Monday, May 28, 2018

Thundermans Update

I haven't forgotten about the whole Thundermans review I had planned. However, this past weekend, it's been hard to find time to sit down and watch all the episodes. I want to watch them all in order, pay close attention to the series finale, and give it the time and effort it deserves. I definitely don't want to rush anything or just burn off the review like Nickelodeon did with all these episodes. I'm actually going to talk more about this when the review comes out. But my plans have yet to change. I'm still going to write about the finale with mini-reviews of all the preceding episodes. Then I'm going to have one more post which talks about the series as a whole and what this means for Nickelodeon.

So expect something Thundermans-related soon. I'm not going to wait a month to write anything, but this is just to let everyone know where I'm at.

Also, since I already have something written down, here are a few extra thoughts:

-Apparently, Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, & Dawn is coming back this weekend and I'm not really sure if anyone cares. I still feel like these kids are too young for anyone older to relate to, but they're way too old for the plots they get. I don't know, it's like the actors are aging, but the characters aren't. It's weird, but since the show is ending soon, I guess it won't matter anyway.

-There's also a new Knight Squad with Kira Kosarin guest starring as a genie. I guess this is her owing the show one since Daniella Perkins was on The Thundermans not that long ago. I'm actually curious as to how things will go with that one.

Hi it's Ray, this past week (well, month) I've...

 - been sick (mostly just for the past week)

 - been busy. I got hired as a teacher (hooray) so, umm...I'm still trying to figure out if that means I need to modify my blog behavior or not. I'm also in the process of trying to be re-hired into the publishing industry so...yay on that too I guess. I'm also finally moving out of my parents' by the end of the year, but to do that I need to do a "lateral" move (as in, physically, as in you con your best friend into moving your couch for you-kind) at summer's end which...just adds extra complication and waste of time but whatever.

I might wind up writing about the particular reasons why in the future.

I've also been working on my novel and I'm hoping to get that finished before my first move so...yay.

 - been turning, uhhh...a certain age, on the same day Debby turned 25, because if you remember from last year and if you can logically deduce, we have the same birthday.

So happy birthday to the both of us I guess.

My point is, I haven't seen Thundermans either. Hell I haven't even seen the KCAs yet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Let's talk about The Thundermans....

This Friday, The Thundermans is coming to an end with its final four (technically five, since the last one is two parts) episodes. Originally, I thought they were going to spread it out over the next few weeks, with the last episode on June 15. But no, that's not the case. The last couple episodes of the series are all coming out on the same night.

I don't see the point in doing this at all. This might be one of the dumbest business decisions I've ever heard of. This is how a show that has been on Nickelodeon since 2013 is getting treated? Why would they just burn off the final episodes of the show like this? They just expect people to tune in on Friday and watch them all at once?

Another idea I had was them doing it on Saturday night. You know, the night that new episodes of the show aired? Or because there are so many episodes, space them out over the weekend with the series finale on Memorial Day. I mean, they always advertise things on "your day off from school." Wouldn't kids want to see the series finale of a long-running show on their day off from school?

What really irritates me is that the Saturday night model I suggested is what they're using for the reruns. They're going to air reruns of these episodes the night after. They even fixed it so that the series finale airs in prime time. Why not just air all the episodes on Saturday night? What's the point of doing it on Friday? Who came up with this?

Originally, I was considering writing reviews of all the remaining episodes, because I felt like it was appropriate to spend time with the show in its final days. But since Nickelodeon's decided to just toss them all at once, I don't see that working out. I will be reviewing the series finale without a doubt, and probably have mini-reviews of all the other episodes sprinkled in. Then I'm going to talk about the series as a whole and what this means for Nickelodeon now that it is ending. Hopefully, I'm not completely burnt out on Friday night going through these episodes and the show can close things out on a high note. So expect something Thundermans-related this Memorial Day weekend.

Friday, May 4, 2018

iCarly Reviewed: iBalls

"They frosted a cake together?"

 We've talked about iCarly before, but this might be the first time this blog has tackled an actual episode. To sum up, I thought iCarly was a good show overall. It's the last really good show that Dan Schneider created, because Victorious got much worse after season one and never reached its full potential. iCarly was able to reach 100 episodes, have a proper series finale, and guest stars that you would probably expect on The Simpsons or Family Guy. I think the show was really good at balancing the weird Schneider humor with tight stories. Plus, it came out during a time where people weren't really taking advantage of the internet for monetary gain through entertainment. A show like iCarly was about five years ahead of its time, because it would have been just as big if it came out today.

