Thursday, August 10, 2017

Raven's Home: First Impressions

Something had to replace Girl Meets World, right?

You might remember That's So Raven as one of the most popular and long-running series in Disney Channel history. Ten years ago, the show aired its final episode. Ten years later, it's returned as a spin-off featuring a divorced Raven trying to raise her two kids with the help of a divorced Chelsea and her son. They are all under one roof in Chicago.........Raven's home.

Just a few things before I get to the review here. I don't know why this spinoff is happening or who asked for it. And that's not to say I wasn't happy with seeing Raven on my screen again, in her element getting back into the character that entertained me so much as a kid. Because I was. But there are some things that really don't need to be revisited. In this day and age, reboots and spinoffs come off less like genuine creative endeavors and more like sly marketing strategies. Disney Channel wants its old audience back. So what do they do? Announce the return of one of its most recognizable characters. But they still have to appeal to the kids, right? Give her two kids that she couldn't have possibly had at such a young age, unless they were ten years old or younger which they clearly don't seem to be. And also, make her and her best friend divorced with children because we have to cash in on the success of Fuller House, a very similar show that didn't need to be made either but has won over viewers in spite of the critics.

What I'm saying is that right off the bat, there's something calculated, something manufactured about Raven's Home that doesn't make it seem like something the network actually wanted to do because they wanted to reintroduce Raven and Chelsea to a younger generation. They just needed something to fill the void of this one particular show that ended earlier this year and got cancelled because they no longer had any use for the show. With all of the problems that Girl Meets World had during its run, it really did seem like Michael Jacobs and the writers wanted to give kids an enjoyable product, and give parents something they could enjoy with their kids. With Raven's Home, the only thing that stands out so far is Raven herself. It's almost like Disney just wants you to remember this one thing that was popular for a couple years and water it down to whatever the hell else airs on their network. Seriously, I'm really going to have to do reviews of Bizaardvark and Bunk'd?!

Anyway, I decided to just condense my thoughts here in one review because honestly, the show isn't worth reviewing individual episodes yet. It's not at that point where they differ wildly from each other, and after three episodes, why would it be? We're not talking Rick and Morty here, this is a live-action kids sitcom on Disney Channel in 2017. I know exactly what the game is at this point. When I find that one episode that stands out, either for being incredibly good or offensively bad, I'll make it into an edition of Mike's Quest. The show deserves that much.

Honestly, after three episodes, I can say the show is decent. It's just decent and I don't have strong feelings on 85% of the stuff that the show does. It hasn't done much to separate itself from the rest of the Disney pack. When Girl Meets World arrived, there was a very distinct tone. Good episode or bad episode, it gave me material that a lot of other shows couldn't. Raven's Home is just paint by numbers so far. It kinda reminds me of Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn, but at least with this show, I understand why it exists, why people would watch it and what appeal it has. Raven is really the only bright spot so far. She's the one that's going to elevate the show beyond just being another robotic Disney sitcom. If there is one thing I noticed, it's that in terms of jokes and dialogue, it's not That's So Raven. I don't know what these network heads put in the water (it was probably in 2010/2011), but all of the shows they have now share the same comedic DNA. A joke that Raven's Home would use is the exact same joke that a show like School of Rock would probably use. I wish I could figure out the problem, but all I know for sure is that the shows made in 2005 and the shows made in 2017 are cut from a different cloth. It's almost as if there's this constant desire to be funny. Which I find ironic because a lot of these shows aren't funny.

You know what? I'm losing my train of thought. Raven's Home, if possible, has the ability to do great things. Show the hardships of being a single parent, develop Booker's character and his relationship with Raven as they try to hide the one thing they can actually bond over. Mature Chelsea's character as she becomes more responsible and self-reliant while keeping some of her original charm. And, if possible, get some good comedy out of Raven in this new position of parenthood. Unfortunately, the only way that can happen is if it goes to ABC. Let's be honest, the fans of the original show are older, less interested in the new generation of kids shows, and are only here to see two characters. A more mature That's So Raven deserves a more mature home. The younger generation won't understand the connection with the original show because they didn't grow up with it, so who is this supposed to appeal to and what does the show want to be?

That's the problem with a lot of these reboots. They don't really understand what they're supposed to be. I saw the sneak previews for the upcoming Hey Arnold! and Rocko's Modern Life specials, and it's obvious from the jump that they were made for the older generation who grew up watching the shows. Anyone else wanting to watch it can, but we all know who these specials are supposed to appeal to just from short clips. I'm not sure where Raven's Home is supposed to be going, but after what Disney did to Girl Meets World, I'm worried it won't live long enough for us to find out.

