Saturday, July 15, 2017

Zel and Golden Girl Young Adult Novels Reviewed

I die. Yes, as in this character is literally narrating this character's own death. And then this character keeps narrating in the first person for two more chapters.

What are they? Two young adult novels published...well, one (Zel) was published an ass-long time ago by YA standards, back in 1999 I believe, and the other (Golden Girl) was published just back in 2015 or so.
Where did they are? Umm...your library?
Who stars in it? Well Zel was written by Donna Jo Napoli and Golden Girl was written by Mari Mancusi so um there
Why are we reviewing these? Because while neither Tangled or Cloud 9 are adaptations of books per se, these two are close enough such that if you really think that's a missing element, it's got you covered. Also, because I say so.

I meant to do these a long time ago and as separate reviews but since my free time is being seriously eaten up, well here you go, a two-for-one.

Anyway, like I opened with, Zel (short for Rapunzel) and Golden Girl are pretty similar enough to both Tangled and Cloud 9 such that if you're really hoping for a more straight-up book adaptation well here you go. Actually, they're both better than those DCOMs anyway. Particularly, Zel actually offers a pretty unique insight and perspective that Tangled fans would really appreciate and understand where the Rapunzel/Mother Gothel and Gothel's motivations might be coming from other than just the strict selfishness of eternal youth (yeah that was kind of an out-of-nowhere plot device but sure why not). If you think Eugene/Flynn is a pretty weak character then you might be interested in seeing how Zel's Konrad shapes up too. Oh, and it has an explanation for just where the hell Rapunzel the name even comes from, if you're like me and you don't know anything about lettuce horticulture because you can't give a shit about lettuce horticulture. 

Other than, it's really kind of hard to get into greater detail without either just repeating what you already know (through Tangled or just being familiar with the Rapunzel tale) or spoiling what really sets this story apart from other Rapunzel retellings. I was really struggling to expand this to more than just a mini-review So that's another justification for pairing it with Golden Girl then.

Also the cover is pretty too.

So, um, there you go. So moving on to Golden Girl: you have a young girl who competes in downhill skiing, you have a Mean Girl rival who despises our heroine and feels over-worked and over-pressured to participate in a sport she doesn't really care about, and you have the obligatory circle of friends who supports her, and then she ends up joining a teen band. Hell that sounds more like a DCOM than actual Cloud 9! It's also interesting that this book popped up a full year after Cloud 9 but whatever.

And while the BFF aspects of Cloud 9 really get pushed out to the edges, they're featured front and center in Golden Girl and really it does make for a more satisfying and deeper narrative (yes even for a book as "fluffy" as this). It's less about "oooh cool look how awesome snowboarding is" of Cloud 9 and really more about what drives the girls to participate in the sport (much better and more introspectively than the limitations of Cloud 9's demands allow for at least) and it really lets those inter-personal dynamics drive that point. There is a love interest but it's not as so Luke-Dove focused as Cloud 9 or letting Dove's competitiveness overshadow the rest of the story. It's not just trying to learn one amazing trick to win a singular competition, but really going for a larger picture across an entire season, in a skiing school and really examining a plethora of dynamics involved in how these girls (and boys) go through with this sport.

Plus it has a really pretty cover too

Novel Grade: B for Zel, A- for Golden Girl. I think I gave them four and five on Goodreads respectively.
Character MPV: Zel....Zel by default? I dunno. In Golden Girl, Becca, the main character Lexi's best friend. She really does end up being the crux of a lot of that inter-personal drama I was talking about.

Extra Thoughts

 - ummm....

 - Andi Mack is coming...sometime. There's a whole bunch of stuff I need to catch up on. Sorry.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day!

Where I express my freedom to rant about how I just found out Sabrina Carpenter and her sister Sarah Carpenter are natural redheads and so of course they make Sabs dye her hair blonde for Girl Meets World so she can look like everyone else in Hollywood and how it makes me hate GMW even more, #SuperNotSorry, #MyBlogIRantAboutWhateverTheFuckIWant #AndICanSwearAsIFuckingWantTooDespiteTheFactThatWePrimarilyReviewTweenShows

Sarah's hair is a paler red I guess, kind of more like early S1/2 Jessie where Jessie didn't quite have the "it takes a lot of work to make it look like you get your hair straight out of a bottle" look.