However, somewhere around the fourth season is when I think the show started to lose its way. I'm not saying it became unwatchable, but it was much less interesting than it used to be. The characters (and by extension, the actors) came off as bored most of the time, the pacing became a lot slower, and I feel like the show was negatively influenced by Victorious. iCarly got into strange territory at times, but it was always pretty grounded. I feel like near the end of its run, it really was limping to the finish line and throwing whatever could stick at the wall. I might do a separate post about how Schneider working on iCarly and Victorious at the same time contributed to the decline in quality of both, because it's a lot for me to say and I don't want to make this review longer than it has to be.

So, today, I'm talking about an iCarly episode that I didn't like. It came out in early 2012, so you know all those problems with the show I was talking about earlier? They're here in this episode to some extent.  Even at the time, I wasn't that interested in iCarly. Compared to Victorious and Big Time Rush, it was a distant third. And I don't remember liking this episode when it came out either. But why does this episode only irritate me, not piss me off like certain other shows do? Let's take a look.

The story here is that Freddie wants to prove his creative value to the web show. The producers of Hollywood Download are doing a piece on iCarly, but Freddie is not even approached for an interview because the piece is meant to highlight the creative members of the show. Except for the fact that Gibby and Spencer are only actors, and Spencer only appears sporadically, but whatever. Freddie gets an opportunity to co-host the show with Sam when Carly has to go take care of her sick grandfather, but he bombs terribly when his unfunny skit fails. Freddie then gets the idea to make an episode of the show using 3D technology without the need for special glasses, but it ends up temporarily ruining everyone's eyesight. However, he gets some redemption in the end when it turns out that the 3D webcast cured a girl of her bilateral optic stenosis.

Okay, where do I start? Why does this episode feel like it belongs in season one? The whole thing is written as if Freddie just got hired as the show's technical producer and has to make a name for himself. But he doesn't have to. At this point in the series, everyone knows who Freddie is. He's appeared on camera multiple times doing skits and talking directly to the audience. He was mobbed by a swarm of fangirls at WebiCon. Why is he still being treated like that guy behind a camera that doesn't do anything? And when he wants to co-host iCarly, both Carly and Sam treat it like he's going to show up on camera drunk and start shouting racial slurs at the top of his lungs while wearing a Speedo. They have absolutely no faith in him to do so much as have a back-and-forth with Sam, which he does on the show and off the show every day. And no one really motivates him to try again, or remind him of his value to the show. He does all this himself. It makes me wonder why this story is being done when Freddie should be more than capable of being entertaining at this point.

This also gives me the opportunity to say something that I hope a lot of people are already thinking: iCarly sucks. Not the actual series, but the web show. It's literally just random, interchangeable nonsense combined with Carly and Sam doing something coherent for two or three minutes. And that's it. The writers really exaggerate Carly and Sam's comedic abilities. They're not as nearly as good as the show wants us to think. Anyone can do what they do. They just have good camera presence to pull off the material. The episode points out that Freddie has done skits on the web show before, but Carly and Sam say that doesn't count since they wrote them. And they both agree that a garbage bag filled with yogurt and a face drawn on it (named Baggles) would be a better host than Freddie.

Why is the series trying to sell us the idea that Carly and Sam are God's gift to comedy? Like they're funny enough to write for The Simpsons in the 1990s when 95% of the skits they came up with were garbage? I get that Freddie's script wasn't funny, but is it really that much worse than stuff like Gibby being turned into a pizza, or a skit where the person is supposed to guess what they're licking/sitting on? Carly and Sam have charisma, but as people, they're not funny. As content creators, they're not funny. Drake and Josh were legitimately funny characters and people. Kenan and Kel were legitimately funny characters and people. Carly and Sam come up with material like the proper way to spank a tuna fish, or brushing your teeth with mustard while saying vocabulary words, and we're supposed to see that as high-level comedy. I don't understand it at all.

So the majority of this episode is just Freddie being humiliated, talked down to, ignored, and disrespected. And even at the end when the girl comes to tell him about the 3D webcast fixing her vision, she would rather take a picture with the yogurt trash bag than the person that changed her life. To really drive it home, she also makes a joke about how Freddie's 3D technology could cure "tens of people," like what he did isn't really all that impressive in the grand scheme of things. And his 3D webcast still led to the majority of people who watched it having vision problems, so there's almost no use for the technology at all. This episode is just a big middle finger to Freddie, when it should have been about how him being the technical producer makes him no less creative than Carly and Sam. Instead, all I get from this is that his role doesn't matter, and on some level, Carly and Sam saw Freddie as inferior to them the whole time.

