Archive for the 'TV' Category

February 2019: Let’s Review Kid Shows!

I’m taking a break from my life journal to play around with “reviewing things” again. Because long gone are the days when I could binge a new season of “Daredevil” or even watch “MST3K” for more than two minutes at a time, and it’s eating my soul alive. So here’s my impression of several kid shows I’ve had to watch on repeat for almost two years straight.

The Ones I Actually Like

Peppa Pig
This show is a saving grace for being a parent. It’s the only thing my son watches that continues to grow on me. Just a family of pigs doing normal everyday things with zero conflict. Peppa wants to learn about bubbles? Daddy Pig shows her how bubbles work. Then they jump up and down in muddy puddles. I’ve seen every episode a few dozen times and the show has become part of the family. It’s our chill-out show. A thing where watching Daddy Pig win a puddle-jumping tournament, Mr. Bull dig up the road or Miss Rabbit drive a robot dragon can bring a little sense and harmony into this crazy world. And this is the kind of crazy world where Peppa Pig is a better Chinese diplomat than Canada is.

Curious George
Here’s another fine chill-out show. Based on the animated Ron Howard movie, this series captures all the innocent joy and wonder children must feel about the world while letting them experience it through the eyes of a monkey. I especially enjoy the show’s art style, as it’s one of the few shows that showcases how good classical 2D animation can be done through today’s technology.

Octonauts
I love Octonauts. At its essence, this show is “Star Trek” for kids, but underwater. And with talking animals. The captain is basically Picard as a talking British polar bear, and his chief security officer is Kirk as a cat who talks like a pirate. And they travel around the ocean helping marine life through diplomacy, heroics, and lots of preschool-level technobabble. It’s totally my jam.

The Ones I’m Still on the Fence About

PAW Patrol
The nice thing about the above shows is that I can eventually lose myself in the fantasy. “PAW Patrol” is different. I can’t suspend my disbelief because this show keeps throwing left hooks at me. Why does this ‘Ryder’ kid have enough money to fund his own private security force? How did he find six talking dogs and build them transforming rescue vehicles? Where’s this kid’s parents? Why doesn’t this town have proper law enforcement? Why do half the rescues involve saving the mayor’s chicken? Why can the dogs also turn into mermaids? How did the evil Mayor Humdinger train six cats to do anything? HOW LONG WILL IT BE BEFORE THAT CHICKEN GETS SOMEONE KILLED?! While the show at least teaches kids to help and share, it’s still up there with ‘Care Bears’ as one of those shows that works better when you think less about it.

PJ Masks
What can you take away from a show about the same three heroes fighting the same three villains every episode? Answer: that LUNA GIRL is an awesome powerhouse of a villain, and the writers are terrible people for always delegating her to the role of a B-Lister. You are too good for this show, Luna Girl. Take your gravity gun, flatten those PJ pests, and go fight the Justice League instead. I’ll be rooting for you.

Anything Lego
The LEGO movies and video games are great, and most LEGO shows are actually pretty good. But when you’re diving into the unknown parts of the LEGO-verse, everything is a coin flip in quality. You’ll probably get a few laughs out of the “Lego Justice League” movies and “Lego Yoda Chronicles”, but beyond that, it’s just plastic bricks farting on each other.

The Ones We Have a Tenth Circle of Hell For

Bob the Train
“HI KIDS. LET’S GO ON A COLOUR RIDE! OH-NO! THE COLOUR MONSTER STOLE ALL OUR COLOURS! I GUESS WE’LL GO ON AN A-B-C RIDE! ARE WE SPELLING THINGS WITH LETTERS? NO! WE’RE JUST GIVING THEM A RIDE! THIS WILL BE THE LONGEST ALPHABET YOU EVER HEARD! I JUST SMOKED SEVEN BAGS OF WEED AND CAN’T CONTROL MY OWN VOICE! CHOO-CHOO!”

Finger Family
This is HELL. Somebody somewhere wrote a song called ‘Finger Family’, a song about finding each finger, and then hundreds of Youtube channels decided “hey, we should make hundreds of music videos for this song, but we’ll change each song to feature something like ‘Batman Finger’ or ‘Kim Kardashian Finger’ so the longer kids watch, the faster their brains melt into something that no longer understands patterns. The only thing they’ll know is how to scream for five hours straight if their parents ever turn our creepy garbage off! Bwahahaha!” Seriously, Finger Family and everyone involved with making those videos can die right now. I shouldn’t have to explain myself further. You people know what you did.

Word Party
So first, you dress up four adults in animal costumes and have them dance around like babies, ala Teletubbies. But you do it in a motion capture studio. Then you take their shakey digital performance and slap pre-automated facial animation onto each model so it looks like their faces are constantly trying to escape. What we have here are baby adults trapped in a digital sandwich of soulless automation, forever screaming for the right words to describe their disconnect with reality. And then Word Wally shows up and teaches them a couple vegetables. It’s a nightmarish descent into the uncanny valley, and it breaks my heart every time I see the ‘Jim Henson’ logo appear at the end. But my kid loves it, so I make the sacrifice and continue living the nightmare. Because this is what being a parent is all about.

