Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 10 TV 2014

With 2014 at a close I figured it would be nice to have a quick little year in review – The 10 best things to happen on TV in 2014. There was definitely a lot to choose from, but I’ve put together a nice little list of my personal faves … Check it out!

#10 – The Flash
The newest hit show on the CW featuring the iconic crimson clad speedster. It’s a comic book show done right. Fun, action packed, dramatic and surprisingly well acted, DC has been firing on all cylinders lately in the television dept. Marvel could take some notes. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend it. Its every bit as enjoyable as everyone has been saying it is and one of the best new shows of the Fall.

#9 – The Simpsons on FXX
Back in August the FXX network did something unprecedented by airing a Simpsons marathon to end
all marathons – Back to back episodes of the Simpsons – every episode ever. That was 552 episodes that spanned over 12 days to watch. God bless anyone that was able to sit through the whole thing, but even if you dipped in and out and caught just a few episodes here and there, it was a huge hit for FXX and a huge treat for Simpsons fans everywhere.

#8 – Z Nation
Best zombie show on TV. Yes, better than The Walking Dead. When SyFy premiered Z Nation I thought – Ok. A little hokey. But then that was part of its charm. It was the tv show version of the B horror movie. And let’s face it - “surviving zombies in a post apocalyptic world”? That’s pretty much the definition of a “B-movie”. But as opposed to taking itself too seriously as the Walking Dead does, Z
Nation embraces the wild west chaos of an undead outbreak and gives us fresh, endearing characters with multiple layers and varying tones for the show, all wrapped inside very original storytelling. If you thought Z Nation was just a ‘Walking Dead ripoff”, you are VERY much mistaken. It actually exceeds Walking Dead in every way.

#7 – Brock Lesnar’s 15 German Suplexes
Ok, you probably have to be a little bit of a WWE fan to TRULY appreciate this, but ...  John Cena... He’s the ‘Hulk Hogan” of today – The face, and the unbeatable hero of WWE professional wrestling. However, when the 2014 SummerSlam pay-per-view came around and he had to defend his World Championship against the ferocious arch-villain known as Brock Lesnar, we got something completely unexpected … Something that has never happened before – a totally one-sided fist fight, where the bad-guy WIPED THE FLOOR with the hero. Eat, Sleep, Suplex, Repeat. Suplex, Repeat. Suplex, Repeat. Suplex, Repeat. 15 of them. New WWE World Champ Brock Lesnar. And it was awesome.

#6 – Selfie
Oh, so short-lived. The poorly titled and tragically mis-marketed ABC comedy starring Karen Gillan and John Cho. It was a modern telling of the classic play Pygmalion where stuffy & tightly wound boss (Cho) tries to help remake the image of his social media obsessed  subordinate (Gillan). It was either to be a brainless comedy trying too hard to reel in hip young viewers by attempting to speak their language, or it was to be another weekly half hour long social commentary decrying the increased over-dependence of our smart devices and growing detachment from genuine human interaction. … Fortunately, Selfie was neither of those terrible things. It was a sharp and witty comedy with zany and lovable characters. Unfortunately, not enough people gave it a chance to find that out, so ABC gave up on what was easily the best new sitcom of the year.

#5 – Sharknado 2
Following the surprise hit – the entertainingly abysmal Sharknado on the SyFy channel – came probably the laziest named sequel of all time – Sharknado 2: The Second One, and it was every bit as amazing as its predecessor. Ok. I know what you are thinking right now – Isn’t it a “bad” movie? Yes. Oh, GOD, yes. But it’s so epic and unapologetic in its “badness” that it became an outstanding piece of television to behold. From its gratuitous guest stars (Kurt Angle, Andy Dick, Kelly Osbourne, Biz Markie, Matt Laurer, Downtown Julie Brown, and Billy Ray Cyrus, just to name a few … seriously, I could go on and on) the cringe-worthy dialogue, the eye-rollingly ridiculous action scenes, and plot-holes in a plot that made no sense to begin with, Sharknado 2 was simply a work of art.

#4 – The Purple Wedding
Truly, Game of Thrones could have encompassed this whole list by itself. This episode reiterated what(such a huge turn in just the 2nd episode of the season!), which had EVERYONE talking for weeks on end.
is turning into an unfortunate rule of thumb – Do NOT attend a wedding in Westeros. Unless you’ve been reading the novels, who could have foreseen the death of awesomely disgusting tyrant boy-king Joffrey Baratheon? I mean, I guess we knew he was gonna get his comeuppance at one point or another, but so suddenly poisoned at his own wedding … It was such a fantastic way to get the new season rolling this past Spring

#3 – Gotham
DC Comics is 2 for 2 this season with its new TV series and even better than the Flash is FOX’s Gotham. It’s a Batman prequel focusing on Detective James Gordon, (played by Ben McKenzie) and quest to clean up crime-ridden Gotham, its corrupt police force, and solve the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. Preteen-ish Bruce along with Selena Kyle who will eventually become Catwoman are so much more likable than you would expect them to be, even as side characters, but the real joy is seeing the “before they were baddies”. Penguin is fantastic as a petty mobster lackey, clawing and scratching his way through Gotham’s underbelly. Riddler is my favorite and is actually working on the side of the police. We’ve seen Harvey Dent (the future Two Face), the little girl who will eventually grow up to become Poison Ivy, and Jada Pinkett Smith is unbelievable as mob underboss Fish Mooney. The look and feel of the show and the world they built is outstanding. Maybe the best new show overall of the 2014.