Episode Grade: D+
Episode MVP: Nathan Kress. Freddie gets the bulk of the material here and you really do feel for him in his attempts to make people see that he has creative ability. The worst part is that it's not like Freddie deserves that treatment. He's just really passionate about technology, does his job well and wants recognition for what he does.

EXTRA THOUGHTS
-There actually was an episode in season one that did this plot better. It was when Freddie started dating someone that was only using him by stealing him away from the web show to make one with her. We see that without Freddie being the technical producer, iCarly falls apart and even Sam admits at the end that Freddie is just as important to the show as the girls. It's called "iWill Date Freddie," and if you get a chance, check it out.

-It really doesn't make any sense as to why the woman from Hollywood Download wants nothing to do with Freddie. Like I said before, his name is mentioned countless times on the web show, he speaks directly to the audience, and he has appeared in skits. He even dated Sam, one of the show's stars. Freddie has never been low-key about his job. If you watch the web show, you know who he is. I get what story they're trying to tell, but it doesn't make any sense with the character they're telling it with. Like, if this was about Gibby needing to prove himself and show everyone his value to the show, it would work.

-The subplot was just there, nothing to write home about. Spencer decides to get a personal assistant named Marty, and the joke is that he doesn't need him. The other joke is that Marty might possibly be attracted to Spencer because their interactions really border on them having something going on. Spencer's stories on the show were always hit and miss. He could get something golden like "iGet Pranky," or he could get something like this. I chose the opening quote from the creepy montage of Spencer and Marty having fun together. In that montage, the two are ordering a smoothie when an old lady bumps into them. Marty gets pissed and shoves the lady to the ground. It's one of the only things in this episode that I thought was funny.

-Speaking of funny, I have no idea why Freddie thought his robot skit would be. I mean, he's been the technical producer for five years. You're telling me he didn't pick up anything from working with Carly and Sam, and is oblivious to what fans of the show might want to see? Did Sam not look through Freddie's script and at least try to edit it? Why would she let her friend make a fool out of himself, when she could have just told him to write something new?

-I swear, the web show has such a weird structure. It's like things can just stop abruptly and it's never addressed after that. Freddie's in the middle of the robot skit, Sam breaks character and asks him if he still wants to do this, and Freddie just walks off the set realizing he failed. Sam then ignores it completely and introduces Baggles. Apparently, her saying that Baggles has a "sinus infection" and spewing yogurt from his "nose" is supposed to be genius comedy. And what happened for the rest of the show? Did Freddie never come back and Sam just didn't give a shit?

-Spencer trying to high-five Freddie for his 3D webcast and slapping him in the forehead by accident was also pretty funny. I have no idea what he said before he slapped Freddie. It sounded like "that cap" or something.

-There's a skit where Sam is talking in a southern accent and telling Gibby to shoot a basketball through a hoop, which is the 3D picture. Gibby then says he wants to eat the hoop with a spoon, and then marshmallows get thrown at the camera. Yeah, I don't know either. Why is this considered five-star comedy and Freddie was treated like Amy Schumer stand-up?

Monday, April 23, 2018

Westworld S1 Reviewed

What a TWEEST!

What is it? Hour-long action drama/neverending stream of plot twists strung together
Where did it air? HBO
Who stars in it? One of my most favorite actors of all time, Jeffrey Wright along with Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood (yeah it took me a while before the "Evan" and "Rachel" stopped throwing me off), plus that one actress that was on ER? And that guy I'm sure he's been in things too.
Why are we reviewing this? Eh, it was a bit of a time coming all the way back when S1 finished but I never got around to it until now. I wanted to write this yesterday but...I ended up with an intense migraine somehow and that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. I also understand Mike really likes this show.

...and don't get me wrong I liked it too it's just that...well, I can understand why they effectively doubled the entire production's budget remaking the entire production (which, yeah, that'll do it) and when they did, they erred way, way too much the other direction.

It started out a pretty intriguing show about humanity, philosophy and what it means to be a person and it ended...predictably. And that's absolutely in spite of it having damn near literally a plot twist every. 10. Damn. Minutes. Every. Single. Episode. (I'm not even kidding I even timed it).

Or maybe to put it another way at a certain point it quit being an HBO show and just started being a Showtime show.

