Scullyfied Simpsons: “Eight Misbehavin” (Season 11, Episode 7)

Eight Misbehavin

“They’re a ravenous swarm of locusts just eating and screaming and grabbing and poking and pulling and drooling, and two have cradle rash. How do you get cradle rash when you sleep in a suitcase?” – Apu, describing the confusing realities of having children.

Airdate: November 21st, 1999

Written By: Matt Selman

Plot: A meeting with the Simpson clan at the Shøp department store gives Apu and Manjula baby fever. In spite of their efforts, they wind up having trouble conceiving. Thankfully, an attempt involving a poorly-written script winds up successful, and with the help of everybody giving Manjula fertility drugs (including Manjula herself), an attempt at one baby leads to eight children. The initial shock is later replaced with stress, as the media coverage eventually collapses, leaving the duo on their own.

Review:

Full disclosure – no, I’m not using this review to analyze The Problem With Apu and the Simpsons recent reaction thereof in a manner of “is Apu a caricature”. I’m not South Asian, I’ll let them come to a democratic consensus on whether or not Apu (or at least modern Apu) is beyond the pale. All I’ll say is that the writers’ response in a recent episode was so poorly executed in terms of characterization and dialogue, as well as so childishly ham-fisted, that it would’ve destroyed any point they made. Even if they admitted fair play to Problem With Apu, they likely would’ve done so in a way that sunk the show.

Moments like that make me embarrassed to have become a Simpsons fan in the first place, and that recent response honestly made me contemplate reassigning the spot of “favorite show” to either Gravity Falls or Red Dwarf again, because at least those shows didn’t call their critics jackasses while producing some of the most incompetently written television of all time.*

Speaking of which, Season 11. Continue reading

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Steven Universe Review: “Back to the Barn” (Season 2, Episode 19)

 

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Fair play to Pearl – she got a traffic cone on her robot. And you know things went wild if you obtain a traffic cone.

Mrs. Bennet“A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half-deserved.”
Colonel Fitzwilliam Darcy: “All this she must possess, and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”
– Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 8. Wait, wait, wait – wanting to court a woman that doesn’t just act like giddy arm candy? This snob must be quite a radical man to reject truths universally acknowledged about the sexes!

Airdate: October 8th, 2015

Written By: Joe Johnston and Jeff Liu

Plot: That cluster thing is getting ready to cause Earth to go kerplooey. Therefore, Peridot decides to team up with the Crystal Gems to try and save the planet. Trouble is, Peridot doesn’t want to cede the drill project to Pearl. Apparently, Pearls are intended to be decorations back on Homeworld. As a result, the two begin to raise voices. As a result, Steven decides to settle this with a robot building competition.

Review:

Before we begin, I must warn you that this review deals with something of a controversial topic, one that might lead to raised voices. As I’ve mentioned before, I prefer to look at the character interactions in Steven Universe, and leave the sociological aspects into the background outside of brief mentions of the show’s liberalism. That said, there are always exceptions that prove the rule. This review might count as one of them. Sort of.

You know what I find particularly interesting about Steven Universe? For a show with a majority-female character sheet, penned by a self-described feminist, a writing crew that has relative gender parity (maybe a slight tilt towards women), and has a generally liberal philosophy, SU is relatively subtle about its support for feminism.

I don’t think this is a bad thing – get too strident and you risk alienating a decent chunk of your potential audience. Still, SU practices what it preaches by having a wide variety of female (or at least seemingly female) characters, with their gender being secondary to their character traits, dispatching stereotypes in favor of actual characterization. Sure, there’s Kevin and the chauvinistic tones found in his own characterization, but that was more an indictment of sexual harassment (which affects people regardless of gender) than anything. For the most part, gender is just something that exists in Steven Universe, not a rallying cry, and with that, I prefer to focus on the character interactions rather than the sociological aspects of Steven Universe.

Emphasis on for the most part. Sort of. Maybe.

Because here, we have a rare exception.

Ladies and gentlemen? Welcome to Steven Universe‘s “Misogyny Episode”. Continue reading

Crunch Time – Spring 2018 Edition

Ah, yes, the middle of spring is in full gear… by which I mean, it’s time to wrap up classes with a cavalcade of finals, final projects, et al.

