Review: Star Trek Discovery: Season 1 Ep 1 “Vulcan’s Hello.”

By Screen Squinty/Queer Trekker.

Star Trek Discovery.
Season 1 Ep 1 “Vulcan’s Hello.”
Airdate: September 24/25 2017.

Star Trek Discovery, or as its known short hand, DSC. Was created originally by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman for CBS All Access and after several setbacks and delays, finally aired in the US September 24, 2017 and September 25, 2017 for everyone else. With much hype, anticipation, and anxiety leading up to the premiere, DSC had large shoes to fill in the expectation rung, particularly within the long-established Trekkie/Trekker fandom.

As it stated in the promotions, the story focuses on Commander Michael Burnham, played by the talented Sonequa Martin-Green fresh from The Walking Dead series. She is “Number 1” and second in command to Captain Philippa Georgiou of the U.S.S. Shenzhou played by the esteemed Michelle Yeoh known famously for her role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000).

In the first episode, we are introduced to both some of the crew of The Shenzou and the Klingons. Throughout the first episode, the Klingon Culture, and Michael’s relationship to the Klingons, which receives most of the focus.

When it comes to a premiere of a new series, particularly one from Speculative Fiction and one with so much pressure from both within and without the fandom to be exceptional, the first episode/piolet or two, can usually either start rocky or hooks the audience from the get go.

DSC is of the later, as the first episode has definitely hooked big with the audiences.

To start off with, the special effects are spectacular and set design, with an amusing little homage and reference to the styles and high beams of the Kelvin Universe reboot films. You get a definite feel for the spaces these characters inhabit, with kudos towards the execution of the Klingon warship, treating the vessel as both an up close and personal menacing intricate sculpture and the deadly weapon that it is.

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(Top: “Klingon Ship,” Screen Shot, CBC All Access, 2017. Bottom: “Shenzou Bridge,” CBC All Access, 2017.)

The contrast between the stark clean lines, open spaces, and cool tones of blues and greys of Shenzou and the ceremonial congestion and dark golds, bronze and reds of the Klingon vessel was great and emphasized the alieness of both cultures to each other well.

The opening credits was beautiful! Excellent misc. Star Trek score played over a semi-surreal amalgam of blueprints and organic objects blended together, another big kudos to the person(s) who came up with the visuals for the opening, it’s a splendid piece of art!

The characters were on par, with the dynamic between Michael and Lt. Commander Saru played by the amazing Doug Jones being the strongest. Both characters naturally meshing well together with equal parts sniping and respect for each other. Those moments between the two were the most enjoyable part of the episode, something that will hopefully be carried forward throughout the series.

That brings us to the Klingons.

Klingons are considered one the most favoured of the aliens depicted so far in the franchise. They have been there since the beginning from TOS onward. They have had their culture expanded starting in TNG, and have gone through colourful and extensive physical depictions since their first appearance 51 years ago.


During the long wait for DSC earlier this year, there was some negative reception to the latest incarnation of the Klingons, and admittedly, it can be a little unsettling to see the vast shift in Klingon design, which is likely what TOS fans felt when they were introduced to the updated version in TNG, or how fans felt when the Kelvin Universe reboot films introduced there Klingon design in the second film.

While the shift in design is drastically different, it doesn’t mean that in and of itself it isn’t good. In fact, I would even say on their own the design is rather brilliant, and matches the aggressive portrayal and potential of Klingons.

The additions to the Klingon culture, particularly with the death rites of mummification and sticking the bodies to the hull of their ships, combined with some of the well-established traditions, such as the Klingon Death scream/roar and opening the eyes after death, was an appreciated touch. It does a good job with that scene in merging old and newer depictions of the Favorite of the Trekker/Trekkie fandom.

Overall the episode was a good introduction to the series. The plot was well paced, with the action of the series carrying you forward from one scene to the next wmoothly without being bored at any point, the characters compelling with good dynamics, the special effects and designs were well thought out and a pleasure to look at, the nods to both established canon and new additions to be made was well done, and the acting was superb.

Overall, I would highly recommend this series to those both within and without the fandom.

To watch it go on CBC All Access (American), CTV/Space/CraveTV (Canadian), Netflix (Everyone else).

*Note: Featured Image at the top was found at Trekcore.com.
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Screen Squinty’s “The Tick, Pilot” Review.

 

Show: The Tick (2016).
Directed by: Wally Pfister.
Season/Ep: E1 “Pilot.”
Released: 2016.

Ah yes, The Tick, that glorious blue behemoth of melodramatic verbosity packaged in the meaty vacuum seal of clueless brawnality.