EXTRA THOUGHTS
-I want to continue Mike's Quest (maybe finish it by the end of the year), but I don't know what show I should tackle next. Here's the list of targets: K.C. Undercover, Raven's Home (I need to get material from this show soon), Andi Mack, Stuck in the Middle, Bizaardvark, Bunk'd, Game Shakers, and School of Rock. If I'm not careful, one of these shows is going to get cancelled before I review it. But anyway, which one of these shows do you want to see me take on first?

Don't worry about it, I still need to move onto actually reviewing Descendants 2 beyond just "there's nothing really indicating Harry swings either way until he just flat out macks out with another dude." Or, speaking of macking out I haven't even touched the S1 finale of Andi Mack. As a review, or even on my DVR.

And the first show on that list to be canceled certainly ain't gonna be School of Rock. That thing's proving to be a cockroach among KidComs.

-I don't know about the theme song. I like it and at the same time, I don't. It's weird. Obviously, it's not as memorable as the That's So Raven theme song but it's still pretty catchy. I think the opening sequence is what's keeping me from liking the song more. If there was one clip I could use to highlight the decline of Disney Channel and live-action kids television in general, it would be this one. Bright, in your face, and it reeks of wanting to be liked. That crazy blended family and their shenanigans!

-If there's one character I don't like so far, it's Tess. She annoyed me in the first episode and it hasn't changed since. You know how everyone was complaining about Farkle in season one of GMW and talking about how irritating he was? I get it now. Tess speaks in a stereotypical Brooklyn accent with all of her lines (despite the fact that the show's based in Chicago and as far as I know, she didn't move from New York), and so far, has contributed nothing to the show but just being a wacky next door neighbor. In the last episode, for no apparent reason, she hit Levi's drone with her baseball bat, and when asked why she did it, she said it's because she had a bat. I'm dreading the episode where she's going to reveal how terrible her home life is and we'll all have to feel sorry for her. Like, her mother can't afford Christmas presents this year or some shit like that.

-I feel like Booker and Levi are the kind of characters that are funny now, but as they get older, their shtick will become annoying because they'll get taller and their voices will change and we'll all feel a little more dead inside. I don't know. I was watching some of the Thundermans "Thunder in Paradise" special and when I heard Billy's voice change, I felt like I was in the fourth dimension of hell. When did that even happen? He has the same voice for three and a half years and all of a sudden, the shtick he was doing before is now automatically grating because of his voice change. It's like the actors mature, but the characters don't so once again, dead inside.

-I guess I'll just use the rest of my time to talk about other shows. I saw the Wizard of Oz episode of Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn this weekend. I finally realized that this show is all about Dawn and her brothers are just the sidekicks. I should have noticed this before, but the episode was treating Dawn like the leader and her brothers as collectively peabrained morons. Has it always been like this? Also, this episode had a rare instance of Dawn making me laugh when she tried to cover up her crappy audition by stating that she was doing an Australian accent. It's really easy to amuse me sometimes.

-I also watched some of School of Rock and I honestly don't know why Unknown hates it so much. I mean, if it had Dan Schneider-type writing, I could definitely understand it, but at worst, it just seems bland and robotic. I need to watch more though so I can fully embrace the hate like my partner.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Before we review Descendants 2, let's discuss the Harry Hook problem

So, in our last review (which as of the typing of this sentence was literally just minutes ago) I wrote an entire blog post in reply to a comment left on our Criminal Minds mini-review by Shipping Wars are Stupid, who happens to pretty much be MVP of our "readerati" (as some blogs like to call them). I follow Shipping Wars are Stupid on Twitter - out of respect for him I'm not going to link back to it and leave it up to him - but I will say his Twitter feed is a great source for sports news and LGBTQ+ topics (you'll also recall he wrote the entirety of our article commemorating "The Puppy Episode" of The Ellen Show where Ellen's character comes out as gay). 

So why am I mentioning him at all when talking about Harry Hook? Well, again, his Twitter feed is a great source for LGBTQ+ topical news, and I like to think I learned a lot from it. Which is why I feel qualified in saying this:

I have seen zero evidence suggesting that Harry Hook is a legitimate LGBTQ+ character. In fact I have seen zero evidence suggesting he is doing anything other than just ripping off Jack Sparrow, because since the first POTC movie Disney feels literally every pirate has to be Jack Sparrow now.

Now if Harry is actually making out with other guys that obviously changes, but there's nothing in his behavior that suggests he is an LGBTQ+ character.

