Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why we're not reviewing Ducktales (until January) and we have a new contest!

So first off, yeah, we're not reviewing Ducktales. Until January. There's a very specific reason why.

It's because Disney Channel (well, Disney XD) can't resist being Disney Channel (well, Disney XD) and air the stupid episodes out of order. 

Yeah, in other words Disney Channel (well, Disney XD) have learned exactly zero lessons from the scheduling debacles from Girl Meets World (or a whole bunch of other stuff, for that matter). Again, Disney Channel's gonna Disney Channel.

How do I know all this? Well I know Disney Channel's gonna Disney Channel because of a proven, demonstrated propensity to be a bunch of, as YouTuber Claus Kellerman would put it, a complete team of muppets but you're probably wondering how I know that they're out of order and what should be the proper order to begin with. It's because the creators/showrunners themselves said so on their Twitter and Tumblr accounts (I'll link to them once I can find them again). They had a particularly logical order for all the episodes, and again, because Disney Channel's gonna Disney Channel (or, I guess, Disney XD's gonna Disney XD) they're going to mess all that up and just do whatever the hell they feel like, which is again a demonstrated propensity to be a complete team of muppets (or sea of super-stupids, to use another Claus Kellerman-ism). They had an early episode that's being held back until December (or Fa-la-laidays, or whatever the hell Disney Channel feels like calling it now) because this episode has snow in it.

Whatever. Anyway, the creators published the "true" order (again I'll link to it) and since I've been letting it build on my DVR anyway, I figure might as well binge watch it in the order God (or rather, the creators) intended.

Then I'll review it.

Also, we have a contest! I don't have any prizes yet and because the budget of this blog equals the amazingly staggering amount of $0.00 you can bet it's cheesy, but I'll do my best. Anyway, here's the contest:

Someone explain to me why ya'll like Invisible Sister so much.

Yup, that's it. I'm doing this because in the two years since it's premiere exactly no one has been able to successfully do this. Not even Mike.

So there. Come up with a logically, well-constructed explanation as to why Invisible Sister is good, or a least not the complete and utter garbage pile I think it is.

Like I said, I'll try to come up with some prize.

Although I'm wondering if I should even bother because I'm that confident nobody will be able to.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library Nickelodeon Original Movie Reviewed

How does that even work? That doesn't even make any sense! (yes this is an actual quote taken from the movie)

What is it? Nickelodeon Original Movie adapted from best-selling children's book
Where did it air? Well given that it's a Nickelodeon Original Movie...the world may never know.
Who stars in it? Casey Simpson and Breanna Yde are going to be the most obviously recognizable stars for people who follow this blog's typical subject matter, by far. For many of the players in this movie, such as say Klarke Pipkin (Sierra) and Hayley Sherpenisse (who plays...Haley) this is their very first role of any significance whatsoever (by that, a character who actually gets a name and assigned lines and all) or even literally their first role, period. Or like Katey Hoffman, who plays Dr. Zinchenko, who may have had some leading-ish roles before but not a whole lot of roles period before, but moreover Good Dear Sweet Baby Ge-Buz she's really hot.
Also...and I know I maintain such mature, high-standards on this blog and all but...Hayley Sherpenisse has a glaringly unfortunate last name, now that I actually bothered to type it out.
Why are we reviewing this? You may have read our recent review of the original book (which is down below, somewhere) and hey it's a NOM so yeah, why not?

...you know how people like to say hurr de la hurr de hurr the book is better than the movie?

...well....

At first it was actually quite faithful and accurate to the book. Then the opening credits went up. Then it started being less faithful. Then it...I dunno, but it sure became something that I can only describe as, uh, something.

I don't know if I did a good enough job conveying this during my original book review, but now that I've actually seen the NOM, I think I can do a better job of that now, because I definitely have a clear, decent picture of what was missing from the NOM.

As I said in said review (heh), the strength of Mr. Lemoncello's Library isn't necessarily in the plot or the characters but the puzzles, particularly the word and logic puzzles. And true to its word (pun intended) Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a loving tribute to libraries and books in book form itself, with lots of references to popular children's, teens and older books - including some pretty current ones. Frequent references to Hunger Games for example, not to mention to James Patterson's middle school and YA books (as I mentioned, Chris Grabenstein also co-wrote many of those books with Patterson). Grabenstein was even nice enough to compile a PDF of all the books referenced in the so-far two books (which just recently was expanded to three, the third one officially launching the day after this NOM). It's the reference/wordplay, puns, word puzzles and logic puzzles that really make Mr. Lemoncello's Library as great a read as it is.

...aaaannnd of course all of that's going to be super-hard to translate onto a TV screen with a basic cable network catering to tween's budget.

Yeah, I'm going to make that a sticking point. I really think it would've translated better with a bigger, cinema wide-release budget, even if it's for a movie that would get stuck in the middle of April or September or even here in October or something (and all the budgetary implications that carries). And the books' sales at least suggest something towards justifying that. Then again I know big-budget movie adaptations of YA books, especially fantasy and sci-fi, haven't been doing all that well despite what Hunger Games and Harry Potter and even Percival Jackson makes people think (and yeah, of all people I probably should understand this most of all because it's more or less literally my job to do so, even beyond this blog). I understand The Book Thief under-performed - which is understandable because it's depressing as hell. I also know say for example Ender's Game was a disaster, and the Divergent movie series gets to have the distinction of being a moving disaster, with each film performing less until we've gotten to the point where they're talking made-for-tv-movie with naturally recast actors and even that seems to be an utter trainwreck cratering straight into Development Hell. 

But that's the thing, there are actually specific reasons why those movies didn't do well or outright bombed. The Book Thief, well, was depressing as hell, and it's also my understanding a bunch of German and Australian producers and some German and Australian studios (Marcus Zuzak, the original author, is Australian and as for Ze Germans well...if you know anything about the plot of the book you could probably figure it out why they'd get involved) really pushed for it as a passion project, full well taking the risk that it might not do well in American theaters with hopes that international box office returns will more than make up for it. The ascending failure of The Divergent movies can be explained in that they're just really trite, contrived, cliched pat movies based on really trite, contrived, cliched pat source material. I mean, I'm not in the habit of knocking on authors especially but really - The Hunger Games is actually very solidly, well-written and in comparison Divergent is pretty much just paint-by-numbers and I'm sorry but it just drives home how much of a cash-in it was.

And as for Ender's Game, that whole movie was just blown out the ass (although, to it's credit, it was pretty faithful to the book - but yeah something was lost in translation, most experts apparently laying the blame strictly at the directorial effort and lead actor, Asa Butterfield. Again I'm not in the habit of picking on particular actors, especially child actors, so sorry Asa - I understand your career's been pretty decent since though but sorry you got stuck with that turd).

As for Mr. Lemoncello's Library here - the super-shrunk budget combined with Nickelodeon's compulsion to have to make it "Nickelodeon-y" sapped out everything that hallmarked the source material. Here's the thing, too - Nickelodeon has an actual cinematic movie studio. No I'm not just talking about glombing onto Paramount Studios or any other assets made available throughout the vast Viacom/CBS Empire - I mean, in the same vein as sister network MTV, they literally have their own movie studio, appropriately called Nickelodeon Film Studios. They did the Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging movie, the original Harriet the Spy movie with Michelle Trachtenberg, Clock Stoppers (remember that one? It had French Stewart in it!) and Fun Size with Victoria Justice which were actually released on theaters (and yes I actually did see all of those, yes even Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging heck I've read some of the books, natch), I think they did a few more too.