He bounded into our hearts out of his first appearance as a humble newsletter mascot for the New England Comics chain created by Ben Edlund in 1986. He leaped into a comic book series of his own only a couple of years later, and he smashed walls in his own animated series in 1994 picked up by Fox, which lead to merchandise and a video game, then in 2001 a short lived single season live action series. Since then, he was only remembered only in re-run epitaphs. Tick had been ingloriously shelved, the public’s hunger for the absurdist blue fists of justice into limbo.

Then from the flavorless mothballs The Tick emerges again to cause copious property damage as Amazon, looking to take a bite out of the fiscal delights of fictional superjustice, announced that a new live-action The Tick series, directed by Wally Pfister and starring Peter Serafinowicz, would air, and released a Pilot to indice th eaudience to choose continuation for Big Blue. Tick fans, including yours truly, excitedly gathered around there computer screens to see what new version of this creature had emerged.

What came out of the pupa of prolongation was…well…an amalgamation of opinion of whether this show does justice to all that has come before it.

First of all, the warm yeasty praise for the first episode to come out of the oven lies in the rich harvest grain of Arthur’s backstory, whom is being played by the appropriately built Griffin Newman, and Arthur’s added butter of possible mental disorder.

The fuller development as a character, other then the unwitting leaf stuck to the blued buns of spoofery, was very needed for Arthur fans, and was one of the things that the previous incarnations lacked. Admittedly though, seeing an Arthur without his suit at first, give you that uncomfortable scraped-kneee naked feeling on behalf of the character, but the serious yet you-can’t-help-laugh-stock child tragedy intriguingly provided both a motive and challenge for Arthur’s reasons behind becoming a superhero, and added weight behind when he is confronted with putting the suit on for the first time.

The crispy golden crust of Tick provided a Darkwing Duckian wordplay around the soft bread of the episode, so it was difficult to get a proper flavor for the main chewey focus that is Tick, but from what was seen of Serafinowicz so far, he is doing a decent job of filling his predecessors antennae with his excellent narration and monologue filling.

Despite the positive aspects of the episode, the show itself as a whole was an awkward dancing macarana between the full on saddle blazing humour of the previous shows and all they parodied, and the serious superdramas that were being made fun of in the previous incarnations. No matter which side it gyrates it’s still an all-around awkward first dance for the series, lacking the precise amount of the particular humour that was entirity of hte previous incarnations.

The Aue du Netflix/CW scent possibly enticing Amazon to drink the koolaid is the big worry here for many fans and newcomers looking for something more, but only later episodes will tell if The Tick will bare the cloying scent of production hegemony, or will be a breath of fresh air.

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Screen Squinty’s “Dead of Summer, S1 E3” Reveiw

Show: Dead Of Summer.
Produced By: Freeform.
Season: 1.
Episode: 3, “Mixed Tape.”
Released: 2016.
Running Time: 41-45 min.

The third installment of the first season this time centers on the character Cricket (Amber Coney), whose background is explored a bit more, while a few behind the scenes supernatural secret hi jinks reach a climactic moment.

Cricket’s identity of the one dimensional character trope of low self-esteem girl, in this case tied to her looks (*rolls eyes* ) is expanded upon here, but other than her issues being explained (which was admittedly done well) and her overcoming this short coming, was not exactly the best character development.

Certainly her embracing her body for what it is was a decent conclusion and does present a good moral message for the kiddies out there, but otherwise if it weren’t for the fact this was happening on a possessed bit of camp ground, it would have read like any other tired out teenager/pre-teen drama show.

No matter how bad or good a trope is done, without anything else added to a character, static is static. Though hopefully this will be rectified with further growth in later episodes.

The blooming romance between Drew and Blair might be interesting but it’s still earl days to see if anything interesting happens there since dynamic between the two hasn’t been really fleshed out at all in terms of chemistry or as individuals yet.

The only really worthwhile thing about the episode was of course the introduction of a mysterious mask wearing secret society lurking in the bushes, which has a few recognizable members who are both unsurprising, and the climatic ending that you hope has done its job and taken out one of the least interesting of the characters.

Overall while the ending keeps you hooked for the next episode, it wasn’t as good as the previous one was at character building its focus.

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Screen Squinty’s “Dead of Summer” Season 1, Ep.2 Review.

Show: Dead Of Summer.
Produced By: Freeform.
Season: 1.
Episode: 2, “Barney Rubble Eyes.”
Released: 2016.
Running Time: 41 min.

