The Walking Dead: Season 6 (3/5)
Look up a list of the best to worst Walking Dead seasons, and chances are you'll see season 6 on the bottom. Thus, the question can be asked as to whether I think the season is the worst. To that, I can't say, because I haven't watched beyond season 6, But is season 6 the worst Walking Dead season I've seen? Well, yeah, actually. That said, the reasons I think so aren't reasons I've often seen cited as to why this season is ranked so low, but there may be some overlap. So to that end, I'm going to give my general thoughts on the season in chronological order.
The first episode sets the tone of the season in that it feels very artsy, in that, flashbacks are used with a black/white filter. That's something noticable about season 6 - it may be my imagination, but the season often feels like it's trying to be artsy, and often it feels like it's being artsy for the sake of it. Certainly the first episode's flashback structure doesn't do it any favous. But anyway, first order of business is to get a walker herd away from Alexandria, which means a long, drawn out game of follow the leader. In fairness, this is handled well as far as size and scope goes, conveying just how big a walker herd actually is. Still, things go wrong, including an attack on Alexandria itself by a band called the Wolves. Enjoy them while they last (or not) because they're pretty forgettable. About the best thing that happens is Morgan capturing one of them which prompts a flashback, which is easily the best episode in the season, and also one of the strongest in the series overall. However, it's an episode that stands apart from the rest of the season, and has no real bearing on any of it.
I should also mention that around this time, as the walker follow-the-leader plan goes south, there's been a lot of complaitns about the Glenn fake-out death scene. Now, I knew ahead of time that he didn't die then (because of spoilers, I know I have to wait for season 7 for him to die), but I really don't get why this scene is an issue. I thought it was pretty well done, how the camera tricks you into thinking Glenn is dying, but isn't. Now, it's kinda convoluted that he survives regardless, but meh, I can roll with it.
So, half the herd's back at Alexandria, which means we need a plan to deal with them. It's also at this point that I notice how Gabriel's character has changed. At the end of season 5, he was basically a man out of time - a priest who doesn't know how to survive, and subjects Sasha to psychological abuse. In the time that's passed sicne then (which is days at the most), he's settled into "stone cold guy who's quite at ease with the zombie apocalypse.' A bit of an exageration, but while his character's changed, there's no real depiction of his journey from a to b. Eugene has a similar character arc, but it's an arc that happens during the season rather than between seasons, and it can be observed in various stages.
Anyway, part of the wall collapses (because a church tower collapses, because fate's a bitch) and the walkers surge in. Honestly, at this point, I'm left to ask how anyone can really survive this, not to mention that it's hard to get a sense of how many people are actually still alive. Anyway, Rick and co. do the "drench yourself in walker blood to fool them" trick, and this is where things get stupid (or more stupid). You see, the character of Jessie has two sons - one of which hates Rick for killing his dad, the other of which is sufferring PTSD. I actually like this angle, because we actually get to see characters who've had little to worry about up till now suddenly have to deal with the zombie apocalypse. Jessie has a 'thing' with Rick, and thoughts about that aside, I could see potential for her character arc for said reasons. But no. We don't get that. Because as they make their way through the herd, one of the kids stops moving because he sees a zombie kid in the crowd. Okay, fair enough. However, apparently slowing down is enough to get the zombies to notice you and eat you...even though all the characters have stopped as well (you could say he's whimpering, but the characters have already whispered to each other and kept baby Judith quiet as well, so I don't by this). He's killed. Jessie tries to save him, but is eaten as well. Cue artsy cinematography that tries to convey the emotional weight of this and fails. Also other son tries to shoot, Carl gets shot. Characters move on. Zombies are all killed...somehow.
This is the end of the season's first half. Overall, the second half is a bit better, but it's got its own sources of frustration.
