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

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Final Space 4/5

On Netflix

This show was created by the guys who did Rick and Morty but it is nothing like it.

It has humor but it will (probably) kick your butt emotionally.

They did so much crazy and impressive stuff on it that it will make you wonder how they will do season 2.

Parks and Recreation: Season 4 (4/5)

When I left my review for PaR Season 3, I was hesitant as to whether I could call it superior to Season 2. In hindsight, I'd say that the order of quality is definitely Season 3>2>1. I feel that Season 3 is where the show definitely hits its stride, in that not only does it get a good balance of both humour and heart, but it effectively 'rounds out' the cast by introducing us to Chris and Ben. At this point I'm obliged to say "sorry Mark, but I don't miss you right now." Actually, I don't think I ever did.

The reason I bring this up is that I find my self in a similar situation - season 4 is good, no doubt, but I'm left to ask as to whether it's better than season 3. In regards to that, it's a hard choice, as I feel that in comparison, this season has higher highs, but lower lows. Granted, that's all pretty high at this point, but let's look at things.

More than any season before it, this season probably has the most over-arching continuity, namely Leslie's bid for city council. While the first season (and IIRC, some of season 2) had the plot of converting the lot into a park, that fizzled out, and is background dressing compared to this. The season can roughly be divided into two halves here, the first half being her run with the professionals, who dump her when her approval rating drops to 1% after her affair with Ben comes out. The second half roughly corresponds to her getting back in the race with her co-workers behind her, which ends up including Ben. In this regard, it mostly succeeds...mostly. I feel that towards the second half, a number of elements feel underbaked. For instance, Leslie keeps saying how great a campaign manager Ben is, and while he does do a decent job, he's constantly outplayed by Bobby Newport's manager (more on him later). It's not that Ben does a bad job, it's just that when he's constantly outplayed, me being constantly told how great he is starts to ring a bit hollow.

When we're talking about the characters, they're mostly still knock-outs, but the characters I've always like the least are still the ones I like the least. Tom, for instance, still has moments of humanity/humility, even if he can be an annoying twerp when that isn't happening, not to mention that his relationship with Ann...no. Just no. Damn it Ann, you deserve better than this! Likewise, April and Andy. I will say that I find them less annoying than I did in season 3, in that they show signs of maturing, but they're still close to the bottom of the Parks Department staff for me. Thing is, the seasons seems to kind of fluctuate for both of them. For instance, Andy is shown that, for all his failings in other areas, to be a pretty good guitarist, at least when it comes to playing, and some flaws aside, composition as well. However, there's no great revelation, instead, he takes a women's studies course (which doesn't amount to anything in terms of plot or character development), and seems set to apply for a police job by the end of the season (which, currently watching season 4, I can tell that he does, at least initially). Likewise, April does have moments of humanity and intelligence, but they're scattered throughout the season.

These characters aside, the ones that have previously been solid remain solid. Chris is a joy, but he's shown to have far more layers than his perpetually happy demenour would suggest. Ron and Leslie are solid as well. Remember how I mentioned that this season has higher highs? The relationship between them is gold. It's a platonic relationship, but while Ron is shown to have many quirks, he's clearly an intelligent individual. Same with Leslie. Think that's why they complement each other so well. While these moments aren't exclusive to season 4, the feels keep coming. As for the characters (Donna, Jerry, etc.)...well, they're there. They're fine. It's certainly one of those highs to see them all rally behind Leslie after her prior campaign team abandons her.

Which brings us at last to the crux of the season, namely Leslie's bid for council position. I have mixed, but mostly positive feelings about this. I've already mentioned the issue I have with Ben, even if he remains likable. The other issue is that of Bobby Newport. Now, the thing is, of the five candidates running for office (Leslie and Bobby included), Leslie's clearly the only one qualified. The other three (a porn star, an animal rights nut, a gun nut) are stereotypes, and hey, that's fine - Pawnee's a pretty insane town. However, the main race is between Leslie and Bobby, and that's true both in-universe and from a plot standpoint. Bobby is...mixed, for me. On one hand, I get what the show is demonstrating (it's kind of spelled out for us via Ben), that people will often vote for candidates based on their personality rather than their policies. Bobby has the "aw, shucks, I'm just a small town boy" routine down, but in terms of actual policy or goals, he has none. On the other hand, Bobby's dumb. Like, really dumb. Like, so dumb that I feel the season goes a bit too far with him. This hits hardest when in the penultimate episode his father dies, and he and Leslie have a moment, only for him to hijack what she said and try to use it to boost his election chances. This isn't an inherent flaw, but I feel it kind of undermined their previous moment of shared understanding.

Still, Leslie wins, even if it requires a recount (though if the margin is 24 votes, shouldn't there be a by-election between her and Bobby?), and she runs the emotional gamete over election night. Finally gets her picture on the office councilor war, being the first woman to do so (SJW or something, I dunno, I'm sure someone complained about this). Given that this was a stated aim of hers back in season 1, and by season 4, she's not only achieved said aim but has become much more fleshed out as a character, it's good to see her succeed, and the Parks staff celebrate with her.

So, yeah. Very good season. While it has some flaws, I do think it's the strongest season so far. Dunno if season 5 will top it. From what I've seen, people tend to rank the seasons of Parks & Rec like a bell curve, peaking in quality around mid-series, and being lowest at the start and the end. Might be downhill from here, but it's been a very pleasant trip uphill.

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 1 (3/5)

Huh? What's that? The full title is "DC's Legends of Tomorrow?" Well, to you I say, "sod off." It ain't "DC's Arrow" or "DC's The Flash," so just because this show gets the special treatment in its title, it doesn't mean I have to go along with it. :P

Anyway, this show...well, at this point, I'm pretty disenchanted with the Arrowverse. The only "good" seasons I can name are Arrow Season 1, 2, and 4 (please don't kill me), but at this point, the 'essence' of the setting has moved so far away from Arrow Season 1/2, it hardly feels like the same setting anymore. Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 isn't doing anything to dissuade me from this. But that aside, watching LoT S1, the best way I can describe it is as an inferior version of Doctor Who. And lord knows that DW's been far from perfect in the Moffat era, but it still had standout episodes. It could be heartfelt, it could be intelligent, it could be both, and could be all these things while going to any place at any time. LoT is Doctor Who without the intelligence or the character depth, replaced by convoluted plot twists and action, action, and more action. And hey, action's fine, I enjoy action, but I can't escape the DW similarities, and feel like I'm watching a lesser creation. Heck, we even have Arthur Davrill being in both shows, along an organization called the Time Masters, with the crew inside a ship that's a mix of high technology and homely interior design, with a female persona behind said ship...yeah.

