Friday, December 29, 2017

Girl Meets World Reviewed: Girl Meets A Christmas Maya

It's not Christmas anymore? Please, like that matters.

As far as I know, this is my first Girl Meets World review in almost a year. Since the show ended back in January, actually. To tell you the truth, it was strange watching this show again. It was like texting your old friend who you haven't talked to in years because you had a big fight, but you still remember the good times. And I did have good times with Girl Meets World despite everything I've said about it. With the exception of my rant near the end of the "Goodbye" review, yeah, I still stand behind everything I've said in the past.

So I've gone to hell and back with this show. The question is, why am I going to review more episodes? Well, there are some that I have thoughts on but never officially reviewed ("Game Night"), and in this particular case, this is an episode that I never watched before I reviewed it. Plus, it's a Christmas episode, and since Ray has taken the time to go through several holiday episodes of Disney Channel shows (his memory is downright scary), I've decided to fire back with the one show that makes him sick. It's weird how our opinions of Girl Meets World come from different places. When I went nuts on an episode, it came from a place of frustration, because I always felt like this show could be better. And I still think that. It was the poster child for wasted potential. When Ray talks about it (and he's taken every chance possible over the past number of weeks to spit on GMW's grave, not that I have a problem with that), it's always comes from a place of hatred. I could be wrong about this, and I encourage Ray to respond if he has a problem with my theory, but I remember a time where his favorite whipping boy was School of Rock. Now the tables have turned.

Woah woah woah woah here! First of all thanks for the compliment on my memory - in many cases I've had to go back and try to Google everything, but an episode summary will only get you so far and for the most part episode summaries are all you're gonna get so thanks for the compliment and I guess I do deserve props for that. That said, if you read my reviews carefully you'll no doubt spot gaps or at least notice that it's painting broad swaths in generalities. Even in places where I could watch the episodes (Disney has a habit of putting up all their holiday themed episodes up on Disney NOW so props to them for that too), it's just a particularly tedious exercise when done for only review purposes. So if it came across that I remember more than I actually (think) I do, well, I guess I deserve kudos for that.


Anyway, Girl Meets World doesn't make me sick. It makes me bored at its absolute worst moments - granted, that's the absolute greatest sin a piece of fiction can do (unless it, I dunno, does literally make you sick or as I said in my Shimmer and Shine review [yes I reviewed that show] it literally teaches the wrong lesson - incidentally a trait it shares with Meets the Tell-Tale Tot) but believe it or not there's at least episodes of this show i like. In Season 3 no less! Meets She Don't Like Me and Meets Hollywood (I never thought I'd say this about an episode that references Hollywood in the title) are the least overrated episodes the series has to offer. 
When I go nuts on GMW it's also from a place of frustration - but maybe the sources are a bit different compared to Mike. Mike's frustration comes from the show not living up to its promise (I'm going to say promise instead of potential, a distinction I may get into in a future essay, after I really nail down the articulation of that distinction). That's also where my frustration comes from - but my frustration also comes from the fandom in using the rest of the network as their whipping boy, the insane Stan culture many of them brought, the clueless entertainment pundits, and so on. I think I even ended up writing separate essays about each of these elements at one point or another, and certainly about all these issues together last February. 
It feels exceptionally hard to explain since I very much seem to be alone in this. I guess it's like...it's like the split reaction with Star Wars: The Last Jedi (I'm burned out on the Star Wars franchise myself, but that happened much before TLJ, and for different reasons entirely. Hell TLJ might rekindle my love of Star Wars based strictly on what I've heard, but I'm hesitant to have to watch TFA in order to do that). Or spit reaction to the Abramsverse Star Trek movies, which is something I'm also burned out on (and yes this time for many of the same reasons). 
Or...trying to think of a better example...remember that movie Boyhood? Or that weird-ass Spike Jonze/Joaquin Phoneix movie Her? Remember how those were the hottest movies around but everybody hated them? (And yes I've seen Her, it's...weird-ass as hell and a pretty lengthy, confusing borefest). It's like that. It's Hype Aversion (it's a TVTrope, you can Google "TVTrope Hype Aversion" to see for yourself). Honestly it probably wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for the loud, obnoxious GMW fanbase that makes me feel like I actively have to spite them in retaliation. But...like Mike said, I can write more about that later.
Also, School of Rock is getting canceled after this season so my work there is done.  







But you know what? I didn't come here to ramble on. Let's take a look at this episode.

So the whole thing is about Maya not wanting to celebrate Christmas with Shawn and Katy because she's worried that Shawn will be alienated by the Harts' crazy Christmas traditions. I'm not entirely sure what the lesson is here. Shawn grew up in a trailer park. If anyone knows about awful Christmases, it's him. The whole episode is written as if Maya just met Shawn a few weeks ago and still doesn't feel comfortable around him yet. To really get into this one, we need to suspend our disbelief that Maya would be dreading Christmas because Shawn's not used to her and her mother's holiday experiences. And it doesn't really work the whole way because Shawn would be the first person to understand what Maya's feeling. Maybe this episode would be more interesting if Riley was in Shawn's shoes. Like, through some circumstance, she has to spend the holidays with the Harts and we get to see how crazy their Christmas is. But, uh.....this is season three and it's Girl Meets World so what you see is what you get.

If there's anything here that makes the episode worth watching, it's the secret Santa plot. I almost wish that was the main plot since it's more substantial and has a real payoff. Riley organizes this secret Santa thing every year, and of course, it doesn't go well because even though these people are a tight-knit group of loving friends, they don't seem to know each other. At least that's what it seems like because each person gives reasonable explanations as to why they got the presents they got. It was genuinely sweet to be honest, and reminded me that when they treat the characters like humans and not just people who explain everything while saying awkwardly written lines, it made the show more rewarding to watch. Everyone reacts with believability to the presents they received. For a minute, it felt like I was watching a different show.

This episode was pretty decent in the end. I don't know if holiday episodes were ever really the show's strong suit anyway. But I didn't have any serious problems with it. The main plot could have used some work, but the subplot was a lot better than it had any right to be. By the way, happy holidays to everyone reading. This might be my last post for the year so I don't want to leave anyone hanging.

Episode Grade: B-
Episode MVP: Amir Mitchell-Townes. Zay is really something else. I remember how no one liked him when he first came into the picture ("Who is this guy?" is one of my favorite quotes from him, though), and by the beginning of season three, he had become one of the best characters on the show. He's probably the only person I could see surviving in the real world, and it's a shame that I don't get to see his character shine anymore. The way he explained his present for Smackle was incredible.
Christmas Grade: Four Calling Birds. You probably could have done the main plot without the Christmas aspect, and the Secret Santa plot really should have been the main focus.

EXTRA THOUGHTS
-Lucas wasn't in this episode. In some ways, I don't think he was missed at all.

-Cory's impression of Chet was fantastic. It's almost like he was in the room himself.

-A big mistake here was not having Shawn show up. It's like they build it up so much and then it doesn't happen. Besides, it would have given us a chance to see Shawn. Did Rider Strong sign a contract with the network that says that he only appears when he wants and when the paycheck was fat enough?

