Well, this is embarrassing…

Yep, no way I’m getting those TV reviews out on time. I’ll just review four episodes at a time later this week, I’ve got blog-related and non-blog related things to get to. And besides, I wanna see if the upward trend in Gotham continues before gushing and making myself look like a fool when the next episode bombs.

The Legend of Korra Reviews- “The Coronation”, “The Calling” and ” Enemy at the Gates”

I need this made into a t-shirt. Like right now.

All right, I’m assuming everybody reading this has watched the three most recent Korra episodes, because, I mean, what the hell would you be reading this for if you hadn’t? So, instead of doing my usual blurb about the pot, I’m just going to do a point form list of anything that interested me about the three episodes. Starting with the coolest character this show has had:

  • Toph Beifong is a freaking badass. Even at age 100 or whatever, she is still so damn cool. I’ve never been a giant fan of her “twinkle toes” catchphrase, because I find that really juvenile (I know, I know, it’s a kids’ show), but otherwise, she acts just like she did when she was a kid, unlike Katara, who is basically just filling the stock roles of “wise old lady” and “convenient healer” whenever she appears. Also, kudos to the voice actress (Philece Sampler) for really making the character sound like she did when she was twelve, except, you know, old. I do hope she comes back later in the season, I think it’d be real cool to have her beat the crap out of Kuvira. Or anybody, really.
  • So, Kuvira turned out to be the bad guy,to absolutely no one’s surprise. Continuing the trend in Korra of having villains that aren’t just blubbering madmen, Kuvira is…. Unsavoury, but she does make some good points. Yeah, the uniting of the Earth Kingdom is a good idea, and it’s probably best that technology and a progress are prioritized over an outdated, unegalitarian monarchy, and yes, the Earth Empire does reward the territories it unites with food, prosperity, etc. So yeah, Kuvira does seem like a pretty legit ruler… Until you realize that you just justified the aggression of this world’s equivalent of Hitler or Mussolini.

Erde Reich über alles!!!

  • Yeah, as good as those things are, replacing an indifferent monarch with a super-controlling fascist is really not the best move you can make. Speaking of which, I really liked Prince Wu’s interactions with Mako and his character development as a whole. Just as Kuvira is a fairly accurate representation of a leader who will unhesitantly go to extremes to preserve her power, Wu is an accurate representation of somebody who wants to be in power because of the prestige that the position would bring him (Think Marie-Antoinette, I guess).
  • Mako and Bolin are kinda breaking my heart. Bolin’s endearing stupidity got the better of him, and, once again, Mako couldn’t talk him out of doing something really stupid. I get so sad when Mako and Bolin are fighting, because they’re so close, and they’ve been through so much shit together that it can be upsetting when they don’t see eye to eye. And yeah, Mako may have the moral high ground in this case, but Bolin so wants to believe that Kuvira’s cause is just, and that he’s helping people, but then, he comes to his senses too late, and off he goes to a re-education camp. Speaking of which…
  • DAMN YOU ZHU LI!!! VARRICK GAVE YOU EVERYTHING AND YOU THREW IT ALL AWAY, AND FOR WHAT?!?!!?!?! YOU BITCH!!!! YOU HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE BITCH!!!!
  • When I first started watching Korra, Meelo was one of my least favourite characters, because as much of an immature man-child as I am, fart jokes seemed really out of place on a show that contains military coups, political assassinations and a teenage girl getting crippled. However, partway through the second season, I warmed up to him. He has, to date, one of my favourite lines in the series (“Look to your left, look to your right” etc….). However, he’s definitely better as a supporting character than as the main focus of an episode, as he was in “The Calling” along with his sisters, as I found that he just got grating once again. I think I’ll end up just fine with him now that he’s (probably) not going to star in any more episodes.
  • Also, is it just me, or does the voice actor for Meelo (Logan Wells) sound a little young for the character?
  • Lastly, I’m really digging Korra’s journey back into Avatar-dom. A minor complaint of mine is that, after wisely avoiding this trait in the third season, Korra almost fell into the fatal flaw from the first two seasons, in which she temporarily joined the side of the devils (Tarrlok’s Anti-Equalist squad and Unalaq’s invasion of the Southern Water Tribe) until she came to her  senses. It kinda looked for a while that Kuvira may have swayed Korra to her side and, yeah, it looks like Korra’s convinced in part that joining the Empire would be best for the city of Zaofu, but she’s clearly more interested in peace than any ideological bullshit. I dunno, the show’s done a great job so far, so I have faith that it won’t descend into the mediocrity that plagued parts of the first two seasons.