The second episode Camp Stillwater see’s the arrival of the campers, one of whom is being haunted by a mysterious tall man in the woods, meanwhile our polo-wearing pepsi ad commercial trope from the first episode takes center stage by being flushed out in a series of flashbacks.

First, what was good about this episode?

Alex Powell (Ronen Rubinstein) getting development in this episode, and some surprisingly good development as someone who was treated to prejudice growing up in the climate of America’s cold war anti-Russian rhetoric which consequentially caused him to hide his heritage to avoid discrimination. Despite him hiding his heritage, he visits ruthless  retribution on those who have subjugated or tormented those of fellow heritage, a ruthlessness visited on those who are in his way in general really, even friends.

The shift in focus of characters from both episodes, particularly as good girl next door is still one of the weakest of the lot, and the time for development for Alex outside of his character tropes shows promise that the show may not go down some tired routes after all, and that the focus wont hopefully be on one or two of the same characters through out the show.

Though its more wait and see for the others so far, this still being early days.

On the negative side, there wasn’t much horror in this episode, baring Blotter being blotted out, and Anton the camper’s interaction with The Tall man, and a new player in a townie drug dealer who seems to know more then he’s letting on, but over all not much in terms of the imagery and scares from the first episode.

Overall it was an episode mainly used to flush out one of the characters, introduce a few plot elements and other characters, and stoke the mystery a bit. A necessary episode, though not an overly exciting one, and as long as they keep a balance between the development of the horror elements and narrative and character development in future episodes instead of one extreme over the other, such as what they did with episodes 1 and 2 so far, then show should at least do decently well.

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Screen Squinty’s “Dead of Summer” Season 1 Ep.1 Review.

Show: Dead Of Summer.
Produced By: Freeform.
Season: 1.
Episode: 1, “Patience.”
Released: 2016.
Running Time: 41 min.

This is 1980’s style horror show set in the granddaddy of all American 80’s horror slasher film set-ups, a camp on a lake with a grisly history, creepy adults, and frolicking teenagers being stalked by a malevolent force.

This show comes out of the latest transition of ABC Family into Freeform and its primary series and movies aimed at teenagers and young adults (usually of the female bent) and of ABC’s self-proclaimed “Becomer” generation that are referred to by everyone else as millennials. This effort to appeal to the becomers has spawned what the company hopes to be an “edgier” form of family entertainment, and this show is one of those efforts in that quarter.

Does it succeed? Well…sort of.

The first thing of note is the opening.

As it starts we find a man playing at a piano surrounded by candles in what appears to be a communal area of the camp, who struggles to continue to play even as he is taken down by a group of men. While this happens it cuts to the peacefully gruesome image of numerous bodies floating in the aptly named Stillwater Lake.

This was a great opening, establishing some of the mysterious bloody history that will be explored further into the show, and a good hook for further viewing, impressive horror-wise for a show from a parent company that usually sticks to the family programing block.

The rest of the show’s contents however leave it pretty much as a question mark on whether you can dub this a good or bad show.

The characters are a varied bunch of 80’s knock offs and some other long running character trope  at first glance, likely purposeful considering the theme going on, all of who have yet to establish themselves outside of their types, but the episode did show some hints of development that will hopefully take them outside their one dimentionality, such as  Polo shirt wearing pepsi ad kid who was ripping name tags off of cloths (was he stealing them? is he perhaps not who he claims to be?).

The cast has some diversity, which also helps, with some ethnic diversity is given towards two characters who embody the hot girl character trope and what may be read in the other as dangerously close to tokenism without much else going for him personality wise.

There is also some queer character presence with two of the teens, a gay teen and a transgender teen, but as usual it is as side characters, and may or may not suffer the fate of either only being tokens in their own right, or get just enough character development to tip them out of one dimentional-dom and killed off, and with this  being a horror, and side characters so far to boot, it isn’t saying much.

So far the character lineup is only marginally hopeful at best, but it is still early days, and the show may surprise us, and to give the cast credit, they are doing a decent job with what they have.

Meanwhile, outside of the opening, the narrative presented so far is just as a mixed bag as the characters presented in the first episode so far.

The mystery surrounding the Camp Owner’s motivations is interesting, particularly her relationship to the camp and that mysterious box she dug up. the hints of secrets with the campers given at the end of the episode were also interesting, presenting a sort of promise in plot development, and the moments between token Characterless with his video camera and the mysterious figure that shows up in his footage are great tension fodder.