-One thing I noticed, and I don't know if anyone else has, was that Zay seems to have similar mannerisms to his father DJ Jazzy Jeff. Watching Jazz on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I can see where his son gets his charisma from.

-When Riley was making that heartfelt speech about why she got Farkle that menorah, he seriously looked like he was about to punch her in the face. His facial expressions were creeping me out. Seemed like he was ready to give Riley the beating of her life.

-Riley throwing glitter everywhere was hilarious. Sometimes, I feel like she would have made a fantastic character if she was animated.

Nothing against Sabrina Carpenter, of course but...at a certain point I just didn't feel like watching episodes that directly reference Maya in the title. Which is to say, I haven't seen this episode. Hell I've forgotten this episode existed.


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Ray and Mike's Christmas Cheer, Blatantly Ripping Off GirlMeetsWorldReviewed

After reading Christian and Sean's Christmas Cheer post (which is linked) I've decided to just go ahead and do my own with the same system and hope Mike can join me, and hey, if we ripped off "Episode Grade" and "MVP" from them we might as well rip off their rating system too:

5 Golden Rings: Hey, the Olympics are on in like a month or so. The Olympics have 5 rings, but they're not golden, depending on whether or not they make them multi-colored or not.
4 Calling Birds: They'll call out if an episode is more than kinda Christmas-y or not.
3 French Hens: 3 French Hens are only kinda-sorta Christmas-y because they're too busy running away and surrendering from Ze Germahnz.
2 Turtle Doves: Turtle Doves are only a little bit tiny Christmas-y to reflect their own species status. Are they Turtles? Are they Doves? Which are they?! WHY CAN'T THEY MAKE UP THEIR MINDS!
And a Partridge in a Pair Tree: A non-Christmas Episode passed off as a Christmas Episode? Why, that makes as much sense as a strictly ground-burrowing animal being stuck up in a tree traditionally associated with non-wintery climates!

Since Christian and Sean covered all the Boy/Girl Meets World eps for us, naturally it only makes as much sense for us to cover other Disney Channel Christmas specials. Since it's post-Christmas now a lot of them aren't going to be shown anymore (although they still might be available OnDemand and Watch Disney/Disney Now but meh) and for shows Disney would rather just bury now like A.N.T. Farm, Shake it Up and...well, Girl Meets World, good luck even then, and since I've literally seen them all I'll just be recalling them from memory.

And since Disney Channel loves Christmas DCOMs I'll cover them in a separate post (which means Good Luck Charlie will get to be in two this time)  doing just the episodes has proven to be pretty tedious, I don't want to have to go back and rewatch/struggle to remember every Christmas DCOM, and Nostalgia Critic is doing it for me so yeah, forget it. I'll only cover two, the two that I mention below: Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas! and Twas the Night, specifically because they're my favorite Christmas DCOMs (I'll cover GLC below with the episodes, and Twas the Night will get its own post)

Oh, and full disclosure: As a general rule, I freakin' hate Christmas episodes. Mostly because they've been following the same damn pattern since...I dunno, since I've been alive. I'm not going to go so far as to do the new hip Millennial trend of saying Die Hard is my favorite Christmas movie, although I'm really tempted to and it's mostly driven by my hate of being forced to belong to these freakin' Millennial hipsters I detest with all my black Grinch-like heart, but one of the reasons why I do like It's A Wonderful Life is because it's super-effective at getting at what the Christmas spirit means without being hopelessly tied into Christmas tropes. You can watch It's A Wonderful Life any time of the year - I could watch it on my birthday in the literal middle of May and it will have the same seasonal feel as it does Thanksgiving or Christmas. I also like the classic animated Grinch because it's so well-done, and I even like the Bass-Rankin stuff because for all their age-related wonkiness they're charming, have legitimately creative yet classic plots and narratives and I just love clay-mation and heck those movies might be a big reason why I'm so in love with Maker-culture. I guess as a bit of a spoiler for the DCOM version of this post, Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas and Twas the Night are some of my most favorite DCOMs of all time (Twas the Night deserves special mention that very few people bring up, not even Nostalgia Critic, that I'll also get into). But most TV show episodes, especially on the mainstream broadcast networks...it's like all they do is string up a cheesy banner that says Merry Christmas, and insist that every minute going forward on that episode has to be a sight gag involving that banner.

So yeah, don't be surprised if the better the Christmas score, the worse actual qualitative rating the episode gets.

So let's just go on down the line starting with, eh why not, Jessie

Christmas Story: One of my "favorite" parts about Christmas Story (and a lot of other Season 1 and even Season 2 through 4 episodes, although it's the Christmas special itself that gets to be the biggest offender), is that the episode wants to keep insisting that Jessie, again played by Debby Ryan who at least at the time many people (including myself, I suppose) considered to be one of the best-looking actresses on the network, is so hideous people literally can't look at her. Other than that, all the episode is is a 24-minute long string of "Worst of A.N.T. Farm"-quality sight gags revolving around holiday tropes that were starting to feel shopworn probably sometime before Nixon resigned from office.

Episode Grade: D+ At least it's better than the one time Jessie got groped and then insulted for being ugly. Yes, this actually happened on a Disney Channel show involving a character played by someone who isn't just known for having a large bust size but is also a real sex abuse survivor. Way To Fucking Go There. The episode in question, BTW, is Capture the Nag which of course is a Season 4 episode (to run down the stats of that episode: Episode Grade: F minus minus, MVP: eh Debby why not). 

Episode MVP: Debby Ryan because why not.

Christmas Rating: Five Golden Rings, Like The Ones Painted on the Side of the Hindenberg, a giant Nazi airship full of gas that exploded and killed a bunch of people And this just tends to prove my point exactly why I tend to hate Christmas specials. Again, it's just 24 minutes of people standing around being idiots with equally stupid, groan-worthy jokes incorporating the word Christmas.

Austin & Jessie's All Star New Year: Yeah the title says "New Year" but the episode blatantly starts out during Christmas and there's a bunch of other reasons why I'm going to say it counts that I'm going to be too lazy to get into (not to mention it originally aired well within the Christmas season, December 7 2012 [wow already half a decade ago], a date I remember because 1.] it's Pearl Harbor Day and 2.] that was the date my dad let the family know he's decided it was time to go into retirement mode and not extend his employment contract beyond the few years remaining on the current one [in fact I got the phone call just a few minutes after the Disney Channel premieres that night]). Anyway, the first half of the episode (written by the A&A team, I'm just going to assume Kiefer and Sopalope) is 24 minutes of the A&A team being stuck on a plane, with all the entertainment value that brings to the table. The second half (written by the Jessie team, I'm assuming either Pammy O'Connell or some of the worst writers the series has to offer, I dunno, Ahren and McLaughlin or example) is about how Jessie, yet again as a reminder played by Debby Ryan who is also a real-life songwriter and singer, is such an untalented (and unattractive) hack she literally has to plagiarize off a little kid. 

Oh, and the big Ross Lynch solo that was promoted for this movie (which was also promoted for the Shake it Up: Make Your Mark special that aired back in the fall of that year, only the second and as it would turn out very last one) is one big giant sexual entendre.

