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Adventure Time photo
Adventure Time

You should be watching the mini-series Adventure Time: Stakes

Cartoon Network raises the stakes
Nov 20
// John-Charles Holmes
Last year, Cartoon Network took home audiences by surprise with their first mini-series, Over the Garden Wall. The ten episode event delighted critics and fans with a short form original story, and this year Cartoon Network t...
MMPR Reboot photo
Waiting for Power Rangers movie news has been excruciating. Because the film isn't releasing until 2017, we've got all sorts of sites releasing news from the rumor mill and none of them will have any bearing on the final prod...

FlixList: The Ten Worst Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror Stories

Oct 30 // Nick Valdez
Dis-Honorable Mentions: Wanted: Dead, Then Alive, Heck House, Oh the Places You'll D'Oh, Tweenlight, There's No Business Like Moe Business, Mr & Mrs. Simpson, Wiz Kids, Easy-Bake Coven, and The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms 10. Homer's Nightmare ("If I Only Had a Brain") (Treehouse of Horror II) That's right, the bad ones were actually off to an early start. In the same episode that brought us the great Lisa's Nightmare and the so-so Bart's Nightmare, we have the clunky Homer's Nightmare. In this short, Mr. Burns is attempting to create a super worker but ends up putting Homer's brain in that super worker so the end result is what you'd expect. I'll chalk this one's badness to growing pains as it was the first true sequel in the series. The show was still trying to figure out what to do with their Halloween specials and I'm sure every idea seemed viable.  9. Terror at 5 1/2 Feet (Treehouse of Horror IV)  As you'll find out later in this list, The Simspsons doesn't nail every spoof it tries. Taking on the Twilight Zone classic "Terror at 20,000 Feet," this short gives Bart a little Gremlin problem. Sure there's a good joke involving Hans Moleman, but the rest of the story is particularly rote. And in the same episode as The Devil and Homer Simpson and Bart Simpson's Dracula, it's egregious awfulness sticks out even more so. Maybe it's just an average story caught in between two particularly great ones, but that's just how the cookie crumbles. But at least it's not as bad as everything else here.  8. The Thing and I (Treehouse of Horror VII)  Okay, now we're getting into it. When Bart finds out he's got a long lost, potentially evil twin named Hugo chained up in the basement, everything falls apart both literally and figuratively. I distinctly remember realizing these weren't going to be that great anymore. The short's so haphazardly thrown together that it's obvious no one involved really cares about what's going on in it. The jokes aren't there, the premise isn't strong, and it screams laziness. Yet, it isn't the laziest story on this by far.  7. In the Na'Vi (Treehouse of Horror XXII) You know how I mentioned that The Simpsons doesn't nail all of its spoofs? This is what I was referring to. Several years after Avatar hit theaters (which made this short seem all the more depressing), Treehouse featured a terribly conceived Simpsons version with Bart in the lead role. Reading this list you're probably thinking that Bart's involvement has a lot to do with the poor quality of these stories and you'd be right for the most part. The show never really knows what to do with him outside of his normal parameters. That's why Bart's always in the background of others' stories or is paired with Lisa so the writers have someone to bounce him off of. Without that, you realize how poorly Bart's been written in the post 20s. 6.Master and Cadaver (Treehouse of Horror XXI) While the post-20 Treehouse stories have been pretty bad all around, they're more average and bland than outright terrible. But one story manages to tip over that line into a story that's so bad it brings the rest of the special down. Sitting right in the middle of the pretty entertaining War and Pieces and regrettable Tweenlight, this short is based off the film Dead Calm (and guest stars Hugh Laurie) as Homer and Marge save this guy who may or may not have killed a ship full of people. In traditional Simpsons, but non-traditional Treehouse, fashion the man poised no real threat and it's all a series of explainable coincidences. It's just so darn boring. More so than season 20 era Simpsons, more so than weak Lisa episodes, I'm glad this story's so short. The reason it's not higher on the list is because it's thankfully over before it's begun.  5. Untitled Robot Parody (Treehouse of Horror XIX) So here we have the laziest Treehouse of Horror short in series history. It's so lethargic, they didn't even think to give it a name. A terribly conceived Transformers spoof that's neither funny (complete with a rote sex toy transformer joke) nor even has a reason to exist. This blurb is more attention that this short even deserves.  4. You Gotta Know When to Golem (Treehouse of Horror XVIII) Introducing a little used movie monster to the Treehouse format seems fit for a good time but, like the 1915 film it's based on, this story's stuck entirely in the past. A story with jokes rooted in dated Jewish sterotypes ever further aggravated by casting Richard Lewis and Fran Drescher as caricatures of themselves, Golem is just a bad idea that somehow made it to air. I don't even know who this short was for, but this kind of insular comedy is what deters fans from the series. Then again, thanks to bottom three stories, fans have walked away years ago.  3. Frinkenstein (Treehouse of Horror XIV) Ugh. 2. Hex and the City (Treehouse of Horror XII)  It took me years to see this one all the way through because I hated this special so much. In fact, I never saw how XII ended until about six years ago when I decided to run through a good chunk of the Treehouse specials. In Hex and the City, Homer angers a gypsy and is cursed for life (resulting in Marge's beard, Bart's long neck, and Lisa's horse legs). His response is to sick a lepraechaun on her resulting in their wholly gross union. It's entirely asinine and coupled with the episode's other bland shorts like Wiz Kids and this seemed even worse overall. It has to be the worst opening story in Treehouse history. 1. Starship Poopers (Treehouse of Horror IX)  Okay, so I've got quite the problem with Starship Poopers. First of all, it's a terrible final story for a special that wasn't bad so the nosedive is even more noticeable. Secondly, it was incredibly dated then (yes even more so than Citizen Kang, which was rooted in 90s politics) and even more so now. I mean, the short ends with an entirely too long Jerry Springer riff. By the time the short aired, Springer was already on his way out so it seemed even more desperate than I'm sure was intended. Thirdly, even after watching season 26's frustrating "The Man Who Came to be Dinner" (which brought Kang and Kodos into the series proper, rather than just feature them in the non-canon Halloween specials) this is still the worst Kang and Kodos appearance by far. There's so much more I want to say, but I just can't do it anymore. 
Treehouse of Horror photo
It was the blurst of times
You know, it's always great to reminisce about The Simpsons in their heyday but in order to truly celebrate the Halloween holiday, we need to talk about some truly horrific things: The awful Treehouse of Horror specials. Sure...

FlixList: The Ten Best Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror Stories

Oct 28 // Nick Valdez
Honorable Mentions: Desperately Xeeking Xena, Reaper Madness, Lisa's Nightmare (The Monkey's Paw), The Terror of Tiny Toon, Attack of the 50ft Eyesores, Life's a Glitch, Then You Die, The Others, Clown Without Pity 10. The Day the Earth Looked Stupid (Treehouse of Horror XVII) "Oh yeah? Why don't I punch you in the nose, bud?" "...Nosebud..." Folks may have counted out much of the later seasons, and while I'd be inclined to agree for the most part, a few good episodes always manage to go unnoticed. XVII was one of the last good Treehouse specials before they took a dive in the 20s, and it went out on a high. The show's film spoofs don't always work, but I absolutely loved this one. Maurice LaMarche put on his best Orson Welles again as the classic play ended up duping Springfield into wallowing in the dirt like animals. It doesn't make any sense, it looks great, and it's so perfectly Simpsons. Mostly because it actually nails the ending, which is something these specials always struggle with, as the episode ends with the bleak and soft The Ink Spots' "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire."  9. Send in the Clones (Treehouse of Horror XIII)  "Homer I must say, you've had the energy of twenty men lately!" "Twenty three!"  I don't what it is, but seeing a group of Homers play off each other is incredibly satisfying. A natural progression of Homer's self-deprecating humor, laziness, and superiority complex creates an army of clones that only want donuts and for Lenny to pick up the tab at Moe's ("Anything for Homers!"). This segment's also jam packed with jokes from the randomness of killing Flanders and "Paul Newman's gonna have my legs broke!," sights gags like Season One Homer and Peter Griffin, to the fact it all started because of a magic hammock. It's stupid Homer x 1000 and it turned out pretty well.  8. Homer3 (Treehouse of Horror VI) "It's like something outta that twilighty show about that zone..." VI was fantastic all around. Attack of the 50ft Eyesores and Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace were both pretty good, but I've got to hand it to the segment that blew my mind as a kid. Of course it earns its place on the list because it holds up beyond its 3D gimmick because it's pretty funny ("May I take your coat?" "Uh, can I also take your coat?"), but it's hard to gush about its visuals. CG pretty much unheard of in 1995, so the show was able to mine the relatively new technology for comedy. It may not exactly be like Tron (which no one has seen, apparently), but it's close enough. Also, the bit where Homer shows up in our world still blows my mind. I don't know how they pulled it off back then, but I'm glad they spent all of that money on an erotic cake joke.  7.  Citizen Kang (Treehouse of Horror VII) "Abortions for some, miniature American flags for all of us!"  You would hope the political jokes in Citizen Kang wouldn't ring as true 19 years later, but like most things, the Simpsons predicted a lot of things. A parody of major elections sees the Halloween special stalwarts Kang and Kodos vying for American votes with nonsensical speeches and explicit pandering (which leads to one of the best lines in series history, which I had to highlight above) it's crazy how timeless this special really is. Although the candidates are dated, you can replace them with pretty much anyone and it'll still work. So go ahead, throw your vote away! 6. The Homega Man (Treehouse of Horror VIII) "I'm the last man alive and I can do everything I've always wanted!" Treehouse segments are full of movie parodies, but one of the stories that absolutely nails it is this one. Parodying 1971's The Omega Man, which itself was adapted from Richard Matthenson's novel I Am Legend, this short stars Homer as the last man alive in Springfield after the French ("Stupid frogs.") bomb them for their remarks. After Homer enjoys the time alone, he realizes he's not truly alone and every second is so funny. There's a hidden joy in noting how long it takes Homer to realize everyone's dead. In fact I love this segment so much, I'm thinking of getting a tattoo on my arm of "the rest."  5. Night of the Dolphin (Treehouse of Horror XI) "" What? A segment from the double digits in the top five? Absolutely! Written by Carolyn Omine (who also wrote Halloween of Horror, which turned out to be the best Simpsons episode in seven-eight years), after Lisa frees Snorky the dolphin, Springfield finds out he's actually king of the dolphins and they want to claim the land the humans have stolen from them. On top of the great send ups to random monster horror films (think films like Black Sheep), there are plenty of laughs. Especially when the end of the story sees the town in a big fight with the dolphins before their hilarious loss. It's always in my annual rotation each year.  4. The Devil and Homer Simpson (Treehouse of Horror IV)  "Mmm...forbidden donut..." These next few stories definitely fall into the line of "classic" Simpsons episodes that folks like to reference over and over again. It's for good reason as The Devil and Homer Simpsons absolutely holds up to this day. A tight story where Homer makes a deal with the devil that manages to squeeze in a lot within its short run time. Random John Wayne gags ("I'm already up"), a great showing from Lionel Hutz, Blackbeard in a high chair, and of course, "But I'm so sweet and tasty!" 3. Dial 'Z' for Zombies (Treehouse of Horror III) "Dad, you killed the zombie Flanders!" "He was a zombie?" I feel like the only way I can fully appreciate this is by quoting it endlessly:  "To the book depository!"  "Is this the end of zombie Shakespeare?" "John Smith 1882?" "My mistake!" The zombies that plagued our town are now just corpses rotting in the streets." "Yay!" So good.  2. The Raven (The Simpsons Halloween Special/Treehouse of Horror)  "Quoth the Raven... 'Nevermore.'" The Simpsons first began their Halloween special tradition back in season two, and it made sure to leave a lasting impression. Despite the many years gone by, this short sticks with me far more than anything else. Although it's not the best one (since it's hard to give the episode total credit for its success), it's definitely the most distinct. Putting visuals (and Simpson personality thanks entirely through Dan Castellaneta's performance) to Poe's famous poem vigorously read by the magnanimous James Earl Jones, this short was actually how I was introduced to Poe's work. That's something a lot of these better stories have done too. Inspired by how much I enjoyed the parody, I often sought out the original works. That's especially true of the final entry on this list.  1. Treehouse of Horror V "This is indeed a disturbing universe." So this is a bit of a cheat considering I said that I'd limit my choices to one story per episode, but after deciding on my favorite Treehouse of Horror I couldn't really decide on my favorite of the three stories. As each special usually has a weak story or two, it's incredibly rare to have three incredibly strong segments. Couple that with a running joke of Willie getting axed in the back and you've even got a unified special to boot. From its highly quotable Shining parody, The Shinning "No TV and no beer make Homer something something." "Go crazy?" "Don't mind if I do!," to the well written Time and Punishment ("Oh I wish I wish I hadn't killed that fish." "That's right Mr. Peabody!" "Quiet you!" "What the hell are you smiling at?," and the one story that managed to give me nightmares as a kid, Nightmare Cafeteria ("Now you march into that school, look your teacher straight in the eye and say 'Don't eat me!'"). It's definitely the best Halloween special Simpsons has to offer, and suffice to say, it's also one of the best episodes of the series.  Then again, regardless of which The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror specials you decide to revisit this Halloween you'll have a good time...unless you pick one of the blurst ones. 
Treehouse of Horror photo
It was the best of times...
I've invested the greater part of my life into The Simpsons, and while there may have been more downs than ups lately, it's still consistently bringing me laughs with each offering. Most of them happen to come with their annu...