The not so great elements of the story were some of the eye rolling cliché satanic plot devices that felt a little over the top in a ham-fisted slap you upside the head  so evil way, particularly the map of the camp, which has provided much tinder for the groanege flames.

Overall, does it succeed in being something of a edgier family program? I would have to say that it wasn’t a bad first episode in this attempt. It presents something of an interesting, though well used horror premise, that has some recognizable 1980’s horror movie “where’s Waldo?” elements for the older audiences to enjoy, and the visuals were not something seen too often in standard family television fare. But it does suffer from a few lack luster characters, particularly the lead, and plot devices come across as lazily written, even if some of the mystery and horror was good here and there.

As far as recommendations go I would recommend at least giving it a ganter if you remember, or enjoy, old slasher horrors but otherwise, don’t get too committed to the characters until it’s had a few episodes to show which way the wind blows in that regard, and be aware that this definitely has that aimed at a stereotypical straight white teen girl feel to it, evidenced by the lead character and her interactions with the others, so it may or may not appeal to target audiences that fall outside this niche.

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Screen Squinty’s “The Path” Season One Review.

Show: The Path.
Season: 1.
Episodes: 1-10.
Created By: Jessica Goldberg.
Released: 2016.
Running time: 42-53 min.

The Path is an American Drama Hulu original created by Jessica Goldberg centering on the intense psychological impact of family, converts, new members and dangerous leaders reared or indoctrinated in the strict tenets of a fictional religion called Meyerisim.

Normally the first season of a show is often considered relatively weaker then following seasons predominantly, as first seasons are focused on establishing the characters, narrative, and environment, but with this show, it not only establishes its verse, but it establishes its strength in both visuals, acting and writing.

The cinematography, sound, and special effects meanwhile are fairly standard for this style of show, but their are some great visual moments particularly with the beautifully illustrated opening that captures the Meyerists doctrine brilliantly.

There was excellent visuals that accented the shows themes quite well, such as utilized with Eddie both in Peru in the opening episode and when he was locked up and going out of his mind while on a mind altering substance. The manipulative power of visual techniques was also commented on and the utilization of light to accent the deification of the element in Meyerisim, particularly through Cal and Sarah, the same way that Cal does with his sermons to his audience was a nice meta touch.

The talents of the main cast and the supporting cast on this show is in the majority and they put forward spectacular top par work with real emotion and singular believability that sucks you into the lives of these characters easily and are what carry the show.

Aaron Paul does a great job of portraying the lead of Eddie as a convert and family man who is suddenly faced wit ha struggle of faith. Paul provides a sympathetic and relatable portrayal that doesn’t grate as the straight-man of the show, and provides a decent spoke which the other characters eventually begin to interconnect with.

Hands down the best has to be Hugh Dancy as Cal Roberts whose own crisis of faith is more of a crisis of his own humanity, being subsumed into his own dark tendencies, and the powers of his own charisma, and Michelle Monaghan as Sarah Lane, whose fervent, disturbing certainty is just the right touch of scary and emotional.

Narrative wise meanwhile the writers have done a good job of establishing a presence of reality and questioning really both on the show. Meyerism works well as a metaphor for both organized religion and cultism both. It balances both the positive aspects found in the community of inclusion and the draw, seductively so, of Humanity’s desire for something more then what there is, with the positive results for others because of their existence.

But at the same time it portrays the negative and disquieting qualities, the fervor of faith to the exclusion of free will, and the very subtle way in which people can even be drawn to believe that a choice had ever existed in the first place.

There are some drawbacks in the plot such as utilizing of “visions”, which adds a touch of possible paranormal quality that normally isn’t much of an issue, but in a show premised on the themes this one is, it muddles the rather fascinating balanced depictions the show has going, and comes across as waffling, and brings a bit of worry in how they are actually going to resolve the conflict in the next season.

Overall The Path provides a rather engrossing drama that pulls viewers in with its excellent talents in both acting and writing, some decent cinematography, and a premise that has a plot that follows through with it, despite a few possible weak points here and there. This is a definite must see for those who enjoy a really good drama with a hook, a strong edition to the digital fare that is out there right now.

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Screen Squinty’s “Outcast” Season 1, Ep.1-4 Review.

Show:  Outcast.

Season: 1. Episode(s): 1-4.

Created by:  Robert Kirkman.

Released: 2016.

 

Nothing like a horror/supernatural television show based on a popular comic with religious overtones, a loner with a checkered past, and mysterious figures meandering in the background…wait.

Yeah, that pretty much sums up the latest installment in the rising formula of television shows that have started coming out in the past little while.

