Steven Universe Review: “Story for Steven” (Season 1B, Episode 23)

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This is the tale of how your father met your mother… now including Marty…” – Greg. Lemme guess. It’s gonna take nine years to tell the story only for you to realize you should’ve dated your Canadian tomboy best friend?

Airdate: April 9th, 2015

Written By: Joe Johnston and Jeff Liu

Plot: Greg regales Steven with a story about how he met Rose Quartz. Way back when, Greg was a struggling rock and roll legend playing to scarce audiences. One attendee, Rose Quartz, catches his eye after a Beach City concert. Meeting her further, he winds up in the decision of his life – the aimless career of a rock and roller, or a romance with a far-out space woman…

Review:

A breather from Steven Universe‘s plot development was, in some ways, necessary. I mean, “Rose’s Scabbard” was one of the most emotionally draining episodes in the show’s canon, punching the viewer in the gut and managing to fuse saudade with a tinge of cautious optimism. In the original production order, following that is a Conniverse two-hander that showcases what makes Steven and Connie tick, a “townie” episode that fleshes out the Dewey family and has Steven try and solve an issue on his own merits, and… whatever the hell this is.

But all breaks must come to an end. On that note, Steven Universe plunges back into plot development with “Story for Steven”. Even more intriguing is that this is a flashback episode – one that allows for the show to deviate somewhat from its Steven-centered perspective.

And what better character to inaugurate our first flashback episode than Steven’s own father, and how he quit the rock and roll industry and found love within the span of a few short hours. Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: “Say Uncle” (Season 1B, Episode 22)

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On one hand, it’s less creepy than it looks. On the other hand, it’s even more insane than it looks.

Amethyst, have you seen Steven this morning?” “Yeah – he’s hanging out with some weirdo. I think he’s trying to vaporize Steven!” – Pearl and Amethyst. I’m not going any further.

Airdate: April 2nd, 2015.

Written By: Joe Johnston and Jeff Liu… apparently.

Plot: Steven is still fretting about how he can’t get his shield to generate. He wishes that someone will help him find a way. That someone happens to be Uncle Grandpa, a strange… thing that tries to help people, only to make them wonder if the water supply has been poisoned. Naturally, the Crystal Gems decide to kick his ass.

Review:

This past May, Time Magazine wrote up a piece relating to President Trump’s new and thus-far eccentric term in office. One aspect of the essay that got attention related to the President’s dining habits. Time not only noted that the President takes Diet Coke with his food and has various other alterations to his dinner, but that instead of the customary one scoop of vanilla ice cream with his pie, he takes two. This scoop encouraged a full-blown report on sister news source CNN, led some to question whether the president was mentally fit for his role as commander in chief, and led others to further despair about the state of American news media.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking… what does this have to do with Steven Universe?

The answer might surprise you…88d76-screen2bshot2b2016-04-292bat2b7-08-252bam

NOTHING! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! In fact, it bears no impact on anything whatsoever, outside of Coca-Cola stock!

Now, here’s my review of “Say Uncle”, an episode that makes about as much sense.

Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: “Shirt Club” (Season 1B, Episode 21)

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“It’s so current, you can’t stop it. I’m a taste maker, and I’m gonna keep making tastes… forever.” – Buck Dewey, proving that he would either be the centerpiece of the new Beach City art scene… or be washed up in a tiny Tampa studio by the time he’s 30. Either one works.

Airdate: April 16th, 2015

Written By: Lamar Abrams and Hellen Jo

Plot: Steven has the bright idea to promote his father’s business by putting a silly little drawing of “Guitar Dad” on fliers through the city. Buck Dewey catches wind of this, and decides to put the drawing on T-shirts – all as his father is running an election campaign. The promotion doesn’t do much to support the business… but Buck doesn’t seem to mind – he views Steven as more of an artist.

Review:

The Cool Kids aren’t cool kids.