Trailer: Jessica Jones photo
Trailer: Jessica Jones

The Jessica Jones trailer is here and nothing else matters

Oct 27
// Sean Walsh
So, this Jessica Jones trailer went live a few days ago. I meant to post it then, but the sheer joy of what I was seeing drove me into a brief coma of which I've finally awakened from. The trailer has everything I wanted to s...

The Walking Dead Season 6 Recap: "Thank You"

Oct 26 // Nick Valdez
TWD has been through quite a few shake ups the last few seasons, but it's never quite changed enough to warrant the huge audience it's got. It's got a loyal audience to do with whatever they like, but despite many fake outs, there never really has been any big change to the core of the series. As such is the case with most long form storytelling, the stories from episode to episode don't really matter as they all still boil down to the same core formula. Despite all of the writing problems the show has, it's managed to build a good foundation of questionable morals. Thematically, each season will always be about the struggle between humanity, the ever present need to devolve into violence to save yourself, and the acceptance or non-acceptance of what you've become. That's why characters like Rick, Morgan, Carol, or even Merle from a few seasons back are interesting figures in the dog eat dog world that TWD has created. They've manged to stand out from the bowels of the story because they've distinctly chose between humanity and inhumanity and thus strengthen the show's theme overall. But six seasons in, and TWD is still afraid of taking risks.  Through watching these seasons, I've realized that while death can come to technically any character, it's still a TV show hindered by its fans and future plans. There are four tiers to any program like this, and once you identify which characters land in those tiers you'll understand the course of the series' deaths. Though the events of the show may still surprise (especially if it's sweeps week), no television show will ever make a decision that'll potentially cripple it and potentially deter its viewers. In those tiers you have:  Main Characters: One to three characters so integral to the show's overreaching arc, they'll never be in actual danger. Stuff may happen to them, but they'll never be removed.  Secondary Characters: Characters related in some way to a main character that can be removed the show without damaging the overall arc. Their removal may beef up a secondary or main's plot, and their removal will still get a big reaction, but ultimately don't illicit any major changes.  Tertiary Characters: Ancillary additions that can be removed without any real issue. They've been developed enough (or have visual quirks) so we know who they are before they're removed. Their removal may even illicit a response from the audience.  Quartenary Characters: Commonly referred to as "Red Shirts" thanks to Star Trek, these characters are removed all the time to establish a harsh environment and build tension.  That brings us to this episode's big event. Glenn's dead, but it's not as big a deal as you would think. Although Glenn was one of the remaining original characters, he's been a secondary character from the beginning. And Glenn's archetype was even more egregious since he's been the designated "blank slate" for the audience to project themselves onto since Rick's been devolving after season two. The episode made it out to be a big deal, sure. And after reading online reactions yesterday, it definitely feels like a huge event, but his death doesn't really change the plot in any real way, so it's not as important as we're meant to believe. Just think, what was Glenn doing before now? His plot the last two seasons has really been leading to his death, and his way of death, while infuriating, serves to end his plot well enough thematically. It's a death in service of the show's theme of humanity, and for the first time, the show has actually reached the grey area it's been attempting for a long time.  Thinking on his death he was essentially punished for wanting to do the right thing, which the show's been saying for some time, but as Rick slowly drifts away from that mentality (showing in this episode that he's willing to sacrifice Alexandrians in order to save his real family and to survive) he might finally realize that it's not so black and white. It's a neat dichotomy between the two as Rick's simultaneously punished for his "survival of the fittest" mentality. While the writing is still terrible and TWD will never truly take a huge risk and kill off one of the main characters (who've been established through the seasons as Rick, Carol, and Darryl), the fact that it's finally playing with its theme means the showrunners know where to take the show going forward. Besides, Glenn's death may be the opposite of what we normally get in the comics and Maggie may finally get something to do. In the comic, Maggie became a badass as his death served to give her more purpose.  Final Thoughts:  Kudos to The Walking Dead for not killing a single black character this episode. I hate that I need to point that out, but it's been a real problem lately. The fact that this seems miraculous is one of the major flaws this show's been carrying since the beginning.  Knowing that Glenn died going in made the series' penchant for heavy foreshadowing all the more insufferable. They really don't know how to surprise anymore.  I like Heath as a character, but his design does not translate well from the comics. Corey Hawkins has been pretty great so far as the group's true foil, but his hairpiece is super distracting.  Next week is dealing with Morgan's origin story, so I'm pretty curious as to how he becomes the super judgmental monk he is today. Lennie James has been great, so I'm sure he can anchor an episode just fine.  Want to see more of our TV coverage? Check out our TV Recaps and Reviews! 
Walking Dead Recap photo
The trouble with The Walking Dead is that when I can't watch it on time, everyone on the Internet sees fit to spoil literally every single event of every episode. You can argue that I should just stay off the Internet when th...

Rick and Morty Season 2 Review: One Schwifty Season

Oct 20 // John-Charles Holmes
[embed]220007:42656:0[/embed] Rick and Morty’s debut season still stands as one of the biggest surprises out of Adult Swim to date. The channel is usually known for its one-note ideas (Adult Johnny Quest! The dog is also Satan! This cop is a literal ass!), but the new show from animator Justin Roiland and cancellation legend Dan Harmon rose far above its parody roots of an alcohol fueled Back to the Future. Not only did the show develop a wittingly self-aware voice for itself, but episodes occasionally dipped their toes into some pretty dark concepts like chaos theory, family abandonment, and even desensitization through the pursuit of knowledge—but only just a little at first. If season one is where Rick and Morty got audience acclimated to what strange ideas it had to offer, season two are those exact same ideas put into full practice with absolutely no restraint. Where season two holds up best is in how the show is actually structured a bit more like a typical show, but much to its benefit. Whereas the first season left all the fantastic adventures to the mostly drunk mad scientist Rick and his stammering grandson, Morty, the new season gets the entire Smith family involved in more of the weirdness. The biggest benefit being that Morty’s older sister, Summer, makes more appearances in every episode and even gets some great A-stories, making a more competent pairing with Rick than the idiotic Morty. At the same time, the new episodes also took their bizarre ideas even further. The season premiers with Rick, Morty, and Summer actually ripping the space-time continuum into multiple realities, displayed by slicing the screen right down the middle. This repeats until the episode actually climaxes into 64 different screens at once and staying that way until the anomaly gets resolved. In any other show, an idea this crazy would be enough to confuse and alienate an audience away for good, but Rick and Morty embraces this and draws us in even closer with just how ostentatiously crazy it’s willing to get. How crazy? Other highlights include an Ice T alien actually made out of ice, an alien parasite that induces a clipshow that so fake that it has to be real, an entire planet of cat people who engage in a The Purge style celebration, and even Rick becoming trapped in a teenage clone of himself who becomes the most unquestionably beloved cool kid at school—and that’s just barely scratching the surface of how inventiveRick and Morty’s sophomore season gets. The season does run a little disappointingly short at just ten 22-minute episodes, but then again, leaving us wanting more is a sign that a show’s doing something right. Many fans may be disappointed that only a few one-off characters from the first season make returns, but this can be forgiven just for how many new characters from Rick’s varied past. The best of which is arguably an appearance from Stephen Colbert in the episode “The Ricks Must Be Crazy.” Colbert plays Zeep, a skeptical alien scientist who lives the world of a battery that Rick invents to fuel his ramshackle spaceship. When Zeep discovers that his entire world exists just to power a battery, he turns on Rick and Morty and tries to escape to wreck vengeance on their universe. As the all-knowing scientist character of the show, Rick can definitely command the direction of every episode, so it’s an absolute joy to see Rick evenly matched by his own intellectual equal—not to mention that Colbert’s performance fits wonderfully for the know-it-all Zeep, putting his own annunciated character acting to hard work. For as much fun as the show has with itself this year, it does end many of the episodes with the same shockingly dark overtones as the infamous “Rick Potion #9” episode from the first season. Much of the ruthlessness and directionless suicidal depression of Rick is teased throughout the entire season as well as the effect that his self-destructive life has had on his daughter, Beth and the rest of the Smith family. This all leads up to a phenomenal finale where it finally comes to a head with an amazing emotional payoff. If the big question of season one was “does Rick truly love Morty,” season two asks if the family really needs Rick or if he’s the one dependent on them. The season does end on a massive cliffhanger, though, so it stands to beg if we even get a final answer by the end of the tenth episode. The stakes are raised, the world of the show has changed dramatically, and many sacrifices are made along the way. Rick and Mortyrivals another show for the most intense television wedding by the end of it all. So is Rick and Morty season two worth watching? Most definitely, yes. A lot of the show is still pretty the same as before—the same unrestrained raunchiness, the same direct nods to obscure sci-fi productions, and the same disgustingly beautiful designs, it’s all there. Where it does improve though, is in the writing and in its use of characters. By the time the season had wrapped up this fall, the clunkiness of some of the first season’s episodes could be seen when compared to the stronger and more economical stories of the second. If you found the writing of the first season awkward or off-putting, the second may just have more of the meaningful stories you were looking for out of Rick and Morty. After all, this is the show that has Werner Herzog going on an entire monologue about how depressing the human race’s obsession with penises is, and honestly, where else on television or film are you going to find that? Until season three debuts, I’m going to have to say, nowhere else. Want to see more of our TV coverage? Check out our TV Recaps and Reviews! 
Rick and Morty photo
It's been one schwifty season
Season two of Adult Swim’s latest breakout hit, Rick and Morty, started off with one of the most high-concept episodes of any television show this side of Community and ended with a surprisingly intense non-stop rocket-...