But...stepping back from "book-fidelity...." It's...just a standard Nickelodeon kids' action movie. A lot like Legend of the Hidden Temple, actually. Come to think of it, that movie was probably better, not to mention more faithful to the source material. At least Legends of the Hidden Temple had context for its physical-based obstacles and puzzles. Mr. Lemoncello's Library...had like one or two real logic puzzles, and with one the audience didn't have much of a chance to play along and the other...was pretty insultingly simple (READ, PEOPLE! READ!) The rest were pretty much just physical challenges (made un-urgent if not moot by the knowledge that these kids are in a movie with a lot of CGI-assistance), glorified sight gags or even just "find the book title but get so spooked out by lame Bello Lagossi rip-offs that you want to friggin' quit the game, geez" and they even had their own "every single team who ever played Hidden Temple doesn't know how to put the statue puzzle together" gag rip-off. 

And then everything goes haywire (which does not happen in the book) because again, need to make it more Nickelodeon-y, but then the kids work together to get themselves out of that mess and escape from the library, whoopie. Again, it really ends up being an excuse to introduce yet more sight gags that don't even really go anywhere. The only thing of note was a quote from Charlotte of Charlotte's Web (and yes the CGI really is as bad as I presaged it in the book review) where she has to escape a kung-fu mother goose (that's one of those aforementioned go-nowhere sight gags) while being interrupted mid-sentence that almost made the opening quote - until I found an even better one.

Movie Grade: C-. And yes, that's evaluating it on its own merits. If you're hoping for something pretty faithful to the books you're going to be massively disappointed. If you're hoping for a typical NOM...your disappointment is going to be much less muted.
Movie MVP: Katey Hoffman for again being really cute in this (and a redhead too!), but given the Weinstein stuff I probably should tone down the "give MVP awards to whoever's the prettiest" nonsense so...Casey Simpson wasn't bad in this, actually, and shows he has more range than just poor Ricky and that he and the rest of his on-screen brothers weren't just cast to fill in physical space around Lizzy Greene. Klarke Pipkin and Hayley Scherpenisse (oh God I'm sorry but man what a doozy of a last name, Sweet Lord) weren't bad either given that this is like their very first real on-screen acting roles period. Breanna Yde's good but...really, we already knew that. 

Extra Thoughts

 - yeah spoiler alert for the book: you know how Miguel and Haley get literally dropped out of the game pretty early? Yeah in the book they...kinda-sorta help the main characters win. I guess Nickelodeon really wasn't putting much thought into sequel possibilities.

- Speaking of which, I guess they don't need to worry that much since this is apparently the lowest-rated NOM in years, beating out the previous "winner," which was just last year's Legends of the Hidden Temple. Then again this seems to point to a trend that NOM viewership is just going to be inevitably down regardless, and it really puts the future of the NOM in doubt.

 - But hey, at least this one's a full 90-minutes long (with commercial breaks) instead of that stupid one-hour nonsense we've been getting for a loooong time.

 - Oh, and about casting, I was really excited to find out who'd they cast as Mr. Lemoncello himself (since he's both a larger-than-life and pretty important character in the book) and...they pretty much just have this generic caricature. Nobody even super-recognizable from Nickelodeon's own potentially available stable, like Brian Stepanek, Eric Allen Kramer, Chris Tallman, Tony Cavalero or Kelly Perine? Or even Dana Snyder? C'mon who doesn't want to see Master Shake have his own library?

 - This is a bit late to the party but it occurred to me the relationship between Chiltington and Peckleman - the obvious "bad seed" as I think Dr. Z referred to him wearing a blue blazer and mostly defined by cheating as a means to knock out other competitors, and referring to his much nerdier, much nicer tag-along as "Pickle." I'm pretty sure we haven't seen something like that on Nickelodeon before.


BTW I had to dig through a lot of video "toy reviews" in order to find even that one that seemed the most relevant (unfortunately Nick Jr. doesn't really have a lot of clips, oddly enough). Like a toy review involving Blaze having to...rescue Elsa from being raped by The Joker or something?

I dunno. What I'm trying to say is, TIL video toy reviews on YouTube are messed the 'eff up.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Miscellaneously: why we'll never have a message board/online community (spoiler alert: because they all suck)

I've never actually been approached with the question of whether or not we'd ever have a message board or proper online community (probably because there's like only five of you anyway) but I've seen it posed to other sites from time to time. Most of them usually start message boards after at least some while when they think they've gained a readership high enough, but a few remain holdouts. Given my career goals (which potentially makes me out to be a public figure eventually) it's something I've put a lot of thought into, and I've come to the conclusion, even if for example this very blog were to get a readership into the six figures...yeah, ain't ever gonna happen, bub.

There's one specific reason why: online communities are fucking horrible.

It's all rather explained succinctly in what's more or less officially called (and I'm serious in that this is what people call it, it's not my invention, so apologies for the language) The Internet Fuckwad Theory. I don't even know if Randall Munroe and xckd invented it (and BTW I think both of those things are tremendously overrated) but that's what popularized it. 

Either way, my point being is, message boards seem to be a terrible idea, unless you need technical help on something and then you can register on a board specific for that, fix your issue and then move the fuck on as fast as you goddamned can. 

I remember, for example, registering on the message boards hosted by Orson Scott Card (yeah, I know, but we'll get to that too) because it seemed like a great community for people who want to be sci-fi writers.

Yeah, no. No.

Lots of infighting, lots of sniping and bitching across other users, and particularly lots of holier-than-thou assholes. And that's even way before OSC revealed himself to be an insufferable massive homophobe who literally thinks people on the non-heteronormaltive side of the LGBTQ+ spectrum shouldn't have any rights to speak of.

I'm using that as a particular example for two specific reasons: 1.) it seemed like a great, innocuous community where new users would be welcomed with open arms and lots of discussion sharply focused on a specific interest and 2.) yeah, Internet Fuckwad Theory. Believe me, it was in full force all right.

I'm not really even sure, other than what's more or less already explained in that Know Your Meme link (which has the original xkcd comic in it as well). Just...I guess it's a combination of the anonymity and...just something about the online environment specifically. It turns people into sanctimonious pricks who insist on being annoying, and the lines between which parties are right and wrong become blurred because now everybody's just trolling and being an ass to each other. And I already mentioned in my big Disney Channel Live-Action Universe post back in March (of 2016) how much of high school I pissed away on web communities devoted entirely to whether or not Star Trek or Star Wars is better, and oh yeah, lots of Internet Fuckward Theory in force there, too.

And yeah, I'll admit. I'm particular vulnerable to Internet Fuckward Theory myself.

I've been banned from...let's see now...probably a dozen or so message boards? For whatever reason I just don't get along with people in online communities. And you know what? I'll just have to fucking live with that, even as our world becomes more digitized. I seem to behave pretty ok on other forms of social media - Twitter, Instagram, even fucking Facebook - and since message boards, well, let's all be real here folks, they tend to be waaaaay down on the social media hierarchy - like, the stereotype of the D&D crew in the school basement-down on the social hierarchy - so, yeah, I'm pretty damn sure I can ultimately live with that.

And that is why I will never make a message board.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The ZhuZhus Mini-Reviewed: The Pumpkin Whisperers; Zhuper Zhide Kicks (S1 E14)

Just. Fucking. Big. No.

What is it? 24 minutes of animated inanity and stupidity
Where did it air? Disney Channel, who should know better
Who stars in it? The hell if I care.
Why are we reviewing this? To serve as a warning to others not to watch it.

