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Monday, June 30, 2014

Six Seasons and a Resurrection.

Just before the clock ran out on the cast's contracts, Harmon has struck a deal with Community will officially have six seasons. Let that infromation wash over you. This is weird. Really weird. I didn't even know they did web series. What does this mean? Is the budget gonna be smaller than last year's already shaggy offerings? Is it possible for a Troy cameo, or is that asking too much?

Sh*t, I don't care, this is incredible news. Community will no longer end with the sourest possible grapes as they did a few months ago. Creator Dan Harmon had this to say: .

I look forward to bringing our beloved NBC sitcom to a larger audience by moving it online. I vow to dominate our new competition. Rest easy, Big Bang Theory. Look out, Bang Bus!

Sitcoms and porn. Righteous.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Snowpeircer is a modern day masterpiece... and it almost never made it to American theaters.

Modern filming is frustrating for a myriad of reasons. The latest Tranformers piece of drivel is doing gangbusters for one. For another, minor filming (just under tentpoles) is becoming extinct. The sad story of behind the scenes of Snowpiercer is a microcosm that explains what many believe to be a looming movie market crash.

 The Boston Globe just published a wonderful article on the subject. You should read it if you give a damn about movies. Any damn at all. In a word? Harvey Weinstein is a petty sum'bitch. In another word, high ranking studio heads still hold a lot of sway over not only what gets made. But even if it's done, and made bucko bucks overseas, they can still pull the plug on meaningful entertainment.

Chris Evens is the lead for Christ's sake!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Amplitude Studios does early access right.

Kickstarter and steam early access have become two incredibly contentious practices in this new wild west of crowd sourced patronage. There are successes as admirable as Star Citizen (looks amazing, but the jury's still out on how the whole thing will end up) and grotesque con jobs too numerable to mention. I'll let Jim Sterling handle that. 

But then there's Amplitude, whose Dungeon of the Endless has charmed me out of $20 and 33 hours of my life. It's wonderful and it's pretty much finished now. I say grab it. Grab it right the hell now. But even though that game isn't officially finished yet, they've still been busy on their high fantasy riff on Civilization. It's called Endless Legend, and I sit here stunned at what this modest studio has pulled off. They say you should never fight a war on two fronts; and I expected progress to slow down on DOE considerably, and wanted nothing to do with EL.

But work continued at a decent clip a few months after EL was, um... early accessed? Balance and content patches came fast and furious these last few weeks, giving me more and more confidence in the studio. So today I decided to buy the EL founder pack, and I'm more than impressed. Let's forget they're an indie studio. Let's ignore that zooming out all the way on the map turns the world into an actual cloth map. Let's just talk about how much better this looks and plays next to Godus. The crummy alleged brain child of alleged auteur Peter Molyneux. Who at this point is somewhere between M. Night Shyamalan and modern day Francis Ford Coppola. In other words, a once great director that hasn't walked the walk in 10 years.

Amplitude is selling two games that are damn impressive out of the box, and will only get better. These guys walk the walk with wit and charm to spare. The writing for both of these games didn't have to be half as good as it is, but here we are. EL has pot bellied centaurs for Christ's sake!

So I hope some of you will invest in this rising star with me. I've never seen a studio work this hard for my money, I honestly don't know how they do it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Watch Dog's unofficial patch just got more awesome.

Remember how recently the watch dog's pc port was an extra chunky epileptic stew of misery? Remember how modders were left waiting for a patch for so long they found buried code that made the game look like it did in 2012 before it was mysteriously assaulted by an ugly stick? Remember how Ubisoft walked that all back saying it would have made the game unplayable in that state and was absolutely not downgraded to keep from hurting console owner's feelings(see link above)?

I can personally say I haven't noticed a huge improvement with watch dogs with either the official patch or the worse mod. But this new version put an intense soft focus over much of the foreground, and I think it's gorgeous. Also puddles are sharper, I think. Maybe. But it is in no way more unstable. That's a goddamned lie Ubisoft, and you know it.  Either way, it feels like another case of the pc modding wizards picking up a port team's halfhearted slack. This version even comes with a cute desktop UI of Aiden's phone to tweak headlight shadows and such. The headlight shadows are wonderful, too. I forgot to mention that.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Orphan Black Season 2 Review: Sestrahood.

Orphan Black is a quiet revolution of gender politics on screen. What started as a simple twilight zone mystery (what if you ran into your doppelganger seconds before she killed herself?) has evolved brilliantly into a treatise on women's reproductive rights wrapped up in a light sci-fi thriller. But even that sells this show's strong suit short. Because you won't find a better actor on tv right now outside of Tatiana Maslany and her one woman ensemble.

Even though it's writers are mostly male, the show is quite aggressively feminist. But it never, ever, approaches preachiness. Because the way the story is set up, there's no way to root for Sarah and her sisters without rooting for reproductive rights. But the kicker here is how it mainly becomes anti extremism more than anything else. Blind conservatism is just as violent and detestable as greedy, privatized, science. In that way the show gets it's political cake and eats it too. In that way, it's one of the best shows on TV right now.

