Not Another Top (X) List – Top 10 Worst Episodes of The Simpsons Season 10

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Hello, and welcome to another edition of…

NOT ANOTHER TOP (X) LIST!

And Season 10 of The Simpsons was subpar.

But it also didn’t suck too much.

Excellent, now that I have both sides of The Simpsons fandom declaring war against this stupid little blog, let me explain.

Yes, Season 10 of The Simpsons was a noticeable step down from Season 9 – which was itself a step down from Season 8. Many of the complaints I had in Season 9 – sketchy characterization, weaker plots, sillier endings, a thinner reliance on effective social analysis, etc. – not only remained in Season 10, but also became more egregious, neutralizing any sort of positives found in those episodes such as the jokes that I laughed at, any decent social insight, etc.

Most fans will remember this season for an overreliance on two cliches – the guest stars and the plot thread of “Homer Getting A Job”. Alone, they resulted in some dodgy moments – Homer helping Mr. Burns become loved, Dolly Parton breaking Homer and his acquaintances out of Super Bowl jail with her lipstick, etc. Together? …oh, boy.

But if it seems like I’m being too negative, there were a fair number of episodes that ranged from “fair” to “good”. The good ones really would hold their own in the golden era, while the “fair” ones still contained some level of societal insight, quirky comedy, or a combination of both – as well as flaws that were less egregious or more forgivable overall. (And before I continue, I’ve decided in the act of fairness to honor the three best episodes of the season, in ascending order. Stand up, “Lisa Gets an A”, “Wild Barts Can’t Be Broken”, and “They Saved Lisa’s Brain”. Kinda interesting that my favorites were Lisa-centered episodes, for various reasons.)

So let’s dive into the worst of the worst. X=10, and we are looking at…

THE 10 WORST EPISODES OF SIMPSONS SEASON 10!

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Red Dwarf Review: Series XI Wrap Up

“Our nomination for JMC Crew Of The Year is starting to look unlikely.” – Lister, summing up the whole of Red Dwarf in a nutshell.

Well, almost four months after its debut in Britain, and two months after it was released stateside, I have completed my look at Red Dwarf XI. Six episodes isn’t a lot when stacked against seasons of the other shows I’ve reviewed, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

So, final thoughts on this season?

Simply put, it was rather good.

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Steven Universe Review: Season 1A Wrap Up

Poster created by Rebecca Sugar, taken from Wikipedia.

“I summoned my weapon by eating ice cream!” + 24 episodes = “YOU CAN’T TRAP ME HERE ANYMORE!”

That’s pretty much the formula of Steven Universe Season 1A. Over the course of ten-and-a-half months, Steven Universe established itself as a valuable part of the sci-fi realm, as well as the critical centerpiece of the Cartoon Network canon. And, over the past ten and a half months, I have been reviewing it. Yes, that was a total coincidence on my part.

One particular stereotype about the fandom is that they tend to discredit 1A, mainly because of the thought that it is weak compared to the sublime rest of the show. While I totally believe that 1A is pretty great overall, I do think that, yes, 1A is the weakest stretch in terms of writing this show has had so far. Continue reading

Gravity Falls: A Requiem

“Ah, summer break. A time for leisure, relaxation, and taking ‘er easy… unless you’re me.”

It was the evening of July 13th, 2012 – Friday the 13th, as luck would have it. The time was approaching 9:30. Being the most boring man in existence, I was turning in for bed. (Yes, even during the summer, I go to bed relatively early. You know the quote from Ben Franklin.) However, my brother wanted to watch this new episode of this show on Disney Channel. I was convinced it would be moronic, but I let him have the benefit of the doubt.

At 9:30, “The Inconveniencing”, the fifth episode of Gravity Falls, aired. Little did I know that my world had forever been changed.

…OK, maybe that’s a bit hyperbolic, but the point still stands. Continue reading

Gravity Falls Review: Season 2 Wrap Up

(Note – the ranking of every episode will be out next post, but given that I did a wrap-up for Season 1, I may as well do one for Season 2. This is going to be brief, since I’m going to touch on more posts in a full requiem of Gravity Falls.)

Screenshot of this image, found on the Gravity Falls wiki.

Thirty long years, and it’s led up to this! My greatest achievement… probably should have worn pants. – Grunkle Stan, in his boxers, “Scary-oke”.

The first line of “Scary-oke” set the tone for Season 2 of Disney’s Gravity Falls – it was going to be more ambitious, more plot-driven, than the act of brilliance that was Season 1. The question is, did it meet my expectations?

Well, how can I put this?

YEAH!
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Red Dwarf Review: Series VIII Wrap Up

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Once upon a time, there was a show called Red Dwarf. Initially thought of by newcomers as a show about a bum trapped in space, it slowly established itself as something more. The interactions between the characters gave us some of the best development of each and every one. Even characters used more for outright comedy got some depth to them, while never truly losing some level of their identity. The plots conceived focused on the characters while also being inventive. The humor struck a perfect balance between character comedy, lowbrow comedy (including slapstick), and highbrow comedy, all while not violating the development of the characters. It juggled comedy, drama, adventure, and sci-fi perfectly. It was the best show out there.

Then the show fell in quality in its seventh series. Can’t fault it too much: production had been stilted for a long time, and there were some cast dynamic issues.