So, second half. A bit of time has passed. Carl's alive, but is missing an eye - he has a brief stint of "only kill walkers if you have to," but that goes nowhere. Also, Rick and Michone get it on. Remember Jessie and Rick, and the budding relationship? Well, Jessie is never mentioned again in this season. Now, RickxMichone isn't the worst pairing in the world, but up to this point, when the show's done relationships, it's taken time. This comes out of the blue, is barely discussed after it happens, and is never explored. Thing is, I can understand the rationale for this pairing, but its execution is bothced. Even the RickxJessie thing actually lasted a total of one season via episode count, and they never got to first base. Still, there is one bright spot in this half of the season, and that's Jesus. No, not son of God Jesus, "guy who calls himself Jesus Jesus." We don't see nearly enough of him, but he's enjoyable to have around all the same. Apart from that, there isn't too much to comment on the season here. I like the idea of the Hilltop community and establishing trade, as civilization makes a re-emergence of sorts, but this idea isn't really explored. I like the idea of the Saviours, but we don't actually see that much of them (more on that later). I'm really not fond of Carol's whole "breaking down" thing, but the episode that leads up to it, where she and Maggie have to fight their way out of a prison compound is quite good. Also, contrary to other complaints I've read, the last episode is really solid, how the Saviours stalk Rick and co., only for them to realize just how outnumbered they are. And Negan's entrance...wow. I actually checked the timer - about 10 minutes pass between him getting out of his vehicle and the episode ending with him killing what will be revealed to be Abraham. 10 minutes of near monologue and no music. It's excellently done, and I have no idea how people could complain about it. Like the Morgan flashback episode, it's not enough to save the season, but both stand as bright spots.
So. That's season 6 for you. Apart from some bright spots, basically an exercise in frustration. And yes, I said the same about season 5, but for all its flaws, season 5 at least had a sense of direction. Not as much as season 4, but still, it existed. Season 6, on the other hand, feels like it's spinning its wheels. And also, it feels like it's trying to be smarter than it actually is, what with its directing style and half-heated attempts at character development. Now, the Walking Dead isn't exactly deep or philisophical, but it's always been interested in the human condition, and up to even season 5, has had something to say about it. Season 6 feels like it has things to say, but wants to actually say them in a lot of cases, whereas previous seasons didn't need monolgues to convey their themes. Season 6 pulls this off in one episode (again, the Morgan flashback), but it' the exception rather than the rule.
So, is this season the worst. Dunno. Waiting for season 7 to arrive. But considering that I'd rank the show's seasons as 3>4>1>2>5>6, I hope this isn't the continuation of a downhill slide.
Camp Camp: Season 1 (4/5)
So, you might guess from my avatar that I like Camp Camp. It wasn't a case of saying "I like this show, I'm gonna change my avatar" (I've always changed my avatar to best represent my current dominant mood), but liking the cartoon did help. But avatar aside, how does the show stack up?
Well, it stacks up better than a lot of Rooster Teeth's other output, and that includes Nomad of Nowhere. Now, I like NoN, but they're different shows, with NoN being plot driven, while CC is character driven. There's string continuity, but each episode is fairly self-contained. In other words, it's a comedy, and as a comedy, it had me laughing my arse off. Still, it can have some gravitas when it needs to, most notably in the final episode. I'm actually kidna reminded of Disenchantment in a sense, in that each season has a similar no. of episodes, with the final episode having a tone divergence. Still, while I thought this was okay in Disenchantment, the shift works much better in that since the final episode is the culmination of David's declining self-esteem, and that decline has happened throughout the season, there's far more payoff, whereas Disenchantment is more "shit got real."
So, yeah. Really enjoyed this. Well done RT, you made me laugh again, and after killing RvB, I wasn't sure if that was possible.
