The home page for author Eric J. Juneau

Sweet Tooth Looks Great But Is Horrible

sweet tooth title

Oh my god, I can’t get out of my head how much I hate this show. The first three episodes make it look great, but then the next five A) drag it out like a motherfucker and B) have some characters I can’t stand.

Most of all the kid. I hate this kid. Don’t get me wrong, the actor behind it is fine. The effects behind him aren’t great–his ears don’t look real, they look robotic. They don’t move like real deer ears. But that’s not what bothers me.

Sweet Tooth' Season 1 - All The Songs From the Soundtrack

What bothers me is that the kid is the root of all their problems. He’s the plot mover. Story slowing down? Get him in trouble. The kid is fucking incompetent. He can’t listen to instructions, has no discipline, and not an ounce of self-preservation.

Don’t have fires in the middle of the day. What does he do? Starts a fire in the middle of the day. That one I could forgive because it’s the catalyst for the story. But no, it doesn’t stop.

Maybe you shouldn’t piss off the guy with the gun who’s allowing you to follow him. What does he do? Pisses him off by eating all his food and medicine.

“Sit on the bench and don’t move while I get train tickets.” What does he do? He immediately gets out of his seat and starts wandering around.

“Don’t walk on the bridge, it won’t hold your weight.” What does he do? Immediately walks on the bridge and falls through. (Which leads to a dream sequence which I’ll talk about later).

“Stay still and don’t move or the man moving through the train car.” What does he do? He moves and knocks something over and alerts them. Do you want to die kid? Do you hate yourself (and me) that much?

Now is not the time to look for your stupid stuffed dog, there are guards on the train who will kill you and they are coming in. Maybe don’t wander away? What does he do? You guessed it… (At that point, Big Man is like “well, I know we’ll be too well off if I don’t go for his stuffed animal. Might as well resign myself to my fate.”)

Sweet Tooth (TV Series 2021– ) - IMDb
“Would you just fucking listen to me for once in your life?”

Fucking kid doesn’t think. What is he, ten? I have an eleven-year-old and I would trust her in a survival situation more than the kid who’s half-deer.

And at the very end is the piece de resistance, where he radios the bad guys his exact location. Whenever he starts a sentence with “Don’t get mad, but…” you know A) shit’s going down B) he knows what he did was wrong but he did it anyway. I don’t believe in child abuse but he’s only half-human. Can I half-smack him?

He gets his friend shot. How has he not learned there are consequences for his actions yet? The fact that he’s making mistakes isn’t the problem. It’s that he keeps making the same mistake over and over. He’s incompetent and he’s a liability to his allies.

This isn’t endearing. This isn’t “oh, he’s just a kid”. It’s not like he was never taught how dangerous and deadly the outside world is. AND HE KEEPS DOING IT. By the end of the series, I was rooting for Dr. Robotnik General Abbot to kill him, just to teach him a lesson.

The other character I can’t stand is Dr. Singh. I wouldn’t mind if Abbot gets him too. He’s such a whiny little bitch. He’s always crying about the cure and the medicine and what he has to do and PTSD from when the Sick first started. Bitch, didn’t you ever have a patient die? Medical school is not for the timid. I know, my brother-in-law is a doctor. I hate to be misogynistic, but man up.

Sweet Tooth' Netflix: Ending Explained
He’s ugly too.

He’s so brow-beaten by his wife. I’d rather the series be about her–she seems cool and tough. She’s horrified by what has to happen to get her treatments, but she also does not want to die. And when it comes to me and someone I don’t know, I might make the same decision. Especially if I’ve been doing it for so long.

And he keeps saying “she’s not contagious!” Bitch, how do you know? How do you know you’re not just immune. Or maybe even an asymptomatic carrier? I’m not a doctor and I know this stuff.

They’re hiding, essentially. Hiding in a nice gated-off community that has power and wifi and food and a doctor. And he’s keeping his wife’s Sick at bay with some kind of magic injection, but all it does is stave it off for a month. Then because they live in a neighborhood full of Karens, one of them finds out.

But just before she’s about to tell the world, they accidentally (fortunately?) kill her. But of course, because they love the drama, they hide the body in a freezer instead of A) burying it somewhere nowhere will find it or B) telling the truth because there’s no point to hide anything because the only person who knew about your wife’s Sick is now dead.

That would be the logical thing to do. But if this show embraced logic and rationality, the plot would never move forward. So we have to give characters the idiot ball just to keep things going.

7 Times Someone Caught The Idiot Ball In Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan

So the result is an intriguing first three episodes, and then five more of what I call “crying in front of the camera”. Each episode, when they’re not saving Deer-Kid from his own crapulence, is filled with heart-to-hearts, flashbacks, dream sequences, and whining/crying about their current situation to someone (when they’re the ones who got in that situation in the first place). They’re not character-building moments, they’re filler.

Not to mention, the plot is super predictable. Of course, Gus is a science experiment. You haven’t shown me that “magic” is a thing in this universe so the only other possible explanation is science gone awry.

I wish I hadn’t watched this. All it did was angry up my blood. But everyone was talking about it. Maybe because it’s aimed at a younger audience. Maybe because it’s about a relevant topic at a time we were binge-watching everything. It’s a fantasy-adventure that favors the child audience. But I know helicopters don’t crash into each other because of a virus and you still have to go to work and the world doesn’t end all at once.

Sony's iconic 'Twisted Metal' series is being adapted into a TV show
This is the only “Sweet Tooth” I need

This post may seem a little rushed but I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. And the posts that spew vitriol seem to get more views. I’m no rebel to the algorithm.

What’s the Deal With The Masked Singer?

masked singer logo

I’m trying to figure out the appeal of “The Masked Singer“. Commercials keep telling me it’s the super lucky happy number one most-liked most-popular show in the world and watching it will cure coronavirus. I see it all the time at the gym and it just looks shiny and stupid.

First of all, it’s got Jenny McCarthy in it. Fuck her. Fuck her with a big unpeeled carrot up her ass. She brought all the anti-vaxxers upon us. She made it so celebrity hype gets a bigger voice than common sense and scientific accuracy. Fuck her. She should be blacklisted from anything in Hollywood (making her name ironic). And throw Robin Thicke in that pit too, while you’re at it. It’s not like the world wouldn’t be better without the rapey “Blurred Lines” in it.

Second, what is the point? It’s just celebrities consorting with celebrities. At first I thought it was a way to showcase famous people with unexpected talent, like “Circus of the Stars”, but not all of them are non-singers. Some of them count, like Drew Carey and Drew Pinsky (who learned opera at college). But then you’ve got Dionne Warwick and Chaka Khan? What big surprise is that supposed to be? It must be such a disappointment to think “which d-lister is this who sings like Whitney Houston?” And then they take off the mask and it’s Whitney Houston. Big fucking surprise.