“The Coronation”: 4.5/5

“The Calling”: 4/5

“Enemy at the Gated”: 4.5/5

The season so far: 9.0/10

The Flash- “Pilot” and “Fastest Man Alive” (SPOILERS)

Evidently, CW took the special effects money out of the costume budget.

I’ve never been that big of a Flash fan, to be completely honest. It’s not that I don’t like him, it’s just that he’s never been any more to me than the funny guy from the Justice League cartoon. I guess I’ve always liked him in the sense that he was a member of the Justice League, and it was cool to see him fight along some of my favourite heroes like Batman and Wonder Woman, but even today, I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy a Flash solo comic.

And yet, I read Aquaman. Funny how that works.

But hey, it only takes one good interpretation of the character for me to really embrace him or her, even if previous interpretations haven’t grabbed me. That’s why I was looking forward to this new Flash show. Knowing that CW, the channel behind Arrow, was developing it gave me hope that it would turn me on to Barry Allen like Arrow did for Green Arrow.

And boy did it not disappoint.

Let’s just jump right in. Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is a twenty-something forensics analyst working for the Central City Police Department under his boss and adopted father, Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), who took him under his wing after his father was incarcerated  for the murder of his mother, despite Barry’s insistence that he is innocent, and that a “man inside a ball of lightning” killed his mom. Joe’s daughter, Iris (Candice Patton), is Barry’s best friend, although he has feelings for her that she is too shy to admit. However, when a particle accelerator at S.T.A.R. Labs explodes and creates a lightning storm, Barry is struck by one of the bolts of lightning and goes into a coma for nine months.

Upon waking up, he discovers that he can now move at superhuman (Sorry, metahuman) speeds, because fuck science. The scientists who looked after him are ex-S.T.A.R. Labs employees Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), as well as A-list scientist Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanaugh), who was a respected scientist until the particle accelerator explosion, which left him seemingly crippled and his reputation in tatters. This trio help him develop his power and pursue the other, less friendly metahumans that the particle accelerator explosion created, like Clyde Mardon (Chad Rook) and Danton Black (Michael Christopher Smith).

Before I truly get into what I loved the show, let’s get through the two things that I hated about the show. And that was one line in each episode. Those would be the line during Green Arrow’s cameo in the first episode (“I think that lightning struck you for a reason.”) And Barry(?)’s line in the second episode (“We were all struck by lightning that day.”)

God, that fucking sucked.

Once you get past the occasional cheesiness of the dialogue, you get a pretty great show. The action pushes aside the grittiness of Arrow for pure comic book action, which I would expect from a movie about a guy who dresses in all red and runs at superhuman (Metahuman, dammit!!!) speeds. Actually, it kind of reminded me of the good parts of the latest Spider-Man movie. The action is great for a TV show (Not quite blockbuster level, but would you really expect it from a CW show?), the atmosphere is great, a lot more lighthearted and comedic than Arrow, but it also excels in its dramatic moments, mostly thanks to the spirited performance from Jesse L. Martin, who plays Iris’s dad and Barry’s adopted dad, who is reluctant to allow Barry to go after  murderous super-criminals. Understandably so too. It’s hard to run at all when you have a million clones punching you in the head.