Despite its cookie cutter formula it does have its own strengths that make it stand out, though it is equally hobbled by its own weaknesses as well.

First the main character.

Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) is…likable in a scruffy slovenly sort of way. Though one expects to here Sara McLaughlin crooning in the background as far as his personality goes, the tormented kicked puppy being his dominant character setting.

Certainly he has a reason, but as a lead character, he comes across as one dimensional and kind of boring, with the only break in character monotony when he gets violent once and while, but otherwise its rather bland which is something that will hopefully be addressed as the season goes along.

Next the side-characters.

The support cast is fortunately stronger then the main character, and their side stories so far are one of the elements carrying the show so far.

The adoptive sister, Megan (Wren Schmit), is engaging. She’s plucky and otherwise drags her brother into the world of the living. She has strength, a sense of humor, and believable vulnerability. Her dynamic with her brother  and with her husband Mark (David Denman) is particularly good.

Her presence as the only female protagonist though isn’t promising for female audiences though, something that has been a problem with Kirkman’s work, particularly in the early seasons of The Walking Dead, though to be fair, it isn’t quite as bad as that…yet.

The Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) is a bit of an ass, and not in the entertaining way, though I give him credit in being written better then the main focus write now. The yet revealed background seems hopefully promising, and  his dynamic in relation to his congregation and the town also holds promise as the show progresses for character development and growth, but as yet he doesn’t really stick out as a memorable character, and is perhaps the weakest of the support cast.

Outside of Megan, the best side character has to be the Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) whose mysterious maneuverings, as subtle as they are at the moment, is actually interesting to watch, particularly with his current knowledge of the supernatural elements running rampant through his town.

On the other end of the bored we have the antagonists.

It’s hard to really formulate a conclusive opinion of the “demons” that appear to be the main antagonists supernatural force. The show has yet to pin down exactly what they are exactly or their motives.  When they are their though, they do a good job of presenting a disturbing presence that is perfectly creepy to watch. This is a good quality in an antagonist, but without some sort of nailed down motivation of why they are what they are, the “evil because they are” is a weak foundation.

The presence of Sidney, a mysterious black fedora man with the star power of the show, Brent Spinner, fresh off Independence Day: Resurgence brings hope that the antagonists won’t be entirely one dimensional in said foundation, though his particular character trope of shadowy figure may mean that the mystery will be milked for all its worth, though his mystery combined with Spinner’s acting, will likely be one of the biggest draws for the show outside of the shock value imagery.

Speaking of mystery, that brings us to the story.

Without having read the comics I can’t draw any comparisons in that quarter, but what has been shown hasn’t been to bad, not spectacular, and a bit confusing in parts, but not bad, though the strongest elements lying in the side stories and the action scenes.

The story has done a decent job so far in establishing the type of town this is set in with a chance for further growth going along with a good plot pace.

The weakest points lie in certain elements left unexplained, such as why Kyle is blamed for hurting his daughter Amber when in a flashback it was, sort of, established that his wife was the one that attacked their daughter.

Why would he leave if he had thought she was the one to attack Amber, particularly when he didn’t exactly believe in demons during that period?  Was he mistaken as the culprit? Did his wife forget? Was he powerless to stop the accusations? Why didn’t he fight it if he believed his wife hurt his daughter?

While normally this would be an only vague annoyance in a side character or background characters, the fact that it is part of the main character, and the focal reason for why he is a social outcast in the first place, makes it confusing plot hole.Hopefully this will also be flushed out in further episodes, that or one blinked and missed it.

Overall, though it suffers from a rather unimpressive main character that really needs to be flushed out, and  some glaring plot issues in his portrayal that need to be addressed, it is still early in the first season yet, and its weaknesses will have a good chance to improve further in. The show does have good mystery, decent side characters, Spinner, and some legitimately creepy well rendered moments courtesy of the demons, makes this show worth a gander.

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Screen Squinty’s Personal Log #2: “Steven Universe: Ep. 11-20.”

Personal Log #2 focuses on Steven Universe, I will be going over the entirety of the episodes that have been aired up to the date of the day this is posted by sections of at most 10. Each episode will be given an informal review/commentary, and what I think really stands out, both good and bad.

There will also be spoilers, it can’ be helped in some sections, so heads up.

Episodes 11-20.

11. Arcade Mania.

While nothing overly much happens this episode, you do get a bit of a glimpse of the dynamic between the Gems, with Garnet being the undeclared leader because of her perceptiveness, which is a particular part of her capabilities that is expanded upon later in the series but in this episode is first foreshadowed.