Yup. Still the most inane and stupid thing on the entire network.

A network that has fucking Bunk'd on it.

Episode Grade: A big fat solid F. The only reason why I'm not delving into F- territory is because we did that recently and I fear it's already become somewhat of a cliche on this blog.
Episode MVP: Fuuuuuu~~~~~~g.

Extra Thoughts:

 - Just...just. No. There's so many better cartoons out there, even on the junior channels. Kuu Kuu Harajuku for one, which I actually like. Pat the Dog. Puppy Dog Pals and the show it rips off, PAW Patrol, even when they do the stupid and inane Major Humdinger and the Catastrophe Cats, which is some of the most inane and stupid stuff I've ever seen on TV on a regular basis, right up there with, well, The ZhuZhus. Blaze and the Monster Machines. Rusty Rivets. Doc McStuffins, even the subpar current season. Nella the Princess Knight and the show that's ripping off, Sofia the First. Comparing it to Elena of Avalor would be like comparing silk to cheap toilet paper. I can go on, and again these are just strictly the junior channels. Fuck comparing this to Ducktales or Gravity Falls. Or Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir.

And yet that show won't see a second season on Nick, but we have Polly and the Zhu Zhu Pets (or apparently it's just The ZhuZhus, like I care. I've already wasted enough words on this).

Monday, October 9, 2017

Elevator Girl Lifetime Original Movie Mini-Review

Hey, did I not tell you I had this set to record on my DVR? Also WOW Lacey Chabert is *really* hot in this one.

What is it? Hallmark Original Movie
Where did it air? Uhhh...Hallmark...Original...Movie.
Who stars in it? Lacey Chabert as I mentioned in my Mean Girls review, Ryan Merriman and OH HOLY CRAP THAT'S JOEY KING IN THERE TOO! No literally she just showed up as I was typing this with about 30 minutes of movie left to go. So yeah, there's your Nickelodeon/Disney Channel connection right there!
Why are we reviewing this? Mostly because I opened my big fat mouth about recording this movie on my DVR in my Mean Girls review so here we go....

...and it's pretty much what you'd expect. Well...I was kind of expecting the "stuck in the elevator" part to take up most of the movie and the couple learning to fall in love with each other while undergoing such an awkward situation but...it's pretty much like every other soft romance between here and when Jane Austen first started penning words onto page. Not that my initial impression was all that much hard to begin with. The real conflict doesn't even happen until...well, past the part where Joey King shows up, and it's the lamest kind of conflict that tends to pop up in these halfway serious romantic movies. 

Other than that it's...a halfway serious romantic movie on Hallmark starring circa 2010 Lacey Chabert (yeah I didn't even notice how old this movie was until I was like, "wait that girl looks a lot like Joey King back when she did Ramona and Beesus") so...you come for what you want and you expect what you'd expect.

Movie Grade: A flat C. It's basically the adult version of Emma's Chance that I reviewed all the way back in February (which strangely enough doesn't feel long ago enough) except that since it does deal in more adult themes (well, kinda) in a cozy, romantic enough manner and lacks a hammered-in moral that the entire movie is built around it manages to rise above that movie's D+ or so and lands squarely in "eh, I feel in the mood to watch it" territory. Like, I can see people "Netflix and chilling" through these Hallmark movies. And really, I guess that's all Hallmark (or anybody) can really ask for.
Movie MVP: Well, I guess it's Lacey Chabert since she managed to pull me into watching this thing. The acting is...pretty even. Like, "in the background" quality acting. I really do think Lacey's a severely underrated actress, especially given her Mean Girls legacy, and she really deserves more than just being the VA all the time (and being dumped in favor for Mila Kunis no less - and don't get me wrong Mila is still hot as hell even without makeup but...I actually think Lacey's hotter) or just drifting around Hallmark for the rest of her career or just riding in the memory of Mean Girls fans. She does strike me as...really, really awkward in her Hallmark bump/IDs though which is just really odd because even in these movies she comes off as much more confident and talented than that.

Extra Thoughts:

 - I know I promised to reign back all this objectification but...ugh, I'm going to hand in my SJW card and I guess engage in some mansplaining...ugh, and given the timing this is probably the worst time to do it but...I just have a gut feeling that this might not be as objectionable this time around given the context and how seriously under-appreciated she is but...yeah. I think Lacey Chabert really, absolutely is fucking *hot* as hell. And I know people are tired of Hollywood being an overgrown beauty pageant but I really do want to know why she never got any bigger roles after Mean Girls.

 - Oh yeah, and Lacey is far and away the hottest of the Mean Girls. That includes everybody involved with that, LiLo, Rachael, Amanda, what have you.

 - Yes, even hotter than Amy Pohler.

 - That said, and all that I said about her being hotter than Mila Kunis...she's still not hotter than Sarah Hyland.

 - No one is hotter than Sarah Hyland, in fact.

 - Ryan Merriman plays a high-powered executive who likes building plastic car models. I...kinda dig that, actually.

 - But no, seriously, there are a ton of these Hallmark movies starring Lacey. There's like...sequels on top of sequels. I thought this was something she only started doing recently but no, this very movie's already 7 years old.

 - While watching this I noticed what has to be quite literally the most dickish commercial I've ever seen in my entire life, so yeah that fucking says something. It's a perfect encapsulation of not only everything that's wrong with the Donald Trump administration, but why his supports will just. Never. Fucking. Get. It.

 - Oh Crap I forgot Bailey Madison is on The Good Witch on this network.

 - Oh God it's Columbus Day, October 9, we've barely just started Monstober on Disney Channel and Hallmark is already starting their countdown to freakin' Christmas?!?! We're going to just skip Halloween even? Well, they have what effectively amounts to a movie of that aforementioned The Good Witch show at least. I mean, well, it did start snowing here...for the first time in October since 2013, but seriously.

 - Also, fuck this "snow in October" bullshit.

Star Trek Enterprise Reviewed: Hatchery (S3E17)

Instead of quoting the episode, I'm going to link to how the "Save Star Trek Enterprise" campaign was really just a giant literal scam right here. Because this episode is such garbage it doesn't deserve to be quoted. 

What is it? Hour-long single-cam sci-fi series based on the long-running beloved Star Trek franchise, and until very recently was the last time Star Trek had been on the small screen.
Where did it air? It used to air on UPN, a network that doesn't even exist anymore (since merging into what's now The CW). Nowadays you might find it on random cable networks (on BBC America...which bizarrely airs The Next Generation, Deep Space 9 and Voyager for very large chunks of the day now...doesn't even bother to air Enterprise it seems) or on local UHF stations that air basically whatever junk's been discarded by the major broadcast networks over the years and decades. Because really, Enterprise was junk and that's where it belongs, but more on that in the actual review.
Who stars in it? Scott Bakula - you know, that one guy who's Quantum Leap (so he's no stranger to the sci-fi genre by the least bit) and also his last name hilariously rhymes with "Dracula" (so there's your Monstober connection) is going to be far and away the biggest name up to the premiere of the series and since, especially now that he's got himself a sweet gig on NCIS: New Orleans. Jolene Blalock (yes, just like our own Spongey here!) was cast hoping to be the big break-out sex symbol and...like the rest of the series that crashed and burned hard. I think even Voyager's Jerri Ryan managed to eek out a better career post-Star Trek. I can't remember who else is in it and I'm too lazy to look it up but that really should tell you something.
Why are we reviewing this? Well, while I was on vacation (during the same time as this blog's two-year anniversary, actually) I saw this on a local UHF station and I'm like, why not? It kind of fits the theme of what I had planned to be a review trilogy with Star Trek Discovery and The Orville (which I've already reviewed a good while ago now, with DiscoTrek sadly as it turns out not being enough for even a full review, instead just being a glorified 40-minute long trailer) and with this episode especially demonstrating just how much pre-Season 4 utter Bunk'd-level garbage this series was.

