, I wonder why? It's almost as if the season focuses on the question as to whether Iris's death can be averted, and for most of the time, there doesn't seem to be any way to change said future), there are issues I have with it, namely:

-The Flaspoint timeline doesn't last nearly long enough, and raises a heap of questions (Thawne apparently still has his speed after the incident, so shouldn't that invalidate him ever giving Barry powers in the first place?)

-Minor point, but it seems The Flash is going the same way as Dragonball Z did, with Wally and Jesse equaling Barry's speed in a fraction of the time it took for him to get as fast as he is. This doesn't bother me as much as Z, but it's still noticeable.

-So, the premise of this season...I kinda like it. Mostly. While we've got yet another evil speedster as our series antagonist, I at least like the angle it initially goes for - Savitar will kill Iris in 3 months time, cue questions as to whether the future is set or not. To avert the future, the team takes note of news headlines in the future, and seek to alter events. So, fair enough, you've got me. That's an angle the series hasn't gone for before, even if it has dealt with time travel before, including pre-destination paradox/casual loops. So, what's the issue?

-Part of the issue is that this idea barely carries enough momentum to justify a season. The 'future aversion' idea starts off strong, but then falls into the background. There's a sub-plot of Barry training Wally to save Iris instead of him, but this is basically abandoned. Jesse Quick shows up, then goes, then comes, then goes, then...okay, she doesn't really add anything to this season. And Savitar kind of fluctuates between being OP early on, and not OP later. And I bring them up because in seasons 1 and 2, Reverse-Flash and Zoom were shown to be faster than Barry initially, and you can chart his progress in coming to match their speed. Here, there's no sense of buildup. Paradoxically, Savitar seems less powerful after being released from the Speed Force.

-Speaking of the Speed Force, that stuff where Barry goes into it to rescue Wally...no. Just no. It worked in season 2, it doesn't work here. While I get what the writers were going for, it feels like a hollow imitation of what Season 2 did. Plus, the re-use of sets - apparently the Speed Force just likes mimicking CCPD, because even the time-space continuum has a budget.

-Speaking of the time-space continuum, this is the season where any consistency in the rules of time travel is gone - heck, this is even kind of addressed, where it's said "the more you [Barry] travel through time, the less the laws [of time travel] apply to you." And, yeah, that kinda covers it. Eddie's sacrifice in season 1 is well and truly pointless by now, but the season seems to want to have it both ways. Sometimes changing history creates an alternate timeline, sometimes it doesn't. Savitar owes his existence to a temporal loop, but that loop can be broken fairly easily apparently through H.R.'s sacrifice. When Barry travels into the future, but changes his present, does that future still exist as an alternate timeline, or is it negated, because if so, when he meets his future self, it kind of renders the arc of that episode moot. Normally I wouldn't complain too much, but the season is focusing so much on the time travel element, it's impossible to ignore.

There's other pros and cons, but if I had to describe this season in one word, it would be "floundering." It toys with numerous ideas, of fate vs. determination, but it never really delivers on any of them.

Netflix's The Punisher. I'm not sure I liked it, not really.

The Netflix Marvel shows started off so great. Daredevil was revelatory, doing something totally new to the MCU, and was executed very well. Jessica Jones was just terrific, and Luke Cage, once it got going, was also great (until the somewhat disappointing ending). But DD season 2 had major problems, Iron Fist was a dud, and The Defenders ended up feeling like a huge waste of time. And into this slump comes The Punisher.

Now, while DD season 2 was a very mixed bag, by far the best out of that bag was Frank Castle. The first 4 episodes of the season were some of the best in the Netflix canon, when Punisher is running amok and clashing with Daredevil, both physically and idealogically. And really, I love John Bernthal. I really liked him on The Walking Dead, I was sad he left the show so soon. And he was cast perfectly to play Frank Castle, he's the right combination of imposing physical presence and sympathetic humanity, and he's a brilliant actor. I loved his story in Daredevil. But I'm more iffy on his arc in his own show.