While there weren’t a lot of jokes, what jokes there were worked very well, particularly Pearl’s encounter with the driving game, Onion’s blatant spectatorship, and a nice little teenage mutant ninja turtle reference.

Oh, and a moment of silence for the tragic death of Punch Buddy *bows head*.

12. Giant Woman.

(Clip shot: “Steven Universe Giant Woman,” Property of Rebecca Sugar and Cartoon Network).

This episode we get our first introduction into Fusion, the Gem ability to fuse with other gems, and they introduce it with the two best characters for it, Amethyst and Pearl, whom of all the characters on the show have the most fricative relationship with one another.

This is the first episode where we see a hint of continuity, in that it carries over the argumentative discourse between Pearl and Amethyst from previous episodes, particularly the last two before this one. It wasn’t obvious continuity, but the first hints in the show’s transition into a more continuous and less isolated episodic structure perhaps.

Steven’s best moments this episode was with the running gag with the goat, Steven Junior, and when he sings Giant Women with all the enthusiasm his big-hearted youthful outlook can provide. Not anything to write home about, but a perfect Steven song nonetheless.

Opal by the way was very cool and a good amalgamation of Pearl and Opal designs, and a nice symbol of the moral of the episode, a standard working together for the sake of a common goal.

RIP random bird monster just looking for lunch.

 13. So Many Birthdays.

(Clip Shot “Steven Universe To Many Birthdays,” Property of Rebecca Sugar and Cartoon Network).

This was a very odd episode.

It introduces the notion that Gems are ageless (though they can still get damaged and die) and confronts the Gem’s quite vigorously with the finite mortality that is aging on a personal level.

Even though it was a bit odd, going from rather lighthearted, to depressed, to rather dark very quickly, it utilized the story quite well in expressing its themes, and the panic that one goes through the when they realize there is nothing they can do in the face of a helpless situation, was handled quite realistically for a kids show.

Props go to the animation department for depicting the age transitions, the expressions on the Gem’s, particularly Pearl. Props also goes to the humour, which was an excellent blend of immature and treading the line into dark humour, with a smidge of adult humour thrown in.

RIP one piñata and two helpless pies.

 14. Lars and the Cool Kids.

(Clip Shot: “Steven Universe Lars and the Popular Kids,” Property of Rebecca Sugar and Cartoon Network).

I have to admit that I’m not a big Lars fan, but at the same time, I appreciate that his type of character is needed in a show like this, mainly as a contrast or foil to other characters. In the case of this episode, we see a fairly trope storyline of a teenager, Lars, wanting to be with the popular crowd and Steven going along with it.

The “cool kids” are the younger Pizza sister, Sourcream, and the son of the mayor, Buckweat who are amusing, if undeveloped characters, one of which had the best line in the episode: “The lack of daddy kisses in my life made me who I am.” I have to admit I cracked up, at this deadpan delivery from Buckweat, and the expression on the face of the baby that was kissed by the mayor was hilarious, a nice little subverting of a politician stereotype.

While Lars was rather unlikable, a standard for Lars, I will admit, that the moment when Steven puts him in his place was surprisingly powerful and and very satisfying, if oddly placed. It showed a certain quality of maturity in Steven and fleshed out his character a bit this episode, this in part is why Lars, while annoying and unlikable is necessary if correctly used.

Overall an ok episode with some amusing one liners and a decent moment for Steven, as well as actually adding somewhat to the skimpy population of Beach City.

RIP Pearl’s perfect police tape bow.

 15. Onion Trade.

(Clip Shot “Steven Universe Onion Trade,” Property of  Rebbeca Sugar and Cartoon Network).

This is one of my favorite episodes, easily in my top 10 when I get around to making a list of that.

I make no secret of the fact that of all the side characters in this show, Onion is my favorite. He’s this weird kid with an odd sort of Squash shaped head and this blank sort of quietness that creepily watches you from random spots and sort of embodies the kind of kid you would see in horror films or the Twilight Zone. With just a shift of expression or simple action, he can convey a funny moment in silence, in contrast to the louder, brasher Steven. He’s also, outside of Connie, the only other character close to Steven’s relative age being depicted.

This episode was particularly fun as it gives attention to Onion and some of his everyday living, and moments that accentuate his creepy factor, particularly where he had this open the doors to hell expression when Steven was debating giving Onion the replicator wand.

There was also some nice lines, such as Steven’s cheerful last words at the very end that summed up the episode brilliantly, as well as a smart poke on the nuclear ideal of the masculine future career, and a nice little reference to Scrooge McDuck from Duck Tales.

