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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bojack Horseman Season 2 Review: Hollywoo Land.

You're broken and no one can fix you.

That is the central theme of one of the funniest show this year. It's mastery of absurdity and tragedy is unparalleled. You couldn't make this show with real people. You couldn't make it without it's goofy animal puns or it's increasingly intricate background gags or stable of bit players. It turns out when you mix Californication with Rocko's Modern Life you get the most honest cold stare at depression I've ever seen.

We open on Bojack listening to a self help audio book on his phone. He's helped publish a best selling autobiography and is about to go into work and play his dream role. He wants desperately to be happy and now has all the things he thinks he needs to pull that off. Though the book about all his life's accomplishments was called "One Trick Pony" and his dream role is a disgraced athlete who ultimately flung himself off a bridge.

This is also a show where in the forth episode the D in the Hollywood sign was stolen and everyone everywhere stopped calling it "Hollywood." I'm not sure how it keeps such a firm grasp while wrangling such opposite tones but it's marvelously successful 88% of the time. I say 88% because it does get a little too out there sometimes. 

Like when Bo's homeless couch surfing roommate reveals he's been secretly building his own homebrew Disneyland for years. I love Todd and I love how other characters shoo him away by asking him why he isn't having another "wacky" adventure. Yet the fact they needed such an obvious lampshade is part of the problem. He seems to be on a different show, a show that perfectly complements Bo's self inflicted misery, but still.

Actually, a lot of stories run parallel to Bo this year. Diane, his ex ghost writer/ex hopeless object of affection, and her husband (golden retriever Mr. Peanutbutter) have their own arc as a couple. The contrast of the cold intellectual with a vain, but fiercely loyal, air-head flows naturally from a huge fight to a shaky makeup to the most amazingly titled game show of all time:
I'll let that title be a surprise.

They have a real marriage. Their differences fester and drive them apart but ultimately make them more honest people. Yeah. Look at that gif and read that last sentence again. They have their dramedy cake and eat it too. I said before that Diane could carry the show on her own and she does for a while. Vindication is just the best, you guys.

The performances are all solid as well. This season gets bonus points for the most consecutive credit shocks ("wait... HE was in this?!!) I've ever had with a show. Liev Schreiber is in season 2 somewhere. I dare you to find him.

The 3 major arcs outside of Bojack may get sidelined for a while but they all reach a conclusion worthy of lead characters. I mean to say that this is now officially an ensemble show with 2 of the best female leads in television. If the male centric marketing turned you off, ignore it. No other show has ever explored  the fallout of sexual assault allegations this honestly (there's that word again). I'm not the only one who thinks so.

"You know what Oxpeckers do to Hippos... right?"

I want to keep gushing. I want to talk about Lisa Kudrow's amazing role as Bo's steady. How she's funny as hell while playing a character that essentially bores Bojack. She's entertaining AND boring. How? How did she do that? Holy crap. But I have to stop.

 My flirtation with the show a year back has turned into a full time love affair. I've watched the season twice already and I'm seriously considering watching it a third time. Except maybe I'll skip Escape from L.A. That ones pretty hard to watch but it also might be its greatest. Does that make sense? If it gets you to watch the show I don't care if I'm typing in tongues.

I've been having a rough go of it lately and this show helped me.  I feel its best to lay that bias on the table. Just sayin' I'm a little too close to it. But I'm also not shouting in a vacuum this year, the consensus has been deafening. This is a wonderful show that delights and horrifies. It can make the funniest "elephant in the room" gag you've ever seen and then spend the rest of the episode slowly filling you with existential dread. It looks like something that ran for one season on Fox 3 years ago but it feels like a modern classic.

Sunset Boulevard by way of The Simpsons.

Friday, July 24, 2015

You know who ELSE thinks New Vegas is the best Fallout?

I'm listening...
Why, its the Starbucks of gaming journalism. I kid. Somebody has to be at the top and somebody has to be the industry's pet. Never forget they discovered real talent in both Jessica Chobot (who they've since replaced with a blonde pod-person) and Greg Miller.  They're all right most of the time, I don't mind them as much as some.