Now in order to understand why I feel that, we really need to understand how LGBTQ+ people and gay men in particular act in real life. So, how do gay men act like in real life? Well...they act exactly the same as heterosexual men except that they date other gay men.

There is nothing inherent in Harry Hook's behavior or action that denotes an LGBTQ+ character.

Harry acts flamboyant, I'll give you that. Flamboyancy is not an indicator of a person being straight or gay. It's a neutral trait. A behavior he happens to have.

Behaviors are traits that people learn throughout their lives, whether by deliberate or unintentional outside influence. Being on the LGBTQ+ spectrum is not a learned trait, it is a trait that is developed from birth and cannot be "corrected." And just for the record, being on the LGBTQ+ spectrum is itself a neutral trait; it's not a neuroticy, it's not a disease. While being on the LGBTQ+ certainly contributes to the definition of a person, it remains a neutral trait nonetheless - like a person's skin color or genetic ethnicity.

Harry Hook exhibits behaviors. And until he actually seriously macks on, I dunno, say Jay or Carlos the amount of actual bearing on the LGBTQ+ spectrum he's exhibited is exactly zero. Hell, it's just as accurate to say that he's shown zero evidence of being heterosexual, for that matter.

But I feel that equating certain behaviors and mannerisms to homosexuality (or heterosexuaity) is highly offensive and calls back to the "dark days" of cinema before and during the McCarthy Blacklisting era when random behavioral traits were randomly (and insanely) attributed to other, more inherent traits and then having all of the above lumped together to define an "abnormality" that was also automatically equated with a greater tendency to commit crimes and other depravity, not to mention spiritual damnation. That's not something I'm very fond of, and I for one like to think that we as a society can move on from associating certain learned or even voluntary behavioral traits with neutral, innate traits like being on the LGBTQ+ spectrum (or for that matter, skin color or genetic ethnicity).

Ummm...I was expecting to write a lot more but...actually I think that just about covers it. Well, maybe someone like Shipping Wars are Stupid (or another reader) can help me fill in the gaps if I've left any.


In response to Criminal Minds: Yeah That Episode Title is Still Stupid

So I was going to break this up as a response to Shipping Wars Are Stupid (still our most valuable reader, by the way) but then I remembered this is my blog and I can do what I want (which is partially the point of the response in the first place):

Well ok, I see where you're coming from then. 

But with about three or four readers total over very close to two years (a year and 11 months in fact), many failed attempts to grow the blog and no advertisement commitments...I feel even less incentive to drastically change my writing style or opinions. Not that your opinion doesn't matter - it's certainly being taken into consideration - but if I feel a review is best expressed in a certain way, I'm going that way. I'm not going to result to racial slurs or slurs against minorities, women, or the LGBTQ+ community (well, not intentionally...a disparative bitch may slip out for example, which may be made better or worse by context) but I'm certainly not going to hold back from insulting the show itself or the show's audience, no matter who they may be. That's something I absolutely stuck to my guns with from the Last Man Standing fiasco, from which the biggest lesson learned was...shows with disgusting fanbases will get canceled because they deserve it.

And that's not even taking into account that I have legitimate problems with the episode or even the show concept, and I'm certainly not budging from those. I understand that Spencer evolved from a one-dimensional character you describe as "borderline autistic" (another problem I have since shows of this ilk tend to feel obligated to have such a character and portray them a certain way, but that's another rant) but that doesn't excuse this same episode's perpetuation of the dangerous deadly obsessive female stalker stereotype, an image I have serious problems with in the media because it portrays women as having no control over their sexual or obsessive impulses to the point where it's a trope for women to suddenly become murderers at the drop of a hat. In my view, that trumps any progressive character-building the show's had up to this point. Yes, I've actually watched the episode. No I didn't watch anything else. I explained the circumstances why I watched the episode, and quite frankly I felt both offended enough by this trope perpetuation and extremely unimpressed with everything else going on that I felt it warranted me expressing my opinions on this blog - the expression of which, by whatever means I feel like, is the sole reason why this blog exists.

You ask why I even bother putting up a review then? Because I thought the episode was awful enough that I wanted my opinion expressed in a public medium so people can understand why I feel it's shitty, or at least know that I simply feel it's shitty and then simply trust that enough alone as basis (particularly since at this point they should already know how I feel about these shows, especially since I linked back to a much more detailed review of CM's spin-off show where I extensively covered those problems in detail*). And that's why the mini-review format exists, so at least I can spend minimal time doing that.