He's less a tortured anti-(very anti)hero and more a kill-crazy asshole. He's more of a dick just to be a dick, to be edgy I guess. I'm not sure why, but the sympathy I had for him in Daredevil as a man so damaged by war and grief that he took the most violent path to exorcise his demons is mostly gone, and now he feels more like a guy who, yes, has lost everything important to him and wants vengeance, but is also very blas? about ending lives. Before, he killed in a fury of agonized passion, but now he's cold and methodical about it. It's just less sympathetic and offers less catharsis to see the bad guys die, and is more worrisome and needlessly gruesome. It may be a small difference, but makes a big impact on how I viewed the show.

Also, how much freaking punishment can he take? I know he's a comic book character, and he's supposed to be a total beast of a man, but my god, he was taking beatings that would cripple an ordinary person and getting right up the next day and going at it again. Immunity to pain is one thing, but by the end his internal organs should have been one big blob of jello.

There's also a major character and plot thread that serves no actual purpose that I can see. Maybe it was about adding a layer to the show's themes, but if it had been removed entirely the plot would hardly be affected. Overall, I am rather disappointed. It's not a bad show, better than Iron Fist and Daredevil season 2, there is a lot I like about it. But after all that promise in DD, the Punisher's first solo outing is less than I expected.

Parks and Recreation: Season 3 (4/5)

So, haven't discussed this before (I think), but I quite like P&R. The how's and why's are something I'll skip, and I'll focus on this season in particular. So, first question is, "is it good?" And, well, yeah. It is. Granted, I think Season 1 is good as well (I know that's not a popular opinion), but it's Season 2 when the show came into its own for me. Season 3 is effectively more of the same, even if it does dump the whole "we need to build a park" plot point. TBH, there isn't really any core narrative thread in this season, it's more character focused...kind of. As in, there isn't one core character trajectory (except maybe the LesliexBen thing), but the characters generally go places, either in strides or in steps.

Most of the time I like that. Ben might be my favorite character right now, by virtue of being the "straight man" character - the 'normal' character in the sea of insanity. I think the show kind of tried that with Mark in the first two seasons, but Ben is the concept done much better, if only because he does have a character trajectory, and plenty of baggage to go with it. Anne feels better integrated into the plot now, whereas previous seasons kind of went in a "yeah, she's a nurse, but she's at Town Hall a lot of the time because...reasons." Also, while not exactly character growth, I think this season is great for Ron, in as much how his character gets explored. Course, Ron "Fucking" Swanson is awesome regardless, but it makes his paradox work - he's a hardline libertarian that dislikes government, but we see quite a few times that he's still very erudite, and understands how to get the most out of people that work under him. Not that previous seasons didn't do this (even season 1 to an extent), but it feels the most pronounced here. He works for me where April doesn't because...okay, I really dislike April at this point. The whole "I hate/don't care about anything/everything" schtick is really getting old now. Andy at least had some character growth up to this point, but at this point it feels like he's getting dragged down with her. I think April bugs me because she hits close to home - I know what it's like to work with people like her. Ron is apathetic about government, but there's at least an in-universe reason for him to be there. With April, there isn't. Even Tom is still likable to some extent. And Jerry...am I the only one who feels uncomfortable about how everyone picks on him? I mean, part of it is funny, and I do smirk, but I can't help but be reminded that this is actual office bullying. Mark, in a rare moment of character depth, did point this out in season 2, but it's still going on here.

So that's season 3. More character focused than season 2, but doesn't really have a core plot. Being character focused, it has higher highs than season 2, but also lower lows. So, can't say right now if it's better than season 2, but it's still a solid net positive nonetheless. Pawnee's still crazy, but is endearingly crazy.

Supergirl: Season 2 (3/5)

This season is weird to talk about.

Not so much weird in terms of content (well, no more weird than you'd usually expect from a Superman mythos series), but that its strengths mostly come from lack of superhero stuff, while its weaknesses come at least in part from the superhero stuff.