Funny thing is, I didn't really feel this way until the last few episodes. Up until then, I thought the show was pretty good...kind of. At the least, it solved a problem I've had with the other Arrowverse shows, and that's their need to make everyone a superhero. Supergirl is particularly egregious with this, what with the whole Guardian thing with James, and with The Flash, speedsters are a dime a dozen at this point, with three antagonist speeders, three protagonist speeders, and from what I understand, Iris becomes a speedster in season 4, because it's not as if journalists are worth the time of day or anything. And don't even get me started on Arrow Season 5...bleh. LoT, on the other hand, is at least honest with its intentions, in that it's team-based rather than named after a specific character, and the chemistry is pretty good between said characters. Doesn't help that the levels of ability vary wildly (Firestorm is OP, Snart and Mick are just guys with guns), but hey, it works. Mostly. Still, if the saying that a hero is only as good as their villain is true, then these heroes aren't very good because Vandal Savage has got to be the weakest Arrowverse main villain I've ever encountered. Doesn't help that he's only in the show for a fraction of it. Doesn't help that he comes off as creepy more than intimidating. Doesn't help that his motives don't seem to go beyond "I want to rule the world because I'm evil." Doesn't...well, you get the idea. Oh, and he's being sponsored by the Time Masters because they need him in charge to deal with an alien invasion in the future, despite the carnage he brings...a moral dilemma that our heroes completely ignore, because the Time Masters have been manipulating them (somehow), to aid Savage (why not use their own agents who are in on the plan?), and are destroyed by our heroes, because damn it, Savage is, like, bad, guys. Oh, and that alien invasion in the future that Savage will stand against? Never mentioned again. Never considered again. You're welcome people of the 2170s.

Also, another point, but for a show about time travel, the show doesn't really seem to care about consistency in regards to its rules. I mean, Rip states there's rules, but the protagonists seem to do whatever, whenever, however. Again, I point to Doctor Who, which could also be loose with its rules of time travel, but here...there are no rules. It doesn't even feel congruent with the Flash, which operates more on the basis that if history is changed, a new timeline is created (e.g. Flashpoint). Whereas here, there's one giant, amorphous timeline. I commented in my review of Season 3 of the Flash that the rules of time travel didn't make sense anymore, and this only adds to that feeling. And maybe I'm wasting my time trying to apply logic to time travel, but when your show insists that there are rules, and characters can apparently do anything to alter the timeline, it starts to grate on me.

So, that's Legends of Tomorrow. Cast of characters is nice, everything else is kind of lackluster. In my Arrowverse season ranking, it goes pretty near the bottom. I'm watching season 2 now, and, well, let's just say that my gripes haven't alleviated. It sucks that this universe started off so strong with Arrow, but has become this...thing. A thing that I saw a Tor article praise, labeling early Arrow as unwelcome anomalies. So while the TItans trailer still looks like drek, going to the other extreme doesn't make me feel any better.

But hey, Parks and Rec is still awesome. :(

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 2 (3/5)

I'd say that this is a bit better than season 1, paradoxically because there's less continuity. Season 1 was "stop Savage this, stop Savage that." Season 2 is more "let's stop time aberrations...oh, BTW, the Legion of Doom is doing bad stuff. So, stop them too or something." An exageration? Yeah, a bit. But paradoxically, the comparative lack of inter-episode continuity does actually help this season in my eyes. Partly because Savage was a weak villain, while the Thawne/Dhark/Merlyn trio is entertaining, if nothing else. I like how it's actually pointed out how OP speedsters actually are compared to...well, anyone. And of course, by this point, the rules of time travel in the Arrowverse make absolutely no sense now (reconcile LoT with The Flash - go on, try it), but that was true in season 1 as well, so I don't think I should hold it against this season too much. I think it also helps that we get a slightly better cast - evil!Rip is fun (cliche and hackneyed, but fun), Vixen is a more engaging character than Hawk Girl, Nate gets steel superpowers because...reasons. Yeah, I said it before and I'll say it again, the 'power levels' of these guys aren't exactly equal. It's silly for Batman to be on the Justice League, and the same principle applies here. Oh, and fun fact, the Battle of Somme actually had plenty of grass left and only a few dozen people engaging each other. Who knew?

So, is Legends of Tomorrow "good?" No, not really. I said it before and I'll say it again, it's a lesser version of Doctor Who, with action and lasers replacing intelligent concepts and dialogue. Not that DW has always succeeded here, but compared to LoT, while it's had lower lows, it's also had higher highs. Legends of Tomorrow is...average. It's fine. It's reasonably enjoyable, but I don't have any particular need to see more of it.

The Young Pope

A brilliant character study of a very complex character. Jude Law, here depicting Lenny Belardo, a cardinal in his late 40s who had been elected pope, is one of the most intriguing characters in current television. Belardo is a conservative, almost fundamentalist christian, very much at odds with the current real, relatively progressive pope but rather than portrying him as a raving extremists he's a thoughtful, complex and, in his own way, even relatable character going through a very interesting arc throughout the series. The Young Pope is the work of italian wunderkind Paolo Sorrentino, director of a great movie named La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) that won the Oscar for the best foreign film back in 2013 and he's certainly one of the giants of contemporary european film and television. With Young Pope he managed to create a series that everyone who has an interest in the Catholic Church, be it from a human perspective, a political perspective or a spiritual perspective, will find quite enlightening. It's vertainly among the best television of the past few years.

Dark Matter

It's an ok space show. The characters are interesting enough with a series of former criminal mercenaries who, because of losing their memories, are now trying to forge new identities for themselves and perhaps be somewhat decent people. Also they have a cool spaceship. One of the things that drives me nuts though is they won't give the android character a name, they just keep calling her "Android." Speaking of the android, the actress who plays her is no Brent Spiner although at some moments I get the impression that she's trying to be. Also does every sci-fi/space show have to do the groundhog day, time travel and alternate universe episodes? Is that written somewhere?

