So, About My Red Dwarf XI Reviews…

…something’s been flamingoed up.

It’s been about three days since “Twentica” premiered in the UK – ten if you count it’s debut on UKTV Play. And as of this moment, Series XI is not available on iTunes. Nor is it on Google Play, Amazon Prime, etc. Basically, the US is locked out of the Boys from the Dwarf as of now.

And before anybody asks, I refuse to torrent the show. I don’t need a virus on my Macbook.

I did, however, manage to get a good look at this bit of info from Amazon.
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Steven Universe Review: "Alone Together" (Season 1B, Episode 10)

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“A Gem fusing with a human being? It’s impossible – or at the very least, inappropriate!” – Pearl. She probably thought the same thing way back when.

(Note: for those wondering where my review of “Warp Tour” is, I am going off of the order posted by Ian Jones-Quartey in terms of my episodic analysis. This allows for more consistent continuity in a show that thrives off of it.)

Airdate: January 15th, 2015
Written By: Katie Mitroff, Hilary Florido, Rebecca Sugar
Plot: Steven’s attempts at fusing with the Crystal Gems haven’t been up to snuff. After another failed round, he goes and meets Connie on the beach. There, Connie exposes her unease when it comes to dancing in public. With the two alone, they decide to dance together on the beach. One dance later, the two wake up as a teenager. A teenager. That’s singular.

Review:

Y’know, I’ve been thinking about a witty way to start this review. It’s hard, though. I mean, we’re talking about “Alone Together” – an episode that manages to be both undeniably sweet and still a bit terrifying. While my last review brought up the concept of the “Steven Universe Imperial Phase”, and noted that “Lion 3” was a massive step towards it by introducing Rose as a character, this episode may have very well done more to build the show’s cult following than any other so far, or maybe even since.

And it all is wrapped in one of the show’s central plot threads, the power of…

…fusion. Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: "Lion 3: Straight to Video" (Season 1B, Episode 9)

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I wonder what kind of lunch my mom would’ve made me? Maybe actual space cookies! (sighs) I just wish I knew a little more about her. – Steven, unaware that he said the secret phrase…

Airdate: December 4th, 2014

Written By: Joe Johnston, Jeff Liu, and Rebecca Sugar. (Yup, the creator wrote this.)

Plot: Sadie, disenchanted with the fact that her mother kept making her lunches, tosses one of them to Steven. This gets him thinking… what was his mother like? Could he get one more hit at the woman who brought him into the world? Well, thanks to Lion, he can… although it almost results in his suffocation.

Review:

You know, there is a question that often presses into my mind when I think about a certain sci-fi show… when did the Steven Universe Imperial Phase begin?

Or, rather, what is a Steven Universe Imperial Phase?

Well, to put it simply, the Imperial Phase a term Neil Tennant (of Pet Shop Boys fame) coined to note an era when a production or producer (in this case, the show) is judged to have done no harm. In the case of Steven Universe, this entails emitting critically beloved episode after critically beloved episode, being hailed as something so awesome that one has to wonder if the show is being written by super-humans.

The second question is – has it ended yet? Sure, there have been incidents in the fandom that have left them fighting off a stereotype of overzealous SJWs who constantly post on Tumblr that Hillary Clinton is the second coming of all major religious prophets combined. And of course, this could lead to a prejudice that the show is a hotbed of quasi-progressive SJW groupthink*. Still, the show’s critical standing remains strong – ratings on The AV Club haven’t dipped below a B yet, and “The Answer” even got nominated for an Emmy. (Then again, given that “Jurassic Bark” lost to “Three Gays of the Condo”, the Emmys aren’t exactly paragons of what is good.)

The third is, of course, when did it start? Opinions in the fandom in terms of “first great episode” range from “Mirror Gem” to “Jailbreak” – so, generally, Season 1B can be deciphered as the general start of the show’s Renaissance.

I’ve mentioned this idea before – mainly concerning the two-parter “Mirror Gem/Ocean Gem”. Still, I don’t think we’ve reached that point yet. Sure, “Mirror Gem/Ocean Gem” stretched the show’s boundaries from silly “monster of the week” into a myth arc that stretches through the galaxy. But after that, we had some inconsistent episodes, including two of my least favorite – “House Guest” and “Fusion Cuisine”.

Personally, I don’t think the Imperial Phase was truly confirmed yet with “Lion 3”, but it is not only a huge step towards the start, but it served as part one of a three-part link that cemented the show’s critical acclaim.

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Steven Universe Review: "Watermelon Steven" (Season 1B, Episode 8)

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The Cat: Think of all the glorious, beautiful, wondrous things about having children.
Lister: Like?
The Cat: Like when they grow up and leave home!
Red Dwarf, “Parallel Universe”.

Airdate: November 20th, 2014

Written By: Lamar Abrams and Hellen Jo.

Plot: Steven and Greg spend one evening holding a watermelon seed spitting contest. Steven wins by a mile. The next morning, he wakes up surrounded by a bunch of humanoid watermelons. Stunned, he learns that Rose grew plants as a form of defense. Not seeing them move, he decides to sell them. It’s only thanks to Onion’s daily high misdemeanor that Steven realizes that they can move. And, indeed, anybody that wrongs Steven even slightly – even lays a finger on them – faces an ass kicking. And, no, the Crystal Gems are not spared.

