Friday, January 29, 2021

Daria: Season 5

Hello darkness my old friend, it's been too long since I've seen you again.

Existential crisis, here I come. My question is, why do people feel that bittersweet emptiness when they finish a show? It's not like you can't ever watch it again like Unus Annus, or be happy that you saw it through to the end. Because you can, yet it still remains. Season 5 is a wonderful send off, in terms of last seasons it's genuinely one of the best. It's a last hurrah of romance, personal hurdles, satire, and character development, before Daria and Jane go on the hunt for college. And I really have to commend the last two episodes, not only is the finale an hour long special but the episode before that I felt touched on a very deep and emotional place for Daria as she remembers a repressed memory of childhood and it's handled incredibly well. I simply could never say Daria was just another one of those 90s shows like say, Courage The Cowardly Dog or X-Files, it became so much more and trailblazed it's own path creating an amazing show. There just isn't another show like Daria, and all this spinned off of a Beavis & Butthead character, I mean that's pretty remarkable. It still taps into a lot of problems and fears of teenagers especially those that are exiting high school, it was barely that long ago for me and I felt the same way. I'm incredibly happy with how the show ended, Christ I don't even think I've seen a show this solid since like Adventure Time. Consistent excellent quality with wonderful fun characters. I've heard tale of a reboot but I fail to see the point entirely when it had such a marvellous run, and whose to say you can't make a new show that satires today's world with new funny characters. I have a lot of love for this show and I was a die hard fan before even the first season ended, and have a lot of admiration too. It's always sad when it's over, but my lifelong crush on Jane Lane will never wither. She even got the last line. 4 stars, 10/10. The future can be uncertain and scary, but I think we'll be just fine.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Daria: Season 4

You jerkface.

I did it again. I did it again, I got emotionally involved. Motherf***er I hate when that happens, but it just goes to show how good this series is. It's the best season yet, and the final season's got some stiff competition in terms of quality. It did the thing, it started off same as usual, normal sarcastic and pessimistic Daria and Jane in various situations, and some of them are really good, a murder mystery fever dream, Daria and the family go to a psych ward, an anthology storytelling episode, it's great stuff but the relationship between Daria and Jane gets strained because Jane got a boyfriend named Tom. Ask me if I'm happy about that. I'm not! You know I adore Jane, so when she got a boyfriend I wasn't ecstatic, and that romance makes Daria more depressed and angry than we've ever seen and the two start fighting. And there was a pivotal element for them that was done so expertly and so wonderfully it took a meat tenderizer to my heart. The uncertainty. This has stopped being animation, this is real life. Even some of the best movies that deal with friends, and the relationships that friends have, never ever get this right. They don't know what to do or say, yes they still want to be friends but so much shit has happened they can't even logically think through it. It's the first season that outright has cliffhangers. Cliffhangers on Daria, such a phrase sounds impossible but it's true. It has a two part finale that ends pretty open ended, and I applaud the show for doing such a phenomenal job with it but my heart requires copious amounts of ice cream and chocolate. I had to get up and walk after the season ended I was that caught up in it all. That's...never happened before. I may have screamed a little too at one point. The drama has started dear ones, and it might kill me. Excellent season, 4 stars, 9/10 easily. Next time we bookend the final season with not one but two specials. God help me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Daria: Season 3

Well that was an interesting opening.