Just informing you that as a result of me writing some final papers for my classes, my next review might not be up until next weekend, the earliest. In effect, this will serve as a very brief hiatus, but only a brief one, as I fully intend to be back after my papers are submitted.

Likewise, while I’m more likely to post my review of “Back to the Barn” after the “break”, don’t be surprised if I post my review of “Eight Misbehavin” beforehand. It depends on which review gets finished first.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Steven Universe Review: “When it Rains” (Season 2, Episode 18)

Before we begin today, I just want to inform people that came here based on my “Recap of Channel Awesome’s Utter Collapse” that I have no immediate intent to do anything like I did with that post. Not that I won’t provide any coverage of future elements of the CA drama, but long-form posts about said drama are unlikely at this stage.

Steven Universe When It Rains

I know you used my toothbrush!” – Steven, talking to Peridot. You know Steven is a weird kid given how he doesn’t immediately toss it in the trash bin.

Airdate: October 1st, 2015

Written By: Lamar Abrams and Katie Mitroff

Plot: Peridot has still locked herself in Steven’s restroom, refusing to divulge any information regarding this mysterious “cluster”. Going nowhere, the Crystal Gems decide to investigate on their own merits, leaving Steven to keep watch over the prisoner. There, he gets a good glimpse at the severity of this cluster. But what is it? Thanks to a little meteorology lesson, Peridot might be willing to help.

Review:

“When it Rains” is the second episode in the “Cluster Arc”, an arc not only focusing on the development and tackle of a major “cluster” that threatens the Earth, but also takes time out to showcase Peridot’s changing relationship with the Crystal Gems. It’s not just a story of science fiction mystery, but one of personal humbling, regret, redemption, and an appreciation for humanity and the world we live in. I call it probably Steven Universe‘s most poignant arc not just because of how applicable the themes are on both a personal and global scale, but because it really serves as a microcosm of the series itself.

What we see in this arc is the restructure of a character along these lines – that character being Peridot. The last episode had her physically humbled – stripped of her physical attributes and reduced to somebody barely any taller than Steven. The next episode will see her social views challenged and rebutted. Now, though, it’s time to challenge her psychological perception of Earth itself.

And boy, do the writers do it – with one of the most powerful moments in the entire series. But what about the rest of the episode? Continue reading

A Recap of Channel Awesome’s Utter Collapse

Today’s post is a bit out of character for this blog – as this is less of a review and more of a recap of recent events involving Channel Awesome, a video review aggregate site. I’ve been contemplating something like this for the past month, but always backed away. However, on Thursday, new details came to light that shocked me, and within 48 hours, I had put this together. I let it sit for a day to see if a) I wanted to go through with this, or b) anything would change.


ChannelAwesomeLogo

…wow, that escalated quickly.

Channel Awesome, once considered amongst the premiere entertainment sites on the internet, appears to be in its death throes. What started as a mere critical twitter thread from longtime and former contributors a month ago has exploded into a dramatic scandal that may very well drive the company out of business.

It is basically the real-life example of what TV Tropes (a site that had a love affair with CA) calls “Disaster Dominoes” – one thing leads to another, eventually resulting in a catastrophe. Change one factor, and CA still has something vaguely resembling dignity today, producing…

Oh, who am I kidding? This was gonna happen soon anyway. It’s just that, instead of a slow decline petering out through the rest of the decade, what was a slow decline suddenly went into top gear before hitting MAXIMUM OVERDRIVEand now Channel Awesome is effectively on death-watch. If The Simpsons is a show being kept alive in a vegetative state to milk any money possible from the franchise, Channel Awesome is likely skipping that state and heading straight to hospice care, spending its last days watching as the Walker brothers, the management, and contributors prepare to sue each other onto the dole.

In fact, let’s take a (somewhat opinionated) play-by-play of what exactly what the hell happened, particularly in the back half of the site’s existence.

(Warning: this is going to be quite long. However, it is also not meant to be exhaustive – we’re just getting some basics thrown down here.)

Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: “Catch and Release” (Season 2, Episode 17)

Just letting you know why I posted this relatively deep into the month. A, schoolwork. B, I’ve been engrossed in what appears to be the utter collapse of Channel Awesome. 