Canadamus Prime:
Dark Matter

Also does every sci-fi/space show have to do a groundhog day, time travel and alternate universe episodes? Is that written somewhere?

I believe so. Similar to how just about every sitcom will have a 'It's a Wonderful Life'/'I wish i had never been born' episode.

Canadamus Prime:
One of the things that drives me nuts though is they won't give the android character a name, they just keep calling her "Android."

Only seen season 1, but isn't that kind of intentional (from a writing standpoint)? That the android is just a machine to them, even when she gets jealous of the second android they bring onboard?

Also does every sci-fi/space show have to do the groundhog day, time travel and alternate universe episodes? Is that written somewhere?

Every show? No. But Dark Matter shares writers with Stargate, which used all of the above tropes, so using them again (and others) isn't something that surprises me.

Disenchantment - 7/10

So far its gotten better as it goes along. It is a little rough around the edges at times especially in terms of structure, but I'm willing to see where it goes from here. I love Simpsons, but even I'm willing to admit season 1 is rough in some parts.

Though Futurama worked great from day 1 and built greatly from there.

Disenchantment - 5/10 One point for each not garbage episode.

Just skip the first 5 episodes. They're terrible. The jokes that made me laugh are far and few between, but at least the plot actually goes somewhere in the 2nd half of the "season".

Disenchantment 7/10

I thought all the episodes were good and the characters were interesting.

The end of the season answered a few questions but created many more questions at the end of the season.

Disenchantment 6/10

Just generally not funny. It's a fine story otherwise

Final Space 8/10

Is funnier than Rick and Morry and runs at a faster place (which is good and bad.) Has an actual season story rather than the meandering Rick and Morty does . Rick and Morty tries to be political and pushing you to be less judgmental while Final Space is far more black and white. (Which is good and bad too)

Disenchantment 3/10

I see the possibility of something entertaining here, but nothing that's worth watching now. The problem could be one of expectation (Futurama and The Simpsons being tough acts to follow) but a definite problem is not following formulas that MADE Futurama and Simpsons tough acts to follow. Just when I was getting an understanding of the characters and their place in the story and things were starting to get funnier, they make the tremendous mistake of turning from an episodic show into a long story arc show. Not that modern style story arc shows are always inferior to classic episodic shows (just mostly) but being episodic in nature was a part of what made Futurama and Simpsons so good. Its a better way of deconstructing their genre and a better platform for meta humor. Its basic premise needs work and isn't particularly original ("bad princess" being one of a couple of common ways to go with fantasy deconstruction.) Which isn't always a problem, but you have to go somewhere interesting or have a unique take on it to compensate... and Disenchantment really doesn't. There also isn't a character that "jumps out" as one I particularly like or find really funny, and (unfortunately going back to the comparison) Simpsons and Futurama had multiple characters that did so. Hell, I hate Mike Judge shows and even King of the Hill had one character I found really funny (Dale if you must know.)

And not wishing to spoil, so I won't,

They did so many things wrong that its really difficult for me to remember that there is real potential here. Narrowing the potential audience worked with sci-fi for Futurama, I have to believe it can with fantasy for Disenchantment. But they've got a hole to dig themselves out of after season 1. And so I can end on a positive note, there is without question enough talent working on Disenchantment to do just that.

The Widow Unplugged (2/5)

If you looked up this play, then looked up the reviews, then looked at the score above, you might be inclined to say "oh boy, here we go again, there's Hawki, being triggered like the SJW that he is." To which I say, "no, you reprobates, the second half that contains the Chinese skit is easily the stronger of the two halves of the play. It's just that it doesn't save it." Not that the skit is good, but, well, here we go...

As a one man play, written and performed by the same actor, it's hard to tell where the actor ends and the character begins. Here we have Arthur Kwick, a down on his luck actor living at a retirement home, keeping his rent by entertaining the guests and working as a janitor. His last hit was in 1969, and since then he's been down on his luck. So, fair enough, that has a lot of potential...

...only it's squandered in the first half as it meanders with no sense of direction. This kind of thing can be done well (saw Shirley Valentine this year as an example of this concept executed properly), but here, there's no real impetus. It ends with him having to do a pantomime from '69, which is about the only clear plot point we get in Act I. Everything other than that is character and backstory, but it's all over the place I found myself nodding off. Come Act II, well, not everyone who was there for Act I came back, I'll tell you that much.

Which is a bit of a shame as Act II does have a clear...er, direction, in that it's said pantomime, where he plays the Chinese Oriental stereotype in 60s Australia. Now, this isn't bad in of itself. What IS bad is that Act II has a drastic change in tone as it goes on, as it's revealed how our protagonist has early onset Alzeimers, and, well, isn't that happy - monologues about actors, applause, etc. While it's potentially heartfelt, again, it's far too scattershot to leave much impact. The Chinese oriental thing is one example. If it's a critique of political correctness, it doesn't work, because it's not critiquing anything. It doesn't go into any kind of depth, it's just "here's the skit, someone in the audience doesn't like it" (whose complaints don't even touch on political correctness). If it's trying to say "this kind of humour isn't funny anymore," that doesn't work either, because there's no real point of realization in the script either - again, it's too all over the place for that. You might say that it's being left to the audience to interpret, but I don't think so. I think the playright is trying to say something, but it needed to be streamlined a lot more. All I can say is that I've seen better one-character plays, and better comedies as well than this one.

Castle Rock

I'm watching this as it comes out right now. It's based on a town established in Stephen King novels. The first several episodes are pretty slow but the music and atmosphere are such that it doesn't bother me, though some may be turned off by this. I think it's about halfway through right now and the episodes have been picking up pretty well. Last night's episode would normally piss me off. It was one of those deals where it focuses on one specific character and has no intention of resolving a cliff hanger set up at the end of last weeks episode. Somehow the episode managed to be good enough that I didn't care at all, and pretty much forgot all about that by about ten minutes in. I don't want to spoil anything, but they really did some super interesting shit with a character that has alzheimer's disease and I can't wait to see what kind of shenanigans they pull next.