Review:

I seriously can’t believe I have to type these words out… Steven has sired an entire species of watermelons. By spitting out seeds.

Yes. Steven is effectively a father. And God. James Kirk and Benjamin Sisko, eat your heart out – Steven has usurped both of you. One can only laugh.

How the hell do I review this? “Watermelon Steven” has one of those “high concept” plots that should make for epic episodes. Hey, characters creating species gave us “Godfellas”, often considered one of the most thought provoking and best Futurama episodes of all time. The last time I reviewed something that directly dealt with God, though, it had Kirk and his friends sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and Uhura fan-dancing, before they met a version of God that looked like an effect from The Wizard of Oz.

Not helping is that this episode was written by Lamar Abrams and Hellen Jo, who contributed to the relative mess that was “Fusion Cuisine”. My expectations are lowered thus – if this episode turns out to be worse, I’ll ask Paddy Ashdown how to best prepare a hat for consumption.

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Fifty Years of "Star Trek"

“Space… the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. It’s five year mission; to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life, and new civilizations… to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Fifty years ago today, NBC broadcast the first episode of a sci-fi show, Star Trek. Entitled “The Man Trap”, it centered around an alien trying to extract the salt from the bodies of the residents of a medical outpost – just one of the adventures of the USS Enterprise in the year 2266.

Who’d have thought, fifty years later, that this little episode would be just the start of a cultural phenomenon that consists of six (soon to be seven) TV shows, thirty seasons of those television shows, and thirteen movies? And that’s not even getting into the books, the fan content, the comics, the filk songs (“And we’re Banned from Argo, everyone!”)? Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: "Garnet’s Universe" (Season 1B, Episode 7)

Garnet's Universe Title Card.

“What did you do today?” “Tell me what you think I did.” – Steven and Garnet, the latter painfully unaware of the story that she is about to hear.

Airdate: November 13th, 2014

Written By: Joe Johnston and Jeff Liu

Plot: As Garnet comes back from a mission, Steven inquires as to what she did with her time out. Garnet wonders what Steven thought she did.

Thus begins Garnet’s Universe.

Warping into a goofy, cartoonish universe, Garnet meets her animal friends, Hopper (Deedee Mango-Hall) and Hoppy (Michaela Dietz). During the middle of training, the three are interrupted by a humanoid stranger, Ringo (Zach Steele), who wants revenge on the Foxman (Matthew Moy) for stealing his habitat protecting the Gem of Ultimate Power. After Garnet’s first meeting with the Foxman proves less than exemplarily, she winds up training her way into higher power. However, Ringo has played a cruel trick on all of them.

Review:

Well, after the boring bit of awkwardness that was “Fusion Cuisine”, I needed a bit of a cleanser to get the bad taste out of my mouth. Thankfully, we got one – and this time, we have an example of the show breaking the format while still feeling like a Steven Universe episode, and being a very good episode at that.

And, believe me. “Garnet’s Universe” is, quite possibly, the single most unusual episode of the show. Which, considering what this show is about, says a lot. Continue reading

Review Nebula Announcements: September 2016

Hello, everybody. With September 2016 right here, I just want to make a couple of announcements regarding what this month – and, to a lesser extent, this year – holds for The Review Nebula.
First off, let’s back to the boys in the Small Rouge One.

The trailer for Red Dwarf XI came out less than a week ago – premiering on Dave and rapidly getting posted to YouTube through official and unofficial channels.

Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: "Fusion Cuisine" (Season 1B, Episode 6)

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“All comedy is derived from fear.” – Garnet. It’s as close to a description of this episode as I can come up with.

Airdate: November 6th, 2014

Written By: Lamar Abrams and Hellen Jo

Plot: Garnet screws up royally while on the phone with Connie’s mother. Incensed, she requests to see Steven’s mom and dad for dinner. Funny thing, though – Steven’s mom is sorta dead, and all of the Crystal Gems have flaws that could screw up a potential dinner. Steven, however, has a trick up his sleeve – have the trio fuse into Alexandrite. Hilarity ensues… and by hilarity, I mean a dinner that makes the ones attended by Frank Reynolds look professional in comparison.

Review:

There’s a thin, fine line between “characters engaging in momentary idiocy” and “characters becoming around as naive as Ralph Wiggum”. Remember back when I reviewed “Keep Beach City Weird”, a few days ago? Well, no need – I just reviewed it a few days ago. One of my chief complaints about that episode was that at least two of the characters were turned quite stupid in order to aid the climax – crossing the line, or at least, toeing it.

Which brings us to “Fusion Cuisine”, the episode on tonight’s menu.

Opinions on this episode range the gamut from “ingenious comic romp” to “waste of 11 minutes, who wrote this crap” (Lamar Abrams and Hellen Jo, for those wondering). A lot of this deals in the more “awkward” comedy found in this episode – a good chunk of it, frankly, based on the characters being dumbasses or otherwise irritating. Continue reading