 

Steven Universe Peridot in a Toilet
“It’s agreed – if the International Drainage Commission places a nine hundred dollarydoo call to respond to this, Peridot’s paying.”

 

“Goodnight, happy bear. Goodnight, sad bunny. Goodnight playful kitty. Goodnight, ominous triangle at the foot of my bed.” – Steven. Sometimes, even I wonder how this kid has survived thus far.

Airdate: September 24th, 2015

Written By: Lauren Zuke and Hillary Florido

Plot: Peridot kidnaps Steven out of his bed in a last-ditch attempt to get the hell out of dodge. Unfortunately, Steven’s healing saliva can’t repair the warp pad, and Peridot begins breaking down. She begins to fret about a potential threat to Earth… but before she can complete her warning, the Crystal Gems poof and imprison her. Unnerved by the potential danger to Earth, Steven decides to free Peridot and try to talk to her.

Review:

What arc is more indicative of Steven Universe than any other?

I’m not talking about my favorite SU arc – I mean, I can’t possibly choose between them. I wonder what arc encompasses the themes of Rebecca Sugar’s creation than any other. Is it the Pearl/Rose/Greg dynamic, dealing with themes of loss, regret, delusion, resentment, and a longing for the past? Is it Amethyst’s arc, dealing with intense self-loathing thanks to a society that yearns for the ubermensch and created her as a war machine? Do we focus on Garnet and how her genesis exposed the acerbity of Homeworld against the unknown, the readaptation of tactics for purposes outside their “intended use”? Is it Steven trying to wonder what exactly his life encompasses, and what is expected of him by the Crystal Gems?

All of these are valid answers, but I would like to throw one arc in the mix… the Peridot arc, at least that from the first two seasons and change. That arc has a technician revealed to be her antithesis, going from a stoic heartless cog in the machine to an eccentric, paranoid dork not afraid to question authority.

She’s been sliding down for a long time, but with this episode, Peridot officially and dramatically crashes into rock bottom. By kidnapping Steven.

Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: “Sadie’s Song” (Season 2, Episode 16)

Sadie dunks her head in a water pitcher.
Me too, Sadie. Me too.

“Ever since my act two years ago, there’s been a rule that you gotta wear clothes.” – Steven. The good news is that that is a very good rule in most situations. The bad news is that the episode only once eclipses the brilliance of that line.

Airdate: September 17th, 2015

Written By: Raven Molisee and Paul Villeco

Plot: While trying to promote the annual Beachapalooza, Steven overhears Sadie belt out one of the highest charting pop songs on the radio, “Haven’t You Noticed I’m A Star”. Impressed with her ability to sing, Steven encourages her to sing for the event. Unfortunately, her overenthusiastic mother, Barbara (Kate Flannery) gets wind that her daughter is going to sing pop records. It all goes downhill from there, leading Sadie ona  path to a breakdown before her pop career even starts.

Review:

Well, all good things must come to an end, and so must Season 2’s run of “very good-to-exemplary” episodes stretching back to “Keeping It Together”. And it ends in the most unusual way – a sequel to the previous episode, written by the same damn people as the previous episode, dealing with many of the same themes as the previous episode.

Yet, while “Nightmare Hospital” could’ve challenged for one of the best episodes of the entire season, “Sadie’s Song”… doesn’t.

Jay from Steven Universally absolutely tore this episode to shreds, even going so far as to call it his second least favorite episode of the entire series (dispatched only by the questionable ethics of “Island Adventure”). And honestly, the more I think about it, the more I have to say… he’s not too far off base. Thinking about this episode enough makes me wonder what the hell happened in the writer’s room. The fact of the matter is, this does not feel like a Steven Universe episode in the slightest. Continue reading

Gravity Falls Box Set To Release This July

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Once upon a time, there was this little show called Gravity Falls. You might have heard of it. It revolved around these two kids, their scammer great-uncle, and their misadventures in the small titular town.

It was only the best damn thing ever to be produced by Disney, it’s quality all but ensuring my fandom from the moment I watched it and (alongside Red Dwarf) all but consuming my mind during the Spring and Summer of 2013. To this day, I consider it amongst my five favorite TV shows, period.