This was a nice little standalone episode that, while didn’t do much of anything overall, it does add a nice little omake, or isolated adventure that is made for the sheer fun of it.

RIP beautiful hamburger.

 16. Steve the Sword Fighter.

(Clip Shot: “Steven Universe Steven the Sword Fighter).

This was an episode that yet again gives some insight into the biology of the Gems, provides a shocking unexpected moment, and a nice little commentary on how something awesome looking is often not like its reality, and that sometimes it takes hard work to get to a point of awesomeness.

I remember when I first watched this episode, it reminded me of back in the day when I would watch these martial arts movies much like Steven does, or Power Rangers, and how I, and children like me, reacted very much like Steven, falling in love with the idea of the badassery of being a great fighter, but in the end, being rather disenchanted with the reality of what it means to become a great fighter. This episode took that nostalgic feeling for the adults such as myself, and placed it in a moral lesson for the kids and wrapped it up with some good Steven moments, and a shocker near beginning of the episode.

I also like that Steven’s emotions were also explored, particularly that of absence, particularly parental absence.

Props to the animation team on its poked parody at martial arts films by using a vaguely anime style for the sequences, and the writers for a nicely paced plot and that somewhat practical joke-ish begining on the viewers.

RIP classic Pearl.

 17. Lion 2: The Movie.

(Clip Shot “Steven Universe Lion 2 the Movie,” property of Rebbecca Sugar and Cartoon Network).

Another fun episode, this one centered on Connie, Steven and Lion as they go to meet their destinies… going to the movies!

This is another little foreshadow episode that hints at possible later events in the series, particularly in Connie’s role in the show when considered in hindsight and the introduction of a hidden Gem Bunker.

What made this episode work was yet again an excellent presentation of character dynamic between Connie and Stephen with Connie’s amazement by the magical weirdness in Steven’s life, and Steven amazement by the ordinary things in Connie’s life. They work well as a foil for the other, and every episode they have been in together so far has been gold.

The humour was another strong factor. I think many of us laughed at the parody of the “BWAA” sounding “epic” trailer through Dogcopter, like the kind meant to psych people up. Dogcopter was both creative in and of itself, and provided a nice little commentary on the attitudes of movie spectators, particularly with such lines of “hoping Dog Copter was faithful to the book.”

The great battle between Steven with Connie and the training device (?) that runs amok showed great moment between the two in the heat of battle as warriors, as well as a great Utena reference.

Oh, and Pink Lion Jesus *Chuckle* nice.

RIP Fire N’ Ice.

 18. Beach Party.

(Clip shot “Steven Universe The Beach Party,” Property of Rebbecca Sugar and Cartoon Network).

This episode we are introduced to the Pizza family in their entirety when Steven hosts a beach party in the hopes of mending the one sided strained relationship between the Pizzas and the Gems when Garnet accidentally smashes up the sign to their place of business.

What stole the show this episode had to be Nanefua Pizza. She had all the best lines, and was the one to organize the destruction of the giant blowfish monster. She wasn’t an obvious stereotype elderly character, and had a good dynamic with the other characters, particularly Steven.

Another amusing part of the show was the Gem’s interactions with the rest of the Pizza family, bridges breaking through the meeting of various commonalities or things that the characters found admirable about each other. and the

Despite the mending of fences, the one-side component to this friction between the two families is that you can clearly tell the Gems are ambivalent to the concerns of civilians, so to speak. While this could be seen as a distraction from the “mending fences” part of the story, this was in fact more along the lines of displaying an overall fault in the Gems as a whole, being their somewhat inherent arrogance towards humanity, though they are friendly with the Pizza’s after a while and do listen to Nanefua in the end, it is still something very much a part of them in the end, and somewhat unresolved, as it should be.

This depiction of an inherent flaw in the Gems makes them more relatable,as they are now being shown to have flaws as a group with others instead of individually, which leaves a nice path open to plot for later on.

RIP Pizza Fish Stew sign.

 19. Rose’s Room.

(Clip Shot “Steven Universe Rose’s Room,” Property of Rebecca Sugar and Cartoon Network).

 In this episode we get a glimpse into a bit more about Rose when Steven unlocks his mother’s Room at the temple after an angry outburst at the Gems.

This was an episode that did a good job with the ol’ caught in a dream/unreal environment trope, and actually presented something creative to watch. The shorter time frame improved on the trope standard, with all the attention the creators had to pay to time, everything was kept very concise, with utilizing some good creepy visuals, the brief Return of Frybo as a nice touch to a little continuity, and Steven’s overall emotional reactions to reality tripping out around him were excellent.

