Red Dwarf Review: “Krysis” (Series XI, Episode 5)

“Have you ever felt ‘I’ve wasted my life?” “You? Sure! Every single day!”  – Lister and the Cat, summing up a midlfie crisis.

Airdate: 20 October, 2016
Written By: Doug Naylor
Plot: Kryten’s hit a rough patch in his duties aboard ship. The trio diagnose him with a midlife crisis – something that becomes readily apparent once Krytie dons a bright red shell (pictured above). To try and remind him of how far he’s come, the Boys from the Dwarf go to the Nova III, to analyze a similar mechanoid and see how he’s held up all alone… only to come across a mechanoid that has become a connoisseur of and participant in all the finest arts.

Review:

This episode should not work.

I mean, let’s face it – it’s plot is pretty much the child of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Barely Beyond A Joke”. I disliked The Final Frontier, and “Beyond A Joke” is my second least favorite episode of the show (third if you count “Krytie TV” as an episode and not as an instrument of torture banned by the Geneva Convention). Point is – is the third time the charm for these plot threads on this blog?

Well, if you count the second half of Gravity Falls season 2, then for the most part, yes.

But what about the fourth time? Does it work then?

Continue reading

Red Dwarf Review: “Give and Take” (Series XI, Episode 3)

“I am now fluent in all the deceptive arts. I could work for FIFA!” – Kryten. Hey, that’s base level, Krytie. Manage a presidential campaign.

Airdate: October 2nd, 2016

Written By: Doug Naylor.

Plot: While scouting for a medical droid aboard an abandoned spaceship, Rimmer and Kryten come across what they suspect is the target droid. Lister and the Cat actually do come across said droid, who proceeds to perform malpractice in a fit of insanity. Rimmer and Kryten come to their defense, and rescue them – although they destroy a pair of kidneys that were to go into Lister. With Lister’s kidneys removed, he needs to get the Cat to donate and for the rescued droid to rewrite the DNA. Unfortunately, that proves a tall order.

Review:

Hey, the Cat gets an episode! Sort of. Last time Lister and the Cat interacted, Lister learned about how Archimedes invented gravy after a bath fell on his head. What we saw there is their dynamic starting to take shape after largely being held off over the prior several series. This episode continues that trend – with Lister’s life in Cat’s hands. (Here’s hoping he had a will.) In fact, it’s probably my favorite of the season so far.

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Red Dwarf Review: “Twentica” (Series XI, Episode 1)

 

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This is first degree toastercide!

 

“If that’s the penalty for toast, what the hell do you get for pizza?” – The Cat.

Airdate: 22 September 2016

Written By: Doug Naylor

Plot: In the depths of uncharted space, Starbug gets intercepted by a ship of Expanoids – a subset of Simulants. They pull a trick on the Dwarfers to obtain an artifact – the Casket of Cronos – that allows them to travel back in time to 20th-century America. There, technology beyond the Gilded Ages are prohibited, and scientists are driven underground to speakeasies. In order to free themselves, they must find a use of a machine part that was given to them by a doomed scientist.

Review:

Before I begin, I just want to say that there’s this incredible feeling I have in reviewing Red Dwarf as it comes out (in America, at least) for the first time. This, again, was the very first show I decided to blog about. As the years have gone by, I have come to admire the show more. And even though I wouldn’t place it at the top of my all time favorites (The Simpsons, Steven Universe, and Gravity Falls are a holy trinity of awesome animation), I still think it is one of the most overlooked sci-fi shows out there.

To get (virtually) brand new episodes for the first time in my fandom (Red Dwarf X came out just before I became a full-blown fan of the show) was something quite indescribable. I watched them all in a day.

With that said…  I begin my (silly) analysis of Series XI. Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: "Serious Steven" (Season 1A, Episode 8)

Who designed this? Who? Who?