So, let's start where this season falls flat, and let's start with politics. Now, before you say anything, I don't support the idea that art should be free of politics. If that was true, works like 1984, Brave New World, or heck, even Lord of the Flies, would never exist. The idea that's creeped up in recent times that socio-political issues shouldn't be in fiction of any kind is rediculous, to the point where people are identifying political stances where they're not even there. But make no mistake, Supergirl Season 2 is trying to be political. Problem is, it doesn't do a very good job with it.

First up on the politics agenda is immigration, or more accurately, refugees. Supergirl Season 2 (hence referred to as SS2) wants to draw parallels between aliens coming to Earth (who all speak perfect English, and most of whom are phenotypically identical to humans) and refugees in the real world. Okay, fair enough, sounds interesting. Problem is, it doesn't go beyond the stance of "aliens are fleeing war-torn planets, they should come here." That's...really it. It doesn't really examine this in any form. It doesn't go beyond "let them in." It's not exactly preaching, but if you're going to tackle a subject like refugees or illegal immigration, I'd like to see a bit more finesse to it. A bit more 'meat. Heck, even SS1 addressed it better, with Kara pointing out that yes, she is technically a refugee, and had to spend most of her life fitting into human society at the cost of her own nature as a walking solar powered alien (don't ask, the mechanics of kryptonians in this series make little sense - at least MoS gave a reason why kryptonians wouldn't just move to a yellow sun because "hey, superpowers!"). Thing is, the daxomites (which invade at the end of the season) are technically refugees as well, but the series can't (or won't) address this paradox. Not everyone who flees to the West is going to cause trouble, but some are. Either extreme is counter-productive, but the show can't/won't address this. Which would be fine, if it didn't try to bring it up in the first place.

The issue of politics extended to its post-Trump era. The president (who's also an alien refugee) is very much a stand-in for Hilary Clinton, or at least, a stand-in for "not Trump." And while I'm not going to bemoan a series for not liking Trump, the series doesn't do much to engender me to this president. Who's an alien refugee who signs a law giving citizenship to every other alien refugee (not bad in of itself, but no-one mentions the potential conflict of interest). Also, when the daxamites invade, her plan is to fly in Air Force One TOWARDS the invading aliens, leaving Kara to exclaim "I'm so glad I voted for her!" Kara, this isn't brave, this is stupid, and considering that Air Force One and its two escort fighters are destroyed, and the president survives only because she's an alien, and Cat Grant (who's still awesome) is saved by Supergirl...yeah. Leader of the free world everybody. That said, there is a good example of post-Trump material working, where, paraprhased, Rhea refers to "restoring Daxom to greatness," with Mon-El (near the end of his character arc at this point) commenting darkly "Daxom was never great," an assertion that, given what we know of Daxom at this point, is probably true, least as far as morality goes. If you want to see this as a reference to Trump, you can, but the line and its context works without the analogy.

Oh, and remember that daxamite invasion? Well, apparently they're hyper-sensitive to lead, so they're defeated by seeding the atmosphere with lead that will make the daxomites leave, but not do any harm to human life. Um, okay...if daxamites are so sensitive to lead, wouldn't just being on Earth be an issue due to background lead? And considering how deadly lead can be to humans (and animals) as well, I'm skeptical that seeding the atmosphere with lead is going to have no reprecussions. I mean, this is a setting where any actual science is pretty much non-existent, but this kind of goes above and beyond. Also, if daxamites are also powered by a yellow sun, shouldn't the armoured daxamites in the street just take off their armour and start kicking arse and taking names?

Oh, and there's the feminist angle..sort of. I mean, season 1 had a woman exclaim "finally, a hero my girls can look up to" (lady, you have Superman in this world, are you saying they can't look up to him because he's male), and there's nothing as bad as that here. Usually the show doesn't really draw attention to the 'gender thing,' but when it does, it feels cringeworthy. Not enough to sink it, but it's noticable.