Anyway, it's damn good if you're a Stephen King fan or any kind of slow burn horror fan.

Disenchantment: 7/10 (so far, I'm only five episodes in and it's definitely showing improvement)

A perfectly enjoyable series that's getting shat on for not being what people expect it to be.

World of Warcraft: Warbringers (4/5)

This is arguably stretching things (in regards to whether a series of short webisodes can be considered a season to review), but I did review Sonic Mania Adventures earlier, so I suppose this counts. Anyway, unlike Mania Adventures, I have less to say about the overall piece (in part because of the lack of inter-episode continuity), but more about to say each individual episode. So, on that note:

-Jaina: The best of the bunch. Also the one that some people thought Blizzard was retconning Frozen Throne with, given the more favourable view it presents of Daelin Proudmoore in the more negative one of the orcs. Those people are...weird, to me, because it's pretty obvious (to me) that it's a Kul'Tiran sea shanty that's recounting their version of events. But that aside, everything about this short is top notch. The animation, the music, the theme, the atmosphere, etc. Course it does lead to Jaina having an OTT moment in the Siege of Lordaeron (flying ships! Magic cannons!), but in of itself, the shot is good.

-Sylvanas: The weakest of the three, but not by its own fault...mostly. Sylvanas has yet another flashback as to how Arthas killed her, and it's yet another take on events. Not utterly irreconcilable with Warcraft III, but the deviation is noticeable. But that aside, while the short is fine in of itself, it can't escape that Sylvanas is basically Garrosh 2.0 at this point, just replace Theramore with Teldrassil. And while there's been suggestions that it isn't 1:1, but so far these are just suggestions. And while this is keeping in character with Sylvanas at this point, the short can't escape the fact that it's covering old ground.

-Azshara: The middle child, even though Azshra is older than Jaina and Sylvanas combined. Anyway, this is pretty good. It has the unenviable task of having an Old God converse with Azshara directly, but also try and make it come off as all-powerful and unknowable. Like, I haven't read anything by Lovecraft, but I doubt C'thulu ever talked to a mortal directly. Still, Aszhsara isn't mortal, and it's done quite well. There's a kind of twisted irony that mere minutes/hours are being screwed over by Sargeras, she's making a pact with another devil, though is still assertive. So, it doesn't hit the same emotional highs as Jaina's short, but it's still solid all around.

So, yeah. All in all, good job. Guess we'll have to wait for the next expansion for these kinds of shorts, but they've all been pretty good so far. Wouldn't mind Blizzard's other IPs getting the same treatment (aside from Overwatch, which already does, and has more of a need for them due to the lack of in-game narrative), but I guess one has to take what they can get.

House of Cards: Season 5 (4/5)

While this season is "good," it's easily my least favourite HoC season I've seen. There's a few reasons for that. One, is that I saw seasons 1-4 in close proximity to each other, which meant there was a long gap between 4 and 5. Second, is the notion of "familiarity breeds contempt." If a show goes on for long enough, no matter how good it is, it's eventually going to lose some of the impact it once did. There's plenty of examples of this that I can name, and I think the same can be said for many others. However, beyond these first two reasons are some issues that I think are endemic to this season.

First is Conway. Now, in season 4, he was one of the season's highlights, in that while he could be ruthless, he still came off as a more honest candidate than Frank Underwood - a very low bar to surpass, but he did great as a natural foil. Here however, things get iffy. In the first half, it teases his military record, that he may have been lying about his actions in Iraq. This plot point is raised, teased, but never explored. Furthermore, when the election is thrown into limbo due to polling booths shutting down due to a 'terror threat,' he begins to lose it. There's hints that some of this might have to do with PTSD, but again, it never really explores this. So when Frank does win the presidency, he's just...gone. Has his last stabs at Frank, then isn't mentioned again. On the flipside, speaking of people disappearing, we've entered full-blown assassination territory, where Claire can get away with literal murder, and Frank can apparently order hits on one staff member, and push another down the stairs (not even killing her, so if she wakes up, what's his plan then)? I don't really get the sense of things being dialed up to eleven for shock value, but at this point, the show feels 'old.' Also doesn't help that given the constant scandals surrounding Frank's administration, it's a bit too close to my reality for my liking. If anything, Frank is the Democrat Donald Trump, only Trump hasn't actually murdered anyone (not to my knowledge at least).

So, show's still "good," but it's past its use-by date for me. If I had to rank the seasons right now, they'd go 1>4>2>3>5.

Parks and Recreation: Season 5 (4/5)

So, it's finally happened. I've had a PnR season that doesn't surpass the one before it. Looks like I'm on the descending end of the bell curve.

That's not to say the season's bad mind you - characters are still as engaging as ever (mostly). However, it does feel...underdone, compared to what's come before. Think of season 4, which had the running sub-plot of Leslie running for council. The groundwork for that was arguably laid as early as season 1, and outright teased at the end of season 3. Season 5 feels like the show's post-climax, especially after Leslie and Ben tie the knot. Because of what sub-plots the season does raise, they just run their course, but either don't go anywhere, or just peter out. As in:

-Jerry retires, and it's played mostly for laughs. The show's always walked a fine line in regards to making the bulleying of Jerry comedic, but if there was ever a time to call them out on this (outside season 2, in one of Mark's few contributions to the show), this was it...except nothing is learned. Jerry's called back in, just so Tom doesn't have to bear the brunt of their taunts.

-Ron gets romantically entagled with a new character, Diane. She's fine, and the plot's handled well, but it doesn't feature enough for my liking. It's the effect of coupling a tertiary character with a primary character, without changing the amount of screentime of the latter.

-Tom starts his own business...that actually succeeds. Yet he's still with the Parks n Rec Department, so, what gives? It kind of implies that he's splitting his hours between the two, but I'd like to remind you that last season had Ron tell Leslie that if you want something, you should focus on that thing and not try to divide your time. Yet for Tom, it works. If anything, it kind of reminds me of Anne, how the show had to justify (or not) her constant presence despite not being a government employee. Only here, it's that same problem, but in reverse. Oh, and Tom gets entangled with Mona Lisa, who's somehow even more obnoxious than April was in earlier seasons. Apparently she and Jean are some of the most loved characters in the show, but like early April, I don't get why. Jean's obnoxious, and Mona Lisa's even more so (though at least the show kind of acknowledges that).