So yeah, in case I haven't emphasized it enough, as a long-time Trek fan: Star Trek: Enterprise was complete, sheer, Bunk'd-level utter flaming piles of garbage prior to the more-or-less good Season 4.

This particular episode happens to be at the absolute bottom of that dumpster fire. Like, well, most of Bunk'd. Camp vs. Camp if I had to choose a particular episode off the top of my head.

First a little history lesson. Between the years of 1987 and 2005 - that's just shy of three two whole decades (and I really need to work on my math), there had been uninterrupted Star Trek on TV. Starting with Star Trek: The Next Generation, the same creative team also gave us Star Trek: Voyager; another team split from them to give us Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (to this day one of my most favorite sci-fi TV franchises of all time and yes waaaay superior to Babylon 5, deal with it); and then when Voyager wrapped up after a long 7 seasons that team also gave us Star Trek: Enterprise (the creative team behind Star Trek: Deep Space 9 themselves ended up splitting, one half going on to give us an entirely new sci-fi IP nonetheless based on some extremely loose concepts ultimately rejected by Gene Roddenberry, that becoming Andromeda, starring fresh-off-Hercules Kevin Sorbo and it had a super-excellent, like, first season and a half before yet another creative team took over and turned it into utter crap - like literally even worse than Bunk'd or even ST: Enterprise level crap - but it very slowly drifted to five seasons all the same, with the original creative team now being involved in the CBS Sherlock Holmes show Elementary; and the other half going on to create the SyFy reimagining of Battlestar Galactica, of which I don't think any more needs to be said). Star Trek: Enterprise...really showed that the franchise was suffering heavy fatigue, and what didn't help was that it was a prequel to even the original series, because prequels were trendy at the time and keep in mind this is the mid-2000s when all the trends were utter horseshit, and because the creative team had all the imagination of Donald Trump's comb-over the series had all the energy and excitement of a wet paper bag. 

The audience, however, wasn't quite as stupid or willing to just accept it, and ratings nosedived hard, starting right off in the first season compared to the preceeding final season of Voyager (which itself suffered a severe nosedive in ratings compared to its own start). After two seasons of what amounted to a bunch of episodes that could be strung together into a massive snore-fest, they started the third season with the so-called Xindi Arc, named after the central antagonist aliens (really, a collection of various aliens all somehow biologically related even though you had bug aliens related to literal dolphin aliens) who decided to, with no reason or warning, pretty much attack Earth 9/11-style (did I mention this was pretty much right after 9/11, when 9/11 allegories were also trendy and a big giant pile of horseshit, not to mention incredibly tasteless, insensitive and borderline offensive?) completely wiping out Florida in the process (I would make a Florida joke here, but given the recent hurricanes, it seems to be about as tacky and tasteless as, again, everything culturally associated with the years 2001-2009). So the entire season was spent on the Starship Enterprise (the very first one, allegedly, way before even Captain Kirk) hunting down these Xindi and finding out why and how to stop them.

As it turns out, the Xindi did it because they were told to do it literally by aliens in the future, the same Future Guy aliens (yes that ended up being their official name, invented by the guy who runs the website Sci-Fi Debris no less, out of sarcasm) who had been the main series antagonists from literally the first episode as a ploy to stop the formation of the Federation, by pitting the founding members of the Federation (including the Xindi) against each other, but Captain Archer (that'd be Bakula) found out and convinced everybody to go after the Future Guys instead, who ran away and would try again with the Romulans instead in Season 4.

Anyway, Season 3 was pretty much intended to be pumped with action to bring butts to seats in front of TVs, but because the guys running it don't know how to actually do compelling action, yeah, it failed and fell utterly flat on its face. Hatchery is a perfect demonstration that they learned exactly nothing from the failures of the first two seasons.

The main plot concerns Captain Archer discovering the titular hatchery for the bug-type Xindi aliens on a planet, and there's a lot of debate what to do with it since the bug-type Xindi are the bad guys, but Captain Archer insists on bringing the entire hatchery aboard the Enterprise and then he just goes all ape-shit over it, sacrificing the actual mission of protecting Earth to protect the hatchery. Crew members start to question him, so he sicks the MAACOs (basically Starfleet Marines) on them. Eventually there's a big stand-off on the bridge between the main crew who want to continue with the protecting Earth mission, and the MAACOs who want to keep Archer's orders to protect the hatchery(insert shrug emoji here), and they start shooting each other, which is ok because everyone has their phasers set on stun, and then there's a big fight with Archer and he gets injected with stuff that turns him back to normal, and then it's discovered that Archer was under the influence of a chemical secreted by the bug-type Xindi, but the MAACOs were unaffected which means they have literally zero motivation for following Archer's orders and, you know, actually help to protect Earth which is the sole reason they signed up to be MAACOs in the first place other than that the writers are complete idiots.

And that's pretty much it. Again, this is a perfect encapsulation of all of Enterprise's faults right here and why it couldn't help but hemorrhage ratings: characters motivated entirely due to plot demands, insane and utterly stupid, contrived and contorted plot demands to begin with, characters acting completely inconsistently between episodes or even scenes, and above all else just torpid, boring and flat writing. All of those other sins can easily be forgiven, actually (Lord knows Voyager, TNG and even DS9 committed them in spades) but if you have an episode that's completely flat and devoid of action and plot or character development, and I don't mean the fighting and explode-y kind I mean just having literally anything on-screen, then you're going to have a real stinker on your hands no matter what.

Given that all that happens during the entire episode is the crew running around whispering to each other if there's something wrong with the captain, and then a completely non-nonsensical firefight at the very end, yeah I say this episode qualifies as an example. 

Episode Grade: A big fat F minus. Yes, this gets the lowest grade we bother to give out here on this blog. It's even worse than what most fans consider to be the actual worst episode of Enterprise, A Night in Sickbay (which make no mistake would also get an F minus rating on this blog). It's worse than what most fans would consider to be the worst episode of Voyager, Threshold (which is actually if anything an underrated episode - I mean, c'mon people it's not that bad - it would rate a C- or if I was actually feeling really harsh a D+ on this blog). It's worse than what many people would consider to be among the worst episodes TNG has to offer, Too Short a Season (which was actually one of the better episodes of the first two rocky, shaky seasons and would probably get a B on this blog - the fandom really needs to get real here and get some perspective on what actually makes up for a bad or good episode). It's really up there with the absolute worst TNG has to offer, A Matter of Honor and Eden's Children (both of which would richly deserve F minus'es on this blog) or for that matter the worst the original series has to offer, Spock's Brain and Turnabout Intruder (again, F minus'es all around, and sadly Turnabout Intruder ended up being the final premiere episode of the original Trek, way to go >_> ). 

Hatchery is one of the worst episodes Star Trek has to offer in its entire history. Yes, even that glorified super-extended trailer we got for a sorry excuse for a "series premiere" for Star Trek: Discovery is better.

Episode MVP: Ronald D. Moore.