The Simpsons "Halloween of Horror" Review: The Best Episode in Years

Oct 19 // Nick Valdez
When Fox first announced The Simpsons was branching into two Halloween specials this season, I groaned so loudly I bothered my neighbors. It sounded like yet another cheap stunt I was complaining about before (then again, that sounds more like another episode this season that's supposedly going to deal with Smithers coming out to Burns), and after two surprisingly successful episodes ("Cue Detective" and "Puffless"), I figured the show was going to ruin its little streak. But little did I know that "Halloween" was going to continue what those two episodes understood. This season has been in a nice trend lately where it's been digging into its past for character motivations (and for obscure characters we haven't seen in a long while like Uter, confirmed alive finally not counting his appearance in Treehouse of Horror XX, and Dr. Nick, who wasn't killed in The Simpsons Movie thank Jebus) and finally capitalizing on the years of trust it's built with its audience. The show knows kids like me were raised on it, so there's no real reason to try so hard every time. Like most successful shows, it can just add little things to what we know already.  "Halloween of Horror" (credited to Carolyn Omine, who's written one of the best Treehouse of Horror segments, "Night of the Dolphin," and "Little Big Mom") is a Homer and Lisa story through and through, and like in the past, the Homer and Lisa stories are some of the strongest in terms of more emotional storytelling. Since we've never actually seen them celebrate the holiday, it turns out that it's a big deal at The Simpson house as Homer and Marge go all out with their decorations (so far as to shame anyone skipping the holiday). During a trip to Apu's pop up Halloween shop, Homer runs afoul of the employees ("Don't tell Old Man Squishee"), some skeezy guys voiced by Nick Kroll and Blake Anderson, and ends up on their revenge list. Meanwhile, Lisa is excited that she's finally old enough to visit Krustyland's horror event ("I'll tell my friends that it wasn't a big deal, but it's a really big deal!") but is unfortunately too frightened by the actual thing. It's a pretty sad, and wonderfully directed sequence thanks to its use of shading and it didn't even cut to commercial on a joke. As Lisa cries in Homer's arms, it cuts away and it's the most affecting the show's been in several seasons. I can count how many times its reached this peak in the last seven seasons on one hand. The rest of the episode delves into a home invasion plot, much like The Strangers, and Marge trying to comfort Bart after deciding to remove all of their Halloween decorations because Lisa's been traumatized ("Your sister has a tummy ache in her courage"), and to say more would be spoiling the story. That's also something I'd never thought I'd type about a Simpsons episode, either. There's actually an honest to goodness story here, and if this is what's been missing thanks to the Treehouse of Horror episodes, I'd like more of these please. But getting to the nitty gritty of the episode, it's near perfect with its joke delivery. Other than an odd "Time Warp" parody, which sort of works anyway thanks to seeing Springfield in drunken Halloween attire (the best being Rainier Wolfcastle as Jessica Rabbit) and self-referential Treehouse gag (I hate these later season's reliance on world breaking humor, it always feels tired) I haven't laughed this much in a long time. The most important thing about these jokes, which a lot of these later seasons fail to understand, is that they come from character work. This humor is based on what we know about these characters. Like Homer for instance. Instead of relying on "Jerkass" Homer's malleability and shoving him into random situations, as these later season episodes have done, "Halloween" boils him back down to a man who truly cares for his daughter.  In fact, the best exchange of the episode hearkens back to "classic" Simpsons by giving us the rawest conversation in some time. When Lisa's freaking out in the attic, withdrawing into herself with "This isn't real," Homer comforts her in the most loving, and more importantly, Homer way possible:  Honey, I’m your dad. I’ve lied to you more times than there are stars in the sky, but I gotta be straight - this is real. But you can’t let fear shut down your brain, because, between the two of us you’ve got the only good one. This one statement capitalizes on years and years of development between the two. Although they never age, they've grown in other ways and this episode is a nice reminder of that fact. This season is finally showing what a show in its twilight is truly capable of. Years of experience, years of writing, and years of history can be both a bad and good thing. But as "Halloween of Horror" has shown, it's leaning more toward the latter.  Final Thoughts:  To comfort himself, Homer sings the Halloween theme.  "I'm the Mozart of Halloween decorations and tonight is the Super Bowl!" "Hello, Scrotum." "Are you heading up to Treehouse to tell some tales?" "We're doing it next week. It's gonna be Psycho with Skinner's mom, Muppet Wizard of Oz, and one where furniture gets smart and takes over the world or something."  "Skippers! How can you reject a holiday where you can serve candy from a salad bowl!" "Nothing says you love a pet more than letting them be a part of the human fun. Who wants to be a Yoda? You want to be a Yoda!" "Look I don't want to be rude, but you losers should go suck somewhere else." "Ay, yi yi yi, Halloween is so bueno!"  "Ahh, they took my cell phone! And they forgot to pay my phone bill!"  "Get em, Zardoz!" Want to see more of our TV coverage? Check out our TV Recaps and Reviews! 
The Simpsons photo
Who would've guessed?
When I last wrote about The Simpsons a few weeks ago, I was ready to give up. Season 27's premiere was the latest in a long line of poorly thought out stunt episodes that were only conceived to bring in its lost audience. The...

The Walking Dead Season 6 Recap: "JSS"

Oct 19 // Nick Valdez
So last week we found out what was keeping Alexandria safe this entire time. Zombies have been gradually pouring into a nearby quarry, and after Rick stumbles on it, he recruits some of the gang and Alexandria folk to help corral them out of there. It's a pretty stupid idea in general since it would've made much more sense to try and thin out the mass as much as they could've before letting them escape, but that's beyond the point. It just means that most of Rick's crew (save for Carol, Carl, Morgan, Rosita, Eugene, and whatshername) are out of the town for the moment. There was also this side plot where Nick Papageorgio was trying to conspire against Rick for taking over their town, but Rick shut that down pretty quickly before Papageorgio got his face bitten off. It's pretty stupid all around. All potential plots brought up in that episode are quickly pushed aside in favor of more violence. Speaking of violence, this episode was full of it. But what makes it stand out more so than the general stuff we see on the show is how gruesome it really is when you stop to soak it in (which happens a few time in this episode).  As mentioned before, this episode is basically the season premiere's second half (and merging the two stories would've fixed the premiere's bloating problem). Carol gets to be a badass in more ways than one as she first shuts down some lady for complaining about her cooking skills (as Rick has given her the task of blending in with the townsfolk to figure them out), but these small moments don't last long before the season's big bads show up as the Wolves (folks with 'W' carved into their foreheads) run in and start slaughtering folks talking of freeing them from their way of living. It's a pretty violent struggle between the two groups, but Carol and Morgan are really the only ones holding their own. Carol goes incognito (complete with "W" etched in blood) and slays a bunch of the invaders, and Morgan is still struggling with the fact that he doesn't want to kill any living being despite the fact that these new enemies clearly pose a violent threat. It's not like past enemies like The Governor's folks (as those were just scared people), so these new bads are striving to kill. And not only kill, but mutilate, as we get glimpses of. As their name suggests, these guys are almost savages as their attacks don't stop when someone is dead.  Beyond all of the action of the episode, there's not really much else. So unfortunately, this episode feels incomplete as well. It's great to look at as the well directed action is both fun and gruesome, but no one of consequence is ever in danger. At one point, Rick's new love interest lady is in trouble and savages her way to safety, but I don't care enough about her to care. Still, there are themes present that are more interesting than the usual creeping mortality the show drapes itself in. See the Wolves aren't an interesting baddie because of their overt violence, but because Alexandira represents the first time the group's ever been close to forming an actual society. They've had safe havens before, but Alexandria's the closest to complete. But with nearly every townsperson dead, it's pretty much a reminder of how there's no such thing as civilization anymore. And the loss of that hope is much more gripping than "people are bad, Coral." Anyway, none of this will matter if the show can't get us to care about anyone other than the big three characters. This episode had a B-plot introducing Alexandria's new "doctor" Diane, but the dialogue during all of those scenes was so bad it held the rest of the episode down. The faux love triangle between Coral, Enid, and that abusive guy's kid isn't entertaining yet, so right now it's just annoying that Coral's probably crushing on someone who's gonna die soon anyway. Now the big thing I have a problem with is Morgan. What is going on with Morgan's character right now? I know the show's trying to turn him into the focal point of the show's morality, but this stupid wounded warrior schtick is grating. He magically shows up every time someone needs to be judged (like with Rick in the finale, when Rick killed Papageorgio before he turned into a zombie, and when Carol was killing Wolves) and it's made him more annoying than not. The show's trying its hardest to make him seem cooler with his dialogue ("Leave. Please."), but it's being underminded by his actions.  There are nuggets of good plot here, and seeing as how Alexandria is technically in tact before the giant mass of zombies make its way to the town, I'm sure that plot'll be thrown out the window in favor of more wandering zombie action. If The Walking Dead gets better at balancing the zombie action with its character work attempts, we could be in for a good season.  Final Thoughts:  Enid gets a little more background in the episode's cold open, and it's fantastic. Quick cuts, the titular "JSS" (which ends up meaning "Just Survive Somehow"), and quite brutal choices make for an interesting look into her unknown character. Too bad she's probably one of the Wolves. We all heard the little "We" she threw in when talking to Carl.  Speaking of Carl, he needs a damn haircut already.  Seriously, if you combined the two episodes it would've been a great episode. Tension built would've mattered, we could've eliminated all of the boring planning talks, and we would've just seen the plans in action rather than have to resort to black and white flashbacks (which didn't even work as a storytelling device anyway as none of the flashbacks actually revealed things of use). But really, shut up Morgan.  Want to see more of our TV coverage? Check out our TV Recaps and Reviews! 
Walking Dead Recap photo
Seriously Morgan, what the hell man?
I missed the start of Walking Dead's sixth season due to familial complications, but after finally getting to watch it sometime later, I didn't regret the missing coverage. You see despite being an hour and a half premiere (a...

Hansel and Gretel photo
Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters may become a TV show

Death to small screen witches
Oct 15
// Matthew Razak
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters took us a bit by surprise in that it was actually fun. Most folks panned it, but those that enjoy some ridiculous action and tongue-in-cheek presentation can easily have fun with it. Evid...