It’s not music competition, like American Idol or The Voice. These are people with established careers. And the challenge seems to be guessing who, of a billion possible celebrities, is such-n-such under the big mascot costume? Part of the fun of these shows is being able to play along at home. And who in the world would expect “Ninja”, a Twitch video game streamer, as a potential candidate. You might as well ask what number am I thinking of, one to a million.

And why the elaborate costumes? I mean, I guess they’re nice to look at. I appreciate the effort it must take to make them. But how do they relate to the music or the singer? They’re showy and creepy, like RuPaul’s Drag Race crossed with Five Nights at Freddy’s.

There’s an excellent fanfic here waiting to be written…

I just keep looking at the show and ask, what’s the bloody point? Game shows usually have a theme, even the stupidest ones. “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grade?” demonstrated public education’s lasting influence on the average American (or lack thereof). “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” showed how people react under pressure. Even Match Game was humorous with the double entendres. But this is just celebrities supporting other celebrities. Like, aren’t they all part of this exclusive club anyway? Haven’t they all already met each other at Oscar parties and Grammy pre-shows? What am I supposed to get out of this? Besides blindness from sequin glare.

I Learned Some Bad Lessons About Love from The Wonder Years

wonder years logo

I don’t know what all this business about family togetherness and keeping fingers of phones at the table is about. My family watched TV at dinner. From six o’clock to seven, pre-prime time, were all the syndicated sitcoms from the house that Generation X built. Murphy Brown, Designing Women, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Empty Nest, Growing Pains, Night Court. And The Wonder Years.

I didn’t know it at the time, but The Wonder Years was for my parents what The Goldbergs is for me — a sitcom that capitalizes on nostalgia and trying to convince oneself that the pop culture was more meaningful than it was (in this case, that the sixties were about more than sex and drugs). The difference is there’s less melodrama. This was one part of the The Wonder Years appeal.

The other is Kevin, the thirteen-year-old boy trying to make sense of all this history unfolding. The observer watching the toxic masculinity of his older brother, the victimization of his sister, the semi-abusive father, and the oblivious, ignorant mother. This basically means Kevin’s on his own when it comes to figuring things out, because everyone else is setting a bad example. This unfortunately extends into his love life and his series-long goal — Winnie Cooper. She was his childhood friend until she showed up at the bus stop having grown bangs overnight. And boobs.

The series is all about Kevin’s attempts to make Winnie love him. Kevin + Winnie is the OTP of this series. What that means is that any time Kevin is not attempting to woo Winnie — e.g. one of the handful of episodes where he’s paired with another girl — it’s all a mistake. It’s a plot to make Winnie jealous or another bump in the road to realize he’s taken a wrong path. A little filler. A little drama to stretch out the series.

The Wonder Years left me with a terrible impression of how love/romantic relationships work. In fact, I think it may have influenced me in a terribly negative way, such that if this show didn’t exist, I probably would have had a more positive high school experience. At least one without so much trauma. Because, at my tender age of seven to nine, this is where you start taking things to heart. The whole point of the show was that Kevin was doing things wrong because he was a kid. But I didn’t know that at the time.

Here are the fundamentals of what I learned. If you like a girl, never ADMIT you like her. To anyone. Watch her from afar. Send her notes. Put her on a pedestal. That’s romantic. It’s better to pine for a woman than to actually treat her as a human being. Life is about waffling back and forth. Expect her to say no at first. Expect her to change her mind because she’s confused. That’s okay, she’s just searching for the right answer (which is you). Never define that line between friends and lovers. Because that’s scary (and too conclusive). And as Daniel Stern might have said before a fade to black, as you get older, communication gets more… complicated.

No, idiot. YOU made it complicated. Because you’re a fucking coward. Here, let’s take a look at some prime examples from a few episodes.

winnie cooper wonder years
“On the Spot”/”Our Town”

This is the one where Winnie’s the star of the school play “Our Town” and all Kevin gets to do is run the spotlight. But at the end, he realizes his job is to shine the spotlight her, to let everyone know her beauty. She’s the perfect one, the shining star. That’s the man’s job–stay in the tower and watch her. Never interact with her.

“Night Out”

Kevin and Winnie go to make-out party. Apparently this was a thing in the sixties. I guess it’s a boy-girl party where you go into a closet and kiss (and maybe more?) and everyone else… waits? Are they listening in? Does everyone have their dicks out, jerkin’ it to the sound of smacking? Thank god we invented the Internet. Now we just have rainbow parties. But at my impressionable age, it was as fascinating as a toilet. I think it might hold the record for biggest tension as the episode goes through several stages.

First, Kevin worries about the oncoming party. Then he gets there, and everything seems normal. Just dancing and snacks. Then the party-thrower (who is known for these kinds of mature shenanigans) turns out the lights and says the games will now begin. He rotates in place, his flashlight passing over everyone. Just when Kevin and Winnie realize get cold feet and try to leave, he shines on them. This teaches me that the nail that sticks up gets knocked back down.

Then when they’re shoved into this closet, filled with nerves, as people stand just beyond, only a thin piece of wood and shag carpet between them, they stare at each other. But this is it–the first real kiss. Just as Kevin leans forward, Winnie escapes. Embarrassment and humility abound. Lesson learned? “Making out” is sacred and should be done with as little communication as possible.

“St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”

Previously on “The Wonder Years”, Kevin spent the last twenty-two minutes moping over his singlehood because his best friend and ex are getting together. Talk about a ratings grabber. But Paul lets slip that Winnie still has feelings for Kevin. Previously mopey Kevin bounds over to her house and confronts her with the knowledge, all joyous and happy like he won the big game. “Paul just told me — you’re crazy about me!” “Paul told you?” SLAM!

That was before. Now how to fix this? Well, he COULD talk to her about it, apologize or give her some space or reflect on what it is he actually wants from himself instead of a girlfriend. Or he could shove a cheap valentine in her locker. And then get the wrong locker. Genius. Doesn’t even matter that it’s the locker of Kevin’s ex-girlfriend, we can stop there, that’s enough.

Life lesson? Never talk to a girl. Communicate through notes. After that point? The ball’s in her court. Only interact with her when you know you can do no wrong in her eyes. And if you do, that’s the time NOT to confront her. Solution? Leave a note for her. And then she’ll fix it herself. No need to actually interact. These things work themselves out.

“Fate”

This one was a big one for me. Kevin earns the ire of the school bully by defending Winnie’s honor. But it turns out Winnie is ACTUALLY dating the school bully (I’m now getting the sense that Kevin is Forrest Gump and Winnie is Jenny. It even takes place in the same time period.)