Yet another good season and now that we hit the halfway point you can tell the creators were having a bit more fun writing this season. I mean the damn thing opens with a full blown musical, and Daria encounters personifications of holidays at one point. I'm all for it, this is animation so you can do more outlandish things and it's a comedy so you can stretch jokes out to totally different areas. I must admit this will be a difficult series to rank in terms of favorites, usually with television shows you have your home runs and you have your massive strikes but with Daria it's been a constant great series. Pessimistic people would say that the substance and status quo never changes leading to stagnation, while optimists would say you keep getting the same really good stuff with no major dips in quality, but I'm a realist deep down so I just take it on face value but nevertheless have a great time. And we do get a bit of character dynamic changes and further material to satirize, so it's by no means getting dull or even predictable. This is a difficult show to talk about but it's incredibly easy to watch. I really have grown an appreciation and love for this show because of the writing and characterization of Daria and Jane, constants that don't get tiring or old hat. When the writing can still catch me off guard and make me laugh, clearly they are doing fine work and the voice cast just grows on you more and more, like a parasitic fungus. One aspect that starkly stood out is we actually spend time with Jane's extended family, I never honestly thought we would see her parents or other siblings and despite my intense crush on Jane Lane the fact that her family is just as maddening as any other is a sobering but entirely realistic fact to face.  Families are alike all over even if one member is of the extraordinary category. Humans, what a caravan of familiar comforts and banality. Fun times found here. And I would dare say this is the best and most interesting finale yet, so my interest is peaked for season 4. 4 stars, 8.5/10, once more unto the breach!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Daria: Season 2

Made my decision on favorite character.

I would firmly say the second season of Daria is an improvement over the first which was already mighty good. Yet strangely nothing major happens in the plot, it's all about the further character interactions that makes it so good. And I for one greatly appreciate a show with a loose plot, it just jumps from scenario to scenario so there's no doubt the intention of the creators is to focus on the characters they are writing for more than long overarcing stories. Daria is a gem, plain and simple. I simply cannot fully express my enjoyment and adoration for this character. However we get more interesting stuff this season with her, going to a wedding, getting a piercing, her relationship with Jane hits a hurdle, you get more of the family dynamic, all are welcome additions. But Jane just sweeped the leg and made me fall hard, I aspire at this point in my life to get me a friend like Jane. So cool, friggin' hilarious, never forces pressure on anybody, just a real joy to be around. Of course we get more than just extra character for our mains, the supporting cast get a lot of time and personality that they did lack in the first season. Which is really cool and is only natural that as the show proceeds we will get more good character moments. Now that's not to say the characters pull a 180°, Quinn is still her vacuous vain filled self, Kevin and Brittany are still dopey, but they have brief moments of variety that keeps them from getting stale. The one true vast improvement is for Jodie who while having good bits here and there gets an excellent moment where she does fully acknowledge her standing in the school and has issues with how people would take advantage of it, it's a very heart of the matter talk and objectively is the best part of the entire season. I also noticed a lot more contemporary music of the time was used and full disclosure, I'm not against listening to most of it. I've never had a stigma towards 90s music but I do feel I'm coming to appreciate the music that was very popular when I was a wee babe. Animation quality is just as good, the cast gets to have more fun, and the situations are varied and entertaining. Excellent second season, 4 stars, 8.5/10! Two down, three to go.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Daria: Season 1

This show brought me back in so many ways.