Who the hell is Ronald D. Moore? He's the head of that previously said creative team that split from TNG to give us Deep Space 9, and then later he's the central figure that gave us the SyFy reimagined Battlestar Galactica series. He's getting MVP not only because I really do think he was one of the best people behind-the-scenes of his time when it came to TV sci-fi, but also just to reward him for being smart enough to not be too heavily involved with this utter horseshit.

Extra Thoughts:

 - you know what they say about how the more things change? Back then we had an utterly tacky and tasteless culture revolving around an equally utterly tacky and tasteless presidential administration, and now, yeah, looks like we're looping back around, folks.

 - Season 4 is generally regarded as the best because they brought in a man named Manny Coto, someone who actually understands how to interject action and plot development into your series. Unfortunately it wasn't enough and the series was canceled after that season, and Coto went on to develop...the Half-Hour News Hour, FOX News' lame attempt to chase after SNL and the more liberal-minded talk shows popular on cable (The Daily Show probably being the most obvious "competitor") but for their unabashedly extreme right-wing audience. It was, and I'm saying this with the firmest legitimacy I can muster, one of the most awful things I have ever seen in the history of myself being alive and watching TV. Without exception 100% of their jokes just amounted to, hey, you know liberals? Yeah, liberals stink!

Even FOX News had to pull the plug on that after half a season or so. It's been effectively replaced with Greg Gutfield having the whole night to himself to be as much of a flaming asshole as he possibly can muster, which at least is really cheap to make - just point the camera at Greg Gutfield and let him be himself.

And yes, I'm more than well aware that that makes it literally indistinguishable from the entirety of the rest of the network, or for that matter sister network FOX Business.

- I mentioned Jerri Ryan, perhaps still most famous for playing "Seven of Nine," the Borg-turned-crewmember on Voyager. Since I'm getting all political here anyway, I might as well mention that she was married to an Illinois Republican congressman who...as I understand it...basically sold her into prostitution...? (this was literally decades ago so cut me some slack if I can't get the details anywhere near right) Yeah, needless to say that's pretty fucked up, man.Obviously after a scandal like that there's no way he's going to stay in office, so a special election was held, and the Democratic Party challenger ended up winning, going on to be the replacement congressman.

That victorious Democratic Party challenger's name? Barack Hussein Obama, II. Yup, there's a legitimate presidential history-making connection with Star Trek!

...and in a very disgusting, but very Republican way no less. I only managed to find this extremely ancient link that I'm not going to bother to read so I'm just going to assume everything I said is "right enough, also I am not presenting this as truth so don't sue me for libel, read the link and sue those writers instead if you don't like it that much."

 - Sorry for making the Extra Thoughts here so political, it just ended up being that way what with being reminded what kind of an incredibly tacky era the last decade ended up being, and Coto's unfortunate involvement with...whatever the hell it was FOX News ended up airing.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Henry Danger Reviewed: Live and Dangerous Parts 1 and 2 (S3E17 and 18)

I used to work with his sister! It was a looooong story.

What is it? Hour-long "live" special of a multi-cam kidcom.
Where did it air? Nickelodeon, where you'd expect exactly something stunty like this.
Who stars in it? Well, your usual Henry Danger stars - Jace Norman, Cooper Barnes, Sean Ryan Fox, Rielle Downs - and oh yeah we have Frankie Grande in this one too.
Why are we reviewing this? Because whenever Nickelodeon does something stunty, we cover it (as Mike and his Quest have proven every three months when Nickelodeon insists we have to know what Santa Claus and his elves does the other 363 days of the year).

Spoiler Alert: I actually really liked this one.

But about that "live" aspect first: yeah, I couldn't even tell. I talked about how gimmicky the live aspect always is the last time we reviewed something desperate enough to pull that off (second spoiler alert: it still failed miserably on all fronts possible) and the thing is, very rarely is it even noticeable. It's not just something that's exceedingly smacking of desperation, it's a complete and total waste of any gimmicky aspects because those aspects become virtually invisible. Yeah, sure, the audience can hope for someone to screw up or something - but again, that's so exceedingly rare it's a waste of time to hope for it, let alone come in and watch this show you've never seen before just for that aspect, and that's not even mentioning just how damn mean-spirited it is. 

And it should be no surprise that this two-parter came off like any other two Henry Danger episodes without a hitch, especially given how accustomed all the players involved are when it comes to, you know, the art of acting and especially how accustomed its special guest star especially is to a live audience.

And, yeah, Frankie Grande is the whole reason why I liked this two-parter as much as I did. He just seemed like he was genuinely having fun with it. And you know what? I really liked Goomer even. Goomer...actually contributed to the episode, which isn't something that can be said for that one show where he worked with Frankie's sister, that being a loooong story and all.

The main plot is...pretty Dan Schneider-y, in that at least he has a better grasp and understanding of how social media works and how people are using it than your average middle-aged Hollywood executive producer. Again, it's Frankie Grande who this entire thing revolves around, and Thank God he actually works with the material. The B-plot is...actually pretty good. It integrates directly into the A-plot and Piper manages to not be harpishly annoying in it.

Episode Grade: B+. Yeah, it's...that decent.
Episode MVP: Frankie Grande, duh.

Extra Thoughts:

 - I really like to see what Mike thinks of this. Speaking of which, when I asked for Mike to be a part of this, it was because I was really hoping having two people on this blog will really spice things up and make it fun, like on Girl Meets World Reviewed. And...it has, working as advertised.

Which is to say, working on this things alone without Mike...actually kind of sucks. So, again, I really and eagerly look to see what Mike thinks of this.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library Book Review

If it's a Lemoncello it's...something, I dunno. Look it's been like half a year or so since I last read the book.

What is it? Middle School-level novel book about...books. Yeah, really.
Where can you find it? Well, umm...at the library. Yeah. Also on Amazon and all that.
Who wrote it? Chris Grabenstien who (as it explains on the dust jacket flap) helped James Patterson develop some of his young adult/middle school books especially I Funny so he's got some credentials behind him at least.
Why are we reviewing this? Well because Nickelodeon like sprang us with this movie and what not.

Yeah, about that. As far as I'm concerned this movie pretty much came out of nowhere - I saw an official announcement like back in mid-late September, which is pretty late given how close to the premiere date it is. And even back then it was only advertised as "coming soon" so I was assuming it was just going to be over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Then I saw it was actually going to be their Columbus Day movie just two days ago, so yeah. Right up from outta nowhere. Of course part of the problem is that I haven't been watching a lot of Nickelodeon because...other than Power Rangers Ninja Steel, The Loud House and letting I Am Frankie build up on my DVR there really isn't much reason to watch Nickelodeon anymore, is there?

But anyway, we're not reviewing the movie (which again premieres tomorrow), we're reviewing the book it's based on. And really, given how it is a pretty decently hyped best-seller I'm surprised it's stuck in NOM territory instead of being an actual theatrical release. Just from the movie previews the CGI for Charlotte (yes as in her and her Web)...isn't very inspiring, even with the concessions of it being a NOM.

And yeah, this will have to be a pretty CGI-reliant movie because the book's plot is basically Clue + Monopoloy but more book-themed. You have this guy, Mr. Lemoncello (duh) who went from poverty to making a fortune making, selling and marketing board games (sorry, those of you who were hoping for a gelatto-themed library will be massively disappointed - I know I was). While he was growing up in poverty, he went to the library a lot and read a lot of books, and now that he's come back as a multi-millionaire he's bought the old library, saving it from demolition and turned it into a life-sized recreation of a library-themed board game, and uhh...that's pretty much it without getting into spoiler territory. You have your usual teams of good guys (well, boys plus some girls) and bad guys (well, boys, or rather boy really) and obstacle course-based adventures and what have you. Oh, and references to teen girls wanting to hit it big by being actresses on Disney Channel, because even though this book was written like in 2015 they didn't quite get the memo that that's not really a thing that happens anymore (and again, if there's a blog that would know, it's this one, given the big glaring title and URL and all).