Of course, there’s a big final showdown in the parking lot. Tension, tension, tension. And Kevin throws the first punch, connecting with the bully’s… shoulder. Kevin gets the crap beaten out of him, contradicting decades of romantic literature. With the help of Paul and Winnie, he limps home. What does this teach? Throw yourself in front of the train to protect the girl you love. Nothing is more noble. Especially when she’s making a bad decision. And you don’t even have to talk to her.

“Heartbreak” / “Denial”

Winnie’s moved all the way across town. I have no idea where Kevin and Winnie are in their relationship at this point. In fact, that was a recurring problem. Since I saw them in syndication, they were always in a perpetual state of not really being together. I also have no idea why the parents bothered moving just across town. What a stupid expense and stupid way to breed tension.

Anyway, both their schools are going to the Natural History Museum. But Kevin gets jealous seeing Winnie with her friends from the other school. There’s that jealousy again. Such an admirable trait, being possessive. No one should get to share your little toy.

In fact, Winnie’s not just integrating with new friends, but her new boyfriend is there as well. Will Kevin nut up and move on? Will Kevin accept her decision and accept his value as a human being without a girlfriend? No! Of course not! He’s going to throw a party and try and get back together with Winnie there.

But how to do it? Take her aside and tell her honestly how he feels? No! Kevin’s going to go with his ex-girlfriend, Madeline (who?), the sultry temptress that ACTUALLY LIKES HIM and make Winnie jealous. (A lot of his plotting involves making Winnie jealous).

That’s the other thing. Girls are always throwing themselves Kevin. I remember in the beginning of one episode Kevin, Paul, Becky*, and some nerdy girl who was Paul’s girlfriend were on the couch in the basement, making out. This was an amazing thing. Kevin was supposed to be Charlie Brown — the guy who never gets the red-haired girl. That he had actually succeeded, forget that it had nothing to do with Winnie, was mind-blowing to nine-year-old lovelorn me. He made it. Girls actually liked him. Attractive girls. I still want to kick him in the nuts to this day for not appreciating how good he had it.

*I don’t think it was coincidence that Becky Slater was played by Danica McKellar’s real life sister. As attractive as Winnie was (I still have a thing for brunettes with bangs), Becky’s personality was stronger. She was the “right Winnie” for Kevin. But some motherfuckers always gotta be ice-skating uphill.

“The Accident”

As if it wasn’t creepy enough, this episode ends with Kevin staring at Winnie through her bedroom window. This is after she was in a car accident. This is after Winnie had been flirting with boys three or four grades above her. This is after she was staring at her old house in the night. And THIS is after breaking up with her boyfriend. She’s acting like she’s on drugs or contemplating suicide.

But being CLEARLY told by her parents that “she doesn’t want to see him right now” doesn’t stop Stalker Kevin. He shows up to mouth “I love you” to her. Because it’s clearly all about him. It doesn’t matter how she feels, Kevin has to express his undying devotion. They called this the best episode of the series.

“Summer”/”Independence Day”

The finale. I never saw how The Wonder Years ended until now, when I watched it on Netflix. But I sure as hell remember hearing about it. However, I had moved on from the show and I think something else had replaced it in the dinner time syndication time slot. It sure doesn’t stray from its roots. Its creepy, rapey, stalker roots.

Kevin quits his stable job at his father’s furniture factory to work at a country club because Winnie has a job there as a pool lifeguard. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen. He gets a job as a waiter, but mostly just watches her. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen. Oh, I already said that.

Winnie kisses someone else and Kevin punches him out. They both get fired and have to hitchhike back home (after having been kicked out of a car for bickering too much). It all ends when they’re stuck in a barn house, confess their fear of the future and its changes, and it’s implied they lose their virginity to each other. I hope you all are taking notes, men.

My god, why aren’t more articles written about this. Did anyone vet this show? Sure it’s all cute when an eleven-year-old kid hides behind the shield of baby boomer nostalgia. Oh, he’s such a puppy dog — all awkward and stumbly, trying to find his way in the world. But some of us could have used a little more deconstruction. We could have used some female characters with more agency. They aren’t puzzle boxes to figure out. 

The only good part is that the narration at the end puts a nice epilogue on the relationship. Kevin goes to college. Winnie studies art history in France. And when they see each other again, it’s a decade later. Kevin is married to Not-Winnie and has an eight-month-old son. It’s a shining light showing that, although we are the products of our past, we don’t have to let it define us. We can change. The world we’re surrounded by doesn’t have to tie us down. We can open a different door.

But he should have gotten kicked in the nuts a few more times.

Disney, Please, Do the Muppets Justice

the muppets

Disney, let’s talk. You’ve had one of the greatest, most nostalgic franchise in your hands for twenty years now. And you’ve done very little with them.

What have we got? Rehashes of “what worked thirty years ago” like Muppets Tonight and The Muppets. Crappy made-for-TV specials based on existing material like The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. And the worst offender yet — “The Office with Muppets Muppets”.

People said “hey, this has Bill Prady and Steve Whitmire and Bill Barretta, all veterans of Muppet stuff. It’ll be all right.” No. As we’ve seen, it’s not all right. Did you test this with focus groups? Did audiences laugh uproariously at this drivel? Was there some comment card that said that Kermit and Miss Piggy’s relationship needed more drama in it?

This is not the Muppets I fell in love with. I know it’s hard to recapture the magic of Jim Henson, but you can do better than just shoving the characters into existing IP that worked in the past. “The Muppets” movie came fairly close, but it wasn’t the same. It was preying on our nostalgia.

Look how sad you made the muppets.

Please, Disney. Do the muppets justice.

First of all, it’s not right to make Kermit and Miss Piggy break up for the purpose of conflict. Would Disney make Mickey and Minnie break up? Do you care if Superman and Lois Lane get married or divorced or whatever? Peter Parker & Mary Jane? Robin Hood & Maid Marian? Mulder & Scully? Mario & Princess Toadstool? No, because they’re legends. They exist in our minds in a perpetual state of boyfriend/girlfriend. They’re like Greek Gods, unchanging myths of the mind.

This… this thing you have on ABC right now? This is not the muppets. It’s not even drek, it’s just disgusting. I don’t want to see Chelsea Handler sticking her tongue in Scooter’s mouth. I don’t want to hear about how Janice slept with Dr. Teeth. I don’t want to know that Swedish Chef puts on womens clothing or that Pepe’s gender is fluid. Please keep your sex out of my muppets.

In fact, keep all of this adult, mature junk out of the Muppets. Because you know what made them appealing? Their familiness. Not too mature, not too kiddish. All ages could enjoy them. Their jokes and humor didn’t need adult content, and they didn’t insult the audience. Because you know what’s the driving central conflict of the muppets? It’s not Kermit’s lack of commitment to Miss Piggy or whatever guest star of the week happens to be on. It’s that Kermit is trying to put on a quality show. And he’s got to deal with all these divas, amateur comedians, D-list hacks, weirdos, goofballs, and whatevers that have all their own demands.