NYCC: Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles panel and Season 4 Premiere Recap

Oct 08 // Nick Valdez
Most of the voice cast was present with the absence of Mae Whitman and Sean Astin being the only loss (but he called in through Facetime) as well as showrunner Ciro Nieli and writer Brandon Auman. Wasting no time they started discussing the show's major shake up at the end of season three (once again, major spoilers), as the Tricertons set off a black hole bomb resulting in both Splinter's death and the destruction of the Earth. Splinter's VO Hoon Lee expressed some concern over it, but he also argued that it showed how dangerous the Turtles' life really is as they "live by the sword and die by the sword." Nieli stated that they wanted to try something big like that because they have all sorts of different directions for the show, and by the sounds of some of the news it's going to go to some crazy places.  Here are some of the major plans for season 4: David Tennant's Fugitoid is playing a huge role in the series going forward.  Keith David joins the show voicing a Salamander commander who may or may not truly be a bad guy (from a race based on The Newtralizer) The A-Team's Dwight Schultz is joining the cast as Wyrm, who's no longer a mutated trashman but now an all powerful alien genie with reality bending powers (think Bat-Mite) who fights the turtles by shapeshifting and wrapping them up in a big ball, hilariously. Also Casey's glowing blue and super smart for some reason.  The biggest thing? The Krang suit from the original 80s cartoon is returning as part of a 2D animatedspecial crossover with the original voice cast in tow, including Pat Fraley returning to voice the original villainous Krang. We were shown an in progress cinematic, and for anyone worried that the show's two tones would clash, don't worry. It's funny, has lots of action, and it'll warm your heart. As for the season four premiere, the show's getting an entirely new title cinematic. With a bit of summary of season three's finale, the turtles are shown in all sorts of new space situations. After that, the Turtles are trying to get used to their new situation as Fugitoid lays out the goal for the season. They need to collect shards of a special time macguffin in order to save the Earth (which is now stuck in a weird stasis of both existence and non-existence), but if the Triceratons get them first it's all over. With a new goal and some cool looking, color coordinated space suits (April's looks very familiar to those who've followed the 80s cartoon) the Turtles have a new lease on life. Which means we don't have to worry too much about angst or anything like that. Considering how heavy three's finale was, it's refreshing that season four giddily jumped into the new status quo. Anyway, after an asteroid belt leaves their ship damaged, the Turtles land on a planet of rogues, pirates and thieves (Raphael naturally likes it while Fugitoid notes he's never been but says it looks great in the Spring).  On the new planet, the Turtles make all sorts of space puns (a few of them land, most don't but the kids'll love it) and are introduced to a bunch of new technologies (which will most likely make their ninjutsu much better as the season roles on). After some exploring and each turtle finding their own troubling situation, we're introduced to season four's major addition, Peter Stormare's Lord Dregg. I have no clue how they landed Stormare, but he's fantastic. He's chewing up the scenery immensely and you can tell he absolutely loved playing the bad guy. Lord Dregg majorly outclasses the Turtles while throwing them around like ragdolls and has technologically superior, super tough henchmen. After the Turtles flee the planet and have a space battle with Dregg, the episode ends with the Turtles hyperspacing into the unknown.  After having so much fun with the premiere, I'm totally confident that the writing staff knew what it was doing when it literally blew itself up. I've never been more excited for a TMNT season, especially after last season felt like such a retread. It's definitely a good shot in the arm, and besides all the blatant need for new toys, the show's going to very enjoyable. I can't wait to see the rest of TMNT's universe.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' fourth season premieres October 25th on Nickelodeon. 
TMNT  photo
Turtles in space!
Since this is my second year at a big convention like this, I'm still pretty inexperienced with panels. My first big one was Disney's Tomorrowland panel, but I didn't stay the entire way through. So this year I made it my mis...

Fear the Walking Dead Season Finale Recap: "The Good Man"

Oct 05 // Nick Valdez
With the encroaching danger of the arena filled with thousands of zombies (which I'm glad we didn't know about until the last episode, it could've been stupidly teased through all six episodes and became more annoying than not) and the military abandoning El Serreno, the gang makes plans to break into the military compound in order to rescue Nick and (the now dead) Griselda. It's generic stuff to be sure, but it's interesting how we get to that point. First, Travis decides to spare The Faculty military guy since he says he knows where everyone is. Then Daniel decides to weaponize the arena full of zombies and lets them loose on the military compound. It's pretty goofy how a horde would walk up without anyone realizing, but it gives Daniel a bonafide badass moment ("You should save your ammunition.") as he strolls away. Then we finally get the action people have been clamoring for. A nicely laid out kitchen fight, several tense moments (one of which comes into play during the finale's final scene), and several nice character bits.  There are too many good bits to talk about, but here are a few of my favorites. These scenes managed to squeeze in genuine emotion in between all of the action, something that the parent series hasn't been able to do for some time: The doctor gives up and presumably kills herself with her cattle gun as she loses hope in the military, an infected soldier runs head first into a helicopter blade, Nick nearly gets a heroic death with his silent "Go" through the door before being saved at the last minute (and made me think there might be something else to his character after all), Daniel and Ofelia see the piles of ash and bodies that Griselda is now a part of (that's one of the most striking images I've seen in either of the shows. It's far more upsetting than seeing characters do it themselves), after The Faculty soldier shoots Ofeila Travis beats him to death, regretting his decision to let him go, Strand gets his cuff links back, and the military shows that the characters can't rely on anyone other than themselves.  But the best part of the finale? Oddly the one I hate the most due to increasingly stupid peaceful nature, Travis begins to change as the world changes. Becoming more like Daniel (and thus capitalizing on the duality set up in previous episodes), Travis begins making these violent choices for the benefit of his family. For one, he doesn't tell any of his former neighbors that the military has abandoned them, and two, he basically kills everybody without hesitation. Like Rick, Travis is slowly changing, but unlike Rick, it's much more interesting to watch Travis' hope be crushed. Leading to the episode biggest moment, Liza's unfortunate demise. As the group makes it to Strand's beach side residence, as he details his plans to get to his ship Abigail, you'd think all of the main characters would be in the clear. But unfortunately, after being attacked in that kitchen scene, Liza reveals she's been infected. After giving Madison and Travis all of the knowledge she gained from the military (that it's pretty much hopeless as everyone comes back after they die), she decides she doesn't want her son to see her in that state. Rodriguez absolutely kills it here, and this scene hits harder than you'd expect thanks to her acting.  It sucks since I was getting attached to her, but I'm guessing no one really knew what to do with her character anymore. Although her death provides a more hopeless situation (changing Travis and Chris, losing the only one with any kind of medical knowledge), it sort of reeks of that "kill the woman to make the man more interesting" thing. They're losing a great actress, but I'm confident the show knows what it's doing. The major death of this episode is an intimate moment, and it's reflective of how this show's been handled. It's also something I can't say of the parent series, that for the first time, I actually cared that someone was dying off in one of these shows. It's genuinely unexpected, it's quiet, and then it's over but its lingering effects will be felt as the series rolls on. It's potential that the parent series failed to capitalize on, and as long as Fear avoids those same trappings, it can be a much better show. It's already had a much better first season.  Final Thoughts:  "You can keep the watch." Strand is so f**king cool.  Speaking of Strand, his character is pushing this into comic book-y territory, but he's so interesting I won't be bothered to care. His strict self-preservation's going to clash with the main cast soon, and it'll be fun to see which side of the new world folks will stand on.  You can argue that no one in this show is likable or interesting, and it'd be hard to argue, but later episodes will hopefully utilize all of the nuance laid out early on.  Nick's "everyone's catching up to me" speech was pretty dumb. Reminds me too much of this PSA. Fear's miniseries Flight 462, which will introduce a character for season two, premieres during each episode of the Walking Dead but I'll probably wait until it's all over to talk about it. No point in discussing a minute long episode each week.  So that's it! Thanks for sticking with me, folks. I'll be back next week with the series proper. Stay tuned!  Want to see more of our TV coverage? Check out our TV Recaps and Reviews! 
FTWD Recap photo
Can't wait for season two
Just like with its parent series, Fear the Walking Dead has been experiencing some growing pains within its very short, six episode first season. As the biggest draw, the zombies, took a backseat to a more intimate story of f...

The Simpsons Season 27 Premiere Review: Stunt Gone Wrong

Sep 28 // Nick Valdez
If you've followed any kind of entertainment news, you've probably heard of how Fox was promoting Homer and Marge's separation (along with Lena Dunham's cameo) as the next big thing to happen to the family. In recent years (more so in the upper 20s than not), the series has relied on these big events to draw in viewers. It kind of sucks since these kinds of events are usually saved for shows on the brink of cancellation as they gasp for air, and this show has never been starved for viewers. It's more telling that the event was advertised like a big deal, forgoing all of Homer and Marge's history (they were technically not married between Season 8's "A Milhouse Divided" and Season 16's "There's Something About Marrying") and not focusing on the why it happens. I guess when I finally sat down to watch this, I had hoped we'd get a well written story out of all of this nonsense. I mean, we're looking at a couple that's withstood an entire town riot, multiple opportunities to cheat, and several failed mortgages. So what finally rips them apart? Narcolepsy.  When Homer is diagnosed with narcolepsy (featuring the only funny segment in the episode as Dr. Hibbert notes the family's been on way too many wacky vacations), he uses the prescription to avoid all sorts of responsibilities. Marge's finally had enough, and after visiting a marriage counselor, decides to legally separate. Homer then ends up dating the kooky pharmacist Candace (Lena Dunham) and it leads to cheating on Marge, Marge quickly marrying Candace's dad, and the Simpsons kids welcoming their new predicament. The thing is, I can totally see this premise working in an earlier season. It's all just badly handled. I don't see Homer's laziness finally breaking Marge down since she's been through so much, and it's a shame that we don't get any other point of views. It's yet another formulaic "Homer is a dope" episode that doesn't treat any of its happenings with any weight. You know why? Because it's all a dream sequence. That's right, the big separation Fox has been pushing has been one of Homer's narcoleptic dreams. And when I thought for a second that the series wouldn't return to the status quo by episode end (since most of the series' future episodes laid out Homer and Marge's divorce as canon), the rug's pulled out several times. A "dream within a dream within a dream" bit would've been enjoyable had it been funny, or at least well written, but this wasn't the case.  This premiere has just been the latest in a long line of examples (the big "death" promoted last season, big guest stars in bit parts) why the show ain't what she used to be. I've stuck it out through these later seasons out of loyalty and the occasional nuggets ("500 Keys," "Holidays of Future Passed," "Eternal Moonshine of the Spotless Mind"), but this premiere feels more like a spit in my face than ever. I don't care if it's all a dream, but it's just so lazy. It neglects years of character work in favor of the "now." In an episode that references obscure oddities like the Springfield Atom, the Space Coyote, Fatov, or the one time Germans owned the power plant, it's hard to believe that they'd forget that Homer would never cheat on Marge. Every time they've been separated, he's always been a pitiable recluse full of blind love, and that's always been one of the reasons Marge finally takes him back. To see him do such a 180 is ridiculous, even for a supposed dream. Not to mention, there's no real reason Candace should go out with Homer. He's completely negative, washed out, and bashes her friends.  To do a premise like this properly, we'd have to take time and look at both and Homer and Marge. I would've welcomed them actually separating since it would've opened up all sorts of story potential. We've seen so much of this family as a unit, it would've been a good late season shake up to have them be apart for longer than an episode. But it feels like we're going in terrible circles. If the rest of the season is like this, I don't know if I can hang on anymore.  Final Thoughts:  Good to hear the rest of the Girls cast came along as Candace's friends, but their roles are wasted. Maybe a full on millenial episode like the Portlandia tribute "The Day the Earth Stood Cool" would've been a better idea.  Seriously, the opening bit at the hospital had some good meta jokes. Lots of Dr. Hibbert means that Harry Shearer definitely would've been missed.  My roommate's got a Space Coyote tattoo, so I'm sure he would've enjoyed that visual. That whole fantasy sequence wasn't too bad either.  Want to see more of our TV coverage? Check out our TV Recaps and Reviews! 
The Simpsons photo
No more cheap stunts please
I've been a big supporter of The Simpsons for as long as I can remember. Literally, one of my first memories was asking to watch the show. And if you ask my mother, she'd tell you I'd move around in my high chair in order to ...