King's Game (5/10) - I'm trying to work through the backlog on my watchlist of anime. And I went through King's Game over the last couple of weeks. And I'm nearly at a loss on how I feel about it. Generally when all I see online is hate for something, I take up a contrary position just out of pure misanthropy. But this show has a lot of problems. First and foremost... where are the ADULTS. This is even worse than the "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" universe with no parents... there are no adults at all in King's Game. Pacing... terrible. The "stakes" ramp up so fast. The plot of this story is begging for a slow build. A gradual ramping up of the craziness. So the characters left can look back and see just how far they have fallen from where they started. In King's Game that moment is like looking up at the cliff they were pushed off of 2 seconds ago. On the other hand... I see where this could have been really good. The premise is cliche but for a western audience where adolescent games like "truth or dare" or "presidents and assholes" are more common, the eponymous "king's game" is different enough to make it interesting. There is a real attempt at misdirections concerning the nature of their tormentor that keep the mystery going. And best of all, they don't destroy the mystery by EXPLAINING it. I'm still convinced a lot of the hate is from the same people that can't enjoy something unless they have everything explained to them. Sorry, that's a big plus in favor of King's Game... not a negative at all. Still, the execution could have been a lot better. It winds up being about as good as a "bad" horror movie, it just takes longer to sit through. And then I watched
Mikagura School Suite (4/10) - This one I have actually seen the first episode of several times. As long as it has been on the backlog every 6 months or so I decided, "maybe I'll start on this." And then lose interest or find something better to do before I watch more than the first 2 episodes. But I saw it through this time. Its fine, but its entirely generic. Like someone said "make a magic boarding school show" and the writer asked "which one of the other magic boarding school shows should this one be like?" And the answer given was "I don't know, I don't watch that crap... just make it like all the rest, in fact like all the magical girl series and boarding school series in general." It isn't completely terrible, but its not in any way memorable. I had to look up the name just now because I honestly forgot the title. I also watched
Punisher: Season 2 (4/10) - I enjoyed it more than just 4/10, it is a lot of fun. But the ending was so stupid I can't give it anything better. They spent a lot of time trying to develop Frank's character, and then completely drop the ball in the last episode and a half. And I couldn't be happier they did it that way. Now I don't care at all that Netflix is dropping it (I haven't heard that officially yet btw so I don't know one way or the other... but they obviously are dropping it.)
Velvet Buzzsaw: 5/10. Doesn't make sense.
Michael Inside: 6.5/10. A bit depressing.
Edit: I thought this was the movie thread.
Camp Camp: Season 2 (3/5)
Those of you who saw my review for season 1 will be aware that I've ranked season 2 lower than season 1. I'm left to wonder if this is a case of familiarity breeding contempt, where a show doesn't decline in quality per se, but loses the impact it once did - basically why I no longer watch MLP for instance. That said, there are a few key differences here. Looking back between seasons, I feel season 2 has more stand-out episodes (granted, it could be that it's because they're fresher in my head), but season 1 has the better overall arc. That's not to say that season 2 is without its own arc, but season 1 has a more pronounced one. So a question you could ask is what makes a better season - the arc, or individual episodes? I dunno, but whatever the case, season 2 feels like the lesser of the two in my mind.
I could leave it at that, but instead, I'll elaborate. There's a potential role reversal going on between seasons, and I don't know if it's intentional or not. Basically, the arc of season 1 can be defined as David and Max's life philosophies constantly butting heads to where this comes to a head in the final episode. Here, David comes to a point of self-realization about the nature of the world (or at least, his world), but refuses to compromise his principles, which leads Max and the others to give him a bit of a helping hand. Watching this, I got the sense of watching not only a season finale, but also a series finale. But no, season 2 goes on, and Max is still abrasive...this isn't bad per se, but still, it's noticable. And speaking of Max, the arc of the season arguably revolves around conveying just how little his parents care about him, but while that does come to a head in the season finale, the arc, such as it is, is less noticable prior to this point. The actual role reversal that occurs here is Max finally breaking down and showing vulnerability, which leads to Dave and Gwen stepping in. So, on one hand, we get a nice symmetry, but on the other, one side of the symmetry is executed better than the other.
I should also give props to the season for continuing to develop the side characters, though season 1 did this as well. It's also the point where I can say we've finally got evidence of NikkixMax as a ship, but then, people will ship anything and anyone. I'm only bringing this up because it's a ship that's apparently really popular, even though I'd say that there's far more evidence for NeilxNikki. I dunno. Maybe it's after watching two seasons of Voltron and being exposed to every fanship under the sun, but whatever.
So, yeah. Enjoyable season, but not as strong as the first.
Camp Camp Holiday Specials (3/5)
I'm counting these as being separate from season 2. I don't know how they went in airing order (e.g. how close they aired to the season 2 finale), but whatever the case, they stand alone at least narratively. Ergo, I felt it best to review them separately.