We learn all we need to know about the Muppets in the first five minutes of “The Muppet Movie“. After singing the Rainbow Connection, Dom DeLuise rows up to him. And Kermit learns that, with his talents, he could make Millions of People Happy. Now isn’t that a good thing? Millions of people happy. So he goes on this quest to gather people around him with the same dream. He’s still on it, in fact.

But do you see me happy?

C’mon, Disney. They deserve better than this. I don’t know who’s in charge of the muppets now, but they need another visionary. Not some hack who made his bucks doing Nerd Blackface. Someone who’s not afraid to innovate, to try new things, new bold ways of entertainment like The Jim Henson Hour or Labyrinth. Things that don’t make sense at the time, but we all remember fondly now.

Please, please, Disney.  This is a legendary IP and you are screwing the pooch on it.

And Now My Confession

At first, I was like…

vladimir putin

But then I saw My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and I was like…

Call me a brony, call me a nutjob, call me mentally deficient. All I know is I have two little girls. Either I can let them choose whatever trashy, shallow 20-minute commercial happens to be on when Daddy needs to pay bills, or I can choose for them. I choose MLP, and they approve. When I pop in the DVD, they fly around with their Rainbow Dash toys which we got from McDonald’s months ago, and had no context for until now.

This is not a show I just set on, then go do other work. This is a show I sit down and watch with them. I know they say you’re supposed to do that as a parent, not just use the TV as a babysitter. But I mean I refuse to do other things while the show is on — it’s that good. In fact, I have to stop myself from watching ahead.

Do I need to say why the show’s good? No, you can find that anywhere. But I can say why I do.

One is the animation. I like a certain style with clean, thick, well-defined lines and smooth, flash-style animation. I hate pencil-sketchy, squiggly, vibrate-y experimental indie-pencil. My favorite comic strips, art-wise, are Peanuts, PvP, Penny Arcade, Real Life, Ctrl+Alt+Del, Sinfest, and VG Cats.

Quentin Blake – do not want

So it’s no surprise that when I looked up Lauren Faust, the Seth MacFarlane/Matt Groening of MLP, that she was the storyboard artist for “The Powerpuff Girls”. To show what that means to me, here is an excerpt from CS Wars: Refreshed, a humorous, in-joke piece I wrote a long time ago for my CS buddies.

She approached the door to his room and knocked softly. “Nick?” she said as she peeked in. “Are you in-“

“I’M NOT WATCHING THE POWERPUFF GIRLS!” he yelled out as he scrambled for the remote.

“I… didn’t say-“

“I DON’T FIND THEM WITTY AND ADORABLE, OR FUN FOR ALL AGES! WHY ARE YOU PUSHING THE ISSUE?”

“Uh, it’s almost time for you to go.”

“Oh… okay then.”

If you can’t tell, I’m the stand-in for Nick.

Next is the plot and characters. Mostly characters. The plots are, well, nothing special. Nothing that hasn’t been wrung dry in children’s shows. There’s the “overcoming fear” episode (“Dragonshy”), the “trouble with tribbles” knock-off (“Swarm of the Century”), the “competition” episode (“Fall-Weather Friends”), the “picking favorites” one (“The Ticket Master”), prejudice via rumor (“Bridle Gossip”), and the “let’s put on a show!” one (“The Show Stoppers”) — all standard fare for 6-11 year old girls. And rightly so.

Boys cartoons are often about defeating the villain or sci-fi gadgets or how much wacky, grossness you can get past the censors. Girls cartoons are about deeper things. They’re about coping and relationships and how to deal when problems arise. But uber-simplified, since this is a children’s show.

And as an adult, I appreciate that much more than the latest anime import. True, a lot of the plots involve characters carrying the idiot ball to work. But I’m too old to watch Shredder steal the latest ruby needed to power the Technodrome. I already know that Donatello’s going to say it’s “highly unstable” and no one learns anything.

The thing that makes it fun for adults is the characters. You never quite know what they’re going to do next. Especially Pinkie Pie. All the best parts of the show come from small lines of dialogue. I especially appreciate humor that’s both family-friendly AND actually funny, because that is SO hard to do. It’s easy to make jokes based on racism, misogyny, or offensive material — stand-up comedians and sitcoms do it all the time. But search on YouTube for “Funny MLP moments” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

You don’t need to be an adult or child to laugh out loud, and I love silly, absurd humor the best (Monty Python, Firesign Theater, Hitchhiker’s Guide) because I so often know what’s going to happen next because I’m good at reading context clues and have a good memory. So few things surprise me. And you need surprise to make comedy work. MLP has it in bunches. Bunches of balloons, that is! (See what I did there?)

They’re as diverse as in Sex & the City. But unlike Sex & the City, these people could/would actually be friends in real life. I know that because the strong traits in each one are like my circle of female friends in college (my wife is Applejack, by the way). Also, not self-absorbed sluts.

Most female-oriented shows for young girls make me shudder. Like “Dora the Explorer” who treats my kids like the lowest common denominator. Or “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” whose greatest goal is to be on the cheerleading squad or win the approval of the “coolest girl in school”.

Here, there is no coolest girl. They all have flaws and strengths. They’re all archetypes, but they’re also characters. They make mistakes and they make up for them. They take action. They go up the mountain to see the dragon (no boys to protect them!). They’re not regency-novel-style where all they do is talk about it. There’s action, they learn from the consequences of those actions. Even the slumber party one is riveting, because two of the friends can’t get along and the third is too busy studying what you’re supposed to do in a slumber party.

My favorite character is Fluttershy, because I most identify with her. I’m also extremely introverted to the point of suffering. So when I saw her first scene with the assertive Twilight Sparkle (the show’s main/hub character), I fell in love right away.

It’s just one of the many nods to the more geeky community that can sympathise. Everyone can latch onto someone, from the highly competitive Rainbow Dash to the meticulous Rarity to the book-smart Twilight Sparkle.

But I guess the main reason I love the show is because, it’s just so damn happy there. It’s not a utopia — there are plenty of problems I wouldn’t want to deal with, like the bitchy griffin friend of Rainbow Dash. But there’s no hate. No cynicism. No prejudice. No one trolls. No one hates. No one has a brooding dark past or an unrequited crush on a personality-less boy.

People/ponies there are sincere, hard-working, and funny. They are people you want to hang out with, and that type of character is hard to make. You want to hear their stories,watch their jokes, over and over. And I love shows where friends of different types have to work together. It’s the same reason I like TMNT, Final Fantasy, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I was skeptical of the brony phenomenon at first. But I don’t have to hide behind my daughters anymore. I like My Little Pony, and friendship is magic.