Don’t get me wrong – they are the most chill group of teenagers in the Steven Universe universe, enough to attract the (tragic) admiration of resident grump Lars. By all accounts, they carry this aura of being the coolest group ever. Yet, they’re not stock “cool kids” – they function within the rules of society (“There’s nothing lame about seatbelt safety!”) They have lives outside of the quasi-clique they’ve formed – there, they are but normal, everyday teenagers, doing everyday, normal teenage things such as working and navigating everyday issues.

And what aspect of normal everyday teenage life is more relevant than tensions between parent and child? Or an unintentional conflict between friends regarding the use of art and what it means?

Hence, “Shirt Club”.

Continue reading

Movie Review – Star Trek: First Contact

 

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“Resistance is Futile” (Taken from the Memory Alpha)

 

“And you people – you’re all astronauts on some kind of star trek?” – Zefram Cochrane, reminding moviegoers what they paid obscene amounts of money to see.

Premiere: November 22nd, 1998

Written By: Ronald Moore and Brannon Braga

Directed By: Jonathan Frakes

Plot: The specter of the Borg still lingers over Captain Jean-Luc Picard – largely because he was kidnapped and assimilated by them for a while. Thus, when the Borg come back to attack Earth, he defies Starfleet orders to lay waste to a Borg Cube. Unfortunately, a Borg Sphere (seriously, what is with the Borg and simple geometry) comes out of said cube, and the Enterprise follows it into the past where they intend to assimilate all – not to mention, ruin the first contact between Vulcans and Humans.

The crew try and keep Dr. Zefram Cochrane on track when it comes to the launch of his epochal ship, despite him being a bit different from his idolized portrayal in the 24th century. Picard tries to take on the Borg, but slowly goes a bit nuts in doing so, much to the concern of Lily, a resident of Cochrane’s settlement who wound up on the Enterprise. In the mix-up, Data gets captured and is tempted by one particular Borg – the Borg Queen, who fancies herself the end and the start of the collective.

Review:

Well, Generations was a bit of a misfire to pass the torch. Not that I won’t ever watch it again, but it really was just a double-length episode of TNG. Really, the only things film-worthy were a) the cameo by Captain Kirk, who proceeded to fall victim to poor lair construction, and 2) the Enterprise-D getting trashed by the Klingons. Still, the movie made a decent profit, and a follow-up was commissioned.

With Johnathan Frakes in the Director’s Chair, Braga and Moore back in the writer’s room, and the franchise arguably just coming off its cultural apex (with Voyager and Deep Space Nine airing at the same time), the sequel finally embraced the cinematic atmosphere by doing a deeper analysis of the series’ most well-known and well-renowned antagonist – the Borg.

(Warning: minor spoilers for TNG are in this review. Continue at your own risk.) Continue reading

They Gave 110% – Homer Simpson Enters Cooperstown

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Well, Mr. Burns had done it.
The Power Plant had won it
With Roger Clemens clucking all the while.
Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness made a smile.
As Wade Boggs lay unconscious on the ballroom tile…

I just want to give a quick bit of congratulations to The Simpsons for getting Homer Simpson into the Baseball Hall of Fame – primarily for their brilliant “Homer at the Bat”.

Probably the most memorable episode of The Simpsons third season (if not my personal favorite), “Homer at the Bat” really did strike gold as to the appeal enclosed. It was silly, both in the sheer amount of baseball legends it featured playing for the Power Plant and the situations they faced themselves in keeping them away from the championship. However, beneath that was the idea of a small softball club getting taken over by baseball supremos, and our hapless and quirky protagonist getting shafted to the side, absolutely crushing him. It also played with sports cliches – Homer doesn’t go back in because his replacement was unavailable or out of sympathy, but out of strategy. There was no “save the orphanage” trope – it was all just to add another $1M to the pile.

It also played with sports cliches – Homer doesn’t go back in because his replacement was unavailable or out of sympathy, but out of strategy. There was no “save the orphanage” trope – it was all just to add another $1M to the pile of a multimillionaire’s vault of money. The reasons why the legends wound up taken out show the idiocy, selfishness, and bouts of just plain insanity in Springfield. (“Pitt. The. ELDER!” “Lord Palmerston!”) And the win? It was not heroic and dramatic at all. It expands not just the universe on a large-scale level, but a more local level, also.