I mean, I appreciate the evolution of character and using that to address mental illness - but it's been my experience that these type of procedural shows are still very poor at addressing those issues. Get away from the procedural formula, and especially the way See-BS likes doing it, and the results are more satisfying. House wasn't perfect in this either, but I still felt they did a more satisfactory, honest job addressing the issue especially with the title character himself. And again, that doesn't excuse the other sins of the episode - especially since obsessive behavior as displayed by Trachtenberg's character is itself also a form of mental illness. Does one form of mental illness invalidate another because one of the characters is a main and the other is the bitch-of-the-week the good guys must shoot and kill?

As for Survivor, and See-BS in general, I can't deny that Survivor changed the game of reality competition shows (hell it literally invented that genre in the first place). Yes, I've seen Survivor. I've actually seen entire seasons of Survivor, believe it or not. It doesn't change the fact that I feel that it changed the reality game *for the worse*, if not having a negative effect on the entirety of society. We can see this in the very title of X'ers vs. Millennials, which quite frankly I feel mostly just serves See-BS's blatant anti-Millennial agenda (oh, don't believe me on that? How about Man With a Plan? The Great Outdoors? Superior Donuts? These shows literally revolve around anti-Millennial jokes).

I'll put quality in my long-form reviews, and I try to make the reviews of the kids stuff long-form as much as I can. The mini-reviews...those are meant to be take-'em or leave-'em. I put enough of a lack of time and effort into them that quite frankly I don't mind if nobody comments or reads them. I appreciate people coming for the long-form reviews but if they feel the short-form reviews are offensive and refuses to treat them like adults, well that's why I label the short-form reviews as short-form reviews. Sometimes I try to write for humor (and yes I have a pretty sorry sense of humor), but sometimes I just write to vent frustration. This is very much a case of the latter. And it's absolutely no different than what Jalopnik, Deadspin or Jezebel - yes, blogs I actually follow - do. I know people have problems with those blogs - but 1.5 million readers *don't.* And quite honestly, I think the particular style of how I do things here has become part of the brand I've built for this blog. I feel I have a sense of integrity at stake by compromising it. Of course insulting the reader is counter-productive towards that, but I also feel compromising that brand is also counter-productive towards growing the blog and monetizing it.

Again, the feelings of the shows themselves and their fanbases are not spared here. Quite frankly, I think that was demonstrated quite clearly when we reviewed Last Man Standing (and Girl Meets World, for that matter).


But I *will* keep this in mind the next time I notice my reviews having a lot of fucks.

That review of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders being here. But to summarize: I also had massive problems with that episode, not the least of which is the depiction of Muslims and how women are victimized (which I think is related to the Original Flavor-CM episode being discussed here). Again, just because an episode makes positive progress in the depiction of one condition people face, it doesn't excuse other sins.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Criminal Minds Original Flavor Mini-Review: Zwuyza...what the fuck? I mean seriously guys if you're not going to be serious about the title how the fuck am I supposed to take the show seriously?

Fuck the opening quote. If you know anything about how this blog works, you know what that means.

What is it? Hour-long procedural crime drama, much like when we reviewed the spin-off (and now canceled!) show Beyond Borders here which was pretty much equal garbage (oops review spoiler alert).
Where did it air? See-BS.
Who stars in it? I really honestly don't give a fuck except it stars...that guy. You know which one I mean. The famous guy who gets top billing but I'm too lazy to look up. Also it has Michelle Trachtenberg as who turns out to be the crazed murderous stalker (oops spoiler alert) and my DVR is set to auto-record her.
Why are we reviewing this? Because it's kinda-sorta garbage 'n all.

Yeah, I get these shows are popular but why? Why are all the most popular things in society utter dumpster fires of garbage?

Bunk'd is renewed for a third season...and it won't even have Peyton List, it's main fuckin' star. One of the highest-rated shows for the past nearly two decades is fukkin' Survivor. Look who you goddamn put into the fuckin' White House.

Man, the theory that states that the longer societies go the more they degenerate certainly is fuckin' true.

Episode Grade: F-fucking-minus. My call, my score. The reason for this grade is because "I fucking feel like it."
Episode MVP: Fuck This Shit.

Extra Thoughts:

 - yeah this is coming ahead of Descendants Fucking 2. And Andi Fucking Mack for that matter.

 - Oh yeah I want to add: this is what utter garbage TV that's still popular for some reason looks like.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Zel and Golden Girl Young Adult Novels Reviewed

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

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

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

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

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

Also the cover is pretty too.

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

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

Plus it has a really pretty cover too

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

Extra Thoughts

 - ummm....

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

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day!


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


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


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


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

Monday, June 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extra Thoughts:

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Indigo Blues and Pure Red Young Adult Novels Reviewed

She probably slobbered.