Doctor Who In Review

doctor who logo

“Doctor Who”. It’s the one major part of geek culture I sorely lacked experience in. Before I was introduced by a friend, I really had no idea what Doctor Who was. It looked cheesy. It looked low-budget. It looked stupid. It looked like all those science fiction movies MST3K made fun of + special effects from a live-action children’s show. Neil Gaiman said he (like other British people) watched Doctor Who sitting hiding behind their couch, peeping out. I never understood why.

Now I’ve now finished four seasons of the new “Doctor Who” series (on to Matt Smith!), and finally feel sufficiently versed to give an opinion. I wanted to be very careful because Whovians are as rabid as Trekkers or Star Wars fans. This list is for anyone curious about the Who, if they’re deciding to get their feet wet. The show is not great. But it is fun. Sometimes.

Pro #1: The Doctor

Simply put, the Doctor makes or breaks this show. And fortunately, they pick good actors. The Doctor is always consistently fun and charismatic. He loves what he does. He’s interested in things — science-y things, explore-y things. He has passion, he has drive, and he has some delightful British charm. That’s probably a big part of it. Whether it’s his delight at little gift shops or when he puts on his glasses to read something (serious Doctor is serious).

I’m still undecided on whether I like that the Doctor can change actors. On one hand, if you have a not-so-great Doctor like a soccer hooligan Christopher Eccleston, you can wait for a new one. On the other hand, if you’ve got a good one like David Tennant (who I wasn’t sure about at first — I thought he looked like Harry Potter), then his regeneration comes all too soon.

My question is — why is it always a white male? Why can’t he regenerate into a woman? How fun would that be? Or a black man or an Asian person. What matters is that they act as spontaneous and charismatic as the Doctor should. They should be like Star Trek captains — demographically universal.

Con #1: The Companions

Really, the companions are no more than a foil. They represent the stupid human, the Greek chorus that can comment on the goings-on or give the Doctor a reason to explain what is going on. I don’t know whether the prior series did this, but the writers seem to think companions = excuse for a love story, a paltry one at that. Like they had to throw in something for the ladies. As if.

The whole first two seasons there’s all this eye-batting at each other that never goes anywhere. I don’t believe for one second anything would have happened between them. Then the whole of the THIRD season is the Doctor pining away for his lost Rose, while Martha pines for him. I know the Doctor’s lost companions before, and I didn’t see what was special about Rose.

I don’t buy it. For one thing, what is a 900-year-old man going to see in a human? What’s his plan? Settle down and have kids? For another, it’s just so pointless. The story is not about romance. That’s just something they threw in for the ladies. It’s tacked on and it shows. It’s peripheral to the plot and the subject of the Doctor’s “feelings” comes up too often. Donna Noble may be a little obnoxious and opinionated, but the one good thing is that she does not care about a love connection — she wants to see some interesting things. And why does his companion always have to be a woman?

Pro #2: Season Finales

This is probably true for most television — they blow their remaining budget on the last of the season and pull out all the stops — explosions, danger. And everything gets shaken up plot-wise — character deaths, old enemies, things we thought we true turn out not to be. The season finales have the most mythology too, and allow longer, more involved stories. So it’s no wonder they often become the most remembered episodes. They’re also neat because the season enders always involve some reoccurring motif. It’s a little reward for paying attention.

Con #2: Two-Parters

Each season has about two or three stories that arc over two episodes. The problem is that these stories just draaaaag. They almost always have nothing to do with the mythology, and the padding is blatant. You get instances of infodumping what the audience already knows, or long establishing dramatic shots, or, the most egregious, forced idiot ball.

Usually this consists of lots of pointless running, overly complex villain plots, or convenient amnesia. The one that most comes to mind is “The Sontaran Stratagem” where poison gas is filling the world. The companion’s dad is locked in a car, the bad aliens are chanting meaninglessly, and the Doctor is running around panicking like he doesn’t know what to do. First, the Doctor doesn’t panic. Second, just break the window, you idiot. It’s like the writers had too much material for one episode, but not enough for two.

Pro #3: Daleks

I never really knew what a Dalek was until Doctor Who. They were some kind of short robot that couldn’t climb stairs and liked to exterminate things. Now that I know their true meaning, I’m fully a fan. I even bought a polo shirt with a Dalek on it. I think the eighth episode “Dalek” is the one that did it for me, and probably other people.

Before this episode, I hadn’t seen the Doctor scared of anything. He’d seen a giant monster in a pit underneath London, mannequins come to life, the Earth’s sun going supernova, ghosts, and aliens infiltrating world government. None of it fazed him. Then he sees one little robot chained in some guy’s basement and he shouts “Kill it! Kill it with fire!” If this episode wasn’t done as well as it was, the Dalek might have continued to be a laughing stock instead of a serious threat. Now when I hear that screechy tone or see that eye-stalk I think “Oh shit, we’re fucked now.”

I don’t know why, but there’s something about the Daleks that provokes dread — their uncompromising world view, their bizarre appearance, their alien voice that single-mindedly shouts “EXTERMINATE”. They’re not perfect. They can never decide whether they’re the last of their kind or that there’s a hundred million of them. They’re invulnerable to bullets, yet people keep shooting them.

Unless you have some kind of special gun. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t get one of these.

Con #3: Cybermen (and other silly aliens)

Cybermen are the poor men’s Daleks. They act the same way, do the same things. The only difference is that the Cybermen want to assimilate you, and the Daleks want to kill you. Same diff. Although the best part was when the Daleks and Cybermen met and started bickering. I love it when epic enemies meet. But the Cybermen look really ridiculous — like an emo Tin Man.

And there’s other weird monsters. The first season had the Slitheen, which look like Greys that ate too much McDonald’s. If they’re not in that Romper Room character suit, they’re in zippable human costumes. And they fart constantly. And they were featured in not one, not two, but three episodes. I’d blame this on early “finding your way” mistakes. Except that later on you get werewolves, TV mind control, cat people, gargoyles, aliens who act like General Patton, and SATAN!

Pro #4: Adventure Through Time and Space

You have a device that goes through time and space? Well, hell yes. You’ve got that, you can do anything. The adventure fills itself. Find alien worlds. Watch stars explode. Fight robot races intent on conquering the world. Spelunk into black holes. Escape aliens that only exist in a quantum state. Bust ghosts. Save the world. Help historical figures. Explore the multiverse. See the progress of humanity. Where we’ve been, where we’re going. The pitfalls and possibilities. Perhaps even an answer to the eternal question: why? If you’ve got a TARDIS, you can go anywhere and do anything.

Con #4: The TARDIS

So why don’t they? You have a freakin’ TARDIS, why do you keep going to Earth? Out of the 55 episodes I’ve seen of Doctor Who, 61% of them take place on Earth. Of those, a little more than half take place on present day, and usually in England. I mean, come on. And half the time, the damn thing doesn’t work. It just takes them where they want to go. If there’s a reason for that, it’s nothing more than hand-waving.