I knew one day I was going to watch Daria, and I didn't fully know what the show was about. But I've picked up on bits and pieces and quickly decided it was the kind of show for me. Dear God, is that an understatement. I love Daria to an absurd degree, this really and truly would have been one of my favorite TV shows ever when I was a teenager so instead it's one of my favorite shows now. And I can pinpoint it on the writing alone, it really and effortlessly captures that dry and usually apathetic humor found in teens at that time and really has only grown since. This is a very funny show, it doesn't make your gut bust but it catches you off guard with how funny it is. The story centers around Daria and her family who just moved to a new town as she and her popular sister Quinn contend with high school life, and Daria keeps being awesome. Now I will say the humor and situations will not work with everyone but to an individual like me who is very cynical, a realist, and appreciates good satire of society, while somehow still identifying with high school students in the late 90s it's difficult not to enjoy it. I was kinda curious how obvious the time period of the show is but truthfully the show could run on TV today and not seem that out of place. The animation style is very basic and no frills but still conveys expression with good color use. I honestly, genuinely, cannot decide who I love more between Daria or Jane. We're talking Oswald and Edward levels here folks, it is that close of a race! Another point I wanted to make is it brought that teen sensibility back to me, because I've had friends like Daria and Jane and got their sense of humor so it was a true joy to watch. But not only that, it kinda got me back to the 90s more than any film has ever achieved, yet it isn't dated despite the Nirvana references and choice of soundtrack which by the by is friggin' rad, it inexplicably made me think of my early childhood years in a different light with the culture, music, and situations that were nothing short of oblivious to me at that moment in time. Good shows, good movies, whatever, can really set you in a specific period of history even if you maybe weren't grown yet. The real shame is I haven't been able to find Daria on any platform throughout the interwebs, having to resort to various websites just to watch full episodes and it's only 13 episodes per season. But that led to even more nostalgic throwbacks cause some of the episodes were taped off TV, so you see MTV and The N logos and I even saw an announcement on MTV about showing a new Garbage music video. Holy shit. Is this what being ancient feels like? I know, I'm a relic from a bygone age and too old for the world right now but dang it, you should track this show down. It is nothing short of a blast and I proudly consider myself a fan as I make my way through the rest of the series. 4 stars, 8/10! I will revel in my melancholy nostalgia until I die young and content.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Aggretsuko: Season 3

Oh thank God. No romance.

Boy isn't this a toss up. Seasons 1 and 3 are intertwined for best season, I'm serious I cannot pick. And this is a drastically different season, with the second it was more of the same. Work sucks, trying to find love, unleash your anger, aren't these characters fun and quirky. But here, it kinda gets serious. I can't stand that in animation usually, but it doesn't get deathly serious. Okay that's partially a lie. I'll go through it. So Retsuko is still recovering from another break up and one night accidentally gets in an auto accident with a very, for lack of a better word hitman type, but all is a ruse and Retsuko starts working as a idol band manager to settle her debt while still working her office job. That's the main thing that happens, she starts off as an accountant then goes to manager, then actually performs in the band delivering a performance that would put Cannibal Corpse to immense shame leading the group to a big hit. Now I praised the realism and grounded situations in the first season so you think I would not go for this pop star storyline but the dilemma that Retsuko faces is still a very real thing. Having to juggle two jobs with no down time and considering what career is best, there's countless people who have faced such a thing. I like that! I will note also that through the course of the series the side characters have been cut back significantly, I mean this really is Retsuko's season even with Haida having his own little love story it is integral with Retsuko. All the world is a stage and she has taken center stage. However that is not entirely a good thing, she actually gets a stalker and there is a brutal, I mean so mean and so ugly and so abrasive, verbal blitzkrieg that Retsuko has to endure and it is one of the most difficult things I have ever had to watch. But the ending doesn't end on a depressing note like I thought it would and life goes back to normal, thank the gods. But jeez I mean this is such a totally different beast compared to the others. It's done damn well, taking more drama than comedy but I don't honestly mind, the new characters are welcome additions sans one, we all know the one, technicals are still spot on, I genuinely am curious what in the hell we can go to after this, and I despise saying it but I can't choose a superior season. It depends entirely on what you like more. Do you like more fluffy, comedic, and simple or are you more a fan of drama, bit more serious, and emotionally involved storytelling? I can appreciate and love both so it's tough. I guess I would pick the first season because it grabbed me so instantly, because it was so relatable and yet fun, because I really liked seeing these odd but really good side characters. But objectively, third season wins it. 4 stars, 9/10! One more show to go and I think I saved the best for last.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Aggretsuko: Season 2

Hopefully the relationship plot isn't a common theme.