Airdate: January 13th, 2014

Synopsis: A massive accident at Funland (the amusement park where Steven and Connie almost got flattened by a roller coaster) weighs heavily on Steven, as two weeks later, they go to the Strawberry Fields, which used to be a battle site for the Gems. Characterized as Steven’s first “serious” mission, Steven tries to prove himself worthy to Garnet. This can only end badly, especially when a pyramid that they walk in flips over, thanks to Steven.

Review: Fans who started watching new episodes in Season 2 (ya know, half of the fandom, up to and including myself) might be a bit put off when they first see this episode. You see, we’re still in the part of the show where Steven is more like that kid that the Gems happen to have on their backs. With the gems treating this as his “first serious mission”, Steven has a hell of a lot of weight on his shoulders.

Most impressively, he’s hanging out with Garnet this time. A tall order for the ten-year-old, indeed. Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: "Bubble Buddies" (Season 1A, Episode 7)

(Note 25/11/15: Review edited because, in hindsight, the review I originally posted had a few errors in logic. Sorry.)

Steven and Connie roll on Dunkin.


Airdate: December 2, 2013

Synopsis: Steven’s attempts to talk to a bespectacled bookish girl sitting on the beach (not his first attempt, apparently) result in him saving her life from a boulder… but also causes the two to become trapped in a bubble of Steven’s own making. Any and all attempts to free them fail. Hilariously. And by hilariously, I mean they almost drown.

Review (SPOILERS): BUBBLES! Uh, I mean GEEKS! Uh, I mean GEEKS IN BUBBLES!

Uh, I mean, one of the biggest cliches in sci-fi history (if not TV history) has got to be the “first episode love interest”. If I may be able to describe it, it revolves around two protagonists (often of the opposite sex) who both appear in the first episode. It’s assumed from that moment on that the ship involving the two is to set sail and reach its destination.

In that case, Steven Universe certainly subverts that cliche a bit off the bat by waiting for episode seven to introduce a probable love interest for Steven… and then subverts it even further by having the two actually communicate right off the bat, rather than just have a series of awkward stumbling conversations.

The end result is what I consider to be the closest thing to a “sublime” episode of Steven Universe so far.
Continue reading

Gravity Falls Review: “Weirdmageddon” (Part 1) (Season 2, Episode 18)

(Before we begin, I sincerely apologize for this review coming out so late. This accompanies a quick announcement about my Star Trek film reviews.)

500 Miles North of Normal, 500 Miles West of Weird.

Airdate: October 26th, 2015

Synopsis: At the end of the last episode, well, to quote Vyvyan from The Young Ones

“This is the end! Armageddon! No future!

Yep – all hell broke loose. Bill is practically unstoppable – he turns Ford into a backscratcher, steals Deputy Durland away from Sheriff Blubs, unleashes his friends, and screws up Preston Northwest’s face. (You don’t want to see the end result of that.) Most damningly, he kidnaps Mabel, and locks her in a bubble. Alone, Dipper is left looking for any sort of help. Fortunately, it turns out Wendy is an excellent survivalist, and the two plan to go through the bubble to rescue Mabel. Unfortunately, old enemies come back to settle a score.

Review (STUFFED WITH SPOILERS): If I might borrow a philosophical statement from Pauly Fuemana, “how bizarre!” If madness in Gravity Falls was quantified, this would break the scale on a level that the Jockey Elves would be jealous over. Granted, this is a genuinely good episode we’re talking about here.

This episode is sci-fi horror at it’s finest, thriving on the macabre and the concept of a world gone mad. Bizarrely, though, the ending makes it one of Gravity Falls’s more optimistic episodes, even in the face of the apocalyptic setting.. The question is, does that bit of optimism work?

Before we begin, another reminder – spoilers. They are legion. Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: "Laser Light Cannon" (Season 1A, Episode 2)

Oh, no – it’s the maker of rules. Dealing with fools, it’ll cheat you blind!