So, first episode is Night of the Living Ill, where a flu spreads throughout the campers, and they need to get to Spooky Island to find medicine (since Dave and Gwen are sick, they can't drive into town). The flu spreads quickly, and every time snot lands on a kid, they join the ranks of the "living ill," a.k.a. zombies without the whole devouring flesh thing. It's actually left up to interpretation as to whether the flu is actually making the kids act this way, or whether they're just basically larping. My first inclination was to go with the latter, but as things went on, I began to wonder if it might be the former. I mean, this show can get pretty crazy, so a flu that turns kids into not!zombies isn't that far out there when you think about it.
Also, Jasper returns, going beyond any reasonable doubt that he's a ghost. I'm actually unsure about this as a concept - I get the sense that the writers have something planned for Jasper that they're going to draw out, and I don't know whether that's good. I mean, this show can get pretty crazy, but this is explicit depictions of supernatural stuff, whereas everything else so far has kept at least one foot in reality. Basically, think of the difference between something like the Simpsons and Futurama - both use similar comedy, but one is far more fantastical, whereas in Simpsons, the fantastical is generally limited to the Halloween episodes. Time will tell I guess. Still, of the two episodes, I like this one more - it's insane fun, and insane fun can be, well, fun.
The second special is a not!Christmas episode. As in, this is a summer camp, but a snowstorm hits the camp and Nikki talks David into pretending it actually is Christmas. Both in-universe and out of universe, this creates a conflict within the episode, and it's the latter that's noticable. Basically, the episode is trying to be both a Christmas special, and a parody of Christmas specials. So while there's individual moments that work (the most notable being Nikki's Christmas song, and Max/Neil taking the shit out of it), the episode as a whole? Not so much. It also arguably undermines the season 2 finale, given that Dave goes out of his way to give the kids presents, when him getting Max a pizza at the end of season 2 was more an exceptional act for exceptional circumstances.
So, enjoyed them, but nothing too special. Dunno if I'll move onto season 3, as I'll need to subscribe to Rooster Teeth to get additional seasons. And right now, Camp Camp and Nomad of Nowhere are really the only entries in their repitoire I'm interested in (though I could try X-Ray and Vav).
Animal Rescue SOS:
A documentary that follows an animal rehibilitaion center in Britton that specializes in getting local wildlife back in the wild. Its perfect for all ages, and look at the baby Badgers! Just look at them!
They have to deal with all manner of situations, ranging from cutting a fox cub free from getting its head stuck in a pipe, to a deer that fell into a swiming pool, to an adult fox that made itself at home in the cat bed. Two seasons, on Netflix, have fun
Star Trek Discovery: Season 1 (3/5)
Oh boy...this show...
I can't really talk about it without acknowledging fan outrage, because no-one hates Star Trek like a Star Wars fan (except maybe a Star Wars fan, but they're busy hating Star Wars right now). And on those complaints, some, I get - the level of technology in Discovery feels far too advanced for its timeframe. Some, I can sympathize - I think the klingons are well fleshed out and actually look alien, but it's hard reconciling their appearance with previous (future?) incarnations. And then there's the absolutely ludicrous arguments. Y'know, that the series is "advocating white genocide because the lead is a black female who's paired with an Asian female, and it's against men because Lorca is a bad guy, and is pushing the transgender agenda by calling a female Michael, while also pushing the gay agenda with Stammets, and some other insipid nonsense that I can't be bothered to repeat here."
So, fine, Discovery is a mixed bag for the fanbase, but as someone who isn't that enamored with Star Trek, what do I think of it? Well, if I had to grade Discovery's quality over the course of its season, it would resemble a bell curve. At the start, we have to deal with some wooden acting, and it doesn't help that Michael...isn't the best character in the world. The season gets better over time, and peaks in the Mirror Universe. Unfortunately, it dips in quality once the ship returns to the Prime Universe. I will say that I do like the characters overall, and how many of them do indeed have a character arc. However, while Michael is...fine, I guess, it doesn't help that the lead character is perhaps the least interesting. I have no problem with her being raised by Sarek, or being Spock's adopted sister, but whether it's down to the actress or the writing, she just feels so wooden in comparison to everyone else.