When it started dropping all those stupid plot twists on us, it also dropped any real, actual, legitimate intrigue and character development. In fact character development pretty much went out the window because why worry about character development when it's going to be revealed that character is completely different from what they were building up to 10 minutes later anyway, and then go back on that again 10 minutes after that? Oh, and an arbitrary heavy body count (and severed limb count) because that's always effective window dressing for shortcomings in actual storytelling, narrative and just overall entertainment quality (hey it seems to really work well for John Wick...somehow).

But yeah...by the S1 finale I just...lost all interest, and I don't think I'm even going to bother to watch the S2 premiere I have on my DVR. Or any S2 episode at all. I'm sure Mike will fill me in on what's happening anyway.

Season Grade: C-. It was starting out with an A and ended with...me deciding that in that hour I can watch recorded reruns of Liv and Maddie instead.
Season MVP: Jeffrey Wright in what may end up just being an award out of pure bias anyway but whatever. That man can do no wrong.

Extra Thoughts:

 - John Wick is the most overrated movie franchise in the history of ever, maybe even physically possible. While I'm at it Mass Effect is the most overrated gaming franchise in the history of ever, maybe even possible, and the first game was complete utter garbage. If you disagree with this you can get out and find a blog that does agree with you.

 - Right now my priority is working on my own overrated movie franchise script (I'll fill in the deets later) and particularly for this blog fixing Mike's Sam & Cat post and figuring out if there's anyway I can restore it. Another quick update: I've decided to abandon my Liv & Maddie fan script because it turns out that...well...it's hard to write. Mad props to the LaM writing staff for actually doing this on a weekly basis.

I mentioned liking Westworld? I've actually never watched this show before. Maybe someone's trying to spread false, nasty rumors about me to destroy my reputation. Then again, saying I like a certain TV show is probably the least offensive rumor I can think of.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Another quick note on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I FINALLY LEARNED WHAT IT IS! And moreover, how to do it on Blogspot/Blogger. So hopefully we'll actually get some traffic now!

Thank you to the five or so loyal readers I have, I hope to see even more of you in the future!

Sam & Cat, Reviewed

Apparently, you weren't just fine since you didn't even complete your episode order.

When the best part of your show is the theme song, you know you're in trouble.

Ray discussed Sam & Cat during the Dan Schneider write-up posted recently, and thinking about it now has made me want to talk about the show in greater detail. Ray's definitely invited to join if he wants to, and hopefully, we can figure out exactly what made this show a failure.

Yeah, I'm not beating around the bush here. Sam & Cat was a terrible show. Even at the time, I wasn't crazy about it, and I stopped keeping up with it after the first couple episodes and watched as it collapsed under its own weight. It was a spin-off of two of Dan Schneider's hits, iCarly and Victorious. I guess there's some uniqueness to spinning off two different shows, but that's where the interest ends. The show follows Sam Puckett (iCarly) and Cat Valentine (Victorious) as they live in Cat's grandmother's place in Venice Beach and go through wacky adventures while running their own babysitting service.

Alright, the first thing I have to ask is.......why? Who asked for this show to happen? Why select these two characters? iCarly was on its last legs and was going to end very soon. Victorious was supposed to carry the torch from that point, which was made more clear by it winning Favorite TV Show at the Kids Choice Awards in 2012. Then it got cancelled, and the last season did the show no favors by being poorly written and unremarkable outside of a few episodes (like "Opposite Date" and "One Thousand Berry Balls"). With these events taking place, I don't think this is what was needed to fill the void. Sam & Cat was pretty generic for the most part, and I don't think most people would be upset if  it never happened. It doesn't really remind me of either show it was conceived from. Sam and Cat just go through random stuff every week and we were expected to laugh at it. The only connection to the original shows are Sam and Cat themselves, and they're not nearly entertaining enough to elevate the material they are given.

Which leads me to my next point: The chemistry. There's almost none of it between Sam and Cat. I mean, I know that's what happens when you create sitcom pairings through putting every character in a random name generator, but every episode just feels off. Sam and Cat are roommates and business partners, but they almost never feel like friends. They don't really bring out the best in each other or make you want to watch the next episode just to see what they do next. They're both characters that need someone stronger than them to play off of. On iCarly, Sam had Carly, Freddie, Spencer, and Gibby to play off of on a regular basis. All of them had different personalities and  ways of communicating. Victorious had Tori, Jade, Andre, Robbie, Beck, Trina, Sikowitz, and Sinjin to play off of Cat. That's eight different people Cat  had the chance to interact with on a regular basis. On this show, Sam and Cat only have  each other, Dice, Goomer,  and Nona. That's hardly anyone decent enough to be a foil to. And the characters are much weaker.  Dice is alright but nothing special, Goomer is a moron, and Nona barely has much screen time at all. The supporting cast doesn't steal the show, but just emphasizes exactly why this show was a bad idea.