Although 2013 Debby will always be best, even though her hair was kinda all over the place then too.

Anyway Happy 4th Ya'll. Or as they apparently say it in the Deep South, Tuesday.

Monday, June 26, 2017

So we might be sparse on updates/posts for a while (also Andi Mack mini-review, whatever the hell episode # it is)

I'm taking a month-long summer course as a prerequisite for career advancement, and well I don't know what Mike's doing but if he can think of any posts to put here have at it. But it means that, well, you're gonna have at least a month long of...probably nothing. And I know, I'm leaving you hanging on Andi Mack amirite? Well here you go:

 - Spoiler alert: the second-to-last episode got like an A+ or something. I really liked it. And honestly, like I even said before, I'm kinda tired of just typing a bunch of "well I really like Andi Mack blah blah blah GMW was a big pile of fail and Bunk'd just sucks" so there's your review right there. If you can't figure out for yourself why you did or did not like that episode well, I can't really help you there right now.

 - I haven't seen the season finale but given how the lowest grade I've given the show is a B-, and that happened exactly once, and that was for an episode apparently everyone else liked...yeah I'd be willing to make a $10 bet that the season finale was pretty darn good.

If I have an opportunity to catch up on Thundermans maybe I'll review some of those episodes. Honestly, as much as I like Andi Mack (and hell probably for that exact reason) I'm just really sick and tired of writing about it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bunk'd Mini-Review: Cabin vs. Cabin (S2E18)

Aside from not wanting to be around you or see your face, I thought he was totally into you!

What is it? Simply the worst KidCom this blog's reviewed yet, and up there with worst thing period along with Minority Report, The Mysteries of Laura, Grounded, Undateable, Riverdale, MacGyver, various Lifetime we review a lot of bad things on here.
Where did it air? Disney Channel where it will continue to air new episodes...amazingly enough, even when all signs pointed otherwise.
Who stars in it? Peyton List, Kevin Quinn, Miranda May, Skai Jackson, Karan Brar, Nathan Arenas, Nina Lui...I think I pretty much got them all. And they're all probably very, very thankful they still have jobs on this network.
Why are we reviewing this? Because we're gonna be stuck with this one for a while, but at least we'll have Andi Mack and Stuck in the Middle and Bizaardvark and whatever's on Nick.

Normally, I make a point to do full reviews for the core genre shows we review on this blog - kids' TV shows, specials, movies (TV and theatrical/cinematic releases) and the occasional book or two (though we might actually be slowly moving more book content into here) - and reserve the mini-reviews for shows outside of those genres that don't really warrant a full review (even if it is outside those genres and I feel it deserves a full review, it'll get one).

But fuck it, Bunk'd is so bad I really don't want to spend a lot of time going through why. So spoiler alert: it gets an F, and it just sucks, there.

Episode Grade: F. Uh, like I literally just said.
Episode MVP: Peyton List because she's so damn hot. There. I said it.

Extra Thoughts:

 - A review of Andi Mack is coming, I swear.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Indigo Blues and Pure Red Young Adult Novels Reviewed

She probably slobbered.

What are they? A pair of Young Adult novels written by Danielle Joseph, who also gave us Shrinking Violet upon which the DCOM Radio Rebel is based on.
Where did it air? Ummm...well they're books so you can get them wherever you get books. I got mine from the library because library.
Who stars in them? Umm...well, like I just said they were both written by Danielle Joseph who also wrote Shrinking Violet upon which Radio Rebel was based on
Why are we reviewing this? Well since I reviewed Shrinking Violet when I reviewed Radio Rebel I figure why not review the other two novels Joseph has written, so there.

So, one's pretty disappointing and the other is...pretty decent.