Fun Fact: this would be the very last time each half of a crossover would be treated as an individual episode under production codes and even given individual titles, with the Austin & Ally half being Big Dreams & Big Apples, and the Jessie half being Nanny in Miami. From that point on both halves of a crossover would only be referred collectively under the crossover's name - if they had individual titles for either half of Good Luck Jessie for example, they've never publicly released them as far as I can tell. It's also only the second and so far second to last crossover where each respective half of the episode actually takes place in the locale of the other half (the Austin & Ally half takes place in NYC, the Jessie half takes place in Miami). The only other ones to do that is way back to the first mega-crossover, Wizards on Deck With Hannah Montana where the entire crossover took place on the SS Tipton, including the WoWP and Hannah Montana portions, and then most recently in...Monstober '15 *shudders* even though that was more of an incidental crossover (though for Liv and Maddie and Best Friends Whenever the crossovers actually ended up being integral to the plots). In Good Luck Jessie, the GLC portion still takes place in Denver (at least partially) and the Jessie portion takes place entirely in NYC; in Jessie's Aloha Holidays it takes place entirely at a "neutral" location in Hawaii, and as for Spider-Man's Halloween Night at the Museum, well both series take place in NYC which was enough of a justification for that crossover I guess.

Episode Grade: C- I remember being really excited for this crossover like you wouldn't believe when it was announced all the way back in mid-late September '12, exactly at the time when I was just getting into these shows by a month or so. I remember liking it on my first viewing much more than as time went on, and even then a part of me felt like I was ripped off. Really, the only reason why it's getting a higher grade than Christmas Story at all is 1.) if I may be allowed, Debby really is extremely lovely in this episode (honestly if this doesn't come off as too predatory the thing that impressed me most about that episode was just how damn beautiful she was in it, and the more I think about it it's still one of the things that most impresses me about it) 2.) the duet between her and Ross Lynch is equally lovely, and I wish it was a thing that was allowed to happen now and 3.) I really liked the helicopter scene, as much as the rest of the episode wants to dump on her it was one of Jessie's best shining moments and one of the best shining moments for whoever the hell the A&A writers for this were.

The Jessie and A&A writers aren't as good as I enthusiastically remembered. I still insist they had way better episodes and more of 'em than people insist (especially in Jessie's first season when Even Stevens, Lizzie McGuire and Phil of the Future veterans Tim Maile and Eric Tuber were around, the first season of Jessie ending up being their very last work for the network), but what had been the first major Disney Channel crossover in three years wasn't it (well it was Jessie's Season 2 already so that figures). 

Episode MVP: Eh, Debby again because why not. Well, because of the duet and helicopter scene. And Ross for being the second part of that duet, and Raini for again the helicopter scene.

Christmas Grade: Two Turtle Doves winked out of existence because Darwin insists they're an impossibility. They can't be doves AND turtles at the same time! Yeah, I know I spent a bunch of words justifying it as a Christmas episode and then went on bloversharing about personal stories but the fact of the matter is...eehhh, this doesn't really have a lot to do with Christmas or The New Year (if it actually had more to do with The New Year it'll get a bump in Christmas Grade to reflect that, as we'll eventually see later on this list). It's mostly just an excuse to have, as I noted, the first major crossover for the network in three whole years, back when it involved that other show Debby was on (and she got to win at Tug-o-War with Selena Gomez!)

Good Luck Jessie! NYC Christmas: Ugh. What better way to display the discrepancy between the Jessie and Good Luck Charlie writing staff and even the GLC-written portion still stunk. On the face of it it's actually a pretty decent episode (referring strictly to the first half) even if Jessie and Zuri are in it for like three minutes and Gabe, PJ and Bob (I don't know about you but they're some of my favorite GLC characters...well, they also make up a good chunk of the cast so) was in it for about the same time, and they all didn't even necessarily interact with each other spending the first half separated by several blocks or in some cases over a thousand miles! And then we get to the Jessie-written portion (which I know for a fact is written by Old Nanny Pammy) which is complete and utter garbage through and through. For reasons I will probably never, ever understand, they decided to ripoff and parody an R-rated film that had already fallen out of cultural favor to that point because as it turns out Hangover 2 is the most the world can tolerate of this. And we only got to see Teddy and PJ. And they insult my hometown which, from the perspective of this reviewer, is a surefire way to earn a high grade.

Oh, and fun fact: that University of Denver thing that PJ and Skyler say they're going to is a real thing. I know because as of this past summer I'm a post-grad alum from there (that thing I had mentioned where I said I'd probably be too busy to have a lot of posts this past July). Yeah, um, I don't think PJ and Skyler would be able to get past the entrance exam, sorry.

Episode Grade: D-. Just like with Austin & JESSIE & Ally, I tried my best to basically just trick myself into liking it when it first aired, but now that we're a whole four years removed from it (actually four years and one month since it aired as basically Disney Channel's Thanksgiving special), and even after a whole half decade after Austin & JESSIE & Ally I recognize it has some flashes of quality, right now I can only recognize Good Luck JESSIE as being utter garbage. This, like much of Seasons 3 and especially 4, encapsulates much of exactly what made those two seasons stink. The GLC portion was entirely phoned in and barely featured anything presentable as actual entertainment, and that was the best half of the crossover. The actual Jessie portion just illustrates how badly Old Nanny Pammy lost the plot and whatever touch she had, and ultimately was a sad, chilling and disturbing precursor to what Bunk'd would end up being. Literally the only redeeming qualities was Jessie's song at the end, and the GLC portion gives us resolution and an actual good ending to the PJ/Skyler ship which believe it or not was actually pretty popular with fans. Oh, and the reveal of Jessie herself was nifty, the only other credit this episode deserves.

Episode MVP: Debby, Bridgit and Samantha Boscarino because I say so. And because Debby was insanely hot as Chick Santa. If you have a problem with it, file a complaint in the comments below (no, seriously, I invite you to do so if you actually find this problematic). Oh and Bradley Steven Perry because at least I liked the Gabe part.

Christmas Grade: Three French Hens rushing to the German border to surrender as they're horrified by the ghastly sight of exactly half a calling bird, the top half, just enough to allow the calling bird to perform its duties heralding the garbage-ness of Good Luck Jessie as a warning of the garbage Armageddon that is to come, known as Bunk'd. The first half was pretty shallow, mostly just focusing on the commercial aspects of Christmas, although it did have good albeit very short lessons on what true Christmas spirit is, and why it's so important to not forget that especially when you're inevitably stuck in holiday traffic, whatever form that traffic takes. The Jessie half was...Cartoon Christmas, Hangover-style, but it counts for something I guess.

It counts for exactly the fact that that poor calling bird got mangled into a half-living mess. You're a bird murderer, Old Nanny Pammy!

