Gravity Falls Review: "Society of the Blind Eye" (Season 2, Episode 7)

You see? Nobody suspect the quirk.

Airdate: October 27, 2014

Synopsis: After realigning any and all evidence found, Dipper deduces that Old Man McGucket might have wrote the journals about the mysteries in Gravity Falls. After meeting up with the man, McGucket claims amnesia before 1982. Deducing that his mind was wiped, the gang wind up in the innards of the Gravity Falls Museum of History, where they find a secret society dedicated to wiping the memories of the townsfolk.

Review (MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK): I could gush endlessly about this episode, to the point where the review would be just me squeeing for about a novella’s worth of words. Instead, I will just plow through the plot basics quickly, and review the more in-depth afterwards.

The plot? Fantastic. Fantastic buildup, fantastic twist, fantastic climax… fantastic all around.

OK, you want more? I’ll give you more.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Red Dwarf Review: Series X, Episode 4: "Entangled"

Airdate: 25 October, 2012

SYMBOLISM!

Synopsis: Kryten and Cat wind up in sync due to an experiment with the quantum rod. The two are full of coincidence, say the same thing at the same time, etc. Lister, meanwhile, winds up on the wrong end of a poker game against Biologically Engineered Genetic Gobblers, losing both Starbug and Rimmer. Making matters worse? A bomb is attached to Lister’s pelvis. If he doesn’t turn over Rimmer within 24 hours, or tries to tamper with the bomb, he gets blown to bits… thus ending Rimmer’s life, as Lister’s lack of existence terminates Rimmer’s runtime. (We can also presume that the bomb could do decent damage to the ship, putting the lives of Kryten and Cat in jeopardy.)

With little hope, Lister has to go down and renegotiate a poker game. However, the Cat mentions that Lister has a tendency to choke. Thus, the BEGG’s choke to death. Literally. They eat power cords and choke on them. Kryten and Cat, thankfully, are able to use their newfound power to find the maker of the ship, a chimp who was once a forgetful scientist named Professor Edgington (Sydney Stevenson).

Review: It’s often said that “Pete” and “Back in the Red” are the worst ever Red Dwarf episodes. One of the (many) complaints against the episodes is that they had too much material for the originally planned timeslot (one for “Pete” and two for “Back in the Red”), so they were extended to an extra episode. Now, though, this gave them two much time, so they had to add tons of filler. Thus, we got the claymation crew, a wretched Kryten story, and tons and tons and tons of Rimmer and Lister walking into the damn captain’s office.

This episode shows that singular episodes with tons of material, while a bit rushed, can actually work… that is, if you pump in tons and tons of comedy, as well as a very quirky theme. Continue reading

Gravity Falls Review: "Little Gift Shop of Horrors" (Season 2, Episode 6)

79422-screen2bshot2b2014-10-092bat2b2-51-262bpm
Airdate: October 4th, 2014
Well, another year, another trilogy! This time, a tourist gets trapped in the clutches of Grunkle Stan and his salesman tactics. Trying to convince him to buy something at the shack, he tells three tales concerning the items he finds.
Note Ahead of Time: For the purposes of this review, I am considering everything encompassing this episode not even remotely close to canon. However, I will analyze the segments, first on their own merits, and how they fit into the overall scheme of the episode.
Continue reading

Red Dwarf Review: Series X, Episode 3: "Lemons"

Airdate: 18 October, 2012

f6c0b-screen2bshot2b2014-10-172bat2b9-43-212bpm
“Oh, Jesus!” “Yes?”

Synopsis: The crew of Red Dwarf manage to acquire a Swedish rejuvenation shower. Being the Red Dwarf crew, they assemble it… haphazardly, to say the least. End result? They wind up in Britain in the year 23AD. The remote that can transport them back? Lister tossed the battery, thinking it was used up. Rimmer suggests making a potato battery to power the remote.

Kryten: Britain in 23AD, sir, doesn’t have any potatoes and won’t get them until the 16th century.

Rimmer’s backup plan- lemons.

Kryten: Britain in 23AD, sir, doesn’t have any lemons, either. They won’t get those until the 14th century.

Cat: He’s getting closer!