Spoiler alert: Indigo Blues is the disappointing one. The middle novel in publication sequence (Shrinking Violet being first - Joseph's first novel, in fact - and Pure Red being the latest) it's...meh-tastic with a little bit of enough gender stereotypes and pidgeon-holing to make me feel a little uncomfortable. It's about a girl in high school who dated an older guy who's old enough to be looking into college graduation and then they broke up, and the older guy wrote a song about her, and they have a bunch of angst about the other thanks to memories drudged up by what turns out to be this hit song. Really, the plot is almost a straight-up ripoff of another book, Audrey Wait!, which was written around the time of Shrinking Violet and (yes I've read that book too) I think vastly superior to Indigo Blues here. So, I would just recommend you read that book instead, really.

And that's even after main character Indigo's best friend turns out to be a redhead.

Pure Red ends up being much better because if nothing else I feel it's more developed. It's about a girl who's on her high school basketball team and not only does she have to put up with a bully but also her dead mom and her aloof, painter dad and yadda yadda, trust me it's pretty decent. It's a bit of a slow read - and by that I don't mean it's boring but it is the type of book you'd probably want to read in a more casual, relaxed setting (outdoors on a nice breezy day isn't a bad suggestion, for example). It's a rather, um, "character-contemplative", character-driven and introspective book (like Shrinking Violet, in all fairness) so if you're really into that (like me, apparently) then you're good to go. But you shouldn't really be expecting a lot of plot-heavy developments, in other words. It's very much following the main character, Cassia, and her thoughts but not necessarily in an action-oriented way (and I don't mean in the explosion-laden, Die Hard way but in action period). Oh and speaking of which you probably caught onto the color symbolism from the titles of the books alone here but Pure Red really gets into color symbolism as part of its narrative. In both Shrinking Violet and Indigo Blues it's really more about musical symbolism, again given Danielle Joseph's background in DJ'ing and radio.

Neither book is as good as Shrinking Violet and Shrinking Violet still has a more tightly-constructed narrative than Pure Red, but Pure Red's still an interesting read if you're interested in reading more from the author that ultimately brought you Radio Rebel. conclusion I'm not really going to talk about the one book because I think there's basically the same book out there that you should read instead, and I'm not really going to talk much about the other book in case you feel like reading it yourself, but there you go, that should give you enough of a review to go on. Whew, that turned out to be a shorter review than I thought.

Yeah, I'm still taking my morning coffee. Like I said in the last Andi Mack review, nobody's human without coffee in the morning.

Novel Grades: C- for Indigo Blues, a flat B or maybe even a B+ for Pure Red. I rated them both three stars and four stars respectively on Goodreads if that means anything.
Favorite Novel Character: I guess Indigo by default in Indigo Blues (really I didn't feel very much attached to any of the characters as indicated by all those words I used above and its C- score) and, eh, probably Cassia in Pure Red too. Like I said in Shrinking Violet, Joseph really likes to focus on her mains, which is noticeable even with books written in the first person perspective.

Extra Thoughts

 - Like I said we already have a winner for the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 contest and the prize has already been rewarded but I'll have a follow-up post for that soon. And I'm even thinking of doing another contest soon, though I won't make any promises (I'm kinda going back and fourth)

 - I've written about the power of books before and I keep making promises to do it again, but reading even Indigo Blues reminds me why I like reading so much and why I like being in the publishing industry so far, but, eh, I guess that really is just an Extra Thought.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Andi Mack Reviewed: Home Away From Home (S1E10)

It should be just the two of us. It's what Amber would've wanted, says Cyrus as Buffy stands behind him, looking ready to plant her running shoes so far deep up Cyrus' ass Cyrus could probably taste the school's track surface.

Well the good news is that I have stuff to talk about other than to just fanboy endlessly about this show.

The bad news is, the streak's over.

I suppose this episode was inevitable - oh, I don't mean kicking the A streak, though that's inevitable too, but I mean the "CeCe and Bex are gonna play a game of chicken to see which one can admit being in the wrong first" episode. These obligatory episodes are a double-edged sword: on the one hand, because they feel so obligatory it's almost impossible not to see where this is going. On the other hand, it's obligatory for a reason - sometimes you just come to an impasse in the narrative and the only way through is through, as they say.