-Speaking of April, she's fine. Andy's...fine. He goes for his police exam, fails, gets depressed, then works for Ben, then isn't depressed. Um...yay?

-Ann decides to have a baby (which is handled well). She requests Chris to be the sperm donor (which is handled well). This leading to them getting back together...sorta...somehow? Very clunky. It just sort of...happens, and not in the good way.

-Leslie's stuff is good in that as a member of council, she has to negotiate the civic and political hurdles that come her way. And...yeah, that's good, overall. Jamm isn't the most in-depth antagonist in series history, and Leslie's race for office was far more engaging, but it does provide a good counterpoint to Leslie's optimism and work ethic. As Ron points out, there's going to be a lot of people like Jamm that Leslie encounters. And speaking of Ron (separate from Dianne), I think their dynamic is still the strongest in the show. As wacky as Ron can seem, he's still an erudite individual, so while they have very different views on government, it's good to see that they're still both individuals of principle who disagree, but can still respect and support one another.

-I mentioned that Leslie and Ron is the strongest character dynamic, so therefore, the question has to be asked about Leslie and Ben. They're...good. They're fine. Not "great," and therefore not as good as Ron-Leslie, but fine. The wedding angle is arguably the major plot thread of this season, but it happens so uneventfully (I get that this is the point, that it's low-key), and doesn't conclude the season, it feels underdone. If I had to rank the LesliexBen 'feels,' it still falls short of the last season where Ben resigns but has his court record read out to Leslie, or when he proposes. In contrast, the marriage angle doesn't work as well.

So, you might be saying "but Hawki, this is just commenting on various plot threads, what about the actual season?" To which I say "that IS the actual season." Various plot threads that go at their own pace, some succeeding better than others. So, it's enough to make the season "good," but not "great." If I had to rank the seasons right now, it would be 4>3>5>2>1. So, enjoyable, but still a regression from some past seasons.

Giving a second try to Evangelion of all freaking things. First viewing lasted about 2-3 years (basically watched it whenever I was on a bus or plane) and I made it up to episode 17. Got bored, moved on. Now we're doing an anime quid pro quo with my girlfriend where we take turns watching each other's favorite show. She put me through Death Note, I put her through Cowboy Bebop, now I'm doing Evangelion all over again.

EDIT: Just found out Unsho Ishizuka, voice of Jet Black, passed away last month. RIP Black Dog.

Steven Universe (S1-2)

Yeah ... I like it. I finally got around to watching it as it was on my list. We need more positive queer representation in kid's tv. I feel like it explores interpersonal aspects between people better than Adventure Time whilehaving a hint of existential angst in there, and effectively characters having to deal with trauma and some form of unrequited feelings that we all have in some measure, great or small, for the people in our lives due to that gulf of divergently lived experience.

Garnet and Pearl are clear standouts of the show as they seem to bounce off the titular protagonist that is at one time both paternalistic in nature but from two different aspects of what it means to be a guardian that often emphasise that (particularly in the case of Pearl) significant character flaws can still come from a good place even if alienating.

Small things like Pearl casually dropping she kind of watches Steven in his sleep, and how a lot of her problems with his father isn't merely that he is kind of a deadbeat, but that she views him as driving a wedge between her and Rose Quartz ... and that is driving her self-sabotaging of her own understandings of self worth and to be incredibly clingy of the one thing that reinforces those neuroses of feeling as if her love was unrequited in the first place.

And that's a pretty good message. All too often relationships are painted as either toxic or empowering, particularly in children's programming. But here you have a nuanced depiction of where it's merely a pair of people who hold sincere affection for one another, but that affection comes from two differenet places. That none of that is necessarily bad, and they both have real issues they're working on together at their own pace and it's a journey to someplace better they both see as sharing in some capacity.

Which leads to some incredibly confronting, and genuinely creepy moments that are also deeply human because it's given that level of nuance of their character's moral metrics. That they weren't merely written to be affectionate, that they had reasons surrounding it that are played out that inevitably come to that moment. And that isn't 100% healthy in many aspects because being human is never an exercise in healthy experience...

I don't entirely gel with some of the morals its presented thus far. Like why exactly is Connie's mother being treated as too defensive and protective around her daughter when her friendship with Steven does actually put her in precarious situations of life and death, and why exactly is it bad that she confiscated the sword Steven just haphazardly gives to her? I'd have problems with that ... particularly if it lead to my child actively seeking out gem monsters to slay and apparently being trained by someoe related to Steven's actual guardians to do just that...

I imagine my parental alarm bells would be ringing as well.

That being said, despite some hit and miss aspects it's a pretty good show as far as I've seen. Be nice to see more queer friendly and positive representation on tv. I certainly think it should be seen as a benchmark in terms of that, at least.

It subverts traditional depictions of beauty, class and family and I honestly hope that more tv in this Animation Silver Age takes notes about how they should approach queer themes in programming.

Hasbro and whoever handles animating its intellectual licences in the future, pay attention for G5 Ponies please. Lyra and Bon Bon are cute, but it's still problematic we have to literally jump the shark in order to joke about possible rage at queer themes in media, as opposed to actual positive representation and being able to joke about possible reactionism to it.

Not movies? Hooh...

I don't really watch TV, nor am I that into anime, soo...

Pretty much just Stranger Things (season 1 and 2).

Season 1: 10/10

Oh my gosh, so freakin' good, why did I wait so long to watch this?! It was amazing seeing several different groups of people all with different clues to the mystery, and not being able to share those clues with each other because they have understandable reasons not to talk to one another.

That and they knew exactly how to hype up the monster. You don't get a good look at the bastard until very late in the season, and it's excellent for building the tension.

Also, the characters were just freakin' great. Dustin, Chief Hopper, and Joyce were particularly great standouts.

The whole thing gave me vibes from the call of Cthulhu larp that I once participated in, with the whole homey setting beset by horrors no one understands, and everyone trying to do their individual part while hoping they're not going crazy.

Season 2: 9/10

With the core of the mystery already solved, I wasn't sure how they would have a second season and make it work, but make it work they did.