The only flaw this episode had to be that while he came to the realization that he can’t always get what he wants, particularly with adults and adult responsibilities, he ruined that little moral moment by exclaiming at the end “I get everything!” and likely probably confused younger viewers.

RIP: Frybo, again.

 20. Coach Steven.

(Clip Shot “Steven Universe Coach Steven,” property of Rebbecca Sugar and Cartoon Network).

This episode, we are introduced to another Gem fusion, and Steven, Sadie, Lars, and Greg decided to do a bit of exercise.

This was an episode that combined some really interesting elements with a “meh” story.

The interesting elements lie first of all in the beginning where we witness a successful, and yes, somewhat erotic merge between Garnet and Amethyst. This scene I felt was excellent at introducing the notion of provocative imagery or eroticism to a younger audience without being outright nitty gritty sexual.

Physical provocative imagery doesn’t necessarily always have to be sexual, in fact this episode reminded me much of the classical art you find at museums that can be considered physically provocative without being sexual (or at least considered sexual by today’s standards) such as the Venus de Milo or the Micealango’s David for example. This does a good job of presenting that notion of provocativeness to its audiences while at the same time also couching a moment of queer intimacy which is not normally shown on children’s shows, which is still relativity minor, especially as any sort of imagery of this nature that does pop up from time to time in children appropriate programming is often kept strictly hetero.

Sugilite by the way was also brilliantly designed with a good blend of the two Gem characters, and the final battle between her and Pearl was well executed and enjoyable, highlighting Pearl’s strength as a fighter and a role model both.

The other positive this episode was Pearl and her Jealousy over Steven’s adoration to Sugilite as a role model. Her emotions during this episode, one of the early ones to really depict Pearl’s more emotional and less prim side is always a highlight.

The meh, not bad, but not overly interesting part, was the building muscles arc. It wasn’t bad, it provided what was needed for Pearl’s arc, but it wasn’t overly interesting to watch either, though Greg and Lars had a good line here and there, particularly his deadpan “what just happened?” at the end by Lars. The other problem for this part was its combination with the strong punch opening and ending that made the scenes with the muscle building seem somewhat superfluous, and almost like it belonged to a separate episode.

Overall a good episode for specific elements, though not an all around excellent episode all the way through.

RIP Greg’s gym.

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More Coming Soon…

Adventure Time Personal Log!

adventure time
Clip shot “Adventure Time Tittle” Google Images. Property of Pendleton Ward and Cartoon Network.

Just taking time to announce that i am doing an informal, sort of reaction log of my progress as I watched the show Adventure Time for the first time.

It can be found on this site under “Personal Log: Adventure Time” at  https://screensquinty.wordpress.com/personal-log-adventure-time/

I will continuously be updating it, and will  let people know, via my Twitter and Facebook, which you can find in my “links” section, if your interested.

 

The Seven Days of Christmas: The Boondocks.

noteOn the 2nd day of Christmas (because that’s how he roles),
Your Screen Squinty gave to thee…”note

The Boondocks, “A Huey Freeman Christmas.”

In this Christmas episode from The Boondocks (2005-2014) first season “A Huey Freeman Christmas” (2005), follows the various different ways that Huey, Jazmine, and Riley interact with the holiday, with Huey’s seizing of the school play being one main focus, and Riley’s violent Santa Stalking being the other.

This was a strongly written episode that satirizes some of the various mentalities surrounding Christmas, such as the mixed origins of the holiday interpreted through the conservative view, the liberal view, the historically accurate view, and the consumerist view. Jazmine in particular, who mixes Santa Claus as Jesus, was actually one of the most enjoyable parts of the episode.

The Santa Stalker through Riley was amusing as hell with his epic attacks with that pellet gun, and then the replacing of Santa with Uncle Ruckus was rather brilliant, culminating in a nice scene between Ruckus and Jasmine…which then caused an equally hilarious back fire as another child’s belief in Santa was renewed as well.

The various story arcs could be argued to perhaps compete for space within the short episode running time, but they do oddly sort of sync with each other into a balanced whole and giving something for everyone to enjoy by balancing out character self-involvement, the ridiculously naive and confused, mildly grotesque, comedy, and violence. The various elements of the arcs worked together to keep one particular element from becoming too much.

All in all, it was exactly the right amount of everything: Satire, violence, ridiculousness, seriousness, and warmth. recommend to anyone looking for a good holiday short with high entertainment value and some commentary.

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