Also, ouch that if people read the book that the Nickelodeon movie is based on, that they'll see references to Disney Channel. Leeeeeeel.

Anyway, it's a pretty good book but it's strengths are absolutely in the puzzles the reader has to figure out along the way which is, as you might figure, a bit hard to replicate and convey in a review other than, uh, this is good and all. So, yeah.

Novel Grade: B+. The sequel I liked slightly better, but not enough to rise it from the same B+ grade. The third book...just about should be coming out around now, actually, if it's not already out.
Favorite Character: Haley Daley because she has a hilarious name and also she's going to be massively disappointed when after being a Disney Channel Princess all it nets her is a sequel show a decade later to keep milking that nostalgia, so she gets some sympathy points for this.

Extra Thoughts:

 - wow I really sucked at writing this review, didn't I? I probably could've condensed all that nonsense into a mini-review.

 - well I guess we'll see how well the movie does at least

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Mean Girls Movie Reviewed

On October 3, he asked me what day it was.

What is it? Theatrical movie, um, yeah. I mean I guess it's kinda self-explanatory. It's based on a book but...more on that later.
Where did it air? Well, it was in theaters...back in 2004.... I actually first saw it on DVD just a few years ago, back in summer 2013 basically when the genesis of this blog started and although I've been meaning to rewatch it since that was also the last time I saw it, so I'm going strictly off memory here. I'm sure there was probably some networks, like Freeform that aired it on Mean Girls Day which was yesterday. And being that it's not only a really old movie at this point (well, relatively speaking) but a very famous one it's probably super-easy to find, somewhere.
Who stars in it? I'm pretty sure people who haven't even seen the movie know who's in it, LiLo for one. It wasn't her star-making role (she'd already starred in a number of major theatrical releases years prior to this) but it's definitely probably her most well-known movie by a country mile, and probably the one movie when people remember LiLo before she went  all cray-cray, went to jail and ended up being jailmates with the very same girls who robbed her while she was away in jail.  Also, Rachel McAdams before she went all True Detective.



Also Amanda Seyfried for whom this was her big star-making role, and Lacey Chabert who...well she stopped being Meg Griffin and ended up in stuff like this


(which we may end up reviewing one of these days)

And this



...which I may have set to record when it airs Friday....

Oh, and Tina Fey is in it (she also wrote the script and is executive producer), and of course Amy Pohler's going to be in it too because they're like joined at the hip or something.

Oh, and I almost forgot: Tim Motherfucking Meadows.

Why are we reviewing this? Because it's Mean Girls Day! ...yesterday. Oops. Also, because it's legitimately a great movie, a cultural touchstone for my generation (granted I'm on the tail end of that generation, since I had just started college when this premiered) and given that it's aiming at the same high school demo as its characters are aged in (and a little older, into college) it's absolutely on-topic here!

But anyway, yeah. Now that I'm actually sitting down to write this, it's kinda hard to describe just why people went so nuts over this movie, especially years after the fact, especially to people who haven't seen it and quite frankly when most people at least in this country (the goold ole' US of A) under 40 at this point probably have seen it anyway, or are at least familiar enough with it (and most people over 40 who won't get this movie probably won't because they're too busy talking to their TVs permanently stuck on FOX News and complaining about Seth MacFarlane's "new" show, "Family Man".) It wasn't exactly the first movie to really examine the "mean girl" phenomenon -  Heathers (which I've also seen, around the same time, and maybe we'll also review) did it before I was even born I think, although that wasn't even necessarily the main goal or message of the movie (we'll delve into that in more detail when we review that movie). Heck even around the same time Mean Girls premiered there was a light remake of Heathers called Jawbreaker, which I haven't seen and been meaning (heh, pun!) to see one of these days, maybe I'll do that soon and do a review of that at the same time. And I'm sure there were "mean girl" movies before Heathers, even. Or for that matter the endless hours of TV directed to the tween demo throughout the 80s and especially 90s that featured regular ole' high school girls having to put up with mean girls like Saved by the Bell and what not. 

And sure, you can look at those shows and conclude that they handled their plotlines with about as much subtlety and freshness as Girl Meets World Season 3 (which, at this point you should know me well enough to know that by that I mean "not at all") and that what made Mean Girls so special was that it didn't come off as yet another after school special - except Heathers has even Mean Girls' darker tone beat by a wide margin, about as much as the disconnect between Bethesda thinking Creators' Club is a good idea and the actual fan reaction. In fact if anything I think the secret to Mean Girls' success is that it was lighter hearted than Heathers. That, combined with the sheer comedic and cultural genius of Tina Fey who really knows her material. There's a reason why she's been on SNL for so long, and all that. But I really do feel that Mean Girls is her magnum opus, where for that particular period of time she demonstrated a commanding knowledge of the pop culture scene - especially and rather shockingly for a demo that's decades younger than herself - and translated that into something that's been able to stand the test of time a good dozen years plus since.

In that regard, it's rather classic Dan Schneider-ish.

And then there's the part where Tim Motherfucking Meadows comes in and all of a sudden the movie takes a really serious tone (like, seriously enough that just the fact that this is Tiny Fey and Tim Meadows here, it's actually a tonal whiplash) and actually gets really serious about anti-bullying, which I think is another thing that's helped this movie stay relevant all these years later, but I'm not going to spoil it any further and instead insist you see for yourself because for all the potential for this scene to just put the brakes on the entire movie and sink it, again Fey's writing really pulls it off here. It transforms the movie from a light parody to actually exactly the thing Girl Meets World's trying to do, except unlike Girl Meets World it actually pulls it off.

I mean...you know, instead of going into specific plot points, and given how it is after all going on close to a whole half-decade since I last saw the movie, I think I'll just leave it there and insist that you just go see it for yourself and that, yes, the hype is real here, folks. It's probably the best writing Fey's ever done and maybe will ever do, it's LiLo's best role far and away (and trust me, I've seen a lot of LiLo movies, natch) and Tim Motherfucking Meadows. What more can you ask for?

Movie Grade: A+. Yes, I'm fangirling here. So sue me.
Movie MVP: Well...I really want to give to Lacey Chabert because yeah I really have a thing for her, even after all these years (there's a reason why I record Lifetime Movie Network movies starring her) but yeah, it has to go to Tina Fey. Not even necessarily for her on-screen talent - I would even go so far as to give that to Tim Meadows, strictly speaking - but the snappy dialogue and writing of the script shines through so strongly that she really earns that MVP award for that. As is the whole point of this review, that's the big reason why people still love talking about this movie in 2017 going into 2018 and why there's finally a proper book being written over a dozen years after the fact and why there's even a Mean Girls Day.