It's only natural that Bex would either want or need a place of her own and it's equally naturally that there's going to be a few hiccups along the way and a lot of "I told you so's" thrown in all directions. And of course her apartment's going to be crap for a variety of reasons that boil down to comedy, but at least some of those other reasons are in play here so I can look past that too. And no duh it's going to be a major adjustment for Andi who's been living a pretty danged privileged middle-class life so far to be knocked down all the way to...middle-class-but-the-electricity-doesn't-really-work.

I mean...I have to take back what I said at the beginning because I really can't say anything here. I mean, you've all seen family sitcoms before. You know exactly how this plays out. If you've never seen an episode of Andi Mack before, if you spared yourself the major "twist" and are wondering why is the show named Andi Mack and they keep showing a girl and why are they spelling Andi with an "i" you can still accurately predict exactly what happens in the A-plot, probably right down to the exact dialogue.

The big problem is that, like I just got done saying, this and all the obligatory episodes are kinda necessary for progressing the characters to a certain point. I'd like to say skilled writers can work around it anyway, but there just comes a point where there's only one bridge left to cross. And they kinda work their way around it at the very end by refusing to let everything just return to the previous status-quo, so, now Andi truly has an expanded family and household.

And then we get to the B-plot which is...yeah. If you're running a show with an A-B plot structure and you find yourself having to get through the Obligatory Episode(TM), another way to help power through it is to pair it up with a really good, strong B-plot. Which is to say, your B-plot cannot afford to be super-weak. So of course they pair this episode's A-plot with a super-weak B-plot, the weakest of the entire series so far in fact. Way to go there, writing staff.

The B-plot...yeah, let's just say it: it's fucking garbage. Absolute, utter, Bunk'd-quality garbage. Cyrus is all in a tizzy because Iris hasn't texted him back, he's going on a double-date with Jonah, he begs Buffy to be his plus-1 and then it turns out Amber canceled out on Jonah too so it's really a guys-only nite with plus-zero invitations. And then Cyrus has to act like a moron about it in front of Buffy and Jonah, and that's were we get our lovely opening quote for this review.

This B-plot pretty much resolves with Cyrus just standing there like a dope. What a fuckin' waste of time.

Episode Grade: B-. The A-plot was, for like what the third time now?, of the completely obligatory variety but at least it ends strongly. Then it's entirely undone by the garbage B-plot.
Episode MVP: Lauren Tom because reasons.

Extra Thoughts:

 - I'm impressed that Amber manages to be a massive bitch to everyone without actually even being there.

 - Yeah I think needing coffee in the morning to be human is pretty much just being human

 - Phil Baker wrote this episode which probably explains why the B-plot was so damn weak. Good Luck Charlie did have a tendency to go all over the place with it's A-B-C plot structure.

 - And this is why we always check our pockets before throwing pants into the laundry, kids!

 - Oddly, Spongey (one of our regular commentators - the commerateri, as they say on The Truth About [don't ask]) thought She's Turning Into You was one of the weaker ones and that this episode makes up for it. Well that's why Mike's here to make sure I don't get any backwards opinions (and Spongey too, I guess, in the commerateri...which is made up of like two of you, counting him).

 - Seriously though, Mike's awesome and his opinions are awesome and they really are there to help check my bizzaro opinions and what not. And I really wish you people would comment more!

 -, the five of you who read this blog. Yeah I'm looking at you, Patrick. As in the Starfish. Yeah I know you're there on your couch eating Cheerios or something. And Matt. Uhhh...eating...Spongebob-Os. Or something.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

So It's Come to This II: Nickelodeon's Sizzlin' Summer Camp Special

You ever thought about killing a bunch of kids at a campsite?