So, alright then. Sounds like the season is pretty bad then. Except it isn't. Because the weird thing about this season is that it's good in ways that aren't inherent to its genre. I mean, there are examples - I think they did a great job with Superman for instance, both in personality and in his beatdown with Supergirl - but what this season is really good at is character relationships. KaraxMon-El, J'onn x Megan, WinnxLyra, MaggiexAlex. The Arrowverse is usually reasonably good with its character relationships, but here, every one of them manages to work. Work, as in, feel natural, to the point that when things go right or wrong, I'm invested. I think part of the reason why this works is that the show has a far more relaxed approach to continuity. Every other Arrowverse season I've seen has always had a central villain. That's not to say those seasons lack other villains, but without exception, you could always identify the "big bad." SS1 had this with Astra and Non. SS2 doesn't really have this. There's two main villains (Cadmus and Rhea), but neither of them really takes centre stage. Cadmus waxes and wanes in its presence, Rhea doesn't appear on-screen until the last quarter of the season. However, this isn't a bad thing. SS2 is able to go at its own pace and do its own thing because of the lack of any overarching thread. That's not to say its episodes lack continuity, but weirdly enough, I feel the lack of a central plot...actually kinda helps.

It also helps that the show feels more confident, if that makes sense. it makes the mistake of adding in more superheroes (James Olson becoming Guardian is "whyyy?!" material), but, it works. It works, by virtue of being normal. Its flaws are present, but its strengths lie in doing its own thing, at its own pace, and doing it well. So, um, yeah. Well done, SS2. You make mistakes, but most of you is solid.

La casa de papel - 8/10

I remember thinking, going into this one, "surely something else is going to happen... they can't possibly stretch a single heist into a 20+ hour series".

As it turned out, not only they could, I'd be hooked from start to finish.

That's not to say it was without its hiccups and warts (cliffhanger fakeouts and characters flipping on their most basic motivations for plot convenience - particularly at the last few episodes), but all in all, my hat's frankly off for this one. Great characters, fantastic performances, gorgeous locations.

This was an amazing show.

​Marjorie Prime (3/5)

In case you're wondering, I'm reviewing the stage play, not the movie. If anything, I think this play would actually work better as a movie because it would be better able to convey the effects required (e.g. holograms). Doesn't help that this is apparently around the year 2050 and if we take out the concept of the "primes," the world seems to be pretty similar to the world we have today, ranging from technology to the state of the world. If anything, I will admit this put me off, because I can't imagine the world of 2050 to be as normal (or stable) as it is depicted here. Then again, as far as I'm aware this was the playright's intention. so I can't really fault the work for this.

Thing is, this is the kind of story I should like more than I do, as it deals with questions of artificial intelligence and memory. Questions that would usually be my jam, yet for whatever reason, don't work as well for me here. The lack of worldbuilding can account for this to a small extent, but by no means is it sufficient to account for it by itself. It could be that I've seen this kind of story explored before (nature of memory, and much it accounts for what makes you "you," along with questions of how 'real' artificial intelligence can be, and whether it's condusive to engage in conversation of simaculums of people long dead), but it's not as if these questions are explored poorly in of themselves in this story. It's just...average. No more, no less.

Falling Skies: Season 1 (3/5)

If I had to sum up this season in one word, it would be "meh."

You're probably used to that, but more than any other show I've seen recently, "meh" is truly emblematic of this show (or season at least). It doesn't really do anything particularly wrong, but nor does it do anything particularly right. It's an alien invasion scenario that doesn't really have any original twist going for it, and what it does do has been done elsewhere and done better. That being said, it does leave me with a lot of stuff to talk about.