Jessie's Aloha Holidays with Parker and Joey: The best (and last) Jessie Christmas special by far, even if also by default, and yet it continues the tradition of Jessie Christmas episodes being massive disappointments (not even John D. Beck and Ron Hart can save it, I guess). That's assuming they even wrote it, although I feel it's a halfway safe assumption because narrative-wise it's actually pretty decent, go figure. The *real* disappointment was the fact that Dove Cameron couldn't make it, likely because of then-commitments to Descendants (if you ask me what I'd prefer, Descendants or Liv and Maddie and Jessie, I think the choice is pretty clear given that I largely agree with Jezebel's review of Descendants, although hey it did give us Sofia Carson so it's not like I can complain). In fact when I was looking back on the TVTropes article for this (under the Jessie main article, under the Trivia tab, under "What Might've Been") I think it's pretty clear they just quickly rewrote the script to introduce Maya Mitchell's character reprisal to fill in for Dove, given that both her character and Liv are actresses (I wonder how Maddie would've fit in, but I'd be willing to wager a guess that Maddie probably would've been largely absent regardless but still!) Anyway, yeah, pretty decent episode. They characters aren't stupid (in fact they're actually written as characters), the plot borrows from damn near literally every other plot from every other KidCom to visit Hawaii (seriously what's with this obsession with taking rocks?) but it's still good, and hey Joey even gets to team up with Emma so what's not to like?

Oddly enough this is technically a Season 3 episode (in fact it's the Season 3 finale), which means Season 3 has two Christmas specials to make up for the fact that Jessie wouldn't last on the schedule long enough to justify one for Season 4 (which many including myself anticipated would be the incorporated into the series finale somehow, not the garbage we got for real that ended up buried and forgotten under Girl Meets Network Force Fed Love Triangle, but that's an entirely different rant if not several). And since like the first one it's also a crossover, it means Season 3 has three crossovers (remember, Jessie also crossed over with, of all things, Spider-Man for Halloween, and that reminds me next year I need to do one of these for Halloween which is a much more badass holiday than Christmas, fact).

Episode Grade: B-. Yeah, that's still the best it's gonna get. 

Episode MVP: Joey Bragg and Peyton List

Christmas Grade: A Partridge taking refuge in a Pear Tree to escape the horror of what Jessie Season 4 would end up being And given that this is the best of the Jessie Christmas episodes, I think this proves my point that the more Christmas-y the episode is, the more awful it is (sorry Spongey). It's much more about vacationing in Hawaii than it is about Christmas, more a fact that most people would just want to vacation in Hawaii during the dead of winter precisely to escape winter than in the summer when the weather's actually good back home anyway. Plot-wise, it's much more about Jessie overcoming her own anxieties as a struggling actor and trying to find herself, and Joey obsessing over the fact that he's in a relationship with a girl he knows is way out of his league which...well, those are pretty damn standard KidCom plotlines, not really Christmas ones.

Whew, that's Jessie, I guess I'll move on to Austin & Ally. We're already a third of the way done since we already covered Big Dreams & Big Apples with Jessie.

Mix-Ups and Mistletoe: ...this episode was garbage (yeah I know I use that word a lot but if the shoe fits....) Like with many of the Jessie specials, it's emblematic of how Season 3 in particular ended up being a very low point, with slapstick humor plucked straight from the mind of a three year old so embarrassing it would make A.N.T. Farm Season 3 blush. The entire plot revolves around Austin Moon dolls having massive defects, so Austin and Ally decide to be their own two-person Grinch-based recall notice with hijinks ensuing. Yeah. And the B-plot is a Dez and Chuck one so...yeah.

Episode Grade: D-

Episode MVP: I dunno, Laura Marano? Raini Rodriguez?

Christmas Grade: Four Birds Calling For the Writers To Quit Being A.N.T. Farm Season 3-Level Hacks. I mean, yeah, it's Christmas-y AF, but...again, it's lame. It entirely focuses on the most commercialized aspects of Christmas (yay I get an Austin Moon doll!) with some lip service to what the season's really supposed to be about tacked on at the very end.

Santas and Surprises: This one was much better and more getting at the "true" spirit of the season, in terms of families trying to be together and people working hard to unite those families even though they're absolute strangers for the most part.

Episode Grade: B-

Episode MVP: Uhhh Ross and Laura again why not

Christmas Grade: Five Golden Rings ringing out the fact that this is actually a decent episode for once Again, complete strangers working their asses off to reunite a family is pretty Christmas-y af.

Whew, we're already done with Austin & Allly, I guess we might as well do Good Luck Charlie especially since again we already have one episode covered thanks to Good Luck Jessie. Snow Show doesn't count because while it's actually a pretty decent episode, it's Christmas Grade is an absolute zero and since I can't express absolute zero in the musical terms of the 12 Days of Christmas, that's an automatic disqualification. A Duncan Thanksgiving is also disqualified as it's a Thanksgiving episode (practically the only one on the network since they do Christmas episodes instead) and really the only reason why they even did a Thanksgiving themed episode is because of the DCOM, so....

Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas! Especially notable in that so far it's the very last of what had been up to that point a very proud and stable Disney Channel tradition: the series DCOM. Both Shake it Up and Jessie were supposed to have their own DCOMs but sadly those never came to fruition: Shake it Up's got reformatted into a multicam 90 minute extended episode special, Made in Japan (basically a pretendo-DCOM on the extreme cheap) and Jessie's just evaporated entirely without a trace (as the TVTropes article mentions, it was probably canceled so early in the process they probably didn't even hammer out any real plot details yet anyway). It's possible the Wizards of Waverly Place: Alex vs. Alex special was also meant to be a full-on DCOM, which would've made WoWP the only series to have two; I heard officially the reason why it was just an hour-long multi-cam special was because Selena's schedule was only able to accommodate that, and that's certainly a real possibility. But it does coincide with shrinking DCOM ratings all across the board starting in 2012 which is probably why the SiU and Jessie DCOMs got scaled back or canceled entirely.

But anyway, we're here to talk about the GLC DCOM, and not only is it far and away my favorite Christmas DCOM (again, I'm sorry but as a general rule I hate Christmas specials) but it's also one of my favorite series DCOMs and just favorite DCOMs period. Like the series itself, it's just generally overall well-written and a good mix of outright comedy (including slapstick moments) and "genuine" moments.

Going back to trivia for a bit, it's also only the third series DCOM period to have confirmed implications and consequences for the canon of the parent series, as this is where we find out Amy's pregnant with who'd end up being Toby, officially joining the cast (naturally) roughly nine months later. All the other series DCOMs would have at best nebulous canon status or even strictly be non-canon, yes including the WoWP DCOM since, well, I don't know where the heck that's supposed to fit in without causing pretty major problems (likewise the Suite Life Movie - incidentally the second-to-last series DCOM ever - which outright freakin' breaks the canon, and the Phineas and Ferb DCOM which is explicitly non-canon by having everybody's minds erased at the end, although that un-canonization was more or less undone when they did a sequel episode to the movie, one of the very last episodes of the series). The only exceptions besides GLC would be The Even Stevens Movie, and there it's somewhat of a moot point as it also serves as the official series finale; and the Kim Possible Movie which was also intended to be the series finale, except Disney Channel sprung a surprise renewal on them (as well-deserved as it is) and they ended up just building the canon and the fourth season off from the movie instead of just trying to ignore it (and ended up with a very fine season all the same, in my opinion).

DCOM Grade: A-. Again, it just hits all the right notes and unlike a lot of the specials we've already covered, perfectly encapsulates what made GLC great. We might go ahead and revisit this one again in its own dedicated post after all, especially since I still have it on my DVR as of this writing.

