Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Quick Personal Note and Update

So, uh, a few, um, "interesting" news developments have happened a bit of a while ago. A few shows here and there have come that would be in our interest to review, and we've promised to review some others in the past that are still in the que. Yet this blog's been pretty silent in the past couple of weeks. There's a pretty good reason for that: I've been massively, massively sick during that time. Like, it's seriously time to call the doctor-sick (and yes, I did that too). So that's why this blog's been a bit silent during that time. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed Mike's take on A Henry Danger Christmas (or however that episode is called). I wanted to give Mike the spotlight on his own, he deserves it, so I don't see much point in adding my own commentary other than he's spot-on and it is a horrid episode.

Up next: a few of those reviews we promised, and an essay on the whole Debby Ryan situation (you should know exactly what I'm talking about right now).

I once dated a (also fake redhead) girl who used to drink Malibu Rum from a Hello Kitty mug. But more on that story next time.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Christmas Danger (Henry Danger)

Merry belated Christmas. Yeah, I'm being exclusive, you have a problem with that? Screw being PC, you can do that. 

NOTE: A good chunk of this was written back in December, but around the time I talk about The Thundermans is the stuff that I wrote tonight. 

What is it? multi-cam kidcom, half-hour (24 minute) length
Where does it air? Nickelodeon
Who stars in it? Jace Norman, a surprisingly talented actor for his age. You've seen him in prominent one-episode guest roles on Jessie and The Thundermans, and he starred in his own Nickelodeon Original Movie, Splitting Adam (one of my personal faves BTW). Also Riele Downs, who when factoring age even edges out Jace in the talent department (actually probably even without factoring age), along with Ella Ellsworthsoemthingorother (the actress that plays Piper) and Jasper-dude. Yeah I'm too lazy to look them up. And don't forget Cooper Barnes as Ray/Captain Man himself. Oh, and whoever plays Schowz. Was Schowz in this episode? Eh, let's assume he was.
Why are we reviewing this? 

That's why.

At this point, I'm starting to wonder if these shows are made to be as unfunny as possible, or not make any sense on purpose. My patience is tested time and time again by these underwhelming episodes, and it never ceases to amaze me how stale and annoying they are.

Yeah, so Henry Danger had a Christmas episode. And it sucked. Not Ho Ho Holidays level, but it is not entertaining in the slightest. It had a lot of problems with it but in spite of all that, it was really boring. As the opening sequence says, it all just kinda happened. Nothing was meaningful in any way, the characters' situation wasn't treated with any seriousness, and then the episode just ended. When you have your characters face situations like this, you have to treat them with some sense of importance, like they actually matter. I get that this is a comedy for kids but that is no excuse for bad writing and storytelling. It doesn't look good on any show. But I'm getting ahead of myself so let's begin.

The episode starts at an event that Captain Man and Kid Danger are hosting on Christmas Eve where they serve food to the people of Swellview. There's this one woman who is destitute and pretty much everything she says is annoying or awkward in that Dan Schneider-type way. She asks about the meatballs or some shit but the exchange is so unremarkable that I don't really think it matters. Then the woman calls in a cop and gets Captain Man arrested for serving food without a hairnet. I'm not making this up. Captain Man was arrested for serving food without a hairnet. Captain Man......was arrested.....for serving food.....without a hairnet.  

None of this makes any sense. Apparently, that's a law in Swellview but if it was really that serious, Captain Man would have not even been allowed to serve food on the basis that he is endangering the health of the people being served. And seeing how Captain Man is a vigilante protecting the city, I would at least expect him to know a thing or two about the law. But no, he just ends up in jail. The town's superhero is arrested for serving food without a hairnet. Later on, Jasper, or "Joshy" as PieGuyRulz nicknamed him, comes in and talks about what happened to Captain Man. He then names several other laws of Swellview that he read about in the city's law book. Literally all of them are stupid and don't even sound like laws. I get that's the joke, but none of these laws sound realistic in any possible way. How does one get arrested for biting ice cream or wearing two hats at once? Jasper decides to go to City Hall and break all of these laws himself to show them just how ridiculous they are. This will then move City Hall to release Captain Man. Henry and Charlotte decide to go with him for something something something.

Okay, am I the only one thinking this right now? Captain Man is the superhero of Swellview and he was arrested because of an asinine law. Wouldn't crime go up with him in jail and the police unable to take care of the situation? Wouldn't anyone be able to post bail for him? I mean, he's the damn vigilante of this town and no one is willing to cough up some cash to spring him out of jail? Whatever. So Jasper breaks all of these laws and is arrested. Then Henry decides to get himself arrested so Jasper won't annoy Captain Man in jail. Charlotte also gets arrested because she saw Henry break all of those laws and did nothing to stop it. In that case, wouldn't Henry and Charlotte have been arrested at the same time Jasper was? Nope, because it really doesn't matter anyway.