Even with the show’s major following and critical acclaim, I honestly doubted that the fine folks at the Disney Company would authorize a DVD Box Set. I mean, streaming appears to be where it’s at. Besides, Disney has entire sectors of media to take over (even if it did make Ripley a Disney Princess). There is no way that Disney would dedicate resources to a DVD Box Set of a cult TV show. A damn good cult TV show, but a cult TV show. I predicted that a DVD release was out of the question.

Then again, back in April 2017, I predicted that Theresa May would grind the Labour Party into a fine powder during the election later that year.

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How can I put this calmly…

Alex Hirsch, you madman! I don’t know what strings were pulled to get this released, and frankly, I don’t give a damn.  Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: “Nightmare Hospital” (Season 2, Episode 15)

 

Nightmare Hospital
Somewhere, a Huffington Post commenter is using this scene to show how it symbolizes healthcare in the pre-ACA era. And somewhere, a Breitbart commenter is using this to write a rant about the need to destroy Obamacare and rescue Britain from the NHS. And somewhere, Rebecca Sugar still wonders what the hell Molisee and Villeco drank during the boarding process.

Maybe you’re just like my mother.
She’s never satisfied.
Why do we scream at each other?

This is what it sounds like when doves cry.
– 
“When Doves Cry”, Prince.

Airdate: September 10th, 2015

Written By: Raven Molisee and Paul Villeco

Plot: A complete lapse in timing leads to Steven meeting Dr. Maheswaran again at the Maheswaran townhouse. He and Connie brought Rose’s sword with them. Dr. M, however, is no fan of swords, fearing that one accident can turn a person’s face quite bad, so she confiscates it and prepares to ground Connie until the Tories win in Liverpool. Fortunately, she’s called into work to deal with a strange patient at the Hospital. Unfortunately, she takes the sword with her, leading Connie and Steven to sneak through a dark corridor at night, where the trio faces the wrath of one of the Gem experiments.

Review:

And we’re officially out of the Week of Sardonyx. It was an emotionally taxing block of episodes to take on, and even the “lighter” episodes of that entire week contained some sort of deeper symbolic meaning. It was probably my own personal favorite “StevenBomb”, not only as far as my reviews have gone, but probably of all time. (No, the Summer of Steven does not count, for that was more like a StevenNuke.)

So, the drama’s over, right? WRONG! For now, we’re full-swing into Steven Universe the dramedy. Long plot arcs will become more frequent, and even the oft-critiqued (not without reason) “Townie” episodes begin to take their own little arcs. We’re two episodes out from the next long-form arc, one involving one of SU‘s most celebrated characters and her own personal bottoming out.

To bridge the gap, we have two episodes focusing on two of Steven’s friends and their rather tragic relationships with their mothers. In “Nightmare Hospital”, we get Connie Maheswaran and her mother, Dr. Priyanka Maheswaran.

Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Continue reading

Five Years of The Review Nebula

…whod’ve thunk it?

Five years and two days ago, if you told me that I would be regularly updating a review blog of my favorite TV shows, I would have laughed at you.

Then I got assigned a class project to start a blog and post assignments on them (assignments that have been lost to the etches of time), was given the option to post whatever else crossed my mind onboard, and the rest is history.

Yeah, my first reviews were pretty thin on actual content – it wasn’t until 2014 when I really began emphasizing the actual review of my reviews – and my opinions on some episodes covered may have shifted quite a bit. (I would probably have been less caustic against “Time Travelers Pig” and probably a bit more critical about “Boyz Crazy”, but that’s more in hindsight.) Still, to look back at what I’ve accomplished so far…

…and really, it’s all thanks to you guys. Every single person that’s read my reviews, that’s followed this blog, from London to LA, Warsaw to Wellington, through the name changes and the URL moves, I can’t thank you enough. I might not be the most clicked-on blogger out there, but that doesn’t lessen the thanks I have for you guys.

(Also, mad thanks to Rebecca Sugar, Matt Groening, Alex Hirsch, Gene Roddenberry, Rob Grant, Doug Naylor, and everybody else involved, all for creating the subjects of these silly little reviews. Even when I’m critical of the end result, it’s you lot who make the art and put it out for public analysis. Mad kudos to you guys.)

A toast to the lustrum, and hopefully the blog will thrive to hit the decade mark.