Grant Gustin, who you may remember from Glee, if you happened to watch that show (In which case, you saw something in it that I sure didn’t), and so far, he’s pretty great! Stephen Amell may be great as Green Arrow now, but it took him a few episodes for him to really settle into a groove. Grant Gustin has settled into that groove pretty much right off the bat,  reminding me, again, a lot of Amazing Spider-Man 2, regarding Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Peter Parker. You know, minus the bodacious hair.

I’d go gay for the hair alone.

Anyway, doubling back to the atmosphere of the movie, I think that maybe the most prominent way that it blows Gotham out of the water is in tone and/or atmosphere. As I have mentioned in my reviews of the aforementioned sho Gotham hasn’t really shown what it wants to be quite yet. Is it a gritty crime/cop drama? I mean, I guess, but it throws in way too much camp and corniness for me to really take it all that seriously. The Flash,  feels like a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. It’s lighthearted, yet dramatic at times, and really delivers on showing a badass superhero doing badass superhero things, instead of bouncing around to a bunch of villains that you’re not that interested in. Especially in this case, since the Flash’s rogues gallery isn’t quite as impressive as Batman’s or Spider-Man’s. Sure, we do have Reverse Flash and Gorilla Grodd to look forward to, but I think it’s nice for  them to focus on the minnows like Multiplex, or whatever while we have the chance to get into Flash and his friends, who, by the way, are pretty great. Especially Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells. I can’t stop pondering what this guy might be all about. I thought for a while that he might be Reverse Flash, but that’s probably not the case. And, for the life of me, I can’t recall a character of that name from the comics (Admittedly, I don’t read Flash comics), but DAMN, is it ever gnawing at me.

If anybody spoils it for me, I will grow violent.

Pilot“: 4.5/5

“Fastest Man Alive”: 4.5/5

Gotham- “The Balloonman” and “Arkham”

Nerdgasm imminent.

 Okay, so we’re officially four episodes into Gotham, so, going by general television rules of thumb, we should have a pretty good handle on what exactly this show is about. And so far, Gotham has been pretty….. All over the map, to say the least. So far, it’s been two good episodes (The pilot and “Arkham”) and two mediocre episodes (“Selina Kyle” and “The Balloonman”). Since we’re around this TV milestone, I figured I’d use this entry not so much to focus on the two recent episodes, but to underline one strengths, one weakness and one mediocre trait that the show has displayed so far. I’ll still talk about the individual episodes, but… Yeah, I guess you get the idea.

Strength: Cinematography

The Tim Burton Batman movies and the Christopher Nolan trilogy both had different ideas on what the look of Gotham City should be. Burton definitely had a ton of creative input in his movies, especially Batman Returns, as his Gotham is appealingly ugly and highly stylised. One could almost say it’s more faithful to the comics, but that would imply that Burton actually read the comics, which he didn’t.  Nolan’s Gotham always reminded me of the rust belt, matching the gritty, realistic tone of the movies. Gotham successfully succeeds in combining the best elements of both Gothams to create a city that looks to be straight off the pages of DC Comics. Props to whoever was in charge of that.

Weakness: Tone

Oh boy, oh boy. Holy shit does this show have some problems here.

With the exception of the Nolan movies, which were ultra-modern, and the ultra campy iterations, Batman stories have always had somewhat of a timeless feel to it. The 1989 movie brought a lot of fashion, images and dialects straight from the early-to-mid 20th century, as did the animated series, mixing them with more modern technologies like literally anything in Batman’s utility belt. It may not have made the most sense when you think about it, but hey, it was charming, or at least I found it to be.

How quaint!!!

While I also really enjoyed the tone of the new movies, and the campy movies had…. Actually they all sucked, but my point is that Gotham tries way too hard to be a balanced mix of all of these styles, which just ends up coming across as stilted and jarring. At times, it wants to be very dark and realistic, but there are other times when the over-the-top villains and cartoonish violence just take me out of it (I’m looking at you, Balloonman. Jesus Christ, wasn’t that a fucking stupid concept?). Black comedy and camp can be put to good use, but that’s not really the case in this show.