So Henry's parents find out what happened and instead of trying to go down to the freaking precinct and tell them to let their son go, they instead go after the policeman and put themselves in jail with no benefit to themselves. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW?! Could you imagine if the Drake & Josh episode where Drake and Josh were arrested for selling stolen grills was like this? Walter would get in jail for doing something stupid, Nancy would have to do something stupid to join him, and Megan would just sit around and talk to her friends on the phone while her entire family is in prison for ridiculous charges. Everyone is just sitting around in the same jail cell for some stupid reason, except for Henry's dad who got put in a cell with the more dangerous criminals because of his offense. So I have to assume Jasper and Charlotte's parents don't know that their kids are in jail. Because that has to be the only possible reason why they're not down at the precinct getting them out. So you want to know how the episode ended? Henry's dad starts playing the spoons in his cell, and the sound is reminiscent of "Jingle Bells." Then everyone starts singing "Jingle Bells" while Piper is having a Christmas party with her friends. 

I am not making this up. They really ended the episode like this.

So nothing in this episode even mattered in the end. You think this episode would have taught us about the stupidity of law enforcement, because at the end of the day, Swellview still has these stupid laws that one of these characters can end up in jail for. Nope, that wasn't the point of the episode at all. It was just a way to get everyone in jail. I was half-expecting them to end the episode with the characters still in jail, and then when they actually did, I had a meltdown. 

One thing I hate about this episode is how callously the situation was treated. No one really cared about what was going on unless it directly involved them, and even if it did, they did almost nothing to solve it. When Captain Man was arrested, we saw Henry and Charlotte talk about it then it was dropped afterwards. Then when Jasper started discussing it, you could tell no one really cared. When the characters were in prison, all they did was react like, "Oh. We got arrested, darn." The viewer knows that the characters are going to get out of this somehow, but the characters themselves don't. This is a very simple storytelling practice that a lot of writers seem to forget. If you have the characters treat things like they don't matter, the audience loses any emotional investment in the story. I get the overwhelming feeling that I'm not supposed to care about any of this. I didn't feel that way when Carly's grandfather planned to take her away from Spencer, or when Josh decided to cut Drake out of his life. Even when Cat thought that her favorite actress was dead because she's just that stupid, I cared more about that than almost the entire cast of a show being arrested.

Besides all of that, I might forgive all of it, all of it, if it wasn't such a bore. That's the worst of it, Henry Danger. You're just a poor, sad, unfunny bore. The fact that Game Shakers of all shows had a better Christmas episode with a more cohesive plot and legitimately hilarious jokes should be a serious cause for concern. This show really doesn't call attention to itself, and there's nothing wrong with that. Not every great show, even a comedy, has to be flashy. King of the Hill is one of the most beloved cartoons in the past twenty years and it was never really in your face like a Simpsons or a Family Guy. But the problem with Henry Danger is that it is under the Schneider's Bakery umbrella, and pretty much every show from that production company has found a way to separate itself from the rest of the pack. Henry Danger is absolutely boring. It's one of the most uninteresting shows for children because the characters say and do things as slowly as possible, scenes often feel like they go on too long, and a majority of the jokes only get chuckles. Sometimes, the show will have a decent episode but that's not very common. Nothing is compelling about the plots, the characters, the jokes, the dynamics between the characters, nothing. And for a Dan Schneider show, I would like to believe that this is a cause for concern. The premise for Henry Danger is actually really interesting and if it was, say, Scott Fellows behind it, I would like to think it would be utilized to a much greater potential. But it's not. It never has been. The whole superhero thing is done much better on The Thundermans, and it is not even that compelling, but at least the writers bring up the freaking premise of the show every chance they get.

This series has been a part of Nickelodeon's lineup for two seasons now and it already feels like it is treading water. It represents everything that is wrong with the network's live-action programming: Stupid, nonsensical jokes, one-dimensional characters that annoy the audience, the pacing of a snail in slow-motion, plots that are underdeveloped and either happen exactly the way you expect it to or go nowhere at all, and episodes that do nothing interesting with any of the characters. As a writer of my own television series, this shit legitimately pisses me off. I don't even know how much input Dan Schneider has in this show because I can't expect him to handle running two programs at the same time for the third time in less than a decade and a half, but I like to believe that he doesn't care that much about this show. I would slap myself in the face if I found out that there are people who actually care about working on Henry Danger because it never comes across that way. 

If you really want to know, that's why I sometimes hate talking about these shows. I know I'm just preaching to the choir at this point, but it has to be said. Girl Meets World, with all of its problems and missteps, is an infinitely more interesting and compelling show to talk about than almost everything on both Nick and Disney combined. Through good episodes and bad, I'm at least invested enough to look at each one and express my thoughts in an analytical way. Henry Danger and shows like it just give me the same feeling that Full House/Fuller House gives the Full House Reviewed guy. There's no genuine love or interest in the show being reviewed, we just hate ourselves and deserve pain so we sit through mediocre drivel like this. Then you start to wonder why your life ended up this way.

I'm.......I'm done here. Henry Danger, thank you for proving once again how much of a disgrace you are to kids television. 