What really stands out is that Sam and Cat aren't really themselves in this show. They come off like watered down, stereotypical versions of themselves. Which hurts the comedy a lot because you can tell they really need stronger characters to bring out their personalities. Every situation is based on two things:  Sam being lazy and gluttonous, and Cat being stupid and weird. I feel like at one point, their characters were more than that. With the spin-off, they just walk around and spit out as many punchlines as they can until the laugh track breaks. There's no value to the sitcom beyond it being Sam and Cat teaming up and doing things. On both the original shows, there were stakes to what the characters were doing. Sam had to save Carly from being killed by her prison friends or Cat had to go to San Diego to light a candle and celebrate her favorite actress who she thought passed away. Here, Sam just sits around watching TV and eating chili biscuits while Cat is doing one-woman shows about Abraham Lincoln. What reason do I have to care about anything these two are doing?

That's why it shouldn't be a surprise that "The Killer Tuna Jump" is the best episode of the series, because it tries to be more like iCarly and Victorious than any other episode. Jade, Freddie, and Robbie instantly outshine every other character on the show and make them look like amateurs. What they do on screen is way more interesting than whatever Sam and Cat do most of the time, and it makes me feel like if Jade was in Sam's place, the show would be ten times better. Ray mentioned something about the Victorious characters having this air of coolness about them, and I see it here in this episode. Jade takes the attention away whenever she's on screen. Freddie is the same way too, and Robbie to some extent also because of how much better his jokes are than Goomer's, for instance. For the first time, I actually care about what Sam and Cat are doing, because they get to be around characters they are already familiar with or have more to offer than the characters specifically created for the show.  Sam and Cat don't really have much of a social life outside of hanging out with a kid younger than them and a mentally disabled man older than them. So for them to finally act like girls in high school and not outdated sitcom buddies was really satisfying.

Sam & Cat came at a time when Nickelodeon was trying to create a new generation of shows, many of which were given the ball to run with and were sacked by the network before they could even cross the goal line. I'm looking at How to Rock and The Haunted Hathaways as examples. It was never made to last, mostly because of the flimsy premise and the fact that  Ariana Grande was literally blowing up in the pop world around the time the show debuted. By the time the show was cancelled, Ariana's second album was close to hitting stores and she was only racking up more hits. Plus, it was apparent that as time went on, the actors were getting more tired and the show had absolutely nothing to say.


This is also when Schneider's Bakery officially started to decline. iCarly and Victorious got progressively worse around 2011/2012. These shows have been airing on TeenNick a lot over the past number of weeks and since it's more convenient that way for my TV, I've been watching the channel more times than I could count. Victorious in season three/four is almost a completely different show from season one, and iCarly began to suffer from bad pacing and less interesting stories. I think the stress of working on two popular shows at the same time was too much for Schneider and the writers, and I understand that Schneider was the kind of person to spread himself thin over all of his projects, but both shows suffered from getting the same amount of attention. All Sam & Cat did was continue the decline. The writing of the show was awkward and juvenile compared to its predecessors, and it was  first time a Schneider's Bakery show had nothing to offer me. It was dumb, it was bland, it was slow, and it wasn't worth watching more than a couple times. Even now, I'm struggling to think of a non-"Killer Tuna Jump" episode that I like. Not just like at the time, but right now. "Twinfection" wasn't too bad, mostly because Cat outsmarted Sam and tried to act like a normal person for once.

Sam & Cat is the show that officially put an end to Dan Schneider's run. I mean, it was popular with the kids, but it wasn't anywhere near as good as all the shows that came before it, and ended up inheriting the bad writing that plagued iCarly and Victorious as they were coming to an end. Would I watch it over Henry Danger and Game Shakers? Yeah, but by default. That's only because I know Sam and Cat from better shows, when they were better characters with actual personalities and interacted with characters that made them better. So what I just said was I prefer getting slapped in the face over getting kicked down low and getting shot. And what makes it worse is that Schneider's Bakery (along with Nickelodeon) never recovered.


...and yeah it just ends mid-sentence there, folks. Like I said, technical issues. This has been a known thing for a while which is why I took steps to try to preserve as much of Mike's original draft as possible...unfortunately Blogspot managed to eat those too :( So I'm going to post it now, see if Mike can piece together what was missing (fortunately it wasn't too much at least) then add my own thoughts.

I took care of it. I actually didn't lose anything because I forgot what I was going to say anyway. I might do one for Victorious next. 