The nearest lemon source is India… 4000 miles away. At a local lemon market, they manage to procure lemons. Whilst talking about how primitive 23AD is, they manage to attract the attention of a certain fellow. He calls himself Jesus.

Review: No matter what your thoughts on Christianity (or organized religion) might be, it’s pretty much a fact that The Bible is the most quoted and referenced book/anthology in the history of modern media. It’s influence extended beyond typical media, and has created numerous tropes- forbidden fruit, the Judas archetype, the house divided, etc. Name a trope, it probably originated in The Bible.

Red Dwarf has routinely referenced the book, both via jokes and as plots. Rimmer’s middle name? Judas. The religion of Mr. Rimmer? Based on a misprint in 1 Cor 13. “The Last Day”? Total send up to the idea of puritanism and the afterlife. Red Dwarf, when dealing with religion, leans heavily to the “atheist” side of the spectrum- bashing organized religion as a means of controlling the masses, as seen in “The Last Day”. (Robert Llewellyn is a self-described atheist.) The show also seemed to encourage people, however, to not use their “one life” and completely waste it- “The Inquisitor” was proof of this, with the titular character erasing those whose lives were spent totally slobbing around, unlike Lister.

Most of the brutal critiques of religion were done in the vein of “silicon heaven”- the afterlife for robots.  So, how could Red Dwarf take on the figurehead of arguably the largest religious belief in the West?

Amazingly, he’s treated pretty well, and yet they were still able to write a damn good script surrounding the character. Continue reading

Red Dwarf Review: Series X, Episode 2: "Fathers and Suns"

Airdate: 11 October, 2012

 

08b43-screen2bshot2b2014-10-092bat2b2-48-292bpm
AHHH!!! DATA DOCTOR FLASHBACKS! GET EM OFF! GET EM OFF!

Synopsis: Every year, Lister sends a Fathers Day card to himself, then proceeds to get wasted so that, when he sees the card on Fathers Day, he has no recollection on what he put in it. With Rimmer telling Lister that he’s a pathetic father, and with the help of the Medi-Bot, Lister decides to give himself tough love. Meanwhile, Rimmer and Kryten install a new computer, Pree. Compared to Holly, Pree has extreme intelligence, yet with a twist: her mission is entirely tied to the crew, such as repair standards and final destinations. This proves problematic when, in Lister’s act of tough love to himself, he resigns his position on the ship.

 

Oh, and Kryten is also wondering… is a table game that he played with various vending machines the night before offensive?

Review: This was a bit of a strange episode to organize my thoughts about. While the episode had a plot (two, even) that could’ve fit solidly in the first two series, the end result felt a bit more awkward than it should have been. Continue reading

Red Dwarf Review: Series X, Episode 1: "Trojan"

Airdate: 8 October, 2012

Synopsis: The scouters aboard Red Dwarf pick up a derelict ship, the Trojan. Despite the derelict being unworthy of flight, this ship fascinates the crew, who are still stuck on a ship “slower than the speed of dark”. After Rimmer fiddles around with a quantum rod, the Trojan comes in close contact with the Columbus III. The hologram on that ship is Howard Rimmer. Yes. Rimmer’s brother. Already dejected from failing the Astro-Navs again, Rimmer’s resentment fills up his hard drive, causing him to suffer a crash. After being cleared of some of the “malware”, he realizes he has two options- fess up to his failures, or lie to his brother.

No prizes for guessing what he chooses.

Review (SPOILER-ISH): One of the central tenants of Rimmer’s character has always been the conflict between the guy and his family. It’s strongly implied that, as much as he uses them as a crutch for his aloof and insensitive behavior, that his strained relationship really did mess his psyche up. His father physically abused him, mentally abused him, his brothers tortured him beyond typical “brotherly” fights, and his mother was aloof to the whole situation, sleeping around to avoid the situation. Bringing Rimmer’s supposedly more successful brother to the center of an episode- the premiere of the first “regular” Red Dwarf episode in 13 years, mind you- was, in hindsight, a bit of a daring maneuver. Does it work?