Fear the Walking Dead Season 1 Recap: "Cobalt"

Sep 28 // Nick Valdez
All season long, Fear has been struggling to find its voice, i.e. what's going to set it apart from its parent series and other zombie media. Rather than tackle the endless feelings of depression and creeping mortality, Fear is once again making this an intimate apocalypse. As society begins breaking down, it's also leading to the dissolution of the intimacy of relationships. As evidenced by the series' newest, and coolest, character strand (Colman Domingo) in an opening monologue (given for the explicit purpose of driving weaker individuals out), society is crumbling and only those who can evolve along with the new world will survive. This also leads to the episode's central focus: the duality of Daniel and Travis. One's been bred through war and struggle in El Salvador, and the other's a guy who'd rather not incite violence. For the first time, Travis isn't annoying. I've discussed in length about how much his blind ignorance has bothered me seeing as how the rest of the family has accepted the new situation, but seeing him slowly come around has been oddly entertaining.  As the military force becomes way more political, seeing as how heavy patriotism and dehumanization of the zombies has become a coping mechanism for their strenuous mission, their cracks are starting to show. We're also learning how the world ended up the way it is in TWD as even the military forces fall apart due to sheer number of infected and soldiers wanting to return home to their families. It took even more "I'm a bad guy nyaaah" from the general to get Travis to snap out of whatever the hell he was thinking (and them trying to get Travis to shoot the gun was a very bad idea. He seriously could've hurt himself. His eye on the scope would've given him a black eye), but it works. That brings us back to Daniel Salazar and his torture. In order to get information from the kid from The Faculty his daughter was using, he begins torturing him. But I'm impressed with how Fear handled it. It didn't linger on any violence, but instead chose to enforce why Daniel thought it was a good idea. The series has been giving Daniel more and more darkness as it goes on, and this was just icing on the cake. Since he's experienced societal breakdown before (as he and Griselda fled to the US during Salvadorian civil war), he's figured out torture was one of the only ways to survive. Compare that to Travis and his inability to evolve, and Daniel's pretty much one end of the spectrum. His torture brings us to the crux of the episode as it leads to the season finale. As Liza steps into the military medical facility (and as Nick is trapped within), she's witnessing how they're handling things. We don't see the big picture, but that's not really important because there's a sense of imminent danger from all of it. The military's been using the facility to figure out the disease and pretty much puts down anyone who seems like a viable threat. It also meant that at one point, 2000 or so people were locked into an arena once infection broke. And that also brings the title of the episode as "Cobalt" refers to them abandoning the encampment and "humanely" terminating the people there less they become zombies later.  So after a slow buildup, we're finally going to see society crumble. The military's struggling as communication breaks down and human nature takes over, that arena's going to burst open and force our characters out of LA, and as the coolest character Strand notes, the only thing that's going to push folks forward is their "obligation" to other people and their relationships. Fear's made the most out of its personal apocalypse and the characters have become a bit more interesting than Rick's gang of comic book characters.  Final Thoughts:  Alycia and Chris still are the worst characters, but their combined storyline of discussing class issues while wrecking a rich person's home led to some interesting areas. That's more than I can say for previous episodes which gave them nothing to do.  Seeing as how Strand is super interesting, I see Fear holding off on killing another Black character for a bit. Good for them! Teaming up with the annoying Nick (going through withdrawals) is more evidence in Fear's confident long game.  "I'm an addict." "No, you're a heroin addict. That's the gold standard. Don't sell yourself short."  Just like the parent series, Fear's first season has been all set up for the second season. Let's hope it ends better than Walking Dead did.  Want to see more of our TV coverage? Check out our TV Recaps and Reviews! 
FTWD photo
Whoa, what show is this?
The show's been very confident in its long game. After immediately getting picked up for a second season, I'm sure the showrunners knew they'd have time to build up to a satisfying story. It may have been rough before the Lab...

The Splat photo
The Splat

Nickelodeon reviving 90's programming with The Splat

Olmec now, Olmec forever
Sep 25
// Nick Valdez
Remember the Nicktoons channel? It was this channel dedicated to past Nickelodeon cartoons like Rugrats or As Told By Ginger that was phased out in favor another outlet for their live programming. But with the 90s nostalgia b...

The Muppets Pilot Review: Not Really for Kids, But That's Okay

Sep 23 // Nick Valdez
There's a bit of a jarring transition going into this new status quo. The show follows the Muppets backstage as they work on a late night talk show starring Miss Piggy (think The Late Show with Stephen Colbert or The Tonight Show and you've gotten the idea). There's also traditional bits of character work for the show moving forward: Fozzie's in a relationship where his girlfriend's parents don't approve of their daughter dating a bear, The Electric Mayhem may have substance abuse problems (but that's in side jokes, don't worry), and the afortmentioned Kermit and Miss Piggy have split up but maintain a working relationship the best they can. The biggest change has to be Kermit's new personality. Maybe it's due to being walked on over the years, or stress from his managerial gig, but this new Kermit's kind of a jerk. A funny jerk, mind you, but a jerk nonetheless. At least he's got all sorts of new facial expressions to toss around. The folks at work have made some great renovations to Kermit's puppetry. He's also got a new girlfriend, Denise.  That's the kind of stuff I'm referring to when I say The Muppets aren't really for kids anymore. They've been all ages for years, so there are probably tons of examples you could point to of when the Muppets had adult-oriented humor. But this is the first time I noticed a clear barrier of entry. By the time Kermit refers Miss Piggy as "sexy," it's already put all the nails in the coffin for kids. But while the whole family can't enjoy, I'm sure the Muppets can draw a lot from this new level of sophisticated humor. I laughed quite a few times during this pilot, and they weren't due to the same kind of slapstick gags or easy jokes you'd expect. Drawing from the more successful aspects of the two films, there's a greater emphasis on joke writing and staging. So there's a better balance of the classic Muppets charm without an over-reliance of some of the cornier jokes. Then again, this could all just be too early to tell if the strength of the writing can hold out for the following weeks.  At the end of the day, it's The Muppets in a brand new package. You don't know exactly what you're getting anymore, but it's the most interesting The Muppets have been in some time.  Final Thoughts:  Imagine Dragons: "Why won't you come on tour with us?" Animal: "Too many cities. Too many women." "You went into a room full of dancing stars and came back with Tom Bergeron?"  "What can I say? I have a thing for pigs." Elizabeth Banks totally kills her guest spot.  Riki Lindhome showed up in both this and Fresh Off the Boat last night, and the world clearly needs more of her. Her presence is always welcome.  Want to see more of our TV coverage? Check out our TV Recaps and Reviews! 
The Muppets TV photo
Tom Bergeron can't catch a break
The Muppets have made quite a comeback the last few years. After two successful films, the latest Muppet project brings them to ABC in a mockumentary style format similar to shows like Parks and Recreation or The Office (henc...

Scream Queens Series Premiere Recap: "Pilot/Hell Week"

Sep 23 // Nick Valdez
I'm not sure if Fox's plan to premiere two episodes in a row was a good thing. When succumbed to that much of Murphy's work at once, the cracks always show. It's one of the rare cases where the pilot fared much better than the first episode of the series proper. For example, the show opens in a particularly interesting way as a girl (in 1995, no less) gives birth to a baby in a bathtub during a sorority (Kappa Kappa Tau) party. The other girls ignore her when TLC's "Waterfalls" comes on, thus leading to her death and a mysterious cover up that's sure to be one of the running threads throughout the series. It's a pretty impressive hook for any pilot and perfectly captures the tone the Glee trio of Murphy/Falchuk/Brennan is looking for. It's darkly humorous, creepy, informative of the show's universe, and there's a splash of pop culture reference. But other than one other scene which I'll get to in a bit, it never quite reaches that height again.  There's always been something that bothered me with Murphy's work. Because he's a marginalized individual, he's always been okay with exploiting other margins in the sake of comedy. The same problems that have plagued his shows appear here as well. There are racial stereotypes (though I'm sure Keke Palmer is just playing Keke Palmer despite arguments otherwise), thickly laid homoeroticism that borders on the homophobic, and a "Queen Bee" character in Emma Roberts the trio uses as a funnel for every terrible (ultimately non-humorous) thing they could think of. But what separates Queens from a show like, let's say, Scream, is that it doesn't dwell on these characters and takes them seriously. It's a show full of dumb caricatures making terrible choices, and we're going to want to watch them get murdered week to week. From the looks of how much humor it can mine from gleefully killing its characters, I'm sure they're be style in spades. Just by watching these first two episodes, I've figured the modus operandi of Scream Queens is to revel in its quirk so much it won't be bothered to actually develop any of its characters. There's some surprising level of depth to Emma Roberts' Chanel (which make the other Chanels look lacking in comparison), but if she's expected to lead the series instead of the final girl archetype Grace (Skyler Samuels), I don't know how much of her I can take. There are definite narrative nuggets to her character, so I hope I can chalk it up to growing pains. As for everyone else, Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Jonas are definitely the standouts. Curtis is basically playing Coach Sue Sylvester with a dark twist, and Jonas' secretly gay-but-not-secretly gay Boone is full on cheese and it's the best. But you know who gets the biggest scene? Ariana Grande. Not because of her acting or her character, but because a well crafted and staged scene that perfectly encapsulates the show's potential.  Since Scream Queens is an homage to B-grade films, but still wants to poke fun at the current state of horror, we get this awesome scene where Chanel No. 2 is murdered by the series' killer, the Red Devil, through text messages. It nets the biggest laugh and is oddly proactive as Chanel tries her best to tweet out her death. She isn't just silently killed off into the night, but does her best to prevent it even when locked into a goofy sequence. The same can't be said for the series' next two deaths, but so far, each death sequence has been unique and pretty damn funny. Once you get past the show's awkward writing, the rest of the package is great. It's interesting enough that I've decided to talk about it for the next few weeks.  Final Thoughts:  Chad Radwell, the stereotypical rich jerk who's cool with his best friend being gay, is by far my favorite character in the show thus far. I'm sure his death scene is going to be fantastic.  Lea Michele's Hester takes a maniacal turn in episode two and I'm not sure I like it yet.  Abigail Breslin as Chanel No 5 hasn't really made a name for herself yet. I thought she was the good girl who was just stuck in her terrible sorority, but her turn in the second episode proved that wrong.  I'm also not sure what to think of Niecy Nash and Nasim Pedrad's characters. They're the wackiest characters in the show by far, but it's too early to tell if that's a good thing or not.  At least this isn't as bad as The New Normal was.  Remember that VH1 reality show Scream Queens, where 8 actresses went through challenges in order to land a role in one of the Saw movies? That was a good time. They should do that again.  Want to see more of our TV coverage? Check out our TV Recaps and Reviews! 
Scream Queens Recap photo
Glee and AHS had an awkward baby
You folks don't know this, because we'd only recently begun covering television in earnest, but I was a huge fan of Glee. I bought the soundtracks, I bought the seasons on DVD (this was before Netflix took over and ruined EVE...

