Steven Universe Review: "Gem Glow" (Season 1A, Episode 1)

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This transformative moment in Crystal Gem history… brought to you by Ice Cream. Maybe.

Airdate: November 4th, 2013

Synopsis: It has not been a good day for Steven Universe – his favorite brand of Ice Cream sandwiches, Cookie Cat, have been discontinued. Not helping matters is the fact that he can’t harness the powers of his gem – even when his fellow Gems are under attack by Centipeetles. However, when eating some of the last Cookie Cat ice cream sandwiches available (Amethyst stole them, and Pearl paid for them afterward), Steven’s gem seems to activate. With the three gems giving different techniques on how they activate their gems, Steven believes that his technique is to eat the Ice Cream… which comes at an interesting time, given that the Mother Centipeetle attacks the quartet.

Review (SPOILERS)Steven Universe begins on a note that, while at first casual, has many of the hallmarks of a pilot – near-universal character development, and elements of world-building, but also a simple, breezy plot, to get the most casual viewers sunk in.

As far as the rest of the show goes, though, it’s a pretty mild affair. Continue reading

Steven Universe: A Show About Space Rocks

Imagine if there was a show about rocks – gems, to be exact. Expect to see it on Discovery, or the Science Channel, right? (I kid, I kid – it would air on ESPN.)

Now, imagine if these rocks were war veterans of various strategies and personalities, part of a quasi-militaristic race of aliens, and trying to interact with humans – even living with/raising a half-human who is about 11/12 years old, because the team’s sorta-leader married a guitarist.

Welcome to Steven Universe.

 

OK, if you want the real description, the show – created by Adventure Time alumnus Rebecca Sugar – revolves around this kid, Steven Universe (voiced by Zach Callison). He’s half human, and half-Gem. Gems are alien warriors who can harness superpowers, and project humanoid forms from magical gemstones in their bodies. Steven happens to live with three of these warriors, called the Crystal Gems:
  • Garnet: the stoic, slightly enigmatic, Picard-esque “leader” of the Crystal Gems, voiced by singer Estelle;
  • Amethyst: the snarky, lazy bum who lives on impulse and is quick to action (or, in other words, Dave Lister), voiced by Michaela Dietz and;
  • Pearl: the strategist with many neuroses, and no knowledge of humanity. None. Basically, Rimmer… except not a coward; voiced by Deedee Magno-Hall.

There used to be a fourth member, Rose – the former commander of the Crystal Gems – but Gem science being what it is, when she gave birth to Steven, she “gave up her physical form”. Thus, Steven all but lives with the Crystal Gems – in effect, their guardians. He does occasionally hang out with (and get advice/stories from) his somewhat bumbling father, Greg Universe.

The dilemmas they face range from an odd job gone awry in the town of Beach City, Delmarva to saving the entire Earth. It’s a strange show.

Of course, as we see later on, this show is more complex at a closer glance. It touches on topics such as love, family, risk, diplomacy, insecurity, rebellion, psychosis, and war crimes. It’s one of the most well-developed shows on TV… and every episode only lasts 11 minutes!

So… wanna watch?

Same rules apply with watching – we start from episode 1. (Not the actual pilot – I want to get seasoned into reviewing this show first.)

Now, because these are 11-minute episodes, giving a “Favorite Scene” and a “Least Favorite Scene” will be pretty pointless. Instead, while the “Favorite Scene” will remain, I have decided to replace the “Least Favorite Scene” with two features: a “Best Character”, which is what it says on the tin, and a “Memorable Quote”, also self-explanatory (the latter started in my Futurama blog). This only counts to this show, so the “Least Favorite Scene” will remain for my other reviews. Hell, I might spin off the “Best Character” and “Memorable Quote” to other shows.

Also, if these are successful enough, I might spin these off into a separate blog, with more expanded commentary on SU on that blog.

Well… time to believe in Steven.

Score Adjustment Time

Just a quick note about some edits.

After a short period of thought, I have adjusted a few Gravity Falls scores to better fit their reviews… and pretty much all of those affected are taking a negative hit. Most of the changes in the scores are not radical changes – most of them are within half a point – but are done because I feel that, in hindsight, I was grading with a 6 or 7 baseline for passing, rather than a 5. I also want to let you know that a 7 episode is still a good episode… it’s just not a great episode.

Few episodes – only Season 2 of Gravity Falls, actually – were affected.

Gravity Falls Review: "A Tale of Two Stans" (Season 2, Episode 12)

Ford and Stan at the Science Fair
Weird Science!