Extra Thoughts:

 - yeah, about that whole book situation, because one of my most favorite YA authors ever, Micol Ostow, has officially novelized this movie and it launched just in the past few weeks or so (no doubt to roughly coincide with Mean Girls Day in as closest a proximity as the publishing industry practically allows) again about a dozen or so years after the fact. "But Ray," you're no doubt saying, "Mean Girls already is based off a book!" Yes, the opening credits proudly proclaim "inspired by the book Queen Bees and Wannabes" by whoever wrote it, I forgot. But the thing is, yeah, about Queen Bees and Wannabes...it's a freakin' self-help book. Yeah, like the kind Oprah and Dr. Phil pitch all the time. Trust me, I know, I actually read it, cover-to-cover no less. Seriously. And while I learned lots about how the seat your daughter sits in your SUV carpool says a lot about her social standing at school, it's not exactly, um, narrative-y at all. In fact one probably would be surprised that Tina Fey could write Mean Girls from a self-help book but I think on TVTropes they say that, yeah, she pretty much didn't read beyond the freakin' title itself. But hey, I guess the very title "Queen Bees and Wannabes" fired up her imagination enough to write this entire movie, and for that I'm thankful.

 - of course I also ordered the new Mean Girls novel as soon as I could. It's in shipping, I've been told. I'll probably do a review of the book here too.

 - So it just also occurred to me, and given all the hoopla I've made about it last year, that the two year anniversary of this very blog was...more than two weeks ago, back on September 20, on that whole equinox thing (yeah I was on vacation at the time, so sue me). And since I hate how a lot of other blogs do their anniversary posts (basically just piling up a lot of statistics about their blog over the past year, which 1.) I always do at the end of the year anyway, during the deep dark days of December, so I think it's more than kinda lame to have two statistics-piling posts in such close proximity and 2.) I think statistics-piling posts are self-congratulatory wank and kinda lame in general, yes even when I do it in said December, and 3.) they tend to be a lot of work I really don't feel like doing, so yeah, no) so...yeah, let's consider this review to be this blog's official 2 year anniversary post, why not? I think celebrating Means Girls is a pretty great way to also celebrate this blog.

And so I want to thank all of my readers - yes, the five of you or so - who regularly bother to read the half-coherent ramblings about a bunch of kiddie shows and teen movies from a guy who's way, way too old to really be watching this stuff. I know I can sometimes be a little acerbic with my interactions and definitely in love with my own strong opinions, but I always greatly appreciate your feedback and comments and yes I read every single one.

Which is super-easy to do because, again, there's like five of you who even bother.

And of course I also want to thank Mike for making this blog great. Not great again, but definitely great in the first place. Also I really hate making references to Trump even though clearly I still do it. 

- Also Spongey just reminded me that yes, they made a direct-to-DVD sequel (a little bit before streaming services were popular enough that they made movies specifically for them). In fact I was just reading about how a lot of people were shitting on it on Jezebel (yes as in the Gawker/Gizmodo one). I actually saw that one too (hey if I'm willing to read the self-help book...) and...it's actually not bad. Really, to more or less paraphrase what someone wrote on TVTropes, if it wasn't called Mean Girls 2 people wouldn't be shitting on it. It stars Meaghan Martin who herself was most famous for being the mean girl in the Camp Rock movies (see, there you go) and some other people, including Claire Holt who apparently has no relation to Olivia Holt (being British and all) but I guess was on some CW stuff? Maybe one of those H2O shows? Anyway she's pretty hot too, so yeah...?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Mike's Quest, Part 4 ( "Game Shippers")

 From Drake & Josh to iCarly to.........whatever this is.

Hi. My name is Mike Anderson and this is my quest. I'm like that guy. That Spanish guy. You know, the one who fought the windmills? I don't know, Don Quixote or something. Anyway, I'm on a mission to review at least one episode of every live-action sitcom currently running on Nickelodeon and Disney Channel. Will I be able to do it by the end of the year? Very low chance of that happening, but I don't see the point in forgetting about this. It keeps me busy. The rules I made up a year ago no longer apply since too much time has passed, but I do have one question:

Should I review I Am Frankie or not? Let me know in the comment section, or maybe Ray can fill me in on if the show's worth the time.

I haven't even seen it yet, I'm just letting it build up on my DVR like everything else.

Hey, did you know that Seth MacFarlane has a new show? It's like a Star Trek spoof or something. Hey, I did a review of it down below! You can, like, add your thoughts to it!

Shows reviewed: The Thundermans, Liv & Maddie, Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn

Shows yet to review: Bunk'd, School of Rock, Stuck in the Middle, K.C. Undercover, Raven's Home, Andi Mack, Bizaardvark

I'm not going to beat around the bush here: Game Shakers sucks. You probably already knew that, but yeah, Game Shakers sucks. The only thing about the show that surprises me is how long I took to review it. I could have torn the pilot to shreds, but it's not fair to any show to do that. Even if the pilot was aggressively terrible (and it was), letting a show develop and figure itself out is important to understand as a viewer. But after two years, I'm not giving it the benefit of the doubt anymore. This show is just as bad as it was in season one. It hasn't made any attempt to improve from what I can see. Hudson is still mentally disabled saying random things at random times because stupid people are funny, Kel Mitchell is still acting circles around the rest of the cast, and this is still a waste of Benjamin Flores, Jr.'s time.  In a perfect world, The Haunted Hathaways would have been given more seasons.

I've been watching episodes of The Haunted Hathaways on TeenNick (you know what else is weird? That it's TeenNick, not TeeNick, like they haven't yet caught on to the fact that Teen ends with an "N" and Nick starts with an "N") and even though I've seen every single episode of The Haunted Hathaways new (well, except for the penultimate episode, Haunted Swamp or whatever, but I did eventually see that one anyway) after watching them more recently I've concluded that...this series was actually kind of awful, too. A good three quarters of it really is just Taylor (that's Amber Montana, now Amber Frank) getting gunk'd on, or other crap happening to her, and a part of me has to wonder if all that didn't effect her outlook on the whole acting gig period. 

You have to remember, the period starting at the very beginning of 2013 (really even into 2012, pretty much as soon as iCarly ended) all the way to 2015 (when THH got canceled) wasn't a good time for Nickelodeon at all. They were cancelling series left and right and especially at the beginning of that period, 2013-14, they really basically handed Disney Channel any ratings advantage they wanted on a bright, shiny silver platter. That was a real golden time for Disney Channel (well, continuing the golden era that started all the way back with Wizards of Waverly Place) and while they had shows that gave that golden era legitimacy (Good Luck Charlie, Jessie, Austin & Ally, Shake it Up, Phineas and Ferb, Gravity Falls, even A.N.T. Farm were all pretty much at their peak at that time) it's easy to think that the relatively weak state of Nickelodeon helped bolster that position even further. Along those lines, the ratings for both THH and Thundermans were in the proverbial toilet (quite literally, worse than Sam & Cat, so think about that), and it's very likely both would've been canceled at that point in 2015 if it weren't for the fact that had Nickelodeon actually done that, it would've wiped their live-action slate completely clean - when live-action multi-cams were still their bread and butter at the time (this being at the very end of the era when Nickelodeon bet the farm on live-action multi-cams from the height of the Schneider era and before the current era when Nickelodeon started to fall back more on animation - heck it's probably because of this that Nickelodeon started to fall back on animation again) and when they just didn't have enough new shows waiting in the wings to pick up the slack had both been canceled. So one series had to survive guaranteed, in the same way Chrylser wasn't going to back down from their new Pacifica minivan because even if it had failed it would've meant they had dang near literally zero cars to actually sell (no seriously, go on their website and you can see for yourself that they have exactly two car models to offer, the Pacifica and the ancient 300). With all that said, Thundermans was easily the stronger of the two at the time so it was a no-brainer, and it just so happened that Thundermans also found its voice in the second season and went on to not only become the network's ratings juggernaut but go on for a total of four seasons, the first show to do so since Big Time Rush and there was serious talk about the show even getting a fifth season, something the network's seen exactly once out of its live-action shows in the form of iCarly. So I'll admit, it does make one wonder what would've happened if they had simply renewed both shows instead of been so cancel-happy at the time.