DCOM MVP: I really have to give it to the entire principal cast since they do a really good job of bringing value to each of their segments, something the main series really struggled with at times. It just goes to show that the A-B-C plot structure's very hard to do under the constraints of a 24-minute long multi-cam (that's just 8 minutes per segment total, assuming equal distribution, which indeed is what GLC did for the most part - to put that in perspective a single plot thread of a typical GLC episode is roughly equal in time length to an average round-trip from the very spot I'm sitting writing this to my mailbox). If you're going to force me to pick one I'm picking Bradley Steven Perry because I thought the final run in that FPS scene was badass af.

Christmas Grade: Four Bird Calling Out In Joy For Actually Being In Something Good For Once It's not outrageously Christmas-y as some other specials - no Santa Claus, no anything that isn't totally, absolutely grounded in reality (well, real-life recreations of first person shooters by eccentric game developers aside, which one, isn't Christmas-y at all and two, is completely unrealistic for a single guy to earn gobs of cash from a single video game as opposed to having all that cash go straight to a soulless corporation who will then insist on putting loot boxes into that game in order to make even more money and turning players into payers) but again it really goes at the heart of what the Christmas spirit ought to mean, without being overly preachy or even boring while at it (unlike, say, Full-Court Miracle which is practically physically impossible for me to watch through because I literally keep falling asleep through it).

And with the DCOM out of the way that leaves only:

A Duncan Christmas: Of the actual episode specials, this might be my favorite just because it manages to be pretty funny. I love the regifting jokes and the recurring thread/joke about how Amy's and Momma Duncan's narcissistic personalities conflict. The Christmas lessons are a bit force-fed with the Super Adventure Land Jail, but are more subtly reinforced once they return home and we get a truly comfy Bridgit/Shane duet to top it all off.

Episode Grade: A-. Although the Super Adventure Land segment is a bit drawn-out and drags the episode down a bit, the jokes alone help earn this grade.

Episode MVP: Bridgit Mendler and Shane Harper for again that super-cozy duet.

Christmas Grade: Five Golden Rings in an episode so good I'm too distracted to come up with even a bad joke/pun in here It's hard to top this level of Christmas-y, in terms of both the actual commercialism and what people want Christmas to be about.

I guess it's time to do Shake it Up now. I only vaguely remember their Christmas episodes, Jingle it Up and Merry Merry it Up. Jingle it Up was a pretty standard Christmas special with CeCe regretting a selfish Christmas purchase, Rocky frustrated over her inability to make a Christmas purchase for someone else (she's trying to buy a robot for Flynn, or something) and Deuce trying to convince Dina to go caroling. From what I vaguely remember...yeah, you've pretty much got the episode right there in the description. Merry Merry it Up is a Ghosts of Christmas format episode and...it was mostly notable for the musical numbers which even given that this is literally a show built around musical numbers, even more than Austin & Ally ever was, is pretty weaksauce.

Fun fact: I've always wanted to go caroling, which the rest of my family (which just includes myself, my parents and my brother and now not even that) absolutely detested, and just the four of us with no musical talent to speak of is a bit on the small side for a caroling group anyway.

Episode Grade: C+ for Jingle it Up, a flat C for Merry Merry it Up.

Episode MVP: Uhhh...it's just about interchangeable for Jingle it Up so I'm just going to pick Bella Thorne, just because I'm sincerely giving Zendaya MVP for Merry Merry it Up because she really did give a memorable song and dance number, so much so that I at least vaguely still remember it a whole half-decade later (it aired very early in Season 3 as like with Jessie the show didn't last long enough to make it to Christmas '13, despite some insane efforts to stretch the season out as much as possible - and they still gave it more respect than Jessie).

Christmas Grade: Four Calling Birds, I can't even think of anything remarkable to joke off of again pretty standard Christmas fare mostly focusing on consumerism in the first episode, and again your very standard Ghosts of Christmas plot for the second. Thanks Charles Dickens, for making that an absolute plot trope.

If we're going to dig into Christmas episodes from the past we might as well dig into A.N.T. Farm then (this and Shake it Up are probably going to be the oldest episodes we'll review with two exceptions, since I've never seen the Lizzie McGuire one, it's been too long since I've seen the WoWP and SLoZaC/SLoD ones, etc).

Again we have only two episodes (for 2012 they elected to do the ChANTs of a Lifetime non-holiday-themed mega-special instead), Season 1's SANTa's Little Helpers and Season 3's SilANT Night. SLH (yeah I'm not doing the stupid capitalization in the middle thing) was...well.... Ok, here's the thing about A.N.T. Farm - at its absolute best it actually had some amazing if not outright brilliant episodes (the aforemetioned ChANTs of a Lifetime special was actually pretty neat, InfluANTces is still one of the network's best Black History Month episodes and probably the best A.N.T. Farm episode period, and I really liked ConfinemANT, SignificANT Other and the original MutANT Farm). SLH...wasn't one of those. At times it was outright tedious if not agonizing (the basic plot is that our hero A.N.T.s are more or less forced to cosplay as actual elves, having to actually make toys for some extremely ungrateful orphans including a very early appearance [or is that appearANTs?] by Francesca Capaldi) but not as outright tedious as SilANT Night which being a part of Season 3 is such horrible garbage we must never speak of any Season 3 episode.

Episode Grade: C- for SANTa's Little Helpers. And since SilANT Night has the misfortune of being a Season 3 episode, it gets an F by default.

Episode MVP: China Ann(e? - don't correct me) McClain for SLH because why not, and a big giant asterisk for any Season 3 episode because it's such an unspeakable abomination it should just be left a big, giant blank space.

I think this is only the second time we've officially left Episode MVP blank due to inability to justify anything worth celebrating about the episode (I don't remember the first time except I think it was a couple months ago, or at least sometime this year while it's still 2017). This, on a blog that's still awarded MVP to episodes we've given F minus minus to, and has done so by awarding it to random actresses who literally have nothing to do with the episode or even entire show in question, to random YouTube stars who've never appeared on actual television, to random talk show hosts who've probably never even seen a minute of Disney Channel in their entire lives or even literally to myself if I have to. 

If you're going to force me to award MVP I'll award it to Uma, the actual character from Descendants 2, just to prove a point. Namely that China and the entire rest of the cast deserved much, much better than *shudders* Season 3. Especially China and Stefanie. I'm literally convinced that Stefanie Scott came out of Season 3 traumatized. I literally believe this. In fact, screw it, I take back all I said and I'm awarding it to Stefanie Scott strictly out of pity.

Hey it's better than at least half the crap our freakin' President actually believes in, including how the Constitution can be at will modified into whatever he says so.

Christmas Grade: Five Golden Rings stuck and interlocked together forming an impenetrable, inescapable prison of pain and suffering I mean, I guess making toys for orphans while cosplaying as elves and trying to help Santa not get killed is pretty damn Christmas-y.

Oh crap did I actually reference a Season 3 episode plot? Damnit!




Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to our loyal readers, however else you're spending the holidays today!

Also, I did it! I read 400 books in 2017!

We'll return to our regularly-scheduled programming tomorrow (hopefully).

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ray's Vacation Quest

UPDATE: It's over!

Well, the "reading 400 books" part. The "I need to get a job that actually pays a sustaining amount" part's still ongoing.