Airdate: November 4th, 2013

Synopsis: Short answer: the core four realize that Clear Eyes can’t cure Red Eye all the time.

Long answer – a red eye from space is gunning for Beach City. Attempts to destroy it (including throwing Amethyst at it) have failed. There is an option – a light cannon, used by Rose… Steven’s sorta-dead-ish mother. Still, there is more hope – the cannon could be in Greg’s storage unit… his crowded storage unit… which stores the stuff that doesn’t fit in Greg’s van, where he lives.

Review (SPOILERS): If “Gem Glow” established the relationship between the core four characters and established the start of Steven’s “coming-of-age” arc, then “Laser Light Cannon” takes a first look at the past for the main characters… or at least, one of them.

This is the first episode of Steven Universe to explicitly mention Rose Quartz, the mother of Steven. In this episode, much like Garnet in the last, she is an enigma – one that we know little about. However, the Gems do seem to hold a deep level of respect for their lost comrade. Filling the role of the Lost Lenore, Greg still has her stuff in his storage unit… alongside his other pointless stuff.

It becomes apparent, however, that the two’s romance was truly that – they loved each other, confided in each other. No moment is no personal, and yet more indicative of the series, than a catchphrase that is said through the entire episode.

“If every pork chop were perfect, we wouldn’t have hot dogs!”

Without giving much away, it becomes clear that this is Greg’s and Rose’s mantra. They completed each other. Beyond that, though, lies the fact that one simple sentence – that one above – is later established to be the mission statement for the writers. It’s a widely beloved fact in the fandom that every character is revealed to have some level of insecurity, have had some level of failure, etc. etc. etc.

No one is safe from Sucrose and Company’s wrath!

Steven’s role is somewhat less ambiguous – in effect, he is the direct successor to his mother. Hell of a lot to live up to for an 11-year old, eh? However, in many ways, I feel like he fits the “11-year-old” archetype a bit better than, say, Dipper Pines does the “12-year-old”. Don’t get me wrong – Dipper is one of my all-time favorite characters. However, something about Steven screams 11-year old – his idealism, his generally unblemished view of his father, a few insecurities about worth, and so forth. This creates a character that the target audience can relate to.

However, it’s Greg that gets fleshed out. Besides sharing catchphrases with Rose (as seen above), we also get a quick look at his own character – an aging ex-rocker now operating a car wash, living in his own van. He has his own insecurities (“Drive My Van Into Your Heart”, anybody), which are not helped much by the Gems’ dismissal of him. It’s also worth noting that, due to the seemingly short 11-minute structure, there’s less time to flesh him out than other shows would. And the writers still did it. Kudos to them.

Oh, that’s not getting into the rest of the episode. The animation is still fantastic, although the difference in storyboard crew (Rebecca Sugar and Kat Morris) shows a little bit. The cannon is a thing of perfection, the action sequences are well animated… it’s fantastic.

Did it reach “finest show on Cartoon Network” this early? Not yet, but at this point, it was one hell of a contender.

Tidbits:

  • This episodes introduces the Fryman Family, who operate a french fry joint. They would get an episode of their own with “Frybo”. Even then, Steven’s casual relationship with them is sort of cute. Frybits!
  • Also, there’s a very close bond with Steven and Amethyst, who act like best friends/close siblings. Amethyst brings out the more “childish” side of Steven, which helps keep him grounded as a character.
  • Oh, and the music… the music is simply fantastic. The background music, barring “Drive My Van Into Your Heart” (which might not even be background music) is very jazzy, mellow, and adds something of an added flavor to an already great series.
Favorite Scene: Everything involving the Laser Light Cannon… especially it’s activation. Animation, writing… fantastic.

Best Character:
 Greg, already more than one-dimensional in his first appearance.

Memorable Quote: “If every pork chop were perfect, we wouldn’t have hot dogs.” – Greg… and Steven… and Rose. Read above for why.
Score: 8.5 (Silver)