Well in that case...you actually like Ten Thousand Berry Balls? I thought that episode was the poster child for the syndromes Victorious was suffering in its final season (half-season?) I don't mean to make this all about iCarly and Victorious when it's supposed to be about Sam & Cat but the comparisons are inevitable when they're the source material to begin with. Like Mike I've been watching reruns on TeenNick (why isn't it TeeNick anyway?) a bit more, especially since Victorious since if nothing else I feel it just has better rewatchability (perhaps that's more what I was getting at when I said it's better than iCarly). Except...it doesn't quite have the rewatchability I thought it had (or very specifically here, that final half-ish season). Said half-ish season premiered right when I was getting into both this network and Disney Channel, and at that specific time and place any episode of Victorious was like an incredibly hip and cool breath of fresh air compared to say ANT Farm or Dog With a Blog (and keep in mind I like those shows). The two or three Disney Channel shows that can realistically compete on grabbing that same teen zeitgeist - Shake it Up and even Wizards of Waverly Place and to at least some extent Good Luck Charlie - just didn't come anywhere close. It was like Nick gave Schneider free reign to do what he felt was needed to grab that teen demo, and it really felt like he created a Nickelodeon Breakfast Club in television format for the 2010s from that benefit.

Fast-forward a half-decade later and...I'm watching Wanko's Warehouse, an episode I had considered during that intervening half-decade one of the finest episodes of that final half-ish season and...I'm wondering just where the magic went. I'm still inclined to think Star-Spangled Tori was a great episode despite it being a finely-pointed series of unwarranted embarrassing events against its main character, but now I'm certain that's going to change if I watched it again. And Brain Squeezers is just...a bizarre episode. And an odd portent of what was coming with Sam & Cat.

Mike literally took the words out of my mouth and improved upon them in this entire article, to the point where it's become one of my most favorite on this blog so far (by him or myself). So rather than agree with him on "Sam & Cat sucks" I'm going to add more my thoughts on the why and how. Like Mike said, Schneider had a peculiar habit of spreading himself thin - yet that didn't hurt him during Drake & Josh's entire run which was at least at points concurrent with Zoey 101 (a series that I for the most part just find...strange, if not at least well-intended in some of its social messages). Though given the final season of iCarly, the final season of Victorious, the first season of Sam & Cat and the Gibby spin-off pilot (yes that was a thing) were all happening at the same time, no duh something there had to suffer, and as it turned out it was ultimately everything. Pairing Sam with Jade seems an obvious choice but that's a choice that's really only genuinely obvious in hindsight. See, Sam and Cat were the moneymakers for the network. Their characters (or at least their respective actors) ate up tons of social media buzz at the time, especially Ariana (naturally, as she seems to be a better master at SM than almost all the other actors involved in either production save maybe Victoria herself) and the shipping....oh man. The shipping. You think GMW shipping was bad? That ain't nothing compared to iCarly and Victorious shipping (and even cross-shipping). The Schneider character shipping literally inspired the GMW shipping, really.

The point is, pairing Sam and Cat as opposed to say Sam and Jade maybe didn't make the most creative sense, but who cares because it made the most business sense and it's clear that was the only real requirement or thought process that went into the show. This show was as much the product of demographics marketing and consensus as it was Schneider himself. Put the two main characters together and then...and then.... Eh, Dan will think of something (spoiler alert: he didn't). 

Mike's definitely right about one thing (everything): it was also the beginning of the end. And I don't just mean Schneider's creative magic, but I very specifically mean that at the moment it was decided that this show's main creative criteria is putting whoever happens to be the most popular together, was the moment that lead to Dan screaming and yelling his way out of having Nickelodeon studio space and any association with Henry Danger beyond having his name on the credits half a decade later. The show didn't have a direction and didn't have much creative input because the network itself decided those were the least important facets. The network thought that in turn because, very clearly, it simply didn't have a high opinion of its own audience. 

That said, I thought Tuna Jump was...ok, although obviously the highlight was indeed Jade, Freddie and Robbie. They absolutely did make the episode. Twinfection was...ok, but again what made that episode was another character/actor completely stealing the show (yes even if it was just Jennette still - but it seems like they absolutely cast the reins off her for this one, and it was nice seeing Melanie being expanded beyond literally a few-seconds long single scene - and oh yeah Twinfection will forever go down for all the creepers being super-excited about Jennette and Ariana kissing on-screen, even if the exact context of that scene thoroughly destroys those fantasies). My favorite episode is actually Yay Day, because that was the one episode that most felt like they were actually trying to live up to the premise, particularly the part about Sam and Cat becoming best friends through circumstance. 