Hi! This isn't one of Mike's epic quests trying to review Nick and Disney Channel shows, good or bad...even though it's our explicit mission statement as stated in this very blog's title and URL but umm oh well...but rather to explain that I'm gonna be out on vacation (kinda sorta) for, ummm...potentially the rest of year meaning there's a moderate chance at least that this is going to be the last post of the year, in which case Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

What will I be doing on va-cay, you may ask? Well first of all I can almost promise you that's the last time I'll ever use "va-cay" so that's that, but also:

 - I really need to get a new job by basically a month from this posting. I've talked about it before in a lot of posts so I'd be surprised if you haven't grown tired of it, but the occupation I'm in now (even though it's still in the same industry as the job I want to transition to) isn't what I want and just simply doesn't pay enough. In fact it pretty much pays next to nothing, which is why the budget for this blog remains at absolute zero, which I hear is also the same temperature as Ajit Pai's absolutely Grinch-like heart despite what his stupid try-hard "I'm a YouTube celeb! Why doesn't anybody like me?!?!" videos might suggest.

 - Speaking of which I might spend "vacation" figuring out how to monetize this blog, something I've been trying to figure out for a while. I've been figuring out ways to make videos for my book review blog, and videos for this blog seems like a natural extension of that (shout out to Spongey).

 - But mostly I'll probably just be spending it reading books because I'm at 380 books read for the year, since January 1st 2017 and I'm hoping to get to 400 by Christmas, which as a handy reminder for those late shoppers reading this is just this Monday, four days away or so. According to some extremely quick math, that's a book read for every day of the year (for the entire calendar year, not just so far, although the distinction's rapidly disappearing) and then some. And no, it's not just a whole bunch of toddler picture books that I can knock out in like less than 5 minutes at a time although according to Goodreads my average book length is ~250 pages which is a bit shorter than usual for other years. But yes, I'm a speed reader, and it's a big reason why I do have the job I do have (and a big part of how I'm hoping to upgrade) and why I decided to launch a book blog (which, again, I "technically" launched a whole two years before even this one, way back in 2013, one day after Jessie's second season finale).

But I digress. Anyway, uhhh...yeah. See you next time which hopefully will still be some time this year.

Extra Thoughts 

 - yeah I'm just gonna abuse this feature again. Some of the things I plan to talk about in the upcoming days/the new year is to continue the #MeToo discussion (including sharing my most embarrassing and shameful High School story, where I tried to convince a girl I gave a ride to to repay me by showing her boobs - hey, I'll admit to being a pervert albeit one that's making real conscious effort to reform, which I consider the whole point of #MeToo from a male perspective and the whole point of even sharing these stories) and have what I'm hoping is a worthwhile discussion on censorship too (which seems particularly relevant now). On both this blog and my book blog I'll also be talking about some long overdue topics about some of the more common pitfalls of being a creative (yes using "creative" as a noun which has been a thing for a while now), especially some things that people really should know better about, particularly plagiarism and other forms of cheating/creative dishonesty. And on my book blog I'll be writing about the most memorable/biggest standout reads of the year (despite my obviously large reading resume, I don't actually read a lot of new books so you'll see a bunch of stuff published from years ago) as well as the ones that were most memorable...for all the wrong reasons, and the biggest blahs/mehs of the year. And of course, I'll be doing the same equivalent for this blog, which will be 2017's Nickelodeon and Disney Channel's Biggest Winners and Losers (which will continue last year's bigger inclusion of Disney XD and will now also include Nick Jr and Disney Jr).

UPDATE: I just also want to mention some other things I'd like to talk about in the upcoming, uhhh, timeframe indeterminate: the "practice novel problem," something I like to call "public domain creative nonfiction" (those two will mostly be on my book blog with at least some crossover to this one) and most relevant to this blog in particular - yes, I'll be publishing my Liv and Maddie fanfic on this blog!* (among other places)

So yeah. You'll get to look forward to that.

* and no, it's not that kind of fanfiction. Jessie Prescott or K.C. Cooper doesn't inexplicably drop in just to have an equally inexplicable lesbian love affair with Liv/Maddie. And no, Liv and Maddie don't decide to be twincestuous lesbians. It's basically a "novelization" of my fanscript that I describe in detail here, because at this point I might as well.

And I promise this will be the only time this blog uses the word twincestuous.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Almost one year later, overeducated, over-inflated hipster media still acts like clueless butthurt dumbfucks over Girl Meets World

If you've ever wondered about what I meant exactly by bringing in a poisonous fanbase and a clueless media set to do more damage than actual review and analysis, well, here's your pair of shining examples.

According to the metrics Blogspot itself is telling me, my article about the ultimate failure of Girl Meets World and exactly where the blame lies is still one of the most-read articles in the history of this blog, which I guess should come as no surprise given how, for better or worse (I'd argue for worse, as given almost the whole point of that essay) Girl Meets World still remains one of the highest profile shows in Disney Channel's history. I still maintain that maybe, just maybe, Disney Channel would've been better off just letting the concept pass and let the past be - and frankly, these pair of "real genius" examples of exactly the type of editorial writing that's come to make me ashamed to be a Millennial serve to only bolster my original assertion (which of course is going to be correct because, quite simply, I'm not a blithering moron). 

Ultimately, the criticisms of what went wrong with Girl Meets World (aside from this blog and at least to some extent Christian and Sean's, of course) are going to boil down to one pat, standard shouting match from the top of a massive pile of naked faux-wisdom - blame Disney Channel. And even then, that's not necessarily unfair criticism because believe me Disney Channel deserves heaps and heaps of it and I by no means am a Disney Channel fanboy/stan who thinks they can do no wrong - but it'd be helpful if these people actually understood the network they're blasting. 

Ultimately what's at issue is confusion over the separation and distinction between provider/distributor and creator. Yes, Disney Channel, as the network and provider/distributor, wields a huge amount of influence over the creation of each and every episode of Girl Meets World (and for that matter every other show), effectively having the power to overrule the writers/showrunners and simply demanding that they dictate their wishes. And that certainly happens, at least to an extent, to each and every episode of every single show ever to have legitimate claim to being a US Disney Channel original (and at least to some extent foreign Disney Channel outlets, although those have a level of autonomy that might shock you). But the exact extent of those dictates and demands is often greatly exaggerated - other than a few basic guidelines, they can be pretty hands-off as far as actual core narratives are concerned. Do you really think some mouse-eared suit angrily dictated the exact contents of each episode of Liv and Maddie to Ron Hart and Jon D. Beck? Or did the same for every episode of Phineas and Ferb to Dan Povenmire and Swampy Marsh? (and I'd also like to point out how quickly people forget that this is the same network that even brought us Phineas and Ferb when speaking of Girl Meets World). To roughly paraphrase the greatest World of Tanks Let's Play-er in the history of YouTube - Claus Kellerman - if you seriously think that, you have to have some serious issues going on in your head (and you're just plainly a pathetic useless super-stupid). 