Limitless Pilot Review: Limited in Scope

Sep 23 // Nick Valdez
Taking place sometime after the events of 2011's Limitless, a drug known as NZT taps into the brain's potential and removes a set of limiters which hold our thought processes back. As Brian Finch (Jake McDorman) feels like a failure (his dad's sick, his band isn't getting anywhere, and he's yet to hold a steady job), he's introduced to NZT and suddenly gets framed for murder when his best friend is killed. In order to prove himself innocent, he starts hunting down and taking more NZT in order to stay ahead of the police and lead Detective Rebecca (Jennifer Carpenter, who always gets stuck looking after a dude with major problems in these shows). After all of the shenanigans, and finding out Brian's immune to the drugs' physical toll, Rebecca chooses to work with Brian in order to use his super brain as a police resource.  I try my best not to compare a piece of media to other things, but it's much harder to do with television. This time of season we'll get a lot of shows with the same core formula, but only the ones with the strongest hook or writing manage to last into the winter. As Limitless becomes yet another cop procedural, it's hard not to compare with shows that use its tropes better. A female cop teams up with a guy outside of the force? It's done better in Castle. A guy who's super smart and has all the answers? Check any of the leading network shows for white men who solve problems. Heck, it's even in CBS's own Elementary right now. Unfortunately, the only thing that could've made this show interesting (having Brian slowly degenerate through the series due to the drug's effects) is brushed away by a Bradley Cooper cameo. I'm not sure why the show refused to follow a broken lead, but broken characters always make for better TV. Just imagine if later in the series Brian became a wild and reckless junkie doing whatever he needed to for his next fix in order to stop other crimes. But with the police providing his drugs and with the narrative mistake of never showing what it does to his brain, there's a lack of tension. Even when's he's scrambling around for it in the pilot, it never once feels like he's in any kind of trouble. All we're left with is a super successful man successfully succeeding.  Seeing the film's lead character (who's now running for Senator) adds legitimacy, but it only reminded me of how much I was willing to brush off the film due to Cooper's charismatic nature. I was okay with Motta's rampant success because Cooper is a guy you want to see work things out. I'm not sure if the show will lead to the violent places the film did, but I don't think I care. Unfortunately for Jake McDorman, he doesn't have any kind of personality yet. I hope he can build it through the series, but he's sort of a brick wall. His scenes with Carpenter are a travesty. It's like she's talking to air as McDorman gives her nothing to bounce off of. As for the show's direction, the less said the better. There's nothing distinguishing this from CBS's other cop procedurals. It's the same drab looks, the same weird CG, and lacks any kind of distinct characteristics. It's entirely relying on the fact it's based off a film and hopes we'll enjoy the hook of the super drug enough to stick around.  But seeing as how much Limitless is limiting its own storytelling potential, feel free to pass on this show.  Final Thoughts:  This guy feels like a failure at 28? F**k this guy.  It really is nice of Bradley Cooper to do things like this. He really didn't have to show up and be the mysterious guy who knows everything (even if he's the executive producer), but it makes sense for the world building. Cooper should really consider more villainous roles.  Speaking of Cooper's cameo, he's a talking CG baby at one point. Yeah, I don't know what happened there.  I wished the pilot made more time for Brian to have fun with his new abilities. The montage where he experiments with his new brainpower is the best scene of the episode. McDorman actually has some personality here, and I hope there'll be time for that later. The serious tone the show takes later in the episode completely snuffs out this Brian. 
Limitless photo
Could use some of that super brain drug
If you haven't been paying attention to the TV scene lately, it's been getting more and more impressive. Shows are getting better budgets, a higher class of actors, and their getting all sorts of social media attention. It's ...

Minority Report Pilot Review: It's Basically Already Canceled

Sep 22 // Nick Valdez
Taking place ten years after the events of Steven Spielberg's Minority Report (which the pilot has to remind folks existed) and the end of the PreCrime Unit (where the police arrested folks based on murders that hadn't yet happened), one of the "Precognitives" Dash (Stark Sands) has grown tired of hiding as his murder visions grew worse and worse. He eventually teams up with Detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good of Cousin Skeeter fame)  and their adventures in policing begin or something like that.  Pilots are under an extreme amount of pressure. They've got to hook their respective viewers within the first fifteen minutes or so while showing why the world they inhabit is worth investing in. Report actually accomplishes this pretty well. The opener follows Dash as he frantically dashes toward the scene of a crime while showing off the pilot's impressive budget (which I don't expect to hold weight through the rest of the series, much like Almost Human). It's a subtle and intelligent sequence as Dash struggles knowing the entire time he'll fail. But there's never any hand holding during this, and we're left to infer it from his actions. And when he does indeed fail to stop the murder, it's as simple as watching him turn away from the scene since he's witnessed so much of it already. Unfortunately, that same light touch doesn't extend past that point. After the first ten or some minutes, Report basically becomes every cop show ever. I don't really understand why, but for some reason Report constantly exposits story details. Lines like "They remind you of having no parents, that's why you came to me." or along those lines. It loses that subtlety in favor in overtly stating how other characters relate to other ones, and it's not like those relationships are particularly inventive either. You'd figure with a world 50 years in the future, the future police would have better conversations than "I'm a future police." That's not really what they say, but I hope you get my point. I guess I'm still sour about Almost Human. That show had a much better handled premise. It's not all bad as there are a few nuggets that might prove interesting later, but this pilot had a ton of rough edges. Normally I'd say to forgive a pilot's bad writing if the cast or premise were gripping enough, but I don't feel that way here. I'd love for Meagan Good to have a great starring vehicle, but since she yet again plays second fiddle to some white guy, I'm over it.  Either way you fall on this, Fox will cancel this after the first season...if it even gets to that point.  Final Thoughts:  Meagan Good is great, but I wish the pilot exploited her body less. It really undermines how good of a detective she is when we're all ogling a picture of her in a bikini.  We're all lucky I didn't use "Meagan Bad"  Wilmer Valderama is here. That's all I have to say about that.  "When I was your age, we used this thing called Tinder. It's how I met your father." I don't care what year it is, no one ever will refer to Iggy Azalea's "Trouble" as an "oldie."  I totally believe The Simpsons will still be on the air 50 years from now. 
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I miss Almost Human
As television grows more and more influential thanks to its ready availability through streaming services, networks have been putting more and more money and effort into their offerings. One of the weird consequences of this ...

Fear the Walking Dead Season 1 Recap: "Not Fade Away"

Sep 21 // Nick Valdez
We're two episodes away from the season finale (and before the season six premiere of the parent series), so whatever the seeds the show has been planting had to emerge now more than ever. It's a shame to took something major like the US military (or whatever this is a semblance of, actually) to shake stuff up. But whatever. At the end of last week's episode, a military convoy showed up and bordered off the suburb. In this episode, it's been nine days since the military took over (coupled with a stupidly ironic cover of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day") and characters have settled into new rhythms that'll carry through the season finale: Travis grows accustomed to the military and becomes the middle man between them and the citizens (because of course he would), his son Chris discovers people asking for help outside of the fence, his ex-wife Liza fakes being a nurse in order to give people peace of mind, Madison and Daniel are suspicious of the military, Ofelia is working a military dude for drugs, and Nick is going through MacGuyver-esque lengths for a new fix.  And like the previous episode, this one comes down to activity vs. inactivity. As a way to enhance the series' focus on intimacy (as evident through the copious close up shots), the familial drama and the apocalypse finally combine into a legitimate threat. Rather than follow its parent series' focus on how each individual decides to survive (as we watched Rick slowly evolve into a shadow of his former self through six seasons), Fear seems to focus on how the family wants to survive together. And that's become the show's greatest strength. Rather than fall onto water cooler zombie attacks to keep itself going, one of "Not Fade Away" biggest moments comes from a mother and son. As Madison literally (and more importantly, lovingly) tries to knock some sense into her junky twerp of a son, it's the closest I've ever felt to her. For once, Madison felt human instead of just being the show's main character. The military's lack of info forces Madison out of her pragmatic nature and causes her to make some pretty reckless situations as she escapes from the fence and sees the chaos outside.  Although this stuff seems minimal, it's still very exciting. The military finally reveals their ugly (but strangely logical) motive and starts removing slighted damaged people from the safe zone. I could've done without all of mustache twirling from the army general (as he plays golf and says things like "don't make me take him down"), but the end result is worth it. Fear actually had a tense moment as the military comes into Madison's home and takes her son away along with Daniel's wife Griselda under the guise of medical help. This was set up wonderfully too as Fear takes advantage of its ethnic characters as Daniel tells a horrific story of the government taking people away in El Salvador. There's a brewing distrust and all of it seems like its leading to a season finale where Madison, Daniel (and Travis now that his innocence and trusting nature has been crushed) break into a compound to bust them out. Walking Dead seems to love ending in military compounds.  Final Thoughts:  We need more scenes of Madison and Daniel together. Clearly there's a major benefit in letting the series' two best actors work off each other.  Shawn Hatosy (who I remember from The Faculty) was cast as the military guy who Ofelia is trying to work over for her mother's medicine. He'll surely take a sinister turn later when the military folks decide to take care of themselves rather than the citizens.   "Free medical, care of the United States of America" "Not a lot of traffic these days." I'm kind of impressed with how Nick gets a drug fix in this episode. Hopefully that all comes to a stop. He's become rather annoying. 
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It's better to burn out than fade away
I've been one of the many people decrying Fear the Walking Dead's lack of anything interesting to latch on to. It's a slow burn of a show, but was poorly handling why we needed to stick around to see the result. But surprisin...