#2 – Felicity Smoak
 I’ve been patting DC comic shows on the back a lot with this list, cuz these shows are just that damn good! And, truly, I couldn't have had a list for what stood out in 2014 without Felicity Smoak. CW's Arrow, now in its 3rd season, features Emily Bett Rickards as the computer tech sidekick of the emerald archer. What started out as only a minor role on the show gradually evolved into one the show could no longer live without. Felicity’s beautiful, witty, sarcastic, funny, brilliant, and the heart and soul of the series. She’s my favorite character on broadcast TV.

#1 – The Viper vs. The Mountain

Yes. The best show on television had the best thing happen on television in 2014. Game of fuckin Thrones. The battle between Prince Oberyn and Gregor Clegane was one of the most dynamic, thrilling, and unbelievable things I have ever watched. Again, unless you’ve read the books, its one of those scenes that you have NO IDEA how it is going to turn out! Battling to the death, with Tyrion Lannister’s fate hanging in the balance, the growing tension as the fight neared its climax is beyond description. A scene filmed so expertly, it had viewers at the very edge of their seats … And then the outcome was truly mind-blowing.

Merry Christmas ya filthy animals! … And Happy New Year!

See you in 2015!!

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Legend of Korra: Let’s Be Honest …

It too me a week to fully digest and compose some thoughts on the finale of the highly praised animated series, The Legend of Korra, and I have to say … is just WAY overrated. It’s not that the 4 Books of Korra didn’t have their fun characters, well-crafted elements, story arcs, and pivotal moments, but Korra sadly falls into that realm of “filling a void” … “Something we want so desperately to be EXCELLENT … when it’s not.

Now I liked The Legend of Korra. It was good, but it was just a “B” … a “B+” at its very best. Book 3 – Change was the strongest and most interesting. Varrick was by far my favorite character throughout the run. He & Zhu Li stole every scene they were in. Tenzin and his family as Aang’s legacy, were also phenomenal. 
The series as whole, however, doesn’t match up to The Last Airbender, and Korra, the titular character, was a whole bunch of blah. On the surface she was self-centered and self-righteous. And underneath that, she was a bore. What was there to actually LIKE about Korra? She was “tough”? She was “strong”? So was basically everybody. Although the Korra saga had its glimmers of brilliance with the small stuff – (i.e. – Two Toed Ping revealing the source of his nickname – ha!), it pales in comparison to the Aang saga as far as depth and actual character development.

I could point-counterpoint all day with where Korra is lacking as compared to the previous Avatar series and it’s multiple missed opportunities to really prove itself, but the main issue I have contention with is the big “reveal” at the very end (here comes the spoiler if you haven’t seen it yet …)  Korra and Asami embrace a same sex relationship with one another. While many have commended this on behalf of the LGBT community (of which I’m a full supporter, so please don’t misconstrue my criticism of this show in any way that suggests otherwise), I refer to my initial point of people "wanting so badly for this kind of meaningful statement to be present" that they end up giving undue praise to a show like Legend of Korra that soft-balled it, played it safe, and didn’t break ANY real ground … Yet is currently reaping accolades for being “progressive”. Well, I say – Bull. And my reasoning is as follows:

1) It set a poor precedent – There’s an obnoxious kinda double-edged sword where if women ‘embrace the generalized contemporary standard of femininity or sexuality’ then in many cases they aren’t taken as seriously, deemed 'capable', or afforded the same amount of respect as a man, particularly in an authoritarian capacity. They are too easily portrayed as 'weak'. However, if they are “TOO authoritative”, or “bossy”, or “strong” in attitude, behavior, or appearance, they are billed as “masculine” or “un-feminine”. Many “jokes” and stereotypes in regard to female athletes, “strong women”, reside around their sexuality. As if a woman is powerful, then it automatically denotes that there is no place for a man in her life. 

Korra, for all her faults, is the embodiment of a positive female role model. Strong and capable. Asami was as well ... And both of them had boyfriends without it defining them. (sure it was the same guy, but that's beside the point) Both women had been portrayed as heterosexual from the start of the series. (It wasn’t till the 4th book that they really started dropping heavy hints at the 2 of them coupling) So what does that say when the creators decide to flip the script at the very end and put them together? A woman CAN’T be strong and tough WITHOUT her sexuality being debatable or a focal point? ... Two women CAN’T have a close, deeply bonded friendship WITHOUT it being romantic? ... I don't agree to that! ... And that may not be what Legend of Korra is saying outright … But its not NOT saying that either …

2) Simpsons did it! – Some people have actually praised Korra for being “the first animated TV series to feature a prominent lesbian character” … False on that as well. Does the name Patty Bouvier ring a bell? Well it should. Marge Simpson’s sister, a staple character since the very first full-length Simpsons episode, has had multiple stories that involved her being a lesbian. Legend of Korra ISN’T breaking any ground cuz its not the first animated show to go there. … Unless they want to talk about how they dared to do so on “Nicktoons” – a network aimed primarily at children? … Well that brings me to my 3rd and final point …

3) Korra just spiked the ball and ran – If The Legend of Korra really wanted to be progressive and do something meaningful, it would have actually TOLD the story of Korra and Asami’s relationship. It would have/ could have/ should have explored the two characters actually BEING together, alongside their friends, family, and the other characters in their world. (particularly Mako who dated both of them on and off throughout the show) But it didn’t do that

The show only acknowledged them as “together” in the final closing moments of the series ... A hollow gesture. There’s nothing “brave” about being controversial when you don’t have to pay for it ... When you don’t have to deal with any fallout or weather any ensuing storms because of it. Korra waited till the game was already over before pulling a slick little a “Hey! Watch what we can do!” … Leaving the creators to just relax, enjoy their kudos, their pats on the back, and be self-satisfied ... As if they’re so prolific … As if they actually DID something … As IF!

Yeah, no.  Korra will be missed as it was an entertaining show, continuing a story that we enjoyed to the fullest and still want more of, but the finale? It was nothing to be admired.

That my 2 cents. Keep the change!

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