They developed characters more (Woo, more Dustin! :D) , they completed some arcs, they gave others a chance to shine that they didn't get quite so much in S1, and they escalated things in a way that I could get behind.

It wasn't quite as special as the first season, but it was still damn good and I marathoned it with zero regrets just like the first one.

I'm not sure what they're gonna do for Season 3, but I'm looking forward to it.

Similarly, don't have the time to go in-depth, so quick notes:

The Librarians: Season 1 (3/5)

Basically a poor man's version of Doctor Who. Has some entertaining qualities, but nothing special.

Parks and Recreation: Season 6 (4/5)

Well, the bell curve's been slightly avoided in that it's a step up from season 6, mainly because similar to season 4, it has a clear sense of direction. So, good job there.

Luna Gayle (4/5)

A stage play that deals with a variety of issues. In a word, "harrowing."

Sharp Objects. 4.5/5

Hella dark/slow. Well acted and fascinating for someone who grew up in a small-ish town but has never been to the South and probably never will.

So yeah. If you're down for a murder mystery that has some commentary about small town Missouri and based on a book by the writer of Gone Girl, give this a spin. It's excruciatingly slow paced and the ending was a bit predictable but it's relentlessly gloomy and Amy Adams does well as a very broken alcoholic reporter.

Disenchantment - 5/10

I'm only about halfway through the season, but it's ok-ish so far. Basically Futurama, but with fantasy tropes instead, and not as witty or engaging. It's funny at times, but there's many jokes that fall flat. I can't put my finger on it, but there were plenty times where the comedic timing of the animation and/or delivery of the voice acting just felt off, like things could've been much funnier if that reaction shot came a little faster or a line was brought a little different. Might just be me, but it stood out to me. Surprising, considering all the talent working on this show.

BoJack Horseman S5 8/10
Look, I like this show but I'm tired of its tires spinning, which is pretty much my opinion of Rick and Morty. Or Community. Move forward or become irrelevant.

trunkage:
BoJack Horseman S5 8/10
Look, I like this show but I'm tired of its tires spinning, which is pretty much my opinion of Rick and Morty. Or Community. Move forward or become irrelevant.

I haven't started S5 yet but that's honestly kind of the biggest flaw in the show. Every time it looks like anyone is going to start making progress as a character, they pretty much start backsliding immediately.

The Dragon Prince 7/10.

I'd put the rating higher because I like almost everything about the show, but that animation really pulls it down. Not sure what they were trying to accomplish with that animation style but it just... doesn't work.

So, again, site's been down, don't have time to go in-depth, so:

Parks and Recreation: Season 7 (3/5)

Well, the bell curve is complete. Season 1 was previously the worst season, now it's this one...though for different reasons. Primiarily because it's so short, so while we have some very strong episodes (e.g. where Leslie and Ron make up and the show finale), the length really makes it come off as rushed - the whole Leslie/Ron thing doesn't have as much impact when only a handful of episodes are dedicated to it, whereas in, say, season 4, around 80% of it was dedicated to a continuous plotline. Likewise, thematically, it's stepping on the toes of the previous season (whole "moving on and being what you want to be" thing). So, enjoyed it, but a bit a of a letdown.

Still, been a fun ride watching this. If I had to rank the seasons, it would be:

7) Season 7
6) Season 1
5) Season 2
4) Season 5
3) Season 3
2) Season 6
1) Season 4

-The Librarians: Season 2 (3/5)

For season 1, I gave it the same rating and stated it was a poor man's Doctor Who. While season 2 isn't "good," it's still an improvement over its predecessor. Watching season 3 now, I've come to the opinion the show is much better when it does stand-alone episodes because it can play to its strengths more, rather than trying to do an over-arching plot. While season 2 does have a better villain than season 1 (if only because Prospero gets to quote Shakespeare, and Moriatry gets to be a smug bastard), I think the main thing is that it's able to dedicate more character-centric episodes. That's probably an exageration, but it feels that the show's established more of an identity for itself. Not "good," but still "better."

I've started on "The Man in the High Castle" season 3. I'm seeing some cracks so far. I'm starting to think this is going to join the legion of shows recently I've started out liking... and then giving up on before the finish. Like "The Walking Dead" after season 3, or "Game of Thrones" after season 2... it just has stopped being interesting. I truly believe from the quality of the first 2 season that it can redeem itself in the remaining 2/3rds of this season I have yet to watch. Easily probably. But right now, its just meh. Previously it had been #1 on the list of currently running things I'm watching. But at least for the next few days I'm promoting "Into the Badlands" to #1. Netflix put "Monty Python's Flying Circus" back on streaming, so "The Man in the High Castle" is at the moment on a short hiatus. I'll get back to it at some point, but I'm not in much hurry to do so... whereas I had to really fight not to binge watch the first 2 seasons.

I finished "Ozark" season 2. Pretty much on par with season 1 I'd say. If "financial planner breaking bad" sounds good to you, then I recommend Ozark. I enjoy it, mostly because I'm familiar with the setting and am amazed how well they manage to make Georgia really look and feel like southern Missouri.

As far as anime goes I watched "Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor." Interesting, but it would need more to be something I'd consider good. The idea is good, basically grizzled deadbeat wizard teaching at a Japanese magic school. Like "The Dresden Files" meets "Little Witch Academia" with common anime tropes cranked up to about a 7 or 8.

Chewster:
Sharp Objects. 4.5/5

Hella dark/slow. Well acted and fascinating for someone who grew up in a small-ish town but has never been to the South and probably never will.

So yeah. If you're down for a murder mystery that has some commentary about small town Missouri and based on a book by the writer of Gone Girl, give this a spin. It's excruciatingly slow paced and the ending was a bit predictable but it's relentlessly gloomy and Amy Adams does well as a very broken alcoholic reporter.

Just finished it yesterday. Liked it too but I have two specific complaints about the show.

1) It gets ridiculously morbid, like fatalistic-teen morbid. You know that adolescent sensibility of shock = seriousness? It's not enough that the girl protagonist cut herself, she needs a dead sister and another dying sister and a suicidal friend and a controlling mother and two dead girls in town and so on. This is less an inherent flaw and has more to do with my personal taste.