FlixList: The 8 Best Steven Universe Episodes

Sep 18 // Matt Liparota
Space Race (Episode 28) What makes this episode memorable to me—aside from its enticing premise, adorable montages, and chillingly sweet conclusion—is what it has to say about Pearl. Up to this point, most of the episodes (surprisingly) have been about Pearl, but this is the first one where we begin to understand who Pearl really is. She may seem stuck up and prissy, but she’s more nostalgic for her old home than her new life on Earth. We’ve all been Pearl in this situation before, where missing our old previous life brings us some comfort, but it’s in the small moments in the here and now that we find not only more comfort, but fulfillment too. In future episodes, Pearl’s anxieties are portrayed in a much more antagonistic light, but in "Space Race," for just a moment, Pearl feels more human than she ever has before or since. For Steven Universe to follow up one of its biggest high stakes episodes with one of its softer character pieces shows a strong restraint on the part of the writers and artists, as well as fundamental understanding of their own characters' needs. Plus this episode features some of the absolute best background music in the series to date. -- John-Charles Holmes [embed]219932:42620:0[/embed] Tiger Millionaire (Episode 9) Given how far the show has come in the past year, you'd be surprised to know that Steven Universe was off to a rough start. I was grabbed by the premise, and that cute "Cookie Cat" jam for sure, but SU took a few episodes to get its feet on the ground. About seven episodes in, with the introduction of his best friend Connie in "Bubble Buddies," the show really found its own voice. While I almost put that episode on this list, the show first combined sublime humor with deep storytelling in "Tiger Millionaire." You wouldn't think a wrestling pastiche, where Steven becomes the ultimate heel (the titular "Millionaire"), would be full of brilliant character work, but this is just an example of the many surprises the show is full of. Like its parent series Adventure Time, this episode proved that Steven Universe could too provide a thematically rich through line (as you realize Amethyst is wresting for a hidden, personable reason) while never forgetting it's a show for kids. It's also got everything the best SU episodes have: a killer soundtrack, the Beach City townspeople, and some great one liners. Now there's no sodas for anybody.   -- Nick Valdez [embed]219932:42617:0[/embed] Steven and the Stevens (Episode 22)  Time-travel is pretty well-worn territory for any kind of high-concept, vaguely sci-fi storytelling, so it’s no surprise that Steven Universe eventually went to that well. Leave it to Steven to put its own unique spin on the trope, though; after very briefly dabbling in trying to alter history, Steven decides to form a boy band…with himself. It falls apart within all of 30 seconds, as the “original” Steven quickly realizes how annoying he can be, which leads to a battle across time culminating in a scene in which literally dozens of Stevens disintegrate into nothing in probably the creepiest way possible (for a lighthearted kids’ show). “Steven and the Stevens” isn’t the most monumentally important episode of Steven Universe, not by a long shot, but it’s one of my favorites. It’s a prime example of the show firing on all cylinders, taking a core concept and playing it out in a way that feels both fresh and completely true to the characters involved (the scene where the four Stevens try and figure out their band personas cracks me up every single time). It’s also got one of the earliest instances of Steven Universe being just great at musical numbers (give or take a Giant Woman). -- Matt Liparota  [embed]219932:42618:0[/embed] Island Adventure (Episode 30) Man, this episode holds a lot of feelings for me. First of all, SU was so confident in its audience that it was willing to capitalize on Lars and Sadie's relationship and hoped you caught all the action happening on the sidelines. There's such a deft amount of work done between the characters through background interactions with Steven that they feel like real people. It all came to a head here as Lars, Sadie, and Steven are trapped on a mysterious island and Steven plays the tune "Be Wherever You Are." Not only is the montage great, but the song's lyrics and musicality are well crafted. A personal bit: I moved from Texas to New York a few months ago and this song was the first thing I listened to as song as I touched down.  I was a nervous wreck, and the song helped me calm down a little bit. It's such a beautiful message. Don't stress and just be wherever, whoever, and whatever you are. -- Nick Valdez [embed]219932:42624:0[/embed] Jail Break (Episode 52)  Okay, so let’s get the “big” stuff out of the way, the huge mythology stuff that puts this episode in any top 10 all on its own. First, you’ve got the gem-shattering reveal that Garnet is actually a fusion of two heretofore-unknown-gems, Ruby and Sapphire (something fans had long theorized and is blatantly obvious in retrospect) – in essence, she’s a living relationship. That’s immediately followed up by an incredible musical number-turned-fight sequence, “Stronger Than You,” which manages to feel climactic, expository and emotional all at once; the fact that it’s a legitimately great piece that you want to listen to over and over again certainly doesn’t hurt.  Ultimately, though, that’s not really what the episode is about. Like so much of Steven Universe, this episode touches on what makes Steven himself unique and indispensable, not just as a Crystal Gem but as a person. It’s only because of Steven’s unique status as a gem-human hybrid that he’s able to escape and set the entire episode in motion, as well as attack Peridot head-on when the time comes. Steven has all kinds of amazing abilities, but his real super-power is his big, human heart – something that the Crystal Gems have learned over the course of the series, and something that villainous Jasper can’t seem to fathom. Ultimately, that’s the heart of Steven Universe – one sensitive little boy who loves with all his heart and will do anything for his friends (and maybe even his enemies). -- Matt Liparota [embed]219932:42623:0[/embed] Winter Forecast (Episode 42)  Steven Universe, by its very nature of being a cartoon, is all about visual storytelling. The thing about getting this kind of storytelling just right is that you have to carefully nail all the little details. Not only does "Winter Forecast" do this, but the episode is all about the little details you can see. In this episode, Garnet bestows Steven with temporary “future vision” (the ability to see the future by seeing all possible outcomes before they happen) as an approaching snowstorm threatens to keep the Universe family from getting Steven’s best friend Connie home safely. What follows is a sequence of events of how things could go more and more horribly wrong with the more irresponsible decisions Steven could choose to make. What links these decisions together are small yet incredibly memorable details that makes for an episode full of subtle unforgettable moments—Greg’s cherry sweater (I’m the cherry man!), puddles freezing over into slick patches of ice, and even small unspoken glances between characters. The details come together to tell a cohesive story that makes even the viewers at home feel like they can really see the future. Top it off with one of the sweetest and by far quietest moments in all of Steven Universe, and you’ve got one of the best episodes of the entire show that reminds you that big moments are made from little details… as long as you’re always willing to give them a chance. -- John-Charles Holmes [embed]219932:42619:0[/embed] Alone Together (Episode 37)  My favorite character by far is Connie. I like to joke with my friends and say that someday I'd hope to have a friendship that's as great as Steven and Connie's, and that's because Connie's such a well realized character. She's not relgated to the romantic interest in Steven's hero's journey and he needs her just as much as she needs him. All of that comes to a head with "Alone Together." An experiment in SU's already established gender fluidity, sex metaphors (as the Steven half of their fused form constantly checks to make sure Connie is comfortable), and character relations, the two kids fuse together and it's as awkward as you'd think. It's such a natural trajectory for their relationship too as the two enjoy being "not one being, not two beings, but an experience" and only find fault with it when one of them is truly uncomfortable. The thing of it is, it's played straight. The fact that a boy and girl are the same person isn't mined for jokes and it's a serious discussion about identity. That's way more than any kids cartoon has done thus far. -- Nick Valdez Joy Ride (Episode 54) Much like its spiritual successor Adventure Time, one of the best things about Steven Universe is its extensive cast of colorful secondary characters, and the show has spent a lot of time developing and connecting them in unexpected ways. Beach City’s surly, rebellious teens are just a handful of those characters, and they also happen to be unexpectedly hilarious, going back to their first appearance in “Lars and the Cool Kids.” “Joy Ride” takes that development a step further, adding some real shading to characters who by this point had largely been rather broad. One of the best things about Steven Universe is the way that secondary characters’ initial impression of Steven is that he’s just a naive, goofy kid, but as they spend more time with him they realize just how infectious his enthusiasm for life is. This episode is perhaps the pinnacle of that – the Cool Kids all have semi-normal teen problems, but they pale in comparison to Steven’s burdens post-“Jail Break” – but as they note, his upbeat attitude almost never wavers. Despite first appearances, Steven’s not naive - he’s got real problems that put ours to shame - but he’s not going to get swallowed up by despair, either. “Joy Ride” is, if nothing else, a fun demonstration of how much depth the show’s secondary characters have gained since the show began. -- Matt Liparota
Best Steven Universe photo
Keep Beach City weird
In the nearly two years since it first debuted, Steven Universe has done something few kids' shows do. Created by Adventure Time alum Rebecca Sugar, Steven Universe is a show that manages to be fun, hilarious, exciting but al...

Fear the Walking Dead Season 1 Recap: "The Dog"

Sep 14 // Nick Valdez
At the end of last episode, Travis, his ex-wife and son ended up in the care of the Salazar family. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on how you see it) we don't get to explore this time long as this episode begins with all of them having to leave. It's a well storyboarded scene as the two families make their way through the riots and the shots are appropriately hectic. There's even a zombie attack amidst the chaos, and it's so frantic you can actually feel the two families trying to make sense of it all. While they were running, the chaos leads to Griselda Salazar getting hurt and the Salazar's decide to stay with Travis while talking of "debts" and the like. This also is one of the reasons I'm starting to hate Cliff Curtis' Travis as a character. The fact he doesn't suggest taking in the Salazars after they helped him is pretty petty. Also, I'm not really sure what to think of the Salazar family yet. It's pretty neat that a Latino family is at the forefront of one of these shows, but I don't like how typical they've become.  Ruben Blades' Daniel is headstrong and stuck in this standard Latino ideology that one doesn't do something without owing something in return. I'm not exactly confident that the series can explore it well, but it's at least some sort of characterization. I just hope he branches out from the typical image he's given right now. It seems so since he judges Travis as weak. And as much as Madison has annoyed me in previous episodes, her arc has been the most compelling thus far (and I thought the drug addict Nick would provide more entertainment). As The Walking Dead deals with people surviving in the apocalypse, Fear wants to watch how these people will slowly change. And if Fear is smart, it'll only focus on that stuff. As much as I love watching failing societies, I love watching people crumble under it. As Madison realizes that, illness or not, these dead people are still dangerous, she just might the decision to be active.  That's the overall direction this season: activity vs. inactivity. Characters bicker as to whether or not they need to find a better shelter, Travis refuses to actually put down a zombie (which might lead to a well deserved death) and accept the world is ending, Madison is just trying to keep her family together, Daniel wants to stay and take care of his family while the others march to their deaths, Nick has to decide whether or not to pursue drugs, Alycia finds out more and more about the new world, parts of the city are rioting while the suburban area seems to live life as usual, and all of this is just fantastic...until the ending.  You see, Fear the Walking Dead throws all of this away and introduces the military as they come in and literally save the day. I don't know where any of this is going, but it put a literal stop to all of the forward momentum the episode had going for it. I've had enough of these crooked military stories.  Final Thoughts:  When you find out why this episode is titled "The Dog," you'll be as sad as I was.  Travis somehow thinks the zombies are sick even after watching one get run over multiple times a few episodes ago. I just don't get it. Also he's staunchly opposed to guns. Either the show's setting up for a big downfall or his character's going to go through one of those "dark turns."  The same person has directed the three episodes so far, that's probably why there's a welcome feeling of consistency.  You're probably wondering why the episode took a few seconds to focus on a plane flying over, but someone on that plane will be joining season 2. AMC's planning some mini-episode detailing all of that. 
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A dog eat dog world
I stand by what I said last time and believe the Labor Day week off was definitely a death knell for Fear the Walking Dead. Though it needs to finish its six episode season before The Walking Dead premieres next month, it did...