Oh, there’s also the small matter of the episode being the first to outdraw The Cosby Show in the ratings. Yup, this was the episode that proved that The Simpsons were the show to watch, and that for good or for ill, that they were here to stay.

Other episodes were cited as well – the rather emotional yet still brilliant “Dancing Homer”, focusing on Homer’s brief stint as a baseball mascot, and the quirky “Hungry Hungry Homer”, which had him take up a protest to keep up his hometown team. It’s been a while since I saw the latter, admittedly, but I will attest to the former also being a damn fine reason for induction – a brilliant analysis on the league system of Baseball through the eyes of a mascot. (“That stuff may play in the sticks, but this is Capital City!)

Still, there’s a reason “Homer at the Bat” has gotten so much praise from the baseball community. It’s hilarious, quotable, and yet still felt like the writers gave their all in it – doing their research and writing such vibrant comedy without sacrificing the show’s traces of heart. It deserves to be a reason for putting Homer Jay Simpson amongst the greats of America’s pastime – as both a parody and a loving tribute. The national pastime truly becomes one with probably the most influential TV show in American history… how poignant.

We’re talkin’ softball, from Maine to San Diego.
Talkin’ softball, Mattingly and Canseco
Ken Griffey’s grotesquely swollen jaw.
Steve Sax, and his run-in with the law.
We’re talking Homer, Ozzie and the Straw…

Scullyfied Simpsons: “Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo” (Season 10, Episode 22)

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Worth noting – it ain’t the last time Homer winds up attacking a national sovereign.

Knife goes in.
Guts come out.
That’s what Osaka Seafood Concern is all about!” 
– Osaka Seafood Concern Squid Mascot, supporting his company and his nation by gutting himself.

Airdate: May 16th, 1999

Written By: Donick Carey and Dan Greaney

Plot: Their savings depleted, the Simpsons have to rebuild their hopes of taking a vacation. After scrounging in dangerous ways, they are able to afford last-minute plane tickets to an unknown destination – this time, Tokyo, Japan. Bart and Homer are interested in the tastes of home… tastes that get them arrested and rapidly deplete the family’s savings. Running out of money, they are forced onto a game show to get plane tickets back home.

Review:

You know, I had the strangest dream. I spent two years watching one of the most iconic comedy shows in the history of the western world decline into a shell of its former self, resorting to goofy climaxes and transforming their central character into a pompous dolt. It was a strange dream, one that also had me start watching a show about rebellious aliens and…

…oh, wait… it wasn’t a dream. Damn.

Yup, I’ve finally reached the end of Season 10. And having jumped over truckers and captured the Loch Ness Monster, what else to do but go out with a travel episode? Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: “They Saved Lisa’s Brain” (Season 10, Episode 22)

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“Oh, a sarcasm detector. That’s a real useful invention!” – Comic Book Guy. Standout quote. Glad it came in this wonderful season!

Airdate: May 9th, 1999

Written By: Matt Selman

Plot: Springfield’s culture, never particularly highbrow, hits a low point when a contest asking contestants to embarrass themselves collapses into a full-blown riot. In response, Lisa pens an open letter begging the townsfolk to better themselves. That letter catches the collective eyes of Springfield’s MENSA chapter, who encourage her to join. Despite a bit of terseness in the group, their concerns about Springfield’s culture gain more prominence when they inadvertently cause Mayor Quimby to skip town. Following the town charter, they take over as a quasi-junta.

Review:

OK, 21 episodes down, two to go in the tenth season. Only took me about two years to do so. And after that complete and utter debacle of the last episode, these next two might close the season out on a high note.

There is a sort of bizarre coincidence, though, that I’ve noticed. Despite this season overall being quite focused on Homer’s increasingly bizarre antics, the debut and penultimate episodes of the season take a closer look at Springfield’s favorite intellectual, Lisa Simpson, and examines just where she fits into this strange society. Continue reading