Season 8 then came, and proceeded to take every minor flaw that the show had in the past- awkward sexual politics, somewhat strange continuity, weaker special effects, and the occasional flattening of character- multiplied their frequency by a solid hundred, and cranked it up to irritating levels. The end result? If the Ganymede and Titan Silver Survey is to be believed, Series VIII is considered the worst series in the history of Red Dwarf. On average, Series VIII episodes got 2637 points- the lowest number, and trailing far behind the “classics”.

What exactly was the problem with this series, though? Well, let’s delve into the problems listed above, plus more, in my favorite list method… BULLET POINTS:

  • It sent the original premise of Red Dwarf packing: This is probably the biggest error with this series. When Series VI made something of a shakeup by taking away the small rouge one, it at least kept the character dynamic and the mere premise of the show at least somewhat intact. The show was about a bunch of idiots commanding a spaceship with little contact. This series jettisons that suddenly, in favor of a damn prison sitcom in space!
  • The expertly crafted character development was, for the most part, jettisoned. OK, time for some bullet points within bullet points!
    • Rimmer has some level of excuse: he was resurrected, yet not in a form that kept his development over the previous few series. As such, he’s back to being an ambitious loser and a jackass. However, he never really developed beyond this. He acts like a self-centered smeghead from moment one, and it doesn’t let up until the last few minutes- far too late.
    • Lister was really just a puppet. His character really shifts with the wind to what the producers think will suit the plot.
    • Kochanski… well, she had virtually no development. They just made a bunch of “women” jokes.
    • Kryten actually is treated decently: I sorta preferred whatever character was here compared to Series VII. Not saying much, though: he lost all ability to communicate with humans.
    • Maybe it’s the acting slipping, or the poor material, but the Cat no longer has a sense of “coolness” to his behavior. He just comes off as annoying.
  • Worthless Side Characters: OK, Hollister was decent (maybe it’s Mac McDonald’s acting), but did we really need Kill Crazy? Again, Red Dwarf’s appeal was a bunch of idiots being some of the last representatives from Earth (and the Cat). Now, we just have a poor comedy with side characters messing about and doing nothing.
  • The well-balanced humor was, well, thrown off balance… and unfunny: With a lack of focus on character, most of the jokes can be summed up in three words: “overt sexual humor”. Now, Red Dwarf has always made jokes about sex, but they were normally in the context of their sex lives, giving us a bit of insight into their characters. Now, most of these jokes are “haha, men are perverts”, amongst others. The rest of the comedy is slapstick and other vulgar humor. Again, both of these have been done before, but they were balanced out with character comedy, instead of just being there.
  • Subtlety is also tossed: Compare Kryten’s upset at the fact that he’s about to die in “The Last Day” to, well, anytime he gets upset in this series. It’s quieter in the former, yet it also has something more of an impact.
  • Special effects went down the toilet: Let’s put it this way: the BBC should apologize for its fascination with bad CGI in the 90s.
  • Callbacks to far better episodes without knowing the gag’s raison d’etre: The Dibbley Family. Does anybody remember what Dibbley represented? Here’s a hint: Cat shouldn’t be the first to go to the idea!
  • Krytie TV: This sexist, pathetic tedium is probably the worst half hour in the history of the show. The only reason why it didn’t get the 0 is because I don’t blame it for killing the franchise as much as…
  • Pete: I’ll just steal part of a quote from Ganymede and Titan’s Silver Survey:
    • “What more can be said about this shambles? It is categorically and undeniably the worst episode of Red Dwarf – rooted to the bottom of the list, and miles away from its nearest rival. If Derby County’s 2007-08 Premier League campaign was an episode of a science-fiction sit-com, this would be it.” 
What about good things? Things that this series didn’t smeg up? Well, for all few of those, we need some BULLET POINTS!
  • Cassandra: Good episode. Not awesome, but good enough, especially compared to the worst episodes of this wreck of a series.
  • No more overt comedy-drama: Sure, there’s no good comedy, but there’s very little bad drama.
  • Chris Barrie’s back: He puts in a decent performance- although, again, there’s little subtlety. I blame the writing.
  • It got the show into syndication: The last 16 episodes may have largely been subpar, but this series put Red Dwarf over the top. The show could now be shipped as a syndication package: one episode per week would last an entire year.
Now, the prevailing question: who deserves the blame for this trainwreck? Who’s feet should be held to the fire?
I place the blame on the following… yet again, using bullet points:
  • Doug Naylor: He supposedly created the series; he should know how to write for the characters and for the show in general. Hell, a small part of me thinks that while Doug came up with the idea, Rob Grant did the “grunt work”, so to speak. Another part of me thinks that Doug needed that quality check from Rob. Either way, the balance is non-existent. I just think Doug saw the big fat cheque given to him and said: “I’ll see what I can do”.
  • Paul Alexander: In two years, his writing went from merely mediocre to outright horrid. “Krytie TV” and “Pete”, anybody? What happened, man?
  • The BBC: They had to squeeze the syndication money out, eh? While this did ensure Red Dwarf’s presence for years to come (see above), did the BBC ever enforce quality control? Did anybody say “hey, can you make these episodes less bad?”

This is sad. This is a series I would never show to my own worst enemy. It’s one of the worst groups of episodes in the history of British TV. As good as “Cassandra” is, it is little solace for the utter stupidity that is Red Dwarf VIII.

With the exception of “Cassandra” (maybe), I will never watch one second of this series again. In a fairer world, this series would have been struck down from canon or written off as a dream. In a far fairer world, this series would’ve been made, but would’ve been radically different… and so much better.