I've gone a pretty long length without even linking to the specific articles in question so here you go - we have this article from some site called StudyBreak, which from all appearances aspires to be a fourth-tier-at-best, very selectively racist cut-rate version of Jezebel/Gizmodo Media (good luck with that guys, and don't get sued by Hulk Hogan) arguing that GMW didn't have enough time to develop, and this somehow even worse article from some site called Hypable which, well, I think the clickbait-y name tells you all you need to know (also, and advance warning: do not turn off your adblock because quite frankly such a low-quality "journalism outlet" doesn't deserve a single dime from you, even in the form of advertising, so do what I do and just read the article through their extremely poorly thought-out piece of adblock-off begging) that plays the "blame Disney Channel" card straight-up. In all honesty I can't blame either site for this because I can understand their priorities lie hidden in pie slices a lot bigger than the mere stakes of children's television - but they completely misunderstand it all the same. Again, there's a lot of confusion going on in mistaking that Micheal Jacobs must somehow be the very CEO of Walt Disney Inc., or that the actual CEO Bob Iger is also credited as the sole scriptwriter for every single episode of everything, ever.

The StudyBreak article - which to be fair, is the most fair of the two - argues that the show didn't have time to develop. And there's some truth to that - but it's still a flimsy excuse. It's not so much generous as to assume that Jacobs probably got pretty rusty between the end of Boy Meets World and the start of Girl Meets World as it's simply disingenuous to not give him that benefit of the doubt - skills atrophy after all, and that's as true of intellectual and creative skills as it is of physical and athletic stills (as I recently found out the hard way when I discovered I barely remember anything worth a damn from my aerospace undergrad degree). But that doesn't excuse the truly amateur-hour effort Jacobs brought to the network from the get-go. He's a highly respected veteran of the industry and he brought us this? Really, if anything, GMW, at least in its first two seasons, really suggests that maybe Jacobs is just damn near-permanently stuck in the 90s, recycling the same damn tropes and narrative styles that were commonplace when Cory was in Riley's shoes. And yeah, we've seen other shows on Disney Channel ply heavily in the same exact sins - Dog With a Blog, A.N.T. Farm, even Austin & Ally - but guess what, those shows all improved, and within the space of three seasons no less (well...A.N.T. Farm got significantly, significantly worse in its final season and A&A's dip was in the middle two seasons, but still). And yeah, I have to disclose that Jessie sank into the same trap in its last two seasons, especially its final one - but again, Dog With a Blog improved. Liv and Maddie never fell into that trap. And I'm willing to bet the author never even heard of Good Luck Charlie. Yeah, I'm not buying it. Jacobs had his time, and he squandered it. The network recognized it, and the flagging audience ratings, and their patience had run out. I'm not buying it.

Not to mention, what the hell else are you expecting? There's been no live-action series that's exceeded four seasons. None. Nada. Zilch. Most end at three anyway. Again, this goes back to the lack of nuanced knowledge the author had but...then again I guess I'm not really expecting the author to really understand that. But again, shows have had that same time, and they've improved (or gotten worse) and...yeah, yet again for the billionth time, which direction did GMW go again?

Exactly none of that was on Disney Channel. Exactly all of that is on Jacobs.

And now the somehow even lower-quality article from Hypable - which, I have to admit I just noticed is back from when the show was still brand-new in its first year - in fact most of the articles about how GMW fails is along similar lines. Blah blah blah, it's because the entire network sucks. In case you haven't gotten the message, I'm a bit sick and tired of hearing this.

This, in fact, is what I was getting at with my piece all the way from the beginning of this year. It doesn't really matter what year the criticism is from, because most of the results still bring up the same shit from that first year. It's a mass-media that just wants to feed off the nostalgia hysteria and if it doesn't live up to their expectations, all the more better because now it's ripe for clickbait. And what does that in turn bring? A poisonous fanbase made up of pathetic useless super-stupid Millennial man-children who have confused snark and irony for actual criticism and in turn confused that said criticism for the actual entertainment. Yeah I'm kinda-sorta subtly blaming AV Club and specifically poisonous "professional reviewer" and pathetic useless super-stupid Millennial man-child (or whatever generation he falls into) Todd Van Der Werff for the downfall of the state of television (with the recent merger of AV Club with Gizmodo Media...yeah, they kinda deserve each other). If you don't like it you can A.) sue me B.) deal with it.

What I'm saying is, and what I have been saying is...sad to say, but maybe, just maybe...greenlighting Girl Meets World wasn't the best move in Disney Channel history.

Friday, December 8, 2017

What I'm Thankful For, Uhh, Part 2 I guess

I'm thankful for having someone to share my totally healthy "love" of Nick/Disney Channel crap with. - Spongey444, yes one of our regular commentators. Like, about a quarter of them, between the four of you or so.

And I have to admit, with all my sarcastic pot-shots for want of content to post, I feel a little ashamed that I forgot the big thing I actually have to be thankful for, so thanks for reminding me Spongey.

I've told this story enough times on this blog - got dumped by fiancee, got cancer, watched kiddie shows on Disney Channel, started reading YA books, now I work in the publishing industry, yadda yadda - so I'm not going to bother touching up on it any more beyond that. It was nice comfort food at that time, and to this day I still primarily enjoy the comedies even if they...often leave a lot to be desired, but I've definitely come to appreciate the more complex stuff, or at least given its relative rarity in kidcoms and kids entertainment in general I more like appreciate it extra-so when stuff like that actually comes around.

First and foremost I'm thankful for Jessie, even if a lot of people - from Deadspin's Drew Magary to our friends at our own unofficial, kinda-sorta sister blog Girl Meets World Reviewed aren't so much. But...I can't excuse the extreme drop in quality in the third season (actually, it really happened in the second season) and the fourth season which for a few rare exceptions (out of a 20-or-so episode order I can count the number of good episodes on one hand, after a few fingers have been shot off) was damn downright nearly unwatchable, and several episodes from that season being nominated or eligible for worst thing on Disney Channel that year with the first episode of Rossed at Sea ultimately winning with the series finale, Oray for Ollywood/Jessie Goes Hollywood winning worst season/series finale that year (oh and that reminds me, yeah we're going to be doing our annual awards soon!)

I'm also thankful for Liv and Maddie, it really did pick up where Jessie's first and second-ish seasons left off, and then some, and while I'm honestly disappointed it didn't last 100 episodes (it was one of the few shows that maintained a consistent quality all the way to the end) I'm still very thankful it went a full four seasons (quite possibly the very last live-action multi-cam show on Disney Channel to do so, the way things are looking). I could go on more about that show, but I suppose you can just read my retrospective back in March for the same info. I'm also thankful for showrunners John D. Beck and Ron Hart having such a fan-friendly presence on Twitter and for that duo making a return to kidcoms, this time on Nickelodeon with Knight Squad (likely to premiere after the 2018 KCAs).

I'm also thankful for Andi Mack and for proving that yes, you can mix in more serious stuff with comedy, and quite honestly thankful it did it better than Girl Meets World. Even if I haven't been the best fan of the show, or at least the most regular viewer - yes the most recent episodes I've seen still is the second-to-last episode of the first season. I'll catch up I promise.

I'm also thankful for...yes, really, Bizaardvark. Because at the end of the day I still love dumb comedies that are nothing but 24-minute long vehicles for an endless string of jokes and gags. Just as long as those jokes and gags are good. A.N.T. Farm was a blatant 24-minute long vehicle for gags and jokes and it was...wonky to say the best. Especially since it tended to rely on sight gags that might as well have been taken from something that aired during the Eisenhower years.The middle two seasons of Austin & Ally especially went even lower (well, they were still better than AFarm's final season) but...eh, now it's getting kinda rant-y, you get the point.