You may or may not remember this, but in December 2015, I did a review of Nickelodeon's Ho Ho Holidays. It was a Christmas special where Nickelodeon stars (playing themselves for some stupid reason) get invited to a holiday party and end up being trapped inside the house by Modern Family's Rico Rodriguez because all he wanted was to sing with them. I'm not kidding. That was actually a thing that happened, and we all deserve a serious beating for letting it happen. It was one of the most vile, asinine excuses for children's entertainment that I had ever seen in my life. At the time, I thought about bludgeoning myself with some kind of weapon, or stabbing my eyes out with a fork so I would never have to witness something like that ever again.

But here's the thing. I hate myself, and I'm trying to get that review count up again so I thought it would be a great idea to talk about another one of these horrifying specials. Apparently, there have been four of these specials in total, and I never want to subject myself or anyone reading this blog to the unholy rant that will ensue if I ever gaze upon the other two. It actually pisses me off that the network decided to keep making these. Are they cheap? Are they openly admitting to us that they hate their audience? Are they letting us know that the end is near? Probably. I'm not counting out any of those possibilities. But before I begin, I just want to leave you guys with the following lyrics so I don't get accused of watching this crap out of enjoyment:

Mike is back, blog posts told like that
Comments acting like I love these shows
Like I told you "watch the shows," no, Mike did that
So hopefully, you won't have to go through that

Anyway, this special takes place during the summertime at Camp Nickelodeon, where a group of Nickelodeon stars (Jack Griffo, Jade Pettyjohn, Mace Coronel, Lizzy Greene, Casey Simpson, Kyla Drew Simmons, and Maya Le Clark) go to have some everyday, vanilla, all-American fun. However, they start noticing strange occurrences around the campsite like an enormous glove being left behind and their supplies destroyed. They believe it to be the work of the monster Bighand (played by Daniella Monet for some reason), but once they realize Bighand is not the enemy, they team up with her to stop........the Skunk Monster.

Okay, I feel like I just embarrassed myself by writing that. The weird thing is that I expected everything about this special to leave me in tears and waking up in the middle of the night screaming, but only half of it did that. I'll explain later. The main plot wasn't anywhere near as aggravating as the Christmas one, but it was just excruciatingly slow and boring. That's pretty much it. The plot just starts with them going camping, unfunny jokes are made throughout, they think Bighand is out there, they find out who the real monster is, and they get them. Not much else happens. It's just you waiting for something to happen that might be remotely exciting and it never does. Kinda like waiting for Bill Maher to actually be apologetic that he used the n-word on his show.


I find it bizarre how with a plot like a strange monster lurking around the campsite and some kids having to figure it out, it would be this uninteresting and depressing. Maybe it's the people they chose for this. I mean, I like Jack, but it's just him messing around with the Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn guys for 44 minutes, and none of them have that kind of charisma or stage presence to make this work. Oh yeah, they also have Jade from School of Rock and Maya from The Thundermans but they don't elevate this plot at all. They try really hard to give Jade the role as the funny guy but it doesn't work at all because her material is awful. It's just a bunch of jokes about how she packed way too many unnecessary items with her (look for the Kenan & Kel episode "Doing Things the Hemingway" if you want to see an entertaining version of this). Maybe if they put Jace Norman or something here, it would be funnier. But seriously, of all the actors and actresses at your disposal, you chose these guys? I don't get it.

Okay, so the main plot didn't really make an impression on me. But it was the segments, the absolutely offensive segments, that made this special go all the way to the unforgiving depths of hell. You know what I'm talking about. The parts where the mentally disabled elves transition into a completely different story that is unrelated to the main plot, kills time, and just serves as a constant reminder that this is seriously what qualifies for children's entertainment in 2017. I'm beside myself trying to figure out why they thought these segments were so hilarious, they brought them back in every other special. And I know they are in the other specials too, but unless I'm getting paid or taken out to dinner afterwards, I'm never disrespecting my eyes like that. Every segment here is just relentlessly terrible, and I'm having a hard time figuring out which one was the worst. The first segment involved Jace Norman working at an ice cream shop and trying to scoop up a sample for JoJo Siwa (I'm still not entirely sure how she was able to acquire enough fame to get to this point) to try. The ice cream is really hard and Jace can't get through it, to the point where he has to use dynamite to make the ice cream melt. JoJo then says that she doesn't have taste buds so everything tastes exactly the same.