I’m not being Americentric here. Just going to visit amazing places and things on the Earth throughout history would fill a lifetime. Find out what killed the dinosaurs already! (I hope it was Daleks.) I know the writers keep it rooted in Earth for viewer accessibility, but other successful sci-fi series have taken place with little to no relation to Earth — “Star Trek”, “Star Wars”, “Battlestar Galactica”, “Babylon 5”, etc. And more to the point — it doesn’t make sense.

The Doctor has a device that can go anywhere in any time and space. ALL of space and ALL of time. His whole motivation is to show his companion amazing things, mind-opening things, and have adventures. Space is clearly full of awesome things — living faces, talking spaceships, steampunk robots, time portals, planets made of diamonds, SATAN! Why don’t we visit any of these things? Why are we always going back to Earth to talk to Agatha Christie or Charles Dickens or solve some mad scientist’s scheme to turn fat tissue into cute little aliens or become a Resident Evil tyrant or, as often seems to be the case, do something related to WWII.

I know, it’s hard. Once you have a time machine, all (and I mean ALL) conventional plot devices go out the window. There’s no risk anymore, because you can just CTRL+Z and fix it. I know there’s some phlenobotium that prevents that, but still, it doesn’t explain why his instant teleporter keeps going back to Earth stuff.

Pro #5: Short Seasons

The nice thing about watching Doctor Who is that the seasons are only 13-15 episodes. That means story arcs don’t meander for too long. And lord knows there’s enough filler episodes. So like I said before, if you get tired of one thing, you don’t have to wait very long before something changes. Like shaking the etch-a-sketch. This isn’t really specific to “Doctor Who”, but a trend of spec fic dramas, like “The Walking Dead”, “Game of Thrones”, and some anime. I like it.

Con #5: British Stuff I Don’t Get

“Doctor Who” is, at its heart, a British show. You can plainly see that from my breakdown of episode settings. Lots of great television has come from Britain — “Mr. Bean”, “Monty Python”, “The Office”, “Teletubbies”, “Hell’s Kitchen”, “Three’s Company”, “American Idol”, “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” The problem is that certain parts of British culture just don’t translate.

For example, in “The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky” (I know, I keep harping on that 2-Parter. It was dull, cliche, transparent, and predictable, and never should have been written.) the new trend is getting these “ATMOS” devices installed in your car — little GPS’s that eliminate toxic exhaust. And occasionally drive you into the river. Because they were designed by some conceited kid genius working with the aliens, naive to their intentions.

The problem (that is relevant to this topic and not one of the hundred others) was I knew this plot had something to do with something going on in Britain at the time. But I had no idea what. Prolific GPS devices? Environmentalism? War? Clones? Technology taking over? I couldn’t tell. It’s all over the place.

And lots of episodes are like that. We’ve visited not one, not two, but three British authors (Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare), ridden on a space Titanic, been trapped by The Running Man versions of UK shows like “Big Brother” and “The Weakest Link”, and seen a few prime ministers come and go. If it happens in Britain, then it’s probably something to do with Britain, and it’s a crapshoot whether or not you know about it.

Pro #6: British Stuff I Do Get

For as much as I complain about the Earth-centricity, I do like some of the historical places they go. They visit Pompeii to see Mt. Vesuvius erupt (which was caused by aliens). They do meet authors instead of political figures or actors (which are usually being attacked by aliens). “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” was a great episode for both scary stuff and factual context (aliens!).

And each time they show British stuff, I gain a little insight about their culture and how they interpret things. Especially about how WWII colors so much cultural media. Look at Japan. A lot of their stories deal with occupation, nuclear apocalypse, and other results of the war. “Doctor Who” has stuff like firebombing, military schools, conformity takeovers. These are things America doesn’t worry about.

Conclusion

I like Doctor Who, but it gets maddening at times. Sometimes you get great episodes like “Blink” or “The Doctor Dances”. And other times you get stupid filler action like the evil monster in the closet symbolizing the abusive parent or getting oral from your girlfriend who’s permanently a face embedded in concrete (yes, this happens). It’s interesting because on the Who, there is no in-between — it’s always one extreme or another.

I think if you watch the show, you have a 50% chance of sticking with it. It depends on how you handle the bad stuff and can see through it to the good stuff. I think you should, because there is so little good stuff out there.

Are you my mummy?

My Top Ten Hottest Women Who Aren’t Real (10 through 7)

I had some trouble with the number ten spot, whether to put Rosalina or Peach here (and for a time, it was Magica DeSpell. Jeez, what was I thinking?). Peach has some cute aspects, but ultimately I decided that A) Peach is still pretty damn annoying, always getting kidnapped and B) Peach has only gotten hot in recent years. Before that she was obnoxiously saccharine, bland, and no matter what incarnation, her voice was grating. She only achieved notoriety with me by donning skimpy bathing suits and tennis outfits in fan art. I probably wasn’t supposed to write that part.

Rosalina, however, has always been hot. She’s tall, motherly, wise, and mysterious. She has pale skin, and a cute lock of hair over her eye. She’s one of the deepest Super Mario characters as well. Her family is dead, and the revelation that her mother “is sleeping under the tree” is heart-breaking. She becomes lost in the stars, mother to an orphan luma, and tries to fill the void in her life with “children”. I think I might have the thing girls get where start falling for “projects”, people that needs fixing, that can be healed with love. But don’t tell my wife that.

I don’t usually go for blonds, but there’s something about her wispy hair, her elegant dress, and her kind smile that does it for me.

9. Gadget

Go ahead. Laugh at me. Get creeped out. Point to the bestiality implications. Call me a furry. I don’t care. Gadget is an ideal woman and here’s why: she is unlike any other woman of her era.

Remember the context of the Disney Afternoon here — our other candidates for primary female role are as follows:

·DuckTales‘s Webby — an obnoxious, whiny brat.

·Tale Spin‘s Rebecca Cunningham, a bossy bitch, and her obnoxious, whiny brat daughter.

·Darkwing Duck‘s Gosalyn, a whiny, obnoxious (adopted) brat who thinks she’s a boy.

·Goof Troop with… did that even have females?

Author’s Note: I didn’t watch Gummi Bears so I have no idea about that one. But since it took place in a medieval fantasy setting, I’m willing to bet the women roles were not terribly strong.

So you see, except for Chip ‘n Dale’s Rescue Rangers, all female characters did were grab an idiot ball or precociously wander into danger to provide a plot point. Gadget was a cool drink of water in a desert of stereotypes.

But being a breath of fresh air doesn’t make any top ten lists. What does is the fact that Gadget not only broke her stereotypes — both for being a token woman and a mad scientist — but did so with an abundance of heart. In every episode, she is portrayed as intelligent, down-to-earth, quirky, capable, and always thinking. But she is also flawed, scatter-brained, and naively ignorant. The first thing she says when the boys try to recruit her is “Excuse me! You’re all standing! Here, let me make you a chair.”