But going back to more serious kid shows - running the gamut from "barely more serious than Liv and Maddie if that" to "DeGrassi with a heroin storyline"  - I'm thankful for the serious upgrades from Nickelodeon (and Disney Channel), even if they've had to import a lot of that. This goes back to very early last year, but various series that I didn't bother to watching until recently - Mako Mermaids, Backstage, Ride, I Am Frankie, heck even Hunter Street even though I thought that was average at best (I still haven't seen The Lodge...uhh maybe I'll start on that tomorrow). And while it seems Disney Channel, for whatever reason (could just as likely be rights issues, or ratings as well it...didn't do well on the Disney run) has given up on Mako Mermaids it's still available on Netflix and...elsewhere...so I'll be reviewing Season 2 (in fact I'll be watching the next episode on my cue soon after writing this). Backstage (that would be on the "oh crap DeGrassi heroin episode" side of the scale) is also coming back with a Season 2...on Netflix at least, although the entirety of Backstage as an IP is now owned by Disney Channel by way of now owning its original host network in Canada where it's been airing as of September, so there's still some hope that it could return to Disney Channel in the states (because I *demand* to know what happened to Vanessa and Carly, damnit!) I haven't heard anything about Ride, but (apparently) both Hunter Street and I Am Frankie (being actual, legit Nickelodeon US originals albeit produced by Nick's foreign studios...in the U.S., go figure) are confirmed for Season 2 here (Hunter Street likely either next month or February, I Am Frankie likely in either February or March with Season 3 *fingers crossed* near its original premiere monthly slot for late August through September). 


And again, I'm thankful for you guys, even if you are small in number, you're huge in impact on this blog.

Oh, and how can I forget - I'm also really thankful for Mike and how he's put so much time and effort into some really exceptional, high-quality posts, much higher than I've been doing in fact. Hats off to you Mike!

Thank you Ray! I'm thankful to still have this role, even in times where I've been busy with school or just had nothing to talk about so I disappeared for weeks. Maintaining this blog is almost like a full-time job and you've gone above and beyond in doing that so hats off to you for not letting it die!

I'm thankful for the small readership we have because at least when I write something, I know I'll be discussing it with Spongey afterwards. But for anyone lurking around here.....it doesn't hurt to drop a line. It still hurts we never collaborated with Christian and Sean on anything. One day. :(

I'm thankful for all of the terrible live-action programming that kids have had to suffer through this decade. There was some weird overlap in 2012-2013 where things started to change for the worse. It was definitely across the board, because all of a sudden, Nickelodeon and Disney both annoyed the hell out of me, and it hasn't been the same since. At this point, I've accepted that the 2000s are over and it will take years before both networks redeem themselves completely (there are small signs of hope, but I'm not counting on a period like 2009/2010, where I was watching multiple shows religiously on both networks, happening for a long time). But as long as these shows exist, somebody has to talk about them and why they don't work. 

I'm thankful that Raven's Home gives me a reason to watch Disney Channel without having to worry about reviewing something afterwards. At this point, the show still hasn't had that one episode I can talk about yet, whether it's exceptionally good or exceptionally bad. It's going to happen eventually, but it just needs to come back with more episodes. Seriously, is the season over or what?

I'm thankful for Mike's Quest, because I'm forced to look at shows I never would if it didn't exist. It's become obvious to me that with some shows, like Stuck in the Middle or Andi Mack, I'm going to have to take my time looking at them. I can't just review any episode and call it a day. That's why those shows will most likely come at the end of the whole thing. I still don't know if I Am Frankie is worth adding because it seems to be just another one of those House of Anubis/Every Witch Way-type shows that will only last for two seasons over the course of a year and then never come back or be heard from again. I don't know, the jury's still out on that one.

I'm thankful for The Loud House, the only kids cartoon right now that doesn't make me want to change the channel or bore me. Keep in mind I'm not the best person to talk about kids animation in this era because I'm unfamiliar with a lot of the shows from this era. I mean, I haven't seen more than one episode of Steven Universe. But The Loud House reminds me a lot of old-school cartoons, the ones that were made in the golden age that were just about life in general. Kids still need shows like that amongst all the action-packed fantasy stuff, and it looks like it's become a huge success in less than two years for Nickelodeon. Hopefully, the show can survive for as long as possible without jumping the shark, and I also hope Chris Savino's firing didn't impact its quality too much.

I'm thankful for Girl Meets World too. With all the emotions it got out of me, it was exactly what the show I needed to become a better reviewer. Everybody needs that foil, that villain, that enemy that brings out the best (and worst) in them. I won't say that Girl Meets World is my enemy because I genuinely cared about it as a show (Henry Danger would make a great enemy if it could piss me off in different ways), but more like, a Will Smith to my Uncle Phil. You know, something that gets on your nerves constantly and always makes mistakes, but you know it has potential and you just want it to get better. 


There was this one episode of Fresh Prince where Uncle Phil just straight up loses it with Will and doesn't understand why he keeps taking the easy way out when he has gifts that other people would kill to have. Will just deflects and doesn't really want to confront the problem. That one scene between them not only is a highlight of their relationship, but also sums up my feelings for Girl Meets World. It had an opportunity to be an incredible show, and at the end of the day, it took the easy way out and just settled for decent at best, with a few incredible episodes lodged in there and an unholy amount of terrible episodes. The only problem is, when Fresh Prince ended, Will was self-aware and recognized his flaws, and Uncle Phil saw that he was just on the verge of realizing his potential. When Girl Meets World ended, I didn't get that feeling at all. But I needed it to take my reviewing to the next level. I think my favorite review so far is "Girl Meets Gravity," and I don't see it being replaced for a while. I'm not done with the show forever, though. There are definitely more episodes worth talking about: "Demolition," "Pluto," "Mr. Squirrels," "Yearbook," "Rileytown," just to name a few. I also never gave the series finale a second review. So stay tuned. 

I'm thankful that Hey Arnold came back after so many years and delivered on a story that fans had been waiting to see concluded since Friends was still on the air. And it was also on Thanksgiving weekend, so I have an additional reason to mention it. I don't even think the show needs another season because everything was wrapped up so nicely in the movie. Plus, would it be fair to other kids cartoons if this one came back and just embarrassed them?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

There's too much going on in the world right now. Also I'm sick.

Hi. Haven't been posting here for a while. There's a lot going on right now just in the news in general - you may remember I said I'd do a follow-up on my #MeToo post. Well...whew! The Silence Breakers made TIME's Person (or is that people?) of the Year, and very deserving so (sorry, but I just really don't want to or feel like saying anything on Taylor Swift being on there, it's fine with me) but that said, there's still a lot of craziness going on. I'd talk more about it but...I'm also horrifically sick right now. As in, I've had about 8 hours of sleep...in the past 72 hours. So yeah.

Um, I guess I'll take it over back to Mike for the next, um, forseeable future.

Wow I can configure the title for "Featured Post"

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. Originall...

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