Mike also mentioned How to Rock and Haunted Hathaways, the former again concurrent with Victorious'/iCarly's final season (and thus when I first started watching the network) and the latter premiering a year later. I've seen exactly three episodes of How to Rock before that show effectively evaporated out of the human record - the pilot (on a random rerun), and two premieres, the episode where they take a driving test and the Christmas episode which ended up being the de facto series finale (I also read both the books from which this series is based off of - yeah, really - and I really enjoyed those). From what I saw, I thought it was decent, although I thought the driving episode was pretty mediocre. I also saw just about every episode of Haunted Hathaways although for the most part that was back when those premiered, and even the latest episode I've seen in reruns would've been at least a year ago. But from what I can remember...it's definitely hit-or-miss, and at a certain point the show observingly was less about its ghost/living blended family premise and more about "how much stuff can we dump on Amber Montana today?" (Or Amber Frank, as she's professionally known now). Also, Haunted Hathaways was cast off when Dan's magic over the network was already fatally weakened, after Sam & Cat's cancellation, while How to Rock was at Dan's height, effectively a sacrificial offering to Dan depending on who you talk to. Doesn't make it any less frustrating either way - and let's not talk about 100 Things to Do Before High School, which I awarded Best Show on the Network - for its first and only season. 

But...I don't know what else to say, especially since what Mike wrote really should go down as the definitive primer on Sam & Cat, and yes I mean that. Should it have happened at all? Creatively - in a very, very different form perhaps with differently characters (or at least one different character) entirely. But as a business decision, it was inevitable. The numbers made it too good to pass up. And it was the numbers that dictated the creativity of the show, and it was those numbers the show fell and died on.

Monday, April 16, 2018

An explanation of my ratings system (and some other minor updates)

Well it's pretty much what it says so, uh, let's get to it:

A++: Somebody pretty much plucked a show idea out of my head and made it exactly the way I would, and further into perfection.
Examples scored: none so far, and honestly I'm wondering just what would end up getting this grade. Linda and Heather-a-Rooney was the closest this actually got to literally happening as per the description, but it'd have to applicable to an entire series in order to be truly A++ worthy (obviously movies, mini-series or specials are excepted).

A+: Virtually perfect. Maybe some flaws, maybe even a bad episode or three, but it's very clear this is the cream of the crop when it comes to the network, if not just television period.
Examples scored: Gravity Falls, DuckTales (interestingly enough, both of these are DXD animation - go figure)

A: Something getting this grade is good enough to set a great mood for the rest of the day or turn around a bad one (to give you an idea what kind of bar we're setting here)
Examples scored: A few Andi Mack episodes at least; I'm pretty sure this was the highest grade I ever bothered to give Girl Meets World (Girl Meets She Don't Like Me - yes, really), the absolute best DCOMs/NOMs might be able to make it here (Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension), Game of Thrones (yes really)

A-: Still potentially good enough to be the highlight of your entire workday (unless you, like, skydive for work). Maybe still clearly flawed in some way - maybe it's still tied down by the conventions and tropes of its genre or format, or maybe it's the best episode of a mediocre or even lousy series, or maybe it's just outshined by other episodes, but it's still a must-watch
Examples scored: most of the Andi Mack episodes we bothered to review so far, a handful of typical Disney Channel faire (Girl Meets World, Jessie, Liv and Maddie, you get the idea), truly exceptional DCOMs/NOMs (Teen Beach Movie, Lemonade Mouth, Splitting Adam)

B+: The veneer might be a bit transparent on this one - maybe there's just something about it that prevents it from juuuust being taken that seriously. But still, not only is it solidly entertaining but you come out of it feeling like you actually gained something from watching it.
Examples scored: Ice Princess, D.E.B.S., most decent-good Disney Channel/Nickelodeon stuff will likely end up here (again, GMW, Jessie, LaM, the Nickelodeon imports/imports-in-spirit like the Every Witch Way/I Am Frankie canon, so on), most good or even great DCOMs (How to Build a Better Boy, Geek Charming, Jinx)

B: It's still very good, and you still watch it feeling like you took something away from it that's greater than just sheer entertainment value but...not as much. Maybe it was a great episode for a particular character (maybe even the character the episode actually focuses on!) but...that's pretty much it.
Examples scored: Most of say Liv and Maddie and good Jessie up to the end of Season 2 will likely fit in here, higher-quality DCOMs/NOMs (the first High School Musical)

B-: It's entertaining, but that's it. Probably not a lot to takeaway other than it just being exceptionally entertaining.
Examples scored: Jessie through late Season 2, lots of Liv and Maddie in here too, good Bizaardvark and Stuck in the Middle, good Disney/Nick shows in general, lots of DCOMs/NOMs (the last High School Musical)
Note: Chances are I'll probably score "so bad it's good" stuff in here. I don't give scores objectively, I grade from the gut, so to speak. Such examples would include...well, just off the top of my head, my favorite of The Adventures of Henry Danger so far.