Ugh….

Meh…: Acting/Characters 

I should be the first to admit that I was a little high on the actors in my review of the pilot episode. And I’ve still gotta be honest, I haven’t seen a straight-up bad performance just yet. Robin Lord-Taylor as Penguin is still my favourite performance, even if his arc is really improbable. I really like John Doman in the limited screen time he gets as Carmine Falcone, as is Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth. I also really like Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue, even if McKenzie can sometimes be overly stoic for my taste. Jada Pinkett-Smith as Fish Mooney and Cory Michael Smith as Edward Nygma are also fine, even if neither has done much, and the showrunners can’t seem to help drilling the fact that Nygma becomes the Riddler into our brains ever so much.

A lot of the characters just seem to be there for the sake of being there, though. Montoya, Allen and Barbara are all boring as hell. I have yet to feel a twinge of interest towards any of them. And, while they aren’t bad actors per se, I would argue that they’re better than most other child actors out there, David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova as Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, respectively, jus don’t have interesting enough stories for me to really get invested.

***

That’s all for now. Hopefully the show picks up, because at the rate it’s going, it’ll fall off of my review list after this season. This last episode was better than the two before it though, so maybe that’s a sign it’s trending in the right direction? I sure hope so.

“The Balloonman”: 2.5/5

“Arkham”: 3.5/5

The season so far: 6.5/10 

How My TV Reviews Work

Still the best TV show within a TV show ever.

So, I’ve officially been reviewing television shows for about three weeks and, needless to say, I haven’t been doing a great job keeping up. I’m several days overdue on the reviews for episode 3 of Gotham, ditto for the pilot episode of Flash and a full week overdue for the fourth season premiere of Legend of Korra. Hell, I haven’t even finished the third season of the latter show.

In my defense, Henry Rollins’ character is meant to be savoured.

Also, as much as I hate that this is the case, I still have school to work through, and until I break free from that burden, I can’t really devote all my time into a blog that doesn’t make me any money or extra credit and, at this point, it’s just a passion project. So, unfortunately, I have to enforce some rules on these reviews.

  • The reviews will be out every two episodes. Both episodes will have a rating out of five, and the totals will be added up at the end of the season to give the season an average score out of 10.
  • If the season ends with a rating under 7.5/10, I probably won’t devote any more time to reviewing the show. I may still watch it, but I just won’t review it.
  • If the season’s rating ever falls under 5.0/10, I reserve the right to call it quits at the nearest quarter, half, or three-quarter mark, and if it ends the season with a failing grade, you can forget about me reviewing another episode of it ever again (For a season at least).
  • Expect the reviews to come out a day or two after the airing of the second episode. You know, unless a holiday gets in my way, or something.
  • When it comes to reviewing the baseball playoffs….I’m done. It takes a crapload of time and it’s just not that fun for me anymore. I’ll still do some baseball stuff, but definitely expect a noticeable shift away from athletics and more towards mindless entertainment.
  • Movie reviews will always get priority, so shows that air on weekends and Friday night are likely to get shafted, somewhat.

Get it? Awesome. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some procrastinating to do!

Gotham: Episode 1- Pilot (TV Review) SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Selina Kyle: Apparently, the all-seeing eye of Gotham City. Who’da thunk it?

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

 If you had told me one year ago that Fox was panning to release a TV crime drama set in Gotham City, I would have been completely overjoyed. I’ve always kinda thought that transitioning to TV might be a better idea for those grittier, more down-to-earth superheroes that don’t necessarily have the flashy godlike powers (Smallville notwithstanding). And as much as I don’t hate the idea of Ben Affleck donning the cape and cowl (Even if the rest of the DC cinematic universe is starting to look like a giant clusterfuck) I would love to see a Batman TV show.