Airdate: July 13th, 2015

Synopsis: After a whole bunch of madness, Stan’s brother has returned from the abyss – uh, portal. He is not thrilled, slapping Stan as his first action outside the portal. With Dipper and Mabel confused as to what the hell is going on, Stan decides to go way back…

…Glass Shard Beach, New Jersey, early 1960s.

Stan and Stanford – referred in this review henceforth as Ford – were the closest of brothers, with the two going on lookouts for mysterious goods, and Stan coming to Ford’s defense – which happened a lot, as Ford had six fingers due to a birth defect. The two plan to grow up, get on a boat they found in a cave, travel the world. However, it all goes to naught when Ford is offered a full ride to West Coast Tech, provided his science project impresses the advisors. In a fit of rage, Stan accidentally breaks the device – a perpetual motion machine – the night before. The family’s chances of financial greatness sullied, Ford sits back as their parents chuck Stan out.

After Ford gets a PhD at a… less prestigious school, he goes on investigating the anomalies of the US. He winds up in Gravity Falls, Roadkill County, Oregon, and constructs a device that could transport him to another dimension, which he believes is the source of the town’s anomalies.

Meanwhile, Stan tries to impress his parents by making a fortune as a traveling salesman. End result? He’s banned from Jersey, chucked out of Pennsylvania, winds up in various prisons, and is almost broke by the time he meets his brother again, in Gravity Falls.

Review: It’s BACK!!!!!! AGAIN!!!! Jeez, being a fan of this show requires you to have a ton of patience. Anyway, enough about that – after all this time waiting, theorizing, fanfic-writing, freaking out about how long each hiatus is, how was the episode?

Gorgeous.

(WARNING: SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON. WATCH THE EPISODE BEFORE READING ON. UNLESS YOU DON’T MIND SPOILERS. THAT’S COOL.) Continue reading

A Guide to Watching "A Tale of Two Stans"

Well, folks, tomorrow is the big day. After a three-month hiatus, new episodes of Gravity Falls return to the TV screens of the nation.

So, the question is – what should we as the fandom do?

First, and most importantly, please watch the show live! If you can’t, please use WatchDisneyXD or your cable provider’s OnDemand to watch the show. Those count toward the viewership of the show, and the higher the viewers, the more likely a season 3 is to be commissioned.

Second, realize that this episode will be a thirty-minute long affair… straight through. No commercials. No breaks. Make of that what you will. Obviously, though, if you encounter an emergency during the show, take care of that first. Your safety/well-being is more valuable than a TV show.

Third, if you have a blog – WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr – give your reaction to the episode! If you don’t have a blog on those platforms, sign up for one. (I personally use Blogger, obviously – rather simple to use.) Let’s try and pull a Breaking Bad – get the word of mouth to spread, and increase the ratings.

Lastly, just remember that, as far as we know, this is the one episode that will air this month. Soak it all in. We get two episodes in August, though, so that’s good.

Tomorrow. 8:30 PM EDT. DisneyXD.

Movie Review: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Released: December 7th, 1979

Eh… I can think of at least a few comparisons. (Taken from Wikipedia.)

Synopsis: The year is 2273. Monitoring station Epsilon Nine detects an energy being heading to Earth, destroying three ships of the Klingon Empire and said monitoring station en route. Starfleet dispatches the newly refitted Enterprise to investigate. Headed by Admiral (temporary Captain) James T Kirk, the departure is sullied somewhat by a dispute with Captain (temporary Commander) Willard Decker (Stephen Collins). Commander Spock also boards, noting that while on Vulcan removing his emotions, he sensed the energy being. Also aboard is Navigation Officer Ilia (Persis Khambatta), who once had a romantic relationship with Decker.

Being that this ship is newly refitted and that most of the controls need to be tested, you can probably guess that this will end well.

Review (SPOILERS, MAYBE): Y’know, for a movie which almost screams “disco” in its costumes and sets, Star Trek TMP is actually a rather slow, cerebral movie. It’s common knowledge that the movie has something of a reputation for its slow pacing and lack of “action” sequences, in favor of special effects and a 2001: A Space Odyssey experience. The question is – does this detract from the movie, or give it a charm?

Well, it depends on your viewpoint. In my view, the movie has a good idea, but it wasn’t meant to launch the movie franchise. Even if it had to launch the movie franchise, just a few edits could’ve really improved this movie… mainly in the special effects department. Continue reading