Mostly. Continue reading

Red Dwarf X Preview

No matter what the critical response to Red Dwarf: Back to Earth was, the ratings were deemed to be extraordinary. Gaining the highest ever ratings for the Dave network, speculation was rampant and immediate concerning a tenth series. The first word came out in June 2010, when the actors stated that more Red Dwarf would be made. However, nothing was confirmed then. It wasn’t until April 2011 when UKTV finally confirmed that Red Dwarf would be back for a full series.

The reaction was cautiously optimistic. TV series have been revived before due to strong interest. Doctor Who was brought back in March 2005, Family Guy was brought back two months later, Futurama was revived twice, etc. However, the quality of these revivals has been debated time and time again. While Doctor Who came back to rave reviews for it’s more character-focused plots, Family Guy and (to a lesser extent) Futurama got a more lukewarm reaction, accused of lacking the magic the original seasons had, or going in a more crass direction. On top of that, the past three installments of Red Dwarf have been blasted as being far weaker compared to the original six series. (You saw me getting more frustrated with the show as we ended the eighth series!)

So, would Red Dwarf get the same critique as other shows? Or would it be a return to form?

Well, before we dive in, let’s just see how the production went. This will be quick, because the fact of the matter is that it all depended on the budget… which was, yet again, barely there. Doug Naylor had to fight just to get a studio audience. Once the sets were dismantled, any extra scene had to be shot in front of a green screen- any episode containing these were aired to a studio audience, not taped like the other episodes.

However, this series did go “back to basics”. The Red Dwarf models were brought back (thank smeg), the sets gained vibrant colors again, Howard Goodall was brought back to do the music, Howard Burden was back to do the costumes… it really felt like the show was being returned to the “tried and true”. Granted, budget limitations constrained the episodes. Ambitious projects such as “Back to Reality”, “Gunmen of the Apocalypse”, and “Dimension Jump”? Not done this time around. This was more like Series II- back to basics.

So, what was the end result? Was the show back to form? Or was it proof that Red Dwarf should’ve ended with Rimmer blowing the Time Drive out of the sky?

Well, here’s the episodes!

  • Trojan: Rimmer gets an SOS call from a ship… where his brother is the ship’s hologram. He realizes that he needs to beat his brother at his own game, and pass the astro-nav exam… the one that he failed several times.
  • Fathers and Suns: Lister decides to help himself on Fathers Day, by trying to be a better father to himself. Makes sense. Oh, and Rimmer installs a new computer, Pree.
  • Lemons: After a time-travel incident involving flat-pack furniture, the gang are sent back to 23AD England. They have to travel to India to get some potatoes to get a battery to go back to Red Dwarf.
  • Entangled: A game of poker goes deadly when Lister loses Rimmer. He is given 24 hours to turn over Rimmer, or have a bomb that’s attached to his pelvis blown up. Oh, and Kryten and Cat become quantum entangled.
  • Dear Dave: Lister gets in a love triangle with an old girlfriend and two snack dispensers.
  • The Beginning: Simulants finally begin playing war games with the Dwarfers. This seems like the end for the gang… even Rimmer, who never accomplished any of his goals.

Gravity Falls Review: "Soos and the Real Girl" (Season 2, Episode 5)

ec635-screen2bshot2b2015-02-132bat2b7-43-262bam

Airdate: September 22nd, 2014

Synopsis: When Soos gets an invitation to his cousin’s engagement party, he realizes (with help from his grandmother) that he needs to find a date. After initial attempts prove fruitless, he winds up buying a Japanese dating simulator (against the game store’s warnings). Said simulator involves the player interacting with Giffany, a “schoolgirl” at “School University”. However, Giffany is more than just a character in the game- through the magic of electricity, she becomes possessive of Soos, especially once Soos meets a real woman, the quirky Melody. Once Soos decides to send the disc back to the game store, Giffany snaps, realizing that she must destroy Melody and trap Soos.

Meanwhile, in yet another quest for money, Stan realizes that he needs to steal an animatronic from Hoo-Haw’s Jamboree Pizza Time to replace his old animatronic. It’s so stupid, not even Wendy will dignify his insanity.

Review (SPOILERS): After a string of generally awesome episodes, Gravity Falls took something of a retreat back into merely “great” territory. Strangely, the past four episodes were more focused on the fantasy and mystery elements in the town, while this episode seemed to embrace the sci-fi wing of speculative fiction. Continue reading