Take away Batman from the equation though, and I would’ve been less than enthused.

Indeed, Gotham chooses to focus not on Bruce Wayne (Played by child actor David Mazouz) and his transformation into everyone’s favourite rich nutjob, but on the exploits of Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, former star of The O.C. and, actually a former Batman voice actor. He voiced the Dark Knight in the animated movie, Batman: Year One)  and his troubled partner, Harvey Bullock (Irish-Canadian actor Donal Logue). How did the pilot episode of this risky venture prove?

Absolutely brilliant is how it turned out.

Don’t get me wrong though, Gotham has problems, and I’ll get them out of the way first so I can gush later. My only real qualms with the movie have to do with the characters, not that the actors are to blame. I think they all do very great jobs, especially newcomer Robin Lord-Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot, Jada Pinkett-Smith as original villain Fish Mooney, Cory Michael Smith’s brief cameo as Edward Nygma and the two leads, McKenzie and Logue. Problem is, the show seems a bit over-preoccupied with stuffing as many villains into it as possible in order to give super-nerds like me a hard-on. I guess it kind of makes sense this one time, given that it was the pilot episode, and they had to stuff in as much fan service as possible in order to convince Fox that they could attract an audience. In that respect, it makes sense, but I hope that they can segway into villain introductions a little better than their introduction of the man who will eventually grow up to be a Tim Burton- directed abomination.

SCENE: A group of thugs are viciously beating up on a fellow criminal. The most violent aggressor is a younger man, brandishing an umbrella while wearing a tuxedo

ANONYMOUS THUG:  Take it easy (Practically turns to audience) Penguin! (Practically winks at the goddamn audience)

PENGUIN: Don’t call me that!!!

Huh, they took lessons from the James Cameron school of subtlety, I see.

Also, I love how Detectives Montoya and Allen go ahead and take Cobblepot at his word when he tells them that Gordon and Bullock framed and murdered Mario Pepper, and immediately report their suspicions to Barbara and threaten Gordon without a shred of evidence. I thought these guys were supposed to be real hotshots. What the hell?

Overall, though, my favourite thing about the show is that it feels like a comic book set in Gotham City ,especially something like Batman: Year One (Again, minus Batman). It has a very dark atmosphere, and doesn’t hesitate to bust out the blood (Unlike the great Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan movies, who had to maintain a PG rating). The scene where Bruce’s parents are murdered (Spoiler alert, in case you’ve been living under a rock) is as emotionally  resonant as it’s ever been, the writing is, while not exactly Shakespeare, very fitting to the tone, and really, I can’t wait for the next episode.

Episode Rating: 4/5

Holy fuck, was that the Joker!?!?

Upcoming TV Reviews

Huh. Look at that. They misspelt “Pamela Isley”.

I’ve really done a whole crapload of movie reviews lately, and truthfully, I ain’t gonna stop, as I’m having way too much fun with them. In fact. I’ll probably end up reviewing even more movies at some point in the near future. There’s something about bitching about visual media that just gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

However, there aren’t exactly much must-see movies coming out in the fall, and that worries me, as I need something to do when I’m not at school, working or imbibing large quantities of illicit substances.

Thankfully, my family is stuck in a black hole of a cable deal with Shaw Cable, so as of late September, I will start reviewing TV shows and possibly live-blogging events such as the Oscars. The following is a shortlist of shows I plan to review in the near future.

  • Gotham (Premieres September 22, 2014)
  • Major League Baseball Playoffs (Begin some time in late September)
  • The Flash (Premieres October 7, 2014)
  • Game of Thrones (Season 5 premieres in 2015)
  • Legend of Korra (Season 4 premiere TBA when Nickelodeon gets its shit together)

If anybody has any more suggestions on shows or events I should review, then feel free to let me know. As of know, these are the things I have planned for sure.