I'll also say that of all the Star Trek series I've seen, this is perhaps the least "Star Trekky." Not just because of its serialized nature, but because for a show named "Star Trek: Discovery," there isn't much trekking or discovery. I'm pretty fine with this myself - I like how the show tries something new (for Star Trek), and doesn't feel the need to follow convention, but I can understand why people might be put off. But again, I'm reminded of Enterprise. That tried to emulate TOS and TNG and, IMO, fell flat. Hard. But on the other hand, for a season that deals primarily with a war, we don't actually get to see much of that war - "show, don't tell," as the saying goes.
So, yeah. I think Discovery is a pretty mixed bag, one that has great potential if it can iron out its kinks. I will say that as first seasons go it's a far better start than, say, TNG (with its insufferable first season), but as a series as a whole...well, I'd still rank it above Enterprise, but it's not at the level of TOS or TNG. So, mixed start, but it'll be interesting to see where this goes.
Star Trek has had a running theme for a long time going into Klingon mixing species with other alien species, when you look at Worf's family being part human and Torres from Voyager who was also part Human, this has been somewhat an ongoing theme. Then, when you think about the Kilingon's war catchphrase of "Remain Klingon" this also alludes to trying to ensure racial purity.
In Star Trek Discovery's first season, they already showed the Klingon's messing with their genetics via the whole Ash/Voq merger. We already know they have the technology to do this at that time, which means how many other "mutants" did they create? In addition, they now have expanded upon this in season 2 now with the fact that Voq/Ash fathered a child during this procedure, so that child would carry DNA from both. They also started having Klingon's grow their hair out again and you can see even Ash Tyler's appearance shifting to that more of the Klingon's in the original series, even though he is outwardly human. The offspring of the merger Human Klingon's could have appearances anywhere in between that of humans or Klingon's, so this appears to be tying this together.
The technology issue reminds me of the original series when Pike, in his deteriorated state went to go live with the Aliens who allowed him to be able to live out his fantasies had mentioned that he had withheld classified information from Kirk. It isn't that the enterprise was not technologically advanced, it is that some things had since been outlawed and classified due to being considered dangerous. During the first season, this was shown repeatedly with the Mycelial network, as first they realized they were harming the Tardigrade, Stamets then broke the law and injected himself with tardigrade DNA to be able to navigate the network, then Stamets almost died from doing jumps as it took a terrible toll on his health, also he later realized the mirror universe Stamets had been destroying the Mycelial Network in addition to the damage he was doing to the point it was having to be regrown. This now has been expanded upon further in season 2 now showing they were killing the network in addition to the network itself being sentient, which again would be a violation of the law for them to continue to use it at the expense of a sentient being. Thus this technology would necessarily be outlawed in the future and classified to prevent anyone else from recreating the experiment.
Michael is supposed to be "wooden" being raised by Vulcan's they are expected to suppress any emotion and come across that way, although she does allow herself to display more emotion as the show progresses, part of which is explained by her upbringing and her desire to be Vulcan and being forced to attend starfleet and mix with humans against her will by deception of Sarek. She spent her entire life trying to not be human, not feel emotion to impress Sarek and only now does she seem to be warming up slowly to emotion over time of serving with humans, not unlike Spock, she seems to share the same struggles that Spock did with emotion. I see that she was playing the character well, if you take it as coming across as "wooden" as that was exactly her intent.
I have to disagree that Discovery isn't doing a ton of discovering, in that it has done an abundance of that within the Mycelial Network, sentient plants on Pahvo, the mirror universe, the Klingon home world, and who can forget the discovery of the Ancient Klingon Beacon of Kahless that started the war. OF course the war changed how a science vessel is used, but that is to be expected when they had to utilize the mirror universe in order to prevent the extinction of the Federation. Now that the war is over though, they can hopefully return to discovering, and it appears they are in season 2, even though they continue to break the rules to do so. It makes sense though since all of this will be classified at a later time regardless.