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

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

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

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

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

Neither book is as good as Shrinking Violet and Shrinking Violet still has a more tightly-constructed narrative than Pure Red, but Pure Red's still an interesting read if you're interested in reading more from the author that ultimately brought you Radio Rebel.

So...in conclusion I'm not really going to talk about the one book because I think there's basically the same book out there that you should read instead, and I'm not really going to talk much about the other book in case you feel like reading it yourself, but there you go, that should give you enough of a review to go on. Whew, that turned out to be a shorter review than I thought.

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

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

Extra Thoughts

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

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Andi Mack Reviewed: Home Away From Home (S1E10)

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

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

The bad news is, the streak's over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extra Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*rimshot* 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ummm...yeah.

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

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



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

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

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

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Andi Mack Reviewed: She's Turning Into You (S1E9)

I know that smell...like a cat smoked a cigar!

What is it? Well it's obviously a Disney-esque euphemism for that distinctive smell of weed. I live in Colorado, so trust me on this.

Ugh. I really really hate myself right now.

Remember how I was lamenting about how much I love this show and how much I hate that for review purposes? Yeah....

So here's another A episode. Out of like a billion of them so far.

If you guys are bored with reading these Andi Mack reviews I can't blame you. There are two things that always suck reviewing: something that's always middle-of-the-road mediocre in C-territory or something that's just so consistently good. In either case, there's just...not much new to talk about. The C show is going to be bland and boring and the consistently A show is...well you already know why it rates an A so why bother? Seriously?

The typical dress montage was veering dangerously into typical Disney Channel territory...and it never really changed course, but they looked like they were having such fun with it I don't care. And from that moment on there was hardly a bad beat to this episode. Yes, Buffy's way too over-competitive but they have fun with it (not unlike a certain twin of a very recently departed and beloved show). Andi's punk fake-out was pretty clever too. Uhhh...Amber's a bitch. I mean, "she's really great at giving second chances?" Wow, talk about passive-aggressive there. Reminds me of my mom, hey-oh!

Umm...struggling to come up with stuff to keep this from being in mini-review territory...yeah, so we get kinda a new thread here with the exact circumstances of how and why Bex left in the first place and the exact nature's still kept mum until at least the next episode (yes that's me falling behind again). And, ummm...well the Jonah stuff is pretty light in here, but again I thought Bex's intervention to get Jonah to fall for Andi was pretty great and clever too, and shows that Bex really wants to be involved in at least certain points of Andi's life, even though those particular, exact certain points might be stealing a lot of the focus on the bigger picture for Bex (and indeed, the show overall. I mean, do we have any idea what kind of student Andi even is?)

So...how's the weather? Hey, Mike, since you're back what do you think of this show?

Episode Grade: A. I'm holding back on giving it an A+ mainly because of disappointment in my personal integrity to hold back my fanboyism.
Episode MVP: You know what I'm giving it to Lauren Tom because she really nails the whole "Asian Mom" thing (trust me I know).

Extra Thoughts:

 - Other potential quote openers are I'm trying to make a point! A very disgusting point! and I'm very bad at coming up with ideas! Exhibit A! Man, this is such a quotable show.

 - On the offhand chance that there are middle-schoolers reading this blog, well there you go: how to get a date as answered by Mack Chat. Just tell her she's pretty. Judging by the looks of those girls' faces, apparently this actually works.

 - Our Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 digital comic download code contest has concluded and we've indeed found a winner...kinda-sorta, but as close as we're ever going to get. The winner's already been notified and given his code, and we'll have a more detailed follow-up post.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Kenan & Kel, Reviewed

Kel, get me a can of spray cheese, a phone book, and an electric guitar, and meet me at the swimming pool. Now, come on, Chumpy!

But....but, Kenan? How am I supposed to find a guitar that's electric? And why are you calling me Chumpy? It's demeaning, Kenan! KENAN?! AWWWWWWW, HERE IT GOES!!!!!!

This would have come out earlier, but for some reason, everything I originally wrote down was deleted. Anyway, my reviewing break is over and now I have to relearn how to do this. I don't really know where to go from here except reviewing Raven's Home when it premieres on July 21. I mean, I have to do that. It would be illegal not to and I wouldn't even be able to forgive myself if I didn't. Maybe Unknown has some ideas for what I could do. I figured I should ease my way back in by reviewing a show I know very well, Nickelodeon's Kenan & Kel.