Yes, there were some times where being the only woman in the group led to some tropes that took advantage of her gender — like where she has to go undercover as a gangster’s moll. But these become neutralized when the plot skews when Dale comes in, also dressed as a moll and providing competition — even though they’re on the same side! But that’s more a comment on the quality of the show than Gadget herself.

And what is Gadget herself? Let’s ignore the rodent and size factor here. Imagine Gadget as a normal, human woman in the real world. She would be… AWESOME!!!1! It would be like Felicia Day with an engineering degree. Along with the cool-headed rationality, the sweetly naive way of thinking, the attention to detail that most women people lack. You tell her your coffee machine’s broken, she’ll make you a new one that also has a grinder, cappuccino maker, frother, and a clock. She’s Zooey Deschanel with the look of Taylor Swift.

Gadget doesn’t have a great body. She never wears a dress, and she never wears make-up. She doesn’t NEED to (mostly because she’s a mouse and that would be weird). But also, because she’s a great person all the same. Now before this becomes the Gadget fan club, let’s move on.

I’m sorry, but they’ll be a lot more anime girls on this list before we’re done. It’s not like it’s misplaced. I am somewhere between an otaku and simply an aficionado of awesome stuff. Cowboy Bebop is made for people like that. Faye Valentine is made for people like that.

Japan is very strange with the way it makes women. Sometimes they’re weak stereotypes. Sometimes they’re strong and independent. Faye is both — a self-proclaimed “romani” who smartly uses her sex appeal to her advantage, like con jobs and gambling hoodwinks. She sets up residence on the bounty hunter’s starship as if she’s entitled. But she takes as much abuse as she dishes out. Both for humor and for pathos.

Once she gets to know the crew, she becomes genuinely concerned about them. In the mid-season episode, she gets involved the central storyline via a character from the past. This leads her to becoming genuinely concerned for people’s safety. Besides sun-tanning and facials, she has to put up with the lack of food, the indifference of her partners, and the strangeness of Ed rubbing her face on her thigh.

And she has her own ghosts to deal with. The global past of Bebop is tied directly to her, but you don’t know it until it’s revealed slowly throughout (and I won’t spoil it for you).

Beyond that, Faye is a beautiful woman. Yes, she’s kind of a sex object, but she owns that. She’s in control of that. And while she’s spunky and haughty, you can tell she’s an adult woman with fears. She’s not just a bitch because she’s a bitch.

Now Tinkerbell might be a bitch because she’s a bitch. And I’m talking about the dyed-in-the-wool 1953 Disney version of Tinkerbell. Not the straight-to-video “Pixie Hollow” version (where she talks, heaven forfend). Not the elfish Julia Roberts version. Not the Mary Martin flashlight version. The version that actually got jealous, got mad, got even (then got sorry, then got back with her abusive boyfriend).

She communicates through bell tinkles. She never speaks, and no, I’m not going to make a comment about women talking too much. Probably a lot of her attractiveness comes in her impossible hourglass figure, titillating leaf dress, and a hairstyle that communicates not beauty, but business. The movie treats her sole purpose of existence to prvide fairy dust (but I like that in the book, she’s actually a mender of pots and pans).

My primary exposure to Tinkerbell was not through the whole of the movie, but through a scene in one of the many pre-Disney Channel network clip show specials (like Disney Valentine, Disney music, etc.) where Tink voyeurs on Peter and Wendy getting flirty in front of Peter’s shadow.

If you focus on that scene you get a lot of woman personality, which was hard to find in that time period that wasn’t… well, wasn’t like Wendy. Wendy was demure, motherly (a little bossy), properly British, and innocent. Tinker Bell was not. She has a vindictive streak when she pulls Wendy’s hair, a vain streak when she examines herself in the mirror (a hand mirror in the drawer she’s stuck in) and thinks her butt’s too big, and a comic streak when she tries to get out of the drawer and falls over herself.

I like Tinker Bell because she’s not like all the other girls. She has some problems, some meanness, but she’s beautiful. Also, it’s spelled Tinker Bell, not Tinkerbell, like I’ve been doing it all these years. Who knew?

Code Monkeys and Nerd Humor

code monkeys pixel art

I recently watched Code Monkeys on Netflix. It was a short-lived animated sitcom about a video game company. The animation is done in 8-bit style pixelation and abound with video game references (for example, they have to jump over a pit of spikes to get to the meeting room, and the top status randomly flashes lines relevant to the plot, like an aggression meter or points scored). This is the kind of show I would be all over.

Except…

None of the characters are likable. The main character’s co-workers is one of those “Stiffler” guys who constantly makes sexual and homosexual remarks, humps everything, and without fail, tells the hero to do the exact wrong thing. He puts a turd in the microwave, which explodes. The IT guy is obese, naked, and egomaniacal. The one black guy is angry all the time. The company is led by a stereotypical Texan who doesn’t know anything about video games and seems only concerned if you’re gay or not. He has a jock son who berates the other workers, but is dumb as a rock. The two girls are bland and only exist to be girls interested in video games.

Why is it that so much nerd humor, especially plot-oriented works, revolved around people being douchebags to each other? That totally goes against likeability, and that is a key element to any successful series. Look at Friends, Cheers, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I Love Lucy, The Simpsons. These are all likeable characters you’d love to spend time with. In fact you do, a half hour a day or week. Sometimes more if its in syndication. But none of these are geeky shows.

I think this is why nerd humor fails to gain an audience. I find the writers too often, scrapping for characters, just turn them into jerks so they can have some potty humor, some plot contrivances, and to get the show moving. Not valid.

It is quite possible to have likeable characters and nerd humor in the same melting pot. PvP, an online comic, has a great cast of likeable characters, none of which are jerks. They act a little jerky to each other, some are snobby, some are sarcastic, but they all like each other. They’re lovable, they have relationships with each other. No one acts like a kowtowing bitch.

In The Guild, there is a vast blend of characters, from the ditzy to the hyper to the egomaniacal to the perpetually angry. They’re highly identifiable, like personality silhouettes. Most of them are non-empathetic jerks. But it gets made up for by the fact that they are get knocked down pegs during the course of the show. Vork’s single-minded frugalness, Bladezz’s stardom, Zaboo’s child-like ADD — they make fun of themselves, and they learn from their fatal flaws.

Then there are some nerd shows that didn’t make it because no one got along, and they were all jerks. Heroes – even in the first season the character relationships showed up. The only person I wanted to see was Hiro, the lovable geek who was the one person who actually enjoyed his power. The rest were criminals, greedy, or idiots. No one got along, they were always in conflict with each other.