Not to say I hated season 2, far from it, I think it's another hit and has some fun but the two biggest aspects I take issue with are the entirety of the series. I'll try to explain. So after the failed romance with the personification of tofu, Retsuko continues on with life, seeks a proper driving license, and meets another guy. The relationship is lightyears better than last season, but to be perfectly frank I just don't feel Retsuko needs to be in a relationship. Now maybe that's the bitter old man in me, but I respect her life goal of settling down with someone, hell there is nothing wrong with that, but I just don't feel the love and commitment portrayed. It just seems like a crush that goes beyond the initial fawning phase. But trust in me when I say, I would take the relationship every day of my life over the other major plot point of this series. So our dear red panda is tasked with training a new recruit named Anai, who isn't great at the phone call business. I certainly can relate to that. However I cannot relate to the sheer level of psychotic bullshit this f***er has. It's been a while since I hated a character with this much passion and overwhelming force. Like I expected this asshole to be either a stalker, a kidnapper/torturer, or the unassuming guy who takes a loaded gun to the workplace with no intention of clocking out. It flat out bothered me seeing him on screen and it wouldn't f***ing surprise me a bit if other people felt the same. And the kick or should I say repeated kicks in the balls is we deal with him not one or two episodes, but 4 episodes. Out of 10 for this season. Oh...God! I can't decide what's worse, Sofia Falcone and her goddamn go nowhere side plot in Gotham or this., Sofia is worse. It didn't take up 2/3 of the season and while assaulting my very core of a person, he didn't stick around for long. I'm sorry I just really, really needed to voice my frustrations and if almost 6 years of reviewing stuff has taught me anything, shout, let it all out, these are the thing I can do without. But again, not a bad season! All the quality presented in terms of technicals from season 1 are just as prevalent here, there's wall hanging worthy backgrounds, the cast gets to expand and deepen the characters, it's still really funny, I never ever felt that an episode was fluff or a waste of my time. A feat not every show can boast. We get more dynamic with Haida and Fenneko, more the former than the latter but good stuff regardless. Retsuko's mom is everything I expected and she's great. We get more time out of the office which thus lends to more great animation. It's far from average and while my own personal problems remain, I could totally see others enjoying this just as much as the first season, and the third is no doubt going to keep up the good work. Hell it might even take the favorite spot. 3.5 stars, 8/10, and I promise to do season 4 when the time comes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Aggretsuko: Season 1

A surprise to be sure but such a nice surprise.

Yeah...never thought I'd watch this. A friend of mine introduced this series to me and I will completely level with you, it hooked me not even 5 minutes into the first episode. Which is odd because the show is very down to earth despite the anthropomorphic animals, it just centers on this young lady Retsuko who hates her job, spends time with her friends, and has a penchant for death metal. And I'll be damned it's some of the most engrossing television I've seen. The characters are immediately identifiable, the setting is contemporary but doesn't lose that obvious japanese style, it's really damn funny like made me laugh to beat the band, the animation is very simple but too endearing to resist, it's a beast all of it's own but it's wonderful. But I could have sworn this show was older, say around 2014 but the first season hit Netflix in 2018 and the most recent season hit last year, so who knows how much more of this show will pop up. Like I care, I'm right there for when season 4 hits. I might get flak for this but my favorite character isn't Retsuko despite her awesomeness, but Fenneko man. Fenneko. My God! If there was a fricking spin off just for her you bet your ass I would fund it. She came right out of left field, slid into the DMs, and stole me away. I adore this character, maybe too much but I don't even care. You know I get passionate about odd things so just fair warning when we cover the other seasons. I just really did not know what to expect from this show but it gave me so much, it does have great moments, real life moments, I've seen so much live action tripe that does precisely dick, but an anime with simple but cute animations and nice characters can speak volumes about aspects of living. This is why I am an advocating champion for animation despite how it looks. And considering each episode barely hits 15 minutes, it's not that big of a slog to get through. All in all great show, friggin' 4 stars, 8.5/10! I can respect if you don't immediately go for it, but give it a shot one day.

Friday, January 15, 2021

The Thick Of It: Series 4

Well that was a depressing ending.