Normally, with these reviews, I would just focus on a particular episode, but a lot of what I say about "The Tainting of the Screw" or "The Lottery" or "Attack of the Bug Men" could be said about 95% of the series. So, for the first time, I'm going to analyze a show as a whole and name some of my favorite episodes and favorite moments along the way. For those of you who are unaware, Kenan & Kel was the original Drake & Josh, right down to the four seasons, the TV movie where everything is darker for some reason, and Dan Schneider's involvement. The show starred Kenan Rockmore (Kenan Thompson) and Kel Kimble (Kel Mitchell), two teens from Chicago who constantly got themselves in ridiculous situations. Whether they were being held up by a psychotic clown with a weird sneeze, getting locked up in a restaurant freezer, or climbing the Sears Tower, Kenan and Kel were always together to get in some kind of mess. You can refer to the theme song (performed by Coolio because back then, Nickelodeon knew how to cater to their audience without pandering to them) for confirmation of this. The show ran from 1996 to 2000 and is now remembered as one of Nick's most iconic shows.

Watching this series now, it is really alarming how much of it is better than pretty much all of Nickelodeon's current live-action content. And it's not like the show was aiming for much to begin with. Kenan & Kel had a simple concept, with simple characters and simple stories. But it was what Kenan and Kel did with those stories that made the series so memorable. The two had a genuine chemistry that they originally developed on All That, and it was that same chemistry that won the network over and scored them their own show. The series never needed anything more than Kenan and Kel playing off of each other because they were so skilled at it: Kenan was wisecracking, a schemer and someone wanting to get an advantage in life any way he could, while Kel was dimwitted and hyperactive enough to want to go along with Kenan's schemes. If Kenan needed to skip training the new employee at his job so he could get the last issue of Skunkator to complete his collection at the annual comic book convention, it was happening no matter what. Both actors also capitalized on their comedic strengths: Kenan was more deadpan and frustrated while Kel was louder and accident-prone. When these two personalities collided, it created many memorable episodes.

It is really something how these two were able to do what very few shows can do now, including Dan Schneider's current work: Be funny. I know that isn't a foreign concept, but with everything you see these days, you would think comedy is rocket science. But with this show, it wasn't. The premise was simple, but Kenan and Kel's charisma, their stage presence, and their comedic timing elevated the series to something special. Another person that deserves a lot of credit here is Schneider himself. When I was younger, I didn't realize it, but looking back, these Nickelodeon shows with Dan's name in the credits had a special air to them. They weren't like the average kids show. They had wit and charm and the comedy would remind you of something you would see on The Simpsons or Seinfeld. It's that kind of writing style that helped influence my own, and when it was used to its fullest potential, it became instantly memorable. "Wherever we go, I don't want it to be France." "Why not?" "Because it's full of French people." I'm paraphrasing here and that exchange isn't even from Kenan & Kel, but that's the kind of dialogue that you would never hear anywhere else but a Dan Schneider show. Maybe in Scott Fellows' shows, but I don't think Nickelodeon has ever liked him as much.

Okay, there are a lot of positives with Kenan & Kel at the end of the day. Despite that, the very reason the show worked is the very reason why it became infuriating by the end of season three. Shows tend to lose a lot of their charm after a couple seasons because the writers/producers realize they can only tell the same stories so many times. You know what happens. Characters become broader and less human, plots start becoming more ridiculous, cast members are added, some cast members are reduced to smaller roles. As good as Kenan & Kel was when it was on its A-game, it could be downright awful to watch at times when it was having an off day. And I have the facts to back this.


For whatever reason, the writers thought it would be hilarious to have Kel become mentally retarded. You know, to the point where he is aware he screws things up but doesn't really care enough to fix them, or even question himself as to why he does them. There's this small moment in the season three episode "Skunkator vs. Mothman" where Kel says Chris' name backwards. Chris (Kenan's boss, played by Dan Frischman) tells Kel he makes his head hurt, and Kel says that this is what makes his head hurt. He then proceeds to hit himself in the skull with a bottle and fall to the floor. That's the joke. It's just Kel intentionally hurting himself. It really sucks when shows begin to emphasize the stupidity of characters after a while, because then they stop being exaggerations of everyday people and turn into exaggerations of themselves. A lot of season three episodes are like this because Kel's stupidity goes way too far, to the point where I'm not even convinced that he knows what his name is. The first episode of the season, "Fenced In," is a bad sign of things to come. In this episode, Kenan and Kel scheme to be ahead of time for their dates to the movies with two girls, who are tired of being stood up or waiting too long for their dates to show up. Along the way, Kel drops his yo-yo that he bought for his date through the bars of a fence, and Kenan decides to get it. Kenan ends up getting his head stuck in the bars (which are clearly made of rubber) and after some initial struggling, Kel walks around the fence to get the yo-yo. When Kenan asks Kel if he knew he could do that the whole time, Kel says that was his plan in case putting Kenan's head through the fence didn't work. See, if Kel just realized that he could have walked around the fence, it would have been funny. But him being aware of that the whole time, and deliberately inconveniencing his friend for something that wasn't even worth it to begin with is just dumb.