Thing is, if I didn't know better, I'd have assumed this was Season 2, not Season 1. Now granted, there is a prequel comic series that I read years ago (and barely remember), but given how this season operates, it's kind of surreal in how it presents its material and context. Specifically, the timeframe is set nine months after aliens invaded Earth, knocking out high-level technology, and eliminating 90% of the world's population (turns out they're not nearly as good at wiping out the remaining 10%). So, fair enough, a story doesn't need to start at the outset of the apocalypse. I mean, the Walking Dead gets its proper start months after the collapse of civilization for instance. However, there's a number of things that apparently happened post-invasion, namely:

1) The protagonist was a history teacher, but now becomes the second in command of the 2nd Mass (one of a number of resistance groups)

2) His eldest son goes from high school student to soldier (or "fighter" as they keep being called)

3) His second oldest son was captured and harnessed (made an alien slave basically)

4) His wife was cheating on him with a fellow alumni (who turns up later)

5) The family spent months scourging before joining the 2nd Mass

6) Some point after joining 2nd Mass, his oldest son strikes up a 'thing' with another Resistance member, but by the start of the series, is in a sort of love triangle with another member.

Now, I don't know about you, but that sounds like enough material for a seasons of its own right. And while plenty of protagonists have backstories that aren't directly depicted in fiction, I feel this is to the series' detriment, in that it doesn't really spend time introducing characters per se, you just have to get to know them very quickly. Also, I have to just accept it at face value that normal people can become soldiers. Off-screen. I'd have thought this would be something you'd actually show, given that it's instrumental to character development (in theory), but shows what I know. And likewise, when our protagonist confronts his colleague over the affair with his wife, this doesn't mean anything because we've seen neither wife nor colleague up to this point. The protagonist might be aggrieved, but I can't mourn a character that I've never seen, and has barely been mentioned up to this point. Show, don't tell.

So, moving on, this series is really melodramatic. It seems every little thing the protagonists do has to have some swirling melody behind it. A melody that's used over, and over, and over. The series also touches on the idea of people becoming outlaws in the breakdown of society, or luring people in with false promises of paradise, but it doesn't really examine them. Y'know how I mentioned the Walking Dead? Having seen the first five seasons of Walking Dead, this show really feels prototypical in a number of ways, from our everyman turned leader, to "country hick that we're meant to warm up to." Only it doesn't do it nearly as well. Oh, and the ending is utter bollocks. I had to check myself to not rank this lower based on last impressions of "seriously? No, wait, SERIOUSLY?!"

I can see glimmers of potential here, but they're faint glimmers at that. Alien invasion material wasn't new when this show aired, it certainly isn't new now. And the show doesn't really do anything particularly special to endear me to it. An average plot with average characters with average effects leaves me with the impression of things being...average. Go figure.

Darling in the FRANXX (2/5) -

This series had an interesting start and nice things going for it....until the second half turned into a pretentious mess that lost a lot of what it built upon.

Luke Cage season 2: I liked it, I just wish I liked it more. Season 1 kind of died halfway through when its up till then villain did. That problem was evident through the entirety of season 2. It seemed the "villain" changed every 1.5 episodes, or changed back. And holy crap did they overuse the whole Oddcouple "team up with the bad guy" trope. It seemed like every single episode they had Luke fighting alongside some previously established enemy.

And the ending... I'll spoil in tags, but if you aren't going to spoil it I'll just say they didn't earn the ending they went for.

Still, good music, good atmosphere, interesting side character arcs, decent action. It just could have been a lot better with a solid villain and a completely different ending.

Under the Dome season 2: The series started with real promise. More and more of it being wasted every episode I watch. That's why it took so long for me to watch the second season. And by the end of the second season, there isn't much left. That's the problem with these "mystery" style series. For every question you answer they have to pose another question to keep the suspense going. And with every new mystery the story goes further and further off the rails. It works in an episodic monster of the week style show because they kind of reset every episode, but it is just a trainwreck when you try and do that over long arcs. The characters still generally react in the worst possible manner to every challenge they face and it ends on a big plot twist I have seen coming since the first episode. I doubt I'll be back for season 3 even though 2 ends on a huge cliffhanger.

Tsugumomo and Myriad Colors Phantom World: Its funny I watched these 2 series back to back. They are basically the same from start to finish. I was seriously getting one confused with the other. I'm not sure I really want any more than 1 season of either actually. I didn't hate either one, but mostly because neither generated enough interest from me to care enough to hate.