The next segment is called "Are You Smarter Than a Coconut?," and involves a woman unable to answer the same question multiple times when asked, because she's stupid and the only joke is that it's stupid. The third segment made me wish I was dead. It was definitely one of the absolute worst things I have ever had the misfortune of watching, and made me long for the day that Nickelodeon was taken out back like Old Yeller. It involved Kira Kosarin rapping/singing about her brother being a complete nuisance at the beach. Did you ever want to hear Kira Kosarin rap? Or sing such an awful tune like she did? I know I didn't. The worst part is that Kira actually can sing, so why give her such garbage like an annoying guy at the beach and make it into some EDM/hip hop dumpster fire? You want to hear a good rap song about the summertime? Go listen to "Summertime" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. It will make you forget that this special existed.

The last segment is probably the least infuriating, but at that point, anything it did would have made me want to spit on it. It involves a cook off that has absolutely nothing to do with the actual plot or summer in general. The joke is that Kira Kosarin's character keeps making these elaborate dishes and should win first prize, but the mayor just says that everyone's a winner and gives everyone (even the host of the cook off) a blue ribbon. These segments are the result of people wanting All That back, but they have no idea what made All That work or how to write for sketch comedy in any way, shape, or form.

Ummm...hi. Anyway, it seems like Mike's done with this and to avoid the problem we've been having with posts being deleted I'm going to go ahead and publish it now. Besides, it's fun to have a running dialogue while in progress! Just look at our friends at Girl Meets World Reviewed!

And honestly...I'm actually a little confused as to why Mike's even reviewing this. Really, and let me explain myself with this one. I mean, don't get me wrong it's an awesome, very well-written review, so I appreciate that he did go through the trouble and the torture but after the Ho-Ho-Holidays Special, after the Valentine's Special whatever that was called, I think it's pretty clear what you're getting into. And that is: ...pretty much what you'd expect from a typical Henry Danger episode or Game Shakers episode, except Jim Bellinger (It's Artie!) and Audrey Whitby are in it because, I dunno, Liv and Maddie ended so they need to be on kids' TV somewhere? I mean I like them so I'm not complaining, but it's really a current-era Dan Schneider show in vignette form where all the actors play the characters they're mostly associated with except they use their real names for some reason.Which is weird because it's a Heath Seifert and Kevin Kopelow show, and our second-to-most-recent review besides this one was Kenan and Kel so, um...well that also had Dan Schneider so.


Also how appropriate that they have both actresses (Daniella Monet and JoJo Siwa) who apparently spend so much time at Nickelodeon Studios I'm convinced they literally live there. And hey, I laughed here and there.

But hey, there's always Andi Mack, right? And we'll always have the imagery of Aiden Gallagher dragging his tongue all over Isabella Monier who's now a major movie star - I'm not making this up, kiddies, this is something Nickelodeon actually aired, though dialogue only - and we'll always wonder if Siebert and Kopelow didn't just let Dan Schneider have that one bit to himself.

I'm only a few years older than Isabela Moner and I'm already a little disturbed by how adult she looks now. I don't know, I saw her at the Kids Choice Awards and I was having a hard time figuring out who that was.

I saw a commercial for this special and knew it would be terrible. Like, absolutely, soul-crushingly terrible. But I knew it would make a great review and I wanted to see how it compared to the first special. I think this one is worse because it feels like a ripoff of the first one. I don't know how low the bar is that you have to feel the need to rip off something so horrible, but it definitely felt like they were out of ideas and put all their energy into making you want to blow your brains out with the segments. At least with the first one, it was deliberately trying to piss you off. This one is just more of the same, and with that, I will never waste my time or yours by doing another review of these.

I need to bring back the Quest this summer. There are still plenty of other subpar shows out there that need the attention.

Zel and Golden Girl Young Adult Novels Reviewed

I die . Yes, as in this character is literally narrating this character's own death. And then this character keeps narrating in the firs...