At some point, Kel just stopped getting into trouble with Kenan and became the cause of it. Or, in some cases, he would make the problem worse. And in some cases like "The Raffle," probably the worst episode in the series and a discount version of "The Lottery," he did both. Stuff like that makes it harder to laugh because you're just wondering why Kenan hasn't killed Kel, or didn't listen to his father when he talked about how destructive Kel was all the time.

Speaking of destructive, that's a trend that would pop up in later episodes: Kenan and Kel somehow destroying everything in their path whenever there's some kind of task. You know, things like Kel breaking things at the bakery or the jewelry store when the job is just to get stuff for Kenan's mom's birthday party. This wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't such a recurring theme but they did it so much, you wonder why anyone trusted Kenan and Kel with anything. At one point, they were just two people who life screwed over no matter what happened. After the first two seasons, there was a shift in which Kenan and Kel screwed themselves over, and they would deserve consequences because it was impossible for them to accomplish anything without getting in trouble. Granted, this is mostly because of Kel, but it's not like Kenan ever tried to take matters into his own hands. Even the look of the show changes after season two, since it was filmed at Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando for the first two seasons and then moved to Nickelodeon on Sunset in Hollywood. Just something to keep in mind.

Despite those problems, Kenan & Kel is still a very entertaining show in 2017. The jokes, on-screen chemistry and performances by the two leads were more than enough to make the show age well. These days, it seems like everyone is just throwing material at the wall and seeing what sticks. It's not really about making timeless entertainment and taking kids seriously. It's just dumbing down the product because this is what people believe kids want to watch. And when there aren't many choices, kids will end up watching these shows and they will make the ratings spike, which will make network execs believe they are doing something right. The pilot episode of Kenan & Kel is enough to put most kids shows today to shame, and that was 21 years ago. At the end of the day, this show is not only one of the best things Dan Schneider's name is attached to, but also provided many memorable moments, iconic catchphrases, and served as the prototype for shows like Drake & Josh (which is Schneider's masterpiece by default because as far as I know, he didn't create Kenan & Kel himself). Not many live-action kids sitcoms get to leave behind any kind of legacy because a lot of them come from the same mindset, but Kenan & Kel remains as a shining example of what someone could do when they treat young audiences like they matter, and remember to actually entertain them. There is a reason why Game Shakers would be completely unwatchable if it wasn't for Kel Mitchell.

Here are some of the show's best episodes if you've never seen it before, or maybe you want to revisit the show and find some episodes you never paid attention to before:

"Pilot" (season one; July 15, 1996)
I'm serious about this. Most pilots are meant to establish the show's world and because you have to get to know who everyone is, things can get awkward and slow-paced. But some pilots not only set the tone for the rest of the series, but present the series in its best form. This is one of those pilots. Everything about the show (you know, minus the trends that would pop up later) can be found in this one episode. You could tell they had a clear mind of what they wanted to do with from the beginning, and the comedy never stops. The scene near the end where Kenan and Kel have to remember the code line the police gave them ("The chipmunk has pneumonia") is one of the funniest scenes in the whole series ("The cricket has........a, petunia!!!" "Mama say mama ma mamakusa.").

"The Tainting of the Screw" (season one; August 17, 1996)
"I......DROPPED THE SCREW......IN THE TUNA!" Enough said. This episode is just plain fun to watch. It's not even like you're watching a TV show, it's just your best friends screwing around and someone was recording it that day. Moments like Kenan doing a rendition of "La Bamba" and Kel's ham fantasy ("I enjoy ham") are things that take a certain amount of talent and style to pull off. Imagine Henry Danger doing scenes like that. Are you throwing up in your mouth yet?

"Doing Things the Hemingway" (season one; August 24, 1996)
Okay, these are literally the first three episodes but they truly are some of the best the series had to offer. At one point, Kel actually had a brain and he wasn't a complete moron, just eccentric. And Kenan actually questioned why he spent so much time with him. Kenan and Kel deciding to walk up the steps of the Sears Tower is a really classic story in my eyes, and once again, full of great jokes.