Natemans:
Darling in the FRANXX (2/5) -

This series had an interesting start and nice things going for it....until the second half turned into a pretentious mess that lost a lot of what it built upon.

I'm actually moving on to this soon. I hate to say it but your recommendation may have been a bit of a mark in its favor. I generally like things people say get pretentious.

Unqualified (4/5)

After seeing this play, and asked what I thought about it, I gave the answer that it was "good, but with caveats." In that, my appraisal of less enthusiastic than those around me. Since then, while I stand by that assertion, make no mistake, it's certainly still "good."

So, this play is a comedy, and the premise behind it is quite ingenious. Two women of very different socio-economic backgrounds meet at Centrelink, and unable to secure employment, decide to set up their own employment agency. Thing is, before they can get their website up, they're already getting requests. So, they have to do a variety of jobs - in essence, they're leasing out employment to themselves. Employment that they're often grossly underqualified for. What results is effectively a series of skits, ranging from wedding catering, to daycare, to lectures at a university. There's ongoing plots as well, as both have to deal with their personal dramas, but the main focus is on the skits themselves. And as skits go, they're downright hilarious.

Like I said, it does have caveats, and that's how it ends. Throughout the play, we see how the two of them are getting more frayed, as their personalities clash. What's more, the play starts with Centrelink staff (note that it's just the two actresses, so they have to fill in for side characters at the drop of a hat, and do so excellently) asserting that they have no skills, yet over the course of the play, we see that they do, they just don't seem to realize it. Now, you'd expect that this would culminate in them realizing that they can easily make it in the workforce (might need official qualifications, granted), but this doesn't happen. However, this isn't a subversion, the idea just feels dropped. Likewise, the penultimate scene is the two of them finally coming to verbal bows as their frustrations with their lives and each other come to a head...which might have more impact if the actual final scene didn't show them making up and staying in the 'business,' said business still being employing themselves effectively. I'll be frank, the ending doesn't land that well for me.

Another tidbit, when scene transitions occur, there's off-tune singing of 'The Magic Flute,' that for me, got really annoying. Reportedly, the singer is Florence Foster Jenkins (look her up), and the choice was meant to symbolize that one shouldn't give up on their dream, even if they're not qualified for it. Nice idea, but the play itself didn't make that apparent for me, and I'm not sure how it would be apparent for anyone else.

But all that aside, the play was still a barrel of laughs, and I had great fun with it. So, 4/5 and all that. Despite the play's title, it certainly is, ahem, "qualified."

Sonic Mania Adventures (4/5)

Is it possible to think that something is both "good" but "overrated?' Bear in mind that I try to avoid using that latter term, so I'll elaborate - while I think Sonic Mania Adventures (which I'm only commenting on now as it's just concluded, despite watching each episode as it comes out over the last few months) is good, that endorsement doesn't go as far as some others have gone, including game websites like Polygon. The idea that this is not only the best Sonic animated series, but the only good one period. Suffice to say, I disagree with both of those assessments. Out of the six animated Sonic series, I'd give this the #4 position. If further seasons are released that could go up, but at the end of the day, this is a series of five webisodes. That's hardly enough to dethrone the heavy hitters of the Sonic multiverse.

But that aside, I still quite like this series. The plot is extremely simple, but it's a simplicity that works, in conjunction with the style of animation and the lack of any actual dialogue, with character interactions and moods being conveyed entirely through actions/body language. While I don't think this automatically makes it the best Sonic series (despite the claims I listed above), it's easily the 'truest' Sonic series, at least in the sense that it's the only one that doesn't take place in its own continuity (outside Sonic Boom, but that's still not part of the main games continuity), and emulates the feeling of the classic games the most. I'll also point out that it works quite well with a comedy - good slapstick and all that.

So, all in all, this is a good series. I'd certainly love to see more of these shorts. While I don't think it's the best thing since sliced bread, I certainly had fun watching these.

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