2) The whole procedural angle felt undercooked. Amy Adams doesn't do much investigation and the plot or our understanding of it doesn't really move forward much until the final episode. I'm pretty sure Amy Adams doesn't figure out anything throughout the show, things just sort of land on her lap. There're also a bunch of red herrings that go nowhere, like characters disappearing or "important" plot details that go unmentioned or ignored or unexplained towards the end.

Other than that I liked it enough, good acting and set up and ambience. Better than the Dark Places movie, not as good as Gone Girl.

The Librarians: Season 3 (3/5)

When I ranked season 2, I stated that the show was a mixed bag in how it paced itself over a season. As in, the overarching plot was weak, but when it did individual episodes that stood on their own, it could be enjoyable. Come season 3, that remains as true as ever, at least when it comes to the flaws.

So, in this season, we have not one, but two recurring villains, namely Apep and DOSA, neither of which are particuarly interesting. In fact, Apep's easily the weakest villain in the series, and that's a pretty low bar. Prospero and Moriatry were at least fun to watch Dulaq at least had a motive. Apep's motive is, literally, "I'm evil, and I'm going to flood the world with evil." As in, end of days stuff...which the cast don't seem that worried about whenever not being told that "this is a bad thing, and we should take the bad thing seriously." Apep's a terrible villain, DOSA is basically a poor man's version of UNIT (remember the DW references I mentioned back in season 1), and, yeah. If anything, it makes me pine for Stargate, because at least the goa'uld were interesting and intimidating. This at least has an underground base attacked by Anubis and werewolves, but Stargate Command it ain't.

Still, like season 2, the season can be enjoyable when it forgets about the Apep crap and focuses on dealing with stand-alone episodes. Still, it doesn't work quite as well. Partly because at times, Apep (or DOSA) are still weighing the show down, partly because the stand-alone episodes aren't quite as good, partly because the whole 'breakout season' was in season 2, so the individual character stuff doesn't work quite as well, and if anything, comes off as underbaked. It's frustrating, because there's the seeds of a good, enjoyable show here, it just needs either:

a) To cut out the season arcs, because they're not working

b) Get better writing

c) Both

Course, since season 4 is the last and the show's been cancelled, that's unlikely to happen. Don't know when or if I'll get to season 4, but, yeah. Better than season 1, worse than season 3, and while it's had its moments, the series is an exercise in unfullfilled potential for me so far.

Babylon 5: Season 4 (4/5)

If asked to nominate the best season of Babylon 5, from what I can tell, most people nominate this one. Having since seen the season...I've got no idea why.

That's not to say it's bad mind you - it's quite good, as the rating shows. Key difference however is that seasons 1-3 all got a stamp of "excellent" (even season 1). And if I can boil it down to one thing, what hinders this season is the same thing that hinders Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica and Season 7 of Game of Thrones - it's not that the writing or plot in of itself gets bad, it's that it's rushing the latter, leading to problems with the former. Similar to BSG, it has an understandable excuse, in that from what I understand, B5 was facing cancellation at this point, so they needed to wrap things up within a season. Course that didn't happen, and season 5 is reportedly a mess because of it, and in that context, it really shows.

So, let's see - this season has a number of plot arcs it has to get through. First, bizzarely enough, is the Shadow War, which is wrapped up within the first third of the season. This is...weird. Like, really weird. Usually the 'big battle' thing is left to the end of a storyline, not 80% through it - yes, you can point to Lord of the Rings, how Sauron is defeated before the Scouring of the Shire, but that's the exception, not the rule. This is also mixed with the situation on Centauri Prime, with Cartagia being insane and wanting his world to burn, prompting Londo to work with G'Kar to save both their worlds. This side of the arc is well done. The overall Shadow War arc? Not so much. It's certainly got good elements, especially as the vorlons are revealed to be no better than the Shadows at the end of the day (Kosh aside, because Kosh is awesome), but the whole Order vs. Chaos thing is, in the year 2018, very played out. Big as the stakes are, it comes off as both rushed and cheesy. Given how season 3 ends, it kind of makes sense that season 4 ploughs straight into the Shadow War thing, but again, rushed. Even the Centauri-Narn arc suffers from this as the centauri pretty much go "well, our emperor's dead, let's just pull out from Narn because...reasons." Tries to make it work, but this has got to be one of the quickest pull outs from occupied territory in galactic history. Oh, and again, while G'Kar and Londo becoming 'friends' of sorts over the remainder of the season is nice, it's never given enough time to breathe.

So, second plot arc. Minbari Civil War. This is in the background, and is a thing. It comes up, is dealt with, and more than anything shows how a limited budget can affect storytelling. "Yes, the cities are burning, and our world is at war, but we can't show you any of that because...reasons." More cheese, basically, and far too neat an ending for a civil war. I get that this is sci-fi, but in a world gripped by civil strife, it comes off as overly idealistic.

Third plot arc is the Earth Alliance Civil War (I'm grouping Garabaldi's arc here as well). Of the 'big three,' this is easily the best, in part because it has the most time to have it fleshed out. Now, to be honest, I'm again left wondering why this arc happens after the Shadow War, because while more time is dedicated to this arc, it's more miniscule in the scale of the setting. Still, that does allow us to go into the nitty gritty of a morally compromised war. The Shadows are dicks. The vorlons are dicks. Earthforce certainly has dicks, and President Clark is a dick (even if we never really see him, which is another strange choice), but not everyone is a dick, so the Resistance has to fight their way to Earth, sorting out the dicks from the not-dicks. In this, it's well done. Likewise, Garibaldi's arc - now, to be honest, I think it would have worked better if we were never getting hints that he was under mind control (cliche as it is, it works here, partly because Bester is an awesome dick), but the revalation of how and why he acts the way he does through most of this season is a brilliant moment. What doesn't work as well is how, in the last handful of episodes, he's so quick to get redemption. Him making up with Sheridan, after betraying him off screen (which leads to one of the best episodes of the season with him being tortured/interogated), is far too 'clean.' Now, I like happy endings, such as when the EAS Apollo comes in to aid the Agamemnon at the final battle at Earth at the last moment, showing that even Clark loyalists have limits to the insanity they're willing to tolerate, but shades of grey can help also.