But at the very least, yeah, THH is infinitely better than Game Shakers, even at that show's worst.

 "Sky Whale" was, not even kidding, the worst pilot episode I've seen of any show. It's really interesting that the show is at the same level of quality now that it was when it first started. At least Henry Danger was somewhat decent at first until it became absolutely unbearable and stupid every episode. The bar continues to be lowered with everything that Dan Schneider creates, and this episode emphasized that. Why make an actual story when we can spend the entire runtime reminding you how great iCarly was?

So the episode is about iCarly stans Babe and Kenzie trying to meet Nathan Kress so they can ask him who Freddie ended up liking on the show. This is the big question that will pull people in: Who was Freddie into more? Who do you ship? Who cares at all? The one thing I wanted to talk about here was that we're now officially at the point where iCarly is considered a classic show. You know, to the point where they have the characters reference it as this great thing and call it "classic." I mean, I get the motivation since this was arguably Dan Schneider's most popular show and got a lot of mainstream attention during its run. But the show just ended a few years ago. Are we already looking at it as this all-time legendary kid sitcom? The show dipped in quality after a certain point, and a lot of what it did was like a slightly better version of whatever these shows do now. Imagine a few years down the line where these Schneider shows start referencing Victorious and Sam & Cat and praising them as shows on the level of All That or Hey Arnold.

That underlining and bold'ing was me, Ray, BTW. I did that for emphasis because they already started doing that. In the latest episodes of Henry Danger, Live and Dangerous Pts. 1 and 2, BTW. In reference to Sam & Cat, no less (at least Victorious more than kinda deserves that level of praise, prior to "Season 4" at least). 

We'll get to Live and Dangerous too, BTW.

You know what? This could be an entirely different post. Bottom line, watching this episode was a waste of time. All it did was advertise the iCarly marathon that Teenick had a few weeks ago. "Hey, the characters love this hilarious and intelligent show! I should watch it too!" The only plot here has no resolution. Nathan tells the kids that he doesn't know who Freddie ended up with since he wasn't a writer or producer so how the hell would he even be able to answer that question? Then right before he tells them who he thinks Freddie would be with, something happens with Double G and the episode just ends. Literally the only reason to watch this episode gets killed in the last few minutes. They baited you with the guest appearance of an actor you remember from that show you liked when you were younger, and don't even answer their own question. What was the point of making this an episode other than elevating the status of iCarly to kids who were probably too young to remember it? In between that, there's nothing else to keep you interested. The jokes are unfunny, the characters just talk about the show and how good it was, and it doesn't even look like Nathan himself wanted to be there. This isn't even a Game Shakers episode, it's just a commercial for Dan Schneider's last good show. And it's a little pathetic that they felt the need to do this. iCarly was a successful, beloved show in its time, and not only was it a ratings hit, but it had quotable moments and scored high-profile guest stars. It was never an underrated show that deserved more attention or got cancelled before its time like Victorious. It can stand on its own two feet. But this episode obviously had a different opinion.

Episode Grade: F
Episode MVP: Kel Mitchell, by default. Seriously, him and his entourage are what save this show from being 100% unwatchable. The funniest moment in the series is during the Christmas episode where Double G performs "Jingle Bells" and ends up getting his head caught on fire. He's just running around the whole time and his crew stands around like idiots having no idea what to do about it. It was absolutely hilarious and I feel bad for everything Kel does to make this show worth a damn.

EXTRA THOUGHTS
-The only notable thing I got from this episode wasn't even from this episode. It was actually afterwards on this new hangout show on Nick where I found out that there will be a Henry Danger/Game Shakers crossover in November. I have no idea how that will work or why this is happening, but from the looks of it, it will be a Henry Danger episode. Not that it matters, but, you know. I look forward to trashing it when it comes out. Besides, crossovers are always fun to me. In this one, I finally find out which show is worse.

-The way this episode's conflict is set up is just so weird. Babe and Kenzie are watching the iCarly marathon on Teenick (which they essentially say so this is self-promotion) and having a good old time. But they're not watching actual episodes, they're just watching random scenes from the series. And it's not like there's any indication that time has passed, because every time they cut to the screen, they show a random clip. It's like they're watching a YouTube compilation video, which would make more sense. Then Triple G and Hudson join in and just start laughing at these clips with zero context. Then Double G and his crew come in and start watching too. Then they all fall asleep having watched the random clip marathon for several hours. There's no conflict here or anything, it's just that they overslept even though the episode makes it seem like Babe and Kenzie should have been doing something else. That's when Hudson asks if the show ever revealed who Freddie ended up with. Why did they put in this scene of everyone watching iCarly? What does it add to the plot other than telling us that iCarly is now getting the Drake and Josh treatment? The only good thing that comes out of this is Double G referring to the show as a less funny version of Kenan and Kel. I loved that joke, but that's the only sign of humility that this episode gives us.

-Also, the conflict itself is pretty dumb. Why would the majority of iCarly fans care about who Freddie ended up with? Was that something that people kept asking Dan so he made this episode? Besides, there's proof that he liked both girls depending on who you ship. The series finale gave Freddie a win with Carly's goodbye kiss, but that Sam & Cat episode indicated that Freddie might have been willing to give Sam another chance. So everybody's happy and I shouldn't even be talking about this because that's not what I signed up to do.

-Another weird scene is where Triple G, Hudson, Double G, and his boys are hosting an iCarly viewing party in the middle of the day. What the hell is going on here? Don't these people have work or school? What day is this? They're just dancing around eating spaghetti tacos and having a good old time. I get that this appeals to iCarly fans (except me), but couldn't they have actually tried to write a decent story revolving around the show while not making it seem like it's the greatest thing Nickelodeon ever made?

-Hudson said some dumb shit in this episode, but I can't remember it at all. I actually want to talk about Hudson for a minute. He's probably the worst character Dan Schneider has created in a long time. He literally just exists to say random non-sequiturs and stupid one-liners that aren't funny at all. I don't know why people are obsessed with stupid characters so much. They have no value to the show if they're only capable of saying and doing dumb things and the characters hate them as much as the audience does. I'm not saying shows shouldn't have stupid characters, but you need to flesh them out and give them more traits beyond being stupid. Their stupidity shouldn't define who they are. Drake Parker is a great example. He did poorly in school, and didn't always catch on to things but cared deeply about his music, was charismatic, and made up for what he lacked in brains with his social skills. Plus, he was at least aware of how stupid he was and some great jokes were made from his stupidity. Hudson will never have a "South Amareeca" moment because at least 96% of what he says is "South Amareeca" shit. This is what his dialogue sounds like:

BABE: We really need to work on this game.

KENZIE: I know! You don't have to jump on my back!

TRIP: Will you guys calm down?

HUDSON: If tomatoes are a fruit, then are lemons vegetables?

-How long is this season supposed to be? Benjamin Flores, Jr.'s voice has already changed but in the episodes airing now, Trip still sounds the same. It feels like this season is never going to end because of how much it has been stretched out.

-Game Shakers is based in New York. I want the city to be associated with shows like Power and Everybody Hates Chris, not this crap.

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