So let's see... that's Honest Trailers, Eurogamer, myself, and now IGN.

Ya'll just banked some serious brownie points. Becaue I am just that easy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How good is Bojack season 2?

It's so good I'm willingly (hell, GLADLY) watching it all over again before finishing my review. It's no longer an unappreciated gem. It's evolved into one of the best animated shows yet produced and is still the most accurate portrayal of depression on screen. At least to me.

I've never done that before, for what it's worth.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Saturday, July 18, 2015

On binging Bojack:

It's good... really good. In the company of Archer, Bob's Burgers, and the golden age of The Simpsons good. A formal review is forthcoming.

God, they really hit the ground running this year.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

4 episodes deep and True Detective is still spinning it's wheels.

I'm sorry buddy. We can't ALL have a mcconaissance.

While still managing to be hypnotically watchable and showcasing Taylor Kitsch's best performance yet, this season's essentially a bust. We've barely covered enough intrigue to fill a feature film and the scant clues we have don't connect in any tantalizing ways.

When every suspect is a scum bag capable of anything the audience doesn't care when it's over. You're not spinning a mystery, you're playing duck, duck, goose. That shootout was pretty great, though. Too bad there's no one left to question.

Monday, July 13, 2015

That new job smell.

After floating around manual labor and restaurant jobs these last 4 years I've finally nailed down an, honest to god, DESK JOB. Finally I can put on a tie for work... I was becoming concerned that would never happen. It's only a 15 hour a week part timer but my long starved resume will never be the same. These are the first tentative steps to a full time job with benefits.

And at long last I can pay for health insurance!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I don't normally buy collectable figurines...

But when I do... they come from the Borderlands.

I just spent almost $40 on Borderlands figurines... I don't know why it happened. Wait, yes I do. I love those fuggin' games. Gimme enough coffee, podcasts, or old college buds and I could play BL2 or the Pre-sequel forever. Now I'll have tangible artifacts of all the good ol' gin soaked times I've had in there.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Darkest Dungeon gets deeper on the 15.

Double D is a harsh mistress that won't let you forget her. It's a trial of nerves and heartless strategy. Managing to be both cruel yet voraciously addicting. Like playing black jack under a swinging pendulum. I actually agonized over what the right gambling metaphor for it would be. It's not poker because chance factors too heavily. It's not slots because you have a ton of ways to haul your bleeding viscera out of a bad situation.

It's already a great game, but it's several updates away from being finished, I mean... there better be at least a couple more dungeon templates cooking. Either way, we get a new hero with what looks to be a scruffy wolfhound in tow. Great! I'm gonna watch that dog die. So many times.

"It's all your fault! You let this happen!!!!"

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Zombie Simpsons: Everything you wanted to know about it's slow and painful death but were afraid to ask.

Harry Shearer is officially back on the Simpsons. Yay, Nay, or meh? The guy's done the same job for 25 years and wants out. He's 71 and has more money than god so I'm a little sad they wrangled him back. The poor guy. Though he never has to walk into the studio again, so that's a pretty baller move.

But it was in the comment section of the Birth.Movies.Death article that I stumbled upon a self published chronicle of how that show's spirit slowly became amantiago-ed. I probably shouldn't have tried to verb that, but seriously:

"Charlie Sweatpant's" manifesto is a spectacular read. 

It keeps it's editorial voice to a minimum* and acts mostly like an investigation piece, citing dwindling amazon reviews, and old writers talking out of school. You know what the answers are going in, Matt Groening lost interest, the great writers drifted away, the mediocre links in the chain achieved seniority, then... darkness.

But it's nice someone took the time to set the record straight. I just realized I lost 3 of the 4 disks of season four that I've had since middle school and it's breaking my heart.

*I'm further in and it's now very much an editorial. Still a dead on critique, though.

Monday, July 6, 2015

18 whole minutes of No Man's Sky!

Every once in a while a game comes along that promises the moon. This one promises the universe. A game so big your entire life isn't remotely enough to see it all. I want to believe in it so hard. A polygonal minecraft with laser guns and spaceships and jet packs and aliens and black monolithic robots... I'll let the game's creator take it from here. Clearly I need to lie down.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

True Detective Season 2 is... awful, ok? It's really, REALLY, bad.