Don't get me wrong this is a fantastic series but geez it gets serious quick and I'm just gonna say it. I hate the ending. But not in a "This is a rubbish ending to a great series.", I mean a "I am emotionally invested and I was upset at what happened to these characters.". But first we gotta rewind. Okay so we start off with an unexpected twist with Nicola heading the opposition, so Peter Mannion and his party won the election. Of course that means they're the ones absolutely failing and miserably so at that, trying to create and enforce new policies, but that obviously doesn't exclude our main cast either. After several missteps, Malcolm has cut Nicola off completely and the situation only gets worse as a inquiry takes place. Then we really kick off, up until the last two episodes it's the same old comedy cock ups and both parties trying to get a lead on the other, but all of that is swept away and it becomes a courtroom drama. Our main cast is put in the hot seat and soon Malcolm is faced with a Kobayashi Maru. It's a sobering ending but it means that our cast can put their best performances to the screen, least of all Peter who I'm very quick to say nowadays is my favorite actor and I never really had a favorite actor since I was a wee sprout. This is the best, series 3 is my favorite but it cannot be denied the final series really hits it out of the park. And you've seen the scores so far for this show, so do I give it the 10/10? Well when you consider this is the culmination of everything and is the final gesture of Armando Iannucci for this niche genre...yeah. I absolutely detest shows that start light and comedic then get deathly serious, but here it feels appropriate and done well enough to merit that. So yep, 4 stars, 10/10, we're sure starting this year right. Next week, something completely different but it charmed me so much I would love to talk about it.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Thick Of It: Series 3

This may be my favorite.

Maybe season 4 will top it but I really enjoyed this series. So Hugh is out and Nicola Murray is in at DoSAC but all quickly goes to hell in a handbasket when an enormous loss of data in immigration forces everyone to try to save their jobs, and not soon after Nicola is suspected to be a runner for Prime Minister leading our favorite Scottish ball breaker to step in. So some good plot elements here than just another daily screw up and it no doubt contributes to my enjoyment on this series. The cast is on the best form we've seen so far and Rebecca Front plays Nicola absurdly well. I fully understand her position and you do truly sympathize with her as she is trying to make everything work as she walls keep crumbling. It's damn good acting but not to the point where the comedy isn't still present. And the writing is the best yet, I mean this is the series that gave us "omnishambles" for God's sake, and we get more time with the opposition which is great fun. It will take a bit for the next series to surpass this one but it ends strongly and makes you wonder what will happen next. Major supreme props to Peter Capaldi this series, he has a lot more weight and importance this time around and there isn't a shadow of a doubt in my mind that his acting will reach a zenith by the last series. Wonderful series, halfway there, 4 stars, 9/10 once more. Is it a bad time to joke about the political strife occurring now? Too late? Okay.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Thick Of It: Series 2

I'm never having a commitee, it's going to be an imperial platform.

Series 2, a bit longer than the last after the sleeper hit of series 1 picks up after Hugh's almost resignation and culminates in not one, but two specials dealing with the absolute maelstrom of shit after the Prime Minister resigns early and everyone scrambles to find a candidate for their party. Easily an improvement over the last with a lot more elements thrown into the mix that stick around. So not only do we have the primary party doing their usual cock up's, but we see the opposition party trying to capitalize on said cock up's, while the press chase their tails in a maddening and futile covering on the election. I would make jokes about my country but let's face it everyone already has. I enjoyed this one a lot more, you can tell they had a proper budget since we get a change of location, more cast members into the fray, and a smidge of location shooting so that's all good marks in my book. The original cast still bring their A game, while the new additions make a very great standing impact and will continue to crop up as we go along. Personal favorites of the newbies are Jamie MacDonald played by Paul Higgins, more scottish blood in the mix and thank Christ for that, and Peter Mannion played by Roger Allam who if nothing else severely bring the comedy for me. If you had any reservations about the last series, this is the one that either makes you want to watch it until the end or just call it a day but I strongly recommend it. The writing is still very much on top form if maybe even a bit higher, and I do love the production values presented. But my God this release schedule for the entire series when you look at it is beyond unreal, I can not ever imagine being a fan of this programme while it was airing, I mean seriously listen to this. The first series started in May and wrapped up in June of 2005, brilliant, perfect. Series 2 picked up on October of 2005 and ended in November of 2005, with the two big specials not even airing until January and June of 2007 respectively. Jesus Christ. And it only gets more bizzare from there but one step at a time. Anyway, great series, absolutely love it! 4 stars, 9/10! Big changes coming up next series so hang tight, I'll be with you in two shakes of a crying baby.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Thick Of It: Series 1

Good morning my little chicks and cocks.