Also, ending sequence - got from not!League of Nations to not!Space United Nations with the League of Non-Aligned Worlds dissolving to become the Interstellar Alliance. Idealistic as it is, it does work. Season finale is kinda balls, but win some, you lose some.

So, yes. Season 4 of Babylon 5 is definitely good. There's a lot I do like. There's a reason why B5 was, and still is, my #1 sci-fi show. But it just isn't up to par with what's come before. And while a lot of that can be attributed to circumstances outside the writers' control, I can't deny that the end product suffers as a result.

The Wharf Review: 2018 (4/5)

Think it was Trey Parker and/or Matt Stone who said that they didn't parody Trump because the parody was too close to the real thing. Having seen this...yeah. I see their point.

Which is odd, because it wasn't the first time TWR parodied Trump, but it hit far too close for the real thing for me. Actually, a lot of its political sattire did. Liberals are a bunch of backstabbers, Labour won't stand for anything, Greens have forgotten what they did stand for, and the whole world (or at least Australia) is screwed. Strangely enough, they didn't parody One Nation or Palmer United this time. Go figure.

But yeah, solid performances as always. One of the best years I can remember.

Hawki:

So, yes. Season 4 of Babylon 5 is definitely good. There's a lot I do like. There's a reason why B5 was, and still is, my #1 sci-fi show. But it just isn't up to par with what's come before. And while a lot of that can be attributed to circumstances outside the writers' control, I can't deny that the end product suffers as a result.

Best sci-fi show? Really? X-Files, Classic Who, Quatermass, Blake's 7, Flash Gordon ... I always had the theory the reason why people like Babylon 5 is in much the same vein as why they like Firefly. The fact that it waseither cancelled, or threatened with cancellation and routinely defunded, and thus somehow it 'speaks to its credit' as if what could have been ... all without considerig fora moment that tv showsoften have to bankroll themselves with advertiser interest from season 1 in order to justify the funding it gets ... and on that note Babylon 5 failed precisely because it failed to actually generate interest even when it was around, and lo and behold became as if this trendy 'auteur, pure sci-fi' label when it doesn't do a single thng right.

Seriously, you say Babylon 5 has great writing ... yet it suffers Star Trek disease of being the cringiest fucking show to watch when it just so happens to deal with romantic themes. Seriously, it's gross. Like, what planet do these writers live on that whatever they want to pass off as 'romantic' is downright creepy, and whatever they want to consider 'passionate' is downright corny?

Shows like Babylon 5 and anime in general are the reasons why people think nerds are basement dwellers...

I forced myself to binge watch Babylon 5 recently and you know what the most interesting thing about S4 is? The Mars conflict. We got none of it. No nuance. No meaningful rebel leaders who are actually fighting and dying.

The Shadows controlling human society so much they deign to bother about the fashionable length of what skirts? Apparently the Shadows are the Illuminati, but the Earth Alliance continued to build Babylon stations regardless? What was the game plan there, fellows?

Hell ... one of the Babylon stations was crucial in a fight against the Shadows ... like, the Shadows if manipulating humanity could have simplydefunded the Babylon project after Station 3 blew up; cited obvious reasons that are obvious why the Babylon project should be scrapped after three attempts, and case closed. Shadows win.

Seriously, what was the game plan here?

You know what's really disgusting, though? The Shadows would probably make better rulers. Hear me out. The resources of an entire galaxy and you've got that Ranger Marcus waxing poetic about how he no longer cares about the needs of the poor because he takes solace in the universe being unfair. None of the races seem to actually want to get their shit together and would rather their societies degenerate into shitholes where most of them live in abject poverty even onboard what is supposed to be the premier diplomatic station in the galaxy ...

All the Shadows seem to want to do is pit races against eachother to see them become stronger, and apparently that's somehow worse than races inflicting needless poverty on their own people inspite of the resources of an entire galaxy.

What's actually worse, huh? And I'm supposed to give a shit when Clarke just flatly makes out the poor are mentally ill, not because society is unjust? Really? You're going to go there show writers after this...?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03bOrvlAyeQ

Fuck off. I'd have zero guilt shooting him in the back of the head as a doctor he is supposedly talking to. Bring on the Shadows, I say. At least in a culture of strength the strong are considered worthy. Not this fucking nonsense posing as philosophy.

Say what you like of U.S. military adventurism, but at least the most gungho amongst them spout off things like liberty, freedom from tyrants and democracy. You know ... basic things like idealism and nobility of the human spirit to craft their own destiny. But apparently the writers won't actually stop for a moment to interrogate what they're actually saying and what characters are saying it.

After all, how would a doctor respond? Is there a missing scene where Franklin gives Marcus a thorough dressing down or at least a derisive scoff like a normal person? Are they really going to leave this scene in a way that pretend it's somehow profound? Why ... it certainly seems they did ... exuent backstage it seems ... Fuck this show.

Let's break it down, shall we? A person who has to deal with kids suffering cancer? Or schizophrenia sufferers? Or people with MND? Their career is entirely based on the idea that Marcus is talking shit... And the showrunners and writers thought this is how this scene should go down even after showing us the injustices suffered by the poor?

Do the writers legitimately believe this? It certainly seems that they do. Why am I still watching this utter garbage of ugly people producing ugly content and pretending it's not ugly?

All of the main and supporting cast deserve to be thrown up against a wall and promptly shot in a revolution. That's how the show should of ended.

Who exactly are you supposed to root for? Because the show keeps on telling me these people are decent at heart but in truth they're either cowardly, shameful, repugnant, cruel, or utterly disingenuous. And what's worse is the show pretend that through these knowiungly broken characters it pretends to present a 'realistic face' or some deeper morality at work ... when in yruth it's just ridiculously ugly people you wouldn't want to spend 5 minutes alone with pretending to actually have a point in existing because the moral arguments and trials they face are fucking nonsense.

Londo is the best character on the show precisely because he at least you know the show writers are making a statement of the perpetually compromised of morality and their relationship to political power. Londo, Vir and G'Kar are the only ones I would stand to have a drink with. Whether because they recognize they're flawed people who are self-saotaging and at least desire, if given opportunity, to do the right thing. Even if they won't...

They are the only likeable characters of the entire series.

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