So what all went down this year? But more importantly, was it "good?" That's all you really want to know from a review, right? The answer is yes. This is worthwhile television, gender politics aside. If you want to bail here to binge, please do. It's quite worth your 20 bones.

There's something weirdly Canadian about this diner...

Maslany is as solid as ever, (aside from her turn as a transgender clone which was fun in the moment but...  the story burned out real quick.) despite seeming like a story driven vehicle, this is mostly a show about characters. Alison is spiraling after intentionally standing by as her best friend choked to death, Helena finds stability after being ushered into a fertility cult (which is a real, terrifying, thing.), and Sarah mostly plays scooby doo with Kira's baby daddy by digging up the Dyad institute's origin story.

None of the threads this season were "letdowns" but Sarah remained pretty static. She got to play up her confidence artist roots a couple times and the paper chase around Dyad yielded a Sarah/Helana road trip. Which was the highlight of the whole damn season as far as I'm concerned. The fact Helena (and her deadpan animal impressions) isn't grating at this point is also a minor miracle. I would have been irked by her magical recovery from her season finale gunshot last year, if the reason she survived wasn't so damn clever. Now she's a central clone, and the fun thing is it makes sense. Her loyalty always being so fickle and childish anyway.

Also it's nice to see Peter Outerbridge (Canada's more talented answer to David Caruso) as the politely unnerving head of the Prolethean baby farm. Far and away the show's best antagonist to date. Realizing his relationship with his daughter wasn't so much familial as it was "master/slave" was the best recurring segment outside of the clones this season.

Seriously, screw the Quiverfull movement. Just... kill it with fire.

And while we're talking about villains, I gotta bring up Rachel Duncan... and why I hope she's dead. While pitting a queen's English trust fund baby against Sarah's cockney artful dodger sounds good on paper, Maslany really seemed to struggle with her. She just seemed bored when she should have seemed dangerous. Though, I usually tune out of tv sex scenes, her dominatrix fling with Paul ended up saying more about her character than the next 5 episodes of development could. And her creepy Sensurround movie theater/wet bar was a great set. I'm going to miss it.

Cosima ended up being more of a chess piece this year than a character. She went to work for Dyad and then started to get sick... then she played a copy write free settlers of catan, passed out a few times, fooled around with/barked at Delphine for loving her, now she has season 3's macguffin. It was a short shrift, indeed. All the story beats with Delphine were reruns from last year and aside from her weaponized fire extinguisher, she had very little agency. But she can dance. That we know.

But the dark horse from last season finished first this year. Because Alison owned season 2. She is the knee jerk comic relief no longer. She is now the most dynamic and most lovable clone as of the finale. Her budding alcoholism/decent into rehab was played for laughs, sure. But you felt bad about it. She was still in pain, and you hoped she got better, but you also thought Sarah's story was going to be much more interesting. Pretty soon, Allison and Donnie's broken marriage was the breeziest and most subversive character arch of the year. Culminating in a fantastic make out session over a shallow grave in their backyard. A moment coyly foreshadowed by the musical she had to drop out of before her rehab.

And let's not forget how this brought Michael Mando back from abandoned ancillary character island. What at first seemed like an apology for forgetting about him in season 1, has now cemented him as a solid mid season pitch hitter should the writers need to keep time for other story points. And I for one will never turn up my nose at more Michael Mando.

I haven't even brought up Mrs. S yet, and maybe I shouldn't. I've spoiled a lot here today, but I've purposely left a bunch unsaid. This is a really good show bordering on great. Even if it never truly rises to that level, it's still a giant middle finger to the protagonist patriarchy. Not only is a show better with solid Bechdel test passing women, it still works if the cast is positively loaded with them. This is not a witty and original feminist show. It's a witty and original show that happens to be feminist. 
I don't have a funny caption. It's just a really good cover.

Monday, June 23, 2014

In which I write about not wanting to write.

Come on... write m**her f***er.

For the last couple of days I've had no excuse. I had everything to write about (orphan black ending, Fargo ending, game of thrones ending, what the hell am I going watch next week?, holy hell Boss is pretty damn good, etc.)

I should be writing... why the hell aren't I writing? Do I think I'm hot sh*t because I got a fancy new press pass and relived that the people at the Herald Sun are welcoming, sweet, and generally supportive people? And if so, why should that take time out of the hilariously titled daily crackpot.
Just because I never thought I'd actually work for a newspaper doesn't change the fact that the crackpot is one of the best things I've ever done for myself, and I'm not walking away that easily.

I'm gonna stop pussy footing stop right now. Tomorrow an Orphan Black season review is going live and it's gonna be 1000 words minimum. I got this.
You don't want to see my forced smile and doll eyes. Seriously.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Better Call Saul gets 2 seasons and a pushback.

I'm very unsure about this Breaking Bad spinoff. I mean, it's more Bob Odenkirk on tv... it's hard to complain about that. But I do not envy the job of following one of the best TV series of the last ten years, and quite possibly, of all time. But AMC has faith in it, seeing as they pushed it back a bit (probably to give them more time for rewrites/re-shoots) and ordered a whole second season sight unseen.

We'll all see how it pans out from here. Fingers crossed.