C+: At this point you're probably just going to find a good way to spend a half-hour/hour/feature-length time period decently entertained. Basically, it's all filler. Velveeta cheese dip, if you will.
Examples scored: most Bizaardvark, most Stuck in the Middle, Bunk'd topped out here (exactly once), EuroTrip, your average network show that I bother to watch, good Henry Danger and Thundermans at this point. And...yes, I'd score most of iCarly here.

C: It's...average. It's decent enough to watch.This is probably the threshold for something you'd bother to tune into on a regular basis.
Examples scored: A lot of network television I bother to watch, Raven's Home really tops out here, most of Thundermans as of this point, The Adventures of Henry Danger (provided that's even still around)

C-: Ok, now we're starting to scrape the barrel. You tell yourself you'll try to watch every premiere but...you don't beat yourself up if you miss a week or seven. Even if you do regularly watch it, it might just be as background filler or paired with another activity like Twitter surfing or...writing this blog. AV Club calls it the Gentleman's F but...I think we need to go lower still for that to really hold true.
Examples scored: For me, a lot of GMW (#SorryNotSorry), a lot of Raven's Home, pretty much most of Nickelodeon period at this point.

D+: For me, the true Gentleman's F. There's reason to watch but...not really. Maybe worth watching just to satisfy a curiosity. Really, you're not giving it a lower grade due to some gut-feeling obligation. Maybe it only took you just past the halfway point of the way into the episode to predict how it ends.
Examples scored: A "high-quality" episode of Bunk'd, Game Shakers or School of Rock.

D: For a regular series, this is something that you gave a try to...and gave up after a few episodes. For a movie or special, it'd be something you'd seen once and...decided that's all you need in your life. You pretty much predicted all the plot points a third of the way in.
Examples scored: Bunk'd, Game Shakers and School of Rock as a whole, One Crazy Cruise

D-: For a series, you maybe gave it one or two episodes before just giving up, or maybe even consistently bad word-of-mouth is killing it. For a movie or special, maybe you gave up on it even as you were nearing the end. At this point, it's not even a viable alternative to checking your Twitter feed.
Examples scored: I don't know if I gave Invisible Sister this grade, but that's a good example all the same. Marvin Marvin (remember that one, kiddies?), Blogspot/Blogger itself.

F: You pretty much get this already, folks. It's just awful. Not truly worth watching. You feel like you've seen the entire episode just a few minutes after the front credits.
Examples scored: The new MacGyver pilot, the Minority Report pilot

F-: Yes that's right we go a step beyond when it comes to grading awfulness. Now you're just being vindictive and spiteful when awarding grades. You hate it that much. Not only does it meet the criteria for at least a D+ grade but you found something personally offensive about it. You're literally demanding your time back. The only way you even bothered to finish this, if at all, is because it was on your DVR and you abused the Fast Forward button.You can correctly guess every finite plot point and plot twist from watching the previews
Examples scored: Crowded

F--: This one really must've done something wrong. You feel like it's a personal attack on you, and you need to respond back to the creators in kind. It felt like literal torture to watch. The only reason you finished it is for review purposes - and even there you lied because again you heavily abused the fast forward button. You feel like it's actively promoting extremely disgusting and distasteful attitudes without anything else to redeem it. It's just not funny, or entertaining, or anything. It's quite simply, offensive garbage.
Examples scored: The pilot of Riverdale (hey, it started out really, really bad, folks), Undateable's The Backstreet Boys Walk Into A Bar, The Mysteries of Laura's The Mystery of Whatever Episode I reviewed. Xfinity and DirecTV as actual services.

Extra Thoughts:

 - it turns out Mike wrote a really good review of Sam & Cat but...I'm still trying to overcome technical issues in posting it. Yay, Blogspot!

Wow I can configure the title for "Featured Post"

Thundermans Update

I haven't forgotten about the whole Thundermans review I had planned. However, this past weekend, it's been hard to find time to sit...

Wow I can put a title here for "Popular Posts"