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Steven Universe

Steven Universe's extended opening theme is the best

Watch it already!
Sep 10
// Nick Valdez
Over the last year, Steven Universe has blown up to magnificent proportions on Cartoon Network. It was confident enough in its long game to build a literal "universe" of well rounded characters, strong and more adult themes (...
Flash Season 2 Teaser photo
Flash Season 2 Teaser

The Flash season 2 teaser reveals multiple worlds and Flashes

Sep 09
// Nick Valdez
I may not enjoy The CW's Arrow, but I'm a pretty big fan of The Flash. It's fun, light, it's got Tom Cavanagh (who really hasn't got the due time he deserves) and it somehow gets away with so much comic book nonsense. By the ...
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Grand Theft Movie

First teaser for BBC's Grand Theft Auto/Jack Thompson drama The Gamechangers

Sep 03
// Nick Valdez
Remember that whole business a few years ago where folks thought videogames were violent and should be banned? The Gamechangers is a BBC TV production (with the worst kind of made for TV title) about the core of it all in 200...

Fear the Walking Dead Season 1 Recap: "So Close, Yet So Far"

Aug 31 // Nick Valdez
After the fallout from last week in which Madison, Travis, and Nick witness a zombified Calvin fail to stay down, the three part ways and try and figure out what to do next. The general consensus being that they plan to escape to the desert. The funny thing is, they only seem to care about their own safety. Keeping the secret from the neighbors (who were throwing a little girl's birthday party, just to rub salt in the wound) and keeping quiet in general as folks are caught in protests over "police brutality" in an effort to shoe horn in current events. I'd see people reacting that way if we were caught in the situation, but it's still a little weird that the dead rising up would be a secret even after numerous videos and stuff leaked online as this episode leads us to believe. Anyway, this episode shifts the focus to Madison, Nick's mother, who goes out in search of some kind of fix for Nick now that he's going through withdrawal.  I figured something like this would've happened, but kudos to Fear for getting it out of the way early while there's only lingering tension rather than use it as a way to force more immediacy into some terrible scene later. We also get a better grip on Travis' family, his ex-wife Liza (the fantastic Elizabeth Rodriguez) and his terrible son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) as Travis tries to convince them to safety without exactly telling them what's going on. It's pretty stupid since Chris eventually gets rapped up in a protest of one of the "shootings" and Travis and Liza end up in a terrible part of town during a riot instead of somewhere way better. But that sets them up for the rest of the season as they take refuge in a barber shop owned by the Salazar family. Thanks to Fear's LA setting (though it shouldn't be the only reason), there's already way more Latin representation, and that's a pretty big deal for me. Although apparently neither Walking Dead likes African American characters (despite the showrunner's insistence that it's merely a coincidence of casting) thanks to three Black characters dying in two episodes, it's great to see focus on a non-White family for once.  Speaking of, Madison and Alycia (the daughter who's still kept out of the loop for some stupid reason) both deal with African American death in their own way. Alycia's boyfriend Matt was attacked and is slowly becoming a zombie (off screen for both of those things, thankfully) and Madison come across a zombified version of her former boss as she combs her school for her son's drugs. Although it's a weird idea, the show tells us it's smart by having the audience speak through some kid whose name I forgot. Honestly, he was the only kid clued into the whole thing and it's a shame he won't be around for the other episodes. Anyhoo, Nick and Alycia end up sharing some good character moments when Nick seizures. It's a little too on the nose given the moment, but I'll take it.  Final Thoughts:  This episode is one of transitions and sets the pace for the rest of the season. It'll be interesting to see where it goes, but waiting two more weeks is f**king ridiculous. Just should've waited another week to premiere it. Get your head out of your butt, AMC.  Seriously, it's a little suspicious given all of these black character deaths are just "casting coincidences." Someone's got to keep a better eye on that.  During Walking Dead season six, there'll be a 30 minute short, taking place on an airplane headed for LA, that'll introduce a character for season 2. Who knows what the character'll be like, but I don't really care. They should really focus on developing clashing familial ideologies.  I'm putting a lot of faith in the show representing these Latin character properly. They're Catholic, since one was already praying, so hey it might be good.  One last thing, love the constant alarms and sirens in the background. Always reminds the audience that stuff is going down. 
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Yeah, pretty much
After Fear the Walking Dead's first episode set its slow burning tone for the rest of the season, and thus set it further apart of The Walking Dead's current craziness, it left a lot of folks wanting. Opinions were divided as...

Comedy photo

Key and Peele nail how Gremlins 2 came about

Joe Dante confirms it
Aug 28
// Matthew Razak
Anyone who has seen Gremlins 2 (and that should be everyone) has also uttered the words, "What the f**k was that?" It's a question that's long plagued all of us, but Key and Peele figured it out as you can see in the sketch b...

Fear the Walking Dead Series Premiere Recap: Pilot

Aug 24 // Nick Valdez
Fear starts promising enough. Opening on Nick (Frank Dillane) post-drug induced coma in a dingy church, he's the first character in the series to witness a zombie attack. Naturally, he assumes the woman in question is freaking out badly and runs into a passing car. This sets a pretty great direction for the rest of the episode since the account of the attack comes from an unreliable source. But while we all know there's an apocalypse brewing, Nick's mother Madison (Kim Dickens) and her second husband Travis (Cliff Curtis, who's always hired to play a vaguely ethnic character) have their hands full trying to bring Nick back into the familial fold.  The only problem with this major addiction story is that we've seen it all before, and the same can be said for the entire episode overall. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind stories with a lot of set up, but it's got to feel like it's going somewhere. It's pretty much a stretched out version of the first ten minutes you see in most zombie apocalypse films and at times it certainly comes off that way. But there's certainly enough here to keep me attached as Nick's story is pretty compelling. Sure it's going to lead to the whole "withdrawal while zombies attack" or "need for a fix puts everyone at risk" plot contrivance, but focusing the story on an unhinged individual works wonders creatively. Take a look at the Summer's biggest hit, Mr. Robot, for a better example of that. It certainly could work if done properly.  As the show moves forward and focuses more on this family deals with the impending trauma, the skimpier plots will work themselves out. Nick's sister Alycia is a well-off student on her way to college and to "escape" from her family's troubles, but right now she's focused on her boyfriend that's gone mysteriously missing. I'm waiting for the inevitable "you ruined my life" fallout, but the longer the show keeps her in a stagnant role the worse it'll be for all of us. In fact, the rest of the family gets eye to eye with the second zombie while she's literally sent home. Treating women and minorities terribly was a conceit of the original series' first couple of seasons, but since one of the problems worked itself out there, I'm hoping the same happens here. Then again, Madison's entire plot is wrapped around her son. Soooo, I don't really know what to think.  Final Thoughts: There's a "man vs. nature" speech lol Nick starts the show wearing a shirt no human being has ever worn ever. Speaking of Nick, Frank Dillane is the best actor of this whole thing. Having him at the show's center will definitely do wonders for the rest of the cast.  The urban setting will eventually lead to more Latinos, something the original show's Atlanta setting never amounted to. I guess non-whites never made it to Georgia since they're too busy dying all the time on that damn show.  While I love Cliff Curtis, I don't like how he's become the go-to race guy. But at least his character is Maori, too.  While fans will certainly miss the massive zombie attacks, the ones here are personal. That stings way more than a generic mass ever could. 
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Shuffling slowly
It's pretty much guaranteed Fear the Walking Dead's premiere will be compared to The Walking Dead's first episode. While the latter's premiere gave birth to a juggernaut, Fear most likely will be unfavorably, and unfairly, ju...

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Watch Fear the Walking Dead premiere's opening scene

Aug 21
// Nick Valdez
Regardless of what you think of The Walking Dead, it's become this juggernaut of a thing. I'm not into much anything going on, yet I still park my butt every Sunday and watch it with everyone else. It's the closest we'll ever...

Review: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Aug 14 // Matthew Razak
[embed]219771:42550:0[/embed] The Man From U.N.C.L.E.Director: Guy RitchieRated: PG-13Release Date: August 14, 2015  The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is an old school, James Bond, spy thriller. Quite literally, really. Instead of updating the premise of the show -- an American and Russian spy team up to fight world threats -- to meet modern times they simply went back to the cold war setting of the show. Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is an American spy and master thief and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) is basically his Russian counterpart, but he's better at beating people up. They're teamed up to rescue a nuclear scientist from the hands of an evil Italian fascist named Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki). The plot involves his daughter Gaby (Alicia Vikander) and more fashion, travel and quick one-liners than three Bond films put together. Of course the basis for a film like this has to be the chemistry between its leads. Hammer and Cavill can both easily handle sharp dialog and dressing well, but can they do it together? The answer turns out to be: if they work on it. The chemistry is a little rocky at first, especially since everyone in the film has clearly been told to overplay their adopted accents. The two seem wary of each other for the first half of the film until they fall into a solid patter. Maybe that was intentional, but it makes for a first half that feels a bit awkward, especially with Vikander thrown into the mix as Hammer's love interest. What helps it along is Guy Ritchie's direction (some words I never thought I'd be saying). The film is free over his usual over indulgences or maybe they just fit into the glamorous setting better. The movie feels smooth and stylish throughout and almost has a rhythmic flow to it that ramps up the feeling of a classic 60s spy film. He paces his action surprisingly well and often completely ignores it in favor of a solid gag or split screen montage. It's quite an adept piece of work that feels unique in a summer of action blockbuster that stood out for great stunts, but not so creative direction.  The screenplay isn't quite as suave, though Ritchie tries to imbue it with a little more tension than it deserves. It features twists and turns aplenty, but they don't always pay off as they should. The movie attempts to do what I'm going to call micro-twists. Instead of one big twist (there is one of those too) a scene will be a twist in itself. Multiple times we're shown only half of a sequence only to be filled in minutes later on the rest of what happened. It's an interesting execution and definitely works sometimes. Other times it feels forced, as if Ritchie were trying to add drama to a scene that wasn't working. As a film reviewer it was just interesting to watch it being executed, as a basic audience member I could see it getting annoying. What isn't annoying is that when the movie is clicking it's just plain fun. Once you realize that Cavill's pin-point perfect American accent and Hammer's resoundingly stereotypical Russian are indications that this film is as much a send up of 60s spy thrillers as it is an homage things start working really well. There's a certain je ne sais quoi to the Connery Bonds and their likes from the time period that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. actually grasps at every so often. Considering that most films can't even come close every so often is pretty damn good.  The Man From U.N.C.L.E. concludes in such a way that it's pretty obvious that they want another franchise (where this leaves Ritchie for directing another Sherlock Holmes movie is anyone's guess), but I think it's just a little too quirky to get the audience to come. That might be a good thing in the end. The movie feels like something from out of the past, especially with its lackluster plotting. It's smooth and crammed with tight dialog. It forgoes big action for clever direction. It focuses on the spies and not the toys, even if it isn't so good at the spy thing. It isn't always successful, but when it works  The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a film out of its time.
U.N.C.L.E. photo
Smooth operator
Does anyone below the age of 60 have super fond memories of the original TV show The Man From U.N.C.L.E.? I'm sure they're out there, but the new movie remake can't really be hitting on the nostalgia gas that hard when half t...

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