Episode Grade: F (I literally do not remember laughing at anything, and it is really easy to make me laugh. A couple of choice jokes can make any terrible episode okay for a short time, but this show doesn't even have that excuse. It fails as an action show, a sitcom, and a comedy. Way to go.)
Episode MVP: Jace Norman (Sometimes, I wonder if this kid is just saddled with bad material. Even though the show has gotten worse, he continues to be a bright spot.)

-I wrote this review months ago around Christmastime but I never finished it and PieGuyRulz, ironically, ended up doing a review of this episode. He pretty much said 90% of what I said, and rewatching the review made me want to go back and finish what I started.

-All this episode does is remind me of how much better "The Gary Grill" was. Probably the best scene in the episode (among many) is when Drake and Josh are being interrogated. A sweaty Josh saying that he comes from a family of moist men, Drake not knowing that Caucasian and white are the same thing, the detectives mocking Drake and Josh when they reveal the names of the guys who gave them the grills to was beautiful. 

-I said earlier that Captain Man should have known what would happen if he broke the law since Swellview is so militant about enforcing it......and it turns out he did. He tells Henry to put on a hairnet or he will get arrested but he does not do this himself because he did not want to. So, this whole thing is his fault? Good to know. Again, Captain Man should have been nowhere near the food if he had to wear a hairnet and he was not. And if Swellview enforces these laws so heavily, then why did it take the old lady to call out Captain Man on what he did? Shouldn't the other citizens have been concerned since they were also being served food? DOES THIS SHOW CARE ABOUT FOLLOWING ITS OWN LOGIC?!

-There's this really frustrating scene where Henry's dad comes in with these bells that no one else likes and he keeps insisting on playing them. Then when other characters are trying to have a conversation about the events of the episode, he plays them. I have to ask, what in the name of all things holy and spiritual is wrong with this man? Does he have some attention disorder I don't know about? It's one thing for a little kid to act like this, but this is a grown man disrespecting the wishes of other people and being pushy and overbearing and trying to make it about him. It's grating and makes me want to punch Henry's dad in the face. I would compare this weirdo to Jerry from Rick and Morty, but I'm not even going to entertain that because I love Jerry and it should be apparent to everyone that Rick and Morty is on a completely different level than this trash.

-The scene at City Hall is just another case of the show not following its own logic. If Charlotte is going to jail for just watching Henry break the law, then like I said before, she and Henry should have been arrested earlier when Jasper broke it. Henry should have been arrested when Captain Man broke the law, along with the weird lady and everyone there getting food. Oh no, they're making things up as they go along! If they don't stop now, they could ruin any chance of salvaging the episode and making it have any sense of basic storytelling! -_-

-Apparently, Jay Kogen works on this show. Jay Kogen, a classic Simpsons writer who wrote episodes with Wallace Wolodarsky. All I can say is, that might be the biggest step down in the history of television.

-Henry's parents attacking the policeman was absolutely stupid and had absolutely no basis in reality. Of all the things they could have done, they decide to get themselves in jail by attacking a freaking policeman, putting their hands on him for no apparent reason. This policeman has every right to pull out his gun and shoot these two to death, but that cannot happen because this is a kids show and that would actually make sense. Honestly, it just goes to show you how underrated logic really is. In real life, you have unarmed black people getting fatally shot by crooked policemen and cases getting thrown out like leftover broccoli. On this show, two adults put their hands on a trained law enforcement official and they never get shot or assaulted with a nightstick, just taken to jail. White privilege strikes again?

-Piper is absolutely awful in this episode, even more than usual. She comes home stating that she maxed out her father's credit card, presumably gets her own parents in jail while her older brother is there as well, and while her entire family is in prison, she uses this valuable time to throw a party for her and her friends. I hate this girl's guts, she makes me want to vomit for one half-hour each day for the rest of my life. No, not really, but Piper is a terrible character. Why is she throwing a Christmas party with the knowledge that her entire family is in jail?! Who does that in a situation like this?! When Drake and Josh were in jail for the stolen grills and Megan found out, she came up with a plan as fast as possible to get the guys who actually did steal the grills arrested. Megan may have went too far sometimes and hardly ever got her comeuppance, but she was a brilliant antagonist and had a certain charm that made her an interesting, possibly likeable character. What does Piper have? A bunch of social media accounts and an obsession with using her devices 24/7. The spoiled brat character is getting old, I'm just saying.

-I don't need to touch on the non-ending, we all know that it makes no sense and does not address anything brought up previously. When I see writing this inept, this clunky, this ridiculous, it just makes me appreciate shows like Girl Meets World a lot more. Shows that at least display some kind of effort and don't completely hate their audience.

-I think in some regards, this might be even worse than Ho Ho Holidays. With that garbage special, there was really no story or attempt to do anything that made sense. It was just the writers spaced out attempting to throw as many absurd gags at the wall as possible and see what sticks, like a Family Guy episode. With this episode, there was a clear attempt to actually tell a story, but they butchered it so horribly I hate it even more for pretending to make sense. 

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