I rented a movie on Netflix called “The Gamers: Dorkness Rising”, about some D&D players. I guess it was a low-budget film, but the plot was awful. None of the main characters got along–it was like they went out of their way to be absolute dicks to each other and screw each other over in the most petty ways possible. Like being characters that you can’t be, or constantly trying to have sex with NPC’s – in the middle of the throne room. I stopped watching midway through. And I NEVER do that.

There’s a place for geek humor — look at The Big Bang Theory. My wife can’t get enough of it. It’s amazing that it was created by the same guy who made “Two and a Half Men” — the two couldn’t be more opposite. Those guys are a lot more likeable — they’re not egotistical, they’re awkward, they have trouble in social situations, they try and fail, then try again. That proves there’s A) an audience and B) it can be done well. So let’s get some more of it.

Once Upon a Time

once upon a time promo shot

There’s been some buzz lately about these “real fairy tales” + “dark and edgy” shows that are popping up. “Once Upon a Time” is ABC’s entry. “Grimm” is NBC’s, which has something to do with a detective. It’s a natural evolution of “Twilight” and its spin-offs like “The Vampire Diaries” and “Supernatural”, all of which evolved from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, which evolved from “Interview with the Vampire” and so on. Plus non-serial works like “The Brothers Grimm”, “Shrek”, “Wicked”, “Tin Man”, and “The 10th Kingdom”.

I saw the free-to-watch pilot of “Once Upon a Time” on IMDB a few days ago. I haven’t watched a real show meant for a real channel for some time — I’ve been catching up with stuff on Netflix like South Park and Doctor Who.

And I’ve got to say, I’m not impressed. The writing is dull, melodramatic, and predictable. If you’re going to do a “fairy tales are real” trope, you’ve got to bring something better and newer to the table than “Once Upon a Time” does. Like “Fables” or anything by Neil Gaiman or even Harry Potter. There are hundreds of books about “what if fairy tale creatures were real”. IO9 did a much better job recapping than I can, but I’ll give it a spin because this show gets my goat.

The plot switches back and forth between fairy tale world and the real world. This makes me wonder about the quality of writing. First, it’s predictable. Second, it takes so long to get through the events. Third, what events there are pedantic talking. It takes an hour to tell us what we already know — something’s taken fairy tale creatures and put them into real world equivalents.

Also, apparently, everyone lives in the same universe — Geppetto, Snow White, Rumplestiltzkin, some blue fairy. And they all know each other. Can’t imagine what that system of government must be like. There’s got to be a dozen queens, four dozen princes with the last name “Charming”, and I don’t want to even think about the princesses.

I think the biggest problem is that the characters are unlikeable. In the real world, our main character is Emma, a female bounty hunter. Isn’t that done to death? No bounty hunters look like that–didn’t you see “Dog”? In her first scene, she goes on a date with a guy she’s trying to collar, then has the world’s loneliest birthday party with a single cupcake and a candle.

And the world’s smallest violin plays.

I guess she has some “super-power” where she can tell if someone’s lying. She clearly hasn’t earned this power. She doesn’t use it in a plausible way (like earning millions in business deals). She has no friends and we don’t know why. The only answer must be that she’s cold and heartless, just waiting for something to warm her up, like family or the right man.  Never seen that before.

And in fact, all the women are either uptight, cold career bitch (like the Evil Queen/Mayor, Emma, or Little Red Riding Hood who’s now a slut) or a free-spirited artist/nurturer (like the kid’s teacher/Snow White who talks to birds). Plus all they all look alike. They all have round faces, big eyes, and straight brown hair.  I can’t tell them apart.

Like this

I have no one to sympathize or identify with. No one has any weaknesses or quirks. Everyone is a bland stereotype or a douchebag. (In the near future, I’ll talk more about the necessity of likable characters).  This must be aimed exclusively at a female audience, because except for the kid, I can’t remember any males who talk to each other. It fails the Reverse Bechdel Test.

Does he look generic enough for you?

Even worse is the whiny kid. Emma is his birth mother, and he falls into the age old trope that he’s come to find her and intelligently manipulates the adults to help him. He whines about how he doesn’t want her to leave, he whines about how his adoptive mother is mean, he whines about how there’s some secret in the town, he whines about his big book of fairy tales that’s supposed to be this show’s codex. I hope he gets killed off, cause he brings nothing to the story.

Plus, I already know everything. I know the main character is the baby that was “saved” by being sent to the real world before the curse. I know that the girl who wraps her head in a red scarf is Little Red Riding Hood. Could they be any more obvious? She lives in a hotel called “Grandma’s Place”. They’re trying to include bonus “Easter eggs” with these little references, but all I’m doing is yawning. This sort of thing I’d expect to see on Nickelodeon or ABC Family.

So in conclusion, I don’t think I’ll be picking up on this series. Seen it all before, and it’s going to take too long to get into anything interesting. If I need a fairy tale fix, there’s plenty of books and comic books out there I need to catch up on.

Pawn Stars Lies

pawn stars

Okay. Television. There’s a lot of reasons why you’re having trouble getting viewers. TiVo, over-saturation of options (not just cable, but Internet too), stilted writers, lengthy commercial breaks, piracy, and a slew of other things. So you’ve got to do your best to make people watch. Here’s the quickest way to get me not to watch.

Lie to me.

Para ejemplo, I was watching Pawn Stars the other night. During one of the commercial teasers, they were talking about a jet fighter G-Suit someone brought in, and they showed the “expert” they always bring in looking around it and it ends with: “And what’s this under the helmet?”.

I, being an idiot, wanted to see what was under the helmet, despite the fact I have no interest in jet fighters, G-Suits, pawn shops, or historical artifacts. Maybe it was the cold I have talking. I was hoping it was a secret note from a past lover.

When they came back from break, they didn’t go to the G-Suit right away. They went to some police badge (BTW, why do they only show the people trying to sell stuff? I want to see the people who buy this crap). And they go on and on, and then back to the G-suit. They go through the sale and they don’t do the “And what’s this under the helmet?” thing.

The rest of the show goes on, so I figure, maybe this’ll be something one of the fat cronies discovers later. Maybe it’ll be the stinger over the credits. I sit through another long commercial break where the History Channel advertises all its shows that have nothing to do with history.

And the episode eventually falls to a close with the big fat guy sleeping in his chair.

I’m pretty sure he’s some kind of Star Wars alien

Man was I pissed. Never am I going to forget how I wasted my time waiting to see what was under helmet and got diddly-bop in return. Fuck you, show. You can do whatever you want to me, but if you fail to deliver on what you promised, you can suck it. This isn’t like movie trailers where you have scenes that are just for the trailer (although I don’t much care for that either). It’s like writing — you make an agreement to the reader on page one that this is going to be what the story’s going to be about, this is the writing style, these are the characters. Failure to adhere to that agreement results in you sucking.

Thanks, Pawn Stars. You have lost a viewer.