New year, same old broken man but plus side I get to talk about more british television that I adore. Do not even ask me how I came across this programme, I think it was the pure power of the best Doctor, Peter Capaldi, that hooked me. Needless to say it was time well spent! For a first series, it's only 3 episodes mainly due to the BBC giving a low budget to series creator Armando Iannucci, centered on a department of government who just got a new director as various things go to complete hell resulting in well written satire and thus good comedy. Now I don't want this to steer you off considering it's government, even to an absolute out of the loop fool like myself in all stances and structure of government, whether it be american or british, it really doesn't matter. Again it's due to the well written scripts that you can piece together who these people are, what position they have in the government, and most importantly how they absolutely shit the bed. Yeah big shock coming in, the comedy is based around what absolute idiots are running the country and how even they don't fully comprehend the breadth of the political landscape. Which I suppose you could argue not only makes it easy to watch and enjoy because they're not throwing out a thousand specific terms per episode, but makes it a touch relatable that even politics are run by normal people. Which is an entirely fair point to be honest. But it can't just be all writing, so how's the cast? Pretty damn great, and the show has that same continuity of Blackadder with the same cast sticking around for the remainder of the show. I don't need to tell you my favorite, I'm sure he's everyone's favorite so I'll just give a shout to my two other favorites. James Smith as Glenn Cullen and Joanna Scanlan as Terri Coverley, they do such good work having that balance of proper seriousness and biting funny dialogue which is the style of the show. And I love the style of the entire show, the very loose free moving and zoom filled camera work which never felt intrusive or amateur to me but I can understand that it's not everyone's cup of tea. At least they don't shake the camera like a hyperactive Parkisons riddled monkey. And something I didn't even notice because I was that into the scenarios and characters presented until I read it is the fact that, there is zero music used. No orchestra, no pop music, it is silence from start to finish every time. I cannot name a single show that has ever done that, I mean that is such a rare thing in film and even more so in television. But again it doesn't hurt the production side of it in the slightest, it does make it feel almost documentary-esque which is brilliant. It's a very basic introduction to the concept and characters we will be seeing with an absolute auteur control over the complete series until the very end. 4 stars, 8.5/10!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Top 5 Films Of 2020

Well that sucked.

But on the plus side, new year new possibilities. Not enough enough for a top 10 but damn it I still wanted to do one. So number 5 coming up.

#5. 1917, one hell of a technical masterpiece with a good story and no doubt a movie I'll watch again and again in the future.

4. Sonic The Hedgehog, I seriously can't believe it either but a video game movie did that well and it was a lot of fun. Jim Carrey is still the best part and I gladly await the sequel.

3. Tenet, another wild ride from Christopher Nolan with a timey wimey twist. This was a pretty grand movie to see in the cinema, and to a seasoned time traveller like myself was executed expertly.

2. Birds Of Prey, I don't care it was great. Yes the title should have a rework but this was such a fun movie that did it's own thing and I am truly happy it exists. Sucicide Squad Part Deux here we come.

1. The Invisible Man, I know shocking right? My Dark Universe may be in a zombified state of limbo but my Monsters are still going strong and this was everything I wanted and much more. I will be there opening day for the next one and you bet your ass I am vouching this movie for the Criterion Collection.

Well that about does her. Wraps it all up. So we'll see if we're still here come 2022 and I hope I can make this year a tiny touch better even in the smallest of ways. Catch you tomorrow folks.