Coming up next month, I review kid songs. Unless I actually get some work done for a change.

February 21 2019 | Parenthood, TV | No Comments »

August 2018: Webby Breaks Ribs

Just finished watching the season finale of the new “Ducktales” series and… I gotta say, my cartoons would have been very different if the 80’s had treated Webby and Mrs. Beakley with this much awesome.

Ducktales ’17 Review – Season 1

I won’t be regularly reviewing things, but this seems site appropriate.

First of all, the show got off to a great start and has maintained that quality from the beginning. It’s still classic Ducktales, but the characters are better developed, their adventures take on more personal twists, and I love the overall voice cast. In recent years, I’ve also followed “Gravity Falls”, “Adventure Time”, and “Steven Universe”, all shows that have pushed the boundaries of storytelling in “children’s television” and “Ducktales” hits all the same high notes. It’s darker, it’s funnier, and it’s smarter. I’d watch this show again over the originals in a heartbeat.

And yet episodes from the original show are prevalent throughout the reboot. Creatures like the Terra-Firmians are re-imagined as a terrifying underground race, while Castle McDuck is now the cursed home of Scrooge’s immortal parents. And they go further by diving into the rest of the Disney Afternoon – the Gummi Bears are now ancient creatures of legend in this world. Meanwhile Don Carnage (or the son of?) and his Sky Pirates from “Tale Spin” have become Scrooge’s adversaries. Even Bigfoot from “A Goofy Movie” is back. And I’m still not sure how Darkwing Duck will tie into the series’ long game, but for now, he’s considered a fictional character whom Launchpad keeps a bobblehead of on his dashboard.

A lot of the new changes to the show really work in a modern respect. Changing up Huey, Dewey and Louie with conflicting personalities lends to better stories (and possibly less animation since they split up a lot.) Huey’s the classic Junior Woodchuck, Louie’s the Wolf of Wall Street, and Dewey’s the Hufflepuff of the bunch. And together, they’re driven to solve the mystery of their mother’s disappearance (Hey! The nephews have parents! Why didn’t we have episodes about this until now?!) And then there’s Webby, now a socially awkward recluse who’s been trained by former-British Operative Mrs. Beakley to operate a grappling hook, perform stealth attacks, and break ribs when needed. So now Webby’s my favourite of the kids. And does Doofus come back? Yes, he does. Except now he’s a psychopath and one of the show’s villains. And best of all, Scrooge’s butler is now a ghost. Yes, they killed Duckworth, and we don’t know how, although fusion isn’t beyond possibility.

And then there’s the new additions. A girl named Lena joins the kids, and her connection to a certain dark sorceress carries most of season 1’s arc. Scrooge finds a new foe in Mark Beaks, a Mark Zuckerberg archetype who challenges Scrooge’s wealth through the power of social media. And I can’t begin to tell you how awesome “Manny” is. You just have to see him for yourself. Manny’s my new favourite addition to the cast.

Voice casting? Perfect. David Tennant as Scrooge is… ummm… well, not unfamiliar to me. It’s amazing that even happened. Kate Miccuci and Danny Pudi are always welcome, and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Gizmoduck is a great out-of-left-field casting choice. And I have high hopes to see more of Don Cheadle and Paget Brewster in future episodes (but I’m not spoiling their roles). My favourite voice overall was Jim Rash as Gyro Gearloose. He transformed Gyro from goofy “I invented glow-in-the-dark popcorn!” scientist into bitter “I’ll show them all!” mad scientist. And the fact that he still sounds like the Dean from “Community” makes it even better. Hopefully, Gyro will start wearing colourful costumes at some point.

And yes, I’m mostly sure the creators of this show have seen my cartoons. There’s subtle nods and easter eggs throughout the show which I won’t list in case it endangers someone’s career. But I can say they’ve been very careful not to make any Dragon Ball references. Maybe they’re saving Vegeta for Season 2. Which I’m still free for voice work on, if anyone at Disney is listening. Just give me a call. We’ll do lunch and get ice cream. Or just keep dropping easter eggs in – I love stumbling across them. It makes me feel special.

Final summation: To COIN some terrible puns, the Ducktales reboot is SOLID-GOLD, RICH WITH LAUGHS, and RIGHT ON THE MONEY! And yes, it’s a really good show. I can’t yet call it “Gravity Falls Great” (Sorry, Disney, but Printer Error Dipper is still the bar to jump), but I feel like now that they’ve laid down roots, Season 2 will be something else. The show is already a great successor to the Disney Afternoon, and a fun ride from beginning to end, suitable for both old and new fans.

And this month’s post has been a longer review than I planned. I’ll save life updates for next month and get back to work on Do-Gooders. Until then, take care. Here’s some Ducktales music to play you out.

August 19 2018 | Awesomeness, Geek Talk, Reviews, Stuff I Made, Stuff Other People Made, TV | 2 Comments »