Taylor. f**king. Kitsch.

My HBO NOW subscription lapsed on Tuesday. Instead of feeling like I was about to loose an important part of my Sunday night, I thought "Good." Let's start with the new opening. Last season's was a soaring, yet bitter, country-blues ballad. I listened to it all the way through for every episode. Even my re-watch. But this year? This pretentious beat poetry B.S.? I had planned on giving S2 an unbiased shake, but immediately after a minute and a half of "I'm so dark and mysterious, you don't even KNOW!" I started making myself a drink.

Over the next 2 hours I would have 4.

Season 1 was interesting because it played around with the crazy outsider and abusive alcoholic cop archetypes. It didn't waste a second. Boom, here's a visually stunning serial murder site. Bang, our "hero" is a funny, nihilistic, wackjob. Bam, the central villain is called the Yellow King, he kidnaps runaway children and burns down churches. I DARE you not to watch the rest of that show.

The first episode slavishly sets up the 4 main characters, none of which are remotely interesting enough to carry the show on it's own. There is no Marty-esque straight man to react rationally to each character's $10 words and needless pontification. But even so, everyone is... fine. Ferrel's violent desperation to be a better father to his estranged son (who's clearly the product of his ex-wife's sexual assault) is compelling enough, but it feels like the story plays it's best hand too early and won't have anything left to say come episode 5. Oh, and Vaughn pointed him in the direction of the man who (possibly) did it 10 years prior. But now he's in too deep with Vaughn and... zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

McAdams is the hard line rookie detective who's got a screwy guru dad (David Morse!!!), way too much to prove to herself, and just pulled off a dead-end raid on what she thought was a prostitution ring. Again, she's fine, but has absolutely nothing to do for 2 episodes that involve emoting or reacting in any way. I was gonna give Vaughn his own paragraph but he has the same problems. Being the mobster turned legitimate business man, he's having trouble walking the line afte- zzzzzzzzz.

I'm sorry, but it's such a boring effing stock character. But I did love his monologue about his father locking him in the basement for 4 days. The show came alive for those 3 minutes.

And now, Kitsch. I've had a bone to pick with him ever since Friday Night Lights. He's not "bad" but in that show he was completely surrounded by actors miles out of his league. So was Minka Kelly and I skipped every scene they had together (You're the best, Netflix). This isn't the case here. Every main actor is meticulously set on the same level of pensive brood. No one stands out, so he isn't... exactly out shined. But when his character impotently begs to get back on his highway patrol bike, I believe him. This is his best work yet, but it's not enough. Not even close. I don't know how he landed this, but here we are.

The murder! Right, there's a murder. The guy had his eyes burned out and he was a keynote speaker on a proposed light rail constru- zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

You guys, I am so sorry. I promised I'd stop dozing off. But BirdMan is no Yellow King. The first season was always driving home themes of obsession and madness. Every character dealt with them in ways worth exploring. Rust Cohle was a dick, but I cared about him almost immediately. I don't give a flip what's happening to anyone in season 2. I haven't even bothered to look up their names on IMDB. This is all a sleepy modernization of Chinatown with nothing to say. Yet. I'd love to retract all this months down the line if it ever gets "gud." But... that's silly. That would be insanity.

S1 had a framing device and a driving, biting, mystery. 2 has no momentum whatsoever. I think Pizzolatto had years to write 1 and what's airing on Sunday nights now is a middling rough draft. It hurts to say that almost as much as it is draining to watch.

UPDATE: Oh! Oh! I forgot all about this little gem. Be more on the nose, True Detective soundtrack.

I dare you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How do you feel about making blade runners affordable?

If you've seen Kingsman, you know those amputee blade runners are rad as balls. But the radness is unfortunately in equal proportion to how expensive they are. And also how unlikely an insurance company is to spring for them.

They don't. Not ever.

 Fortunately there's a non profit that feels for amputees that just need to go for a run again.

Help out, guys. There's nothing on earth like a runner's high.