"The Lottery" (season two; September 20, 1997)
This episode reminds me a lot of the kind of stuff that the show would run into the ground later on. But the difference is that Kenan and Kel are human beings with realistic reactions to what's going on around them, and it's straight comedy for a good portion of it. Kenan dancing around making references to The Jackson 5 while Kel is trying to tell him he lost the winning lottery ticket is absolutely hilarious. Actually, that whole scene where they go with Chris to cash in the ticket is fantastic. All three of them are so happy and excited to get the money, only to have all of their hopes and dreams shattered within a few minutes.

 "Who Loves Orange Soda?" (season two; September 27, 1997)
I could recommend a lot of season two episodes, honestly, but I think this one has always been one of my favorites. Kel's unnatural love for orange soda is dealt with for the first and only time, and I love how Kenan is so smug that Kel won't be able to last a week without drinking it. It would have been interesting to see Kel become addicted to another soda, and then Kenan and Chris have to snap him out of it before it's too late but it's not a big deal. Kel's nightmare of having his soda frozen and getting attacked by an orange monster is both bizarre and hilarious. Actually, there's this one scene where Kel is sitting next to a bottle of orange soda and he proclaims not to like it, then he throws it across the room and acts like he just committed spousal abuse. That was hilarious too. The whole episode's hilarious, let's just leave it at that.

 "Bye Bye Kenan: Part 1" (season two; December 20, 1997)
Part two of this episode is actually just a standard episode of the show, but I picked out part one because it was the most emotional episode the show has ever done. Yeah, actual emotion and drama in this episode. The plot involves Kenan's dad getting a new job as a forest ranger in Montana, requiring the entire Rockmore family to move. Of course, Kenan was never going to move for good, but this episode really tugs at your heartstrings and makes you think that things are going to change forever. You know, if you had never seen the episode before. The last scene with Kel looking for Kenan in the empty house, unable to reach him through the walkie talkie, and being forced to leave his farewell gift behind (a blown up picture of the two from their All That days) while a slowed down version of the theme song plays in the background is unbelievably sad. I even felt like crying typing this. The fact that the show was able to pull off serious material like this lets me know that the creative direction really did change at some point, and if it was allowed to mature as it went on, it would have been an even greater show than it already was.

 "Attack of the Bug Men" (season three; November 28, 1998)
Yeah, this is the only episode I'm recommending from the last two seasons. There are others where I had some good laughs or enjoyed some of it, but this is probably the only episode where I felt like everything worked. Actually, "Skunkator vs. Mothman" was pretty damn good, but this is an instant classic. It's just a masterclass in comedy, and for once, the problem was caused by Kenan himself. Becoming too immersed in a board game with Kel, he ends up leaving his living room door open and two burglars take everything. Kenan's facial expressions and attitude throughout the whole episode are absolutely hilarious, and Kel actually didn't piss me off since he was just as hilarious. I don't want to spoil everything, but this is an exact example of what happens when everything's working for an episode. If you don't laugh at Kel's dancing in the empty living room, or Kenan causing an accident at the pizza place to keep his family from coming home, then I have to question who really reads this blog.

Couldn't have said it better myself, Mike. Here I am thinking I'm an expert on Nickelodeon and Disney Channel, but you really blow me away. You may be 50% of the team but you make this blog 2,570% better with you. Trust me, after cruising on a string of unbroken A-grades for Andi Mack I should know at this point.

As for the review being deleted...I really don't know what's going on. I've had dozens of reviews bite the cyber-dust without warning, it's something I'm not very happy about with Blogspot. If you remember all the talk about migrating to another service, well that was the main reason why.

And as for options other than Raven's Home...hey, have you heard of this thing called Andi Mack? Apparently I like it so much I keep giving it A-grades.

Real quick follow-ups - yes, I've been trying to keep up with Andi Mack, speaking of which. Yes, we have a winner for our Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 contest (yeah that's another thing that happened while you're gone, we had a contest) and the winner has already been informed that he won. I didn't want to distract from Mike's post by making new ones though so...let's have this one hang at the top for about another day or so.

Thanks, Unknown. I really appreciate it. I was looking at some of my old blog posts here (one of my favorites is the one I did for "Girl Meets Gravity") and even now, I still feel grateful for this opportunity. It's definitely one of my favorite activities.

I saw one of your Andi Mack reviews so I did some research, and I was surprised when I found out that the creator of Lizzie McGuire was the creator of Andi Mack. Knowing that, and seeing your positive reviews, makes me interested in checking out the show for myself.

I missed the contest? Um, I guess all I can say is.....I am Groot? 

Raven's Home: First Impressions

Something had to replace Girl Meets World, right? You might remember That's So Raven as one of the most popular and long-running series...